Archive for the ‘Entertainment Business’ Category

15 Reasons To Be Down With HRC

July 26, 2016

There will never be a flawless politician. Politicians gonna politic, pander and polarize. It’s what they do. I’m not here to tell you how to vote, so save that for another comment thread. Disclosure: I am a Democrat, but I have supported independent candidates before. I even voted for Sanders in the NY primary. I understand the sting of having your candidate lose. But I also understand what’s at stake as we stare directly at the *very* real prospect of a Trump presidency.

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So I am laying out my 15 point case for the Democratic nominee. Yes. Benghazi. I know. All the Clinton policies that were enacted while she was FLOTUS, that she couldn’t vote on–but watched happen at close range. I know. The emails. Careless and horribly managed. I know that too. The Iraq War vote. I knowwww. But remember: 9/11 happened in *her* state, and Bush-Cheney snow-jobbed damn near errybody in its aftermath. People with sense acknowledge this now. And she paid for it dearly when she lost the nomination to then Sen. Obama in 2008. Not excusing any of it. Just letting you know I know before all the “but, what about this-” “and what about that?” starts.

I posted this on journalist Bene’ Viera’s Facebook page when she called for comments on who her friends are voting for and why. It inspired me to make it a blog post, so I can stop repeating myself, and so those who find it useful can share it.

Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) is

1. Smarter

2. Better educated than her opponent

3. Highly and uniquely experienced as a former Secy. of State, US Senator, and FLOTUS

4. Endorsed by President Obama (and Bernie Sanders)

5. Hailed by GOP leaders with sense–meaning non partisan goals have a shot at not being obstructed

6. She is pro reproductive choice/rights

7. Values inclusion

8. No KKK surrogates (Google Trump’s)

9. Values DIPLOMACY (Trump cannot even spell the word, much less enact it)

10. Has the respect of world leaders

11. The independent candidates in this cycle have NO shot at being nominated or winning against Trump (I’ve voted independent before, so no, it’s not about that)

12. She will likely nominate an even handed SCOTUS replacement for Scalia’s seat

13. She understands the power of the non-white electorate, and engages with them. Trump does neither.

14. Her cabinet will most likely be the most gender balanced one in US History

15. She understands how government works, from the lessons learned on Obamacare and NAFTA–and can use this learning in the role of POTUS.

And as far as bullying goes with respect to voting from your friends and family, it’s nothing compared to the sustained, unrelenting institutional bullying of a womanizing, unscrupulous neo-fascist running the free world as he bleeds the economy and adds back the trillion Obama erased with interest…to line his own pockets.

The Combover is the closest thing to Sarah Palin we’ve seen since…Sarah Palin. And even *she* was a governor. Meanwhile, Trump hasn’t so much as held a City Council seat. But his peen, and the perception of him having money (because we are still waiting to see his tax returns) are the reasons he hasn’t been laughed off the dais. Let that marinate.

Thembisa S. Mshaka is an International Relations major turned entertainment industry veteran. An award-winning creative writer/producer and festival selected filmmaker, she is the author on the definitive business title for and about women in entertainment, Put Your Dreams First, Handle Your [entertainment] Business.

For Nate Dogg: Hip-Hop’s Captain Hook

March 17, 2011

T-pain, Akon, Ja, Fif, Drake. All inspired by this man.

 

Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale

1969-2011

On March 15, 2011 Nathaniel D. Hale, professionally known as Nate Dogg, transitioned from a world upon which he left an indelible mark.

Before Ja Rule, before 50 Cent, and long before T-Pain, Akon, or Drake were dabbling in the hook game, there was Tha Homie Nate, co-founding member of 213.

The East Coast and Midwest probably know his crossover hits best: obviously the monster smash “Regulate” performed with Warren G, huge songs from Snoop Dogg’s debut Doggystyle like “It Ain’t No Fun” and classic album cuts like “Lil Ghetto Boy” from The Chronic that Nate Dogg blessed. In 2001, Whitney Houston brought his banger with Tha Eastsidaz into the national consciousness on the BET Awards by singing, “you betta Lay Low” to her detractors from the podium.

Nate made magic for them all...

We on the West heard much more of his repertoire on a daily basis throughout the mid ‘90s. We rode hard to tracks like “It’s All About U” from 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me, “Bitch Please” from Snoop Dogg with Xzibit, and “Big Pimpin’”, his outing with Tha Dogg Pound from the Above The Rim Soundtrack (that predated the song of shared title by Jay-Z) and of course—“The Next Episode” from Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001.

Never one to discriminate based on region, the songs Nate did with emcees from the East and the South are also memorable: “Oh No” with Most Def and Pharoahe Monch; “Running Your Mouth”, the cut he did with Biggie, Fab and Busta Rhymes on B.I.G’s posthumous Greatest Hits CD; “Have A Party” with Mobb Deep, “Time’s Up” with Jadakiss, “Area Codes” with Ludacris, and his two most radio friendly collaborations of them all, I Can’t Deny It with Fabolous and “21 Questions” with 50 Cent.

Unifier of the Hip-Hop Sound

That’s part of what made Nate so great; his versatility; his velvety, confident delivery on the mic; his ability to shape hip-hop’s sound and in so doing, remove boundaries. The result is a catalog so diverse within the genre, it will take quite some time for any other vocalist to eclipse it. Nate Dogg is truly an architect of contemporary hip-hop. He elevated the collaboration, and was nominated for four Grammy® Awards over the course of his career.

For some perspective, when gangsta rap ramped up and started receiving more than the “shock value” airplay given to N.W.A., Domino was Nate’s only contemporary on the West Coast, singing hooks as he half-rapped. When Death Row kicked down a new door in gangsta rap, Nate went into warp speed with a barrage of hits, leaving Domino and his gold-selling “Geto Jam” at the starting line. Nate never tried to rap, but he didn’t need to. Nate Dogg kicked game everlasting through his vocals, often anchoring the young, hurried voices of the emcees with measured grown-man sensibility. He made the most misogynist, testosterone-laden, and most triflin’ ‘hood phrases sound like quiet storm dedications, only you almost snapped your neck nodding to them. Nate Dogg was a master of melody, Suge’s heavy-hitter of hooks. And with Jewell and Danny Boy rounding out Suge’s vocal arsenal, Death Row became the arbiter of what Snoop Dogg would later call R&G, Rhythm & Gangsta.

Nate Dogg was so prolific, he had G-Funk Classics Vol 1 & 2, a two-disc compilation come out before his own solo debut dropped. While not well received upon its release, Music & Me (2001) had a jam I kept on repeat as its opening song called “I Got Love” for that melody and those horns beneath Nate’s signature vocal styling. And he had love, from every corner of the hip-hop map, boasting Snoop, Fabo, Pharoahe, Lil’ Mo, Xzibit, and JD on the project. He had certainly given more than his share as a bonafide hitmaker for other artists, to the tune of over 100 million albums sold with him featured.

I got to meet him over the phone on a Tech.nitions DJ conference call—he and I were the featured guests that week. I gave him his props and called him Captain Hook; he laughed long and strong at that moniker. Me personally, I would have loved to have gotten “One More Day” to thank and acknowledge Nate for crafting a significant part of my life’s hip-hop soundtrack. This post will have to suffice.

Rest in Power, Nate Dogg.

Basketball Wifeys

April 15, 2010

Ever since the R&B group Next released the hit single ‘Wifey’ (2000), there’s been some confusion about the true definition of a wife.

Take the new VH1 series Basketball Wives, starring Shaquille O’Neal’s estranged wife, Shaunie O’Neal-“A show about 6 women who are best friends searching for stability in the unstable arena of being the significant other to a basketball superstar,” according to VH1.com.

On the show, Shaunie O’Neal and her gal-pals are all at various points along the wifey spectrum; Shaunie has filed for divorce from Shaq; Suzie is a co-parent of two with Michael Olowokondi; Gloria is engaged to Matt Barnes; Evelyn suffered a broken engagement with Antoine Walker; Royce is a serial b-ball girlfriend and self-described “firecracker”; Jennifer is married to Eric Williams. So, if my math is correct, there’s one actively married woman on the show. I hope more married women will come off the bench over the course of the season so viewers can see what it takes to sustain high profile marriages.

For the record, being a wife is hard work.  It’s about being committed to your partner through the good times and the bad, whether they are famous, rich or neither. Being a wife requires forgiveness, compromise, and support. Being a wife means accepting your man, and his entire family as they are—never as easy as it sounds.

Now wifeys are a different story altogether. Women who haven’t made it past the engagement…wifeys. Women who shacked up…wifeys. Women who’ve been knocked up but haven’t been wifed up…do I even have to say it? Such women are not wives. They’re second string.

My marriage is by no means high profile or perfect. But I am happily married. Save for Jennifer, is there a viable marriage in this bunch?

I’m not one to knock the next woman’s hustle. I’m happy to see Shaunie handling her entertainment business as an executive producer. My point of contention is that the show is mis-titled. It should be called Basketball Wifeys. Calling it Basketball Wives is false advertising. They may have shacked up or co-parented, but they have not been wifed up. And until you have, you don’t know what it takes to be one. That’s why when things go wrong and promises are broken, wifeys get the shaft and the wife gets half.

Being married is serious business. It’s the most exclusive ‘club’ on the planet and a hot-button political issue for those in the club—and seeking entry. Sure, committed relationships can rock without the paperwork, but it’s not the same as being married. Just ask Alexis Phifer, who came thiiis close to marrying Kanye West. Or Katheryn Bigelow, James Cameron’s contribution to the First Wives Club.

Chilli: Real Star, Real Relationship Criteria

On the flipside, there’s VH1’s What Chilli Wants featuring Chilli from pop supergroup TLC. According to VH1.com, Chilli decides to “take the reins of her romantic situation and launch an all out search for the love of her life.” The show is also a nice look for Brooklyn relationship diva and ‘Girl, Get Your Mind Right’ author Tionna Smalls.

It’s refreshing to see a bonafide celebrity looking for love utilizing a set of standards. Chilli isn’t hung up on how men earn money or whether they have kids already; she has a son herself. If this means a God-fearing, smoke, alcohol and pork free man who’s ripped and well endowed, so be it. More of us should be this specific and fearless in our search for a soul mate.

Chilli’s list is important. Without one, She could wind up off course and possibly bring home someone she’ll regret later kinda like grocery shopping while ravenously hungry. What Chilli Wants flexes real girl power because whether she finds a husband in 10 episodes or not, we all know she’ll be fine. “No one’s perfect; I know I’m not perfect, but I think women compromise too much.” Well said, Chilli! You are well on your way to adding happily married wife to all your great accomplishments. No waterfall chasing here.

Hi…My Name Is Taylor Swift

February 3, 2010

So the Grammys happened this past Sunday. In keeping with my theory that 2010 is the Year of the Woman in Entertainment, the ladies represented. It was wonderful to see Roberta Flack duet with Maxwell and to see Stevie Nicks, even if she was relegated to tambourine and backing vocals with Taylor Swift. Lady Gaga served a brilliant performance, holding more than her own solo and with Elton John. Sasha Fierce and her all-woman band delivered a frenetic display of Sasha’s incomparable vocal skill and unmatched movement capability in 5-inch stilettos as she took “If I Were A Boy” to new places.

Sasha even gave Beyonce’ a purely normal, human moment: upon accepting the award for Best Female Vocal Performance (her 6th of the night and a new Grammy® record for any female artist in one year-not that you heard that part after the Taylor win), she thanked her husband with an “I love you”. Pink got the crowd wet (visibly) with an amazing aerial rendition of  “Glitter In The Air” high above the crowd with no net. Pink is fearless.

Speaking of Fearless, Taylor Swift was awarded the Album of the Year Grammy® for her CD of the same name. Now look, I was just as horrified as the rest of the world when Kanye bum-rushed her at the VMAs. But it was on Grammy Night that I realized Beyonce’s attempt to give her a do-over by ceding her VMA acceptance speech time to the ingénue from Nashville was apparently not enough for the Recording Academy.

Every Awards show gives de facto do-over awards for people they’ve wrongfully overlooked or outright snubbed in years past. But this usually happens to right a wrong of their own doing, not of another artist—during another award show! Last Sunday, I witnessed this for the first time. I say this not to take anything away from Taylor Swift. I don’t think she’s the best singer; but she’s a solid songwriter, is actually a musician, and has the total package of country-girl-next door looks. Ordinarily, I’d be elated that a woman—especially one so young, copped 4 Grammys including Album of the Year. But that feeling of elation I had when Lauryn Hill won the same Award was nowhere to be found. I was in complete shock.

My first thought? “Kanye West is responsible for this.” His star power is so potent, he put this girl who was known primarily in country and tween pop circles on the map with his interruption. Taylor really shoulda given dude a shout-out. The media fallout banished him and caused a tsunami of sympathy for Swift; a wave she rode from Saturday Night Live clear up to the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.

My next thought? How does Taylor Swift win over Lady Gaga, who sold 8 million units in an abysmal market within months, AND had 4 #1 singles on the Billboard Top 200 from one album? Over Beyonce’, who had everyone from babies to drag queens doing the ‘Single Ladies’ video choreography and raked in $36M in tour receipts in a recession? Over The Black Eyed Peas, who topped the charts for 6 months, held the top two slots of the Billboard Top 200 with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling” this summer–with much of Chicago dancing to the latter smash hit on Oprah? And over The Dave Matthews Band, who are…well, The Dave Matthews Band???

Here’s Taylor by the numbers: at the end of 2008, both her albums amounted to 4 million sold. As of 2010, she IS the world’s top-selling digital artist at 24M downloads. No shots, but this makes her the country version of Souljaboy Tellem; a strong singles artist. Album of the Year I’m not buying. For Taylor Swift to win Album of the Year, the most coveted Grammy of the night—against Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce’ and The Dave Matthews Band was truly a gift; I am not sure Taylor will fully understand how much NARAS has her back.

What appeared to me as I examined this year’s Album of the Year nominees more closely was this: this was the most urban-leaning group of nominees I’ve seen in years. The usual shoo-ins, U2, weren’t even nominated for New Line On the Horizon. Kanye aside, I am not surprised that the Recording Academy went country in an ocean of hip-hop, R&B, dance and pop. It shows me we need more young members of diverse backgrounds, so voting will be balanced and wins will reflect a greater respect for the genres we represent.

I now have enough writing and production credits to become a voting member. This year’s telecast was my wake-up call. I will be signing up in plenty pf time to vote in 2011. I challenge all urban/dance/hip-hop/gospel/soul/black rock artists, writers, producers, packaging artists, and liner note writers to join me on the Voting Academy. For more on becoming a member, visit www.grammy.com

In Honor of Notorious B.I.G

May 21, 2009
Breakfast of champions of rap

Breakfast of champions of rap

Pulling out some of my photos from the ’90s, from a time I am so blessed to have lived and worked in; a decade that gave us hip-hop’s golden era. I found the photos of BIG in this note, and reconnected to a time when hip-hop had purpose; had a sense of humor; had much more respect for its women (and indeed a chorus of female voices to boot); had a hunger for innovation that eclipsed its need for shine. Hip-hop’s commitment to being dope is what turned the spotlight on her in the first place. BIG represents that for me. An inrcedible lyricist and magnetic personality who could not be denied, who brought the shine to him.

He visited me with Cease at GAVIN four days before his last. Our interview didn’t feel like one at all. We all laughed as the two of them played the dozens over salmon croquettes, eggs, and yes-Welch’s grape. I ordered in because of the tension that BIG being in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area, Tupac’s first Cali home, meant back then. He had so much security; traveled in an unmarked van. So many times I think back on that day, wishing security had been as tight in LA as it was in the Bay. He loved the energy of the Bay, too, because the Bay was always more inclined toward hip-hop unity in diversity than its SoCal counterpart. When Ricky Leigh called me at 4am on March 9, 1997, none of the competition, none of the beef, none of the parties, none of the bullshit mattered. Hip-hop’s collective heart was broken for the second time in six months.

including Michelle S., Foxy Brown, Joey Arbagey, Franzen Wong, Latin Prince, Sway

KMEL Dream Team: including Michelle S., Foxy Brown, Joey Arbagey, Franzen Wong, Latin Prince, Sway

He rose from the table, grabbed his cane (he was recovering from a car accident), snapped some pictures with me, bear hugged me and went on to KMEL and WILD, where he gave the infamous final radio interview caught on video. We saw each other again at the album listening event held by BMG distribution. And listening to that album was like hearing greatness pour through speakers.

One thing I have yet to find is the “Life After Death” buyway he autographed for me at the BMG mixer. I remember what it said though: “To Thembisa, thank you for being different.”

Biggie, thank you for being you.

Doin' it BIG

Doin' it BIG

The United States of 50 Cent

April 4, 2009
So my new favorite Sunday show, The United States of Tara comes to a close this weekend.

united-states-of-tara-promo

In a nutshell (pardon the pun) Toni Collette deftly dances between her central character, named Tara, and that woman’s other personalities, or ‘alters’: T, a petulant, hypersexed teenager; Alice, a prudish but alluring homemaker cut from Donna Reed’s cloth; Buck, her male alter who lives at the intersection of trailer trash biker and delusional Vietnam vet. And then: there’s Gimme, the feral child, an alter that screeches, cowers, destroys and even pees on sleeping relatives in the middle of the night.


The show has led me to draw an unlikely parallel between Tara and of all people, 50 Cent. Now, I am not a shrink, and I don’t think 50 Cent has multiple personality disorder. On the contrary: I think he’s got a firm grasp on who he is. But the Showtime series, executive produced by Diablo Cody, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Juno, got me to thinking about all the personalities 50 has revealed to us thus far.

For the show’s central character Tara, there is Curtis Jackson. He listens more than he talks, is a brilliant creative (like Tara, who is a muralist—only his mediums are movies, music, books and apparel). Low-key and perceptive, Curtis is probably the least exciting of all the personalities, but loveable for the same reasons.


tara1

50-cent-2

Then there’s Tara’s polar opposite, T. Less than half Tara’s age with twice the sex drive, and no regard for consequences. T’s attitude is ‘all me all the time’, period. And while the only way to dial T back is to banish her to the shed in the family’s back yard, sometimes it’s cool having T around because she knows how to have a good time. In 50’s amusement park, this character is the irrepressible Pimpin’ Curly. A newly revealed personality, Curly rocks plush furs, a red sistercurl ‘do (okay, it’s a wig cocked to the side, but roll with me here), fresh kicks, and a mouth as foul as his attitude. And it works for him. His bitches love it. And the money they bring him is all that matters; he’s a legend in his own mind.


tee-2

Pimpin' Curly

Even among Tara’s alters, there is a voice of reason. The same holds true for Curtis. In Tara’s world, there is Alice, perfectly coiffed with clipped speech. Alice’s work is in the home, but make no mistake—she’s all business. You better have it together around Alice, and if you don’t she’ll help you with that. Even the show’s subway posters for Alice read ‘She’s One Tough Mother’. Enter Earl, the equivalent personality for Curtis. Straight-laced and accomplished in the corporate world, he’s one tough brother. He’s even shared co-consciousness with Curly and faced him down, telling Curly, “I’m not afraid of you. You’re goin’ to hell. Hell, hell, hell, hell, HELL!”

AliceEarl

Who among the United States of 50 measures up to Buck, Tara’s chain-smoking, crotch adjusting male alter? Well, that’s easy. 50 Cent. He’s as male as male gets. Swagger and shit-talking beyond belief, right down to the monogram pistol holster. To let this guy tell it, he’s invincible. And he has a point: he survived Southside Jamaica, Queens, the drug trade and being served a dishonorable discharge from the rap game after being shot 9 times. Exacting revenge on the same industry that left him for dead says he’s right.


buck

50-cent3

I was 50’s advertising writer for “How To Rob” and Power of The Dollar. Our bond goes back to 1999 B.B. (Before the Bullets). He even generously blessed the back cover of my book with a quote.


“There are only a couple people I still keep in touch with from my days at Columbia, people who totally focused on my project and did their best for me. Thembisa is one of them.”
—50 Cent, Shady/Aftermath recording artist and G-Unit branding phenomenon


I’ve been in the presence of both Curtis and 50 Cent. I have witnessed the warm smile of one soul transition into the sneer of another at close range. More recently, I have been thoroughly entertained from afar by Curly and Earl, who prove that Curtis hasn’t lost his sense of humor, and may have even found some self-deprecation after all the success he’s achieved in music, business, film, and fashion.

When an alter overtakes Tara, she transitions as a result of a word, action or behavior that triggers their appearance. Unlike Curtis, Tara is still wondering what cataclysmic event brought on her mental state. Curtis’ near-death experience answered that question for him. See, I believe he knows why these personalities are manifesting, and more than that, wields them in a way Tara can’t. All this shrink talk from The United States of Tara begs a few questions.


What do you think triggers Curtis? Is there a Gimme in his arsenal of personalities? If so, when will we get to meet him? Or is he holding that one back before he self-destructs?


curtis-21

I for one can’t wait to find out.


Showtime’s The United States of Tara finale premieres Sunday, April 5 at 10pm. My book Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business streets April 23. The new album from 50 Cent, Before I Self Destruct is slated for release later this year.

Black Oscar History: Head-to-Head Match-ups and More

February 22, 2009

It’s Oscar Night for the 81st time.

We’ve got a bonafide takeover by people of color; they just happen to be from India. Slumdog Millionaire. Shout out to Loveleen Tandan, the Indian female co-director who could not be nominated due to Oscar rules that mandate one nominee for director (which, after tonight, may need to change). ‘Nuff said.

This year, women of color dominate the Best Supporting Actress category. For the third time in history, we have two African American women up for Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for 8 minutes of sheer awe-inspiring power with Meryl Streep in that scene where they take a walk in Doubt, and Taraji P. Henson for her absorbing portrayal of Benjamin Button’s momma across the decades in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Hispanic powerhouse Penelope Cruz is vying for Oscar too, for her nuanced performance in the acclaimed Vicky Christina Barcelona. (editor’s note: Cruz won).

This feels REALLY good. I was loving the takeover by women last year as Diablo Cody snagged Best Screenplay for Juno and woman producer Eva Orner won for Best Documentary feature (Taxi To The Dark Side).

I marvel at the velocity with which Black actors are being nominated and winning in the late 20th and throughout the 21st Century thus far. For example: Hattie McDaniel was the first Black actor male or female to win Best Supporting Actress (Gone With The Wind, 1939). It took 51 years for that to happen again with Whoopi Goldberg’s win in the same category (Ghost, 1990). By comparison, it has been full throttle for sistas in the new millennium: eleven years after Whoopi’s victory, Halle wins Best Actress (Monster’s Ball, 2001) and Jennifer Hudson earns Best Supporting a mere five years later (Dreamgirls, 2006).

With all this talk of velocity, domination and match-ups the basketball junkie in me perked up. What OTHER Black head-to-head match-ups have there been in Oscar history? Check these out.

African American Oscar Nominee Match-ups (Asterisk denotes winners):

Best Supporting Actress

1967: Carol Channing [yes-she is biracial] (Thoroughly Modern Millie) vs. Beah Richards (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)

Carol Channing

Carol Channing

1985: Margaret Avery vs. Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple) Both nominated from the same film for the first and only time ever!

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

2008: Viola Davis (Doubt) vs. Taraji P.Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Viola Davis

Viola Davis

Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson

Best Actress in A Leading Role

1972: Diana Ross (Lady Sings The Blues) vs. Cicely Tyson (Sounder)

Diana Ross

Diana Ross

Best Supporting Actor

1987: Denzel Washington (Cry Freedom) vs. Morgan Freeman (Street Smart)

2004: *Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) vs. Jamie Foxx (Collateral). A lion bests Foxx in an upset.

2006: Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) vs. Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls)

Djimon Hounsou

Best Actor in a Leading Role

2001: *Denzel Washington (Training Day) vs. Will Smith (Ali). Bad KOs pretty!

2004: *Jamie Foxx (Ray) vs. Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) As two real life figures brought to the big screen compete, the Foxx comes back to win in his second nominated category of that year.

2006: *Forest Whitaker (The Last King Of Scotland) vs. Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness). In a battle between two true stories, the dictator beats the stockbroker.

Will Smith

Will Smith

I was wondering about all the Oscar History African Americans have made, and Wikipedia satisfied all my queries!

Did you know:

The first Black person EVER nominated for Best Cinematography is Remi Adefarasin for Elizabeth (1998).

Remi Adefarasin

Remi Adefarasin

Only two Black costume designers have ever been nominated with both nominated twice, Ruth E. Carter (Malcolm X, 1992 and Amistad, 1997) and Sharen Davis (Ray, 2004 and Dreamgirls, 2006).

Hugh A. Robertson is the only Black person ever nominated for Best Editing (Midnight Cowboy, 1969).

We have experienced solid victories in music and sound. We know about wins by Best Score winners Prince (Purple Rain, 1984) and Herbie Hancock (Round Midnight, 1986). We always celebrate Best Original Song winners Isaac Hayes (Shaft, 1968) , Irene Cara (Flashdance, 1983), Lionel Richie (White Nights, 1985), and Stevie Wonder (The Woman In Red, 1984) and most recent winners Three 6 Mafia (Hustle & Flow, 2005).

Three6Mafia

Three6Mafia

But on the technical side for film sound, only TWO brothers have ever been nominated for Best Sound, and EACH have won twice!

Willie D. Burton (seven time nominee) winning for Bird (1988) and Dreamgirls (2006)

Russell Williams II (two-time nominee with a 100% success rate) winning both times, back-to-back wins for Glory (1989) and Dances With Wolves (1990)

Russell Williams II

Russell Williams II

All of these stellar achievers are truly the best in the business, and I am compelled to give them their props!

The Oscars will never be the end-all be all measurement of our achievement, nor should they be. However, our strides over the years are a big deal if you ask me. Posting the link (below) so you can see how far we’ve come. You’ll make some connections of your own; enjoy them all and revel in our progress by any means necessary!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Black_Academy_Award_winners_and_nominees

Twitter: putyrdreams1st
Blog: www.thembisamshaka.com

LISA CORTES AND MO’NIQUE “PUSH” AND SWEEP SUNDANCE!

January 27, 2009
BOTH LISA CORTES AND MO’NIQUE ARE FEATURED IN PUT YOUR DREAMS FIRST!
CONGRATULATIONS, LISA CORTES AND MO’NIQUE! What an inspiration you both are!

These ladies swept the Sundance Film Festival as Executive Producer and outstanding actor respectively in PUSH. The film adaptation of Sapphire’s searing novel captured The Grand Jury Prize, the Audience Prize in addition to the Special Jury Prize for Acting, awarded to Mo’Nique for her nightmarish portrayal of Mary, the lead character Clareece’s abusive mother.

http://festival.sundance.org/2009/film_events/films/
push_based_on_the_novel_by_sapphire

Both Lisa and Mo’Nique were generous enough to share their trials, triumphs and secrets to career fulfillment in my soon-to-be-released career guide for those who want to know what the entertainment biz is REALLY like, entitled Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business.

PUSH Executive Producer and music industry icon Lisa Cortes.
Lisa talks about making a clean break after a strenuous lawsuit against PolyGram Records and changing lanes into film, where she joined forces with anti-establishment producer-director Lee Daniels (the only African American to win an Oscar as a producer for Monster’s Ball).
Mshaka (right) With Mo’Nique and Woody Victor at BET Awards ’07 Host Promo Shoot
Mo’Nique breaks it down as only she can about hiring the right entourage and breaking the silence of racism and sexism in television production as the executive producer and creator of not one but TWO hit reality shows.
Mo’Nique (left) and Gabourey Sibide (right), who plays Clareece

Honorable Mention: Also featured in the book is makeup legend of music, TV and film, Nzingha, who did a masterful job on Push.

See Lee Daniels talk about the film here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5NvQPjyWzU

Pre-order Put Your Dreams First now and save over 30%. Trust me, these wormen’s stories are worth the wait while you get the savings!

http://www.amazon.com/Put-Your-Dreams-First-entertainment/dp/0446409464

Sisters storming Hollywood. That’s what happens when you Put Your Dreams First!

Available now for pre-orders wherever you buy books, in stores April 23

Check out Thembisa’s interview with Sai Browne!

January 27, 2009

Hear their lively exchange about Obama, the Black electorate, fatherhood and Put Your Dreams First on PoliticsRemixed.com here:

 ‘ >PoliticsRemixed.com with Sai Browne

After you listen, feed back. What do you think Obama’s most lasting impact will be on communities of color? Comment and let me know!

Note to DL Hughley: KWANZAA Has Theme Music!

December 15, 2008

I was a bit put off by his sketch about Kwanzaa today. He actually got a Jewish composer to sing some bootleg Broadway cheese because he couldn’t find a decent Kwanzaa song. Like Black folks couldn’t be counted on to sing about their own holiday!

Then I realized: It’s not entirely his fault; these songs are tough to find.

So I’m posting this one: it was on a Polygram promo called Mad Tidings. It was sung by Emage, a talented trio of young ladies form Oakland, Kimbre’ly Evans, Mykah Montgomery (of the jazz family of Montgomerys) and Taura Jackson–all now enjoying careers as writers, vocalists and tour/session singers. It’s from 1993, DL-long before you had the show!

I hope there is some follow-up about this because the song educates about the holiday in a very effective way–to his point that “maybe more people would celebrate Kwanzaa if it had a song”.

Mykah and Taura from Emage are on Facebook; maybe they can get it up on iTunes or some other outlet so the song can spread in time for Kwanzaa ’08. Oh yeah–and Mykah is featured in my book Put Your Dreams First talking about how she learned from the business so she could work in it on her own terms. Not sure if you can get the song from the post so in the event you cannot, I will make sure they get copies of it–and circle back to you.

Happy Kwanzaa everyone!
Thembisa

01 Happy Kwanzaa.m4a