EMPIRE is on everybody’s minds these days! THE LIFE OF RILEY is no exception. Not only am I talking about the antics of Cookie, Luscious, and the Lyons “dynasty”… but when I wear my guest co-host hat and/or my pop culture analyst hat, it’s EMPIRE and its creator Lee Daniels all day:
Last week, Lee Daniels stopped by to dish on EMPIRE and its over-the-top SUCCESS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXw5_p5fpBI!
That booking came a couple of weeks after my NBCBLK interview - my debut contribution to that new, African American vertical for NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/precious-butler-director-lee-daniels-building-empire-n290416.
And ARISE AMERICA had me on with Debbye Turner Bell who – like me – is a FAN! GREAT CHAT with Debbye: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152816022788737.
I've been talking about the careers of the EMPIRE cast for years. I've met Taraji. Terrence has been really cool throughout the years - dressy or casul! LOL! I attended the "Precious" premiere in Hollywood and met Gabourey. She, Lee, and I would be in the same screening room to see one of his first sharings of "Lee Daniels' "The Butler". And on and on, I could go about the AWESOME cast. Also: From two day-playing roles on another FOX TV hit from the mid-'90s, "New York Undercover", I first got to know EMPIRE co-star Malik Yoba. Have attended his live shows over the years. Happened to be producing BET reality show "Monica: Still Standing" while Malik and the cast of Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married Too?" were filming. We all stayed at the TWELVE Atlantic Station. But par for the course in the LIFE OF RILEY, I'll also be sharing some NAMES behind the STARS and the BRAND of EMPIRE who will be popping up! I want to make sure you are in the KNOW! Shout out to my college BFF Audrey Irvine – CNN’s own – for sending some EMPIRE tea my way. On THIS WEDNESDAY’s episode (March 3, 2015), the vision and cutting edge style of designer Lorra Rivers 'Nikita' clutch will make its debut on Empire!! A homegrown DC talent, Lorra Rivers is a professsionally trained interior designer who received her interior design degree with a minor in architecture from Taraji's alma mater Howard University. With over 27 years' experience, Lorra has served as a contributing writer for Ebony, Homes of Color and Upscale magazines. She was a featured designer in the coffee table book, Spectacular Homes of Greater Washington, DC where her custom furniture designs were on display. In a little over 5 years, Lorra has transitioned her design experience towards another passion, the fashion industry. In creating the 'LorraRivers' brand, her purse designs reflect a cutting edge style for the fashionista with flair. The signature collection 'Nikita' clutch will be featured on this week's Empire. Which character will hold the 'Nikita'? Lorra describes the 'Lorra Rivers Woman' as one who possesses awe inspiring sensuality, a playfully shines from within and commands strength tempered with refinement. Stay tuned this Wednesday at 9p on FOX. And let LORRA RIVERS – and LIFE OF RILEY –know your thoughts on the purse AND the episode.
Facebook: Lorra Rivers bag
I have also been seeing Kehinde Wiley’s work in EMPIRE – since Episode 1. Was happy to support my friend Lamar Johnson's film project KEHINDE WILEY: AN ECONOMY OF GRACE which he Executive Produced in partnership with PBS: TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46wgtP3eiEF. It was on a short list of documentaries being considered for the final ballot at this year’s Academy Awards. Look to hear more from Lamar very soon; meanwhile, so good to see Kehinde on EMPIRE!
You see the one on the right with the sunglasses and the pink shirt? I used to call him "Tandi's little brother". She and I were closer in age as we matriculated through Savannah's social teen scene. But I must give him a GROWN MAN shout out to my Savannah homeboy; fellow Windsor Forest High School KNIGHT; and Morehouse brother Nsilo Reddick – business partner and producer to Grammy-winning MC Chamillionaire: http://allhiphop.com/2015/02/24/chamillionaire-start-up-companies/. The two moguls and their team are stellar exemplars of making the most of THE BUSINESS in SHOW BUSINESS as they aim to encourage "our people" to learn more about finance, investing, the tech industry, etc...and to put some of that floss less into bottle service and more into making power moves - for example - at a venture capital firm. And the proof is in the pudding as Chamillionaire announces that he - and Nsilo - are now an entrepreneurs-in-residence for Upfront Ventures, an investment firm. EXCERPT from the article above: “In a letter written by Upfront Ventures’ investment partner Mark Suster, he detailed how his relationship with Chamillionaire began and how the “Hip Hop Police” rapper is flourishing into quite the entrepreneur. The Houston spitter caught Suster’s eye after a 2009 speech about social media engagement in the music industry. A few years back he started many mini investments in tech firms with Suster, which led to Cham wanting to becoming more involved with the tech start up world. “A while back Chamillionaire started telling me he wanted to immerse himself even more in the tech world – learning to build products, studying different business models and committing himself to being a true tech entrepreneur,” Suster wrote. “Chamillionaire has a way more refined sense of what customer behavior is like than most ivy league graduates with nice Powerpoint slides that I meet.” Now as an entrepreneur-in-residence for the next several months, Chamillionaire is soaking up knowledge about start ups and is also advising Upfront Ventures along with his business partner and producer Nsilo Reddick.” LOVE IT! LEAD BY EXAMPLE, MY BROTHERS!