Friday, August 31, 2012

Gabby Douglas - Quote Image: Hard Work

"Hard days are the best because that's when champions are made. If you push through the hard days, then you can get through anything." 
Gabby Douglas

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Timeline of African Americans in Finance

Timeline of African Americans in Finance

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hard Work Beats Talent (

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Emma Carolyn Chappell

Emma Carolyn Chappell founded United Bank of Philadelphia, in 1992 after a five-year effort to raise the required five million dollars Pennsylvania regulators told her she needed to capitalize the bank. She raised three million from the black community by selling shares in $500 blocks. She then raised another three million from big investors one million more than was required. With assets around $87.5 million United Bank of Philadelphia is dedicated to fostering community development by providing quality, personalized, comprehensive banking services to businesses and individuals in the Greater Philadelphia Region. Today, the bank is considered a leader in lending to minorities.

Chappell started her career as a clerk-photographer for Continental Bank. Where she worked for more than 30 years, slowly moving up the ranks. She eventually became the first woman to go through its executive training program and before becoming vice-president of the community business loan and development department.

She was tapped by Reverend Jesse Jackson to become treasurer of his Presidential campaign in 1984. She was also instrumental in helping to found Operation PUSH, a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving financial equality for minorities.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Olympic Swimmer Neal Built Her Dream in Brooklyn

Rome Neal walked up to the microphone last week at the Paris Blues in Harlem and was just about to sing “I Worry About You” when he decided to share some great news with his audience. In his 12 years of performing a one-man show about Thelonious Monk, Neal had come to appreciate the importance of exquisite timing.

“My daughter’s name is Lia Neal and she just made it to become an Olympic swimmer, and she’ll be swimming in the Olympics in 2012 in London, England, the 4x100 relay,” Neal said.

The audience applauded and cheered enthusiastically. “Lia is 17 years old,” he said, “the second African-American female swimmer to make it to the Olympics.”

More applause, and for a story Rome Neal could finally tell.

Lia Neal qualified for the Olympics earlier this month by finishing fourth in the 100-meter freestyle, putting her on the relay team. In the weeks and months leading to the Olympic swimming trials, her mother, Siu Neal, had admonished her husband of 38 years not to put the cart before the horse, to rein in his flair for the dramatic and generally be cool.

Now Rome was free to spread the word and the joy: his baby girl was an Olympian.

“In the beginning, my wife was saying: ‘Keep it down, keep it down, we don’t want to jinx this thing. Don’t be talking so much about it to people,’ ” he said. “Now I can talk because the whole world is talking.”

A few days before the trials in Omaha, Rome recalled how he had spent the day in New York with Lia. They had gone to the health spa where, as a 5-year-old, she had exhibited the first inkling of interest in swimming. He put her on his back and floated along the surface.

“She couldn’t swim at the time,” Rome Neal said. “She’d be on my back in the water and she would be trying to swim, and I couldn’t swim that well, but the water’s not that deep so I’m making her look like she’s swimming on top of my back.”

For Rome, that moment seems even sweeter today given his daughter’s remarkable journey. One of the issues Lia Neal’s success raises is how the United States in 2012 continues to celebrate access and opportunity in the way of firsts. Sports reflect a larger quandary in the land of opportunity, that so many sports have been resistant to inclusion for all races. The United States swimming team will have three African-Americans in London; the country’s gymnastics team will carry two.

The common explanation is that so-called country club sports are often too expensive given the costs of training, private lessons and travel. But with increasing numbers of African-Americans enjoying great prosperity — even as the gap between rich and poor widens — money can be only a partial explanation. There are other considerations like a lack of familiarity, an absence of tradition and a short history of success.

There were no deep roots for Lia Neal to grab onto. At 17, she is one of the roots and a likely source of inspiration for a younger generation. “This young lady is going to touch someone who’s going to be reaching for that higher goal also because of what Lia is doing right now in the water,” Rome Neal said. There are costs, certainly. But there are also organizations that provide grants and scholarships for swimmers who display talent and commitment. For example, Lia received a scholarship from Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics, a Manhattan nonprofit whose mission is to help people achieve health through sports and fitness, and her school, Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan, also contributed money to help defray the costs of training.

“It doesn’t have to be expensive,” Rome Neal said. “If you have raw talent, you can exceed so many barriers. But the sport itself, it can be costly.”

Perhaps even more important than money is an unwavering commitment — of time, resources and an attitude that all things are possible. Lia Neal and her family, especially her mother, had a ferocious commitment to possibility.

Getting up at 5 in the morning. Driving from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Practicing for two hours. Going to school. Working out again for two hours after school. Traveling to meets around the country. Saving vacation time for those meets.

“There was a lot of time, a lot of hard work, a lot of determination, for the child,” Siu Neal said in a recent interview. “She gave up a lot of the privileges other young people have. All of her time was either practicing swimming or dry land training or going to school. When she came home, she had homework to do. It seems like she always had to race against time to get everything done.”

But the commitment is not just by the athlete.

“Any parent would do what I do,” Siu Neal said. “They all spend lots of time with their kids, take them to swimming practice, bringing them to competitions and meets. I don’t consider it giving up anything. I enjoy watching her swim; I even loved to watch her practice.”

Siu and Rome Neal are each 59, and their relationship reflects a deep-seated belief in possibility. They were brought together by poignant variations of the American dream. Their journeys to New York — and each other — underline the complexities and contradictions of a nation conceived in liberty. Their daughter symbolizes the powerful, positive force of that union.

When he was a year old, in 1953, Rome (his given name, Jerome, was shortened by his mother) moved to New York City from Sumter, S.C., as his family sought relief from the suffocating racial oppression in the South.

Siu and her family immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong when she was 18 to join her grandfather. “We were looking for a better life,” she said.

Rome’s family settled in Harlem before moving to Brooklyn. Siu’s family initially moved to the Bronx before also heading to Brooklyn. They met at New York City Community College, married and had three sons: Rome Kyn, Smile and Treasure.

On Feb. 13, 1995, the Neals had the daughter they had long hoped for. Rome wanted to name her Kujichagulia in honor of the second principle of Kwanzaa, self-determination. He was voted down. They settled on Lia. She speaks fluent Cantonese and Mandarin.

Rome Neal became an example of pursuing a passion, even if his came later in life. He was not a jazzman before 2000. When he came out of college, he wanted to be a retail clothes designer but went into theater.

Then he was exposed to the music and life of Thelonious Monk when a playwright suggested that he do a one-man show on the life of the jazz pianist composer. Rome said the experience transformed his life.

“I never thought I would be a jazz musician,” he said. “Singing jazz was the farthest thing from my mind.”

In Lia Neal’s case, the larger story is that of a young person having a great dream and, with the help of a village, making it a reality. This is also a story of evolution. Siu was not a big believer in sports and did not think they were important. Her daughter changed her perspective. Now she is an advocate for sports.

“Everybody has to be good at something,” she said. “You let them try different sports, then find out what they like and then they can pursue that like, not necessarily to be a big success, but something to carry with them for a lifetime.”

The Neals’ daughter had the loftiest ambition of all. She wanted to be an Olympian.

Lia Neal, and her ambition to be an elite athlete, embodies a specific quality of the American dream, one that requires opportunity and demands unwavering commitment in the pursuit of great success.


Sunday, August 26, 2012


Victor MacFarlane is managing principal, chairman and chief executive officer of MacFarlane Partners, which he founded in 1987 to provide real estate investment management services to institutional investors. He has primary responsibility for the firm’s investment management activities, chairs its investment committee and serves on its senior management committee.

Career Overview
Victor has 33 years of real estate experience, during which he has worked extensively in property development, acquisitions, asset management and portfolio management on behalf of some of the world’s largest pension plans and institutions.

Under his leadership, MacFarlane Partners pioneered the urban investment concept among institutional real estate managers in the mid-1990s and today has become one of the leading real estate investment management firms in the United States.

Past Experience
Victor began his real estate career in 1979 with Aetna Life & Casualty Company, where he helped acquire and manage more than $1 billion in real estate assets. He later developed and managed, for his own account, an award-winning apartment community in Denver.

In 1996, he sold the core separate-account investment management business of MacFarlane Partners to GE Capital and then served for three years as chief executive officer of GE Capital Investment Advisors.

During that period, he also spearheaded several global initiatives for GE Capital Real Estate, an affiliate with $20 billion in real estate assets worldwide, overseeing or participating in its expansion plans in Asia, Mexico and Eastern Europe.

At the end of his contractual commitment in April 1999, he resigned from GE Capital and began rebuilding MacFarlane Partners as an entrepreneurial firm that focused on urban properties and other high-yielding real estate investments.


  • National Inner City Leadership Award, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, 2006
  • Trailblazer Achievement Award, Global Diversity Summit, 2006

Professional Affiliations

  • Board of Directors, Developers Diversified Realty Corporation
  • Board of Directors, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City
  • Board of Directors, Real Estate Executive Council
  • Board of Directors, The Toigo Foundation
  • Board of Advisors, UCLA School of Law
  • Board Facilities Committee, Stanford Hospital & Clinics
  • Trustee, Urban Land Institute
  • Chief Executives Organization
  • International Council of Shopping Centers
  • Pension Real Estate Association
  • World Presidents Organization


  • Bachelor of University Studies, University of New Mexico
  • Juris Doctor, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law
  • Master of Business Administration, University of Pittsburgh
  • Doctor of Laws (honorary), University of the District of Columbia

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace

How to survive and thrive in any economic climate with proven strategies from a powerhouse

Carla Harris, one of the most powerful and respected women in business, shares advice, tips, and strategies for surviving in any workplace environment. While climbing the corporate ladder, Harris had her own personal missteps and celebrated numerous victories. She vowed that when she reached senior management, and people came to her for advice, she would provide them with the tools and strategies honed by her experience.

"Carla's pearls" have become the centerpiece for her many speeches and television appearances. In Expect to Win, Carla shares these valuable lessons, including:

* Authenticity: The Power is You
* The 90-Day Rule
* Perception is the Co-Pilot to Reality
* The Mentor, The Sponsor, The Adviser: Having Them All
* Leverage Your Voice
* Balance is a Necessity: Use Your Passions to Achieve it
* Expect to Win: Show Up With Your Best Self Every Day

* Expect to Win is an inspirational must-read for anyone seeking battle-tested tools to fulfilling their true potential.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Carla A. Harris

Carla A. Harris has been a force on Wall Street for over 20 years. She is currently a Managing Director in the Institutional Advisory Group at Morgan Stanley Investment Management providing investment advice to corporations, public pension plans, foundations and endowments. She also heads the Emerging Managers Platform. She formerly headed the equity capital markets effort for the Consumer and Retail industries and was responsible for raising private equity capital for emerging companies in all industries as the head of equity private placements. Carla has extensive industry experiences in the consumer, technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors.

For more than a decade, Ms. Harris was a senior member of the equity syndicate desk and executed such transactions as initial public offerings for UPS, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Ariba, Digitas, Redback, the General Motors sub-IPO of Delphi Automotive Donna Karan, and others. As a Wall Street banker, Ms. Harris has accomplished much being named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America”, and to Fortune’s “The Most Influential List” 2005, to Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top 50 African Americans on Wall Street”, to Essence Magazine’s list of “The 50 Women Who are Shaping the World”, Ebony’s list of “15 Corporate Women at the Top”, The Network Journal’s 2005 list of “25 Most Outstanding Women in Business” and was named “Woman of the Year 2004″ by the Harvard University Black Men’s Forum.

Carla Ann Harris was born in Port Arthur, Texas and hails from Jacksonville, Florida where she attended St. Pius V School as an elementary and junior high school student, before heading to Bishop Kenny High School where she graduated summa cum laude. Carla left Jacksonville, Florida for the hallowed halls of Harvard University where she graduated magna cum laude in Economics. After her undergraduate career, Carla attended and graduated from the Harvard Business School with a Masters of Business Administration.

About the Singer
In addition to being an accomplished business professional Carla Ann Harris is an exciting, accomplished singer that has delighted audiences around the world with her soulful renditions of new and old gospel favorites. She has performed two sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall to benefit St. Charles Catholic School in Harlem, New York and Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida. When Carla sings it touches the very depths of your soul and the message that was intended is delivered.

Carla began singing at age 9. She quickly migrated towards choral music and began singing in gospel choirs at age 13. She loved singing so much that she sang in both Catholic and Baptist choirs often engaging in two separate church services on Sundays. While at Harvard, Carla continued to pursue her music, singing with the world renowned Radcliffe Chorale Society, the oldest women’s singing group at Harvard and in her own band called Rhythm Company. While at HBS, she sang with the Late Night Band, a band comprised of HBS students that played a variety of musical genres including, rhythm and blues, pop, and rock. While at HBS, Carla also had her Off-off Broadway debut at Symphony Space in the HBS Show, called “Top Pay”. In 2000, Carla released her debut album, Carla’s First Christmas and in 2005, she released her second CD, Joy is Waiting and directed all of the proceeds to St. Charles Borromeo School in Harlem, New York and Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville. Carla’s First Christmas and Carla were featured on The Evening News with Dan Rather and was one of the top selling albums on in New York City. Both Carla’s First Christmas and Joy is Waiting can be purchased on and

While her vocation is deal making, Carla’s avocation is singing and her passion lies in helping others. Carla believes that “we are blessed, so that we can be a blessing to others” and she gives her time and financial resources to several non-profit organizations in New York City and has established scholarship funds at her alma maters, Harvard University and Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Carla is a member of the National Social Action Commission of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and the Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Carla sits on the boards of the Food Bank of New York City, the Morgan Stanley Foundation, the Executive Leadership Council, Mount Sinai Hospital, A Better Chance, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, the Apollo Theatre Foundation, The Manhattan Council of the Boy Scout of America,The Maya Angelou Research Center for Minority Health and Union Theological Seminary. She is an avid member of the St. Charles Gospelites of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, the Mark Howell Singers, the Women’s Forum and the Economic Club of New York.

Carla A. Harris has received numerous awards and accolades including, Ebony Magazine’s Corporate Leadership Award, Women’s Professional Achievement Award from Harvard University, the Pierre Toussaint Medallion from the Office of Black Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York, The HBS Club of New York’s Leadership Award, Outstanding Women’s Award given by the Greater Manhattan Chapter of the Links Incorporated, the Women of Power Award given by the National Urban League, the Lewis Rudin Leadership Award from the Coro Foundation, Blazing New Trails Award from the Robert A. Toigo Foundation, the Bethune Award from the National Council of Negro Women, the Ron Brown Trailblazer Award from St. John’s University School of Law, the Bert King Award from the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association, the Bill and Camille Cosby Award given by Associated Black Charities, the Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater Essex and Hudson Counties, and the Frederick Douglass Award given by the New York Urban League to name a few.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tristan Walker On Life After Foursquare

Few have managed to make a name for themselves in the quick-paced world of startups better than Tristan Walker.

Not only did the 27-year-old former Wall Street oil-futures trader land an internship at Twitter after working his connections, a few personal emails to the founders of Foursquare Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai led him to a job as the mobile check-in app’s director of business development. That site just yesterday launched a major overhaul — focusing more on recommendations and location information than points and badges.

But Walker is leaving it all behind. Later this month, he’ll take on the new role of entrepreneur-in-residence at the fabled venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which has invested in companies the likes of Zynga, Jawbone and Airbnb. He wants to parlay this latest post into his own company.

Doing what exactly is still unknown, but Walker certainly remains someone to watch. For more insight, we talked with Walker about the not-for-profit Code 2040, a program he founded to bring high performing African American and Latino students to startups in the Valley, and his new role as EIR. Here is an edited version of that conversation:

What makes the EIR position more appealing than just starting up?
Ben Horowitz is a fantastic mentor of mine and a great career advisor. Also, Andreessen is a top venture-capital firm. So having access to the company’s network and its brain power for the next six to nine months could only benefit me in positive ways. Plus, I felt it would be good transition to allow me to think about what I want to create.

How did Wall Street prepare you for Foursquare and your next step?
It helped me realize what I didn’t want. I grew up in a project in Queens N.Y., in a single-parent household and would joke around that I had one goal to be as wealthy as possible, as quickly as possible. That led me to Wall Street. There, I was the victim of bad culture, and I realized I wanted to create a great culture. Then I knew the best way to get there was through entrepreneurship.

Before the famous email that landed you at Foursquare, you used your network to get an internship at Twitter. What would you say is the importance of networking?
You don’t get what you don’t ask for. If you don’t ask, then you don’t get anything. I was fortunate to connect with people that helped me on my path. In the Twitter scenario, I reached out to 20 different people and the last person actually connected me. So, yeah, I’d say networking is important.

What are your best social networking tips?
It might be going on Twitter and tweeting to people that inspire you. It might be guessing the email addresses of someone you look up and sending a cold email. Folks that actually want something, get creative when figuring out ways to get it and it’s never a one-size-fits-all situation.

What is the goal behind Code 2040?
We want to bring awareness to what’s out there. Growing up, I wanted to be a basketball player because of Michael Jordan. I wanted to be an entertainer because of Russell Simmons, and I wanted to work on Wall Street because of people like Carla Harris. Who are those beacons in tech that kids can aspire to? By bringing the best and the brightest diverse minds here, you’re inevitably building a larger demographic of folks for people to aspire to in Silicon Valley. Once that happens, you can create real change.

Have you experienced any unique challenges being one of the only African Americans in the Valley?
Honestly, not really. The one thing I love so much about the Valley or Palo Alto specifically is no one underestimates anyone else.

What is your greatest accomplishment?
I’m most proud of not knowing anything about the industry and coming in and changing it. People 20 years my senior can’t defeat me because they don’t know anything about this new industry and neither do I. That allowed me to be incredibly ambitious in everything that I did.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oprah Winfrey’s 3 Steps For Success

In her speech at Spelman College in Atlanta on May 20, the ultra-successful Oprah Winfrey who presides over her own television network, among other things, spoke about the importance of knowing yourself and what your contribution will be. She mentioned having grappled with her own identity as a talk show host, business woman and entrepreneur, only to realize that she was more than her occupation.

Though Winfrey offers a rare kind of success story, what drives her can surely inspire many would-be entrepreneurs out there. Here are Winfrey’s three tips for how to succeed in life — and in business:

Knowing who you are. Being able to answer this question who am? I and what do I want? I don’t want to just be successful. I don’t want to just make a mark or have a legacy. The answer to those questions is I want to fulfill the highest and truest sense of myself as a human being. You must have some kind of vision for your life. Even if you don’t have a plan, you have to have a direction of where you want to go. Is there a plan, or are you just driving? You want to be in the driver’s seat of your own life, or life will just drive you.
You must find a way to serve. Martin Luther King said that not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness comes from serving. The real truth is that it takes service and significance.

If you look at all the most successful people in the world — whether they know it or not they have this paradigm of service. I made a decision that I was no longer just going to be on TV. But instead, I’d be a platform for good. Using television as a service, changed my career exponentially. You can follow suite, by using whatever it is you produce as a way of giving back to the world. When you shift the paradigm to service and you bring significance to that, success will follow you.

Always do the right thing. Always be excellent. People notice. You go to Taco Bell and someone gives you extra napkins and sauce. That’s right, even at Taco Bell, excellence is noticed. Everyone talks about building a brand; I didn’t even know what that was. What I recognize now is that my choice to do the right thing, the excellent thing, is what created the brand.When you are excellent, you become unforgettable. We want to be unforgettable and not forgettable. That’s achieved by doing the right thing, even when nobody knows you’re doing it.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Nas - I Know I Can

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Common: One Day It'll All Make Sense

Common has earned a reputation in the hip hop world as a conscious artist by embracing themes of love and struggle in his songs, and by sharing his own search for knowledge with his listeners. His journey toward understanding—expressed in his music and now in his roles in film and television—is rooted in his relationship with a remarkable woman, his mother, Mahalia Ann Hines.

In One Day It’ll All Make Sense, Common holds nothing back. He tells what it was like for a boy with big dreams growing up on the South Side of Chicago. He reveals how he almost quit rapping after his first album, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, sold only two thousand copies. He recounts his rise to stardom, giving a behind-the-scenes look into the recording studios, concerts, movie sets, and after-parties of a hip-hop celebrity and movie star. He reflects on his controversial invitation to perform at the White House, a story that grabbed international headlines. And he talks about the challenges of balancing fame, love, and fatherhood.

One Day It’ll All Make Sense is a gripping memoir, both provocative and funny. Common shares never-before-told stories about his encounters with everyone from Tupac to Biggie, Ice Cube to Lauryn Hill, Barack Obama to Nelson Mandela. Drawing upon his own lyrics for inspiration, he invites the reader to go behind the spotlight to see him as he really is—not just as Common but as Lonnie Rashid Lynn.

Each chapter begins with a letter from Common addressed to an important person in his life—from his daughter to his close friend and collaborator Kanye West, from his former love Erykah Badu to you, the reader. Through it all, Common emerges as a man in full. Rapper. Actor. Activist. But also father, son, and friend. Common’s story offers a living example of how, no matter what you’ve gone through, one day it’ll all make sense.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Swizz Beatz Helps Raise $1,500,000 For Bronx Students [VIDEO]

Swizz Beatz attended the Hope 4 Children gala in New York this past week and was instrumental in helping to raise $1.5 million for students in the Bronx. The fundraiser was hosted at the American Museum of Natural History and featured artwork created by Bronx Charter School for the Arts students. Check the footage of Swizzy doing work for the kids after the jump.


Friday, August 17, 2012


Sparkle is an upcoming American musical film directed by Salim Akil and produced by Stage 6 Films, set for release on August 17, 2012 release by TriStar Pictures. Inspired by The Supremes, Sparkle is a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, which centered on three singing teenage sisters from Harlem who form a girl group in the late 1950s. The remake takes place in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s during the Motown era.

The film stars Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Whitney Houston, Mike Epps, Cee Lo Green, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Tamela Mannand Omari Hardwick. Sparkle features songs from the original film written by soul musician Curtis Mayfield as well as new compositions by R&B artist R. Kelly. This film will be the debut of R&B/pop singer and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks as an actress. Sparkle also marks Whitney Houston's fifth and final feature film role; she died on February 11, 2012, three months after filming ended. The film will be dedicated to her memory.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bill Duke

Bill Duke is the legendary African American Godfather of American Cinema, who recently received a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Directors Guild of America as he joined the ranks of directors Stephen Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Clint Eastwood. But what makes Bill Duke standout from these other directors is the fact that he is a director who paved the way for African Americans in cinema beginning in the early 1970's when Spike Lee was just a teenager.

Billis the Founder and CEO of Duke Media, formerly Yagya Productions, which has been successfully producing film and television for over 30 years. Duke Media is recognized as a world wide leader in leveraging media via the new film industry paradigm of the internet. The Bill Duke Web Network has established an international following that has proven viewers crave to be both entertained and educated. This "Edutainment" mission exemplifies Bill Duke and Duke Media.

Bill Duke serves on the Board of Trustees at the American Film Institute. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has also appointed him to the California State Film Commission Board. Bill Duke served as the Time Warner Endowed Chair in the Department of Radio Television and Film at Howard University in Washington, DC. He was then appointed to the National Endowment of the Humanities by President Bill Clinton.

Bill Duke's directing credits include The Killing Floor, A Rage in Harlem, SisterAct 2, Deep Cover, Hoodlum, The Cemetery Club, Cover and Not Easily Broken. Currently in post production are the films Black Diamonds: The Evolution of Blacks in Baseball and Dark Girls.

Bill Duke's acting credits include Predator, American Gigolo, Car Wash, Commando, Menace II Society, Bird on a Wire, The Limey, Get Rich or Die Trying, X-Men 3, the independent film Yellow, the soon to be released Henry's Crime with Keanu Reeves and James Caan, and The Big Bang with Antonio Banderas.

Bill Duke is a humanitarian and activist who devotes his time to charity and not for profit organizations. Bill is on the Board of Directors of Educating Young Minds after school program with the mission to help inner city youth in the United States excel in school and life. He is also extensively involved with the United Nations UNAIDS mission to eliminate AIDS globally.

As film history has proven, Bill Duke welcomes the challenges of making films with a voice that needs to be heard by the world.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hollywood's Undercover Hitmakers: Salim and Mara Brock Akil

When Mara Brock Akil was a girl of 11, in November 1981, she saw a copy of Seventeen with Whitney Houston on the cover. The future pop icon wasn't known as a singer then but as a teen model -- one of the first African-Americans to grace the magazine's cover. The image made a huge impression on young Mara, then growing up in Kansas City, Mo. "It was like -- things are possible," she says.
For Mara -- smart, talented and hardworking -- many things indeed have been possible. Some 30 years later, she met Houston at a table read for the upcoming Sony Pictures film Sparkle (opening Aug. 17), which the now-42-year-old Mara had written, her first screenplay. Her husband, Salim, 48, was directing. The two are one of those industry couples who work and succeed in partnership. And their success is stunning: Mara is an accomplished showrunner with two hit shows, the sitcom Girlfriends and spinoff The Game, under her belt. Salim is a veteran television director-producer whose feature debut, 2011's Jumping the Broom, made its budget back six times over. Together, they are among the most successful African-Americans working in Hollywood. And Sparkle, starring Houston and season six American Idol winner Jordin Sparks in her film debut, is their first joint incursion into the movie world.
So when it came time for the table read, "I was excited for all the obvious reasons -- to finally hear your script in the voices that were cast," Mara recalls. "But here was Whitney Houston, who was the soundtrack of my life. And she had been an inspiration to me when she was on the cover ofSeventeen. ... I wanted everybody to love the script, but I particularly wanted her to like it."
Houston did like the script -- but she would never get to see the finished film: The iconic singer died of a drug-related drowning on Feb. 11, after the film had wrapped. Her death was devastating to the Akils, who recall that Houston seemed free of demons on the set. "I'm not saying I was oblivious to who Whitney Houston was," Salim says. "I grew up around people with a bunch of serious problems. Shit -- I got a lot of serious problems. But I went into it expecting that anyone standing in front of me is ready to work. When Whitney stepped on the set, all I saw was a wonderful actress."
Sparkle was long a passion project for Houston, whose most recent movie role had been in The Preacher's Wife, more than 15 years earlier. This version is a remake of the 1976 Supremes-inspired original about a girl group that falls apart when one member turns to drugs and another becomes a solo star. Written by Joel Schumacher and Howard Rosenman and starring Irene Cara(Fame), the original film had been such a cult favorite in the African-American community that Salim had hesitated to take on a remake. But when he did, he insisted that his wife be the person to write the script.
Mara knew something about writing strong female characters. Girlfriends had run for eight seasons, first on UPN and then The CW, ending in 2008. That was an achievement in itself -- but she triumphed with the spinoff The Game, which ran for three ratings-challenged seasons on The CW before the plug was pulled in May 2009. After the show about football players and their significant others lay dormant for more than a year, BET programming chief Loretha Jones shrewdly revived it. In January 2010, The Game 2.0 premiered to a record-breaking 7.7 million viewers, the highest basic cable sitcom premiere at that time, and it averaged a 1.8 rating in its fifth season.
When Mara was executive producer of Girlfriends, she pleaded with her husband to direct some episodes. Salim, who had been a director and eventually executive producer on Showtime's Soul Food, reluctantly agreed, only to become a regular director of his wife's shows. Now, he knew she was the right person to write Sparkle, and when Houston met Mara, the pop icon seemed to feel that, too. "She kept calling me her angel," Mara says. But Mara was baffled when Houston said to her, "I really appreciate your putting my church in your script."
"I didn't put your church in my script," Mara told her.
"New Hope Baptist," Houston prompted. Mara had unwittingly given the church in Sparkle the same name as the church in Newark, N.J., where Houston had started to make her indelible mark, singing gospel as a young girl. (The same church hosted Houston's funeral service.)
"I believe in divine order all the time," Mara says. (She and Salim are Muslim.) "But this particular time, I really felt the presence of God all the way through. It was like it was meant to be."
Mara and Salim came to the industry, and came together, from widely divergent paths. Mara was a daughter of privilege raised by her single mother, a district sales manager for an IT firm. "I was born knowing I had to go to college," she says. She graduated from Northwestern and got a job as a production assistant on Fox's short-lived 1993 sitcom The Sinbad Show.
Mara knew the Sinbad showrunners, Ralph Farquhar and Michael Weithorn, had a pilot, South Central, at Fox, and her aim was to write for that show. "The first thing I did was to do my job very well," she says. On days when Mara was answering the phones, she made sure people saw her working on scripts. "Ralph would say, 'What are you writing?' and I would say, 'A script that I want you to read,' " she says.
Finally she asked Farquhar and Weithorn for a few minutes of their time. Farquhar replied that she could have just one. Mara spoke up: "Let me not waste it on why I need you. That's obvious," she said. "Let me spend it on why you need me." (She would later write those words for Sparkle, the title character of the movie.) South Central focused on a family headed by a single mother, and Mara knew something about that, she told Farquhar. She was rewarded with a position as a writing trainee on the short-lived show.
After Mara endured a "horrible" 18 months of unemployment, Farquhar made her a staff writer on the sitcom Moesha, which became the biggest hit on the fledgling UPN after it premiered in 1996. While working there, she met and married Salim. Having vowed never to get involved with a man with kids, Mara fell for a man who had two.
Salim had fathered his first child when he was a child himself, at the age of 13. He had grown up in Richmond, Calif., which still ranks among the country's most dangerous cities. "You couldn't pull up to a stoplight without people running up trying to sell you crack," Salim says. "My friends were dying at a fast pace, or going to prison."
Salim credits his mother with saving him, though her ambitions for him were not great. "She was very clear about the man she wanted me to be -- someone who had a good job at UPS or a Chevron, or you drove a bus," he says. But even when he was very small, she indulged his passionate love of entertainment. "I would watch The Honeymooners late at night," he says. "She encouraged my imagination, encouraged me to be an individual, demanded that I be a man."
But Salim doesn't want to talk about his childhood much, about being a father at such a young age, about the fact that his mother went to prison when he was a teen. He says he doesn't remember a lot about this period in his life and doesn't even know why she was incarcerated, attributing his haziness to post-traumatic stress. "It's like peeling back a scab," he says, "and I don't peel back scabs too much."
But Salim says his mother had arranged things so he could live on his own, and he kept going to classes, though he was not a great student. "It wasn't me trying to be a good kid," he says. "It was normalcy. You get up, you go to school, you come home, you fix dinner, you go to sleep." Salim's grades were good enough for him to graduate from high school. His mother, by then out of prison, was stunned.
The next day, he left for Los Angeles. "I thought I was an actor until they pointed the camera at me," he says. After floundering for years, selling shoes on Melrose Avenue, Salim made his way to Columbia College Hollywood. "It introduced me to the reality of what filmmaking was," he says. "I had no clue."
When he finished school, his mother, who was suffering from gangrene as a result of diabetes, asked him to return to Richmond. He complied, went to work at a mortuary and fathered another child. (Now a grandfather, Salim has a 35-year-old daughter and a 27-year-old son. He and Mara, who live in Hancock Park, have two children, ages 8 and 3.) Salim also connected with the Bay Area's filmmaking community, which led to a collaboration on a $25,000 feature, Drylongso. The movie, which dealt with gang violence in Oakland, played at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999.
By then, Salim had encountered Mara at her writing retreat: in those days, Insomnia Cafe on Beverly Boulevard. He was visiting when a friend asked him to come and check out a beautiful woman whom he had been watching day after day. Salim was the one who found the nerve to talk to her, but he didn't ask her out until he ran into her a year later, when he was back in Los Angeles finishingDrylongso. He invited Mara to dinner, and when their leisurely meal was over, he asked, "Can we cut the bullshit and get on about the business of living a life together?"
Mara went on the become supervising producer on The Jamie Foxx Show on the WB Network, where she started developing Girlfriends, inspired by her love of Sex and the City. Salim went to work on Showtime's Soul Food.
It's hard not to notice that both Salim and Mara have gotten their breaks in the business doing shows aimed at African-American audiences. "Like anyone else in television, I like to explore my life experience," Salim says. "And I don't think African-American artists see doing shows or art about African-Americans as something 'less than.' I think maybe the industry sometimes does. We don't get as much attention, we don't get critical acclaim and so on. But as far as my perspective, it's a natural thing. And it doesn't limit me because all I'm really doing is telling American stories."
Mara agrees, though she is dismayed that the actresses in Girlfriends did not get the awards recognition that she feels they deserved. And while she believes that much of her success derives from the spice of a diverse writers room, she gets annoyed that there is rarely a similar approach on shows that don't have predominantly black casts. Kenny Smith, who worked with Mara on Jamie Foxx and is now an executive producer on The Game, says Mara relies on writers from different backgrounds and genders to create authentic emotional notes. And she doesn't worry about political correctness. "When we're developing stories in the room, she wants guys to be guys," he says. "And if it's sexist and ugly, she wants the women to respond as they actually would. It's like, 'Let's not sugar-coat this.' It's always courageous."
Mara is also aware that UPN launched Girlfriends -- and other shows revolving around African-Americans -- because they were seen as cheap audience magnets. She says new networks like UPN or Fox, back then, "didn't believe you have to spend a lot of money to get [the audience] to come because we're so hungry to see ourselves that we'll just show up and find it. That is not the case, by the way." But Mara says the experience taught her to do a lot with a tight budget.
After CW bailed on The Game, reruns on BET outperformed first-run shows on CW. Before she took the top programming job at BET, Jones had taken note when The Game went off the air. "Somebody should do something about that," she thought. When she set up shop at BET, she did. It was an unusual deal: CBS, which formerly produced the show, still owns it, but BET finances it and oversees all aspects, from script to broadcast. For Mara, the move gave the show life, but once again, she had to do more with less: A source estimates that the budget, a little more than $1 million an episode at CW, shrank by about 30 percent. But Mara became a network star: Her hourlong drama, Being Mary Jane, will premiere on BET next year -- with a pilot directed by Salim.
Salim first met with Houston about Sparkle at the Akils' loft office in Venice. The singer talked about her hopes that the remake would inspire girls in the same way the original had inspired her. "If you ever get nervous or you feel that things aren't going the way you would like, get on my back and I'll carry you," Salim told her.
The Akils say Houston was joyous and generous on the set. Her death came as a shock. "It was very painful when she left us," Salim says. "It brought up a lot of older issues and feelings with me, about my friends and having come up the way I did. But I would hate for people to concentrate on that aspect of who she was."
After Houston died, sources say executives at Sony Pictures swooped down on the film, handing Salim reams of notes, some of which even came from studio chairman Michael Lynton's wife,Jamie. (Lynton had taken a great personal interest in the film, negotiating to buy the remake rights from Warner Bros.) "This was a nice, small, fun movie until Whitney died, and then it was crazy," says a source with ties to the project. Salim had a cut that he was happy with, but the studio dictated certain changes. When asked about it, Salim chooses his words carefully. "I am happy with it," he says. "There's always the director's cut and the cut. ... I think the wonderful thing about the process is that my voice was heard. Michael Lynton was generous with his time when I wanted to talk something out."
In the end, Salim says, "We came to a happy conclusion. ... So we'll see what the people think. I think Whitney would be very happy."
THE ORIGINAL SPARKLE: Making of a Cult Classic
I met Joel Schumacher in the summer of 1971. We both loved R&B, soul and the movies. The soundtrack to our lives was the '70s Supremes. I said to him, "We have to make a movie about these girls." Joel was doing the window display at Bendel's [department store]. He twisted the mannequins into incredible shapes, put outrageous wigs on them and red dresses covered in sequins. One sequin fell on the floor, and as I picked it up it glinted under the floodlights: "We're going to call our movieSparkle."
I met Peter Brown, who was running Robert Stigwood's record company. Stiggy managed the careers of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Bee Gees and Eric Clapton. Peter loved our idea and optioned it for $5,000. We hired Lonne Elder, who wrote the Oscar-winning Sounder, but his script was terrible. I told Joel, "Unless you write it on spec, the project will die."
John Calley, a very cool, smart man, was running Warner Bros. I told him about Sparkle. Joel had his heart set on directing, and I wanted Ashford & Simpson writing the music. Calley says to me: "I read Joel's great screenplay. I'll make the movie if Sam O'Steen directs and Curtis Mayfieldwrites the music." O'Steen was the editor of Catch-22, and Warner/Chappell had recently made a publishing deal with Mayfield, who wrote the phenomenally successful soundtrack to Super Fly. Joel said to me: "Curtis Mayfield is obviously our Barbra. As far as Sam O'Steen ... it's painful for me, but I'll step aside." Calley gave us the green light a month later.
Sparkle became a cult movie, beloved by African-American girls because the characters felt like real people, not stock killers, pimps, drug dealers and addicts.
-- Howard Rosenman co-wrote and co-produced Sparkle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The 100 Best African American Poems

Hear voices contemporary and classic as selected by New York Times bestselling author Nikki Giovanni

Award-winning poet and writer Nikki Giovanni takes on the impossible task of selecting the 100 best African American works from classic and contemporary poets. Out of necessity, Giovanni admits she cheats a little, selecting a larger, less round number.

The result is this startlingly vibrant collection that spans from historic to modern, from structured to freeform, and reflects the rich roots and visionary future of African American verse. These magnetic poems are an exciting mix of most-loved classics and daring new writing. From Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes to Tupac Shakur, Natasha Trethewey, and many others, the voice of a culture comes through in this collection, one that is as talented, diverse, and varied as its people.

African American poems are like all other poems: beautiful, loving, provocative, thoughtful, and all those other adjectives I can think of. Poems know no boundaries. They, like all Earth citizens, were born in some country, grew up on some culture, then in their blooming became citizens of the Universe. Poems fly from heart to heart, head to head, to whisper a dream, to share a condolence, to congratulate, and to vow forever. The poems are true. They are translated and they are celebrated. They are sung, they are recited, they are delightful. They are neglected. They are forgotten. They are put away. Even in their fallow periods they sprout images. And fight to be revived. And spring back to life with a bit of sunshine and caring.
-Nikki Giovanni


  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Kwame Alexander
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Langston Hughes
  • Mari Evans
  • Kevin Young
  • Asha Bandele
  • Amiri Baraka


  • Ruby Dee
  • Novella Nelson
  • Nikki Giovanni
  • Elizabeth Alexander
  • Marilyn Nelson
  • Sonia Sanchez
  • And many, many, more

Nikki Giovanni is an award-winning poet, writer, and activist. She is the author of more than two dozen books for adults and children, including Bicycles, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea, Racism 101, Blues: For All the Changes, and Love Poems. Her children's book-plus-audio compilation Hip Hop Speaks to Children was awarded the NAACP Image Award. Her children's book Rosa, a picture-book retelling of the Rosa Parks story, was a Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. Both books were New York Times bestsellers. Nikki is a Grammy nominee for her spoken-word album The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection and has been nominated for the National Book Award. She has been voted Woman of the Year by Essence, Mademoiselle, and Ladies' Home Journal. She is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, where she teaches writing and literature.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rainforest Films

Director Rob Hardy and Producer William Packer created Rainforest Films in 1994, on the eve of the success of their first film Chocolate City. Shortly thereafter, the duo began producing a myriad of corporate pieces as their film was distributed to video stores.

One of their most successful projects, Stomp The Yard (Sony/Screen Gems), grossed over $65 million dollars and held the #1 position at the box office for two weekends in January of 2007. Later that year the company produced This Christmas (Sony/Screen Gems), which made $50 million dollars. The success of both projects landed the duo amongst the Top 25 Entertainers and Moneymakers according to Black Enterprise Magazine (January 2008).

After moving to Atlanta, Rainforest blossomed with its spellbinding film Trois. Remarkably, the picture was funded, produced, and distributed independently. Trois became the fastest African-American distributed film to ever surpass the million-dollar mark. This achievement landed Rainforest Films at the #34 spot of Top 500 Film Distributors of 2000 listed by Hollywood Reporter (August 2001), and resulted in the picture being in the Top 50 Highest Grossing Independent Films of the Year according to Daily Variety (July 30, 2001).

Soon after, Rainforest Films produced the mesmerizing Pandora’s Box. This motion picture earned the star of the film, actress Monica Calhoun (The Best Man), an award for “Best Actress” from the 2002 American Black Film Festival. The film was later released to theatres and generated a respectable box office, further solidifying the company as a top tier independent theatrical distributor.

Rainforest soon acquired the rights to Lockdown. This dramatic prison piece also received a limited theatrical run via Rainforest Films and has subsequently become a financial juggernaut on home video, making it one of Columbia Tri-Star’s top selling independent releases. As a result, Rob Hardy and William Packer were listed amongst the “New Establishment” of Black Power Brokers in Hollywood (Hollywood Reporter – December 10, 2002).

Next came Motives, starring Vivica A. Fox and Shemar Moore and then the Isaiah Washington vehicle, Trois: The Escort, soon followed. After creating an MTV film project with mega-star Usher Raymond (Hollywood Reporter- July 21, 2004), Rainforest Films produced the indie breakout hit film titled The Gospel. Released in October 2005 by Sony/Screen Gems, this faith-based film starred Boris Kodjoe, Nona Gaye and Idris Elba, and featured new songs by Kirk Franklin. A companion concert video entitled The Gospel Live, soon followed. After teaming with both Sony and Lion’s Gate to produce Mekhi Phifer’s directorial debut Puff Puff Pass, Rainforest produced Motives 2: Retribution as well as the sequel Three Can Play That Game, both for Sony.

Most recently Will Packer was named one of the Top 10 Producers to Watch, by Variety Magazine (2007). Rob Hardy was nominated for the HBO Director to Watch Award (2005). Additionally, Rainforest Films has produced a number of commercial projects for clients, including: CNN, Turner Broadcasting, American Honda, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola, The National Cancer Institute and Burrell Communications.

With the Beyonce Knowles picture Obsessed (Screen Gems) set for theatres in mere days, producer Will Packer is putting the final touches on Takers, a movie about a Los Angeles detective gunning against a hip band of thieves as they prepare a $20 million heist. Meanwhile Rob Hardy has been directing network television shows, including the Emmy Award winning ER, Criminal Minds and the webisodes for NBC’s Heroes. Up next for Rainforest is a sequel to Stomp the Yard and an all star African-American remake of the 80’s mega hit movie The Big Chill.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

12-year-old writes, prints and illustrates his own comic

Arion Rashad is not your typical kid. The 7th grader has created his very own comic book.

"I stop for a minute sometimes," Rashad said, "and I'm like, 'Am I really doing this?'"

He is, and his comic, inspired by characters from Sonic the Hedgehog and Nintendo Wii, is called Mii Toons. Rashad draws all the art and writes all the stories, all by himself.

"You get that, 'Really? No...he did this? You had to help him,'" said Dominique Rashad, Arion's dad. "And I'm like no, I really didn't, I actually kind of got out of his way."

At Tate's Comics in Lauderhill, Florida the premier comic book store in the Southeast, you'll find Mii Toons on display. The owner thought so highly of Arion's work, he bought six copies and he's already sold three.

"To think it's actually in a book store with other comic books," Dominique said, "What an amazing feeling for him."

"I've never heard of anyone 12-years-old doing a comic," said Nakia Mann, a sales associate at Tate's. "For someone that young to be putting a book out that's that good, it's never been done."

Mii Toons is written for a young audience, but the comic book experts at Tate's were raving about Arion's maturity as an artist.

"There's a lot of character development in it and a lot of subplots that he's got building up," Mann said. "At the end of issue #106 there's a cliffhanger and I'm waiting on him to bring the next two books in so I know what happens next."

All the colorful cartoonish characters in Mii Toons are based on real people in Arion's life, including himself.

"I'll even put my enemies, like my bullies in there." said Arion. "I can't just be fighting nothing."

A fitting theme for a 12-year-old who turned his own fantasy of making comic books, into a reality.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Oprah Winfrey: Charity Work

When it comes to being benevolent and giving to charity, one person comes to mind: Oprah Winfrey.

She has donated millions of dollars to various charities and organizations, with most of her money going to three foundations: The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation.

Using her talk to show to publicize The Angel Network, Winfrey has said that 100% of any donation you give, goes directly towards funding a project. Some examples of the projects are The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and Rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

The Oprah Winfrey Foundation is run exclusively by Oprah Winfrey. (You can not donate to this organization, because it’s funded by an endowment.) The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation was initially created in 2007 to give money towards the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Through these organizations, Winfrey has truly established herself as an altruistic person. She has extended her arm and influence far and wide throughout the world.

Besides these organizations, Oprah has volunteered her time with other, various charities. Oprah signed a wooden dog bone for an auction that will benefit the Mississippi Animal Rescue League. Oprah also gave 300 members of her audience $1000 each to donate to a charity of their choice. Winfrey helped design and signed a pair of shoes for the Stuart Weitzman charity shoe auction benefiting ovarian cancer awareness and research.

Oprah is also a big supporter of the Clinton Foundation, which supports many causes including treating HIV and AIDS and fighting climate change. She donates to Project Cuddle, which rescues hundreds of babies from abandonment and abuse every year. She is one of the largest contributors to Free The Children, an organization dedicated to building schools for children in developing countries. Oprah has also auctioned off some of the cars from her collection for charity.

On The Oprah Winfrey Show, she has talked about various issues including the importance to donate to charity. Winfrey also created, a website that shows information related to her show, book club, and, of course, public charity. On top of all this, Oprah also has a will that will donate 1 billion dollars to charity.

Oprah Winfrey is, beyond all doubt, one of the greatest philanthropists in the 21st century.

Read more:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rutgers African American Alumni Alliance (RAAA)

In the spirit of the predecessor organization (Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance) which was founded in 1989, the organization was relaunched in 2001 by several Alumni on the New Brunswick campus when it hosted its first annual Family and Friends day during the Homecoming weekend. The event provided Alumni the opportunity to network and attend Homecoming festivities for which many never experienced while students at Rutgers. The event became the soundboard and vehicle for Alumni to reconnect with one another and more importantly, the Rutgers community. Throughout the years, RAAA, Inc. continues to have an ever increasing presence on campus as a means to enhance relationships with both the student body and the University.

Incorporated in 2006, Rutgers African American Alumni Alliance (RAAA), Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It is an association of African-American, Afro-Caribbean and African Alumni encompassing all of Rutgers University's undergraduate and graduate schools. RAAA Inc., an all volunteer organization, operates independent of the University to support educational programming, cultural awareness and is primarily dependent upon membership dues, corporate and private donations to fund all programs and events.

RAAA, Inc. strives to foster and enhance unity amongst Alumni, students, faculty and staff of African ancestry via our programming and active participation in the lives of our students. It is our goal to harness the potential of our Alumni network as we aim to be the voice of our constituents to affect positive change at Rutgers University and the community at large. It is our obligation as Alumni to support, encourage and develop our students while providing them with opportunities that may or may not have been afforded to us as we continue to highlight and celebrate the contributions of our fellow Alumni.

As an all inclusive organization, RAAA, Inc. does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, handicap, source of income, or status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran.

Monday, August 6, 2012

S.K.I.R.T.S in the Boardroom: A Woman's Survival Guide to Success in Business and Life

If you're a working woman who wants to get ahead, S.K.I.R.T.S. in the Boardroom will equip you with the strategies you need to combine confidence and compassion, style and substance, and beauty and brains for professional success. It will help you navigate the male-dominated corporate world and keep you inspired when you're unmotivated and unsatisfied with your career. A must for any woman who wants to maximize her professional potential, this book offers sensible, straightforward, and long-overdue advice.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

All My Mistakes: Money lessons for emancipating youth

In this autobiographical personal finance book for emancipating foster kids, the most dynamic financial education speaker working today, Shay Olivarria, shares money lessons that she learned during her life while experiencing the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that led to her being placed in foster care. Everything from finding an apartment and getting the utilities turned on to paying for college and saving for retirement are covered. Resources for emancipating youth shared from organizations across the country are also included. This edition includes a bonus chapter on resumes, interviewing, and career advice.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hudlin Entertainment

Reginald Hudlin is unique in the entertainment business because of his success as a writer, producer, director and executive. To quote cultural critic Jimi Israel, “Hudlin is a modern-day Gordon Parks, a true monster in the game who totally re-did the blueprint: what some people used to call a renaissance man. I dig him because he made me think outside of the box. Hudlin writes and directs movies, pens a comic book, and he was running BET. That’s multi-tasking for your ass”.

Hudlin is a pioneer of the modern black film movement, creating movies like HOUSE PARTY, BOOMERANG and BEBE’S KIDS, which are some of the most profitable and influential films of his generation. He is the executive producer and writer of the upcoming BLACK PANTHER animated series starring Djimon Hounsou, and was executive producer of THE BOONDOCKS. Hudlin also directed the pilot of the hit series EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS and was a producer and director of THE BERNIE MAC SHOW.

Hudlin is currently a producer on writer/director Quinton Tarantino’s upcoming feature film DJANGO UNCHAINED, starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Costner.

Every month Hudlin writes a comic strip for Ebony Magazine called YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.

During his more than three year tenure as the first President of Entertainment for Black Entertainment Television, Hudlin created 17 of the top 20 rated shows in the history of the network including the award-winning KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS; AMERICAN GANGSTER; and SUNDAY BEST. Under Hudlin’s stewardship, BET had its first ever telethon, which supported Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. He created the BET HIP HOP AWARDS and the BET HONORS - two successful network franchises. He created a profitable home entertainment division for the network and completely rebuilt the news division, which went on to win 13 awards in two years.


One of Reginald’s dreams came true four years ago when he wrote BLACK PANTHER comic book series for Marvel Comics. His BLACK PANTHER won awards and is the most successful black super hero series ever, which he adapted to a six episode animated series which is the biggest selling DVD in the Marvel Knights line. Hudlin also wrote an award winning run of SPIDER MAN, Marvel’s flagship character.

Hudlin co-authored his first book BIRTH OF A NATION in July 2004. BIRTH is a comic novel about Hudlin’s hometown of East St. Louis seceding from the United States. The Random House publication received glowing reviews in Time, Entertainment Weekly and Publisher’s Weekly, among others.

Hudlin’s first feature film, HOUSE PARTY, was based on a short film he directed while a student at Harvard University. The1990 version won the prestigious Filmmakers Trophy and the Best Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival and also received the Clarence Muse Youth Award and a New Visions, New Voices Award from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

HOUSE PARTY is one of the most profitable films of the decade and was critically acclaimed, receiving reviews from film critic Roger Ebert, the New York Times, Time, Newsweek and USA Today. The film launched a franchise, inspiring three sequels; a Saturday morning animated series and a comic book. When New Line Pictures successfully raised 100 million dollars in a public stock offering, HOUSE PARTY was the only film touted in their advertising campaign to the financial markets.

Hudlin then directed the Paramount Pictures romantic comedy BOOMERANG starring Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Halle Berry and Chris Rock. BOOMERANG earned $120 million dollars worldwide and produced a double platinum soundtrack by LA Reid and Babyface. The soundtrack featured Boyz II Men’s “End of The Road,” one of the longest charting #1 singles in Billboard history, and the debut appearance of the multi-platinum songstress Toni Braxton.

During this period, Hudlin simultaneously wrote and executive produced BEBE’S KIDS, the first African American animated feature film. BEBE’S KIDS was based on the comic routines of the late Robin Harris, who played Pop in HOUSE PARTY.

In 1995 Hudlin created and co-executive produced COSMIC SLOP, a hip “Twilight Zone”-type anthology special for HBO which won two CableAce Awards.

He then went on to direct THE GREAT WHITE HYPE, a Ron Shelton-scripted boxing comedy starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Damon Wayans, Jamie Foxx and Jon Lovitz, followed by THE LADIES MAN. That film starred SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE comedian Tim Meadows, Will Farrell and Julianne Moore.

Expanding into new genres, Hudlin directed SERVING SARA, a road comedy featuing “Friends” star Matthew Perry, Elizabeth Hurley and Cedric the Entertainer.

Reginald has directed television commercials for McDonalds, Burger King, AT&T and the Illinois State Lottery.

Reginald has been a featured speaker at Vermont Law School; the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Yale University; the Montclair Art Museum; The Directors Guild; the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; the American Bible Society; the San Diego Comic Con; and more.

Hudlin sits on the boards of the UCLA Film, Television and Theatre Department; and the Hollywood Television and Radio Society and the Black Filmmaker Foundation. He is a member of the Motion Picture Academy, the DGA, WGA and, SAG.

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Chrisette, daughter Helena and son Alexander.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson's professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way.

In 2001, Tyson was appointed by President Bush to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. The final report was published in 2002 and contained recommendations (for Congress and for the major agencies of the government) that would promote a thriving future of transportation, space exploration, and national security.

In 2004, Tyson was once again appointed by President Bush to serve on a 9-member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the Moon, Mars, and Beyond commission. This group navigated a path by which the new space vision can become a successful part of the American agenda. And in 2006, the head of NASA appointed Tyson to serve on its prestigious Advisory Council, which will help guide NASA through its perennial need to fit its ambitious vision into its restricted budget.

In addition to dozens of professional publications, Dr. Tyson has written, and continues to write for the public. From 1995 to 2005, Tyson was a monthly essayist for Natural History magazine under the title Universe. And among Tyson's ten books is his memoir The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist; and Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, co-written with Donald Goldsmith. Origins is the companion book to the PBS-NOVA 4-part mini-series Origins, in which Tyson served as on-camera host. The program premiered on September 28 and 29, 2004.

Two of Tyson's recent books are the playful and informative Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, which was a New York Times bestseller, and The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, chronicling his experience at the center of the controversy over Pluto's planetary status. The PBS/NOVA documentary "The Pluto Files", based on the book, premiered in March 2010.

For five seasons, beginning in the fall of 2006, Tyson appeared as the on-camera host of PBS-NOVA's spinoff program NOVA ScienceNOW, which is an accessible look at the frontier of all the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe.

During the summer of 2009 Tyson identified a stable of professional standup comedians to assist his effort in bringing science to commercial radio with the NSF-funded pilot program StarTalk. Now also a podcast, StarTalk Radio combines celebrity guests with informative yet playful banter. The target audience is all those people who never thought they would, or could, like science.

Tyson is the recipient of fourteen honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen. His contributions to the public appreciation of the cosmos have been recognized by the International Astronomical Union in their official naming of asteroid 13123 Tyson. On the lighter side, Tyson was voted Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive by People Magazine in 2000.

In February 2012, Tyson releases his tenth book, this one exclusive devoted to space exploration: Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, and he is currently working on a 21st century reboot of Carl Sagan's landmark television series COSMOS, to air in 13 episodes on the FOX network in 2013.

Tyson is the first occupant of the Frederick P. Rose Directorship of the Hayden Planetarium. Tyson lives in New York City with his wife and two children.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bo Jackson 'Bo Bikes Bama' Tour Raises More Than $413,000 For Ala. Tornado Victims

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Bo Jackson's 300-mile bike ride across Alabama ended Saturday in Tuscaloosa, with the Heisman Trophy winner having raised more than $413,000 so far to help victims of last spring's tornado outbreaks.
The ride – dubbed "Bo Bikes Bama" – crossed the finish line in Tuscaloosa around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The ride passed through some of the communities hit hardest by more than 60 twisters that destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and killed about 250 people on April 27, 2011. In Tuscaloosa, more than 50 deaths were blamed on a tornado.
Hundreds joined Jackson for the ride, including celebrities such as Lance Armstrong, former major leaguer Ken Griffey Jr. and NBA star Scottie Pippen. Riders could join Jackson for $200 a day. Each of the five bikes he rode will be auctioned.
Todd Stacy of the Alabama House Speaker's staff said Saturday evening that donations were still coming in for the Governor's Emergency Relief Fund, which was set up to help tornado victims. Jackson had set a goal of raising $1 million.
Jackson told a gathering in Tuscaloosa that he was inspired by the optimism of people he encountered along the ride, people who in many cases had lost a lot.
"We've had fun this week," Jackson said "I've gotten to know people that I would have never gotten to know. And it's things like when you're driving down the road, even though these people have lost a lot, they're out on their front porches. They're out beside the streets and they're waving. And they're happy."
Jackson, who grew up near Birmingham in Bessemer but now lives in Illinois, laughed as he recalled the driver of an 18-wheeler pulling up beside him and saying, "Roll, Bo, roll."
"I almost fell off my bike," Jackson said.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eric Thomas - Quotes

“Don’t make a habit out of choosing what feels good over what’s actually good for you.”

“Avoid being your own enemy.”

“You can change environments, but until you change yourself, nothing else will ever change.”

“What you envision in your mind, how you see yourself, and how you envision the world around you is of great importance because those things become your focus.”

“You cannot afford to live in potential for the rest of your life; at some point, you have to unleash the potential and make your move(ment).”

“I was just tired of coming up short and needed desperately to surround myself with people who had that winner’s mentality.”

“Character is like my fingerprint; it identifies me from everyone else in the world. It says who I am and where I am headed.”

“Things change for the better when we take responsibility for our own thoughts, decisions and actions.”

“Those who want success should think like a planter. They should understand that having the right seed is an essential key to success, but they must also understand that the soil that they entrust to the seed is just as vital… Can you honestly say the environment(s) you are in will yield the kind of harvest you are expecting?.”

“The truth is that momentum, in the sense in which we are discussing, is a feeling, and if it’s a feeling, that means we have the ability to have it on our side at all times if we so choose.”

“There is power in one’s spirit – the power to empower and the power to suppress.”

“Stop sabotaging yourself.”

“You will not experience all life has to offer you or begin to experience life at its fullest as long as you are satisfied with mediocrity. You have to be disgusted with your current circumstances before your circumstances can change.”

“You need your undivided attention.”

“At some point in life you have to face your fears, and head on even though you can’t be sure of the outcome. A great deal of people will never reach their dreams and it won’t have anything to do with their ability or skill set. They won’t reach their dreams because they were too afraid to try.”

“If I had never taken the test, I could always say I would have passed if I had taken it, I just did not feel like taking it. That way I would never have to face my fears and I could create this illusion in my mind to prevent me from feeling like a failure. I was good at that.”

“I soon discovered, dreaming is one thing, but at some point I had to get up, get out and get something.”

“There is nothing wrong with dreaming big dreams, just know that all roads that lead to success have to pass through Hardwork Boulevard at some point.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

“However, I learned through the process not to make time the focus. The secret to success is in the nature of the seed, not how long it takes to see the results.”

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.”

“And as a former procrastinator, I always had to remind myself not to put of what I could do today.”

“A setback is a setup for a comeback.”

“I learned that pain produces certain things that complacency can’t.”

“If I could have you take just one thing from this book, it would be that there is no magical formula for success. It’s about having a dream and working towards it no matter what negative circumstances occur along the way. In basketball there is a saying that says, “The only way to get out of a shooting slump is to keep shooting.’ The same can be said for our lives. The only way to get out of mediocrity, is to keep shooting for excellence.”