Pinch me and let me know when this DREAM is going to end. The highs are celestial. The lows are seemingly unbearable. (a la a NIGHTMARE). But it all plays out as a part of this DREAM that is my LIFE.
These last couple of weeks presented me some amazing chances to experience LIFE joyfully – from Ant’s and my wonderful Thanksgiving at the home of our favorite couple Jason and Marqice. Then, there's my excitement around my ‘pop culture’ icon Diana Ross as she’s being honored tonight for the Kennedy Center Honors (http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/specialevents/honors/), a franchise I’ve admired since appearing myself on the program in 1991 as a featured part of the Morehouse College Glee Club’s tribute ( www.mcgclub.com/ ) to Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conductor and composer Robert Shaw ( www.atlantasymphony.org ). Additionally, as I write this, Ant and I have just celebrated our 2ND Anniversary on December 1st, the night we met on the opening night of “The Color Purple”. It was magical for many reasons and the magic continues. ( www.colorpurple.com/ ). As a result, we chose to kill two birds with one stone by checking in for a night of celebration and reflection at THE DREAM HOTEL ( www.dreamny.com/ ) where two years ago we first bonded uninterrupted (beyond the rustle-and-bustle of the red carpet and after-party that night). Since that time, we’ve stayed there for much of Ant’s business before he moved here (including a life-changing [for me] interview Ant conducted last December with the writer of all “Dreamgirls” music Henry Krieger). In addition to our celebration, our suite was the backdrop for a photo shoot we agreed to do in support of my friend Charlie T’s “Just As We Are” project”. It chronicles gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders and aims to show us as normal working citizens within mainstream America (http://www.justaswearetour.org
). That went beautifully. But more about all of this in a moment…(By the way, CHARLIE T - www.charlietphotography.net) provided 10 snapshots of Ant, Charlie, her partner, and me from that photo shoot (behind-the-scenes and some test shots), which are sprinkled throughout this entry! THANKS CHARLIE!!!!!!)
Like Miss Ross sings in her 1985, Daryl-Hall-penned hit “Swept Away”, “… nothing lasts forever!!!!…” and inside of that, there can be disappointments and challenges. In fact, it is she who – as always - inspired me immensely this week during an unexpected development in my own life as she appeared this past Wednesday on CNBCs “Conversations with Michael Eisner” ( http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=601943235 ). Speaking of her own BIG DREAMS (like 1983’s “Central Park” Concert in the rain and the day after to build a playground in Central Park and around the world), she highlighted – for her life – that “… life is peaks and valleys. It’s not always up. You’re not just going straight up all the time. It’s ups and downs. At the moment, when you’re at the low point, if you can learn from that experience… and then teach…” She went on to say “… I don’t do what I do for the money. I think wanting to make a life. Not a living. It’s like creating a wonderful life. And my values are in the right place. Learning I think – during all of the peaks and valleys of your life – learning to take RESPONSIBILITY for yourself and not blaming others is such an important lesson to learn regardless of where you get it from… BEING RESPONSIBLE for your actions, BEING RESPONSIBLE for your choices, and not blaming others. So…your success or your failure, you know that you’ve made the choices for how you’re going to live from day to day”. And though she’s at a peak in her career (being honored this weekend by the Kennedy Center), she too is managing grief as her father recently passed away – a detail she announced on the evening of the day he died as she performed to a sold-out audience – including Berry Gordy – at the Gibson Amphitheater show in Los Angeles). Miss Ross – in this setting (and in her life) - reminds me to trust that I am enough to manage the “valleys” and the “mountains”. And in fact, it is Diana who often says in her concert, “Go for your DREAMS! Reach and they’re yours…” I believe her and need to believe her more than ever at this time… that I can “… reach and touch the stars!!!”. I stumbled into some news this past week that deflated my wings a bit and impacts a bit of how I’ve managed my career as an independent producer/personality/writer over the last few years. As most of you know, I am blessed to have some high-profile and lofty contracts on which I can rely to keep my modest-but-active lifestyle afloat. In a nutshell, one of those contracts (the most lucrative in my portfolio) is coming to an end. TAKE A BREATH!!! It doesn’t mean I won’t continue to lend my services to this operation, but due to economics (and shifts in production needs and budgets), the retainer I’ve negotiated myself for the last six years is expiring. With that, it has been made clear that my skills and my good work are still valued and they do not intend to sever the relationship with me. But I just won't be retained – starting next year. That means, if they call, I can say YES or NO... freely... and only be paid for the work I do. The initial thought of this makes me nervous as I don’t really have a savings in place for such rainy days (if they present themselves) as I had agreed to two more years to contribute to this particular operation. Moreover, after being such an in-demand commodity whose work and way have been celebrated and cherished here and the world over, the REALITY of it all does touch the ego and make me feel a bit unwanted, rejected, and sad. Not that I haven’t been designing and lining up my own WHAT’S NEXTs? over these last few years, but – in my mind – I thought it would be me SHIFTING. Here, these folks shifted first and though hard to hear (at first listen), I THANK THEM because now I am free to redirect some of that 'retained' energy towards those efforts - things that have been bubbling under the radar i.e. on-camera work, pilots I’ve hosted that may be resurrected for future sale, a book project that we hope will close on a deal soon, etc. As I’ve had most of my other eggs in that one basket, I now can begin the work of searching for and accepting other opportunities that play my talents as a producer, personality, and writer. Without the safety net, I am – again – admittedly scared, but I know this is MY GOD and the UNIVERSE’s way of supporting me to dive into my destiny. That’s what my good friend Sherry told me (after I’d vulnerably shared some tears with her from the not-knowing of it all): “…My Sunshine!! I trust that you gave yourself last night to get a good cry in and I know Anthony and his shoulder were the comfort you needed. As a good friend of mine (Patrick Riley) so jubilantly proclaims in all situations "IT'S A NEW DAY!" Receive that my love! It is a NEW DAY and it is yours! God gave it to you to make of it what you were put on this earth to do! This was not a good-bye for you. This was God's way of simplifying and organizing things for you. There can be no ties, restraints, contracts or binders in the way to block His blessings. When God says it is your time, then it is so. My friend, I believe God is saying ‘This is your time!’. So, as uncomfortable and unfamiliar as it may feel, LET HIS WILL BE DONE, as we have heard and learned "God dreams a bigger dream for us!!!". Patrick, live out God's dream for your life. Trust and believe it is so much bigger than Patrick's DREAM! To everything, there is a season!! Receive this as your season for change, growth and favor! I am excited right now because seeing God work in your life right now tells me if he is blessing my friends, he is in the neighborhood and I am praising him right now for the new things on the horizon for all of us!! I love you madly!! You are such a blessing and I am honored to call you friend!! “ How blessed am I to have friends like Sherry, who always “… loves me in a special way…” (a line I love to use for her – pointedly – as she is the cousin of one of my favorite groups DEBARGE!!!!). Daddy’s wife, another Diana, writes: “… Let's keep things in perspective. You are blessed and highly favored. Regardless of the slings and arrows that life throws our way, we are who we are. If you know who and whose you are, maintain that posture and position at all times. You may be a bit shaken at this moment, but Keep the Faith . You will be fine, because this too shall pass.
That brain of yours is awesome. Now you will get a chance to show what YOU can really do.
Financially, cut back from this moment forward, and put yourself on an austerity budget until you see where you are going.
We are here for you… “ Lovely sentiments like that have helped me to move through the emotions and get to acting on my blessings. Already, I’ve seen GOD and UNIVERSE at work – responding to my REQUESTS to keep pushing my creativity out into the world and make a – GOOD LIFE – for my family, my Anthony, and myself along the way.
Here’s an excerpt of what I have to offer (if you have any ideas of projects that are a good fit for the producer… personality… and writer that is me):
And whether on a retainer or off and as I go to the next level with career, I am so blessed to have such a GOOD LIFE and that goodness shows up all the time. And even as I struggle to discipline myself around budgeting and getting organized with home and lifestyle, I remind myself to acknowledge the many BLESSINGS that continue to come my way. And in my world and via the plain of pop culture that I love so much, I’m counting INFINTE BLESSINGS – everywhere I turn.
I have normally spent the last years since 2000 with my Nichole for Thanksgiving:
This year, she was in DC with her sister Tori and their mutual family down there. She invited me, but this was Ant’s and my chance to share in this special ‘family’ holiday together. Ant and I were graciously hosted by our favorite couple Jason and Marqice. They laid out a big spread that we enjoyed with our good buddy Marlynn (and a handful of others they invited). As always, they kept the champagne flowing and Jason’s banana pudding was awesome! I often yearn for home cooking (from Savannah) and though this wasn’t my family’s breakdown of a menu, the care and craftiness that Jason and Marqice put into their turkey, dressing, roast, etc. made both Ant and me know that we were loved and that family comes in many packages.
Beyond our time with Jason and Marqice, Ant and I mostly chilled. We supported the first weekend numbers for two movies: “This Christmas” ( www.sonypictures.com/movies/thischristmas/ ) which opened at #2 its opening weekend – a $27 million boost for Black film. Ant and I thought it was “alright”. We enjoyed looking at all of those faces of color in a positive, holiday film. Chris Brown – in his debut role as the baby boy of Loretta Devine – shows promise for the cliché turn that most singers make into acting. Ant enjoyed seeing one of his American Chang originals on the character Keith Robinson plays (www.americanchang.com/). And my Spelman sister Deshaunda Gooden-Warner’s husband Ronnie has a small role in the film as seen below with David Banner, who I had the chance to meet a couple of months ago during Hip Hop week. Ronnie and his business partner were also executive producers on the film. So, this film had much synergy in it… for me.
This ensemble project features Loretta Devine who also stars in another film – as mother of a clan of children – that we’re all excited is finally being released in some major cities here in America. You recall, I interviewed the director of this project Maurice Jamal ( www.myspace.com/mauricejamal ) last year this time for UneQ Magazine ( www.uneqmagazine.com/ ): http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2006/12/29/the-12-days-of-life-of-riley-at-christmas.html
So this time, I’ll let Maurice’s recent words enroll you to check it out:
“…I couldn't be more excited (or nervous) as my film "Dirty Laundry" opens in Los Angeles and New York next week! It As you can imagine the energy, anticipation (and in my case, anxiety...LOL) is growing daily!
The film has been embraced with such warmth and joy by our sneak preview audiences and so many of you have been amazing. I am humbled by your support and could not be more proud of the film and its story.
"Dirty Laundry" needs you!”
Like all Black films in Hollywood, opening weekend is key. The only way we'll be successful is if we each push the film and get "butts in the seats." This supports diverse voices and images in Black cinema. For it to survive, it's vitally important for communities to support quality films at the box office.
Maurice has outlined THREE easy ways to support "Dirty Laundry"
1) The MOST important thing you can do is buy tickets!
Tix can be purchased at online ticket vendors such as Fandango, Movietickets and Moviefone. Get tickets in advance! Tickets will be available at the beginning of next week. If you cannot make it, buy tickets anyway! Your support is truly appreciated and every ticket makes a difference. Go to a matinee! We're encouraging our supporters to attend the matinees as they are a little harder to sell out.
2) Have a "Dirty Laundry" Movie Party!
Invite a big group of family and friends and come see the movie. The more the merrier! The cast and I will be at the LA screenings throughout opening weekend and would love to see you there.
3) Send out 2-3 e-mail blasts on November 30th, December 3rd and December 7th. You could simply forward this e-mail or you can make your own. (Make sure you have organizations that you're a member of include information about "Dirty Laundry" in their next e-mail blast or in a special blast!)
If you need any additional information:
DIRTY LAUNDRY IN THEATERS IN
OPENS: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2007
Mann Beverly Center Cinemas (Inside Beverly Center)
8522 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Clearview Chelsea Theater
West 23rd Street (b/t 7th & 8th)
New York, NY 10011
BUY TICKETS & SPREAD THE WORD
I had the chance to meet a few of the cast members alongside producer Nathan Hale Williams ( www.nathanhalewilliams.com/ ) at his Thursday night set SPRUNG which is for the Black LGBT set. The once-Luke-&-Leroy party is now in Chelsea at CLUB SPRUNG (579 Sixth Avenue @ 16th Street). Nathan, too, is featured on the cover of NEXT MAGAZINE this week (www.nextmagazine.net). He talks about “Dirty Laundry” and the five years of promoting in New York City. Congratulations Nathan!
Ant, Marqice, Jason, Marlynn and I also spent one evening at the movies to see “The Mist” (www. movies.go.com/the-mist/d902025/horror ) – underwritten by my “original Amazing Grace” Natalie (from Atlanta). She sent an AMC gift card for my birthday. Thanks NAT! Not our favorite, but it was great to see Andre Braugher, a fine actor whose work I always love to see. The script didn’t give him much to play (nor did whatever was in the mist). I love to be spooked, especially by Stephen King’s twisted novels and screenplays. We had a few moments of fright, but nothing that Jason or Freddy couldn’t beat in their heyday. We got more amusement out of Ant posing with the poster for Mariah’s new fragrance (www.fragrance.mariahcarey.com/ ).
Ant and I also spent lots of time watching TV during our Thanksgiving break. We caught an infomercial on THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL ( www.midnightspecial.com\ ) which from 1972 to 1981 brought late-night, adult viewers lots of joy with live performances from the best music and comedy had to offer. My Diana even did a turn as the hit show’s host in 1976. She sang “Love Hangover” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbC8PQdZ2ag). She did a wonderful Motown medley (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUTgsevekII) that featured her background singers at the time The Jones Sisters, who would go on to be renowned in R&B (with Diana’s support) as The Jones Girls ( www.soulwalking.co.uk/Jones%20Girls.html ). Remember “Nights Over Egypt”? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSTXCxgU1-I). One of my favorite girl groups of the ’70s (along with Motown’s “High Energy”) during a time when girl groups were out of favor with the pop music scene. But as a boy, I still loved them.
We also stumbled into an episode of “Tyra” that intrigued us (www.tyrashow.warnerbros.com/ ). Less the show, but one of her guests Khefri Riley turned out to be an old friend of Tyra’s with whom Tyra wanted to clear the air about some deep-seated jealousy that the once-insecure model held towards Khefri. Near the end of the ‘ambush’, it was mentioned that Khefri is now an entrepreneur and yoga instructor in California at “Urban Goddess Lifestyle” ( home.earthlink.net/~khefri/id4.html ). It soon hit me that I had met Khefri before and that we have friends in common. In the ‘90s, she lived in London. My first trip over the pond in ’98 presented me the chance to stay with a young lady named Vanessa who was co-owner of a marketing firm (that inspired synergy between poets, artists, and the like) Mannafest ( www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/archives/places/vanessa/ ). My friend Kevin Powell hooked me up with them. My friend Wale Adeyemi worked with them as well ( www.waleadeyemi.com/ ). Though Khefri, high school friend of Tyra, and I had never really met, we knew of each other. Our mutual friends often spoke of the fact that we have the same last name. Wale had told me Khefri moved back to Los Angeles, but we never hooked up. She was so happy I reached out to her. We had a great chat about all she’s doing. So, I wanted to make sure I shouted her out here. In addition to being a beauty beyond beauties (and the Black hasn’t cracked!!!), Khefri is the mother to 6 year old son Zen. She has her Pre-Natal Yoga Certification from Golden Bridge Yoga, is a Certified Itsy Bitsy Yoga Facilitator, Certified Yoga Ed. Instructor, trained miniyogis teacher, and is a trained Birth Doula with D.O.N.A (Doulas of North America). She has taught hundreds of mothers, fathers, and babies the joys of yoga. As a facilitator of yoga and arts based curriculums for kids, teens, and at-risk youth, she has touched the lives of thousands of children. In turn she has found that it is the children that keep safe human kind's greatest values. Sharing her multi-disciplinary knowledge with others, she leads large group trainings for teachers, healthcare professionals and educators.
Ant and I also ran across the new D&G (Dolce & Gabbana - www.dolcegabbana.it/) TV ad. It’s HOT and as the designer-name-whore/same-gender-loving men that we are, we LOVED it! What do you think? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_c7pwZv5UQ
Something else Ant and I stumbled across from the world of YOU TUBE: “FAME” – clips from the TV show, its concert specials, etc. It begged the question from Ant: WHERE IS LEROY NOW? With sadness, I told him Gene Anthony Ray is dead, but I shared with him that my other pop-culture ‘dead giveaway’ (other than Diana Ross) that even I didn’t get at the time was my obsession with all things Gene Anthony Ray (AKA “Leroy”) from “Fame”… and “I had big DREAMS! I wanted ‘FAME’!”… and from the den of my Savannah home, I felt I could get there – high kicks and all! I’d memorize all the choreography from each week of the show, especially the “Leroy” sequences:
On and on, we went that night – clicking on Leroy and company! And it all reminded me of my desire to dance as a child. I just admired the way that he moved and the way that he just worked those high kicks that Debbie Allen would choreograph. I would do a high kick all around my home. I would dance, do jazz hands, and my mom would say “If you don’t sit your butt down and stop flouncing around this house like a sissy!!!!” Well, my spirit would of course be broken and I would sit down and begin to do something else. Their preference is that I would walk outside and go play with some other little boys – basketball, football, anything that was a boy’s thing to do, but dancing – at the time - was in my sprit and I never really got the chance to do it because they felt it was too much of a sissy activity and they weren’t raising no sissies. So, there you have it. I sometimes feel like I’m reconnecting to that inner-child when Ant and I go to Alvin Ailey to do our hip-hop dance routines/workouts with Tweety ( www.alvinailey.org/ ).
Once we were over the Thanksgiving holiday, we got back into the mix. I had to travel to Chicago for some business which gave me the chance to see my Ti-Ti, Ki-Ki, and the many others in the gang who bring me joy when I set foot in the Windy City. Additionally, over these last couple of weeks, I got the chance to witness more synergy around BEYONCE! I promise. It wasn’t intentional! Okay, where does this start! Well, remember my obsession with “Dreamgirls” last year this time? I’m excited to say that – in addition to my DVD – I can begin stumbling into “Dreamgirls” via HBO. YIPPEE!!!! ( http://www.hbo.com/apps/schedule/ScheduleServlet?ACTION_DETAIL=DETAIL&FOCUS_ID=620606 ). Well, that’s one report, but additional to that, you remember that my jones for all things “Dreamgirls” (circa 2006) started with Jennifer Hudson when I interviewed her in August of that year. Fast forward a year and change, I enjoy Beyonce here in New York City. Then, Anthony takes me to Manila in November for my birthday. We see Beyonce in concert and she serenades me “Happy Birthday” at the end of the show. From there, Anthony and I are invited to a showcase – featuring Columbia artist Tiffany Evans (www. tiffany-evans.com/ ) who I interviewed a few years ago outside of Atlantic City after she won “Star Search” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6vAZsnAVsc). Now, she’s a teenager and stepping to the marketplace with great voice and some hip edge. She performed her song “Promises” and the Etta James classic “At Last”. She and her mother remembered me .We had a nice exchange. From there, we stumbled into Beyonce’s father Matthew Knowles ( www.musicworldentertainment.com/ ) who was there to introduce his new artist Katy Shotter ( www.katyshotter.com/ ) who opened for Beyonce and Robin Thicke on the U-S leg of her tour. She seems to be the new frontier of “blue-eyed soul”. On this night, I ran into some great friends, including Carla Wills, Editor-in-Chief for Uptown Magazine ( www.uptown-magazine.com/ ). I mentioned the art feature that was featured in the first Uptown Magazine under her charge (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/10/11/what-has-pop-culture-done-for-me-lately.html). She too has artist management consulting business, focusing particularly on visual artist. One of the artists she represents is her extremely talented boyfriend, Alexis Peskine. We got a chance to meet him. He just closed a fabulous show at the Museum of Contemporary African Art (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, which was well reviewed in The New York Times. He's also a finalist in this year's Hennessy Art Competition. And he has a bunch of other stuff going on and shows coming up as well. He and Ant hit it off. We also saw Dr. Rani Whitfield – known lovingly in TV and healthcare circles as “Tha Hip Hop Doc” or “H2D”. The founder of "Tha Hip Hop Healthy Coalition," a non-profit dedicated to promoting healthier life styles to young people, Dr. Whitfield has successfully mergeed his three favorite pastimes: music, medicine and sports for the good of the community. He recently launched www.thahiphopdoc.com website to deliver health messages to teens and young adults. He is also currently at work on a medical book geared for teen/young adult market and a CD compilation. Anthony and I left before Lyfe Jennings performed as we had to get to “Club Sprung”, the aforementioned spot where I hung out with the “Dirty Laundry” folks. We also saw my personal shopper and stylist friend Jamar who works at my favorite boutique “N” (www. nharlemnewyork.com/ ). We hadn’t hung out with him in a minute. So, we had fun with him.
Many of my friends are working on great projects or announcing new chapters of their brand. My friend Shaun Robinson (“Access Hollywood”) just announced her new website (www.shaunrobinson.com). Check it out!!!!!! My friend Jelani represents artist J. Phoenix about whom you can learn many things via the following links:
J. Phoenix, who wrote and performed the hook for Tupac Shakur’s “ Thugz Mansion ” (Nas Acoustic) and whose songs have been recorded by high-profile artists such as platinum-selling R&B vocalist Joe, legendary jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson, renowned band Earth Wind & Fire, and guitar sensation George Benson, is making many things happen on his own. No stranger to the music publishing and licensing limelight, J. Phoenix, who writes under his given name Larry Loftin, has won the ASCAP/Sammy Cahn Award for excellence in lyrics and had his songs licensed for the films “From Justin to Kelly”, “The Brothers”, “How to be a Player”, and “B.A.P.S.”, as well as numerous television shows including “E! True Hollywood Stories”, “Revealed”, “Access Hollywood ”, and “Facing Fame”. J. Phoenix’s independently-released CD is “Masterpiece”, which highlights both his songwriting expertise and his strong vocal delivery.
Though a friend (only in my mind), Wendy Williams deserves a shout out this week (www.thewendywilliamsexperience.com/). Independent distribution-production company Debmar-Mercury has inked a deal with the a popular afternoon DJ in New York, to produce and host her own talk show. The hourlong strip is designed to feature a combination of celebrity interviews, entertainment news and personal advice. "Wendy Williams is exactly the type of talent we want to be in business with," says Debmar-Mercury co-president Mort Marcus. "She has developed a strong personal brand that connects with a broad-based audience." Debmar-Mercury is also pitching stations a syndicated game show based on the game “Trivial Pursuit” and distributes the first-run sitcom "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and off-net series "South Park," among other shows. CONGRATS WENDY!!!!
And I got the chance to recommend a good friend to my “superstar” girlfriend Mara Schiavocampo who is now a digital correspondent for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams ( www.nightly.msnbc.com ). My buddy Danielle has been dating a white guy Bernard for the last five years. They are in love! So, as Mara looked to pull together a roundtable of African American women who date inter-racially, I thought about her. Mara loved her and used her in the piece. It was featured in a week-long series on African American women that explored health, dating prospects, politics, hip hop and more. Mara’s other piece was on hip hop. With that, check her work out:
Interracial Dating Piece:
(If you are unable to click the link, please copy and paste the URL in the browser to watch the video.)
Interracial Dating Group Discussion:
(If you are unable to click the link, please copy and paste the URL in the browser to watch the video.)
And so, on the heels of a typically busy week of work and social commitments, Ant and I vowed to celebrate our 2nd Anniversary DECEMBER 1, 2007 . Then, we got the invitation to be shot for the aforementioned Charlie T’s “Just As We Are” project (http://www.justaswearetour.org) which she says is about promoting a real image of the LGBT community. The project has been exhibited at the Gay Center , the New York City Public Library, and area cultural museums. Recently, the Gay and Lesbian Center here in New York City became a corporate sponsor. The exhibit is scheduled next year to become part of a tour throughout gay centers around the country, after which she is looking to incorporate the project into a coffee table book. This project is about presenting something positive to the world as well as our young gay youths to know about and inspire to become. In addition to posing for these portraits, she interviewed us on how we met and why we chose to participate in this project. For more information on “Just As We Are Tour”, click on:
We had a great time with Charlie and her partner – sharing stories of how we met and hearing stories of how they met. And we realized that we all had lots in common, which created a great scene for Ant and me to pose and give our photographer what she wanted. (www.charlietphotography.net). It was a great night.Since we’d chosen THE DREAM HOTEL for this shoot and as a homecoming of sorts for our 2ND ANNIVERSARY, we thought a few friends – like Marqice and Jason – would want to come by and have a toast with us. Instead, the guys had another surprise in mind: A trip to Brooklyn to the home of a man named Michael. This mansion featured a red-carpet that led from the street, up the walkway, and to the front door. We walk inside the mansion – chockful of beautiful, Black men; beautiful artwork; and one-third of the “Dreamgirls” we all grew to love and adore last year this time. It was Anika Noni-Rose, who is a friend of the host. Ant inspired me to get my last picture in the set that is “the original Dreamgirls” (from the movie) and Miss Noni-Rose enthusiastically agreed. She shared many great anecdotes of her travel and career and reminded us how much of a class act she, too, is. And now I have pix with all three "Dreamgirls". Calling Sharon Leal ("This Christmas" and "Why Did I Get Married?") - "Michelle" in the movie "Dreamgirls". The featured entertainment at this party, which was the surprise from Jason & Marqice, was our good girlfriend Ledisi ( www.ledisi.com/ ). She was so happy to see Ant and me. As always, she was friendly, fun, and such a stand for Anthony and me – letting everyone know that it was our 2nd Anniversary and how she considered us her family. Another couple we love, Troy and Darryl, were in the house and we all got the chance to pose with Ledisi during the after set. Afterwards, Jason and Marqice brought us back to the hotel. We all fellowshipped a bit before calling it a night. And after night again turned to day, Ant and I awoke – rededicated and excited at the challenges before us. Though we both are carrying some anxiety around the many heavy things there are to do, WHO WE ARE BEING will get us through. And we trust that. I do, for sure.
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