So it's the night that Obama clinches the Democratic nomination and - in the moment - I'm thrilled that I got my private time and photo op with him last August while in Las Vegas (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/8/13/audacity-of-hope-and-dreams-in-vegas.html). My nephew and I are waiting for him to speak. When it came time, he and Michelle entered the stage - looking regal and ever the first couple (like never before). His swagger seemed cooler and calmer and more confident. Her style and sway channeled Jackie Kennedy but made it clear that she was her own woman. And then, there was this connection that I found as intimate and connecting (between this African American couple) as when Diana Ross portrayed model/designer Tracy Chambers to Billy Dee Williams' political candidate in "Mahogany" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DpvtcK4z-Y). When the two gave each other the "pound" and a "thumbs up", it just gave me goose bumps. I had to re-TIVO it, after looking back at my nephew who was watching it with me. "Did they do what I think they did?" I said. TIVO re-cued. "Yep! They did," I confirmed. "What a moment!" Soon thereafter, I went to bed.
Fast forward to 12:15 pm and I'm minding my own business (over the moment and unaware that it played significantly in a number of other places). I got a call from my NABJ friend and colleague Mara Schiavocampo who is Digital Correspondent for MSNBC/NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams (www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21688725/). I write about her often here in the blog (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/12/3/i-have-a-dream-today.html). She asked if I saw "the moment" and if I could come in and weigh-in on this high-profile pound and what it meant. I turned it around quickly (with Ant's support to pull an ensemble together - so I could hop in a car service and get to 30 Rockefeller Center - headquarters of all things NBC - by 1:30 pm). Mission accomplished and she shot my interview and filed it Wednesday evening: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/24974371#24974371.
Imagine my surprise when I found out today the piece is doing phenomenally well. 130,000 hits since being posted (That's just up to yesterday and I just got a call that - as of today - it's gotten more than 500,000 hits and is one of the most successful videos MSN has seen to date). That's the most watched news video on MSN today (and now in some larger window). And MSN is the most popular news site on the web. Because it's doing so well, it was considered to be a part of a week-in-review round-up on the week's TOP WEB VIDEOS for a segment on MSNBC. And I'm getting calls from friends who work at NBC affiliates that the piece is being included in their newscasts via a repository of pieces that are sent out to the local stations from the network via a feed. GREAT TO WORK WITH YOU, MARA!
This whole moment forwards my efforts to expand on my brand as independent personality/producer/writer in the realm of pop culture and entertainment. Hopefully more calls will come. I didn't get much time to take it all in before I had to get downtown to City Bakery (www.citybakery.com) to meet a dear friend I haven't seen in forever (and how did I manage to let her get away without getting a pic? I guess our revolution will not be photographed. I don't know. SMILE!). It's Tracey Moore-Marable of "The Spirited Actor" fame - www.thespiritedactor.com/ (I've blogged about her here before too). Tracey reminds me that I was a part of her first class in 1995. Moreover, she is now getting back into casting on top of what she's been doing as a director in the business. With that, she spent lots of time inspiring me with referrals and the right words I needed to hear as I navigate my journey. Ant joined us at a point and it was a great moment for him too to be inspired but also to meet Tracey as he'd met her children, her children's father (another of my best friends from Savannah), but not her. Well, now it was their turn to meet and it was a grand meeting, I must say.
Unfortunately we couldn't hang with Tracey all night long (nor get into our ritual of singing all things "Dreamgirls" before the day is done). She had to get to her monologue class that she teaches every Wednesday night (Ant and I are gonna pop by next week). He and I had to get to Capitale, NYC (www.capitaleny.com), the elegantly-appointed backdrop of The National Urban Technology Center's Gala Dinner (www.urbantech.org) which was hosted by old colleague (from my NBC days of producing special projects and his days of anchoring at NBC 4) Maurice Dubois (now at WCBS). My good buddy Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has been so kind to me over the years (and Ant too), was one of the honorees at the event. We were excited to support him. He was being honored alongside Stephen C. Byrd (producer of Broadway's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"). Lynn Whitfield (of "Josephine Baker" fame) presented. My good friend Carl Nelson invited Ant and me. We enjoyed a wonderful table of 'characters' - including dear friend Stacie J (of "Apprentice" - Season 2 fame) - www.staciej.com - who just had a baby three months ago (She looks amazing! And her little girl's first name is my last-namesake with a twist. I forget the exact spelling). Check out her site as she is doing many things - including a jewelry line which she modeled for Ant and me. Gorgeous gown designer B. Michael (www.bmichaelcouture.com/) was in the house as was many from Carl's social network - including Reginald Van Lee, Earl Monroe, and a host of others. I even ran into some of my NYABJ/NABJ buddies including Deborah C. Skinner, now Editorial Director of Interactive Media for Black Enterprise (www.blackenterprise.com). And another dear friend in the mix: Glenn Tunstull (artist extraordinaire) - who introduced me to Live Out Loud (www.liveoutloud.info), the LGBTQ mentoring organization that periodically books me periodically to speak to young kids (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/5/20/a-reversal-of-mendacity.html). He is looking as good as ever and planning on his next art show (on Martha's Vineyard... as always). Check his site out and his show - if you're in the area: www.tunstullstudio.com.
From there, Carl persuaded us to head up to the penthouse of the Royalton Hotel (www.RoyaltonHotel.com) - a move that allowed me to fulfill the intention of supporting friend and fabulous shoe designer (soon men's suits as well) Ron Donovan (www.rondonfoot.com). Carl enrolled a big group of folks to come and partake of this trunk show (even though it was wrapping up). The second wind produced a number of sales for Ron. Also, there was time for many of us who had not hung out in a bit to catch up even further - like my Morehouse brother Raymond.
After that, Ant and I joined one of his Momentum (www.momentumeducation.com) buddies Ruben at a party in the theater district. Touch (www.clubtouchnewyears.com/) was the spot. The beneficiary was City Gym Boys which deems itself "... the only fitness company dedicated to mentoring young men and women on the lifelong benefits of fitness and exercise..." (www.citygymboys.com/pages/home.html). This was its calendar release party - proceeds of which will benefit pointedly Boys & Girls Club of Harlem (www.harlembgc.com/).
Tonight, Ant and I got to do a double date with our Tata and her Jules. We went to see recent blog subject Lalah Hathaway (www.lalahhathaway.com/). Thanks to industry girlfriend Juanita Stephens for hooking it up. B.B. King Blues Club was our destination (www.bbkingblues.com). We got a meet and greet with Lalah before the show, which was hosted by funny man (but clean and Christian) Jonathan Slocumb, my homeboy from Atlanta. It was good to see him again (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmu7okiiKJk). Lalah performed an easy and laid-back set that was simply music to our ears. In addition to material from her new album "Self Portrait" (Stax Records), she performed her classics like "I'm Coming Back" and her recent Luther remake "Forever, For Always, For Love" (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/move-on-up-a-little-higher-lord-upgrade-me.html). She was in pristene voice and her band/background vocalists were the truth. If she is at a city near you, don't sleep. Get your tickets immediately.
Two quick shout outs to friends who are doing awesome things:
1. You guys know how much I love Ted Gibson - hair stylist to the stars (www.tedgibsonsalon.com/). Well, on Wednesday, June 18th, he will be a part of teaching new beauty techniques at Henri Bendel's store. For more information, go to: www.henribendel.com/ or Ted's site above.
2. And my "Amazing Grace" Nichole's brother-in-law David Cole has just started a new project. He has just launched a mobile directory listing for DC & NYC that offers places to Eat, Play, Style and Pray. These are designed to be viewed on your mobile phone and puts the "city in your pocket". The mobile user places www.citibuzz.mobi/DC or www.citibuzz.mobi/NYC into their mobile browsers. Please support this brother who is truly like a brother to me. CONGRATS DAVID!
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