BRONZE MARCH 2020
Love & Hip Hop’s Sharonda Official talks salon and business moves
Actress Charlana Brown on her return to Amazon Prime’s “Cycles”
Fans are “Still in Love” with R&B Soul Diva
talks favorite Grammy moments & staying power in the music industry
Happy Womenâ€™s History Month 2020!
January 2020 Editor’s Note Happy Women’s History Month Bronze beauties! Women all around the world are being celebrated this month for their contributions to history, culture and society. I’m proud to say that Bronze celebrates women year-round and there is never a shortage of fearless, brave and bold women who have made a positive impact in their own unique way.
FOUNDER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Shawn Stuldivant CO-OWNER Barry Stuldivant ISSUE DESIGN BY Casey Blackman WRITERS Abena Boateng Deidre Dickson-Gilbert Tobbylola Oniga Patrice Rivers
This month’s issue puts the spotlight on quite a few fabulous women. We chose the amazingly talented and beautiful Meli’sa Morgan to grace the cover because she is an icon in the music industry with a timeless voice that has entertained audiences for over two decades. Not only is Meli’sa talented, she is also gracious and humble, and we are so very honored to have her as our cover star. We caught up with her to chat about many things, including her recent attendance at the 62nd Annual Grammys She talks about some of her favorite Grammy moments, while also sharing intimate photos with us of herself and some industry friends she ran into while at the awards show. Right off the recent success of her “Love Demands” CD, Meli’sa talks about her plans for future music as well as some of her most memorable tours/shows. You are going to love reading what she has to say! As always, I hope you enjoy the issue and I look forward to seeing you again next month. Happy reading!
C O NTE N TS MARCH 2020
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Cover Story: Meli’sa Morgan
The iconic R&B Diva and cover star talks favorite Grammy moments, shares advice for staying power in the music industry, and future projects.
Charlana Brown The athlete turned actress discusses her roots in the game of tennis, meeting Serena Williams and her return to the Amazon Prime Series “Cycles.”
Shay Levister Aka “Shay Your Love Diva,” the successful, certified love transformer, author and speaker reveals some of the top hidden secrets to dating and why she feels finding true love is possible.
Trenese “TD” Hicks The founder of Tuchéir Cosmetics created a diverse all inclusive vegan and cruelty free makeup brand that empowers women to embrace their own unique beauty.
Agony to Advocacy Two women’s heartbreaking encounters with medical malpractice and how they turned agony into advocacy.
Sharonda Official The Celebrity Hair/Fashion Stylist and Love & Hip Hop Atlanta star talks about her professional journey and what sets her apart from the rest.
Go-Getter Charlana Brown By Tobbylola Oniga
Actress and athlete Charlana Brown has been dominating the acting scene lately. From starring in commercials for Nike, Gatorade, Honda and working with top celebs like Serena Williams and Gabrielle Union, Brown is a force to be reckoned with. Her go-getter personality and determination to stay positive and keep working is pushing Brown ahead of the game.
Bronze Magazine: You are originally from Detroit, Michigan but you grew up in Los Angeles. How was it adapting to a big city like L.A.? Did the move inspire your acting career? Charlana Brown: I moved to L.A. with my mom and my brother when I was a kid. My mom wanted to get away from Detroit and our tennis coach was moving to L.A., so we decided to make the move as well. As far as my acting career, I didn’t know at the time that this was what I wanted until middle school.” Bronze Magazine: Growing up,
you were very athletic. What made you decide to start taking acting classes? Charlana Brown: I went to a performing arts middle school in the center of Hollywood, so we had a lot of productions and film that would come through at our school, and I got to be a part of one, that’s when I knew I wanted to act. When I moved back to L.A., I was pursuing acting but I had a sports agent, so a lot of my bookings went through my sports agency. I started off doing both but I did more athletic scenes because there was a huge need for it.
Bronze Magazine: You attended Florida A&M University on a full tennis scholarship. How was it working with a tennis legend like Serena Williams? Charlana Brown: She is someone I always looked up to, so when I worked with her I was a bit nervous. I have worked with her about 3 or 4 times now. She’s a professional and an athlete, and she’s very much into what she does and she does it well. So it was just a great experience for me. Bronze Magazine: Talk about your journey of getting to where you are today. What are some obstacles you faced along the way? Charlana Brown: For most of us, it takes a long time to get to where you want to be in this industry/career path. Having the consistency, motivation, and drive to do it when sometimes you don’t have these things can be challenging, especially when you thought you got a job but you didn’t. But when it’s something you really want, you’re going to have the motivation. Bronze Magazine: You have starred in major brand commercials for Honda, Apple, McDonald’s, Nike and many more. How do you still remain so humble in this industry? Charlana Brown: I guess one part of it is who I am and how I was raised. The second part of it is it’s just one job, you have to keep working. I don’t believe in having a big head, I believe in being thankful and blessed for every job I book because in this business you might have a good year and then next year it’s not that great. I haven’t reached my ultimate goal yet, so there’s no reason for me to be walking around with a big head. Bronze Magazine: Congratulations on landing your new Gatorade commercial. How was the experience? What was your favorite part about shooting the commercial? Charlana Brown: It was a great experience. I actually worked with Gabrielle Union’s body double and Dwyane Wade for that commercial. It was a good experience because those two are role models for a lot of us. Dwayne Wade is one of the best basketball players and Gabriel Union is such a beautiful black woman. When I worked with her, I knew she was beautiful but she looks so young! I was really nervous about working with her. I’m not really a star-struck person but when I work with certain people I get shy. But she was nice and welcoming and I took a picture with her. Dwyane is nice too, it was a great experience. My 2019 ended well by being able to work with them. Bronze Magazine: The Amazon Prime series “Cycles” is about a group of black successful millennials who moved away from home to build a life for themselves. The storyline resembles your own life. Tell us about your character Nina and how it was playing a character that is relatable to you? Charlana Brown: She’s definitely a hard worker and I can relate to that because I am too. I had a friend recently who told me I work too much (laughter). Nina is not only a hard worker, she’s like a boss and she runs the relationship with her boyfriend, who doesn’t have it together and she pays his bills. She’s at the point where she’s tired of supporting him financially and she wants him to be able to take care of himself. She feels like he’s relying on her too much. Now, when It comes to me, I’m the type of person to go and get it. I will make my money; I will work hard even if that means working three or four jobs before I’m in a financial situation like that and I think that’s where we relate. We’re both hard workers and bosses in our own way.
Bronze Magazine: Tell us about your recent guest-starring on Will Ferrell’s digital Network (Funny or Die) series “Black Coffee” and how that came about. Charlana Brown: I worked with the cast and I had a small part as a coffee shop customer. It’s a comedy and it’s about these four guys who have opened a coffee shop and they are having a hard time running it well. My character comes in and orders and she sees some craziness on the board and she goes off on them. It was just really funny and I had fun. I hope I can go back one day. Bronze Magazine: What is some advice you would offer to up and coming actors? Charlana Brown: I would just say to keep going, work hard, make your connections, surround yourself with good people and go after what you want.
Bronze Magazine: What are some productions we can look forward to seeing you in this year? Charlana Brown: I’m currently working on my project called “Sponsored.” I have been auditioning a lot and I just have to wait and see what’s to come. Bronze Magazine: What are some goals you have this year? Charlana Brown: Positivity, lots of prayers and motivation. God knows what my intentions are and he knows what I want. I have written it down, and we’re just going to go from there.
From Heart Broken to Love Doctor By Tobbylola Oniga
Are you constantly experiencing relationship issues? Do you feel like you’re wasting your time on pointless dates? Meet Shay Levister, known as “Shay Your Love Diva.” Levister is well-known for her role on TV One’s Fatal Attraction as the guest relationship expert and also as a public speaker with a successful coaching practice that helps singles all over the world. After going on 100 dates in three months, Levister has uncovered the secrets of dating. With her experience and certification as a master neuro-linguistic programming and rapid transformational therapy practitioner, she is determined to help one million singles attract love! Bronze Magazine: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Shay Levister: I have been living in Atlanta, Ga. for almost 20 years now. I come from a West Indian background and I was always taught to be the best at anything I do. Love is a strong passion of mine because of the environment I grew up in. I’ve witnessed dysfunctional relationships around me. I’ve witnessed my father abuse my mother on a regular basis, sometimes even spanking her with a belt. It was a pattern that was in my family. Her mother was abused and her great grandmother was abused. I knew that I had to break the pattern in order to give my kids a chance to not go through that. Bronze Magazine: After having a traumatic experience, you discuss having a conversation with God who revealed to you the purpose of life is to love. Prior to this conversation, talk to us about your stance on love.
Shay Levister: I always felt as if love was waiting for me. I knew my soulmate existed. I knew it was real. I knew no matter what happened or how many times I got my heart broken, I would eventually find it. However, this near-death experience is what motivated me to teach and give to others. Before, it was just about finding love for myself and teaching my daughters. Also, it created a hobby of giving advice on YouTube by inspiring people on a large scale and teaching them how to both find and attract a loving relationship. That was all inspired after the near-death experience. That’s when I decided to help one million women attract love because there are so many people that have never experienced a healthy love relationship. In my definition, if it’s not healthy, it’s not love. There are so many women who haven’t experienced it, so they’re missing out. They haven’t experienced life at all because they haven’t experienced love. So, that just became my mission.
Bronze Magazine: How did becoming a master neuro-linguistic programming and rapid transformational therapy practitioner help you better understand the language of love?
Shay Levister: I was able to go to the root cause of why people do what they do when it comes to love, dating and relationships. Why do certain women sabotage themselves over and over again with the same guy with a different face? Why do some people always seem to be able to have a happy relationship? Being able to get certified in neuro-linguistic programming as well as being certified in my craft as a relationship coach helped me to refine my techniques so that I can help people on a subconscious level. Bronze Magazine: You have gone on 100 dates in three months to discover the hidden secrets of dating. How was this experience? What are some of the top hidden secrets in dating?
Shay Levister: When I went on the 100 dates, I started noticing a pattern with certain things I said or did that would turn a guy on or off. I also started to notice patterns in the guys who were serious about the relationship and were good guys versus the guys who just wanted to play around or were just interested in a physical relationship. That empowered me to unlock the secret...the secret road...the yellow brick road to love so that I could replicate it. What it also did was help me refine my technique down to a science so that I was able to capture the heart of any man that I chose within 30 days. I would literally do videos and time stamp them from day one using the techniques I discovered from the 100 dates experiment in order to capture his heart. Then, I took the information I learned and created a program to help other women have strength when they dated. This allowed them to date in a lane where there was no competition, date at a certain level of confidence and just be who they are. Everyone they met wasn’t going to be “the one” and that’s perfectly okay, but at least they were able to show up 100% who they needed to be in order to attract the right one.
Bronze Magazine: How was your experience with TV One’s Fatal Attraction? Shay Levister: I loved it! It was so intriguing because before I would do an episode, I would have to read the files of the couple. I would have to read the crime report, discover what brought this couple together and uncover what it was that brought down the relationship. I think what I enjoyed the most was the mysteries where we didn’t know who did it. There was one where a husband was shot at the door. It looked like the bullets were thrown outside the door and the wife was in the bed with her daughters. I’ll never forget that because it’s almost like you were rooting for the wife, acting like it wasn’t her fault because the husband was cheating on her. It was either a crime of passion where she was just sick and tired of it, heard him on the phone talking to his mistress, snapped and killed him, then went back to sleep and didn’t remember it; or one of the other women killed him; or one of the mistresses’ husbands did it because several of the mistresses’ husbands threatened him as well. So, you really do not know. At first, the wife was convicted, then she got off! It was kind of like you were happy she got off. I really enjoyed doing those episodes. Bronze Magazine: Some people experience love and it doesn’t work out the way they expected it to, so they give up. What do you tell your clients who don’t believe that finding true love is possible? Shay Levister: It’s literally impossible not to be able to find love once you inevitably start to align with what you want to attract. How do you develop that mindset? You subconsciously remove the barrier, the pain and the false belief systems that are blocking you from receiving a healthy love experience. Once you’re able to sift through and heal from all the fear, hurt and hesitation toward love based on past experience to become the person that you’re meant to be; and learn how to manifest love, then it’s possible. Once you get the keys on dating and how to get a healthy relationship, it’s impossible not to attract love. A lot of people think that you have to look a certain way in order to attract a certain relationship. The most important aspect in my research of interviewing thousands of men, women and couples was asking men what they find attractive. Looks wasn’t even in the top three. A lot of times it was a woman’s “it factor,” her smile or her personality. There’s always someone who will find your type attractive. If you radiate confidence, then men are going to find you attractive. Not just one man, many. Bronze Magazine: What one person thinks is love, someone else might disagree. Do you think love has a clear cut definition? Shay Levister: I think love has a clear cut vibration. I think love has a clear cut way of enhancing you to be your very best and higher self. If it doesn’t enhance you, uplift you, fulfill you and energize you, then it’s not love. Continued on next page...
Bronze Magazine: You talk about making yourself so desirable that you can’t help, but to get multiple options when it comes to love. However, sometimes you can have all these favorable traits and love still might not work out for you. How would you help someone in this situation?
Shay Levister: A lot of women who are in the trenches, down and out about dating and want to give up on love are constantly being ghosted or mistreated. Then, here comes the so-called experts who tell them what they should do, but don’t tell them how to do it. They can’t relate to where they are, but I can because I’ve been there. I have experienced the abusive relationship. I’ve been there in having a past that set me up to attract the abusive relationship. I’ve felt the crave and hunger to be loved, to be in a healthy relationship. I figured out the pathway to the love experience that I want and know that I can provide the correct roadmap to any woman seeking love based on her desires. Bronze Magazine: You stated, “When you can train your subconscious mind to do better is when you do better.” However, how does one train their mind to do better when they don’t know better?
Shay Levister: With neuro-linguistic programming, I was able to create a program called positive mind meditation. This meditation unhooks the beliefs and the blocks that are keeping people from experiencing the love they really want. It’s kind of like if you have a dirty pool, how do you get a clean pool? Well, first you have to empty out all the dirty water or fill the pool with so much clean water that all the dirty water runs out. It’s kind of like that with the positive mind meditation system that I created. You’re filling your mind with so many positive affirmations on a subconscious level that your mind starts to develop a new belief system, which leads to new behaviors. This leads to a new way of viewing relationships and attracting healthy ones. Bronze Magazine: Talk to us about your book, “The Single D.I.V.A.’s Guide to the Science of Attracting Love.” Why should single people read your book instead of the other dating books out there? Shay Levister: I put a lot in the book! I put private details about me, my experience dating a married man and being in an abusive relationship. I think one of the things that came out that I wasn’t expecting was sexual abuse. You have so many women that are filling that wound created from childhood or some point in their life where they were sexually violated. They’re filling it up with a relationship or sexual connections without really healing the wound. So, when I was writing the book I was faced with the challenge of, “Do I tell my story? Do I discuss that?” It was almost like the book was calling for that. I think that’s what a lot of women were able to connect with when they were able to read it. Being given permission to identify the pain and release it was so empowering to so many women including myself. That’s the point where I think the book went beyond myself. Bronze Magazine: This year you can look forward to Shay’s new app called Cup of Love currently available on Android and Apple. This app pushes out affirmations about having a healthy relationship. She also has a class coming called Manifest Love Inner Circle on April 1, where she coaches women how to remove blocks, heal, attract and date. On May 16, she has a live seminar in Atlanta, Ga. where hopeful singles will navigate through deep-level exercises, guided meditation, on-the-spot personal coaching, the Law of Attraction and steps to manifesting love. Learn more about Shay ‘Your Love Diva’ Levister by following her below: Website: www.ShayYourLoveDiva.com Instagram: @ShayYourLoveDiva Facebook: @ShayYourLoveDiva YouTube: @lovein30days Twitter: @ShayYourLoveDva
the past that I had just set me up to be qualified to not just tell people the what but
also the how-to.â€?
Trenese Hicks of TuchÃ©ir Cosmetics
By Abena Boateng
The demand for new beauty products and cosmetics is at an all-time high. Finding products that can cater to different skin tones and types has been a struggle many women of color face, especially women with darker skin tones. Coming across makeup products that define the sophisticated woman but also the fitness guru may seem very unlikely. Thankfully, professional makeup artist and body-builder Trenese “TD” Hicks made the impossible, possible. Hicks created her very own cosmetic line that is “portable and preventive,” so women can look fierce while on the go. Inspired by additional cosmetic brands such as Huda Beauty, Beauty Bakerie and Iman Cosmetics, which are all black-owned, Hicks decided that her passion for makeup was more than she expected, and soon she created her cosmetic line called Tuchéir Cosmetics. She wanted to design products that showed women can be gym savvy while being glammed up. Merging both fitness and beauty ultimately helped Hicks create a name for her brand; Tuchéir, derived from Touche’, meaning acknowledging a clever point made at one’s expense.
Growing up in New Orleans, fitness and beauty always played a major role in Hicks’ life. As she got older, she began working over 40 plus hours a week in Corporate America; which she still does to this day. “ I think women relate to me because I too struggle to find the ever-elusive balance between my work and personal life,” Hicks said. Being able to feel beautiful and making other hard-working women who have tough schedules feel beautiful came to play when creating her line. Bodybuilding helped Hicks attain routines and schedules, whereas makeup enabled Hicks to enhance someone’s beauty through art. She managed the best of both worlds by being a competitive bodybuilder and a freelance makeup artist. Believing that beauty starts from within, she wanted to create products that women could use while working on their physical appearance. Because of Hicks’ love and passion for both, she created a line of vibrant rich colors that can complement almost any skin tone while making sure it is fitness friendly. With a range of products for all skin types, Tuchéir Cosmetics is extremely diverse and to top it off, it is 100% cruelty free and vegan. Hicks and her team use focus groups of women of different ethnicities and from different geographies to ensure their products are long wearing and safe. “We also use toxicity testing to avoid using animals to test our products,” Hicks said. With the help of Hicks’ wonderful team made up of Marketing, Product Development, Social Media, and Product Design, she is able to hit the gym daily at 7a.m. and splits her time between working in corporate America and overseeing Tuchéir Cosmetics from 8a.m. to 5p.m. Though it is not easy, a typical day for Hicks usually ends between 1 or 2a.m.
“She’s busy, she’s selfaware yet she still wants to look and feel amazing” 14
Known for her business professional and body building ways, Hicks finds it a little difficult when it comes to branching out Tuchéir Cosmetics because it is a new up and coming cosmetic line, but due to her strong passion for makeup, she knows she will overcome any obstacles. Tuchéir Cosmetics embodies busy working women who still want to look fabulous in their own way. Breaking stereotypes that muscles aren’t sexy, or the persona that women can’t look glamorous while having busy schedules was something Hicks enforced. “She’s busy, she’s self-aware yet she still wants to look and feel amazing both in her work and personal life, I seek to demystify the myths that women with muscles cannot also look and feel feminine and further eliminate the unrealistic images women consume on social media that eat away at their self-work and personal self-esteem,” Hicks said. Constantly keeping up to date with the new beauty trends, Tuchéir Cosmetics is able to cater to all women at any time. The majority of their clientele are women at the ages of 30 or older, who have active lifestyles and don’t have enough time to get fully glammed up. These women are usually mothers, businesswomen, leaders and more. Tuchéir values being able to cater to women who are on the go, but still wanting to feel “stunningly beautiful.” Their best-selling products are their lipsticks and lip-glosses which range from 5-10 different shades with unique names such as NOLA GAL and Bronx. Though they only sell lip products, lashes and eyebrow pomades, they plan to expand with eyeshadows, moisturizers and other beauty products in the future. Tuchéir Cosmetics plans to launch their skincare products while also expanding their current line to a variety of more vibrant color this year. Tuchéir Cosmetics is an “all-inclusive and diverse brand” catering to the everyday woman. Trenese Hicks has come a long way from being a makeup enthusiast to being in both the makeup industry and corporate America. Some of her tips that helped her breakthrough and fulfill her dream include knowing your audience, not allowing fear to control you and sharing your story. “People want to buy from relatable brands that make them feel a part of a larger community. Give the people what they want!” Hicks said. Social media plays a huge role in Tuchéir cosmetics. Hicks and her team are extremely active in these outlets and share their message through multiple media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, their handle is @tucheir for all three. A woman who wants to invest in themselves and make themselves feel good in a short amount of time is definitely a Tuchéir gal. “That’s what Tuchéir Cosmetics is all about, a community of fearless women who are On-The-Go!” Hicks said.
R&B Sensation Meli’sa Morgan is Hotter Than Ever Before! By Tobbylola Oniga R&B songstress and this month’s cover star, Meli’sa Morgan has outdone herself once again in the music industry. Morgan is best known for her 1985 hit song “Do Me Baby,” originally performed by the late and great Prince. She has also worked alongside some of the top names in R&B such as Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, and the late Whitney Houston. After releasing her latest album “Love Demands” in over 12 years, Morgan’s music is still a force to be reckoned with. With six songs from “Love Demands” that came very close this year at the 62nd Grammy Awards ballot for possible nomination, Morgan won’t be going anywhere no time soon.
Bronze Magazine: The last time we interviewed you, you had just released your CD “LOVE DEMANDS.” How did that work out for you? Meli’sa Morgan: My latest and recent CD “LOVE DEMANDS” was a pure blessing for my recording career and life. I say that because I have not recorded a full album/CD of myself in over 12 years!! I think I was a little afraid because of how much the industry has changed- with online retail, streaming, and most records and songs being bought on internet channels. I did not know if I could hold up to all of this. I have always known I could sing and with all my classic hits like “DO ME BABY’, “FOOL’S PARADISE’, “LOVE CHANGES W/KASHIF,” “DO YOU STILL LOVE ME” and more! I believe I got a little afraid to record something new. However, it turned out great for me! We released a new video of the song “NO MORE” from my new album. Digital radio loved my remake of Aretha Franklin’s “NEVER LOVED A MAN (The Way I Love You).” People in the industry and my fans were glad to see I was back with new music. It was refreshing and the industry embraced me. I received a lot of good media and press since my album release. I have also been featured on 12 magazine covers and counting! Then, six songs from my album “LOVE DEMANDS” made this year’s 62nd Grammy Awards Ballot for possible nominations in the R&B categories, best roots performance, and rap/song category. Unfortunately, I did not get nominated but look how close we came. It was a wonderful achievement for me to be that close to getting nominated. Bronze Magazine: What places have you toured lately? Any favorite, most memorable shows you’d like to share? Meli’sa Morgan: Oh Wow…. I have toured Japan (Osaka & Tokyo) doing Billboard Live. London, Birmingham, England and Los Cabos, Mexico. All over the UNITED STATES (Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Cincinnati, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Miami, Las Vegas, and more!) I love performing live and touring and visiting different countries and cities. My most memorable show recently had to be in Japan because I had not performed in Japan in almost 19 years! I don’t know why, but it had been such a long time since I had been there and they had seen me. The love they showed me was beyond awesome! I cried and they cried …. It was so touching and emotional. The love they have for me and my music and is very special in my heart. My fans in England love all my music! It always amazes me how in Japan and England they come to my shows with all my album and CD covers for me to sign… I LOVE IT! Bronze Magazine: You recently attended the 62nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Tell us about that. Meli’sa Morgan: I have been a Recording Academy member since the beginning of my recording career. It was important for me to be a true part of the music industry by being able to vote and attend The Grammy Awards, which is the biggest night in the music industry! My first time going to the Grammy’s was with Freddie Jackson… I was his date when he got his nomination back in the late 80’s. I have since made it a point to go to the Grammy’s whenever I could. This year, I wanted to attend especially after being on the Ballot. It is always a great experience attending the Grammys. I love networking and meeting all the different artists in the recording and music Industry. You get to dress up really elegant and be amongst all your peers. Everyone looks so nice and it is a night to celebrate the best music of the year! I must mention, this year on the morning of The Grammy Awards, right as we were leaving. we heard that basketball icon Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash with his daughter and other passengers. It changed the dynamics of the Grammy’s because they’re held at The Staple Center where Kobe and The Lakers play. So we experienced more security than ever around the venue. Bronze Magazine: You looked amazing in pink at the Grammys. Even your hairstyle was pink! Tell us the story behind what inspired it. Meli’sa Morgan: I do have a story behind the Pink Hair! I had been planning what I wanted to wear for months. I bought my Christian Louboutin pink suede heels and matching Louboutin nail polish in Manchester, England. My pink dress was purchased in Augusta, GA. MY Fiancé Sabastin Commas got his tuxedo, matching Bow tie, and his Christian Louboutin Sneakers to coordinate with me! We were so ready. I decided I wanted to wear a ponytail to really show off my face. Well, I was in California and picked out the color of hair I wanted. It was not that pink at first. On the day of the Grammy Awards… when I went to do my ponytail, I noticed we picked the wrong type of hair! We had two hours before we were supposed to leave for the Grammys and the hair store was closed. It was Sunday! We had to call the store to ask them to open earlier on Sunday so we could go in and get the right hair. My Fiancé Sabastin, bless his heart… went to the store and called me on FaceTime and I picked out different hair and I saw the beautiful pink colors and said “Bring me the pink hair, too!” I mixed all the colors together and did my Ponytail! YES, I DID MY OWN HAIR AND MAKE-UP FOR THE GRAMMY AWARDS! No one else…. JUST ME! I did not know how all the colors in the Ponytail were going to flow and fall, but when I flipped my hair… All that beautiful pink hair came to light! It was an aha moment! Even I was surprised at how pretty the colors in my ponytail came out! It just goes to show that sometimes what you plan is not what is meant to be. Sometimes it is the unexpected things that can make something great! I received sooooo many compliments on my hair and make-up. A lady came up to us at the Awards and asked for the name and number of my hairstylist! Now that was a huge compliment to me and my hairstyling and make-up skills. Learning and experimenting with my hair and make-up all these years of being in the music business, has really paid off!
Bronze Magazine: Any favorite Grammy moments? Please share!
Meli’sa Morgan: The best moments at the Grammy’s for me was first going with my fiancé and us experiencing The Grammy’s in Los Angeles. We had been to the awards show in New York the year before and it was wonderful. I walked The Red Carpet that year and was voted one of the best dressed by Vogue.com. This year, enjoying the show with my fiancé Sabastin was more important to me. I really wanted to enjoy the experience of watching the show with him. That was a special moment for me. Seeing, talking to and taking photos with Grammy winners this year like PJ Morton (Won for best R&B song) and his beautiful daughter. Seeing my friends in the industry like AL B Sure, Flavor Fav, Terry Lewis and more. Watching The production of performances like Lizzo and John Legend with DJ Khaled was great! All of those were Great Grammy moments for me. I also loved how me and my fiancé coordinated our outfits. The fun is in the preparation.
Bronze Magazine: As a veteran in the entertainment/music business, what advice would you pass on to newcomers who are trying to establish themselves in such a competitive industry?
Meli’sa Morgan: Learn and study not only your talent in this music industry but learn the business and how to hold on to your money and make it work for you! The Music business and industry is a very competitive career to be in! Everyone thinks that if you have talent, that is all you need. However, that is not true. Even though that is a big part of it most of the time! You still need to learn about how you make your money off of record sales, publishing, and song writing. Even if you’re an artist that does not write… learn where your artist royalties come from. Learn about the recoupment system of the Recording industry and how it works; all aspects, if you can. SAVE YOUR MONEY!!!!! It is ok to splurge when you get signed and get a hit record, but make sure you save and have some money for when the records are not #1 and you still have to pay bills and live! I had someone tell me recently in this industry that they wish they would have been saving when the hit records and the money was coming in! Learn about saving and making your money work for you in your career and in your life. We all don’t get to make millions, but if you learn to save and live within your means being a Recording Artist…. You can live very good and have a great career and life!
Bronze Magazine: Will there be a follow-up to “LOVE DEMANDS?” Why or why not?
Meli’sa Morgan: Oh, yes…. right now I am looking at starting my own independent record label and releasing my next CD! I have my own production company… now it’s time to take the next step. I learned about things like this from attending the Grammy’s. I get to talk to the Artists who win and have their own independent record labels and are now winning Grammy Awards! They don’t depend on or wait for the major labels to sign them to record and release their songs. It is a new wave for the Music Industry. There are business minded artists out there that are doing it themselves and winning!!! Making a huge difference, too! I want to be one of those people that work to make a change. I want to work hard and be a part of the change in the music industry and my life. I don’t like staying still!
Bronze Magazine: What’s next for you? Anything you’d like to share such as new projects, tour dates?
Meli’sa Morgan: I am working on new songs for my next CD. I am emotionally in a great place. I am engaged, in love, and planning a 2021 small wedding in Hawaii. I look forward to writing songs that reflect the place I am in now emotionally. Love is such a great subject to express and write about! I am also ready to start the process of writing my first book. It will be a Lifestyle book, talking about the place I own in Aruba. I want to talk about the happiness going there brings me and share the peace and tranquility it brings to my soul. I love renovations and I just bought some beautiful land that I will be building my dream home on from the ground up! It is a very exciting process in my life. I am also launching my boutique crochet line of blankets and scarfs. Doing more of my Meli’sa Fruit Sticks Fruit Arrangements for events. I love doing them and they look and taste so good! Tour Dates…. I will be doing more city winery venues across the country. I have already done Washington and Chicago. I have performances coming up in Atlanta, GA and Connecticut. I will also be headlining my own tour in England and the U.K. in the spring/summer of this year. I am in a great place in my life and career ……… I look forward to what the future brings me! You can always go to my social media to find out upcoming show dates and events I will be at attending! FACEBOOK@MELISAMORGANFANPAGE1 FACEBOOK@MELISAMORGAN2 INSTAGRAM@MELISAMORGAN1 TWITTER@MELISAMORGAN22
Photographer: Ker're-Point & Click Photography Makeup-Olevia Andrews- O' on the Glow Venue: Title Boxing Club Missouri City
AGONY TO ADVOCACY: TWO PEOPLE, ONE MISSION
by: Deirdre Dickson-Gilbert
GOD SENT TWO: Myself (Deirdre Dickson Gilbert) and Ethel Easter-Dismuke had no idea that our paths would cross. Our stories of agony to advocacy was a journey born out of the emotional depths of medical malpractice that led us to becoming advocates for those who could not speak for themselves. On the opposite sides of town, working in two separate occupations, living our own lives, God was preparing us for the training exercise for the purpose of empowering others. What we did not know was that we were about to be forced into a world of boundaries and secrets that would leave us breathless. â€œAfter this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.â€? Luke 10:1
THE STORIES OF AGONY begin with Ethel, who moved to Houston in 2005 working as a Police Dispatcher, eventually going back to college and becoming a business owner. After graduation, she opened Resurrection Aerobics Studio. Ethel was active, full of life and having the time of her life. Out of the blue, Ethel began to have unbearable stomach pains, later discovering she had a hiatal hernia. Ethel was having over 100 attacks within a 24 hour period. It was obvious from her pain that she was going to need surgery. She met with a doctor in her medical plan, and during her initial visit for preparation of surgery, she began to see the first signs of what would change her life forever. Her doctor was rude, yelling and had no compassion for her. Ethel, with tears in her eyes, and pain in her body had no idea what she was about to embark on. She spoke with her family, letting them know that she was afraid and that she did not know if she would make it out of surgery. With hesitation, she agreed to proceed, but she knew she needed protection. Protection from what, she didn’t know. Ethel placed a small recording device in her braids, telling her family before they rolled her in, that if she did not make it, they would know the truth. She remembers falling asleep and waking up in recovery. She was sent home and in two days returned to the ER because she began itching and her body began to swell. She was also having vision problems and began to worry. That’s when she decided to listen to her recording device; not really planning to hear anything, but she was in for a surprise. The doctors and nurses were saying things like, “Oh well, she’s not allergic to penicillin, that was when she was younger...”Look at her belly button, I feel sorry for her husband...”Should we touch her and take pictures... “Precious meet Precious (sounds of giggling, making reference to the movie Precious, where the main character was overweight and the victim of rape)...”She has a lot of nerve to say something to the doctor whose doing her surgery.” Ethel is distraught with tears in her eyes, asking how and why a doctor would do such a thing. They risked her life and talked about her while she was under anesthesia. Are there no morals, dignity and integrity? Did they not take the Hippocratic Oath? My Story... I was handed the belongings of my daughter Jocelyn. I was standing in the foyer of the hospital, tears flowing like streams of water. All I could hear was, “Momma Help Me, Please.” It was Valentine’s Day 2011, and
my mother had just dropped off Jocelyn at school with cake and candy for her classmates. How was it that I was now holding her clothes in a bag, never to hear the sound of her voice again? How was it that for 22 years, Jocelyn had fought valiantly for every breath she had taken in, and won every medical challenge known to man, but on this day, was of no value to society? Jocelyn’s story, my journey, is about my struggle for justice and the truth. How is it that a young girl that was laughing and having the time of her life, is now crying immensely because a piece of corn dog was lodged in her esophagus? We had been down this road before, so there was no worry and I believed that things would be ok. My world was turned upside down. How is it that a young girl is rushed to the hospital, with a piece of corndog lodged in her esophagus, ends up in a hospital room, attached to a Propofol drip, with 6 sponges sewn in her abdomen, perforations of the esophagus and colon, in which a CAT Scan revealed that 13 hours before she was pronounced dead, having suffered sepsis and cardiac arrest, bleeding from every orifice, with mom and grandmother waiting outside, without one word from medical professionals that my daughter was gone? As I am grappling with what has happened, doctors were whispering, “She lived long enough,” referring to my daughter. They failed to tell us that the doctor was intoxicated, and that they knew he was responsible for her demise, but they kept quiet. They kept Silent. This is when we were introduced to Medical Malpractice. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE was the single thread that brought Ethel and I together. We were both caught in an inescapable network of mutuality and tied in a single garment of destiny-ADVOCACY. Every organization and attorney that we turned to told us there was nothing that anyone could do because of Tort Reform, but they didn’t know that we had been appointed for this task. It took every fiber of our existences to push through the rejection. Despite the willingness to take up the mantle for victims of medical malpractice, we were confronted with blasted hopes and dark shadows of disappointment. Medical Malpractice was and still is two words that are met with “silence.” These two words have psychologically disabled the entire medical community. Our cases, complaints and causes have been stamped “frivolous.” No one spoke of the atrocity, that’s what we thought. For decades this has been an issue, but cases were still being dismissed or unheard. We kept hearing, “No justice will ever be granted.”
Where was the outrage for the quiet, confident, arrogant existence of this world? There was no outrage. Ethel and I were still reeling from the impact of medical malpractice and negligence, trying to regain our footing, but we quickly came to realize that individually battling such a formidable foe, quietly struggling to climb insurmountable obstacles equaled to silence. “Instead of just one person, Jesus created a support system by sending out two disciples together. He said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). THERE WAS NOTHING. After all of the devastation, I began to research and look for organizations that could help those like her, but there was nothing. I created a blog talk show called “LIFE” Radio show, hoping to just air out my frustrations, and over a 2 year span, after connecting with over 30,000 others, I quickly realized that I was not in this by myself and that this issue was bigger than Jocelyn. Over the years, Facebook groups would pop up with people talking about their
experiences with medical malpractice. I was in shock that there were not thousands, but millions of people across America who had been affected by those two words. Medical Malpractice is the 3rd leading cause of death in America. 1.5 million people die from medical errors a year. With those statistics, it was clear that there had to be something that I could do. Yes, we were on Facebook, but this was ineffective and no one could care less that we were talking amongst ourselves. In 2013 I created a non-profit organization, The National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association (NMMAA), just for victims of medical malpractice. It is the only organization of its kind in the nation. The organization has received numerous accolades, proclamations, awards, and legislation recognizing our efforts for change from states across the country. From its inception, the NMMAA has had a strong desire to raise awareness and petition for change. Our organization had to face the reality that no justice is often served of those affected by medical malpractice.
ETHEL FOUND ME by searching on Facebook and she reached out to me saying that she had experienced medical malpractice and wanted to speak with me. At first I was hesitant because there were so many people on Facebook who were trolling, but she was adamant about it and kept reaching out. So we met. We both knew through painful experiences that the truth would never be voluntarily given by the oppressor, but must be demanded by the oppressed. Somehow, God set up the meeting because HE knew that we would need a support system. Jesus showed that by sending the disciples out by twos, It helped them to support one another in the things they witnessed, the teachings of Jesus and the observations of miracles. God knew that Ethel and I would not be afraid to SPEAK UP. “Come follow me, Jesus said ‘and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19) WE KNEW we were going against a well-oiled machine, huge medical conglomerates and countless numbers of medical professionals who would not go down without a fight, but we knew that something had to be done. We knew the road was not going to be easy. Not one agency in the entire United States was dedicated to helping those affected by medical malpractice. Were we to just sit around and do nothing? We had been turned away by countless media outlets and dubbed outside agitators by the medical community. However, we were called upon by
the Lord to carry the torch of pain and hurt for the thousands and millions of others who could not and did not have the strength to stand up for themselves. It ultimately became evident that our silence would not protect us. “it is only when good men do good, that good gets done.” Because more and more of us are committing to the work, to making the noise, the telling of the stories, to naming the names, national and international communities are demonstrating a willingness to fight this injustice as well. Although we have made some strides through education, legislation, and our grassroots efforts, it is still an insurmountable task if we do not solicit the help of our communities. Advocacy is our tool that will advance our mission, empower our supporters, ignite public debate and discussion and lead us to solutions for this pressing problem. Advocacy can help us address the systematic causes of medical malpractice rather than the symptoms. The NMMAA advances to promote changes that address the underlying causes of medical malpractice in the country. We are dedicated to ensuring that those of less power have their voices heard. Ethel and I have no fear of the struggle, even if our motives are misunderstood. We know that we will reach our goal. Our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America.
Our road began in Agony, but ended in Advocacy!
Celebrity Hair/Fashion Stylist and Love & Hip Hop Star
Sharonda Official Talks Salon and Business Moves
By PATRICE RIVERS
Born in Newark, NJ. Sharonda Official started her journey as a professional hair and fashion stylist in 1995. She went on to graduate from Bauder College with two bachelor’s degrees, one in Fashion Marketing (2004) another in Criminal Justice (2011). She has worked with Vibe Vixen and Source Magazine as a celebrity wardrobe and hairstylist, as well as on MTV’s Making the Band 3 as a lead hairstylist for the group Danity Kane (2005). Following her dream to become an actress, she has starred as a lead in two sold out stage play performances of “ A Good Woman or A Fool” and “What A Man Wants,” as well as co-starring on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop ATL. Sharonda Official is the proud mother of two sons, Khalil and Tyree. Since starting a new business is a lot like being a new mom, you can say she recently gave birth to Salon Eshelon in Atlanta, GA with business partner Yung Joc. She also recently celebrated the 6th Birthday of her online clothing boutique Rivamontae Boutique.
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PATRICE RIVERS: WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION/INSPIRATION BEHIND WANTING TO BECOME A FASHION AND CELEBRITY HAIR STYLIST? SHARONDA OFFICIAL: It came from my mother; she always dressed in designer, fashionable clothing. Fashion was my first love. I went to school for fashion and became a fashion stylist for music videos, artists and short films. All along, I was a hairstylist building clientele and doing celebrity hair as well. I worked on sets and did a lot of freelancing getting work on my own. PATRICE: TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR SHOP SALON ESHELON. WHAT DOES THE NAME MEAN IF YOU DON’T MIND ME ASKING? SHARONDA: I am the owner of Salon Eshelon. The name means a level of rank, to lead in greatness. It’s a high-end Salon in the Cumberland Mall area in Atlanta. At the salon, we cater to all people, all styles. We have stylists and techs including braiders, eyelash technicians, barbers, and weave stylist and stylist. PATRICE: YOU MADE SEVERAL APPEARANCES ON LOVE & HIP HOP: ATLANTA. WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH SOME OF THE OTHER CAST MEMBERS? I SEE YOU AND YUNG JOC ARE BUSINESS PARTNERS. WHAT IS THAT LIKE? SHARONDA: I’ve been on Love & Hip Hop Season 7 as an introduction to who I was becoming on the show for the next season. I was able to get more recognition on season 8 as Sharonda Official, co-owner/partner of Salon Eshelon. I must say I have experienced so many different parameters of owning my own salon that I must remain attentive to one’s character. It’s extremely important, especially when having a partner that knows nothing about the hair industry. It’s a big difference. Choose your business partner wisely. Things can quickly fall apart when your partner is under-educated about the hair industry. Unfortunately, my partnership with Joc isn’t a good one or a good partnership representation. PATRICE: AS A CELEBRITY HAIR STYLIST, WHAT OTHER CELEBRITIES HAVE YOU STYLED? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR SPECIALITIES? SHARONDA: I’ve styled several celebrities over the years. I have worked with Breezy from Empire, Bad Boy group Danity Kane, Gangsta Boo from 3 6 Mafia, Yung Joc, Sunshine Anderson, and Ciara just to name a few. I have a long resume of celebrities that I have styled in the past. My specialty with hair is hair cutting. I’ve always aimed to be the hottest hair cutter and yes, I mastered that. PATRICE: HOW LONG HAS YOUR ONLINE BOUTIQUE RIVAMONTAE BEEN OPEN? SHARONDA: It’s been 7 years since I started Rivamontae Boutique. We are currently working on rebranding as well as a new website that should be completed soon, however you’re able to come to the salon where we have clothes still available as well as my pop-up shop event I also host. PATRICE: WHAT DOES BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR MEAN TO YOU? SHARONDA: To me, being an entrepreneur means being able to be in charge of your time, your schedule, and your business. Having the ability to multi-task business and family. Being able to boss up on yourself. PATRICE: BECAUSE ATLANTA IS THE CITY OF CONNECTIONS AND BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES, WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR CLIENTS TO TAKE AWAY WHEN THEY ARE IN YOUR SHOP AND WHEN THEY LEAVE YOUR SHOP? SHARONDA: I like for my clients to leave knowing that they were satisfied with their hair, customer service, know that I understand what style they wanted all while also giving them the opportunity to be able to shop for an outfit or two. I believe I’m a great stylist that understands most things, and I’m able to communicate effectively while we converse and they unwind. They leave knowing that I’m a dope stylist and a great person to talk to with a positive attitude. As well to book their next appointment. Salon Retention. PATRICE: WHERE DID YOUR LOVE OF FASHION COME ABOUT? WHEN IT COMES TO STYLING YOUR CLIENTS, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR? SHARONDA: The love of fashion came from being a northerner. Over time I stepped outside of it, but there was always inspiration there. Celebrity wardrobe stylist Misa Hylton was an inspiration also. I wanted to be a stylist for the stars just like her, so I eventually went to fashion school, graduated and while I was in college, I became a celebrity fashion and hairstylist. My mother has always been a true influence for me as well as a stylish lady! She’s an image consultant and kept me dressed fly even as a kid. She still styles me (laughing). I love fashion! When it comes to styling, I look at the facial structure and body type. I come up with a look in my head and put it together and boom the Sharonda image is done. PATRICE: IN FIVE YEARS, WHERE DO YOU SEE BOTH OF YOUR BUSINESSES? ARE YOU PLANNING ON EXPANDING THE SALON TO OTHER STATES AS WELL? SHARONDA: I just plan on continuing to persevere in anything that I may be working on. My family is depending on me to continue to be great and to push my businesses. I have learned so much about owning my own salon and I realized, unless you want to manage a grown stylist that should know better you might want to think two or three more times about it first, similar to what I mentioned earlier in the interview. As far as my boutique, I will continue to keep it growing. PATRICE: HOW CAN READERS CONNECT WITH YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA? WEBSITE? SHARONDA: The readers can connect with me on Instagram @sharondaofficial @rivamontaeboutique @saloneshelon to see all of what I have going on and what’s next with Sharonda Official.
â€œI come up with a look in my head and put it together and boom the Sharonda image is done.â€?