Black Excellence Evolution…Thoughts on The BET Awards

 

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I usually could care less about watching the BET Awards, but I’m glad I caught it this year. It was inspirational, and shifting more toward substantial. There was a noticeable difference in what exactly black excellence is, beyond the flashy lifestyle and the glam.

A few things I picked up were some artists primary honor of the most high beyond the cliche. Some of the S/O’s to God may have been generic, but I could tell a few of them were hard learned and sincere This time around the enlightened, efficient use of platforms to glorify more than the next project, but call for revolution and bring awareness to pressing cultural issues was also inspiring. There was a noticeable difference between which artist are more intrinsically liberated and naturally gifted. but instead of getting into the politics of it all, I’ll just share a few of my favorite moments, because we all just came here to have fun anyway.

Big Sean’s tech powered performance with the digital background highlighted to me the importance of “Black Excellence” aka “us” in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) I was really feeling the multiple Big Seans and the automated pixelation he had going on. The lit part about it is not Sean by himself, but the engineers and scientist who know how to do all that. S/O to the people who we don’t see working behind the scenes. STEM, not necessarily “cash” plays a major part in ruling everything around us, It’s S.T.E.A.M. especially in this digital age, it’s imperative to be familiar with it. STEM knowledge can help one “magically” manipulate the game in there favor, see “Sleight” but Big Sean had a pretty good STEM reference…” I’m all charged up and God is my source”…deep.

The elevation of Black Girl Magic is a game changer. The glow of Chloe and Halle, Yara Shahidi, and Egypt Ufule, the 12 year old fashion designer featured in the Ford ad is the fruit of self-confidence and empowerment that’s been sewn by the conscious matriarchs of our culture.

From Michelle Obama’s tribute to chance the rapper to Chance the rapper… being Chance the rapper. Yes, let’s “gas him up”!! I was for the most part unaware of his humanitarian work in the community. It was great to see the work being highlighted and him intentionally honoring the call to action in his path. It was reminiscent of Jesse Williams who adamantly used his platform to speak up at the previous BET Awards. Those dreamy eyes were looking up in respect as chance spoke. Solid!

Initially the aspect of Leslie Jones hosting the show drew my respect for this year’s show. I caught it mid-way to find that yes she was loud, but had skits to emphasize what it’s means to work hard, not give up and go from zero to shero. Refreshingly, Leslie Jones is not the typical “Hollywood beauty” but owns her skin and knows how to be terrific in it. We saw, let’s market that dynamic more, and “Lil Yachty in the yacht”!!! Very impressive.

Another thing is that as controversial as it sometimes is, in my coming of age is my recognition that weaves and lashes are a flyy girl rite of passage in some sense. “It takes money and time to be fly as a mutha” word to Daya. Who are we not to be flyy? As expected Lashes were everywhere even Michelle Obama was in on the action. Apparently blonde hair is trending everyone from Karrueche, to tiny, to tamar had platinum strands? Whether we’re embracing our own beauty or trying on different ones, were just fly. Shout out to “My Black Is Beautiful” for giving all that grant money to worthy causes.

To overcome and excel, was the sentiment I walked away with from the show this year!

A vision black excellence peaking through and showing the ability to evolve in to something even more momentous is something I can be here for.

What was your favorite part of the BET Awards? Hit me up on twitter @aprilinspired and let’s talk!!

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Nothing Short Of Greatness with Trent Shelton (Event)

On a stop in the ‘Nothing Short Of Greatness’ Tour, Motivational Speaker Trent Shelton, NSOG founder Rondell Anderson, and others rocked Atlanta, GA. The event was held at Midtown Art Theatre. Empowerment filled the atmosphere as Shelton addressed the crowd, and the audience shared their insight and questions. The discourse was lively, engaging, and extremely motivational. Nothing Short Of Greatness held up to it’s name, by delivering greatness and beyond!

The event brought out the best members in the Atlanta community, highlighting and engaging more inspirational media outlets. Professional Speaker and Blogger Ashley Poptodorova set the stage for Trent by sharing a positive testimony. Breath Of Life Daily captured a bit of the event. 


The next stop on the ‘Nothing Short Of Greatness’ Tour’ was Phoenix, Arizona. The complete list of event times and dates are posted at nsogreatness.ticketbud.com  For more updates and info about ‘Nothing Short Of Greatness’ connect with the founder Rondell Anderson on Twitter and Instagram:  @rondellaa. Follow the hashtag #nsogATL for more “touch down” times in Atlanta.

Check out Trent Shelton’s Interview with Clifton Davis on “Praise The Lord”. (below)



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Remembering Karyn: For Brown Girls Everywhere


The blog titles on tumblr, can range from edgy and flamboyant to outright explicit, and the content is sure to follow. When I found For Brown Girls on tumblr I knew I had came across something special, not just on a natural level, but on some deeply cosmic, spiritual wave that transcended the confines of the internet. For Brown Girls was a movement living in my soul and Karyn Washington had manifested it into everything I could have ever dreamed. It didn’t matter that it was after 1’o clock in the morning. I didn’t hesitate to track For Brown Girls down on every social media account that it was active and let them know what it meant to me to have that kind of space and encouragement on the web.  As I followed, “them” turned out to be Karyn…and we connected.



Correspondence and digital smiley faces transferred like nothing through E-mails, Facebook and Twitter, We we’re “friends”. It was easy. We got each other. I fell in line with regularly posting for FBG. Our genius seemed to be in synch, because the topics Karyn conceived for FBG were exactly what I wanted to write about. I raved about the brilliance of Tika Sumpter in the “Chocolate Spotted” series, and reflected on the depth of lyrics from artists like Keke Palmer, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu in “Motivational Melody” pieces. Karyn was the first to publish my rant about black women no longer being aliens before Blogher picked it up. The Gabrielle Impact highlighted the positive support for Gabby Douglas in the “hair” nonsense and celebrated the rise of Black women in American Society. Karyn reblogged a similar post of mine on tumblr through FBG and it became a hit! Even though I won a contest with it, I never will forget what it felt like, to feel like my voice was getting out to the masses. Karyn…through FBG, made me feel celebrated on so many levels.



Karyn not only helped me she helped a community of women, by providing a community for women…Brown women. In the beginning when the For Brown Girls movement was catching on and gaining more notoriety, FBG re-tweeted appreciation tweets from women and girls alike, there were a lot! For so many women it was a source of hope and motivation, and in the end, courage. The thought that Karyn took her life to me is so unthinkable, that honestly I still don’t believe it. She was MY friend, so full of inspiration and intellect. I find it hard to believe that she did it, but for the same reason I can’t believe, I consider the culprit: Intellect. Somewhere in the entanglement of the internet and the wealth of information, geniuses are susceptible to madness. I avoided reading all posts about Karyn until I could fully express how I felt, but in the process thought back to Newsweek‘s cover story that covered the fate of Jason Russell and the effects of the internet on our brain.

The risk of  i-Disorder is especially high for bloggers and content creators. Working in new media can give us a sense of having to stay “connected” all the time, running the risk of real mental health issues. Seems the world wide web is now buzzing about the importance of mental health, but, my main concern is: How was her support system? That was a goal, and a value that Karyn truly expressed through FBG. The nature of For Brown Girls was to truly build a support system. To quote Dr. Maya Angelou: “Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.”, a truth that knows no race, no color. In the very sense that Karyn was just a social media acquaintance, I didn’t know exactly how to feel when I heard the news. For a few seconds I cried real tears, and wanted to bury myself in pain, but something in the great impact that Karyn’s life made wouldn’t let me. Karyn had determination, and she had grit, the things I most admired about her. I just knew that one day we would meet in person and become the best of friends, but I’m all the more grateful our souls got to meet, even if it was through the web.


The very last e-mail I got to share with Karyn was a piece I wrote wanting to share with Brown Girls that the play “Da Kink In My Hair” by Trey Anthony had made it’s U.S. debut. I got a chance to see the play and thought it was phenomenal. Karyn was excited with me, her last text in the e-mail was a smiley face. I knew we had a spiritual connection from the jump. Within the supernatural that I discovered as I wrote this, was that Karyn sent me a connection request on LinkedIn, before she passed. I was dismayed at first that maybe it was something I could have done to, but in a new light the omen is good because I can. It’s a sign to continue to carry the torch. #ForBrownGirls will forever live on! I could feel Karyn’s spirit through our interactions, but I could feel Karyn’s spirit mostly because of the spirit of her creativity. All in one word Karyn’s short autobiography exclaims that “Creativity fueled her being”. A few words from my genius friend that exclaims the key of life for all the races and sexes of the world: Stay Creative! Stay Innovative, Stay Cutting edge! and For the sake of  Brown Girls everywhere, be bold, be fierce, and be fearless.

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Good Bread Alley Launches KickStarter Campaign

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Good Bread Alley Created by Actor/Writer/Producer April Yvette Thompson Is an epic period play with Afro Cuban and Gullah music, dance and myth exploring the most fundamental truths about a mother’s love and the struggle to become better than what was promised.

The Team behind the production recently launched a KickStarter campaign to back funding. Below are some links to the campaign video, words from the playwright as well as a fantastic article on IndieWire about the work of the producers, SimonSays Entertainment.  The goal is to have supporters of the arts be a part of making the magic that is Good Bread.

How Does the Good Bread Alley KickStarter Work? http://kck.st/OaeuLq

Why Did April Write Good Bread Alley? http://goodbreadalley.weebly.com/blog.html

Who is SimonSays Entertaiment and Why Are They Producing Good Bread Alley? http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/simonsays-entertainment-the-enterprising-artists-who-would-become-discerning-producers

Find out more about the project by connecting with Good Bread Alley on Twitter and Instagram: @GoodBreadAlley

Best,

April D. Byrd

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Infographic Highlights Racial Success and Inequality in Hollywood

African-Americans have 1,038 Billion dollars worth of buying power 12 Years A Slave pulled the same ROI as The Hunger Games with a significantly smaller budget, and Black Film Festivals are on the rise, so what’s going on? Will we keep up the good trend? A new Info-graphic created by the New York Film Academy has nearly everything we could ever love to know about the progress and status of black people in the film industry.

The graphic includes a timeline of success and innovation in black film, as well as many ways African-Americans lag behind in media. Last year was really good for Black Hollywood, but are our stories being handled correctly? Producer Will Packer had some “Powerful” advice regarding that front as listed in the graphic:

“It’s imperative that the next generation of young black film makers realize that their power is in their unique perspectives, unique skill sets, and unique stories. Standing out is a good thing in Hollywood.”

That is highly agreed, director Malcolm D. Lee also advised quite simply to “Just keep making quality movies.” How far have we come and How far do we intend to go? The info-graphic definitely stands as a good compass and resource. Check it out for yourself (below):

Click to See Full Graphic

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Click to See Full Graphic

How are you feeling about the state of Black Film and entertainment? Do you think Black Hollywood needs to up the ante? More Genres? More diversity? or are we feeling fine with where it’s at? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Tina Fey teams with American Express and Blogher.

(Sponsored)

Tina Fey is the new face of American Express. One of the few commercials she’s done was featured on Blogher. Blogher is a publishing network that shares women’s voices and perspectives. American Express is offering new credit cards, look out for them on Blogher.

Here is one of the new commercials Tina Fey stars in. Goes to show your talent will definitely make room for you.

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Brown Girls Publishing Authors In Atlanta

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Recently Authors Victoria Christopher Murray and Reshonda Tate Billingsley made a visit to Medu Book Store in Atlanta, Georgia at the Greenbriar Mall. The Authors talked about their latest books and their new publishing ventures. Both are leading African-American Authors in the publishing industry who founded Brown Girls Publishing.

The Authors founded Brown Girls Publishing to help get the voices of other talented Writers out into mainstream media.  The partnership between the two Authors has been very productive. Reshonda’s book “Let The Church Say Amen” is set for film adaptation to be produced by Queen Latifah’s Flava Unit Productions, among others and Directed by Regina King. The film will include a cast of notable stars and entertainers, along with a cameo by Reshonda herself.

At Medu Bookstore in Atlanta, the Authors caught fans up with their latest works and introduced one of their new premiere Authors in the Brown Girls Publishing line up. Their latest book “Fortune and Fame” tells the story of Jasmine Cox Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams two first ladies who get caught up in a whirlwind of Drama, Murder, and Reality T.V. with a twist only the partnership of Billingsley and Murray could offer.

At the book signing and event, they shared an excerpt of the book with fans.  A small snippet from the reading was captured. Victoria Christopher Murray reads. Check out the video (below):

 

For More information about the Authors new projects and Brown Girls Publishing visit http://www.browngirlspublishing.com and twitter: @BG_Publishing

ABVCandRB

Yours Truly,

@apriinspired