I expanded on my FACEBOOK status’ from the last week to outline this blog entry!
* Had to leave NYC/NJ again [:-(] This time: Tampa for the National Association of Black Journalists' convention. [:-)] I hosted an event for Disney; co-produced a banquet with Morehouse brother Michael K. Watts (coupled with the most-able assistance from our Spelman sister, NABJ intern Janelle Richards and her fellow interns Priska, Royce, etc. were great too); sat on a couple of panels; and moderated a Q&A w/Chris Rock & Nia Long after screening of "Good Hair" documentary.
* Back in from late meeting and meal (Bennigan's) with 'industry sister' Katti and 'NABJ buddies' Mashaun & Warren. Great to catch up! Early call time tomorrow (7:45 am) and long-day workshop on freelancing (I'm a panelist) - including my Atlanta University Center brother Mario Page who went to Clark while I was at Morehouse (but also at Clark via its Mass Communications Department). He's an awesome Director/Photographer/Producer out of Atlanta.
* Early to rise here in Tampa. Speaking on a day-long panel regarding 'freelance - the good, the bad, the ugly... and tips to survive a career category I've known for years (by choice), but now one that many of my full-time colleagues (and former full-time colleagues) must consider to survive. A challenging time indeed. But there's hope!
* Half-way through freelance panel... and one of our registrants came up to me and said my testimonial was worth all the money he DIDN'T HAVE to come to the convention. I guess that's why I do what I do and share what I share.
* The NABJ LEARNING LAB: The Business of Freelancing panel on which I served is done. I think my mentoring and candor made a difference. Now it's time for the opening reception. ALREADY, it's GREAT to see everybody including my Atlanta peeps…. My fellow NABJ babies with whom I co-anchored the student newscast in 1991. Now, we're all doing our thing via the 'seasoned journalist' track - YIKES! There was my actual co-anchor Val who is a lead anchor her own in Baton Rouge. And my Dominique who has made the airwaves sparkle with her reports and hosting. Now, she is an image maker herself. Also, my former WCLK folks – including Sheila Tenney… My new Bay Area buddies Kim and Marcus… My mentor Sheila Brooks in Troy Artis – stylist/journalist extraordinaire who did stunning looks for Madame Brooks (www.insidethetents.com).
* Wrapping up a long DAY ONE at NABJ. After opening reception, there was a white party poolside that was cool (Fortunately Ant packed some white I could put on! He's awesome, right?). Meanwhile, I'm popping up to President's suite for nightcap as tomorrow is a NEW DAY: on homophobia panel & hosting Disney event.
* Saw Johnny Wright who does Michelle Obama’s hair. He was heading up a panel on TV Images and hair. I met Johnny Wright when he lived in Chicago where I was in town and our mutual friend "Chicago Carl Howard" (I call him) introduced us. See here where I blogged about it:http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/1/15/-but-i-need-a-friend.html Turns out I also know his publicist Michelle Pascal. At that time (a couple of years ago), he mentioned he was moving out west. Now, to know that he's moved back east (but to D.C.) and is now our First Lady's hairstylist, is awesome. Also, that he's poised to begin filming his reality show about the transition to D.C. (for BRAVO) is another cool tid-bit.
* So in addition to having NABJ A&E Task Force member Adrienne Samuels on a plenary that explored if “New Media” (a la TMZ) is the new frontier of credible journalism given it scooped CNN (and many other traditional outlets) in breaking the passing of Michael Jackson. The producer of the panel (Michael’s and my mentor Sidmel Estes) extended an invitation for the NABJ A&E Task Force to set in a priority slot with the first question.Michael K. Watts was our "designated hitter" who went up to bat on behalf of the NABJ A&E Task Force. Afterwards, Michael and I celebrated at nearby Jackson's Restaurant.
* The homophobia panel went well. Real talk all around. My colleagues, friends, and fellow NABJ LGBT Task Force members Kai Wright (moderator); Katina Parker; GLAAD’s Rashad Robinson; and I felt blessed to be able to have a platform to explore where African Americans are inside of our acceptance of gay people.
* I hosted Disney event in which my Broadway buddy Anika Noni Rose performed. I also got the chance to introduce the first African American animation lead princess in a Disney flick: Tiana. Also, via SKYPE, I chatted up Steve Harvey about the Disney Dreamers Academy. And got some behind-the-scenes scoop on The American Idol Experience & Hall of Presidents. Great show followed by GREAT after party! Getting in bed. Early call tomorrow to produce banquet.
* Just co-produced NABJ Hall of Fame Banquet here in Tampa. MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall hosted for us – wearing a classic, sleeveless Donna Karan dress and Christian Louboutin slingbacks. President Obama's chief adviser Valerie Jarrett spoke. Former EBONY managing editor Lynn Norment was one of four inducted. GREAT EVENT
* Just had great bite with NABJ aces Greg & Gil. Went to Columbia Spanish Restaurant in Tampa (on Gil!). Tomorrow I interview Chris Rock & Nia Long after they screen his doc "Good Hair" for NABJ. Then off to LA bright & early Sun. Will likely bite bullet & pay for extended stay & rental.
* Still in Tampa. Great day! Interviewed Chris Rock & Nia Long (twice) after back-to-back screenings of "Good Hair". Went very well! Just came from Salute to Excellence Awards where a MLK special on which I contributed WON! Now, party time til my early morning flight for L.A.
* Well, I've landed in L.A. Biting the bullet with extended stay & car rental. Trust all to work out. Will pick up work on project tomorrow. In the wake of an exhausting and successful NABJ in Tampa, I may see a couple of friends tonight for dinner & drinks. Easy and breezy.
* Got to hang out with L.A. friend Javier yesterday (pool party at Shangri-La in Santa Monica). I met Javier through my dear NABJ friend Brian Henderson (www.brimmage.com). Brian has been awesome in trying to help me figure out my L.A. situation a la housing/transportation/friends, etc. He’s also an amazing web designer. And we’ve become fast friends who networked hard and played hard while in Tampa. He truly shows up and I’m grateful to him. Javier, too, is a chip off of his old college buddy Brian’s block – so I too am appreciative to him for his hospitality as he manages a blossoming career as a model/actor. Javier and I hooked up with my buddy, NYC-based Theo, for some social time.
* BLESSED and working through my time away from Ant here in L.A., though he plans to come and see me Labor Day Weekend. Meanwhile, I will keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. In this picture, however, they are in the air.