My Thoughts on the Oscars

Happy Monday!  I initially wasn’t going to watch the Oscars, but my neighbor invited me to a little party she was having, so I thought I should go.  Besides the young lady who had to remind us every five seconds that she was from LA and knew somebody connected to whatever actor/actress was on the screen/reminding us that people in LA are shallow/or whatever other anecdote she wanted to share about her hometown, I had a great time! 

I think James Franco and Anne Hathaway did a great job; I actually didn’t even know they were hosting until I started watching the pre-show.  (TV hasn’t been big on my things to do lately.)  Franco is definitely a 21st century James Dean.  Hathaway grew up to be a lovely young woman, who is actually kind of funny.  I was happy for Natalie Portman (you all know how I feel about “Black Swan”), and I knew “The King’s Speech” would win Best Picture.  I’m glad “Inception” got some awards, because it was definitely a great movie.  Watching the Oscars made me want to watch “Blue Valentine”, “Winter’s Bone” and “The Fighter”.  I’m also kind of tempted to watch “Rabbit Hole” (even though I’m no Nicole Kidman fan) and “The King’s Speech”. 

Can we talk about something that was missing from the Oscars?  Black people.  Yes, Oprah was on hand to present the award for Best Documentary, they recognized Lena Horne, and Halle Berry said some nice words about the famed actress, but not one African-American was nominated.  Now, I can’t honestly think of any African-American movies or roles that came out this season worthy of having a nomination…except “For Colored Girls”.  Maybe the story was too much for the board, but there should have been at least one nomination from that movie-Thandie Newton.  She was AMAZING in that movie!   Besides “For Colored Girls”, were there any films by, for, starring African-Americans?  If so, why weren’t they nominated?  And why is it so hard for us to cross-over into mainstream America?  I would like to say I’m so very proud of “Essence” magazine for having their “Blacks in Hollywood” event.  It seems apparent that if we don’t recognize ourselves, no one will. 

What did you guys think of the Oscars?  Love it?  Hate it?  Happy with the winners?  Feel like some people were snubbed and should have been nominated?  The floor is yours.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Month Fact:

Harriet Ida Pickens and Francis Wills were the first African-American female Navy officers.  In November of 1944, these women graduated as WAVES Officers from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (Women’s Reserve) at Northampton, Massachusetts.

Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 6

Today’s featured entrepreneur grabbed life by the horns and kicked it in the gut.  She didn’t allow a setback, something that would devastate most people, defeat her.  She has taken the art of being a woman, being confidant, and being a go-getter work for her…and for others.

Shanel Cooper-Sykes has been a lifelong entrepreneur.  Her first business that truly prospered was SCS Media Publishing, which was started in 2009 and still exists today.  Her highly acclaimed book, Stilettos in the Kitchen, was first published as an e-book in May of 2009.  (Might I add she began getting orders for the book before it was even finished.)  The first edition printing was done in August of that same year and is almost sold out.  Shanel’s book, which is a mix of recipes, financial advice, make-up tips, and so much more, was inspired by her mentor Les Brown.  After moving to New York, she became depressed.  She would cook and stay in the kitchen, but she stopped speaking to people and became a hermit.  After reconnecting with her mentor, he told her that in order for her to help herself, she was going to have to help others.  That is how her book was born. 

Her book has now grown to Stiletto University, which will open for enrollment during the Summer of 2011.  This school will consist of extraordinary women who will be taught by Shanel in a weekly on-line course.  This will allow women from all over to experience the knowledge of Shanel first-hand.  There will be activities and homework that the ladies will need to complete as well as participating in community service.  With Stiletto University, Shanel hopes to create a sorority of women who are educated, independent, and empowered women who will be recognizable to all just by the way they carry themselves. 

I appreciate Shanel for allowing me the opportunity to interview her.  It was a pleasure to speak with her.  If you want to know more about Shanel, you must go to her site here.   Everyone can learn a thing or two from this extraordinary and amazing woman.  I might cook in some stilettos this weekend! 😉  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

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Today’s Black History Month fact is about Harriet E. Wilson.  Wilson is credited as being the first female African-American novelist.  Her novel “Our Nig” was first published in the United States in 1859 and was rediscovered in 1982 by professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 5

Photographer Extraordanaire Jerome Pearson

The gentleman I’m highlighting today is multi-talented and is quickly rising to the top of his game.  With just a camera and a dream, this guy has turned a love for art into something great. 

Jerome Pearson of J Pearson Photography is a photographer and media journalist.  Based in Atlanta, GA, Jerome started his business in June of 2010.  In less than 8 months time, Jerome has been an official photographer for the 2010 BET Awards, 2010 Soul Train Awards, 2010 Sean John Fashion Show, the Trey Songz and Monica Tour, Usher Raymond’s annual “New Start” Award ceremony, Keri Hilson’s album release event, and the 2011 Trumpet Awards.   At the tender age of 5, Jerome began drawing and painting.  This hobby followed him into his collegiate years, where he advanced to drawing and painting on clothes.  His artistic ability was apparent to everyone, including his big brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., who gave him the nickname “Krayola”.  After Jerome established himself, he decided “to purchase a camera and create beautiful portraits with a lens.” 

Fellow photographers that Jerome looks up to are Colin Plush Myers of Orangeburg, SC,  Dominic McKelvey of Charleston, SC, and Keith Cephus, who is the main person that is responsible for Jerome becoming a photographer.  (You can check out Keith’s work at http://www.keithcephus.com/.)  Jerome has stated “he (Keith) pretty much shared info with me such as what type of equipment to purchase and software to use.”  Jerome’s dream shoot would be a destination wedding on “an exotic beach somewhere in Costa Rica, the Caribbean, or Mexico, or just a beach setting where the water is actually blue and the sand is white.”   When asked who some of his models have been, Jerome shared the following- “Mainly my beautiful wife Jennifer-she was my very first model. I have also had sessions with Miss Korea, Keri Hilson, Roscoe Dash, Pastor Troy, B.O.B., and Verse Simmonds.”  Jerome would love to do a session with Lisa Wu Hartwell “just for the simple fact that I admire her hustle, ambition, and drive; she’s also a beautiful model inside and out. My wife and I are currently working on getting her on the cover of “Mood” magazine, which is my wife’s fashion magazine that focuses on fashion and entertainment in Atlanta, GA.”  While there are currently no plans for Jerome to do photography full-time, he’s content doing this on a part-time basis, until maybe he retires from his full-time job with the Federal government. 

Jerome states he likes Lisa Hartwell’s ambition and hustle, but I can’t help but to admire his as well.  This man is on the move and continues to make things happen for himself and his business.  If you’re interested in booking Jerome for a session, you can find him on Twitter at @Photo_J or on the web at http://www.jpearsonphotography.com/.  I want to thank Jerome for agreeing to be interviewed.  And I need to get on the good foot and schedule my photo shoot!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

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Today’s Black History Month fact:

Moneta Sleet, Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1969.  He was the first African American man to win a Pulitzer and the first African American to win the prize for Journalism.  The photo that afforded him this honor is well-known to us all; it’s the touching photo of Coretta Scott King holding her youngest daughter, Bernice, at the funeral of her husband Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Southern Girl Event Review- AT&T 28 Days Series

Tai Beauchamp and Common answering questions

Happy Hump Day!  Yes, it’s Wednesday, and once again, there is no “Way Back Wednesday” post…maybe I’ll be back on a regular schedule next week, but I went to this great event last night and wanted to share some highlights and thoughts with you guys. 

If you aren’t familiar, AT&T is hosting a 28 Days Speaker Series during the month of February.  In 5 cities across the country, five different speakers will share their stories and encourage us all to “look back with respect and move forward with purpose”.  At last night’s event, Tai Beauchamp was the featured speaker.  She has a remarkable story, from being the youngest Fitness and Beauty Editor at “Seventeen” magazine to starting her own non-profit.  Two things that Ms. Beauchamp said that stuck with me are: 1) So many of us want to be the President, but we don’t want to be the Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer.  The President has to be able to do everyone’s job, and none of us want to do the work to get to the top.  We just want to get there. 2)  Don’t treat your dream as a side hustle; treat it like a second job.  If we treat it like a side hustle that’s what it’s going to be-something we do on the side and it won’t receive all of our attention.  We have to give our dream our full attention.  Ms. Beauchamp was a great speaker and she had a lot of words of wisdom to share. 

Now, let’s talk about Common.  As I told my “Auntie Madeline” last night, “my love for Common intensified tonight.”  That man, that man, that man…He’s so gorgeous in person, he’s eloquent, he’s a nice dresser, and he’s involved and aware.  Yes, I know I should be more concerned with who he is as a person, but let’s be honest-the man is nice to look at and even moreso in person. 

I thoroughly enjoyed myself last night, and I love attending events that bring to my attention others who are doing something positive and have a great story to tell.  I have started following Ms. Beauchamp on Twitter, and look forward to possibly hearing her speak again.  And you know any chance I get to see Common, I’m going to take full advantage of it! 🙂  If you live in NY or LA, check out the calendar here to see if you can attend the last two series.  (Hopefully they’re not sold out!)  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Oh, one last thing- Something weirdly odd (nothing bad, though) happened as well.  Tai mentioned various African-American women who made their marks on this country.  The first woman she mentioned was Madame C.J. Walker.  I told Madeline she must have read the blog (as Walker was my BHM fact yesterday)!!!

Common freestyling. He’s wonderful!!!!

Today’s Black History Month Fact:

Maynard Jackson was an American politician and the first African-American mayor of Atlanta, GA.  He served a total of three terms and was first elected in 1974.

Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 4

Ms. Johnson

I met this young lady via Twitter (a great example of social media at its finest!).  Turns out we had a ton of mutual friends in common, and we both attended the same great university!  I can honestly say this girl makes me laugh and has brought to my life so much fun, joy, and amazing experiences!   So without further adieu, please read up on my girl Dominique Johnson of Uniquely Dynamic Enterprises.

Elle: Where are you based?

Dominique: We are based in Chicago. We have corresponding offices in Miami and are opening another location in Atlanta later this year.

Elle: How long have you been in business?

Dominique: We have been in business since 2005. However, the company became my main focus in 2009, when I left my corporate job.

Elle: How did you get started?

Dominique:  I love telling this story. When I was in college, at the prestigious Florida A & M University, I was interning for a law firm and working for the governor’s office. Long story short, I started doing side events. In order to be in compliance with my law school goals, I knew I needed to establish myself as a business entity. I asked the owner of the law firm if he would assist me, and his exact words were, “You can read can’t you?”.  So I went about the diligent task of incorporating myself. In the long run I received a letter from the IRS and realized that I had set up my business structure wrong. So after spending the time and resources of fixing my mistakes, I began to wonder how many small business owners or potential entrepreneurs had done the same thing or the whole process just discouraged them? So in 2005, I started what was then Uniquely Dynamic Enterprises. We are now The UDE Group.

Elle: What can clients expect from Uniquely Dynamic?

Dominique: My clients can expect that their individual needs will be custom tailored to our services. We understand that people’s dreams or freedom from Corporate America, passions, and interests should not be ignored, nor lumped into one group. So we consult with each of our clients and develop a program for them to establish, reestablish, or just reinvent their company, brand, or ideas.

Elle: Where do you see yourself and your business in 5-10 years?

Dominique: As far as The UDE Group is concerned, we would like to have 6 additional offices, each one responsible for the North, South, East, and West regions, and the other two based over seas. I would like for us to be involved in various industries to sustain residual income. All in all, we just hope to be the launching pad for several companies and to look back and say we had a hand in their development.

Elle: What is next for Uniquely Dynamic?

Dominique: The UDE Group is doing a lot of expanding this year. Last year we changed our name from Uniquely Dynamic Enterprises to The UDE Group. We purchased a promotional company that supplies promotional products in any facet for companies and events and such. In the first quarter of this year we are opening a franchise in Chicago. Due to the exceptional work our client felt we did, they gave us the exclusive rights to the Chicago market. We are very excited about this and all other projects that we are working on this year.  We will have opened 4 locations of the franchise two years apart from each other after this April. We are also apart of a charity foundation called Beyond The Game, www.beyondtgame.com. The sole purpose of the organization is to build a school, care point, and clinic in Swaziland, Africa. We will be going back this April to begin laying the foundation for the school.

Elle: What else would you like to share?

Dominique: I, of course, would like to do some shameless plugs for my most exciting clients of 2011 thus far. Since the beginning of this year, we have signed with Alter Ego Heels, a high end couture shoe line established by DaShawn Baker, also a graduate of FAMU. We are in the process of reestablishing and launching a nationwide campaign for a DC native, Julie Edwards and her company Color and Soul Cosmetics. She makes custom mineral makeup and face care products for women of every color, www.colorandsoul.com. We are launching another DC based company called Self Prescribed Shades, a high end boutique shades line. Back to my heart of the community, we are working with another DC based organization called Bradford Media Group, who is hosting an organized boxing event in August on behalf of their charity foundation.

I am very thankful for you granting this opportunity.

And I am thankful to Dominique for allowing me to feature her on this blog.  If you or someone you know is starting a business, or if they are already a business owner and are looking to expand, I highly suggest you support her.  (Visit the site at www.uniquelydynamic.com.)  As you can see, UDE is expanding, so they will be able to assist you with all of your business needs.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

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Today’s Black History Month Fact:

Sarah Breedlove made her fortune by creating hair care products for women of color.  She also established a school to teach hair culturists, opened her own manufacturing company, and is credited with being the first American female millionaire.  You may know her as Madame C.J. Walker.

This Week in the News

Happy Friday!  If you’re like me, you’re super-excited about the 3 day weekend…that is if you have one.  A lot of things-some exciting, some boring, some completely ridiculous-have happened this week and have people reacting all sorts of ways. 

James E. Swann, Jr. requested a family visit this week with his father.  This may not seem like a big deal, but in 1993, Swann injured five people and killed four in Northwest DC.  Having the nickname the “Shotgun Killer“, a judge found Swann not guilty of the 32 charges he received by reason of insanity because he claimed he was forced by evil spirits to commit these killing in retaliation of the killing of Malcolm X.  James has been a patient at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital since 1994, and now his father, Swann Sr., is requesting to spend time with his son outside of the hospital.  This is a ridiculous request.  This man is a criminal.  That’s like Charles Manson asking for a leave request from prison.  Swann, Sr. stated he watched his son before the crimes and could watch him again.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if he was watching his son before, then how did he commit these crimes?  Point blank, Swann, Jr. needs to stay locked up. 

Congrats to Fantasia for winning her Grammy on Sunday.  But I don’t know how I feel about her boycotting the awards show because she wasn’t asked to participate in the tribute to Aretha.  I know everyone would have enjoyed her kicking her shoes off and running around the stage and seeing her perform, but maybe the powers that be thought she would have been too much.  Some people think she was pouting while others salute her for standing up to what she believes in.  But I personally think that if she respects Aretha as much as she claims, she still should have gone to the Grammys.

Speaking of the Grammys, some people (read: Justin Beiber teeny-bopper fans) are PISSED that their little teen crush didn’t win the award for Best New Artist.  So who did?  Newcomer Esparanza Spalding.  Admittedly, I’ve never heard any of her music, but Prince loves her.  If she has the Purple One’s stamp of approval, she’s fine with me. 

Writer Tracy McMillan wrote this article that tells women why they still are not married.  Tracy pretty much tells every single woman on Earth the reason she’s single is because something’s wrong with her.  Yes, we may meet men who are shady and sheisty, but when it comes down to it, we’re the reason we’re still single.  While I agree with certain parts of the article, I don’t suscribe to all of it.  First, I’m still tired of people talking about single women (can we find somebody else to talk about?); second, I’m tired of people assuming all single women want to get married; third, her article was just poor taste (most of it).  Even though I’m an individual, I don’t think I fall into the categories that she mentioned, and I don’t think any of the single girlfriends do, either, well, except maybe one…but that’s a different story.  I’ve just come to realize that most people like to stir some ish up, and it seems like Ms. McMillan wanted to stir some stuff up and make a name for herself (I mean, who knows the writers on TV shows?  Not me, but now we all know about Tracy).

I hate to end on a bad note, but I just want to give you an update on Mitrice Richardson.  Eight bones were found near a ravine close to where her remains were found last year, and authorities believe they may belong to Mitrice.  It doesn’t appear that this case is going to get closed anytime soon, so just pray that her mother and her family get the solace they need and they find out who killed this girl soon.

I hope you all have a safe, enjoyable weekend.  Feel free to comment on anything I’ve shared or share your own bit of news.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Fact:

On this date in 1688, the first protest against slavery took place.  The Germantown Protest was organized by a group of white Quakers in Germantown, PA where they denounced slavery and the slave trade. 

Southern Girl Album Review: The ArchAndroid

Not her normal "uniform", but a great look nonetheless!

Happy Friday’s Eve!  This week is a first for me on this blog; yesterday, I did my first book review (hope you guys enjoyed it), and today I’m doing my first album review!  I have a very eclectic taste in music.  Where most people like artists and will purchase anything they make I like songs and will have my buddy make me a mixed CD as opposed to going out and buying someone’s album.  There are very few artists whose album I will buy as soon as it comes out.  I can honestly say that Janelle Monae has now been added to that short list. 

I purchased “The ArchAndroid: Suites II and III” before Christmas.  Off the strength of her single “Tightrope” with Big Boi of Outkast and her appearing on the “Idlewild” soundtrack, she piqued my interest and got my attention.  If I had to rate this album, I would give it 5 out of 5 stars!!!  It’s absolutely fantastic!!!!  Once I started listening to this, I took it with me everywhere.  It was always playing in my car, I had it with me at the PT job, and I even snuck and brought it to my day job as well!!!  I can’t put her in a genre; she’s in one all by herself.  She’s the female version of Prince…and ya’ll know how I feel about him.  The musical arrangements are amazing, her voice has so much range, and none of the songs sound alike but they go together.  The Intro reminds me of “Black Swan”, in the sense of being music from a ballet.  My favorite track is “Faster”.  I also love “Say You’ll Go” and “BabopbyeYa”.  I can honestly say there’s not one track I don’t like, and it’s very rare that that happens. 

All of you should go get this album, via CD, iTunes, or whatever means you purchase your music.   She taps into all genres of music and is just a really talented musician.  LOVE HER!!!  (And you will, too!)  If you’ve listened to the album, what do you think?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Month fact is about Ella Fitzgerald.  Ella, also known as Lady Ella or the “First Lady of Song”, was the first Black woman to win a Grammy.  In 1958, the first year the awards took place, Ella won for Best Jazz Performance, Individual and Best Vocal Performance, Female.  Before her death in 1996, she would go on to win 11 more Grammys.