This business of TV and entertainment is a blessing. Many blessings and opportunities come about for those of us who commit to be a part of it. Parties, premieres, and supermarket openings are business as usual.
Still, with these accesses come responsibility, focus, maintenance, and everything in between as it relates to positioning ourselves even higher or as it relates to staking our claim for belonging. The external validation piece can be rough and yet we do it. We put ourselves out there vulnerably with our talents, our looks, our energy... and we aim to connect. We hope our purest intentions will shine through (sans ego, selfishness, and vanity) and really lift people up. (And my hope is that those around me who are on the journey - no matter what level - are breathing and breaking through any struggles to land their context, which can be such a challenging act... as balance and timing go).
Additionally, we also hope to keep bills paid, food on the table, and all the things that allow this "life" to be "styled" just so.
With that, for all that I am accomplishing, I am always looking at new and innovative ways to elevate my brand as an independent producer/personality/writer. But for me, I'm also interested in maintaining my sanity, inner-peace and joy, plus my quality of life. Not one child to call my own and I am - with the aforementioned order - still sometimes overwhelmed. But I do it... and aim to BE IT!
This summer, for example, I'm off the clock from the work that is my main source of revenue, so I challenge myself to "have a relaxing summer" but also find creative ways to make some revenue. Alongside researching new credit lines and some home improvement equity, I am also open to work that is a good fit. I do TRUST that who I need to be to come through any challenge is enough. But I also commit to BE whatever difference I can be to have something reveal itself.
So far, I've managed to ATTRACT a few days of work in Chicago that will help out. PRAISE THE LORD!!!
Then, there's the possibility of hosting a pilot or a segment of a pilot around travel in July (but that helps my overall branding. No promise of pay or pick-up).
Also, J. Maurice Jamal is poised to begin principle photography on "B-Boy Blues" and there's a possible cameo in that for me. Cool. Stay tuned. That could be exciting as I've expressed in previous entries about the impact this book had on me in the '90s and now to be a part of it in some small way. WONDERFUL!!! (www.bboybluesthemovie.com/)
And my second feature with Uneq Magazine (www.uneqmagazine.com) on Luther Vandross is now on the stands. And much good feedback on that piece is coming my way. The editors really did a nice job of laying it all out . You can read what Luther's friends Patti Austin, Curtis King, and others who've performed and worked with him had to say about the "all-time legend of beautiful music". Also, many - like R&B powerhouse Ledisi (and me) - who have been inspired by Vandross and his unique way around a love song. As a BONUS, here in "A Day in the Life of Riley", I share a few that didn't make the issue:
Matthew Hatchett, former NFL wide receiver; film producer & actor (“The Take” [Sony Screen Gems] with John Leguizamo, Tyrese Gibson, and Rosie Perez)
“I AM LUTHER” because I like to sing to the female audience and have them love it. I think I AM LUTHER because of how I make people feel when I sing a song. I think a lot of people get to that point in their career where they try to put out songs that make people feel a certain way. I think that everyone of Luther’s songs and his voice make people feel a certain way.
“THAT’S MY SONG”: I think it just starts out like, “a chair is still a chair, even when there’s no one sitting there.” “A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME”
Geoffrey Freeman, legal assistant and former dancer
"I AM LUTHER” because once, every few decades, the heavens sends a cultural ambassador graced with creative powers and abilities, the likes of which have never before been experienced here on earth, and while often mimicked and imitated, will never again be experienced in its purest sense, until the next celestial gift arrives in possession of a rare new combination of talents. Luther Vandross is the most recent in that list which includes a few of my favorites -- William Grant Still, Dinah Washington, Jackie Wilson, Mahalia Jackson, Donnie Hathaway, Jose Feliciano, Stevie Wonder, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Minnie Ripperton, Phyllis Hyman, Diana Ross, Stephanie Mills, Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott and Fantasia Barrino, to name a few, -- whose musical gift reaches our very core to deliver a heavenly message of peace and comfort. Luther's smooth, cascading vocals, interpretative instincts and musical arrangements delivered to the masses such comfort to which I and countless others will continue to return by way of his recordings – his legacy to us all. WE ARE LUTHER!
“THAT’S MY SONG!”: “ANYONE WHO HAD A HEART” from the “Give Me The Reason” CD is a most pleasingly, haunting interpretation of an old Dionne Warwick classic that I felt compelled to listen to repeatedly. It so demonstrates the smooth, cascading vocals and interpretive instincts alluded to above that stirs deep emotions while at the same time offering comfort. I remain in awe of Luther's musical brilliance. I'm touched and inspired daily by his music.
Back to my summer, I too am working on some low-maintenance, commissioned work for the National Association of Black Journalists convention including a roundtable I'm producing with all the African American talent on our mainstream entertainment shows - like "Access Hollywood"; "EXTRA"; "Entertainment Tonight"; and "The Insider"; and a handful of other programs under my role as Chair for the NABJ Arts & Entertainment Task Force.
Meanwhile, I've updated my talent reel - based on the last six months of work to which I've contributed. "Our World with Black Enterprise" hosted by Ed Gordon used me for one of its episodes. See that and some of my most recent work on the following link:
Thanks to Jim, who worked on tweaking the reel with me this time. The folks at Murray Hill Studios are the best and I recommend them to anyone who has production needs - from pre-production, shooting - in-studio and on- location, satellite needs, editing, graphics, etc. (www.murrayhillstudios.com/) Paul, who normally helps me put it all together, dropped by to say HI with 40 pounds less of himself as he and his wife are on Weight Watchers (www.WeightWatchers.com). CONGRATS PAUL!