April 27, 2018 I had an exclusive invite to cover the 2018 Creative Coalition’s Right to Bear Arts gala held at the Mayflower hotel in Washington D.C. This was during the White House correspondent party season where all the top journalists and communication aids are seen schmoozing with a fine wine and gourmand chicken kebab.
What I particularly love about this gala is the mission behind it. The Creative Coalition works tirelessly to work with national leaders on Capitol Hill on protecting federal funding for the arts across small and undervalued communities across the United States. This issue transcends party lines and brings value back to our communities in that the arts cultivates creative thinking skills in children, independent thinking, modes of expression and higher self esteem. Peer pressure and cyber bullying is at an all time high in schools, and the arts can instill confidence, and solidify individuality among-st kids from various backgrounds. The arts empower artists, creatives, and free thinkers to do what they love.
In recent news: funding was briefly threatened around May/ June of this year but the Creative Coalition is pleased to announce that the House of Representatives as of July 2018 stood behind the Right to Bear Arts (#RightToBearArts) in properly funding the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). Now, it’s up to the Senate to fully pass this bill. The house passed the Fiscal year 2019 Interior Appropriations Bill and approved $155 million for the NEA. House members voted down the amendment by a vote of 114-297.
For this gala, I wore a White House Black Market black dress and a Kay Unger intricately designed velvet blazer. FYI, I don’t think I would ever sell this Kay Unger blazer because Victoria Justice (From Nickelodeon’s “Victorious”) and Tim Daly (President of the Creative Coalition) liked it a lot!
I drove straight from work and fought monstrous traffic to get to this event on the dot. Street parking was scarce so I shelled massive bucks on garage parking a block away from the hotel. I was nervous about this event in particular because my favorite actress as a young teen was going to be featured at this red carpet event.
I will admit, I was obsessed with the WB’s Roswell in the early 90’s and Liz Parker played by Shiri Appleby is my favorite. The first time I met Appleby was at the Roswell 15 year anniversary showcased by the ATX Television Festival in Austin Texas. Not only was I right in front of Snooki when she gushed her love of Roswell at the panel but when I first saw Shiri Appleby outside the panel, I dont know why but I cried so much. Because of her character, I also kept a diary and that ended up helping me become a more creative writer. She was so sweet and gave me a big hug!
So yeah, it’s a big deal seeing Appleby again and I hoped not to cry again as an older adult.
So when I saw Appleby again as an older adult, I asked her if she remembered a young woman who cried when she first saw her at the 15 year Roswell anniversary and her eyes teared up and she not only gave me a huge hug, but took me aside and ensured I have a one on one interview with her for Sharing the Details. I had to admit, getting VIP treatment from one of my favorite actresses was a personal highlight for me.
I not only had an exclusive interview with Shiri Appleby (UnReal, Roswell, Life Unexpected) but I also had exclusive interviews with Victoria Justice (Victorious), Tim Daly (Madam Secretary), Sara Rue (Popular, A Series of Unfortunate Events), Steve Howey (Reba, Shameless), and Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor).
Exclusive Interview with Shiri Appleby (UnReal)
Before my interview with Shiri, she was joking around with popular character actor, Richard Kind (he’s that guy you see in every 90’s movie).
SD: Tell us more about your production company?
SA: We sold our first show and that will be announced soon. We’re very excited and it’s just been such an empowering experience. I have been going on at for almost two years. I am starting to figure out how that works. And I feel that I have the opportunity to build a company and with giving other women opportunities. I have been sitting at meetings with other women and they are doing the talking and selling themselves. And they are getting the opportunity. It makes me feel like it’s the greatest thing in the entire world. Like, we (women) need to keep going forward.
SD: So how do you empower women to get into leadership roles?
SA: It’s all about having the confidence. I work on it every day too. It’s all about having the confidence to speak up.
SD: What were the challenges as an actress and director for the recent season of Unreal?
SA: The hardest part was that we shot in Vancouver and my family was in Los Angelas.
SD: What are your thoughts on the Roswell Reboot?
SA: I am like: Ahhhhhh! I am so excited! I want to Reboot ours.
SD: And I have heard you are working on a Roswell reunion?
SA: I am working on it.. I am working on it. We’ll see..
Exclusive Interview with Sara Rue (Series of Unfortunate Events)
SD: Would you ever do Idiocracy 2?
SR: In a heartbeat but I actually think we are living it… so I probably don’t need to do it.. But if they (creators of Idiocracy) ask me to do it than I will.
SD: Can you tell me more about your new series A Series of Unfortunate Events?
SR: The show is based on the Lemony Snickets book series. I feel so lucky to be a part of this production. One thing that is so brilliant about it is so beloved by kids 5 years old to 70 years old. The range of fans that come up to say they binge watched the series. Literally, a 4 and a half year old at my daughter’s daycare to someone just about to become a grandfather is really exciting to me. I also love to play the character I play. She’s a librarian who turns into a real bad ass. I was real proud to play her.
SD: What are your hopes in congress passing funding for NEA (National Endowment of the Arts)?
SR: Our hopes is for them to increase the funding. There are so many kids that feel that they don’t belong. This is why I am here. So many kids are bullied and feel they don’t belong and they cant find their community until they step foot into a theater, or in an art class. These kids need a teacher who can really inspire them with a music class. The arts can really make a person blossom into who they are going to be.
Exclusive Interview with Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor)
SD: So what your thoughts on Congress passing more funding for the arts?
NG: Before coming in, I thought this was going to be more difficult. That maybe our argument was going to fall on deaf ears but we have a lot of support with the Republican legislatures who said this kinda the way it goes each year. That each year they fight to keep funding and slowly get it all back in together. It ultimately it was something I felt comfortable walking away from.
SD: How do the arts strengthen the economy and build the community?
NG: In just the numbers you hear banded together. Every dollar that is put towards the arts you get seven dollars back into the local economy. When you invest in your community, you are investing in their welfare. The arts are responsible for a lot of that.
Exclusive Interview with Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
(TD:Your jacket is really nice. What is it? SD: It’s velvet..)
SD: How do the arts strengthen the economy and communities at large?
TD: It’s a fact that the arts strengthen the economy and communities. There has been data collected for decades about this. That the economic impact of the arts can be assessed that for every dollar invested by the NEA that seven dollars goes back to the economy. It’s a winning investment. I used to think that was enough of an argument to stop there. I would take those odds to Vegas just like that. However not everyone believes in that and I am not sure why. Could it be a fear in the arts that it’s hard to quantify in other ways? Certainly, the arts are the second largest export from the United States. The arts are a huge strength to our economy.
I am here with the Creative Coalition and I am the president of this organization and we’re a bunch of people who are successful actors. A lot of us are known in television and in film and it’s important to me that people understand that I am here to advocate for artists and I am not here advocating for Hollywood or for Broadway. We have no stake in this game and we have nothing to gain. What we are advocating for is the NEA which gives grants to every congressional district in the United States of America. These small towns who would other wise have no access to arts are who we are fighting for. Not for places like LA, NY or Miami or Chicago. Those cities are fine. Little towns, especially children, need to be exposed to the arts.
Exclusive Interview with Steve Howey (Shameless)
SD: Tell us about your new show?
SH: This new show is based on a movie I did called Game Over Man. The show is doing well, it was fun. I am also on a show called Shameless that’s on Showtime and we go back in a few weeks for our ninth season.
SD: In your opinion, how do the arts strengthen the economy and build communities?
SH: As you know, for every dollar you donate to the arts the community gives back seven dollars. There’s also a ridiculous amount, like seven billion dollars comes out of the artistic community back into the states. That’s why, it’s a great investment. And the budget that we are going for is only a $150 billion dollars and we’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in return. But the more macro answer to it all is that the arts are so important because we are talking about the development of the human spirit.
Exclusive Interview with Victoria Justice (Victorious)
SD: Tell us more about your “Girl Up” Non-profit?
VJ: Girl Up is an amazing organization. This organization empowers girls across the globe and helps provides girls with clean drinking water, school supplies, education and to provide a safe space and community for these girls who wouldn’t have that otherwise. You know that I am all about girl power and it’s something that’s super important to me. I actually wrote a song for them a couple years ago and I went on tour and played the song during the show. We had little girl booths so people can donate and get involved with the organization. The song kinda became the Girl Up theme song. So yeah, it’s a great cause.
SD: Do you keep in touch with the cast of Victorious?
VJ: Yup, we all do keep in touch, occasionally. Not as much as I like to. I guess everyone is in different places and living their own lives. Being an adult. It’s just a different time now for each of us. We definitely do try to support each other whenever we can which is really cool. Yeah, we do still keep in touch.
Feel free to donate to the Creative Coalition right here.
About Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition was formed for the charitable and educational purposes of bringing together artists and entertainers to learn about pressing issues so they can better inform and influence the community and nation. The Creative Coalition:Sponsors forums for the discussion of central issues such as education policy, violence in America, the role of the media, campaign finance reform and other topics of broad concern. These events ensure a balanced approach that always includes concerned and informed members of the creative professions.Tackles issues of direct importance to the arts and entertainment community, including First Amendment rights, public funding for the arts, and arts education in the public schools.
April 27, 2018 I had an exclusive invite to cover the second annual Toast to the First Amendment, sponsored by the National Restaurant Association, Real Clear Politics, The Beer Institute, and The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
The Toast to the First Amendment is held at the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) swanky office which is beset with multiple bars, an outdoor veranda, a picture booth area, and multiple food stations fit for even the most discerning food critic.
Activities started around 6:00 p.m with rousing speeches made by Real Clear Politics co-founder Tom Bevan, National Restaurant Association’s executive vice president of public affairs; Cicely Simpson; and The Beer Institute’s CEO and president Jim McGreevey.
Various journalists, PR execs, media personalities, food industry movers and shakers came together on the eve of the White House Correspondence Party. Attendees had the privilege of sampling an array of rare and unique beers, bourbons, scotch, malts, rum, and various other liquors.
I came around the time people were relaxed and simply lounged on the outdoor veranda, and inside by cushion-y seats along the major liquor and beer tasting areas. I took a Lyft from the Mayflower Hotel (1 mile) and got there at a decent time. I wore my Kay Unger, green velvet, floral embroidered blazer and a White House Black Market dress. I was having so many issues with my hair that day that not even dry shampoo or an Instagram filter could save the way it looked.
Before I took the elevator up, I was greeted by the sweetest people ever! Naturally, they work for Real Clear Politics (RCP) so I am not surprised by their genuine nature.
One of the RCP employees told me that Sean Spicer as well as other notable political figures made an appearance at this party. I asked how the crowd took him, and I was told that despite how he is viewed on the media, he’s a very cordial and friendly guy. He was around taking pictures and making all sorts of conversation with attendees. Politics aside, I regretted not getting to this party on time!
I was also told to try the burgers, they were legit made medium rare and that’s an uncommon thing when you go to a food-oriented party. Once I came to the right floor, I took a picture, sampled a few limited edition beers (oh my goodness, I am still remembering this really nice pale ale I drank), and scoured the floor for the best bites to munch on.
As a major foodie, I have to report on what I ate (or better yet, pigged out on).
I made a short but memorable trip to the chicken lollipop station and tried the following chicken lollipops: buffalo chicken, korean bbq. chimichurri, corn flake, and thai flavors. My personal favorites were the chimichurri and the korean bbq.
After I ate enough at the first station, I went to the second savory station and gobbled a medium rare cheeseburger slider, and later tried the pork bao buns (kohirabi, cucumber, bean sprout, cabbage slaw, spicy gochuchang mayo) and sampled the Hawaiian Chicken Sliders ( pineapple, chili, lime relish). I did pair these savory bites with beers from Cape May Brewing, and Great Lakes Brewing.
I made a long trip (not a quick trip since I love tacos) to the Taco station and ate Branzino Tacos (cilantro pesto), Braised Pork Belly Taquitos (charred onions, shishito peppers), and Beef Empanadas. I paired these savory treats with tequila, rum, and really nice bourbon shots.
For dessert, I had a pistachio ice cream pop with a white chocolate coating and snacked on a few carrot cake pops. My diet was thrown out the window that day because the NRA is reputable for crafting memorable bites. I was as equally impressed this year as I was last year. Here’s last year’s recap, so click here!
Along with eating enough food to feed a small village, I noticed a lot of fan fare made for local and national media celebrities. Three ladies circled this handsome, tall, analyst from Fox News and stayed with him for my entire duration at this party. A few CNN employees were drinking white wine, chilling on the comfy chairs outside, and laughing. Some of the ladies wore the cutest, color-blocked, dresses I have seen that night.
Overall, I had a wonderful night. I also think the media guests had a spectacular time given the laughter and jovial conversation I heard all around.
About The National Restaurant Association
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is the largest foodservice trade association in the world*—supporting over 500,000 restaurant businesses. In partnership with our state restaurant associations, we work every day to empower all restaurant owners and operators to achieve more than they thought possible.
About Real Clear Politics
Founded in 2000 by two news junkies from their Chicago apartment, RealClearPolitics grew out of a passion for combing the internet for the most interesting political stories of the day. Tom Bevan and John McIntyre wanted a site that contained the most pivotal information on the day’s need-to-know issues. It wasn’t long before they discovered they weren’t the only ones with this desire. Today, RealClearPolitics has grown from an intelligent aggregator into a comprehensive media company – RealClear Media Group (RCMG) – encompassing 14 specialty areas of coverage, original reporting from our staff of seasoned reporters, live events, the well-known RCP Poll Average, and original video.
About The Beer Institute
The Beer Institute, based in Washington, D.C., represents the $350 billion beer industry – an industry that includes over 5,000 brewers and more than 2.2 million American jobs. The Beer Institute is a national trade association for the American brewing industry, representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. Our organization, founded in 1862 as the U.S. Brewers Association and reorganized as the Beer Institute in 1986, represents the beer industry before Congress, state legislatures and public forums across the country.
About Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States. The Council guards the sector against higher taxes and works diligently to reduce trade barriers across the globe, while supporting policies that increase adult market access for spirits products, provide greater convenience and choices for adult consumers, and encourage responsible and moderate consumption. The Council is a go-to resource for sector data, changes in public policy, cultural acceptance programs, U.S. spirits exports to foreign markets, and alcohol and science.
Friday, April 27, 2018 at 8:00 p.m, The Creative Coalition Arts Team is sponsoring their Right to Bear Arts Gala held at the Mayflower Hotel (1127 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington D.C). Tickets start at $1,000 and can go up to $75,000 depending on the sponsorship package attendees select.
The Creative Coalition’s Arts Team will go to Capitol Hill the day before to bring focus on the value of the arts to national leaders. The Right to Bear Art is a national issue that transcends political affiliations. The arts affects everyone! Whether it’s music, ballet, paintings, theater, or the cinema–the arts cultivate a person’s intelligence, identity and critical thinking skills. Skills that are often sought after in several emerging corporations, non-profits and STEM-related industries.
For every $1 spent by the federal government on the arts, $7 comes back into arts communities across the United States.
This year’s co-hosts are: Tim Daly (Madam Secretary) • Alyssa Milano (Project Runway All Stars) Sara Rue (A Series of Unfortunate Events) • Shiri Appleby (UnREAL)Mädchen Amick (Riverdale) • Karamo Brown (Queer Eye) Richard Schiff (The Good Doctor) • Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor) Victoria Justice (Victorious) • Steve Howey (Shameless) Anthony Carrigan (“Barry”) • Sean Giambrone (The Goldbergs)Richard Kind (Red Oaks) and others.
Honorary Congressional Co-Hosts:
Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Kamala D. Harris, Senator Angus King, Senator Ed Markey, Senator Jeff Merkley, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Paul Strauss, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Senator Mark Warner, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Representative Mark Amodei, Representative Donald Bacon, Representative Jim Banks, Representative Nanette Barragan, Representative Joe Barton, Representative Karen Bass, Representative Jack Bergman, Representative Don Beyer, Representative Elizabeth Etsy, Representative Bill Foster, Representative Lois Frankel, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, others TBA.
TAKING IT TO THE MAX – $75,000
• Logo inclusion on media wall
• Logo and boilerplate inclusion in press releases
• Opportunity for product placement in gift bag for celebrity welcome gift placed in their hotel rooms (up to 25 gifts)
• 10 VIP seats
• Opportunity for sponsor to gift all dinner guests
• Social media opportunities
• Photo Ops with Celebrities (Sponsor provides photographer)
• Verbal acknowledgements from podium
• Full page Program Ad
• Opportunity for live activation (all technical and staffing provided by Sponsor)
• Opportunity for Executive to accompany talent to Capitol Hill
THE ULTIMATE – $50,000 (limited to one)
• Opportunity for product/issue placement in gift bag for celebrity welcome gift placed in their hotel rooms (up to 25 gifts)
• Opportunity for sponsor to gift all dinner guests
• 5 VIP seats/5 General Seats
• Social media opportunities
• Photo Ops with Celebrities (Sponsor provides photographer)
• Verbal acknowledgements from podium
THE FINEST ARTIST – $25,000
• Opportunity for product/issue placement in gift bag for celebrity welcome gift placed in their hotel rooms (15- 25 celebrities)
• Product placement gifts for all dinner guests
• 8 general seats
• Social media opportunities
ALL FOR THE ARTS – $10,000
• 10 General seats
• Commemorative #RightToBearArts shirts for your guests
INDIVIDUAL ARTIST – $1,000
• 1 seat
Click HERE to order “All For The Arts” and “Individual” Sponsorships online.
For all other Sponsorships please contact Barb Horvath at: BHorvath@TheCreativeCoalition.org
The Sharing the Details Team covered this event in 2017. Click here to read last’s year’s recap. This year the team will get exclusive coverage of the Right to Bear Arts Gala event! Stay tuned for more details!
February 16, 2018 I was invited by Exalt Fashion to cover Gerda Truubon’s London Collection at the Plaza hotel on fifth avenue for New York Fashion Week this year. Gerda is a well known Estonian born London-based fashion designer who crafts sexy but stylish frocks for the confident woman. Her mantra is to create dresses for the bold, secure, self-loving woman that aim to uplift rather than cover up who the woman really is.
Truubon was inspired by her mom, who was a tailor, to customize dresses for herself. In fact, her designs have been coveted by American TV star Natalie Nunn, British TV star Gemma Collins, and countless stars across the globe.
Speaking of dresses and fashion, so I wore the same ensemble from the previous show that day to the next show due to limitations on time. I took a taxi from Sunset Terrace at Chelsea Piers to the hotel, and that cab ride averaged around $10.00. I was fortunate both locations were in close proximity of each other. Since I arrived a bit early, we had a little too much fun checking out the high-end stores and taking photos around the lobby.
This is a famous hotel after all. The Plaza hotel is a 20-story luxury hotel and condominium apartment located in Manhattan. Not only is the hotel recognized as a historic landmark but The Beatles stayed at The Plaza Hotel during their first visit to the United States in 1964.
After I had fun checking out the stores, I took the glamorous escalator downstairs to the show. We even had a bellhop assist us to and fro. The interior of the show was wide-spread with shimmery chandeliers, ornate wall decor, pristine floors, and manicured chairs at the front for VIP. Editors, stylists, and bloggers such as myself took over the VIP section and, yes, we all went a little cray-cray with the selfies.
The show started with a talented singer bursting in with backup dancers. Each performer adorned white, lace, body suits; strap stilettos; and had their hair swaying.
Fifteen models from the show wore a similar ensemble, yet, had tightly wounded buns and ponytails that focused more attention on their stylish eye make up and stoic expressions. The singer, herself, swayed her hips and moved in sync to her own songs. For a second, I almost felt like I was at a concert and I applaud Truubon for adding a surprise introduction. The norm for present and future fashion shows is to start off with a spectacular concert, dance, or even stand-up–as a way to break away from the usual, standard, NYFW runway show.
Once the dancing has stopped and the models paraded away in a clean queue, the meaty matter of the show (the fashion) finally commenced. Truubon is well known from her previous collections for using bold colors, exaggerated sleeves, high shoulder dresses, and ensembles with plunging necklines.
Her trademark styles were underscored in her new line but so were lace, silk, and mesh materials, silver studded trims, and the symmetrical neckline with a one-shoulder long sleeve. Much of this show distilled top runway trends such as exploring a range of pastels, ruffles on the ends of skirts and the beginning of sleeve cuffs, flowy-cuffs unconnected to the dress, and iconic use of exposed shoulder lines as a way to juxtapose the contour of the dress to one’s skin. This show had the right dosage of flash too.
This dress collection used an ample amount of slits above the leg to infuse more of a night-time clubbing vibe. Silver studded trims underscored most of her apparel as well as boxed shoulder pads three-inch-high, and ruffled tiers enveloped along the lower neckline and all around the middle of the back. I can safely say her entire collection was devoted to what’s silvery, studded, and long and that’s a unique addition for this year’s show. Overall, this was an iconic show.
At the conclusion of the set, Gerda walked in and I had a hard time discerning her from the rest of the models. She looks just like a model.
Models, press, and VIP attendees were escorted to the lobby. The press had an exciting time snapping photos, grabbing last minute interviews with the designer, and taking selfies with the models. I was fortunate enough to get a selfie with the designer as well but I rue the day I wasn’t able to snag her for a short interview. Darn!
The plaza has a famous eatery downstairs full of international fare such as pasta, ramen, crepes, and beyond. I scarfed down a large bowl of bolognese pasta and my photographer had the most delicious crepe ever. We later caffeinated ourselves, lightly, on tea from Argo Tea a few blocks down and called it a night. Milkbar was nearby and I was half tempted to get some corn cookies and cereal icecream but my foodie self control mode kicked in.
In recent memory, New York Fashion week was most memorable thanks to Truubin’s and other notable designers shows. I will forever want a dress with exposed shoulders, ruffled sleeve cuffs, and silver, studded trimmings hugging my neckline. I mean, that is the key ingredient for a fashionable It-girl!
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On March 27, 2018, contributor writer, Steve Bumbry, attends the Get Motivated! Business Seminar, which feature ABC’s Shark Tank television Stars as key note speakers held at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington D.C.
What may appear to be an average weekday, Tuesday… At the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., there were 1200+ seats filled to capacity. People came from all over the District metro area to attend Get Motivated! Every person in the room was there for a different reason. Some came for the networking, others came for the add-on educational services; but for most, everyone was gathered to learn and gain knowledge of the behind-the-scenes motivational strategies from the greatest business and thought leaders in the world.
Get Motivated! has touched more than 10 million people world-wide using their platform! These seminars are held in various cities across the country and have multitude of guests attending. Traveling from Baltimore, MD to Washington D.C., I was one of the attendees, with my business partner along side me.
The day was highlighted by Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec and The World’s #1 Motivational Speaker, Les Brown.
In a true rags-to-riches story, Herjavec and his family fled communist oppression in Croatia and arrived in Canada with just $20. When his mother, who could not speak very much English, lost all of the family’s money to a vacuum salesmen, Herjavec vowed to never let his family be taken advantage of by anyone again. In 1990, Herjavec founded technology company BRAK Systems and sold the business to AT&T, Inc. for $100 million in 2000. He then began a security software firm known as the Herjavec Group and helped negotiate the sale of RAMP Network to Nokia Corporation for $225 million.
Robert Herjavec preached that being successful is not an easy road. However, he emphasized that showing up daily, taking massive goal oriented action and having the ability to track his results is what helped him reach success. In his view of the world, it meant success and hard task driven work go hand in hand.
Herjavec, explained in the process of maturation and growth, life doesn’t get any easier. Over the course of time, “you simply get stronger.” And “that over time the reasons you do things gives you more clarity.”
In my life as a professional athlete, I can definitely relate to a lot of what Robert had to share. In professional sports, there is no start and stop date of the season. As part of a team sport, my team had to train every day to stay on top of our game. Robert Herjavec pointed out that life and success are about taking little steps in moments to build momentum in your life, which then leads to a crescendo of performance or awareness. Once you reach the crescendo of your performance or career, there is a moment of “Aha!” that leads you down hill where all your hard work and dedication pay off.
The day was book ended by the World’s #1 Motivational Speaker, Les Brown.
Similar to Robert Herjevec’s upbringing, Les’ message was also inspired by humble beginnings. Brown was born with his twin brother, Wesley, in an abandoned building in Liberty City, a low-income section of Miami, Florida. He was subsequently given up for adoption at 6 weeks old and was adopted by Mamie Brown, a 38-year-old single woman who worked as a cafeteria attendant and domestic assistant. He was declared “educable mentally retarded” while in grade school. Despite the self-esteem and confidence loss issues this created, he learned how to reach his full potential with the encouragement of his mother and assistance from a helpful teacher in high school, a key point in many motivational speeches he gives. He preaches that, “Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality”.
Les Brown took the crowd on an emotional ride that included laughter, tears and outbursts of excitation and motivation. Brown believes that we are all born with greatness inside. He reminds everyone that we were designed and engineered for greatness, and programmed by society and our families to feel small in life.
Brown suggests taking the attitude “that I will ALWAYS fail my way to success.” This message landed closest to home for me in my business journey. There have been far more moments of failure than moments of success in my professional career. I struck out 484 times in 413 professional games before. I know what it is like to fail. The very same way that Les was teaching the crowd to handle failure is exactly how I have practiced failure in my life. His words were a grand reminder: Failure MUST propel forward, failure MUST teach something, failure MUST give something to run from so that one can continue to run towards his or her dreams.
Ultimately, Les Brown encourages and shares to all that, “No matter what you are overcome with, don’t stop running towards your dream.”
The Get Motivated! Business Seminar is an outstanding way to spend the day learning quick terms and re-establishing the connection to why I make and do the things in my life or grasping “my why”. I was reminded that if I know “my why” for living, I can endure “any how” for my future success in business.
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On February 16, 2018, Contributing Writer Joey Love attended the first Preview Showing of Broadway’s ‘Escape to Margaritaville’ at the Marquis Theater in New York City– A new musical featuring both classic and original songs of the legendary Jimmy Buffett.
Along with my brother Jeff and best friend Eric, the three of us have been anticipating this monumental trip to The Big Apple to see Jimmy Buffett’s long-awaited musical on The Great White Way. We didn’t even think twice about driving 3 hours plus up north to attend the first-ever Broadway performance.
After years of waiting, we were finally able to Escape to Margaritaville, where the Changes in Latitudes bring together a vacationing tourist and the Son of a Son of a Sailor for a good ol’ fashioned Cheeseburger in Paradise before realizing the time is Five o’Clock somewhere and decide to go Get Drunk and Screw. [Writer’s Note: Not a 100% accurate synopsis]
The 22-song set list incorporates the lyrics of fan favorite songs into the progression of the feel-good story, and does so rather seamlessly. While some of the words were altered for comical effect or storyline purposes, the songs remain true to Buffett’s sound and melodies. The show is a supercharged, fast-paced, hilarious and an all-around fun time at the theater.
The Marquis Theatre is a gigantic, 1600-seat theatre attached to the Marriott Hotel in Times Square. Scenic Designer Walt Spangler did a nice job setting the mood for the show by decorating the lobby and interior of the theatre with just the right touch of beach-themed design. You could feel the energy and excitement in the lobby from each and every ‘Parrot Head’. Being the first official performance in New York City, nobody knew what to expect or had any reviews to use as a benchmark.
Upon curtain call, I was pleasantly surprised with the pacing and production as a whole. Escape to Margaritaville was a diverting good time at the theatre that allowed you to leave your brain at the door. Do not go in expecting any deep or dark storylines. After all, this is Jimmy Buffett we’re talking about.
Much of my praise goes to the writers: Mike O’ Malley, writer of HBO’s ‘Shameless’ and actor in CBS’s ‘Yes, Dear’, and Greg Garcia, writer of ‘Yes, Dear’ and NBC’s ‘My Name is Earl’. These two funnymen pull out all the stops in the comedy department. When I wasn’t busy humming or singing with the rest of the audience (yes, they initiate sing-a-longs!), I was busy laughing my fins off! Almost every line of dialogue was intended to induce a chuckle.
The well-selected cast are some of Broadway’s finest performers. Highlights include Charlie Pollock, who plays sidekick Brick to male lead Paul Alexander Nolan, and Lisa Howard, who plays best friend Tammy to female lead Allison Luff. The most entertaining scenes involve the characters played by these two. Both performers get their moment to shine (i.e. their own song-and-dance number).
When the performers took their bows, it was very hard to leave the theater. It felt like summertime (in frigid February) and all I wanted to do was have a beer (or two) with the cast. Of course, much of the crowd remained in their seats in hopes that Buffett himself would make a surprise appearance to round out this first showing, as he did for tryout performances in California and Louisiana. Unfortunately, one of the writers politely informed me at intermission that Buffett was not in attendance. Buffett’s Instagram post that morning proved to be an accurate indication of his whereabouts— in actual warmer climates.
I was still lucky enough to run into a few key individuals throughout the night who were involved in the production of Margaritaville. When the auditorium doors first opened, I immediately spotted Michael Utley, the keyboardist and director of Buffett’s band, the Coral Reefers Band, standing near his seat. He was very open to conversation before posing for a picture and autographing my Playbill. Mingling in the lobby during intermission was Frank Marshall, producer of Margaritaville and countless Hollywood films. He shared details on a last-minute dress rehearsal change that could make-or-break a particular scene in Act 2. Most exciting of all was running into the show’s writers, O’Malley and Garcia. As kind as could be, they asked the three of us (Jeff, Eric, and me) our opinion of the show and talked about their journey to Broadway.
Could someone who is not a die-hard fan of Buffett’s records still enjoy the show? Absolutely! There were a few songs I was unfamiliar with but it did not keep me from enjoying this crowd-pleasing show. The band even reworked some of the orchestrations to sound more Broadway-esque, giving some of Buffett’s slower tunes a more joyous tone and faster pace. Jeff and Eric both walked away with big smiles on their faces. Eric, however, a dedicated Jimmy Buffet fan, had some reservations about the storyline, which can be expected from someone who wanted to write this story himself.
With the official opening night for Escape to Margaritaville around the corner, I genuinely hope the show is able to attract the masses and sustain healthy box office returns, as Frozen, Mean Girls, Carousel, and Summer: A Donna Summers Musical near their opening nights in the coming months.
Remember: Margaritaville is more than a musical… It’s a way of life! Go see it! Fins up!
March 3, 2017, I had an exclusive invite from Center Stage to cover their theatrical release of The White Snake. The show was approximately 2 hours and 11 minutes long and I was able to finagle a cookie and a drink during the 15 minute intermission. Unfortunately, Center Stage’s restaurant vendor Flavor was not open during the time but I still had a remarkable time.
The last time I went to Center Stage was when I was 19 years old and the venue, if compared to today’s renovation, was dwarfed in size. The 28 million for the renovation project does speak volumes, with its’ grand, illustrious marquee. The lobby is much more spacious, the box office was revamped, and there are all sorts of literary quotes just floating about the wall by the Pearlstone Theater. On two opposite ends of the theater are a wine bar and a coffee bar, but the mini hike is worth it. Speaking of a mini hike, driving to Center Stage was easy.
There was a parking garage just a block from the venue which was only $5 for the show. The drive was decent since the parking garage was nearby and there wasn’t much traffic that day.
For a matinee theater show, I decided to do my hair a bit differently by wearing two braids crossed in the back. I wore my White House Black Market gray and white leopard print work blazer with a champagne pink ruffled Anne Taylor shirt with white pants. For my birthday that year, one of my close friends gave me a Sailor Moon-inspired Luna head shaped purse. Surprisingly enough, this purse pairs well with my ensemble.
I may have been a little overdressed for this opening but the young college student in me was so excited to be back! I had so many fond memories of Center Stage in my college heyday that I wanted to relive it in my current state as an older millenial. As soon as I walked in, I was given an amazing swag bag full of papers about Center Stage, information on upcoming productions, and the bag, itself, I have been using for work.
The seats inside the head theater were fancy, soft, and princess like. I love the color red and those plush seats were heavenly. A definite upgrade from what I remembered back in the day.
“The White Snake” was a production by Mary Zimmerman and directed by Natsu Onoda Power. Zimmerman adeptly fused Western and Eastern perspectives in this retelling of the story with music, set designs, imagery, and costumes. This adaptation of this old, Chinese tale, was vibrantly displayed with colorful settings, creative snake costumes, and an almost surreal sequence change that could be oft-times had a “Disney” magic to it.
Power, an associate professor of Theater from Georgetown University, worked the story of friendship, love, and acceptance into a relatable piece. The underpinnings of the story is to recognize that although we all come from different walks of life, it’s good to accept the person as whole.
The show was strongly directed and several actors broke out and shined a light with their witty quips, light steps, and emotive reactions. The White Snake played by Aime Donna Kelly delivered a strong performance that vacillated between enigmatic and forlorn when her lover, the pharmacist’s assistant, Xu Xian, played by Joe Ngo, discovers the truth behind her true species. Ngo had a multi-dimensional performance that shifted from silly, to concerned, to determined.
My favorite character was the sassy Green Snake played by Eileen Rivera. Her tenacity, verve, and fun energy enthralled the crowd. She had a literal snake like charm whenever she made a one-liner.
Ensemble members such as Caitlin Cisco, Samy el-Noury, Jason Kao Hwang, Damian Thompson, Yukio Tsuji, and Joshua Ziemann brought out a moving magic from scene to scene.
The play was also easy to get into. The narrative just sucks you in from the beginning. Power provides strong lines for the cast and it’s quite noticeable when you notice the audience’s visceral reactions.
I can easily see this play heralding Baltimore’s top ten for best theater shows in 2017. The acting, directing, lush scenery, and the script blended East Asian culture with Western humor, plausibility, and culture.
Although this play is currently not in production: Scroll below for upcoming shows at Center Stage. Definitely consider donating to this great theater right here!
About Center Stage
Center Stage is the state theater of Maryland, and Baltimore‘s largest professional producing theater. Center Stage began in a converted gymnasium in 1963 as a full arena theatre that seated 240 people.Center Stage houses two performing spaces, the 541-seat Pearlstone and the smaller Head Theater, both in its home in the Mount Vernon Cultural District of Baltimore.
Upcoming Center Stage Plays (February-March 2018)
1.) Skeleton Crew (February 2018)
From the playwright of Detroit ’67, Skeleton Crew (the third play in Dominique Morisseau’s acclaimed Detroit trilogy) tells the story of four workers at the last exporting auto plant in Detroit struggling to survive as their way of life disappears. Set around 2008, this play vividly portrays the modern struggle in a changing America, and reveals the real people on the factory line. This skeleton crew—the bare minimum number of staff needed to function—is made up of people who keep the vital operations of the plant running in the face of obstacles, rumors, and, eventually, the confirmation of their worst fears. Loyalties are tested and boundaries are crossed as this vibrant team of loyal and proud workers navigate an uncertain future. Purchase tickets here
2.) Animal Farm (March 2018)
One day on Manor Farm, shortly before his death, an old boar named Major told the other animals about his dream. United by the realization that all animals have a common enemy—man—the animals revolted against the tyranny of forced work. They fought and gained their freedom and established a system of thought, Animalism, based on the wise words of the Major. All animals are comrades. All animals are equal. But as months and years pass, the exalted words of the Major become distorted, and the citizens of Animal Farm come to see that some animals are more equal than others. Purchase tickets here.
3.) Mobile Unite Twelfth Night (March 2018)
Mobile Unit, an exciting new initiative of Baltimore Center Stage, that breaks down the walls of conventional theater spaces by taking high-quality theater to economically, culturally and geographically diverse communities across the Baltimore area, including homeless, elderly, incarcerated. The project launched in spring 2017 following a successful pilot project in 2016. Purchase tickets here.
Three years ago, I had an exclusive phone interview with Aries Spear about his upcoming performance at the Washington D.C Improv. Thanks to my New Years resolution in keeping a tidier home, I was able to find this old tape recorder in the back of my drawer.
Spears is a lauded headliner in the area. He often sells out multiple shows within the day his tickets go on sale.
So seeing an Aries Spears show is brag-worthy. In addition, Spears has a strong underground following due to his large stint on the Fox sketch comedy show MadTV from 1997 through 2005. Spears has appeared in over 198 episodes, making him the second longest-serving cast member. Spears uncanny impersonations of LL Cool J, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Bill Cosby, Denzel Washington, Paul Mooney, R.Kelly, 50 Cent and OJ Simpson have forever cemented him as a cultural icon.
After MadTV ended, Spears had segments in All Star Comedy Jam in 2009, performed in the TV series The Underground, released a discography of his comedic skits called “I aint Scared (2005), and spearheaded his own comedy special called “Aries Spears: Hollywood, and Look I’m Smiling which was shown on Showtime, Aries Spears: Comedy Blueprint (2016).
On youtube, fans can watch perfect rap mash-ups of him freestyling as Snoop Dog, Jay Z, LL Cool J, and DMX, and laugh hysterically over his original short parodies: What you wish you could do, The Cosby Show, How a Fat person sees food, Help the Starving kids and Helpless Animals, and various other stand up specials.
As I was listening to this old, black, sony tape recorder (that cost me an arm and a leg back then) I detected nervousness on my part. I’ve been a huge fan of the comedian since I was 11 years old, watching MadTV whenever I wanted to stay up late on a Saturday night. I would try to mimic his sketches to friends and although his skits were a bit on the racy side, I developed fond memories of his impersonations over the years. As I grew older, I got into his stand up specials and comedy on Pandora’s comedy station. So looking back, I can see why I giggled, fangirled, and guffawed a bit too much during this interview.
Since this interview is more like an archive, read it like it’s a relic from the past.
Sherryn: Aries, are you excited to be back in D.C?
Aries: Yeah, I am excited. You know this is one of my favorite cities. This is one of my favorite places because it’s chocolate city!
Sherryn: Great. Next question. Do you keep in touch with anyone from “Mad TV”? If there is a reunion, would you ever be a part of it?
Aries: Well that ship has sailed and gone. Every now and then, I run into Will Sasso and a couple people. Debra and I were really close but I haven’t spoken to her in a long while.
Sherryn: So you will never do a reunion.
Aries: Nope. Not interested.
Keep in mind this is an interview from 2015. Spears did participate in the MadTV 20th anniversary reunion in 2016 right here and also guest starred in subsequent episodes of the show, when it was revamped that following year.
Sherryn: I love a lot of your shorts on youtube. What’s your personal favorite?
Aries: Well, I kinda like them all. But the one called “What you wish you could do” is pretty up there. Along with the Direct TV parody and the State Farm parody.
Sherryn: That one was hilarious.
Sherryn: For all the impersonations that you do, which one is your favorite.
Aries: Paul Mooney. He is an interesting character. It takes a lot to capture who he is and what he says. It takes more brain power to play him. Paul Mooney, from a personal perspective. Jay Z is fun to play since I am a huge Jay Z fan.
Sherryn: Do you have any new projects coming up?
Aries: I am about to do a new special. In the end of September (2015). Fingers crossed, hoping to get my own sketch show. I am kinda doing what Chappelle did but a lot racier and a lot edgier. Trying to get on a network like Showtime, HBO or even Netflix. Where I have no censorship.
Sherryn: I know on previous interviews, you have often called out celebrities. You have stated in the past that Kevin Hart hires writers for his skits? What is the verdict?
Aries: I think Kevin Hart is a phenomenal guy. A talented comedian. I kinda look at it like sports. How you dole out credit for being a superb athlete. If its all you and just you, then you deserve all the credit. Then all the negative is not warranted. People helping you develop who you are and what you say. There should really be an asterisk in there.
Sherryn: I see what you are saying. My last question is a bit goofy but If Shaq ever does a sequel to “Kazaam” would you ever consider being his genie friend?
Aries: Uh… Hahahaha. Depending on how much they pay me. I will be his genie bitch.
*Feature photo courtesy of CJSportsblog.com
On November 29, 2017 Contributing Writer Joey Love covers the Red Carpet of the Smithsonian Ingenuity Festival. There he meets all of the 2017 Award winners and interviews renowned music artist, John Legend.
I was privileged to cover the red carpet for the 6th Annual American Ingenuity Awards at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Winners are selected by Smithsonian Magazine in recognition of individuals who are transforming American culture in the arts, social change, youth, and the sciences.
This award show is oft-times known as the “Golden Globes of Intellect” due to covering individuals who encourage change and create a better world.In subsequent years, the Smithsonian received a lot of attention and critical praise for spearheading this initiative.
In most cases, winners are sought-after celebrities in their niche field.
John Legend, for example, is recognized for his prolific contributions to the Performing Arts; Ava Duvernay, Wrinkle in Time and Selma Director, is recognized for Visual Arts; Jony Ive, chief design officer at Apple, is recognized for Technology; Marley Dias, creator of #1000BlackGirlBooks, is recognized for Youth; Sesame Workshop, creator of the first muppet with autism, is recognized for Social Progress; Dave Malloy, director of Natasha, Pierre &The Great Comet of 1812, is recognized for History; Gary Steinberg, chair of neurosurgery at Stanford is recognized for life sciences; and Natalie Batalha, mission scientist for NASA’s Kepler Mission, is recognized for physical science.
The event started out lax. I freely walked into the reception room before the Smithsonian crew started rolling out security, camera crew, and the red carpet, itself. I watched performance rehearsals, listened to presenters’ teleprompter lines, and watched B-roll video footage rolling on giant projector screens.
Lesson learned, I must arrive early next year to secure a spot in the front:It almost felt illegal.
When the red carpet finally rolled out, and the backdrop was ironed out, the fun commenced. Michael Caruso, editor-in-chief of Smithsonian Magazine, first appeared.
Right behind him was the ever adorable 12-year-old Marley Dias. Caruso posed with her and several of the other honorees.
Next up, was Sesame Workshop, which included three women (one with an Elmo-designed handbag that I wanted to steal). Following them is the original star of The Great Comet of 1812, Josh Groban. Groban was a special invitee and event presenter. He spoke graciously to each, available, press member.
David Oyelowo followed behind, with a reserved demeanor. After our short break, in walks superstar John Legend tied at the hip to his supermodel wife Chrissy Teigen.
This was the moment, I inched closer to the red carpet and gained entry for a 60 second interview with the man, himself, John Legend.
First, I congratulated him on his win, thanked him for moving the industry forward, and doubled down on congratulating him on his recent pregnancy announcement.
Second, I pondered over the various awards he won in the past 20 years of his career.
I asked, “Which award are you most proud of?”
John Legend answered: “The Academy Award for ‘Glory’ the song I wrote for the movie Selma because it was probably the most meaningful thing I have done.”
Legend later added on that “we need to keep fighting” in reference to social change. In recent years, Legend has become an advocacy icon, combating for AIDS awareness, social and health issues, women’s rights, and drug policies.
These efforts are what pulled him into Selma, the 2014 Academy Award-nominated film directed by Ava Duvernay that illustrated the narrative of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march for civil rights. This stance against injustice and incivility towards people of different walks of life is precisely what Legend has been supporting for years. With his one Oscar win, he accomplished both a career and a personal goal.
After the interview, I was really hoping for the chance to interview more attendees on their future projects but I didn’t have enough time.
FYI, John Legend was scheduled to perform one of his hits and Dave Malloy’s Tony nominated song an dance team was scheduled to perform at the award show. The red carpet was just the beginning for the Smithsonian Magazine’s Ingenuity Awards. Bigger and better things was yet to happen later that night
So who do you think will be 2018’s big winners? Comment below your thoughts.
Behind the scenes stuff:
1: Jony Ive snuck in through a side door at the last minute and avoided the red carpet event entirely, despite still being bombarded by event-goers when he reached the lobby.
2: Ava Duvernay never made it to the red carpet event before the reception began.