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A Conversation With Beverly Johnson PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Sunday, 08 April 2012 17:00

 

Beverly Johnson is the first African-American supermodel, as well as an actress, author, activist, businesswoman and TV personality. She was the first Black model to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine in August 1974. A year later, she became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of the French edition of Elle magazine. Her beautiful face has graced over 500 magazine covers. Before modeling, Johnson aspired to become a lawyer. She was studying criminal justice at Northeastern University when she entered the fashion industry.

In 2006, Johnson was honored at Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball along with Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Tina Turner and other female African Americans in entertainment, civil rights, and the arts. Named by one of the 20th Century's most influential people in fashion by the New York Times, she changed the beauty ideal in modeling. As of 1975, every major American fashion couturier began using African American models.  The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. has a portrait of her on display as part of its "The Black List" exhibition, featuring photographs of 50 iconic African Americans.  

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A Conversation With Filmmaker: Melvin Van Peebles PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Sunday, 25 March 2012 20:32

Born in Chicago on August 21, 1932, Melvin Van Peebles is best known as the incendiary iconoclast who financed, wrote, produced, scored, edited, distributed and starred in "Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song" (1971) the politically-progressive picture which single-handedly inspired the rise of the blaxploitation genre. What few folks realize, however, is that moviemaking was only a fraction of this Renaissance man's many talents.  

"How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy It)", a retrospective on the versatile maverick's entire career, reveals a man who also spent time as a novelist (in French), playwright, composer, painter, astronomer, enlisted man in the Air Force, and as a stock trader with a seat on the American Exchange on Wall Street.  Last year, Van Peebles started doing shows in NYC with members of Burnt Sugar, under the name Melvin Van Peebles wid Laxative.  In November, 2011, Melvin Van Peebles wid Laxative performed his song Love, that's America at Zebulon Cafe Concert, two weeks after the venue showcased the original video for this single involving Occupy Wall Street footage, which was uploaded to YouTube in October 2011.  

In speaking with blackfilm.com, Peebles shares his thoughts with me on just about everything and his documentary ''How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company''. 

[This interview was conducted in 2006]

KW: Hey, Melvin  [Peebles], thanks for the time.

MVP: No problemo. 

KW: Congratulations on your new movie, and recent lifetime achievement awards, even if, in my opinion, the recognition is a bit overdue.

MVP: Thanks, I'm really a happy camper, as they say. 

KW: Do you still have your seat on the American Stock Exchange?

MVP: No longer. Unless you're going to be there continually, you don't want to keep your seat because, first of all, it costs, but also, doing stocks is not something you can phone in. You got to do it right, otherwise. 

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Exclusive Interview With One of the Best Principals in the U.S.: Baruti Kafele PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Sunday, 18 March 2012 19:47

 

Mr. Baruti Kafele was born in Orange, New Jersey. He is the son of Mrs. Delores C. James and Mr. Norman G. Hopkins. He has been a Principal at Newark Tech for the last four years (grades 9 to 12). Newark Tech High School is a regional public high school located in Newark that offers occupational and academic instruction for students in Essex County, New Jersey, operating as part of the Essex County Vocational Technical Schools. Created in 1914, the Essex County Vocational Technical School District is one of New Jersey's oldest and grandest Vocational Technical School Systems. It provides both technical education and academic instruction for high school and adult students in the Essex County region.

The district has four high schools: Bloomfield Tech, Newark Tech, North 13th Street Tech and West Caldwell Tech where about 2,200 students are enrolled. Newark Tech is the largest of the four schools in the Essex County Vocational Technical School District and is located on Market Street in Newark. It has over 700 students in its programs which include Health Careers, Dental Assistant and Music Production, among several others.

During the last two years, Essex County Newark Tech has been listed by U.S. News and World Report Magazine as one of the best high schools in the United States. Mr. Kafele previously was selected Teacher of the Year in the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools. In addition, he was listed for "Who's Who Among America's Teachers" six times. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Kean University where he earned his B.S. degree in Management Science/Marketing in 1986. Furthermore, he received in Master's degree from New Jersey City University in 1996.

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Exclusive Interview with the Former Supermodel: Waris Dirie PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Sunday, 18 March 2012 16:57

واريس ديري

 

In 1965, Waris Dirie (in Somali: Waris Diiriye) was born in Gallacaio desert, Somalia.  Her first name means in Somali Desert Flower. The daughter of Somalian nomads, Waris Dirie fled her native country at the age of 13 to escape an arranged marriage with a 60-year-old man. After fleeing Somalia, she ended up in London working as a housemaid. She was regularly beaten and practically kept as a slave with an illegal status at some point. In England, she was spotted by well-known British fashion photographer Terence Donovan.  It was a serendipitous moment which would determine a great future. Waris Dirie became a supermodel.  This sounds like a Cinderella story.

Waris Dirie worked for these brands: André Courrèges, Chanel 'Allure' fragrance, Express Jeans, H&M, Levi's, L'Oréal, Oil of Olay, Prescriptives make up, Revlon and so on.  She did many fashion shows, such as “Ready to wear – Spring/Summer 1996 (John Galliano, Ralph Lauren”, “Ready to wear – Autumn/Winter 2000 (Xuly Bet)”.  She did the cover of the 1987 Pirelli calendar.  She also appeared in prominent magazines like Elle, Glamour, Vogue and Marie Claire. Her modeling career has been showcased in the 1995 BBC documentary A Nomad in New York. We often hear supermodels say that their career was not planned.  Nothing from Waris  Dirie’s upbringing could have predicted the future that she had.  So, much like several other supermodels, it wasn’t her intention to be in the fashion business.

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Exclusive Interview With Canadian Honourable Senator Oliver LL.D PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Monday, 05 March 2012 23:41

Honourable Dr. -Senator Oliver was born in 1938 in Wolfville (Nova Scotia), Canada. He is the son of the late Helena and Clifford H. Oliver. Senator Oliver is a descendant of African-American slave refugees who came to Canada during the War of 1812. Nova Scotia is home to (Canadian) descendants of U.S. slavery.  For more than 400 years, Blacks have been an integral part of the warp and weave of Canadian society and economy. Some were refugees from the United States, others were Black Loyalists (inhabitants of British America of African descent who joined British colonial forces during the American Revolutionary War) and so on. For instance, as an interpreter for the French and Natives in the early 1600s, Mathieu da Costa, a free man, undoubtedly played a role in the development of the fur trade industry along the Atlantic seacoast. Today, there are more than 800,000 Blacks in Canada and Statistics Canada projects that number will be more than double by 2031.

With long and deep ties to Canadian culture and history, Sen. Oliver is the nephew of Canadian opera singer Portia White and labor union activist Jack White; he is also the cousin of political strategist Shelia White and a descendant of politician Bill White. The latter, his maternal grandfather William A. White was born in 1874 to ex-slave parents in Virginia. He migrated to Canada in 1900, after a Canadian teacher of his in the U.S. state of Maryland impressed him so much that he perceived Canada as a land of opportunity for Blacks. He would later become Canada's first Black military officer and a chaplain.

Sen. Oliver's family is one of Canada’s most prominent Black families.  Sen. Oliver is currently one of two Black Conservative politicians in the Canadian Senate and has been active in politics for decades. Hence, he served as Director, Legal Affairs for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) in six consecutive general elections, 1972-88; he also held many Executive Offices with the CPC - as National Vice President (Atlantic region), Director of the PCP Canada Fund, and a member of the Audit Committee of this Fund. Furthermore, Hon. -Sen. -Oliver served for years as Constitution Chairman and was a member of the Finance Committee for the Progressive Conservative Association of Nova Scotia. He is a former Vice-President of that Party.

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Exclusive Interview With One Of The Biggest Asian-American Fashion And Style Experts: Jeannie Mai PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Monday, 20 February 2012 21:25

Jeannie Mai (born January 4, 1980) wears many hats.  She is an American makeup artist, fashion expert, actress and TV personality.  The eldest of three children, Mrs.  Mai and her two younger brothers grew up in San Jose, California.  She is the daughter of an immigrant father from Vietnam and mother from China.  She identifies herself as an afro-mexicasian because she grew up on the east side of San Jose where all her friends were African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians.  She once declared to the media that she feels at home whenever she is around these ethnicities.  Besides English, she speaks Vietnamese.  In her early life, Mrs.  Mai was a member of a family of 16 living under the same roof.  It included her extended family (aunts, uncles…).  This experience helped to shape her and to learn about the gift of sharing.  It also allowed her to develop communication skills, an invaluable asset for a future career.  Mrs.  Mai has a sparkling, spunky and feisty personality. Mrs.  Mai began to entertain people around her at an early age using her mother’s makeup to prepare herself before pretending to interview her family members.  Later, at age 18 she launched her career as a makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics while still living in San Jose.  As a trainee, she worked her way up from face to face until she was eventually traveling the world to do make up work with a roster of celebrity clients such as Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys and Rosario Dawson. Mrs.  Mai also worked with other prominent people such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Aniston.  She has served as a celebrity makeup stylist for MTV, TRL, KCL Los Angeles, and Good Morning Sacramento.

In 2003, Mai began auditioning for local television networks with self-written scripts to demonstrate her unique hosting talents. She landed a gig co-hosting the Emmy-nominated Asian American Magazine-Style show "Stir," on International Channel Networks. Not long after, the San Francisco local music channel, CMC, invited her to be the first female VJ to host her own music countdown. After attracting attention for her energetic personality and knack for style, Mai became an entertainment reporter and producer of the WB's "Daily Mixx." In 2005, Mai got her first prime time hosting role on "Character Fantasy" on the USA Network where she inspired guests each week to live their fantasies. Soon after, she appeared on MTV's "Granted" alongside Frankie Muniz and hosted various segments related to fashion and entertainment news on networks such as E!, Lifetime, TLC, and NBC.

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A Tête-à-Tête With The Great Actor: Blair Underwood PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Saturday, 11 February 2012 18:55

 

Blair Underwood was born in Tacoma, Washington on August 25, 1964, but raised as an Army brat all over the country and also in Europe. After studying drama at Carnegie Mellon University, he embarked on a distinguished career which has included work in theater, on television and in feature films.  Though he made his big screen debut in 1985 in Krush Groove, the hunky heartthrob really  (Underwood was voted one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2000) found fame a couple of years later when he joined the ensemble cast of NBC's L.A. Law. A four-time winner of the NAACP's Image Award, he has also appeared on such TV shows as Sex and the City, A Different World, Knight Rider and The Cosby Show. His extensive list of movie credits include Malibu's Most Wanted, Full Frontal, Rules of Engagement, Deep Impact, Gattaca, and  Madea's Family Reunion, to name a few.  Furthermore, he has published a book inspired by his son, Paris, entitled, Before I Got Here: The Wondrous Things We Hear When We Listen to the Souls of Our Children.   

As a philanthropist, Underwood co-founded in 1989 Artists for a New South Africa, a non-profit organization dedicated to democracy and equality in South Africa.  The actor is a part of several charitable organizations.  Underwood got the 1993 Humanitarian Award for his work with the Los Angeles chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  In 2003, along with Ashley Judd, Underwood served as the spokesperson for YouthAIDS.  Moreover, he also appeared in a 2004 public service announcement for The Fulfillment Fund.  The actor supported President Barack Obama's candidacy and spoke at campaign rallies for Mr.  Obama. Underwood got to know Obama while researching his L.A. Law role at Harvard Law School, when Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review.  On a more personal level, on September 17, 1994, Underwood married Desiree DaCosta, with whom he has three children, Paris, Brielle, and Blake. 

In this revealing tête-à-tête, Blair shares his thoughts about an array of subjects, plus his latest flick, G, an update in blackface of The Great Gatsby, where he plays a bourgie brother whose wife falls for a gangsta rap mogul.

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A Conversation With Actress Eva Longoria PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Monday, 06 February 2012 16:53

Born on March 15, 1975, Eva Jacqueline Longoria was the youngest of four sisters raised by her parents on a ranch in Corpus Christi, Texas.  She earned a BS in Kinesiology at Texas A&M, before being spotted by a talent scout who brought her to Hollywood. 

The 5'2" Latina settled for bit parts on such soap operas as General Hospital, The Young and the Restless and Beverly Hills 90210 untill she landed a recurring role on the short-lived revival of Dragnet in 2003.

Longoria's fortunes would change dramatically the very next year, when she was signed to play wanton adulteress Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives.  The show became a runaway hit, turning Longoria into an overnight sensation who currently commands a cool quarter million dollars per episode.  Longoria is apparently earning every penny of her salary, having been knocked unconscious on the set for four minutes by a pole which fell on her head. The show was a smash hit not only in America, but also around the world, commanding audiences in the millions and selling DVD box-sets by the truck-load. The audience was extremely varied, and whether people Play online bingo as they watch or sit with popcorn, the audience figures remain strong.

Most folks don't know that Eva also headlines a stand-up variety show at The Comedy Store in L.A. and at other clubs around the country called Hot Tamales Live, accompanied by a bevy of Latin American comedienne's including Kiki Melendez and Tess. Among her many celebrity endorsements are ones with Hanes, New York & Company, plus a $2.36 million deal with L'Oreal and others. 

Longoria was Named #1 on Maxim Magazine's Hot 100 List of 2005, and a steamy shot of her in a bikini graced the cover of its 100th issue. Furthermore, the magazine commissioned an artist to paint a super-sized, 75' by 100' reproduction of the picture in the desert where it is visible from outer space via satellite.

As for her personal life, since divorcing her husband Tyler Christopher in 2005, the Mexican-American man-eater's dating pool has included boy band 'N Sync's JC Chasez, and actor boy toys Hayden Christensen, Butch Klein, Kiefer Sutherland, and Sean Faris. However, she has been romantically-linked to Tony Parker, the point guard of the San Antonio Spurs. She even admitted to having the flying Frenchman's initials tattooed in an intimate area of her body.  Now, the couple is divorced.

Here, Eva talks about her movie, The Sentinel, a political potboiler about a traitor in the ranks of the Secret Service where she plays an Agent opposite Kiefer Sutherland, and Academy Award-winners Michael Douglas and Kim Basinger.   This interview was conducted in 2006.

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First Foreign Exclusive Interview With Senate Candidate Wayne Hodges II PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Monday, 06 February 2012 16:08

In 1972, Wayne Hodges was born in the state of Kansas where he grew up in a family of three children.  Mr.  Hodges is the oldest of his siblings.  Wayne Edward Hodges is the Editor-in-Chief of the "Mass Appeal Network" which was founded in 2010. He has written several political/economic/entertainment articles for the Kansas City Kansan, Kansas City Star and Kansas City Call newspapers. In addition, he is a columnist for the Topeka Democrat Examiner.   Hodges attended St. Mary University where he graduated with honors Cum Laude for his MBA with a concentration in Finance. He received his MPA (Master of Public Administration) from the University of Kansas, as well as Academic All-American honors from the "Delta Epsilon Sigma National Honor Society" and "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities."
Mr.  Hodges’ professional background includes over 12 years of experience in real estate appraisals, tax assessment, mortgage lending, income modeling and comparative market analysis. He owns real estate licenses in the states of Kansas and Missouri. He's a distinguished member of several prestigious professional organizations which include the Newspaper Association of America, Kansas Association of Broadcasters, Mainstream Coalition, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, National Association of Realtors, American Planning Association, etc.  Mr.  Hodges has held many public offices.  He served as Johnson County Precinct Committeeman 2nd Ward, Precinct #2 and as Johnson County District Committee Delegate.  He is a democrat candidate (more specifically a loyal member of the Johnson County Democratic Party) for Kansas Senate; it is his second bid for the Kansas Senate 7th District seat.  The Kansas Senate 7th District includes Fairway, Merriam, Mission, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Westwood, Westwood Hills and part of Leawood and Overland Park. 
The Kansas Senate election will be held on November 2nd, 2012 following the  August 3rd primary.  If elected, Mr.  Hodges will become the youngest popular elected African-American Senator in U.S history and the first African-American State Senator in the Kansas State Legislature for the 21st century. 
In addition to his political endeavors, Wayne Hodges does periodic radio/TV podcasts for Mass Appeal News and is also an adjunct professor at Park University.  Mega Diversities spoke to him from Canada last summer.  It is his first foreign exclusive interview and the first exclusive interview in his second bid as a U.S. Senate candidate.

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Exclusive Interview With Entertainment Signer: Canara Price PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Monday, 23 January 2012 16:59

Canara Price has been involved in the artistic field for decades.  She is an award winning actress, director, dancer, singer (alto/mezzo) and producer.  In 2007, she worked with Disney in theatrical productions.  To be more specific, she was the Creative Safety Manager for Disney Theatrical Productions. She was a member of the opening production teams for Mary Poppins with Tony Award winners in Lighting and Set design, High School Musical National Tour, Mary Poppins National Tour and The Little Mermaid (musical). Price also opened an onsite production of the critically acclaimed 12-year running sensation, The Lion King, in Las Vegas, NV.  Canara Price was involved in six national tours for Broadway.  She has produced several projects for the World Famous Apollo Theater featuring celebrities such as Clifford L. Alexander, Jr., Counsel to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Amy Sewell, filmmaker, Keith Brown, Senior Vice President of BET Network, and Civil Rights Activist, Esther Cooper.  She was also involved in the success of the 2010 Apollo Spring Benefit, assisting Host, Jamie Foxx and other celebrities such as Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Chris Tucker, and Leslie Uggams.
In addition to her success in the entertainment industry, Canara Price has a strong academic background.  She studied in Engineering and holds a Master’s in Industrial Hygiene with expertise in toxicology.    Her mother was a teacher, so education was highly valued in Price’s household.   Canara Price is also known as an entertainment signer in the New York and Florida Deaf communities. On March 18 2011 the "PERFECT DAY" video first aired on MTV featuring the multi-talented actress, Canara Price, as the signer.  Mrs. Price also taught rap artists Jim Jones and LOGIC the sign language that was used in the video. 

On April 9th, 2011, Artist Direct released Jim Jones Premieres "Perfect Day" with a behind the scenes video on ARTISTdirect.com, showcasing sign language.  With recent appearances on 106 & PARK, the number 1 show on BET, Mrs.  Price performs and signs for Jim Jones.   He explained that he desires to give back to the community by making his music accessible to the deaf.

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