Well, I’ve been working non-stop for various clients since the top of the year. The work is coming much faster than the checks. But the checks are coming… and that’s what counts, right? Since last we spoke, much has happened. But mostly good (Will be better when those checks start trickling in… and even better if I keep attracting these rounds of great assignments).
As you know, under my cap as independent producer, personality, writer, I just wrapped getting my feet wet in the skills-set-applicable reality realm as field and story producer on reality shows "Monica: Still Standing" (and prior to that, "Frankie & Neffe" - both of which shot in Atlanta and edited in L.A. throughout 2009). Well, we just found out that “Monica: Still Standing” has been nominated for the 2010 Namic Vision Award. NAMIC is the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (www.namic.org). CONGRATS TEAM MONICA! Even after the show has wrapped, our show is BEING THE DIFFERENCE! AWESOME!
Meanwhile, on the on-camera tip, you’ve so far seen my pop culture analysis on MSNBC at the top of the year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pYKZBjEx40). And with "Princess & The Frog" having come out with a bang, this link got a lot of play (from when I recently hosted a preview event for Disney with Anika Noni-Rose in Tampa for NABJ) (http://188.8.131.52/PRiley/NABJDisneyMagic.wmv). And
I'm featured in a piece re: Ebony Fashion Fair on CUNY-TV's "Indepedent Sources" that runs later this month on Wednesday, February 24th. CUNY TV is channel 75 in New York City and runs at 8:30 PM (www.cuny.tv).
And on the freelance producing tip, the BET work on which I spent the lion’s share of January is either on the air or has already been seen by its target audience.
BET commissioned me to work on field producing/writing/editing BET's Black History Month campaign. Some samples below, but the final spots are running on BET now.
Too, I produced tribute videos for The American Foundation for the University of the West Indies.
And also for BET, I did celebrity interviews back-stage for two of BET's recent events: BET HONORS (DC) and was invited to interview celebs backstage at BET's telethon for HAITI relief in Miami. I got to see Monica and Diddy again as well as interview Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Fonzworth Bentley, Common, Rickey Smiley, Chrisette Michelle, Spike Lee, Mike Tyson, Brian McKnight, and many more (www.bet.com/specials/helphaiti/). While in Miami, I got to hang out with my homeboy Maurice and my Morehouse brother Khalid. And also in the mix, all of the awesome BET folks who’ve welcomed me into the fold as family. A lot of great folks over there. We had a lovely meal at Tarpon Bend Restaurant in Coral Gables, Florida (www.tarponbend.com).
Meanwhile, my main freelance client has been calling and I’ve been churning out work there and also I recently did a project for Ed Gordon Media.
And on the writing tip, in the wake of being a contributing reporter for ESSENCE Magazine's OBAMA editorial section in the November issue, I just filed work for a new assignment that will be featured in the June 2010 issue of ESSENCE on FATHERHOOD. And The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists has invited me to sit on its panel (just before The Oscars): Monitoring Hollywood ll Precious: A Discussion On Hollywood’s Image of The Black Woman. It’s scheduled for Thursday, March 4, 2010 from 7pm to 9pm in the Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News Public Room, 400 North Broad Street. Since Philly’s own Lee Daniels’ gripping film “Precious” - based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire is winning acclaim for its tale of a young Black girl’s heartache and struggle living in the inner city, PABJ’s Media Watch Committee think it fitting to delve into the progress and failures of Hollywood’s portrayal of Black women. Just in time for Women’s History Month! www.pabjwatch.blogspot.com
AND WINTER’S COLD --- and many BLIZZARDS --- COULDN’T STOP Ant, the gang, and me from enjoying our New York City!
From Destiny’s Child, Michelle Williams made her debut in Broadway’s “Chicago” recently. As all of her stage impressions – from “AIDA” to “The Color Purple” (as Shug Avery) – she proved a delight. AMEN’s Roz Ryan is ‘Mama’ in the cast. And these two bring some freshness to a long-in-the-tooth show on The Great White Way. My buddies Damone Roberts (‘eyebrow king’) and star hairstylist Oscar James were in the house along with Star Jones and her beau. Also, it was great to see Michelle, Kelly, and Beyonce’s label publicist (for many years) Yvette Noel-Schure. I love Yvette!!!! She made it possible for Ant to take me to Manila a couple of years ago and see in concert: Beyonce, who serenaded me Happy Birthday after her show. And since B was in Brazil (hot off snagging her record-breaking six Grammy Awards), her husband Jay Z came by the after party (at Time Hotel, just across the street from the Ambassador Theatre) to celebrate Michelle on behalf of Mrs. Carter. Also in attendance at the after-party: my friends Devon Christopher (BLEU Magazine Publisher); Ra-Fael deBlanco; and Katrina Boswell (two of my favorite publicists); and THE Karu Daniels (of AOL Black Voices fame).
“BLACK LIST 3”
I've had the chance to host THE BLACK LIST Volume One premiere in Atlanta in August 2008 at The High Museum: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/8/26/its-good-to-be-black.html This, in addition to attending the NYC Premiere for VOLUME ONE: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/8/15/masters-mentors.html ... And VOLUME TWO: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2009/3/4/like-march-weather-when-hell-change-nobody-knows.html Was great to experience the continuing saga VOLUME 3 in New York City with players from all three: Faye Wattleton, Lee Daniels, Latonya Richardson, Dr. Michael Lomax, Rev. Al Sharpton, and others. (www.hbo.com)
On that same night, Ant and I joined my AUC/CAU sister Ytasha Womack who left her Windy City of Chicago to promote her new book in New York City. Hip business features magazine NV presented the “Post Black” party. And imagine my excitement when I found out that in this collection of essays on ‘how a new generation is redefining African American Identity’, Ytasha includes a memory of ME at the top of her Chapter 4 (page 82 – 83) which is titled “BLACK, GAY, LESBIAN, AND PROUD: GLBT IN BLACK AMERICA” – an excerpt in which some social time she and I spent in Chicago was perhaps tainted by a comic that – after tanking with his stand-up act – chose to go for the ‘homophobic gay joke’ to which he received even less enthusiasm from the mixed crowed. I consider the moment a development in my own comforts around sexuality because – like other moments – this one didn’t hold in my heart as a ‘traumatic’ one. But the compassion and insight of Ytasha underscores the sociological aspects of that particular moment brilliantly. CONGRATS YTASHA! Please pick up her book: www.postblackthebook.blogspot.com and http://lit.newcity.com/tag/ytosha-womack/ and http://www.booklistonline.com/default.aspx?page=show_product&pid=3968773 and http://www.wgntv.com/search/dispatcher.front?Query=ytasha+womack&target=article Several of my L.A. peeps are still staying in touch. Look out for: My Sheryl Lee Ralph’s 1st Annual DIVA AWARDS (www.divaawards.org) in L.A. on February 27th. She honors Oscar nominees Lee Daniels and Mo’Nique.
NYC FASHION WEEK
New York Fashion Week is in high gear… and Ant and I are usually in the mix. In the throes of managing multiple projects to stay afloat, I’ve neglected the many invites that have popped in my email box – usual inspiration for what I will RSVP to attend a la the white tent shows; off-sight extravaganzas; and the many ‘open bar’ parties. Though Ant too has been overwhelmed with long days – cranking out segments for ‘The Wendy Williams Show’, fashion and style are his business. So, he invited me to join him for ‘Wendy’ celebrity guest make-up artist D'Angelo Thompson's launch party in SOHO along with his partner Andrea Fairweather who I've had a chance to meet over the years when I've done on-camera pop culture analysis. Beauty Techniques To Go (www.BeautyTechniquesToGo.com) is a comprehensive DIY beauty education series for the beauty-conscious and aspiring/emerging artists. It teaches beauty techniques, trends, kit revamp, and more. Several of his ‘Wendy’ colleagues were in the house – from Aleeka to Talia… and it was the perfect start to an evening that wrapped further downtown. It was BET’s a-little-older-and-sexier cable network CENTRIC's party launching MODEL CITY – an original series that takes a look at the world of Black male models. I have several friends connected to the project – from Sean Joell Johnson and Senior VP of Original Programming Essie Chambers. In the house, I ran into several of my BET bosses and peers of late as well as some dear friends – like Toyce Francis and Nina Flowers (from The Apollo). Toyce has just launched www.ClubVIPlister.com, a national gay nightlife directory that features much for its demo to comb through around the New York City scene and beyond. I’ve bumped into her a time or two during Fashion Weeks gone by and this past couple of months (at BET Honors and BET’s Haiti Telethon), Chrisette Michelle – as always – was most gracious and sweet. I even ran into my friend Tracey Moore’s little girl Radiance – now a woman and continuing to make us proud as she delves into video producing! GO RADIANCE!
February has been celebration time. It’s Ern’s birthday month (February 14th to be exact). But we didn’t start partying on that day. A couple of weeks prior, he, Ant, and I hung out with Ant’s work sister Candice at her place for a YOU TUBE party. We enjoyed The Grammys at Ern’s place. Then, to honor the BIG 28TH BIRTHDAY of ERN, we did several things. We’re still celebrating. (But I’ve known Ern since ‘his birth’ [EXHIBIT A], I’m not sure how all of this works… but since Black doesn’t crack, I’ll play along. LOL!). On the eve of his big Birthday set that Kimberly put together, Ant and I took Ern out for margaritas and wings. Come Saturday night, we joined Kim and a gang of Ern’s friends for bowling. And of course, karaoke couldn't be too far behind. Our Mara and Tommie came. Tata & Jules were in the house. All of his real estate compadres. And my Morehouse brothers Michael and Mario were there as they’ve known Ern since our college years when he’d visit me in school. FUN ALL AROUND punctuated by a birthday/Valentine’s Day nibble at “On The Border” with his best buddy Tina. And for his special occasion, he even got a hand-written card and video BDAY message from his favorite diva Vanessa Williams. GO ERN! ALL FOR YOUR 28TH! YAYYYY!
MOREHOUSE, MY NEPHEW, AND ME
My friend and Spelman sister Adrianne C. Smith sent these pix the other day of us in college. We – THE KING PLAYERS – were a musical theatre troop that traveled a bit with a musical “Martin”. At closer inspection, you’ll see our other Spelman sister Cassie Davis who has gone on to have huge success with Tyler Perry – including the hit TV show “House of Payne”. We all started together. I owe so much of my success to Morehouse – from the classroom to the networking to the exposure to the training for life and art. But my biggest THANKS to Morehouse is keeping her arms open long enough for my nephew Herman Lee Riley III to matriculate through those halls and create an even-more amazing life for himself from the place that did alright by me. He graduates in May. He’s already landed his first gig post-college (here in New York City as a marketing analyst for a household, Fortune 500 company). But even before all of that, he is one of 18 of the College’s best students selected to go on the 2010 Annual Spring Tour which – this year – travels to London, England, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Dublin, Ireland from March 4, 2010-March 12, 2010. He and his fellow Morehouse brothers will have the opportunity to interact with senior level management of major international corporations, such as Google and Goldman Sachs, and to examine their domestic and foreign operations. After being nominated by faculty members, the students wrote research papers describing the British Isles economies and their reaction to the “Great Recession”. From this pool of qualified students, selection was based on grade point average, scholastic honor, distinction, and extracurricular involvement. The eighteen students who were ultimately chosen are only a sample of the high caliber of students that Morehouse produces. The Spring Tour was developed and implemented in 1982. It was taken international in 1985. One of my fellow King Players, the late, great Benjamin P. McLaurin, Director of Career Counseling & Placement, took it to its current level of excellence. It was originally designed to allow accounting students to visit banking and accounting firms as well as graduate schools. The purpose of the tour has evolved to exposing Morehouse students to business customs and practices and to assist them in paralleling foreign customs and practices with domestic ones. Speaking of Morehouse, check out my Morehouse brother Kobie Brown’s project on FATHERS: The Kobie Chronicles Presents “From Fatherless To Fatherhood:
A video interview of Kevin Mason about fatherhood” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7dI8my_1KE. STRONG MEN KEEP A COMIN’!