Posts Tagged ‘50 Cent’

Guns & Movies: Double Standard Rising?

July 20, 2012

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Aurora, Colorado is now known around the world after the massacre that took place at a midnight premiere screening of Dark Knight Rises this morning. James Egan Holmes, age 24, dressed in protective gear from ballistic helmet to bulletproof vest, groin and throat protectors—and armed with not one or even two but four firearms—released tear gas on a moviegoing audience and proceeded to open fire on them as the film played. Currently, 58 injuries and 12 fatalities have been reported. Among the victims are a six year-old child and a three month old infant.

I join the world in its shock, and the nation in its collective grief. My condolences go out to all affected by this horrific mass killing. As a parent and avid filmgoer myself, I cannot imagine finally getting out for an evening with my family or friends—only to lose a loved one in such a heinous, senseless manner. This is domestic terror: civilians gunned down as they take in a new movie by a maniac wielding combat artillery, forever traumatizing an American pastime.

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The fallout will continue to unfold along with the investigation into Holmes and the events of this morning. A bomb squad is trying to disarm the shooter’s apartment, which he rigged with explosives. Across the ocean, Paris has canceled their premiere. Security will be heightened at New York City theaters; no word yet on whether other cities will follow suit. So far, there is no talk of pulling the film from theaters or lowering the number of screens on which it is shown, nor should there be. I’m sure the last thing Warner Bros. imagined (or wants) is this type of mayhem marring their opening weekend. While it may be good for box office, violence is always bad for real-life business.

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I can’t help but think back to the premiere of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, a gritty, semi-autobiographical film about the rapper’s own survival of multiple gunshots. When violence broke out at screenings of this “urban film”, not only were the suspects not apprehended; the film was pulled from theaters. The victims went largely unacknowledged, the prevailing thought being that it’s the order of the day for movies like his.

For example, check out what happened in Pittsburgh:

http://www.ezilon.com/information/article_13573.shtml

And even though it ultimately did well at the box office, Get Rich was punished for the criminal acts of audience members, and even blamed for inciting them.

As a member of the entertainment community and a filmmaker, I do not advocate placing the blame on art when tragedy strikes. Art imitates life, and illuminates truth. That said, I believe that societal bias and prejudice tilt the scales out of balance and negatively impact art that may reflect images and lives considered outside the mainstream.

Violence is as central to Dark Knight Rises as it is to Get Rich or Die Tryin’. One could even argue that Get Rich advocates getting away from violence, given Jackson’s character use of music to heal trauma and lead a better life. The Dark Knight fights violence with more violence to vanquish Gotham’s terrorist.

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And while Holmes gassed his victims and wore a gas mask like Batman’s nemesis, I have yet to hear any reports linking Holmes’ method to the film. So why should films about everyday people, people on the margins of society, or people of lesser means grappling with violence have the albatross of inspiring violence hung upon them?

Violence at the movies is nothing new, but it’s growing. Three people died as a result of gang violence after The Warriors came out in 1979. In the ‘90s, Oscar®-nominated film Boyz N The Hood sparked a wave of incidents at theaters, many of which were thought to be gang related. But a gunman also executed a moviegoer at a showing of X-Men: The Last Stand in Baltimore in 2006, an incident that was not widely publicized. A drive-by tied to no particular film at an Oakland theater left five people wounded earlier this summer. And today’s massacre is the worst in American cinematic history.

As the availability of heavy artillery continues to widen, as the NRA continues to send tweets like “Good Morning Shooters, what are your plans for the weekend?” as they did before news of the Aurora tragedy broke (it has since been deleted), we as a nation should look to control the proliferation of firearms and better regulate their sale with the same rigor dedicated to selectively vilifying film content through the filters of stereotype. The safety of who’s watching is much more important than what’s showing.

Thembisa S. Mshaka is a filmmaker, award-winning promo campaign writer and producer for television. She is also the author of Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business (Hachette).

For more on violence at the movies click:

http://www.nextmovie.com/blog/movie-theater-violence-history/

For more on the NRA’s political influence:

http://dailycaller.com/2010/11/01/thedc-exclusive-nra-spends-20-million-this-cycle/

http://law.jrank.org/pages/8738/National-Rifle-Association.html

Thembisa on Thisis50.com

January 20, 2010

Thembisa speaks to Thisis50.com

Thembisa talks to Thisis50.com about her new book in stores now.

SISTER SWANS: YVETTE GAYLE

June 3, 2009

YVETTE D. GAYLE
VP Publicity for Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records

Yvette D. Gayle

Yvette D. Gayle

SISTER SWAN

1. What are you working on right now?
50 Cent, Keri Hilson, and a stable of new up and coming R&B, Hip Hop, and Pop/Rock artists

2. What book(s) are you reading?
Put Your Dreams First: HYEB. It’s inspiring ☺.

I have a 3 year old and am addicted to buying him books. So this week we are reading The Lazy Lion, Hungry Hyena and Laughing Giraffe by Mwenye Hadithi & Adrienne Kennaway.

My favorite books are: Celestine Prophecy, Tuesdays With Morrie and A Pilot’s Wife.

3. Share something you do for work that’s harder than it looks.
The RED CARPET – folks think it is such a glamorous thing and you just show up and saunter down the press line and your celebrity gets covered. What about the tough times you show up with a client that no one wants to talk to. You run around like a maniac pulling all the “favors” you can. It can be quite embarrassing for you and for the artist especially if no one is interested. Artists often want to walk the red carpet before they actually should be walking the carpet. You have to be newsworthy to be deemed important to talk to but everyone wants to be in the mix. Publicists often have to juggle several clients at once. We try to give them particular times to show up but most of the time they run late and more than one shows up at once. That’s horrific. It’s impossible to clone myself and make everyone feel like they are the most important artist. But that’s a big part of my job.

4. Describe a moment of sweet vindication.
When folks think my artist is down and out and they actually come out swinging and shut all the haters up.

5. What’s the most dangerous aspect of the waters you navigate?
When the beef between artists turns to the streets it can get a little heavy. Traveling on the road with 14 men in bullet proof vests always seemed to raise the “Are You Crazy” eyebrows from friends and family but oddly enough I felt more comfortable on the road doing what I do best.

6. Name two places you call home.
A Business Class Flight (it’s the only place folks can’t track you down). My actual home as I try to create a separate space where work doesn’t infiltrate.

7. Who are your influences?
I’d have to say that Yvette Noel-Schure and Miguel Baguer have been the biggest influences in my career. They gave me my first job at Columbia 15 years ago. Yikes. I wanted to be just like them and tried to be a great publicist just like them.

8. What is your favorite creative food?
My husband and I took a Thai cooking class in Chang Mai, Thailand a few years
ago. I’d say the Red Curry Duck is the most creative thing I can make. It’s
delicious!

9. What is your guilty pleasure?
Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Get Ahead In Business Without Giving It-ON HELLO Beautiful April 20, 2009

April 20, 2009

putyourdreamsfirst_finalmshakaauthor1_color10Thembisa Mshaka, as a creative executive at Sony Music, helped launch the careers of Beyoncé and 50 Cent. Now an executive at BET, Mshaka has gathered her experience and those of almost 100 other women in the entertainment business in her new book, “Put Your Dreams First,” available as a FREE DOWNLOAD until April 22, 2009 exclusively on HelloBeautiful. The book is an instant mentorship in all aspects of the business: Movies. Music. Radio & TV. New Media. Advertising & Publicity. Style & Design. Management & Representation.

We sat down with Mshaka recently to discuss how she turned the idea of this book into reality, and got some juicy details on how she got Vanessa Williams to write the forward for “Put Your Dreams First.”

What was your inspiration for the book?

There was really no one incident, more like a recurring series of the same incident in different settings. At the magazine where I was an editor, I was the only Black female to ever hold the position, and was appointed to it at the age of 21. I would moderate panels and be the only female on the dais. I would participate in panels and be the only woman of color who worked in entertainment.

At the end of many panels and events, women of all ages and backgrounds would literally bum-rush the table and ask me to mentor them, or help them with a specific situation, or ask me how I got started. I kept in touch with some, but inevitably I could not give them the mentorship they deserved. Which got me to thinking: What if I created “mentorship in a bottle” for these women, and anyone else who wanted the real story on the business? The idea lit me up, and I started researching to create what would become “Put Your Dreams First.”

What’s the most important thing you want women to come away with from this book?

Can I be honest at the risk of being a bit crude? The one thing I want women to get from “Put Your Dreams First” is that you do not need to get ahead by giving head. Unless you’re a soccer player, put away your knee pads! There are many more successful women in the business than they realize who got there with their clothes on and their integrity intact. I say this not to judge those who may not have; I believe God is the only and final judge. I believe even these women may need that affirmation so they can work in the business with dignity. If this book can give them that, I’ve accomplished my goal.

I’ve been in this industry for 17 years, and am disheartened by the predominant representation of women in our business as eye candy, gold diggers, human accessories in videos. Sure these women exist. These archetypes predate the entertainment industry as we know it. And they aren’t going anywhere. But that said, it’s 2009, and the time for balanced representation has come. We are finally at a point where the prospect of equal pay for equal work can become a legislative reality.

What was the most interesting interview you conducted and why?

If I had to choose standouts, I would mention Tina Davis, who speaks in detail about becoming a heavyweight in the A&R field and developing stars, including her own client, Chris Brown; Mo’Nique, who spoke about how to fire a manager; Lisa Cortes, who shared her triumphant story of rising from a painful lawsuit to become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after film producers; Cathy Hughes, who talked about why she refused to choose between her son and her education; and Tylibah, an emerging lyricist and self-published poet who refused to sleep with prominent men in the music world in exchange for opportunities. All of these women are courageous and inspiring.

What was the most surprising finding you encountered in your research and interviews?

That 80% of my respondents cited the absence of mentorship as the greatest barrier to their advancement in entertainment. As someone who had the benefit of multiple mentors, I realized how blessed I was to have those sounding boards and pillars of support.

How did you get Vanessa Williams to write the foreword?

This is a GREAT story. Vanessa and I are both clients of a wonderful salon called the J Sisters in New York City. Jane, one of the founders, was talking with me during a service. I lamented that I had a very strong short list of women for my foreword, but that I felt like it would be no easy task to secure one of them. I explained to her that this woman would have to have been successful across many areas of the business: music, film, television, stage, fashion, radio, or some combination of at least three. So you can imagine the list: Vanessa Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Nona Hendryx, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna.

Jane says, “Vanessa! She’s the one. She’s a client here too. I will call you the next time she’s here for her manicure, pedicure and hair appointment. You MUST rush over as soon as I call, okay?! I agreed, with my heart doing backflips inside. Vanessa was truly my first choice, especially because of what she endured to maintain her career post-Miss America. One day, Jane called. I rushed over. And sure enough, Vanessa was a captive audience of one soaking her feet and unable to move. So I spoke to her about the project (it helped that I had interviewed Lisa Cortes, whom she knew form her days as an artist with Wing/Mercury Records). She loved the idea and asked me to send her a few chapters to read while she was on the set of “Hannah Montana: The Movie.” She literally read them all from her Blackberry “from a cornfield in Tennessee” as she put it in an email. And within a couple weeks, I had an email containing her foreword, written 100% by her. Vanessa Williams is a woman’s woman; the real deal. Gorgeous inside and out. She didn’t have to even talk to me at the salon, let alone contribute the foreword. But she understood my mission. I am forever grateful to her for lending her name and part of her story to the book. I cannot wait to read to her memoir, which she’s working on now.

How do you balance your own career and personal life?

I don’t. I can no more balance the personal and career aspects of my life than I can divide them. They are inexplicably tied to one another, because I only have one life. So I choose to make my one life work. Teetering on the verge of falling between extremes is not living; that’s what I think of when I hear work-life balance. I strive for work-life function so I can be fully present in the moment as often as possible. I involve my very crucial village of family and friends when I need to, and take care of myself with solo vacations and spa days. Women should not be made to feel guilty for wanting careers, families, and relationships.

Have you ever had to deal with sexual harassment? Pay inequity? Bigotry?

Yes, yes, and yes. But you’ll have to read the book for the details.

What was the hardest lesson you ever learned in your career?

Actually, two tie for first place: That crying while on duty is a no-no, and that incompetent men fail up entirely too often to the detriment of very capable women.

This book in an amazing assembly of a virtual mentorship dream team. Who were your mentors?

It is important to have at least one for every major life transition you make. I am blessed to have had many. First and foremost, my mother, Fulani Mshaka, who I lost to cancer in October of 2007. The book is dedicated to her; she fed my love of words with books and movies. She was a social worker and therapist, my model for the importance of service to others in need. When I moved to Oakland, artist developer and beauty consultant Kelly Armstrong, who was a role model of success in the Bay Area entertainment scene took me under her wing. I met author Terrie M. Williams, at a Learning Annex event in San Francisco. When I moved to New York, I contacted her and she always made time to set me straight or invite me to events where I could learn and network. Industry giants Sharon Heyward and Dyana Williams have been a great source of wisdom for me. SO much so, that I included them both in the book. Last but not least I have to acknowledge Johnnie Walker, whose leadership through NABFEME has been invaluable. Remember: you don’t have to talk to mentors every day for them to serve in that capacity; you can be mentored by their actions and their legacies as well.

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.

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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.


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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.


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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!”

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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.


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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?


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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.