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A Conversation With The Athlete Michael Oher PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Monday, 24 October 2011 19:10


Michael Oher was born on May 28, 1986 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he negotiated a perilous paththrough the foster care system, experiencing periods of homelessness.  He eventually attended Briarcrest Christian School and met Sean and Leigh-Anne Tuohy, who became his adoptive parents. His inspirational story is the subject of Michael Lewis’ book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which was adapted to the screen in 2009 as The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock in an Oscar-winning performance.

Oher currently lives in Maryland where he is an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. After playing college football at the University of Mississippi for the Ole Miss Rebels, he was drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Following his first year in the league, he was named to both the Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie team and the USA Today All-Joe Team. He also earned NFL Rookie of the Month honors for December and recently completed a second successful season with the Ravens, making the playoffs.

Here, Michael talks about his new autobiography, I beat the odds.


Interview With The Actress: Brooklyn Sudano PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Monday, 24 October 2011 18:36


Brooklyn Sudano is an ingénue with the beauty, pedigree and versatility which makes her one of Hollywood’s emerging stars to be reckoned with. Born in Los Angeles, she’s the daughter of disco diva Donna Summer and singer/songwriter Bruce Sudano.

She and her two sisters were raised by her protective parents far from the public eye. While Brooklyn was in her early teens, the family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she began to blossom creatively singing in a gospel choir, writing songs and appearing in all of her high school’s theater productions.

During the summer, she and her sisters would tour with their mother, performing as backup singers, dancing in stage productions, even doing some duets, often in some of the world’s largest venues. Not one to worry about getting her hands dirty, Brooklyn willingly pitched in to help with the crew behind-the-scenes before and after shows.

But in the Fall, she always turned her attention back to academics, excelling to the point where she was valedictorian of her graduating class. Though she was accepted to Brown, Duke and Georgetown Universities, in the end she decided to stay close to home and attended nearby Vanderbilt University, for what turned out to be a short stay.

Her passion for performing led her to the famed Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in New York, to study a full curriculum of method acting, dance, musical production, movement, stage, film and television. While in that program, Brooklyn was spotted by a booker from Ford Modeling Agency, who signed her on the spot.

She immediately landed major print ad campaigns and TV commercials for Clairol, Burger King, K-Mart and Clean & Clear. And she later made her television debut as Vanessa on ABC-TV’s hit show `"My Wife and Kids".  

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A Conversation With Best Selling Author: Ellis Cose PDF Print E-mail
Written by Reniqua Allen/Uptown Magazine   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 16:51



When Newsweek contributing editor Ellis Cose released his ground-breaking book, The Rage of A Privileged Class: Why Are Middle-Class Blacks Angry, in 1993, it shocked many Americans to know that upwardly mobile African Americans felt frustrated, dissatisfied and well, outright angry with the system that had provided them with post graduate degrees, big houses and cars, and entrance into the middle class. Over fifteen years later, Cose believes that racial progress has led blacks away from anger toward a new attitude—optimism.  In his new book, The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage, Cose surmises that blacks, particularly those from the younger generation have shed some of their previous ideas about race, and replaced anger with optimism.  Reniqua Allen for UPTOWN Magazine recently talked to Cose to figure out how racial attitudes are changing in America.   

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A Portrait of the Actress: Pam Grier PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kymberly Keeton   
Monday, 17 October 2011 15:44



Actress Pam Grier is best known for her roles in blaxploitation films in the 70s is back with a memo regarding advocacy, feminism, life, love, sexuality, and independence. These messages are written down in an easy vernacular for fans.  Her memoir, My Life in Three Acts: Foxy, takes an intriguing look at Grier’s life and legacy.  During the summer of 2010 she did her U.S. book tour.  For Grier, it was her  “Big Hug Healing Tour.”

The African-American actress was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Pam Grier’s mother was a nurse, and her father was a Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force. She has one sister and one brother. As a result of living in a military family, the Griers moved around a lot. The book opens up with Pam Grier talking about having a keen instinct regarding African-Americans and white people not communicating with each other in the sixties.

Exclusive Interview With The Author: Kent Paul PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Monday, 03 October 2011 06:17


Kent Paul was born in the eastern Caribbean on the island of St. Lucia. He comes from a family of teachers and other professionals where education was valued. He attended Colleges in Texas as well as in St. Lucia. He now lives in the United States with his wife and three children. In his first book Making history with Crosswords and Prozac, he shares his journey from his island to the U.S. The book covers many topics: migration, the glass ceiling in the job market, racial discrimination, the insidious impact of psychological violence on an individual and his family, economic violence and iniquity, devastating deprivation (loss of property, income…) with its financial and social mobility difficulties, legal barriers, mental health problems (caused by the racial harassment in his work place), marital difficulties, etc. In his book, Paul is sending the message that it is fine to ask for help. The author demystifies what is related to mental health issues. Mainly, in his book Paul exposes the ordeal he went through in 2005 with other African-American colleagues at his work place. For years, he faced racial discrimination with a Toyota dealership in Gladstone (Oregon), the Thomason AutoGroup .

Kent Paul could easily be a bitter, angry black man given what he’s been through, but it is not the case. Making history is the true story of his first real encounter with racial hostility and his multi-million dollar courtroom battle. In 2006, the salesmen Kent Paul, Marcus Arnold, Carlos Barfield and Jahaeel Hardy filed a lawsuit against Asbury Automotive Group, which owned Thomason Toyota during their employment . The suit claimed that they lost car deals because they were black. Paul and the three other African-American men plaintiffs won the race discrimination lawsuit against Thomason AutoGroup. The verdict of a $19 million settlement was handed down by a federal jury in 2008. The jury awarded $1.9 million to Hardy and Paul for emotional distress and $2.75 million in punitive damages; $2.1 million to Arnold and Barfield for emotional distress and another $2.75 million in punitive damages. However, it is important to note that a final confidential settlement was done with the judge. Mr. Paul and the other plaintiffs are satisfied with the definitive compensation.

Through the metaphor of a crossword puzzle, one of Paul’s favourite hobbies, he philosophically reviews the events of his life. His journey takes him from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia to the U.S., into a huge car dealership lawsuit and eventually to victory and vindication with the jury verdict. Paul expressed to the media that many concerned American citizens care about the downward spiral race relations have taken, and felt the need to tell his story to inspire people to take bolder and wiser steps in dealing with this issue. Despite the financial and emotional toll the trial took on Paul and his family, he has become a charismatic and positive man – all with the help of crosswords and Prozac. 

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Interview With Actress: Kerry Washington PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 04:55
Winner of the 2005 NAACP Image Award as the “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” for Ray, Kerry Washington is a versatile, talented and fearless actress who has built an impressive list of credits over the course of her relatively brief career. She has also garnered critical acclaim for recent roles in Mother and Child, The Last King of Scotland, The Dead Girl and Lakeview Terrace Kerry Washington made her feature film debut in Our Song in 2000, and has since co-starred in Fantastic Four and its sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer, I Think I Love My Wife, Little Man, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, She Hate Me, Against the Ropes, The Human Stain, and Save the Last Dance for which she received a "Teen Choice Award" for Best Breakout Performance.  She will soon be seen opposite Eddie Murphy in A Thousand Words and then in We the Peeples, an ensemble comedy featuring Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier, Tyler James Williams and S. Epatha Merkerson. She currently has two films in theaters, For Colored Girls and Night Catches UsKerry is an active member on the Board of Directors for "The Creative Coalition", a group dedicated to raising awareness of First Amendment Rights and to the support of the arts in education. Plus, she’s a member of the "V-Counsel", a group of advisors to "V-Day", the global movement to end violence against women and girls (www.vday.org). As for endorsement deals, Washington is a spokesperson for both "L’Oreal Paris" and "Movado".  In addition, she co-directed and appeared in the music video for hip-hop artist Common's song, "I Want You", the fourth single off of his album Finding Forever.  She also appears in Maxwell's "Bad Habits" video. In 2009, Washington performed in The People Speak a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States”.   Washington went on to earn a Presidential Arts Scholarship to attend The George Washington University, graduating in 1998. She also studied at Michael Howard Studios in New York City.  Here, Washington talks about her involvement in the movie For Colored Girls. The following interview was conducted in Fall 2010.
Kam Williams: Hi, Kerry Washington, nice to speak with you again.

Kerry Washington: Hey, Kam Williams, how are you?

KW: Very well, thanks. My son said he came to see your lecture at Princeton University last semester. He’s a junior there now.

Kerry W.: Cool! Congratulations! That’s exciting.

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Interview With The Great Presidential Harvard Law Professor: Charles Ogletree, LL.D PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Monday, 19 September 2011 03:53

Charles Ogletree, Jr.was born in Merced, California on December 31, 1952, the eldest of five children to bless the union of migrant farm workers Willie Mae and Charles Ogletree, Sr. A bright child who exhibited an intellectual curiosity from an early age, Charles credits his parents and grandparents for whetting that insatiable thirst for knowledge.

He would matriculate at Stanford University where he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Political Science before heading to Harvard Law School. Since graduating, he’s enjoyed a storybook career as a public intellectual, between teaching at Harvard and moderating a host of television shows, perhaps most notably, “The State of the Black Union” and “The Fred Friendly Seminars.”
Furthermore, Professor Ogletree has been a frequent guest on everything from Nightline to Frontline to Tavis Smiley to Larry King Live to The Today Show to Good Morning America. As an attorney, he has represented a number of high-profile clients, most recently, fellow Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates of “Beergate” fame.
Currently, Professor Ogletree is the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he serves as the founding and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. He is also the author of seven books on race and the law, including his latest, “The Presumption of Guilt,” a sobering deconstruction of the Gates case, specifically, and of racial profiling, in general. 

He has received numerous awards and honors, including being named one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine. In the wake of the Sergeant Crowley-Professor Gates incident, Professor Ogletree continues to serve as special counsel to President Obama and as an advisor on police behavior to both Harvard University and the City of Cambridge.  He holds several degrees:  a B.A. (1974, with distinction), an M.A. (1975) in political science from Stanford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1978.  He also earned several honorary doctorates of Law, LL.D.  from North Carolina Central University, New England School of Law, Tougaloo College, Amherst College, Wilberforce University, and the University of Miami School of Law.  Ogletree worked on prominent cases; for instance he represented the jurist Anita Hill against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during the Senate Confirmation hearings.  The following interview was conducted in Summer 2010.

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Interview With Oscar Nominee Actress: Viola Davis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Saturday, 17 September 2011 15:44

Davis majored in theatre at Rhode Island College, graduating in 1988.  In 2002, she received an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the college.  She was involved in the federal TRIO Upward Bound and TRIO Student Support Services programs.  While Davis was a teenager, her talent was recognized by Bernard Masterson when, as director of Young People's School for the Performing Arts in Rhode Island, he awarded Davis a scholarship into that program.

Davis is also a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School, Viola Davis built an exceptional background in theater productions and has continued to perform on the stage throughout her television and film career. Making her feature-film debut in 1996 as a nurse in The Substance of Fire, she followed that up with several TV movies and guest-star appearances on dramatic series like Law & Order and NYPD Blue.

She went on to play another nurse in City of Angels, a hospital drama with a predominately African-American cast that didn't last long on CBS. She began collaborating with Steven Soderbergh for Out of Sight, and went on to star in two of the director's subsequent films, Traffic and Solaris.  In 2001, she appeared in Kate and Leopold as well as in Oprah Winfrey's television presentation of Amy & Isabelle. The following year, she landed parts in both Far From Heaven and in Denzel Washington's directorial debut, Antwone Fisher.  However, in 2008 she made the most of a modest but critical role as the mother in John Patrick Shanley's screen adaptation of his award-winning play, Doubt. Although her screen time was minimal, her indelible performance garnered Viola an Academy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category.
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Exclusive Interview With The Canadian Actress: Gina Williams PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 22:31
Gina Williams was born in Edmonton, Alberta of Jamaican parents.  She began  playing piano at the tender age of 8.  The former musician child prodigy is an accomplished concert pianist, singer, songwriter and composer who has won several awards for her Bach performances.  She chose the works of Chopin when she had to do a performance for her Master’s thesis recital at the University of Alberta.  She was commissioned to pen the anthem “Glory” for the 25th anniversary of Grenada’s Independence.  Williams also wrote music for solo piano such as Titanic, penned a string quintet, etc.  One of her piano works, Look, I don’t want to hurt again, was aired on CBC for Alberta Arts and Beyond.  It was also broadcast overseas in Poland.  Gina Williams won MusicCity TV’s vocal talent search and has appeared on a number of TV shows and is the vocalist in a Capital City Savings TV commercial in the late 90s.  She landed her first acting role in the movie The Jack Bull with John Cusack and John Goodman.  She appeared in the film Whitecoats with Dave Thomas.  She was involved in the pilot The Beat which aired on CBC.   One of Williams’ singles, “You Are Not Alone”, is the theme song for the Russian movie, Love is the Best Medicine in which she sings in the film.  "You Are Not Alone" is from Williams’ debut CD, "In Spite of the Storm"; it had its first Official Music Video release October 2010.   Both "You Are Not Alone" and "Don't Wanna Be Here", another single were chosen as one of the top picks for the Province Playlist in B.C.  It is important to note that Williams had principal roles in both English and French during her acting career. The actress also speaks Japanese and is planning to learn other Asian languages.  She was also featured in a video promoting the Fine Arts Degree program at Canadian universities and colleges.  The actress is passionate about music.  She has performed in several countries:  Canada, U.S, Korea, Russia, Grenada, etc.  Currently, she is working on new tracks and anticipating a tour on Eastern Europe.   Gina Williams was reviewed in Edmonton J, United Church Observer, Celebrating Women in the Arts Magazine, Who’s Who in Black Canada by Dawn P.  Williams (and www.whoswhoinblackcanada.com) and is listed in Who’s Who in Professional & Business Women, etc.  She also appeared on CBC TV (6:00pm News Story), CBC Radio, Polskie Radio II (Poland), Radio I (Japan), etc.
A Conversation With The Queen of Hip Hop: Mary J. Blige PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Saturday, 13 August 2011 02:20

bligeMary Jane  Blige is a chanteuse-songwriter, record producer, actress and trailblazer.  She started her career with Uptown Records in 1989; she became the company's youngest and first female artist  to be signed.   In 1992, the debut album What's the 411 was released and became an instant worldwide success.  She is the only performer in American history with Grammy Award wins in Pop, Rap, Gospel and R&B.  She has recorded eight multi-platinum albums.  She sold over 50 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide. 

In 2001, Mary J. Blige performed "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities dedicated to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. In 2004 Mary J. Blige founded her own record label, Matriarch Records, distributed through Interscope. In late 2005, Blige landed the starring role in the upcoming Mtelevision films biopic on American singer/pianist Nina Simone. The film is supposed to be released in 2012. In January 2009, Mary J. Blige performed for Mr. President Obama at his inauguration and at The Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in January 20, 2009.  It is also important to note that Mary J. Blige does philanthropic work. On January 23, 2010, Blige released a track "Hard Times Come Again No More" with The Roots and performed it at the Hope for Haiti Now telethon. Blige also performed on BET's SOS Help For Haiti, singing "Gonna Make It" with Jazmine Sullivan and "One." Blige also participated in February 2010's We Are the World 25 for Haiti, singing the solo originally sung by Tina Turner in the original 1985 We Are The World version. On May 9, 2008, The Mary J. Blige and Steve Toute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, Inc. (FFAWN) was inaugurated. Its purpose is to inspire females to reach their full potential. The organization grants scholarships and programs which provide career development. In addition, Mary J. Blige's perfume "My Life" allows to send women from FFAWN to college. More specifically, $1 from each purchase of "My Life" is donated to the foundation for the education of these females.

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