Have I been on this earth 42 years? Well, the calendar says so! And as it always falls a few days before THANKSGIVING, I always get an annual nudge in the direction of GRATITUDE! And I am GRATEFUL for so much, even though I couldn’t manage an escape from my work load this year. It didn’t matter because (1) I am GRATEFUL for the work (as an independent personality/producer/writer) & (2) You know we still got it in! LOL! Dinner here. Cake there. Karaoke there. Karaoke here. My karaoke posse. My guy. My family. My friends (AKA extended family). My health. My girls. My AMAZING GRACES! And a SMILE! What else do I need? THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR WELL WISHES, LOVE, and UNYIELDING SUPPORT!
In the spirit of my birthday weekend, I was too excited to receive the rare and treasured gift of being able to hang out with two of my BFFs Carl Nelson and Sidra Smith. We attended the Hearts of Gold's 16th Annual Fall Fundraising Gala sponsored by Rémy Martin® on Friday, November 16th here in New York City at the Metropolitan Pavilion (http://www.heartsofgold.org/). And what a beautiful night it was! I was happy to have a hand in enrolling client Rémy Martin® to participate in this charity event which supports an organization that fosters sustainable change in lifestyle and levels of self-sufficiency for homeless mothers and their children. In the house: my buddy Rhonda Ross who brilliantly performed "Cabaret" for the so-themed event. The irony wasn't lost on her: Rhonda's mom Diana was expected to win the Oscar for her portrayal of Billie Holliday in "Lady Sings The Blues" in 1972. Instead, Liza Minnelli snagged the prize for "Cabaret". Rhonda and I had a giggle about it, her noting that other friends and family members were clutching their pearls at the song selection. Irony has never been lost on Miss Diana as she performed "Family" from the Broadway show "Dreamgirls" in her legendary 1983 Central Park shows (rain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUtqo7_mEMY & shine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtXS8R_iILs) at a time where she was believed to not be in love with the staged musical's loose interpretation of her own life story. I got to discuss that tid-bit with the song's writer Henry Krieger a few years back when Ant was still a producer for STARZ! in Denver and he flew in to interview Mr. Krieger (and to celebrate our 1 YEAR TOGETHER! It'll be 7 YEARS come December): http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/12/3/i-have-a-dream-today.html). BUT I "DI"-GRESS, though I know my DIANA fans Andreas (in town from Germany) and Jim don't mind! LOL! Other hosts at HEARTS OF GOLD included my National Association of Black Journalists sister friend Soledad O'Brien and my friend Tamara Tunie (whose husband Gregory Generet was in the house. He is performing at SMOKE every Thursday, singing his beautiful and bold brand of jazz (with a little soul to boot). You should check it out: http://gregorygeneret.com/. Of course, I referenced in my last blog entry Tamara's latest - including "Flight" with Denzel Washington: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/11/8/freedom-you-see.html). Hearts of Gold Founder Deborah Koenigsberger led a team that raised lots of money for this great cause. Special shout out to my girlfriends, WABC News 7 Divas Kemberly Richardson and career-long friend Sandra Bookman, anchor and host of "Here & Now" (http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/channel?section=resources/lifestyle_community/community&id=7108383), which recently produced a segment on Deborah and her Hearts of Gold work.
Shout out to my friend and NYC's favorite socialite and businesswoman Bevy Smith. She invited "...The Life of Riley..." out to celebrate the launch of "The Purpose Awards" with multicultural marketer/author, Teneshia Jackson Warner. She is quite the exemplar and grio on multicultural marketing and connecting with consumers through philanthropic endeavors. So many amazing friends (from my fellow journalists to entertainers and tastemakers I've admired for a long time) were in the room. I won't list them all...but you'll recognize some of them at this networking fiesta. Beauty & Essex was the well-appointed back-drop where we ate on roasted carrot & avocado salad; whipped rocotta 'jewels on toast'; chipotle grilled shrimp; lobster tacos; grilled salmon; broccolini; filet mignon; yukon gold potato puree; petite cupcakes; and caramel mousse bombe. I must mention the honorees - most of whom have touched the life of Riley:
* Was great to produce one of its integrations for "The Wendy Williams Show": http://www.wendyshow.com/MyBlackIsBeautiful/, which got a hit in Black Enterprise: http://www.blackenterprise.com/money/giving-back-against-all-odds/.
2. Kathryn Finney (www.thebudgetfashionista.com); TWITTER: @KathrynFinney; FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/pages/Kathryn-Finney-The-Budget-Fashionista/17011731381
3. Phillip Bloch (www.phillipbloch.com); TWITTER: @phillipbloch; FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/pages/Phillip-Bloch (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/8/23/harlem-sparkle.html)
* Am excited to have attended and been a host of several programs for the Disney Dreamers Academy: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/tag/disneys-dreamers-academy
Check out Teneshia's book "Profit with Purpose: A Marketer's Guide to Delivering Purpose-Driven Campaigns to Multicultural Audiences" (Order Direct And Save: http://www.paramountbooks.com/ - 888-787-2800 - TOLL FREE). And you can tweet accordingly: @egamiconsulting @teneshiajwarner #profitwithpurpose
You recall, I hosted an awesome, recorded event at NYPR's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space in Manhattan on "Teacake's Legacy" (a la Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God"). Here's a link to that awesome session: http://www.thegreenespace.org/events/thegreenespace/2012/sep/17/their-eyes-were-watching-god-teacakes-legacy/. Well, in the wake of that booking, synergy partner WNYC's The Big Read is making up the second phase of The Greene Space year-long celebration of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (and the novel's 75 years since it was first published 75 years ago in September of 1937). I hosted a BIG READ book club of sorts on the literary work - using clips from the campaign's original roll out which I also chronicled in "....The Life of Riley...": http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/tag/zora-neale-hurston) the production of the first American adaptation of the story as a radio play directed by acclaimed actor and playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson, starring Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, Roslyn Ruff, Brandon Dirden and Leslie Uggams, in NYPR's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. During the month of November, WNYC's Community Engagement & Audience Development Department are hosting Big Read listening sessions in various communities. You can check out our website for where some of the others will take place and for more information: www.wnyc.org/events. Special shout out to one of the participants who won the raffle (Kindle Fire). Also a big THANKS to my National Association of Black Journalists/Garden Stare Association of Black Journalists' sister Henrietta Parker - an award-winning producer of content that matters (at NJN).
Will miss dinner with The Porters this year. They have other plans. We’ll still be around though. I am excited to partake of a lovely meal at our hosts Danielle and Bernard’s lovely home in NJ. Recently - after working in an edit on a Saturday – an invitation did make its way to us a la The Porters (Mara Schiavocampo and Tommie Porter).
Mara felt like cooking and – VOILA! – we had a Saturday night dinner of chicken, potatoes & gravy, asparagus, homemade biscuits, and a sock-it-to-me cake! While commuting to their Harlem digs, I wondered “Is Mara going to bring ‘Amy Ruth’ or ‘Martha Stewart’?” Well, honey! She brought a mélange! And it was nothing short of DELICIOUS and delightful with some of my favorite people also in the house – including Ant; publicist Rachel Noerdlinger; her boo Hasaan; our in-house shrink-in-process Anwar along with his mentee; and Jamar! As always, THANKS PORTERS!
ALSO: For the latest on their offspring, Miss Nina: Sure, she's walking. Most babies eventually do that. But she's turning into a viral and TV sensation. From a lullaby (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4360775780176) to a funny viral in which she let me co-star (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4849253031802) to THE TODAY SHOW in designer couture (I didn't get the call for that gig! LOL!). Yes, it's true! Nina made her national TV debut on the Today Show - modeling some very fine threads! GO NINA: http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/49804995.
You all know I believe in inspiring and motivating the young folks as those before me did for me. I got a call from my friend Scott. He’s a Norfolk State University alum (and he is Sheryl Lee Ralph's right hand often when she throws her annual DIVAS: SIMPLY SINGING (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2009/10/12/divas-simply-singing-more.html)). He asked if Ant and I would speak to the NSU students who were coming to NYC on their annual media tour (I’ve entertained them before: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2010/12/1/i-recall-the-scenes-that-never-die.html). Was great to speak alongside NYC-socialite buddy Chasity Saunders, NSU alum who is modeling; acting; and presenting all over the place (http://www.chasitysaunders.com/)! Another alum: Zeke from “The Amazing Race” was in the house, dropping science on the kids. Always good to speak to the young folks as I just did at FAMU when I was recently the Keynote Speaker for the closing ceremony of the NABJ Multi-media Short Course: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/10/10/full-circle.html.
One young man - among the NSU students - sent me a note today. In excerpt, he said "...I had to e-mail you and personally thank you for coming to speak to us. It meant more to me than anyone else. As a gay black man, I was so happy to meet you Friday and to meet someone with such an impressive body of work. You are everything I wish to be and everything I want to accomplish...." THE HONOR WAS MINE, I emailed back: "...to hear that I could be a role model to a self-actualized, young Black gay man is quite a GIFT (It's my BIRTHDAY, after all!). I wasn't always so certain that marrying my SEXUAL ORIENTATION to my CAREER was the right thing to do. But in my mid-20s, I'm thrilled that I channeled my AUTHENTIC, LOVING, VULNERABLE self to have ALL MY POSSIBILITIES show up... and I'm still working on the next level, yet feel equipped to do so because I'm TRANSPARENT - if just evidenced by some of my media impressions this year:
1. My blog "A Day in the Life of Riley: pop culture & possibilities": http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/ captures much of what those opportunities have looked like of late. It's proven to be quite a promotable arm to my brand... and I feel the love from all demos!
2. I’ve been bitten by the ON-CAM POP CULTURE ANALYST bug! BET’s DON’T SLEEP – HOSTED BY T.J. HOLMES reached out and booked me for one of its ‘evergreen’ tapings prior to its launch ( http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/9/28/arms-open-wide.html). The week I spoke to you and your fellow NSU classmates here in NYC, I was invited back to DON'T SLEEP for POST-ELECTION DAY talk - including chat about the first two states to pass same-sex marriage via a public vote (Maryland and Maine). Here’s a clip: http://www.bet.com/video/dont-sleep/highlights/2012/sleep-talkers-don-t-sleep-121-12021.html. Also, I was interviewed back-stage before the show: http://bet.us/TuU3Eb. I got to wax philosophical with journalist/cultural critic Toure, and rapper “The Game” who noted he’s a fan of my blog (WOW! LOL!). I’m assured return bookings from the producers.
3. ...and as I do more pop culture analysis, NBC News/The Grio has been calling on me - recently to weigh-in on the NAACP's endorsement of gay marriage: http://www.thegrio.com/politics/will-naacp-gay-marriage-resolution-change-black-hearts-and-minds.php; On New Year's Eve to 2011, I made my "debut" on THE TODAY SHOW (as on-cam 'pop culture analyst') inside a piece that NBC Digitial Correspondent Mara Schiavocampo did on the ball drop in New York's Times Square (http://188.8.131.52/PRiley/PatrickDemoSept2011.mov). And other moments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXc6x5JlJuw.
4. My latest CNN.com piece on gay men and their best women friends published a couple of weeks ago: http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/07/living/gay-best-friend as well as the companion blog entry I blasted out the same day: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/8/7/my-girls.html. This assignment that came in the wake of my contribution to CNN.com's Martin Luther King Jr. Monument coverage in October 2011: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/14/us/mlk-memorial-morehouse-glee-club/index.html.
AND THAT'S JUST THE WORK that books me INSIDE that piece. I'm booked far and wide... for much and more ---- and ALL AS I AM!" HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
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