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e are pleased to be working with Impact Detroit Magazine and Universal Xperience to bring our line of headwear to the Detroit area. Detroit is an iconic hat hot spot that has always represented w o r k i n g h a rd a n d looking good, and that is exactly what is all about.

Cedric “The Entertainer�! Founder

Gary “GD” Garner! Co-Founder!












EDITORIAL From the Desk Of Susan Jones


Hello Detroit!


As you flip through the pages of our Holiday Issue you will discover, we are celebrating the one year anniversary of the making of the movie Sparkle in Detroit. It’s a remake of the classic 1976 original movie Sparkle. I am excited to have Columbia Pictures ( S o n y ) S r. V i c e Pre s i d e n t o f Production, Devon Franklin as our cover. Inside Impact, you will find articles and stories which will inspire you! Remember this is the primary goal for Impact Detroit Magazine, to inspire. You’ll discover some charming facts about what went on behind the scenes on the set of Sparkle and meet the Detroit actors/ actresses and stand-ins, too.  Read their experiences as they share their personal stories, excitement and remember Whitney Houston. Th e actors and actresses in this issue are all from Detroit. I am so proud of them. Read about DeVon Franklin as he shares what it was like to work with Bishop Jakes, Whitney Houston and much more. Be on the lookout for an upcoming movie from one of the original cast of the landmark TV series JULIA. Atlanta filmmaker and author Alison Mills Newman is the director and producer of the powerful movie, The Tree Widow. She is Inside Impact, too and part one of her story will bless your heart. In addition, look for a special announcement from Cedric T he Entertainer about a very cool linkage and several of his specialty ads along with a new column from Rochelle Owsley from Kentucky call Highly Favored. Okay, I can’t spill all of the beans. You have to read it all right here. Impact wants to give back to you for the holidays. You will be able to download this issue for 24 hours! Enjoy this packed issue and we encourage you to enjoy your Holidays!

Special thank you to Cheryl Patterson and Universal Xperience for creating the Sparkle concept celebrating the one year anniversary of the making of Sparkle in Detroit for this Holiday Issue and establishing a wonderful linkage with Cedric Th e Entertainer and Who Ced Hats! Once again, Impact Detroit Magazine makes it happen to inspire you!

Walking in my Purpose Susan Y. Jones






A    C    T    I    N    G

D    E    B    U    T

! Casted as “Buddy” in Sparkle

Sparkle is my debut as an actor. Although, I have read for a few. I'm hoping that I can do more acting in the future. I really enjoyed being a part of the making of Sparkle especially because it was filmed in the city of Detroit. The film has a strong message of Hope which is empowering. And, as you know, Mack and Third tries to create Hope, too. I am passionate about creating

“I got an “F” in a music class!" awareness about the plight of the homeless while at the same time create recourses, too. Because I was homeless myself, this has become my mission, so to speak. I think that when we are allowed to overcome barriers, we also have a responsibility and the privilege to give back, to reach back and to hopefully help somebody. To and inspire somebody. There are a pleather of places where people can give to help others, Susan. I encourage your readers to give back this

holiday and beyond. If they are not giving to Mack and Third, there are organizations that will be more than happy to have you to come down and volunteer your time and your resources like, Forgotten Harvest, Rescue Mission and so on! When people want to give, it’s not hard to find a place to give to. If you want to give to us you can contact us at Mack and Third. I never had a plan

to rid myself of being homeless. No. I gave up my plan. One of the ways I overcame homelessness is I stopped isolating myself and started to listen to other folk who knew a better way to live. I started implementing some principals in my life that helped me get over homelessness. Those principles include but are not limited to, surrendering and believing in God. Doing self-inventory and being honest with myself. Then caring that message, that ‘plan’ to others.



In music, an artist must learn the business, learn the business and always give your best and perform and

cultivate yourcraft all the time, that’s if it’s for you. Everybody’s not supposed to sing, Susan. Ask yourself that question. Be honest about that. I loved working with Ledis last year on my Christmas album. I’d love to work with Rochelle Farrell and Chaka Kuhn! I sung My Funny Valentine once and I thought I was gone die, lol. The show was live!! But, we had a good time. Guess the fact that I didn’t have much formal training became apparent that day, lol. But, I haven't had too much formal training I’vhad hands-on training, so to speak, but it hasn't been formal. A friend of mine in high school who plays keyboard for menow, Brian Oneal was very inspirational in helping me to develop as a keyboard player. Even though I don't consider myself a keyboard player. I play good enough to write my songs. I'm a song writer first, so I had people in my life early onto help me tap into songwriting. I’ve been in choirs at schools. It’s really passion and love if you got the bug you know what that is? It means, I think there are people who have talent that are formerly trained and people who are not. I have taken music classes in school and got an “F” in a music class, lol. Susan, I kid you not, because I did not know the theory and all that. I think its God way of keeping me humble. To young musician, however you get it, just develop it, cherish it and don't take it for granted.


Wow! God is everything to me. He is my faith and my foundation. Mack and Third is about giving back. I’ve been fortunate to overcome many obstacles including being addicted and homeless. If it weren’t for organizations like the Detroit Rescue Mission and the NSO, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I want to encourage others in their current situations. So during the annual special event, I offer something tangible like a meal, along with the hope that things can get better. By sharing my music – a free concert, I also hope to inspire others to join me in giving back. – end.

!Mack & Third is named for the area where many of Detroit’s homeless citizens reside. It is KEM’s effort to give back to Detroit’s homeless community and support the services which supported him throughout his journey from homelessness and addiction to sobriety and success. By sharing his gift of music, KEM hopes to bring attention to the plight of the homeless on a national level and to motivate others to get involved with giving and volunteerism. Please purchase KEM’s holiday CD available everywhere music is sold and downloaded.


H A IJ L r E o n n Co

Wow! It has been a year since the making of Sparkle in Detroit. Happy

anniversary to all the cast, Detroit actors and actresses and extras. A lot of great memories, Susan. It was an honor and very humbling to be a part of this great production. This is a great movie from Detroit. I actually met the producer Akil. I showed up on the Sparkle set and Akil noticed me. I had just recently finished a reality show with Donald Trump called The Ultimate Merger. Akil said, “you’re the guy from the show?” Lol, I said yea and I need a part in this movie. We both kind of laughed. He said, “man all of my parts are gone, but I'll make sure I give you a roll, so that is what he did! Sparkle is an incredible movie. We recommend everyone should see it on TV. It is playing on Stars. Purchase the DVD, too. There is a scene where I had screen time right next to Whitney Houston! Her spirit on set was so incredible. Whitney, did not have a gimmick. Whitney had a gift. She didn't have to shake anything. She didn't have to take off her clothes. All she had to do was sing. This movie is bitter sweet now because Whitney passed back in February 2012. It’s kind of like we had a chance to grieve and be in bereavement and then move forward during the release in August 2012. Over the years, I think that Sparkle may make Whitney bigger than the Body Guard. I know that she is looking down right now and smiling. If she was still living it would have been crazy during the release. I believe she would have even reached the type of fame that Michael Jackson reached. The messages in Sparkle really impact lives and showcase the good in Detroit. I remember it was a particular scene that we shot in Indian Village. It kind of changed the story line. In the original film Sparkle (1976) they weren't well off, in the remake of Sparkle (2012) they are. If you love the original Sparkle you’re going to really fall in love with the new one! Please purchase the DVD as a gift this Christmas. Susan, I’m sitting hear remembering Whitney and how she use to come on set. She wasn't worrying about herself. She was worried about everyone else. She would come on set asking, if we were doing okay. Whitney was genuinely concerned about how everyone was doing. “God is Good, Praise the Lord,” is what Whitney would always say and that was encouraging. Sometimes we were on set for eighteen hours and had to be back five hours later! I tell people all the time this business is not for the weak at heart, lol. I'm so glad I was able to be a part of a great movie from my Michael Jackson reached.home city Detroit. This was my first big role in a movie. I've appeared on Millionaire MatchMaker that premiered on Bravo in October 2011. What really branded me as an upcoming actor was doing the Donald Trump Reality S h o w T h e Ultimate Merger that really created national awareness for me. I also did some things with that really created national awareness for me. I also did some things with Sister Act 2 back in the day. I toured with P. Diddy and toured overseas with Musiq Soulchild. Yup, I'm a singer, too. My album Christmas album is called This Christmas and available in Walmart and of course downloadable from itunes, cdbaby and amazon. Please support it. It would mean a lot to

me. Thanks Impact Detroit Magazine readers. Merry Christmas - end


DeVON FRANKLIN The Making of Sparkle in Detroit Inspires On and Off Screen by Cheryl Patterson Oprah calls him “A bonafide dynamo. A different kind of spiritual teacher for our times.” DeVon Franklin, Columbia Pictures (Sony) Vice President, preacher and author of ‘Produced by Faith’ discusses the making of the movie Sparkle in the city of Detroit and working with Whitney Houston as Impact Detroit Magazine celebrates the one year anniversary of its making, acknowledging the outstanding work of the many Detroit actors, actresses, stand-ins and extras involved in the making of Sparkle in Detroit.


! !

For twelve years Whitney Houston and Deborah Martin Chase remained passionate about the remake of the movie Sparkle. Their passion and determination to never give up on a remake actually inspired me and I got equally excited. After conversations with Michael Lyndon CEO of Sony Corporation of America, he was really excited about doing it. When someone is so passionate about something, they can make you get passionate about it, too. I had always been a fan of Sparkle (1976) and once we started looking at the story and what the movie was, we saw there was a great film here and we got very excited. Our goals were to maintain the integrity of the story and for the storyline to be inspirational. We wanted to show the challenges that you can face when given a gift by God, but also being able to overcome those challenges. With a faith based film or any type of inspirational movie, we kind-of model reality and as a direct result, show the hope. 
 With Sparkle, to show hope was certainly the goal and we were excited about achieving it. We wanted to show the journeys of three sisters.



Two of the sisters had been given the gift of singing. One sister using the gift in a positive way and the other sister using the gift in a destructive way. We wanted to be able to show the outcome of both. There are always some wonderful unexpected things that occur. You hope that a movie comes together and you hope that it’s good. One of the unexpected things was to see the impact the film had on those who saw Sparkle and how moved they were by the story, the performances, by Whitney Houston’s performance in particular; that was certainly a blessing and to a degree, unexpected. We knew we were planning on it and hoping that the performances would be great, but it is entirely another thing to actually

see it in action. We were very very pleased with the response to the film. As a Hollywood movie-studio executive, I handled the production for the studio. I put the whole thing together. My role as a movie-studio executive is to find great material . . . that is a book, a script, an adaptation or remake of a movie and then to buy it, develop it and produce it. Get it made. My job is to find (faith based) material, movies that hopefully the audience wants to see. It really makes sense to find things that the audience will love, but you never know. Sometimes you can pick wrong, but I get movies made and hopefully see those movies perform at the box office.



We selected the city of Detroit for two reasons. It made sense creatively because Detroit is the genius of Motown which is the soundtrack of America. Given the music in the story it was a perfect fit to set it in Detroit. The tax incentive in being able to shoot more film and a higher quality film made Detroit an added value. The tax break gave us the money back which became a benefit to the production so it was those two aspects that made Detroit seem like it was the right place to film.

production executive, producer location manager had to find the right locations to help bring the script to life. It took only a week select the venues.

The venues in Detroit were great and authentic to the story. The venues were selected based on the scenes in the script. The director, line

Our remake was inspired by the original Sparkle (1976). The biggest change was not killing Sister. We wanted to keep her alive and have her

When it comes to the casting of Sparkle, a tremendous amount of conversation, time and consideration was given to finding the right people for each and every single role. It was very important for us to do this. We felt we had a stellar cast which we were so proud of. Twinkie Bird was the casting director.

Sparkle, Sister getting killed worked, the darkness of it worked for that t i m e period. With the remake of Sparkle, we wanted to take that darkness and have it end, yet be consistent with the original, but try something uplifting. Tonally, we just wanted to try something different and the way people responded to it was proof that keeping Sister alive, really did work.

fan of Bishop so to work on his movies was just an honor. What we at Sony love about Bishop Jakes is that he has so much integrity. He is so inspirational so it is not a hard thing to find movies to help continue to build on who he already is and help him grow. He helps us reach audiences who have previously been under serviced. We are getting ready to start our fourth film with Bishop so four film in about five years, yes, we are very very happy with the relationship and looking forward to continue to making more.

Whitney Houston was just awesome. I had such an incredible time working with her. She was such a light and so much fun; full of life and joking and laughing. Whitney was very committed to the film and very very serious about getting it done and done well. We had a good time in production and pre-production and going to set. Being able to hear her story about being in the recording studio with Elvis Presley when she was a kid and going on tour. Her story, her performance . . . she was just so awesome. I so miss her.

We should be releasing a new movie called, Heaven is For Real in spring 2014. It is an adaptation.

Cheryl Patterson said, “The making of the movie Sparkle in Detroit was just as empowering and inspirational as the movie itself. I totally agree with this statement and I am certain the cast members do, too. It was a journey for all of us involved. Everyone came out of it with a different outlook on life. The people that saw the movie were impacted. We were blessed, too. We love Bishop TD Jakes. We have just such an awesome relationship. I have always been a

I’d like Impact Detroit Magazine readers to know that we remain very committed to faith based movies. There is an audience out there that wants more material. An audience that craves material that has integrity and is inspirational. The success of a faith based film is measured at the box office only partly. It’s the people that are being touched and inspired that is the real successful outcome. That is really what it is about. This is the greatest measure. Inspiring people is how we quantify success. Getting feedback from our faith based audiences helps tremendously. Facebook and email us. We want to hear from you. We want to interact with our faith based audiences. Susan Jones guessed it right, lol. Tyler Perry is certainly someone, I’d really want to work with in the future. -end


Discover more about DeVon Franklin: www.produced by



KERN BRADLEY Thank you for this opportunity to share my music journey and career with Impact Detroit Magazine in this special edition celebrating the one year anniversary of the making of the movie Sparkle in the city of Detroit. Susan, I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be named Music Director for some major talented artists in the music industry. Growing up in Detroit as a kid, I was surrounded by many talented musicians and singers. At age 16, I studied with some of the Motown session players in a summer youth program hosted by Kim Westin. There I met musicians and wonderful people, like the Funk Brothers, Earl Van Dyke, Bean Bowles and Paul Riser, as well as Brainstorms bassist, Lamont Johnson. From there I met Gospel Artists: Thomas Whitfield. He introduced me to The Clark Sisters, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and The Winans Family. Marvin L. Winans (Bishop elect) hired me as Musical Director for their tour and recordings, but it was in Kim Weston's festival, where I learned to deal with several acts at the same time as a musician and director. I was excited about all the wonderful opportunities when I got the call to identify musicians from Detroit for the film Sparkle.

!And because it was being filmed in Detroit, I guess that is how my name came up. I was first contacted by a friend of mine from New York, Michelle Joyce, former Bad Boy Record general manager who referred me to Winsome Sinclair, one of the Sparkle casting directors. Michelle knew me from when I worked as MD for Bad Boy and P. Diddy in NYC. She told Winsome that I would be a great resource to identify musicians here in Detroit and that I was well connected. Lol, when I think about it, I do kind of know just about every musician in Detroit. The casting directors were looking for real musicians to play the role of the musicians in the film. Selecting the band for Sparkle was different from if this was a live gig. I knew it was a film based in 1960s Motown era, so I looked for cats with that look and swag, no dreads or braids, but more of a retro look, I wanted them to be able to play the songs from the film live , but that was not the main requirement. It was all about the look, because the music was prerecorded by studio musicians. I selected the band through auditions, as well as calling many of the best musicians in Detroit from the jazz clubs,Churches, Eastern Michigan and Wayne State University. I contacted bassist Ralph Armstrong who put me in contact with Detroit Federation of Musicians Union Local #5. I also contacted String arranger Paul Riser, who put me in touch with members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Paul and Ralph were great added values to this process.

!And, Susan, I was even asked to play a role in Sparkle as one of the musicians

in a club scene as one of the band members backing Jordin Sparks. But, I could not accept the offer because I’d previously agreed to perform in a television special in New York and couldn’t make any of the filming days for the band. I know your husband Chris is a bassist, too. I think he and I were influenced by the same Motown legendary bassist, James Jamerson. Jamerson had a ‘Motown feel’ in his music. I was attracted to that. Jaco Pastorious. his technique as a bassist really influenced me. Others are, Bootsy Collins and Larry Graham for the funk, Marcus Miller for the tone and style and Nathen East for the pocket and groove, As a MD I am influence by Detroit's Nate Watts MD and bassist for Stevie Wonder. It is who you know first then, what you know. Sure, I wanted to get noticed for my craft. Growing



!up in Detroit, I played jazz at local clubs, while playing at a restaurants in Detroit suburbs with some top musi-

cians like, Kamau Kenyatta,Vassal Benford and Alexander Zonjic. One evening, Detroit Jazz star "Earl Klugh" was having dinner with his manger. They heard me play and invited me to audition for Earl at Bakers Keyboard Lounge in Detroit credited for being the first jazz club in America. I went on to tour with the Earl Klugh band for about 2 years. I also played bass with Grover WashingtonJr., about 4 years. Lot of people do not know this, but I also play keyboards and guitar. When you talk about music mentors Susan, one name comes to mind in my early years and that is Thomas Whitfield. He taught me not only gospel music, but the music business and publishing. Another influence is Grover Washington, Jr. He gave me a chance to play jazz and be featured.


influencers are Vassal Benford and Michael J. Powell for teaching me how to make records. There is Teddy Riley for teaching me the ‘New Jack Swing.’ Greg Philinganes and Uncle Nate Watts for inspiring me to be a musical director. Sometimes as a musician, various parts of your craft can be influenced without you ever knowing it.Musicians must continually update their skills to remain in high demand. This has been one of the reasons, I stay in demand.

!When I am not on a gig, I constantly update my playing as well as technical skills.

Musicians must also network with other musicians in industry. This is something I learned as a young cat. I listened and observed from the best, from legends in music. I learned how to network and to stay relevant with today’s music, and social technologies while still maintaining the integrity of my music style. Susan, I’ve directly worked with hundreds of musicians, Lady Gaga who I am on tour with now, Beyonce, Grover Washington Jr, and The Winans, just to name a few artists your readers might be familiar with. They all have different and unique styles of music and have proven to be very successful in the music industry. I will be in Michigan with Lady Gaga and the ‘Born This Way Ball’ on February 16, 2014 at the Palace of Auburn Hills,as bandleader and bassist. — end



“Detroit has a lot

of potential to come back” -KERN BRADLEY





Baker’s Keyboard Lounge

Filming of Sparkle – Hugh W. Smith III – co owner Bakers Keyboard Lounge The experience was simply lightening in a bottle. First, Sony and the production crew were a group of highly skilled professionals, very user friendly. We enjoyed watching the transformation of the World’s Oldest Jazz Club to a big screen movie set. With the precision of a surgeon, before our eyes emerged a setting for the gambit of stars to perform their roles. Bakers welcomed the actors and actresses into its rich Jazz history. They all embraced the moment, eager and almost regal, but with a synergy, they were down to earth, very accessible and focused thespians. Take after take no complaints, whining, or dissension. Everyone seemed to want to do their best for the good of the project. Mike Epps abilities really were something to behold. Jordan Sparks’ energy and Carmen Ejogo style and grace electrified the set. The community embraced the event spectacular and marveled from every vantage point. The extras were lined around the corner, waiting for a chance to add their contribution to, as we know now Whitney’s’ last performance. What I take from this enormous experience being the Owner of Bakers Keyboard Lounge is this, I have the responsibility to operate and maintain this venue and its legendary history. And now this opportunity to be a part of another historic event humbles my very soul. My faith and my life is truly a testimony of the power of prayer. What’s next? Bring it on… Hugh W. Smith III – co owner Baker Keyboard Lounge

Was two-fold – Eric J. Whitaker - co owner Bakers Keyboard Lounge It was certainly an electric atmosphere from the time the stage crew started to change the decor and pictures the day before the shoot, and the first trucks arrived in our parking lot at 6:30am and began to transform our club with all kinds of wiring and equipment as they started to prepare for the acting crew to begin doing there thing! Both the cast and crew where wonderful to work with throughout the shoot experience, and I can't say enough good things about the location folks I worked with to make it happen here at Bakers! I must say that it was a arduous experience as well, with all the things required to make sure each take came off without a hitch no matter how many takes it took! Sometimes I was bouncing across the bar into the kitchen, running outside to make sure the cast was positioned properly, or working with the techs to make sure wiring was not being disturbed or disconnected. All in all, I would do it again in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself, especially with the wonderful people associated with Sparkles. Thank you Sony for allowing us to be a part of this production!! Eric J. Whitaker - co owner Bakers Keyboard Lounge


Impact Detroit Magazine Remembers

NELSON MANDELA “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment to rest, to steal a view of glorious vista that surrounds me,to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.�

~Nelson Mandela 1918-2013






KOURTNEY'S DREAM COME TRUE Story by Kourtney Taylor/Photos by Rod Murphy

I’m 20 years old, from Pontiac,

camera in hand, and the best resume she could put together for me. For some reason I didn’t believe it would happen, but I knew that I couldn’t live my dream by sitting and waiting, it was worth a shot. I put on some period appropriate clothes and we went to Kinkos to print my new “headshots.” Our timing was perfect because when we arrived at the Masonic Temple, they closed the doors for the day. I listened to the casting directors speak, turned in my headshot and resume, and was

MI. I’ve always had dreams bigger than most people can imagine, but I never knew that I could achieve them until after working on the set of Sparkle. My mother saw an ad in the Oakland Press for a casting call. They were looking for extras to be in the remake of Sparkle, but the call was that day! Because of the short notice I blew it off when she called me from work and told me about it. Besides, I didn’t have head-shots, an entertainment resume, and I could never get ready in time. When my mother got home told to go home and wait. Waiting was the hard part. from work she came with her

After two weeks of waiting I returned to work and tried to forget about it. My excitement turned into discouragement. When I thought it was over the call came! It wasn’t the call I was hoping for. My mother and I were watching T.V. when I was asked to be the utility stand –in for all principle female roles. I had no idea what that meant, so I asked my mother. She screamed “Just say yes!” I did and my journey began! The first day on set I arrived 45 minutes early. The only other people there were food services and the second A.D. Kevin O’Neil (who I didn’t know was a director at the time). He told me “Keep doing what



you’re doing, and they’ll keep you around.” So everyday during one week of screen testing I got there extra early. After that week I thought my job was over, but I was wrong. I received another call asking me to be the stand-in for Jordin Sparks! I thought that was a job that required you to have and agent, do an audition, or know someone at the top to get. I was wrong again! This time I knew what it meant and I couldn’t do anything but accept and thank God! I quit my job that day and went to work on a movie set!




! Filming was an amazing experience. It was even more amazing for me since Jordin and I had something in common. It was both of our first movie! We did a lot of learning together. Obviously Jordin is a lot taller than I am, so I had to do my learning in 6 inch heels. I never knew when my name would be called, so I tried my best to Pictures on location.

Charles H. Wright Museum

g I get nto it the dI ked all dea my s!”

5 r d o e t


keep them on always no matter how was an everyday girl who followed bad my feet hurt. I wanted to be her dreams. Jordin gave me the there so bad that I didn’t even feel inspiration I needed and let me know the pain. There was a lot of ‘ hurry that my dreams can be reality up and wait', but in that time I made without even saying it. To her I say many great connections. Especially thank you! Even though I barely with the other stand-ins. Being from made it home some nights, I would Pontiac, which is about 30 minutes do it all again a million times! ! outside of Detroit, I took a look into After filming I went on a job search the city that otherwise I would have that was cut short because of sudden never taken. I was very observant and “Jordin gave me the inspiration I needed and let me know that my dreams can be took in as much reality without even saying it. To her I say information as thank you!” people would give. Carmen Ejogo was very good about illness. I became extremely sick and that. She didn’t have to but she was found out that I have colitis, and it always humble and generous enough was very serious at the time. After a to share any knowledge that she had. change in diet and lifestyle its easy Jordin was equally as sweet. She to manage and will not slow me even taught me how to use my down! I am now employed at the twitter page! Being around her gave Motown Historical Museum in me so much inspiration. She’s an Detroit, MI. How ironic is that after everyday person on the inside, and it being part of a movie based on the shows! She wasn’t born into fame, Motown era! and it wasn’t just handed to her. She

The news of Whitney Houston’s death was a major shock for me! However I refused to make it a sad moment for me. Instead I decided to be grateful that I could share in the experience of her last film. Not many people at my age can say that they’ve met a legend such as herself, let alone work with her! My entire family gathered and watched her home going service as if we were there. My prayers still go out to her family and friends, and I can say first had that she was an AMAZING woman. She went out of her way on set to make EVERYONE on set feel welcome. ! This journey was one that I never imagined for myself. I didn’t really have the courage to truly believe in myself until I worked with so many amazing people who were just like me when they started out. Their stories and advice gave me the strength I needed to go and get my dreams instead of waiting on them to come to me. I WILL achieve my destiny!

! Special thanks to all the film crew, the entire cast, all the directors, producers, and people who still believe in dreams. To my mother and best friend, Stacia Watkins, words cannot explain how grateful I am for all the faith you have in me, and support you give in all that I do. I love you more than you will ever know! Most of all I have to thank God for everything that he’s done and is doing in my life!












Story by Pennie Marie Hawkins/Photos by Rod Murphy

The Intro

• • • • • •

My Events

Complete-Alex Cross” Premier Brand Ambassador (various brands) Filming “Black Sky”-Student In-Production ‘” Low Winter Son” Filming “Making The Money” as Amber This Must Be The Place

Filmography Http:// Demo Reel Booking Requests Connect penniemarie Follow me @penniemarie1

To actually live in the moment of history in the making is priceless. Let me Sparkle you with my Sparkle experience. As an actress the long await for the casting of Sparkle was finally over. I had anticipated this moment for years. Whitney Houston originally owned the rights to Sparkle and had precast Detroit’s Aaliyah to play Sparkle. After Aaliyah preceded us in death I heard nothing more about the production. Once the buzz of a remake of Sparkle hit the backstage social networks I knew the universe was aligning itself to deliver the desires of my heart. The role for Tammy Anderson (Sister) had not yet been cast. I watched En Vogues “Giving Something He Can Feel” video over and over learning the

choreography and vocals determined to have a principle role on this film

September 26, 2011, Masonic Temple it was almost a year today. I spent all morning rehearsing Giving Him Something He Can Feel” I put on my 60’s dress with my Marylyn Monroe curls and Black diamond cut fur. I was dressed for the part! Ryan Hill and WSA casting were directing the auditions. The audition was a 20-minute speech, snap headshot, submits resume and leave. I recall leaving feeling overdressed and over rehearsed.

The Call Back Life of a Star, hurry and wait as I wait on the call back. Ms. Moe


contacted me to come for a fitting at the Masonic Temple. Upon my arrival I was informed this was a call back for stand-ins. I was confident of my efforts. The directors of photography Luke and Anastos put us in a line up, pointed some fingers, whispered and decisions were made. If our name was called we were to step up and form another line. When I heard Pennie Marie my heart rate was racing. I was officially stand in for Sister the p lead role in which I anticipated on audition for. I held my head up high; at that very moment I was living in divine order. I,”Pennie Marie am standing in for Carmen Ejogo “ I announced with pride it was confirmation of divine order based especially since I recently worked on Alex Cross with her as a Child Protective Service worker, inspired by her talents I could not wait to work with her again.


Sparkle Behind The Scenes My first day on set was spent mostly in wardrobe and makeup trailers. After receiving our call sheets and being booked for 30 days on an A List feature film, I realized my career experiences as an actress were finally paying it forward. Call times were early and days were 16 hours long. It was a privilege to be apart of cast and crew. If you’ve ever been an extra on set not being “cattle call” and eating “crafty services made those 16 hours go by fast. Standing in for Carmen Ejogo has impressionably changed my life in so many ways. I have learned set etiquette, lighting, shadowing, and picked up a few skills from Carmen’s outstanding performance as an actress. I felt like I was reliving the life of Sparkle.

Memorable Moments • My son Gerald Leroy Chauncey Page (10yrs) was cast for 2days

as congregation of the church. We ate lunch and dinner with Mrs. and Mr. Akil, Whitney Houston, Mike Epps, and “The Browns” from “Meet The Browns.” He was chaperoned by my Hollywood Sister Krishaun Peace. We were one happy family those 2days. Jordin ‘Sparkle’ Sparks kissed my son on the cheek and said, "He

• is Adorable."

Jordin ‘Sparkle’ Sparks said to me “Thanks Mom” as we ate

• dinner one night on set I cut her Chicken breast of the bone.

Mike Epps (Satin Struthers) was very comedic in person. The

• irony of seeing him play a serious role was astounding

Derek Luke and his wife were very influential to me. We took

• pictures and Mrs. Luke spoke magic to my ears “See you on the red carpet super star.” She believed in me!

• I told Whitney she was so beautiful and an awesome person! She replied “God Bless You Child”! It was so hard not to swarm her with love and questions. Her voice made me cry.

• I sold hand made winter gloves to Rose, the woman that designed the dresses.

• I met wonderful new friends Martina Harris, Beth Griffin, and worked with many of my Michigan Acting Family on one set.

• Everyone got turned out on chicken shawarmas from Bucharest Grill.


• The most treasured moments were watching first team rehearsals and working up-close with the Directors of Photography and learning what film making is really all about.

Whitney’s Celebration of life February 10, 2012, the day after my birthday I was notified by twitter that The Great Whitney was called home. Twitter fakes an idols death all the time so I turned on the radio and as her strong heart touching voice sung “I Will Always Love You” crocodile tears dripped from my eyes. I was flabbergasted and was stuck in moments of silence. I could only imagine the grief of her close loved ones, for I had only known her for 6 weeks, they loved her their whole lives. Select actors and actresses were invited by Channel 4 news Patricia T. to do a special in honor and remembrance of Whitney and her role in Sparkle. She was warm, loving, kind, and humorous.

The Premier August 17th couldn’t come fast enough for me. I was anticipating a way to go to the premier. Ryan Hill informed me of our special invite from production to Premier Sparkle Red Carpet August 5th in Royal Oak. It was such an honor to be invited to my first A list feature film premier that I was apart of. I sat in front of Charles Pugh with Martha Reeves Aretha Franklin and Keith Washington just a couple seats down. Jordin Sparks introduction of the movie melted my heart, Jordin said to “ Detroit and all the extras we could not have done this without you.” Background acting is not easy, and being publicly acknowledged for me it was priceless.

See Sparkle now on DVD Sparkle was not only filmed in some of Detroit’s most historical attractions and locations but this movie features much of Detroit’s own talent. Not to mention it’s based on a true story with a few director cuts and tweaks. This is an urban film filmed in an historic place that created memories and added quality to the city of Detroit. Its monumental reflections of real life experiences will make you cry, laugh, and love. I am certain you will cherish Sparkle forever.


Martina Harris


MARTINA harris S






















Story by, Martina Harris/Photos by Rod Murphy


Dear Diary


OCTOBER 12 - 31, 2011


The day that I began working on the Set of Sparkle, I received a call from a close friend telling me to run down to Masonic temple. She said its an open casting call for the remake of Sparkle get down there now." So I did just that, with no photos or resume. I knew that when you go to a casting you always bring photos and resume so I was not prepared at all. I didn't even know what role I was applying for. It was just my luck when I got there they were taking photos of everyone so I didn't feel so bad. They took my picture and was thankful and hoped to be in the remake of Sparkle. A few days went by I thought to myself maybe I should have been prepared. Just then I received a phone call from a person by the name of “Moe� which was the casting director for the film. She said to me, "Hello Martina are you interested in being a Stand In, in the movie

Sparkle." I said, yes, but I have a very important appointment that I must attend, she said Look Martina all I need from you is a yes or no." Of course I said yes I will be there. So I managed to make my appointment and get to the second casting call. This casting call the producer and director came out and picked the stand ins that they thought were a perfect fit for the role. So, we all stood in a line with others that were being casted for the same part and other roles as well. I was so nervous but it turned out that they really wanted me for the part. I went home and told my grandmother family and friends all about it.They all asked when do you start, who's in the movie,whats your part. I really could not answer all of there questions. The next day I received an email with the subject line Sparkle Bookings. When I saw that, I was


in a state of shock, it was so many days of work I was so happy. I was in my school library screaming I really got the part people were looking at me like I had lost my mind. I thought how am I going to do the movie and school. I had to make a sacrifice. My first day on set was October 12, 2011, a few days after my birthday. The first scene that I was working on was in the Cadillac building Downtown Detroit. It was such a great feeling. It was really lights camera action. That day I met all three sisters Jordin,Tika and Carmen and of course the crew. I sat in a room full of extras waiting on there time to shine. While I was back and forth on set. I was so tired if I'm not mistaken we stayed there until 5:00am working on set. We stayed at that location for a few days then we moved on to this beautiful home on 7mile and Livernois. Before we went there we met at the State Fair grounds were we had our breakfast from crafty and a wonderful catering company. We all ate together every morning and every night cast and crew became family. We even spent Halloween together passing out candy to the kids going by wondering what was going on. We told them that there was a movie being filmed they were over whelmed. At the home was were I met Mike Epps. We had our words, I told him he looked like a “candy cane” and he told me I looked like a “small squirt of mustard.” We made fun of our color covers which was what we wore. There at the home I also met the director Mr. Salim Akil his wife and kids and they were so loving and cool. After a few days there at the house we moved to the church which was also in Detroit. I kept hearing that Ms.Whitney Houston would be on set. The next day I got

my call sheet and there it was, her name I told Penney Marie, a friend of mind that also worked on the movie set, "Ms.Houston is really going to be on set today." We worked a little and before we knew it there she was. She looked so beautiful, healthy and like a goddess. I could not believe that I was in the same room as her, it was amazing. And for months I worked along side her. One day at the church we were doing a scene where we were hopping in the car to go home from church. So Ms.Houston came to the car door and said Hey you Heffas come on and get out of that car" we laughed and said yes ma'am us Heffas are getting out right away. We would always joke around at lunch time. She always let us know that God was all that we needed. She was a true women of God you would always hear her on set saying, “Thank you Lord" and telling us to praise his name. I loved her


spirit she never treated us like extras or stand in we were all equal in her eyes. I remember one day sitting on the porch of the house next to the church talking to her Manager and she told us to always work hard. I told her about the shoe line that I was coming out with and she told me that children like Will Smiths daughter would love to wear your product just work hard and they will one day. That was real words of encouragement. I created so many bonds with everyone on set. There was also Kim Kimble and her Mom Ms.Jazz they were very pleasant. Ms.Jazz ordered a custom hat from me I was honored to make it for her. I also made one of the guys from the lighting crew some shoes for his new baby girl. I had so many good times on set sitting around laughing and talking with the crew.

perform over and over the song “One Wing� and we cried over and over. It was so touching knowing that we were apart of history. This was not just any movie this was history being made. Every long night was well worth it and would not have know what it would be like

Ms.Whitney Houston would say "All Things Are Possible Thru Jesus Christ." And if you believe that you will be able to accomplish any thing that you put your heart and mind too.

hugged and said we missed each other and hoped to work together again. It was great even Ms.Aretha Franklin came out to join us on this joy filled day. I walked the red carpet and watched the movie that I had worked

We spent a lot time at Cliff Bells were I met Mr. Kem Kemistry he was such a cool person. He would watch us as we stood in for the girls and we would make small talk about my custom shoes and how he wanted me to make some for his daughter. I also ran into Bishop T.D. Jakes he was very inspirational. If I could do it all again I would. Nov2-17 The last days were at the Opera House and the Masonic Temple, they were the most touching days knowing that this would all be over soon. My friend Pennie and I sat and watched Jordin


talking to Ms.Houston and sharing stories with Jordin, Tika and Carmen. Also Derek Luke and Omari were such sweethearts. God blessed me to be there and I believe the saying

After we wrapped I was invited to the wrap party by Ms.Debra Chase but unfortunately I wasn't able to make it. I did make it to the premier and it was outstanding. I had a ball. I saw Jordin Sparks and we

on day and night. It was a total success. I'm glad to say I was apart of it.




Story by, Beth Griffith/Photos by Rod Murphy



WORKING with The Late Whitney Houston I remember hearing about the

casting call for ‘Sparkle’ on the local news and thought to myself “I would never go to that because there will be too many people!” Well, shortly after thinking that, my telephone rang and a friend was calling to persuade me to go. I reluctantly went, and to my surprise there was not an abundance of people there like I had imagined. I was prepared with the usual items that you take to a casting call; a headshot and a bio with experiences and I dressing clean cut and professional with a simple black dress and simple jewelry, although it was requested that we dress in the attire of the period of the movie. There was a simple form that needed to be completed with contact information and all of your measurements and additional talents if any (i.e. singing, dancing, musician).

The casting call went smoothly and orderly and I was back home within the hour with hopes of being cast in the movie as an extra so that I could take part in this historical moment in Detroit history. Now honestly, I had no idea who was starring in the movie and never inquired. I just knew that the original “Sparkle” was amazing and was one of my favorite movies and I was excited to be able to take part in the remake. I knew that Sparkle was a musical and I had hopes of being cast in a musical scene. I received a call about a week later requesting that I be an extra for a particular scene, but I had to decline due to a prior commitment (I was shooting a cover for a magazine) and I remember asking the casting contact to please call me back for something else and that I was very much interested in being in the movie.

One week later, my phone rang again with the call of a lifetime that took my breath away, made my heart stop beating and changed my life forever. I was requested to come to the Music Hall in Detroit for an interview to be the stand-in for Whitney Houston. I was excited and surprised because I didn’t even know she was in to the movie! Whitney Houston! My favorite singer of all time, the woman who I wanted to sing like, the woman who I emulate, the woman who I share the same BIRTHDAY with! This was a dream and I was speechless! I was to be there at 8 am sharp. I showed up nervous, but on time with my stomach in knots and waited six and a half hours and there was no interview! After six hours went by, they eventually called me into a room for the lighting director to look at me and then they sent me home. What?


DETROITACTORS & ACTRESSES November 2012 Houstonquickly quicklywalked walkedpast pastand andthat thatwas wasit!it!Now Nowlooking looking Houston backininretrospect, retrospect,while whilewaiting waitingin in the the hallway for those back those sixand and aa half Mara Brock-Akil, the the six half hours, hours,the thewriter writer Mara Brock-Akil, directorsSalim SalimAkil, Akil,Debra DebraMartin-Chase Martin-Chaseand andthe thelighting lighting directors directorwalked walkedpast pastme meabout about55times. times. I think they were director were makingtheir theirdecision decision then then and II had making hadno noidea ideawho whothere there were.I’m I’msosoglad gladthat thatI Ibrought broughtaabook bookto to read read and and II was were. mybest bestbehavior, behavior,never nevercomplaining complaining about about the wait. I ononmy justwanted wantedtotowork workwith withWhitney. Whitney. just Twoweeks weekswent wentbybybefore beforeititwas wasconfirmed confirmedthat thatI Ihad had Two beencast castasasWhitney Whitney Houston’s Houston’s stand-in. II had been hadno noidea idea whattotodo do as a stand-in a little research so I so I what stand-insosoI did I did a little research wouldbe be prepared. prepared. I learned to do would learned that thatallallI had I had to was do was “stand-in”the theappointed appointedplace place that that the director instructs “stand-in” instructs youororact actout outa aparticular particularscene scenesometimes sometimeswith withlines linesand and you sometimeswithout withoutuntil untilthe thedirector director isis satisfied satisfied with his sometimes visionofof how how the scene ready and and vision sceneshould was I was ready anxiouslyawaited awaited for dayday to see anxiously for the thefirst first toWhitney see Whitney Houston. Houston. Thefirst firstday dayofoffilming filmingfor forWhitney Whitney finally finally arrived, arrived, (( I The wasonly onlyrequired requiredtotobebeon onset setwhen whenWhitney Whitneywas wasfilming filming was whichwas wasapproximately approximately3030days), days),and andI was I wasnervous nervousand and which excited,but buteager eagertotododothe thejob joband andbe bethe thebest bestI Icould couldbe. be. excited, rememberseeing seeingWhitney Whitneyfor forthe thefirst first time; time; she was so I Iremember beautifuland and graceful and like. She She beautiful andstatuesque; statuesque;regal regal like. stood tall tall and said said to everyone “Good “Good stood andsmiled smiledandand to everyone Morning.”I Ithink thinkI Istopped stoppedbreathing! breathing!That Thatwas was Whitney Whitney Morning.” Houston! Houston! Therule rulewas wasnot nottotospeak speaktotothe themain main cast cast during during filming filming The andI abided I abidedbybythat thatrule ruleand andwas wasrespectful, respectful,but butknew knewthat that and


I hadtotofind findthe theright righttime timetotospeak speaktotoher. her.I Iremember rememberthe the I had firsttime time II spoke to usual ‘Good first toWhitney; Whitney;besides besidesthethe usual ‘Good Morning’she shewould wouldgive giveeveryday everydaytotome measasshe shecame cameover over Morning’ herposition positionfor forfilming filmingwhere whereI Iwould wouldbebestanding. standing.We We totoher wereatatthe theIroquois IroquoisAve. Ave.Christ ChristLutheran LutheranChurch Churchfilming, filming, were andWhitney Whitneywalked walkedpast pastme metotogogototocraft craftservices. services. and When she walked past the first time, I made mymind mind When she walked past the first time, I made upupmy that I would speak to her when she came back past to that I would speak to her when she came back past to gogo set.You Yousee, see,a adream dreamofofmine minesince sincea alittle littlegirl, girl,was wastoto totoset. meet Whitney Houston and tell her that we have the same meet Whitney Houston and tell her that we have the same birthday, and I was determined to make that dream come birthday, and I was determined to make that dream come true.As Asshe she walked walked past, andand introduced true. past, IIstopped stoppedher her introduced myself formally and thanked her for allowing metotobebeher her myself formally and thanked her for allowing me stand-in. I then told her it was extra special because we stand-in. I then told her it was extra special because we hadthe the same same birthday. forget her reaction. had birthday.I’ll I’llnever never forget reaction. th. Sheher paused for a “What, we do!” Yes, I said, August 9 “What, we do!” Yes, I said, August 9th. She paused for a momentand andthen thenshe shegrabbed grabbedme meand andhugged huggedme meand andsaid said moment “Oh My! Praise the Lord!” I tightly hugged her back, “Oh My! Praise the Lord!” I tightly hugged her back, thankfultotoGod Godthat thathe hehad hadgranted granted that that wish. wish. Two Two days thankful days later, to my delight and astonishment, one of Whitney’s later, to my delight and astonishment, one of Whitney’s staffmembers, members,Ulysses UlyssesCarter, Carter,came cametotome meto to tell tell me me that that staff Whitney had told them about me and our birthday’s and Whitney had told them about me and our birthday’s and thathe he also same birthday! Whitney was was that also shared sharedthethe same birthday! Whitney talking about me? We all shared the same birthday? Wow! talking about me? We all shared the same birthday? Wow! I am so grateful that God granted a wish that I had grateful that God granted a wishmethat I had heldI inam mysoheart for many years. He allowed to meet held my with hearther, for be many years. Hetake allowed mephoto to meet her,in work in her space, a great that her, work with be in with her space, takethan a great photo that I cherish, and her, converse her; more I could have I EVER cherish,imagined. and converse withwill her;never morebethan I couldHearing have My life the same. EVER imagined. My life will never be the same. Hearing

Working with Whitney (cont...) of Whitney’s passing was and still is a numbing feeling to me. It’s a truth, but I just don’t talk about it. I have AMAZING memories and stories of the fun on set. I have memories of her singing and laughing and smiling. In my mind, I still see Whitney walking around, joking and smiling; full of life. Since I’ve met Whitney, I feel like she gave me a gift. She gave me more strength, focus and drive. More than anything, I know God heard my request, and that in itself means everything to me.


Alvin D. Ford Photo on Location at Charles H. Wright Museum




Actor Alvin D. Ford

Being Chosen


Story by, Alvin Ford/Photos by Rod Murphy

“I thanked God and called my family and friends!” !It was September what I was used to. I 24th 2011 and I had had my wardrobe just received an taken care of and now email from a close I just had to wait until friend that she was my shoot date. helping promote as During my waiting well as help pick out process for the scene that extras for a movie I was supposed to be an named Sparkle. At extra in I was contacted that time I had no by the casting directors knowledge as to to come in for an interview. I didn’t know what this movie was, what the interview was or even what it was for especially since I had about but I knew that already had my fitting to I wanted to be a part be an extra but I was of it. After I decided excited about the that I would attend unknown that I had yet experienced. Upon the open casting call arriving to the interview something had come I was one of the first up and I wasn’t able ones there and there was to go, but fortunately about two other people I had a friend that who had been there knew the casting before me, but eventually there were directors and I was even more people that allowed to submit arrived totaling about my headshot and 15-30. For a while we information. I sat in a waiting area and submitted my although others may information and a have known exactly why Photo on Location at DIA Museum they were there I was short time later I was unsure but I trusted that God was in the works of contacted that I was picked to be an extra in a certain something for me. Finally one of the casting directors came scene, which I don’t remember at this time. Once I out and told us all to come downstairs and as soon as we got received my fitting date to be an extra I was excited down there we were put in a straight line in front of the and hoped to have a really cool costume for the assistant director and I believe the guy over the lighting scene. The day of my fitting as an extra I received department. Then they began to whisper and call people out to step forward after the process was over I had been my wardrobe and it was of course different than called out but I didn’t know if that was a good or bad





thing. Then everyone else besides us select few were told to stay behind while everyone else left. I was excited that I had been chosen but at the time I was very anxious to find out what exactly I had been chosen for. The Assistant director and others came back out and notified us individually what part we had been picked to play a stand-in for. At that moment I found out that I was chosen to be the Stand-In for the character Mike Epps. I was so excited and couldn’t believe it, that I had been chosen for something that I really didn’t even apply for or know was a possibility to be chosen for. At the time I was very excited and happy but also nervous about entering a world that I knew very little about. Especially being in a time where I was extremely busy as a full-time student and very active in different organization inside and outside of school. At the time I had just began my junior year of college as a business major student and also my first term as the Student Government Association President at the University of Detroit Mercy. I didn’t have a schedule of how much I would be needed on set but I was nervous since I was also a full time student. I was also very active in the youth Department at my church, which I still am to this day and believed that no matter what happened that God would be with me. When I found out the news I thanked God and called my family and friends and told them about the awesome opportunity that had been presented. I didn’t really know who was going to be in the movie at the besides Mike Epps, Jordin Sparks, and Derek Luke, but I was excited at the possibility of getting a chance to meet them. My first day on set was so exciting but at the same time intimidating, especially since I still had no experience at what I was about to encounter. The location of my first day was actually a familiar place that was not too far from my University, which was Bakers keyboard lounge. When I arrived on set I had to go straight to wardrobe to get my color cover and head over to the set. I was so nervous and there were a lot of people moving very quickly all around but I knew that I was up for the challenge. The first scene that I was used for was the comedy club scene which was an interesting scene because It was the scene where Satin (Mike Epps) was up doing comedy with some new material that Sister said was funny and his jokes weren’t actually funny. So, Levi was in the audience cracking jokes on him and he got mad and tried to attack Levi in the club. As a stand-in I had to basically do that whole scene as if I was him without the lines. I am kind of a quiet person, so to get into such a dramatic scene as my first scene It started me off in a way that it


Photo on Location at DIA Museum

made all the other scenes pretty easy to do after this one. As a stand-in you have to first have on the proper color cover, which is just having on an outfit or top the same as or similar to the actor or actress you are standing in for, and this is provided by wardrobe. Then we were given small booklet everyday, which I can’t remember the proper name of it at this moment, but it had on the front the call times of all the Cast and Crew that would be working that day. The call time is just the time that you are required to be on set. Along with the call times there were the scenes that would be shot that day as well as the lines for each character in those scenes. So, it gave us the direction basically that we would be headed in for the day. On My first day I saw Mike Epps but didn’t really get a chance to interact with him, but he was a really cool guy. I did get the opportunity to meet Omari Hardwick this day, who played the character Levi. He was a calm guy, He asked me my name as I was pretending to be Mike-Epps in the comedy scene. Sometimes on set as a Stand-In you stand-in with other



BEING CHOSEN cast member’s stand-ins or sometimes you stand in with the actual stars as well. My first day on set was

amazing, although at DIA Museum Photo on Location there were long hours involved I was certainly ready and enjoyed almost every moment of everyday. During the entire duration I had the opportunity to see and meet various cast and crew members. Aside from the other Stand-Ins, who became good friends to me during this time. I enjoyed meeting and talking to the Director Salim Akil, he was a great guy to meet and interact with as well as his wife Mara Akil. I also had the opportunity to see and talk to TD Jakes on set. He was someone that I really wanted to meet, especially since I am very active in my church and watch his ministry on Tv a lot in the mornings. There was one time where he was just giving some knowledge to people on set, as we all circled around him and it was like everything he would say came off as profound and very encouraging and from my remembrance I believe it was. I saw Debra Chase-Martin but never had the opportunity to talk with her. I had the opportunity to interact with Brely Evans a couple of times and she gave a lot of good advice and was a pleasure to meet.

I remember meeting the cast of the three sisters all at the same time. It was a cold day and we where shooting the scenes in Satin’s house where the girls were trying to get sister to leave the house, but Satin walked in and made some comments and eventually got physical by slapping sparkle, which lead to a big fight and ultimately led to death for the villain in the movie. They had us outside waiting to be used of the cast for a while and then some members decided to invite us in the house to where they were being held until it was there time to perform and I thought that was very nice of them to do for us. Once we made it back to the room the Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, and Tika Sumpter were all heading to set with Mike Epps, which was basically a house. So, we sat in the couple of rooms over in this holding room and finally the three girls came back and I meet each of them at that time. Tika Sumpter was nice, but came off as kind of diva-ish at times or seen as not so approachable by us stand-ins at times, but going into the future she was a lot friendlier. Carmen Ejogo was extremely nice and I loved her personality, she was great to work with and meet and was easily approachable. Jordin Sparks was a really nice and down to earth, I loved to be around her because although she is a star she has a humble spirit and was easily approachable. There was a time on set in that same house, where my phone was dead and no one had an I phone charger, but while Jordin Sparks and the other girls were sitting with us she let me use her charger all that day until my phone was fully charged. I thought that act of kindness was really cool and one of my memorable moments on set. Mike Epps was a really cool person to





BEING CHOSEN stand-in for because when you are The greatest moment on set would around him there is rarely a dull probably be the fact that I saw moment. He made a lot of jokes and Whitney Houston on set and was acted crazy a lot especially if there right next to her while she was were a lot of extras or people telling a story about here experience around. His in China. I thought it was personality one of the coolest was needed moments ever to be so on set close in this house with because the one of the greatest set can seem singers of all time. It so tense at was funny because I was times and he just looking at her one would come day and one of the through and wardrobe people told me definitely I probably shouldn’t lighten the look too long. She was mood and very vibrant on set the have days I saw her and to everyone see her interact and laughing. crack jokes with mike While on set Epps behind the scenes I did meet was hilarious. I didn’t or just about get a chance to see her see sing in the church scene, everyone in which I was highly the movie I disappointed because Photo on Location at DIA Museum this was the only day I would say except for Cee lo and Terrence J missed on set due to a big job who were both in the opening scene, interview and I had a replacement and not exactly sure if that scene come in for me. was even shot in Detroit. Also on set I thought it was cool to see Meagan My last day on set was Good, who wasn’t in the movie but of course bitter sweet. I enjoyed was on set visiting with her working on this movie because the boyfriend or Fiancé at the time Sony entire experience was absolutely Executive DeVon franklin who is amazing. To be around so much now her Husband. great talent and see so many stars was very cool. If I had the DeVon Franklin was a opportunity I would definitely do it cool guy to sit down and talk to and again. On the last day it was a very gave some valuable advice to me. long day but I didn’t really want to Especially by him being a successful leave. I had the opportunity to get Christian man in the entertainment my last minute pictures and say my industry, I thought that it was last goodbyes to all of the cast and interesting to talk with him. After crew that I had grown to know. Now one of our talks he told me I should that this was over it was time to check out one of his books and told head back to my normal life as a me about an Internship at Sony that I college student but with memories should check into. I thought that that that would last a lifetime. was a great opportunity and couldn’t wait to check it out. When Whitney Houston passed it was unreal to me especially since I had just seen her just a few months


prior and she seemed to be totally fine. I remember that I was in the movie theatre at Emagine Royal oak, with a lot of my friends and I believe someone received a text that she had passed but no one really wanted to believe it. In fact we thought just was just another rumor, but we soon came to find out that it wasn’t. I started to think, “wow, this can’t be true I was just on set with her.” I can say that I was sad to find out she had passed because she seemed to be so sweet and every time I saw her she was acknowledging God. What was also ironic to me that I just recently realized during writing this information, is that the same exact theatre that I found out Whitney Houston had passed was the same theatre that I saw her again on the big screen for the advanced screening for Sparkle. Which was the first time I had seen the movie all put together. I am truly thankful to God for all of the opportunities that have come out of the entire experience and look forward to even more great things. Currently I am 20 years old, and I will be graduating from the University of Detroit Mercy in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. I am also the President of the Student Government Association, which I was just re-elected for my second term in April. I am also a Presidential Ambassador, Chair of the Presidents Council, Member of the University Strategic Planning Committee, as well as many other things at the University. I currently work as an Employer Relations Assistant in the Career Education Center at the University as well. Outside of the University I am very active at my church where I am the President of the Youth Department, and I love to spend time with my family and friends.

Linda Boston 43

LINDABOSTON ACTRESS VOCALIST Casted to play “Sister Clora�

Prepared, Ready and Patient Story by Linda Boston Photos by Rod Murphy


went through an audition process by way of Productions Plus / The Talent Shop, my exclusive agent representative and the local Pound Mooney Casting agency. It was the standard auditioning process required. First I received the role description study and script sides and then went to a second (call back) audition and


finally the full cast read through. The read through is not what typically happens, but the union allows a few varied audition processes for a film. Not multiple extensive auditions repeatedly, but as varied as the director sees fit. I prepared myself for this role. I memorized the script 'sides' sent to me, and watched the original film. I Looked at the 'styles' of the 60's so that my 'look' upon

auditioning would match that era in makeup and clothing. I believe it was a couple of weeks, or maybe a couple of months that I waited to find out my fate. My normal process is to audition and be the best 'Performer' I can be. Once I audition I released the experience so that I'm not living in anticipation of the past. I've auditioned in the past and may not receive notice of casting for four

Prepared, Ready and Patient to five months later so I was patient but ready for the opportunity. I originally auditioned for the role given to Tamela Mann but I was unaware until the director Salim Akil, told me. In fact, during the read-through with the major cast members I was being considered for one of the other roles as well. By this time, prior to the red-through, I had been given the entire script to read and once I did that, I saw the variations from the original script and all the other potential UN-cast roles. I noticed, while reading through the script, that scene descriptions had been 'modernized' for lack of a better description.

I was so excited, of course that I was casted for this part. I had met the other major cast members during the 'read through' and looked forward to working with them. During my days on set Omar Hardwick and I had great conversations about Detroit, youth and community service in the African American community.

It was great working with Whitney Houston. I told several media people that when we were with Whitney Houston it was like being with your cousin, your sister, your 'home-girl' at the family reunion. She was relaxed therefore, so were we. Not pretentious and at the same time, quite confident, yet approachable. My first encounter with Whitney was at the full script read through. Because I was in the midst of such great artists, actors, and singers, I made a point of introducing myself once the read through was complete. Whitney smiled and I smiled back and I told her that day alone was a blessing to me. She shook my hand and I left. I always remember that if you push for more, you may push yourself out the door. One of my fondest memory of working on the movie set was that I remember some extras talking about something trivial that seemed to bother them and I said something to the effect, "...Now you know y’all reacting too deep about that little bit of something....You need to just drop that now, or


forever let it blow your mind....". Whitney laughed, pointed at me and said, "...Now YOU funny..." We laughed and went back to 'one' to reshoot the scene. Everyone should see Sparkle. Out now on DVD. It's a fresh look at one of our culture's favorite movies. Sparkle (1976) Mike Epps does such a MAGNIFICENT JOB that when you see him, alone, you'll be impressed. Jordin and the other cast members were WONDERFUL..and

Whitney....well she's the icing on the cake of this movie. You'll NEVER forget her or the others as they move through this story. And of “Whitney laughed, pointed at me and said, 'Now YOU funny’

course, to compare and contrast it to the original is a great exercise for any artist. More importantly...they hired tons of local talent. That alone is a great chance for you to see the 'familiar' faces, place and things. Working with the directors Salim Akil and Debra Martin Chase was GREAT and an HONOR and something I’ll never forget they


embraced my talent, and shared with me that they had studied my body of work, which is something they did not have to do. I truly look forward to working with them

again, as the Holy Spirit and Divine Order would have it be.



Casted as “Stix’s Opponent”


Robert Forte Shannon III Photos by Rod Murphy

Robert Shannon, Sr. (7even’s father) was a basketball coach at Cass Technical High School. 7even played under his father which was incredibly exhausting.7even felt that his father was too hard on him. Later, during his adult years, 7even would realize, it was just what he need-ed to discover his purpose in life. 7even soon found himself in the theater department at Cass Tech. This is where he caught the acting bug. IDM: How were you introduced to the film industry ? 7even: When the film industry came back to Michigan, I decided I was not going to let them throw a party on my front lawn and I not be invited!

IDM: Have you had any formal training? 7even: Yes. I have been trained by some of the best in the business. Marilyn McCormick at Cass Tech. She was the most instrumental and played a dramatic role in my growth. She began training me early. I was most surprised to learn, she was just a hard on as my pops was. So, we affectionately call her 'drama momma' because she pushed us to the limit. Sparkle really impacted my life. I was blessed to get a role and get screen time, as the character who was Stix's (Derek Luke) opponent. Lol, uhm . . . I get the bad guy roles a lot.


My natural talent allows me not to force anything. I get into character by easing into it. There are moments people just go with the flow. I’ve been taught how to adjust and flow. So when the producer says “action” I’m ready to just kick butt. With acting there is a lot of waiting for your scene to be up. Regardless if it is time to do all emotions or not, it’s time to go. IDM: During the filming of Sparkle how many takes were needed for your part? 7even: For the most part we all flowed together. My character was only supposed to have one line, but they ended up shooting me with three lines. We ended up doing two or three takes at a couple of different angles till we got what they were looking to capture. IDM: You are a singer and a bandleader. Let’s talk about that. The name of the band is United Souls. Our music is very mixed. It’s Reggae, Funk, Hip Hop and Pop all mixed together, lol. I would consider my music more underground.

IDM: Tell us about the wonderful Hallmark film with Laurence Fishburne called

Have a Little Faith which was filmed in Detroit, as well.

7even: Yes based on a true story. It's about two clergymen, one of them was pastor....Ryan Hill did a great job casting me in Have! a Little Faith and Sparkle. IDM: What was your first film

7even: Detroit 187 was my debut. There are other movies in my immediate future and a live album with the band. Just got to make time to accomplish it all. – end.


Rod Murphy Photography


DIANE BERRY Diane Berry, a native of Detroit, has been designing clothes for 27 years.

She’s married with mother of three. She began designing clothes for hair shows produced by her brothers, John and James Gooden, both well known hair stylists. As a child, she’s always had a passion for fashion and her own unique style. Diane is a self-taught designer, which she believes is a gift from God.


Her design aesthetic is couture, elegant, one of a kind, and chic. She's a very hard worker and she believes it’s never too late to accomplish all of your dreams and goals. Diane Berry did several local shows in Detroit to get her name known. In 2010, she entered her first big show in Detroit which was


the Walk Afterwhich, Diane received a lot of “feedback and great responses”. She then entered Styles In The City fashion show which also took her to the next level. In 2011, Diane Berry was the winner of the first ever Fashion Design Competition of the African World Festival. Naima Mora, winner of cycle 4 of America’s Next Top Model was one of the judges. Diane won a trip to New York to the Mercedes Benz fashion week. After her winning, Diane had the opportunity to feature all three entrants into the African World Festival to be displayed at the Charles H. Wright Museum.

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Diane then received opportunities to show her designs in magazines. Her designs were shown in Blac Magazine, where one of her gowns was displayed on the cover.


In March 2012, Diane Berry came out with her spring/summer collection and showcased it at E. Rollins meet/greet and Fashion Preview at the Detroit Institute of Arts. She showcased a total of 12 gorgeous pieces. Diane Berry’s amazing designs were then featured in The Detroit Fashion Week, where she showcased her spring/summer 2013 collection. DFW had a wonderful outcome Diane had a great show, all of the models did an excellent job. Diane Berry is currently working on a new collection for upcoming shows. She continues to stay focused while giving women the opportunity to bring out their inner beauty through her designs. Diane’s designs will defiantly give women confidence and make the feel good about themselves. She is looking forward to working with buyers and taking her work to the next level.

Note: In this one year celebratory issue, all the gowns and clothing worn by the Sparkle stand-in actressess are Diane Berry originals.


Holi-daze !

I didn’t need a calendar to know that the holidays were coming. Every street corner with light poles were getting dressed in their annual garland outfits That could be seen from miles away. Every type of store from convenient to departmental was now switching to seasonal holiday items. And if that wasn’t enough, I could not turn on the radio without hearing a holiday song played at least once every hour on the hour.. It’s only November… And like my shadow, I could not get away from the holidays…so I decided to plan an internal boycott Putting my “game face” on to deter holiday greeters and carolers as if I had on invisible blinders Walking around making no eye contact as much as I could possibly stand it, Because I allowed my hurt to lead the way, But it didn’t work. As cold as it was starting to get outside, nothing compared to the freezer inside my heart And the song in my head, thanks to Al Green “I’m so tired of being alone”… And not ready to face another holiday Alone…Again My life had experienced changes in the year that I can’t believe I survived: Deaths, breakups, disappointments… But God… My silent nights became “Holy Nights” and I begin to appreciate that “All was calm, all was bright” Jesus IS the reason for the season His light begin to come alive in me Shining through the fog of frustration, His LOVE dissipates anger It’s morning.. And the pain of the holiday was conquered with words of faith, I spoke my healing out LOUD-True deliverance is such a good feeling! Mountains of depression were removed at the sound of my voice, Cancellation notices for every “pity party” invite were sent out immediately, And my friends, my family and even strangers were now able to see The God in Me! My days are no longer in a “daze” Aimlessly living out loud through the crowd of Holiday ambiance Jesus became my Joy again My Love through the holidays And Everyday… !


Charlene Evans ©Copyright November 2013


CHICCY BARITONE- POET CHICCY BARITONE is not content with being the last in line.

She has strategically moved her way to the front of the line where she maintains a strong presence. Introduced to the poetry circuit in 2001 and affectionately named, “Chiccy Baritone” (Pronounced “chick-y”) Charlene Evans lives up to the full meaning of her stage name - Chic, wellput together (spiritually and emotionally).


uses her deep melodic alto voice to share her life stories in poetry form with much authority! Her work can best be described as spiritually grounded, filled with real life situations and God-filled solutions.

CHICCY BARITONE resides in Greenville,

SC and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from South Carolina State University. She moved Upstate to begin her journey into adulthood while working in the corporate arena.


knows this is only the beginning of where God is extending the use of his Word in her as His vessel. She won’t be the last, but her prayer is to leave a challenging word in your heart and soul, long after she has left the stage. Poetry is life. Chiccy Baritone speaks life. What is life or Chiccy without poetry?


NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS • Debut CD “Next In Line” - 2004


Sophomore CD “Wildflower” – 2012

Performer for ‘11th Annual Young Entrepreneur Conference,’ Auntie Karen Foundation, Benedict College – October 2013

Featured Monthly Writer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Social Media Site, Ransom – 2011, 2012

Featured in G Magazine, “Saved By the Written Word” – March 2009

Performing Artist for Billy Graham Ministries Annual “Rock the River Tour” – 2009

Opening Act for Michelle Obama, Women’s Conference, Columbia, SC - May 2007

IMARA Woman Magazine cover and feature article - March/April 2007

MetroBeat Magazine, “Hip Hop: Chiccy Baritone – Upstate poet’s world outreach with spoken word” July 2006

Voted ‘Best New Poet’by Las Vegas Poets Society – 2005

Featured in Greenville Magazine, “Young, Gifted and Black -16 African Americans changing the face of Greenville” – 2005

South Carolina State University (SCSU) Review Magazine, "Distinguish Alumni under 40" - Winter 2004-05

Creator/Producer of annual all woman poetry showcase, “R U Skooled: From a Woman's Perspective-Poetically"

Performing Artist for Bishop I.V. Hilliard’s Reunion Sunday Family and Friends Festival – October 2013

Featured writer in Impact Detroit Magazine, DeVon Franklin issue – 2013 Holiday Edition

Guest artist on Carolina Now aired on WYCW Channel 62 - TV Now November 2013


Chiccy Baritone's poetry breathes hope, whispers change, while simultaneously calling you to be proud of who you are. - Marlo "Radiant" Hogue, International Music Songwriter/Composer/Vocalists



Jawanza Kobie would simply like to be known as a composer in the truest sense of the word. Ever since he was young boy he idolized the music of Beethoven, George Gershwin and Aaron Copeland and he began learning to notate his compositions at nine years of age. Born and raised in West Philadelphia, he started taking piano lessons in his neighborhood at age six after his mother discovered that he could replicate on his own what his older brother had been taught in his piano lessons right after his brother had finished practicing.
 As a teenager, he continued his education in music at the famed Settlement Music School in Philadelphia where he was first introduced to structure and the rules of composition. At this time the musical influences that he heard on the radio and records of the day were impossible to ignore. Jazz music had always been a dominant force in his development ever since his father introduced him to it at a very young age. However, funk, soul, pop, rock, and even folk made a major and indelible impact on this musical young man. His early influences began with Oscar Peterson, Ramsey Lewis, and Bobby Timmons in jazz piano and later Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Art Tatum. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, James Brown, Motown, Atlantic, and Stax recording artist, Sly and the Family Stone as well as Quincy Jones and other film composers were and still are an inspiration. His current influences have grown to include Hip-Hop beats. He has written music for the “Freedom Theatre” (in Philadelphia) plays and musicals and toured briefly with their productions.
 Jawanza would later enroll and earn a Bachelors degree in music majoring in composition at the well known Berklee College of Music in Boston Mass. There he would front a jazz/funk thirty piece big band playing his original compositions that bore his name. This band would perform concerts and play in theatre productions in the Boston area. Members of the big band went on to greater heights in the music industry. Some on their own, others as educators, playing with jazz legends like Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, and others.
 After Berklee, Jawanza taught music in public schools, as well as did session and copyist work for artists on Warner Brothers, and Philadelphia International records. He also played and toured with singer Billy Paul. It was around this time jazz drummer and vocalist Grady Tate took an interest in his talent and became a mentor to him and would come to his recording sessions while in New York City. Later, Jawanza was signed to Alpha International Records as a songwriter and producer where he would work with some of the top writers and producers in the area like Nick Martinelli.
 Always wanting to score for film and television, he ultimately got the opportunity to hone his skills on many independent projects in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. He has had music aired in various venues on PBS, as well as television and radio stations in Philadelphia and Chicago.
 Writing strong memorable themes and melodies is this composer's ultimate objective. As the familiar cliché has been used to describe many, Jawanza feels that writing and creating music is like breathing.


Rochelle Owsley Column I

HIGHLY FAVORED Rochelle Owsley

God has always sent me signs that HE was indeed ORDERING MY STEPS, childhood to adulthood and throughout my career. My grandmother taught me early on, if someone does something nice for you, they deserve a “Thank You” card. While a graduate student at Northwestern University, I prided myself on exploring African American businesses and their unique marketing niche. One of my projects focused on Johnson Publishing Company’s EBONY Magazine. To gather inside information and latest launch techniques, I would often call Ms. Linda Johnson Rice’s senior administrative assistant (Ms. Boyd) to solicit information and benchmark findings, always thanking her for her assistance. Upon completion of my project, I sent Ms. Boyd a thank you card and inserted my graduate school business card. When I completed my graduate degree, one of my prayers was to one day work at Johnson Publishing Company with the late, great John H. Johnson. Years past and one day I heard of an opportunity that would change my life. EBONY Magazine was looking for a marketing director. After applying and completing numerous, in-depth interviews with Mr. Johnson and his daughter, Ms. Linda Johnson Rice, along with senior staff, I was offered to lead the nation’s first and largest African American magazine’s marketing efforts and interact with Mr. Johnson and Ms. Rice on a daily basis. A dream come true, an answered prayer! After working there more than a year, one day I get a call from Ms. Boyd, who is still Ms. Rice’s assistant asking me the question, “Rochelle, are you the same Rochelle that went to Northwestern?” I replied, “Yes mam.” She continued, “And did you used to call Ms. Rice’s office occasionally for information regarding Johnson Publishing and its entities?” Now curious to see where this was going, I replied, “Yes mam.” She sighed and said, “I was cleaning out my desk and came across your business card and a thank you card that you sent me a long time ago. “Do you remember?” “Yes,” I answered. “Well you should know that I kept that card all these years because out of all the people that called wanting information all the time, you were the only one that sent a THANK YOU card!” Now you must know my spirit was leaping all over the place, because from that moment, the dynamics of our relationship changed into one of increased appreciation and favor. Although I was at the height of my career, in private, during the following years, were some of the most devastating times in my life - - finding out my husband was addicted to crack cocaine leading to my marriage ultimately ending in divorce. I praise God for allowing me to work in an establishment that was supportive and loving not based upon anything I had done, but because of God’s grace, mercy and favor! It is because of adversity, I am who I am and God has shaped and molded me for HIS purpose. This is just a little about me, but I want to hear from you as this column will be used to shed light on your challenges in hopes that they inspire you to: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SECOND GUESS GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE, REALIZE SETBACKS ARE REALLY SET UPS and to DREAM and DO WHAT MAY SEEM TO OTHERS AS IMPOSSIBLE, KNOWING THAT ALL YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST . .

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Rochelle Owsley Column I

HIGHLY FAVORED WITH ROCHELLE OWSLEY FEATURED IN IMPACT DETROIT MAGAZINE Now that you know a little about me and my triumphs and trails, I’d like you to check back in 2014 when I launch my new column right here inside Impact Detroit Magazine called Highly Favored with Rochelle Owsley. It is my hopes to INSPIRE you to DREAM beyond your imagination, BELIEVE in God’s purpose for your life - against all odds. Create a divine roadmap to your DESTINY. My column is created to ultimately EMPOWER your spiritual journey and encourage you to examine your personal IMPACT that fuels your purpose, calling, commitment and passion as God’s HIGHLY FAVORED. This energizing and engaging column builds its foundation on the popular Bible Scripture, “Faith without works is dead,” found in James 2:14-26. For those who believe “With God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE,” yet at times fall victim to procrastination, defeat, depression, haters and other ills that sap our energy and re-route our journey. HIGHLY FAVORED with Rochelle reminds you who you are in Christ, share powerful testimonies of VICTORY, help identify your goals and PURPOSE, and empower you to work and accomplish your personal and spiritual goals as you strive for excellence on earth AND entrance to the KINGDOM. Knowing no matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been, what you look like, where you’re from, what you’ve been through or where you’re going, YOU ARE HIGHLY FAVORED! For me, the best part about this column is hearing from you! Will you join me and take the ‘HIGHLY FAVORED Challenge’ in preparation for 2014? Start a journal and begin to work on and write: •

3 things you want to accomplish before the New Year and why

2 things you want to start at the beginning of the New Year and why

1 thing you want to accomplish by the end of the 2014 and why

When you send your ‘HIGHLY FAVORED Challenge’ journal entries in (no attachments please unless a pic) include a picture I can share in my column which may also be used on our website, publications, as well as promotional materials. Please contact me at and tell me what topics, news events and public figures are of interest to you and why. Write me! I want to hear from YOU. Come on, you can do it! YOU ARE HIGHLY FAVORED. A very special thank you to my public relations and marketing partner, Cheryl Patterson and Universal Xperience for establishing this amazing linkage with IDM. “See You at the Top!”™



Note: In this one year celebratory issue the hair styles worn by the Sparkle stand-in actressess are desgined by John Gooden.


ALISON MILLS NEWMAN 'The Charmed Life of Alison: Filmmaker, Author, Actress and Minister'! by Cheryl Patterson

On the writing skills of Alsion Mills Newman and her first book Francisco, Nobel Prize recipient and noted author, Toni Morrison says, Alison is a gifted storyteller who writes with beauty, power and purity about a woman. In this two-part feature, Alison shares from her heart and allows our readers to travel through her child-hood and early influences. She shares life as a teenage starlet on the TV shows, JULIA and The Leslie Uggams Show, faith and spirituality, new films, books, love, her late husband and lots more; all to inspire you. So, this holiday, slow down and take a moment to become reacquainted with a true sweetheart and kind-spirit, who has made remarkable life achievements while staying modest, growing in grace and yes, charm. But, before I open the doors to the heart of Alison, I want to create awareness about important background and current information.


Alison was that spunky hip teenage babysitter we’ve all come to love and well, you'd hold your breath because you just never knew what she might say next! As a child actress she played opposite thee Diahann Carrol who played Julia. The NBC TV show JULIA is credited with being the first prime time V show featuring an African American female in a lead role. Alison became a regular cast member of JULIA as Carol Deering, the babysitter. Remember The Leslie Uggams Show? Alison went on to be a regular cast member playing Leslie’s hip outspoken sister, Oletha. By the age of 16, Alison had achieved what most adults had not; being part of the main cast on two popular TV shows! Currently, you can watch JULIA on the UP TV Network formerly GMC. That was Hollywood. These days, Alison is in Atlanta where she has extended her brand and is an independent film maker making movies like her upcoming movie The Tree Widow which was recently screened at the Twin Cities Black Film Festival, September 26-29, 2013.

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With a B.A in Theology from St. Stephens University, Alison is no stranger to being effective behind the camera, as her first feature length film was Virgin Again. Alison served as executive producer, writer and co-star of the award winning independent film written and directed by Francisco Newman, her late husband. Virgin Again was featured at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, so we are certainly expecting the same if not more successful and meaningful outcomes for The Tree Widow. There is some buzz about this powerful film The Tree Widow . It earned the coveted Silver Award at the 2013 Philadelphia International Film Festival. The short version of The Tree Widow made its television debut on Wednesday March 13, 2013 on the AIB Television Network In my review of the short film, The Tree Widow is about a widow named Sarah who finds peace walking among trees. She finds herself experiencing a sort of recession. During this period, Sarah feels compelled to open her home to other women in need of a place to stay and in desperate need to learn and better themselves from her life experiences. These women all learn from Sarah through the sharing of their relationship heartbreaks and strong viewpoints, that often-times clash.Sarah finds herself in the middle of it all and tries to help them make better life-choices. ALISON TALKS ABOUT HER UPCOMING MOVIE,THE TREE WIDOW I’m asked a lot, why did I make a film like The Tree Widow. Let me try to explain. In creating The Tree Widow, I wanted to do an intelligent, mature film about a widow (Sarah) dealing with loss. Many widows I know have turned to alcoholism and other forms of self-destructive behavior at the loss of a husband. It’s a secret in a way and not really dealt with a lot in films. I wanted to show the struggle of the loss of a husband, a lover and a best friend. In my character’s case, Sarah married a wonderful and loving man. How does someone adjust to the loss of the romantic relationship, the intimacy, the sexuality, companionship and friendship?

I wanted to show the struggle of the loss of a husband, a lover and a best friend. In my character’s case, Sarah married awonderful and loving man. How does someone adjust to the loss of the romantic relationship, the intimacy, the sexuality, companionship and friendship? Many times when a husband dies, a wife may die soon after or vice versa. Sarah finds solace in nature. Many of us do and people often go to the ocean for peace or listen to music and go hiking in the mountains. My character finds a positive way to deal with the loneliness and loss of her husband. And, she also takes into her home women in need because of their own relationship issues. This however is to the disdain of Sarah’s friends.

61 Filmmaker

As a middle aged woman, Sarah thinks it is impossible for any decent man to be interested in her because of her age. She thinks she is too old to love again, only to be presented with the age old fascination or fetish many younger men develop for older women. This is new and amazing for Sarah. This younger man (Wardell Richardson) comes into her life and wants to be intimate! What the heck, lol! Because of her faith and love for God, she resists him, yet she also longs for him, too. She finds, she doesn’t quite know how to handle it and it becomes a struggle on so many levels. Human beings struggle with their convictions and faith, and I wanted to express that struggle, the desire to live right, the opportunity to do wrong… and the weakness for it all, without the power of prayer. The various and diverse women that Sarah invite to her home, have personal conflicts, conflicts with each other and conflicts with Sarah and her strong convictions. DRAMA…but at the end of the day, because of a spirit of love and Sarah’s wisdom in handling different personalities…the women bond and find a common humanity.

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It was all birthed in prayer. I asked, “What, will you have me do Lord?” I moved to Atlanta and this is a place of Trees. I did some studying on trees and rediscovered their life giving qualities in nature. I still didn't know I would get an idea about a widow who is a little flamboyant (very different from me. I'm a plane Jane, lol) yet, devoted to God in a holy true way. I didn't want the character of Sarah to be 50 years old or older and given up on life and living a mournful life. I wanted a kind of brave woman, vulnerable, kind, but don't take no mess. I wanted her to minister without really knowing she was…just living her spiritual life out naturally...she has a reason to live and she would consider it cool


and a learning experience to open her home and share her life experiences with women.


In the movie, when the women get together, we talk and debate about relationships, men, single or married. Most movies have the secular point of view, but what about God’s point of view. Sarah is indirectly teaching God’s way from her behavior, in a house filled with women who are filled by the ways of the world instead of the ways of God.


The more I prayed, I thought about Paul 1 Cor. telling us in chapter 7:2 to avoid fornication let every man have his own wife and let every wife her own husband...let the husband render due benevolence to the wife and vice other words, be kind to one another, faithful to one another; sexually, mentally, emotionally… So, how do you teach this to a few unteachable women, hurt and wounded by mistakes and sins? How do you share with women who think its normal and acceptable to go to bed with a man that isn't your husband, but your boyfriend without them thinking your crazy in an entertaining way? We'll there are lots of answers to that. My answer is The Tree Widow!


So many men and women need to know of God’s way of waiting to have sex. So much brokenness in the world because of disobedience and/or lack of know much healing and protection could take place if men and women change their ways and came back to God and listened to Him and surrendered to His way of love. I'm a living witness that wholesome family, through thick and thin sticking together and teamwork, love is, somehow The Tree Widow was born. !


ACTING, MIA FARROW, FRANK SILVERA AND FASTING The only TV show I remember with people of color when I was a child was Amos and Andy. I didn't know that my mother had acted in high school and college. During my childhood, most actors were not people of color and I don't remember Black women being on TV. I originally wanted to be a scientist like my dad, but early on I would get alone by myself and act out love stories about being a princess or something. As I grew, I discovered writing and poetry and then there was Peyton Place on TV with Mia Farrow and Ryan Oneal. Somehow some strange identification was formed, artistically. When I saw Mia Farrow, I saw me...I understood that I wanted to act like Mia Farrow. I lost interest in science and told my parents I wanted to be an actress. My father, protective as he was, was of course, against it. Dad made it clear that as far as he understood the lifestyle of an actress, it was equal to prostitution.


He clearly thought actresses lived a life he didn't want for me! I was about 11 years old when I made my desire known and I’m not sure I knew what a prostitute was, lol, but I figured it wasn't good. My mother on the other hand was on my side. I didn't know it, but she had been in some local plays and my dad didn't like it because she kissed on one of the actors, lol. From what I understand, he stopped her from acting, I guess. Mom told him that he

wouldn't stop me. She tried to persuade him, somehow to let me try. He said no for the longest and I went on a food fast. I didn't eat for a week! Finally dad relented. Now, don't ask me how I decided to protest by not eating because I really don't know!! So, mom did research and discovered an acting studio in Los Angeles on Robertson Blvd. The Theater of Being directed by Frank Silvera, a legendary Black character actor of great success. He worked in Hollywood in many major motion pictures and was one of the most wonderful men in life I ever met. Their at his acting classes I studied with Maya Angelou, Bea Richards, Yaphet Kotto and so many beautiful people and actors who embraced me as a child. In our workshops. I was exposed to Shakespeare, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, etc. The beauty of our gifting and our beauty as a people were celebrated. All people were celebrated. It was a loving and encouraging time in my life and an encouraging place, creatively to be.

Acting was not for celebrity or fame or fortune, but for creating powerful stories that could help humanity see themselves and grow. It was a very artistic, brilliant environment. My Father drove me to rehearsals, watched me work and perform. He let me know he was proud of me. Dad became my biggest fan!

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DIAHANN CAROLL, JOHN WAYNE, LESLIE UGGAMS AND SAMMY DAVIS, Jr. This was a very amazing time period. Martin Luther King, Black is Beautiful, Free Love, Sexual Revolution, Civil Rights, Civil Unrest and Riots. Hollywood opened up to the times and there were new and exciting opportunities that were desolate almost prior to. My mother raised me with a love for all people and a concern as well for my own people. When Hollywood called and I got the part, Mom wanted me to know that people suffered for our opportunities and freedom and for me to be grateful and humble. Hal Kantor created this TV show at such a great and important time in history. Silvera got a call for a Black female teenager and off I went to the audition, my dad driving me and encouraging me. He had become my biggest fan after so much opposition. I’m sixteen at the time and somehow I got the part during the first audition. They liked me right off. I did a screen test and met Diahann Carroll! She was lovely inside and out. She was gorgeous and very elegant. Just a gorgeous woman, kind and wonderful. I was filled with admiration and we worked well together. She be friended me. I visited her home occasionally and met her amazing daughter. What a great, great lady!

!I starred in a TV special with John Wayne and Valerie

Harper on a show called Rap Up. Rumor has it that Sammy Davis Jr., on The Leslie Uggams Show just to meet me, lol. Wow, every artist of the day was on the show. I was a presenter for the Image Awards beside Denise Nicholas from Room 222. She was gorgeous. Billy Dee Williams! Anybody remember The Mac starring Max Julien. Max was a friend from my acting classes with Slivera. Max and I are friends still. Vonetta McGee who passed in 2010 was amazingly kind. Maya Angelou and I were in a play together as well as Bea Richards. My mom use to invite Maya Angelo over for dinner, Bea Richards, Cindy Williams from Laverne and Shirley who was a great friend to me and my roommate. Yes, Cindy was a great friend. I loved working with the beautiful down home girl and elegant star rolled into one, Leslie Uggums (Roots). It was so much fun. We rehearsed every week and filmed on Sunday before a live audience at CBS studios. It was a variety show. Funny thing is I ended up being cast for the show because, I actually was helping out a male friend wanting to get the part of Leslie’s husband. The audition was for him, not me. I walked in with no shoes and jeans on, not caring how I looked. The producers wrote me into the script as Leslie’s kid sister Oletha!! The show was much fun. Leslie was a true sweetheart. I loved her and felt safe with her. She was very good to me. Leslie Uggums is a true joy...just a wonder full lady.


The Leslie Uggums Show is credited with being the first TV network variety show to feature an African-American host since the Nat "King" Cole Show.

Visit to discover more about Alison Mills Newman. Watch the trailer for both the short and the movie. Please support Alison’s effort to make quality entertaining faith based films by purchasing the CD or downloading the short version of The Tree Widow. Invite Alison to visit your Church or school to discuss the powerful themes in The Tree Widow and screen the short film, too. This is a great outreach tool for your congregation, singles and women ministries alike.



GOD, SPIRITUALITY AND CHILDREN I think most of the women in this world, are very much like the woman at the well; five husbands, looking for satisfaction alone in the natural and with perhaps, a little understanding of spiritual things and not considered too much by the world, surrounded with classism, racism and all these isms that separated the Jews from the Samaritans, during the time of Jesus Christ. Man has all these boundaries and clicks to separate, but God says we are all one, no respect of persons. What I do know is the world does not satisfy and that human relationships are beautiful and important, but that it takes a right mind and heart to be a good human friend. That goodness comes from God and we need Him in order to obtain this goodness. Women and men search for satisfaction everywhere else, but in Jesus Christ. If we can daily spend time with Him in His word, praising His name, in His spirit, we will have the grace for the race and fly above troubles and situations and isms. God will fulfill us, then we will be able to be a blessing to others. It remains simple, love God and love our neighbor as yourself. Come see a man who told me all things about myself. . . I feel like that woman by the well, years ago touched by God in Hollywood when I was lost, looking for fulfillment in all the things of the world. I have never forgotten what God did for me. I will never forget how He set me free. God is real. My sister played a huge part in my life and influenced me spiritually. I am inspired by Martin Luther King, the Bible and beautiful gospel music, fasting, praying and just the honor of meeting amazing Christian people of established grace and kindness who poured their love, prayers and hospitality into me. My sister is key because when I was lost and fame had not done what they said fame would do, she came to me boldly and told me I wasn't living right and I needed to read the Bible and get right with God. She didn't hold back and I am grateful to her to this day for having the guts to care and the love of God to witness to me. I must add that I took my sister’s advice and starting reading the Bible. I don't think I really ever read it even though I did go to Church as a child. Reading the Bible began to heal and mend all the brokenness in my life that fame and fortune did not soothe. The words of Jesus Christ touched my spirit in ways I can only say is a miracle. The hardness or ignorance of living without a relationship with God through Christ was slowly revealed to me. His words truly brought life to me at the age of 24. I never have been too impressed with man anyway, perhaps because there was a lot I didn't understand when I went to Church as a child. So much seemed unlike what God would want people to be like. As a child, I looked at people which eventually proved to be disappointing. To read that God is love, for those words to stand up and jump out on the page with light, changed me forever. I looked for love in men which resulted in disappointment and not that love between humans is not important, it is. We must work to love our neighbor as ourselves. But, I had to learn that Christ must be my first love. I suddenly had a new direction. God is love! I try to this day to remain focused on my relationship with God and His Word. This helps me love, to choose to even love enemies or folks that do not treat us right. It’s a blessing to give it to God to know I can let go and let God. To know I have a heavenly Father who cares for me even when I am not right, not my best. He died so I can humble myself and receive forgiveness. My prayer is for Christ to remain my influence. Please Lord. I have five beautiful children. Four boys who are adult men, now. All lovely and positively engaged in life. Employed and citizens making contributions to society, working hard to achieve great things. My lovely sons watched their father, Francisco Newman, love God and His Word, love me, love his children, love people, work hard, persevere and never give up. I’m thankful they had a good caring and strong father. My sons are all beautiful caring people in their way. My daughter, Leaf is the only lovely girl, a woman now with a child and wonderful husband (photographer David Seeney) of her own who cherishes her. Leaf is a popular guitarist, songwriter and singer. She penned two songs for The Tree Widow for which I am very grateful. She is a great talent. What a blessing. It is amazing to me to live to see them find spouses and birth children. I don't take any of it for granted. I have delightful grandchildren that shower me with love. Beautiful daughter in-laws and 6 grandkids. — end

65 Filmmaker


Coming To Theaters Summer 2014

Think Out Loud

by, Darrell Patrick




id you know there is something valuable in you? There absolutely is! Many of us don’t get to realize our true value because we don’t understand the processes that create value. Let’s take a look at how some of the most valuable things in nature are created.

the shell. In response to the irritation, the clam secretes calcium carbonate and conchiolin to cover the irritant. This secretion process is repeated many times and when it hardens, it produces a pearl.

In your life, while simply going through your day-to-day routine, you may find that an irritant has ~Darrell Patrick~ appeared. Something or someone that is a constant source of Pearls are made in aggravation for you. Maybe it’s a relative or a boss or a job clams. As you know, clams have assignment, it may even be a friend two shells with an adjoining muscle or an unruly child. Whatever it is, which allows the shells to open and remember, your ability to put up feed. In the day-to-day process of with it, to not quit but to maintain feeding, sometimes an irritant enters


your commitment time and time again, will produce a pearl--something that increases your value.

Gold: Gold is a precious metal that is impure in its original state. In order to reach its full value, it must be refined by fire and its impurities must be scraped out. This is an ongoing process that repeats many times until the gold is purified. Once it’s purified, it then reaches its maximum value. Many of us have experienced things in childhood (and adulthood) that left deposits in us that undermine our full value. These may be


Think Out Loud By, Darrell Patrick

You Are PRICELESS! Diamonds: Diamonds come from something that looks nothing like diamonds… COAL. Coal is dark and there’s nothing beautiful or eye-catching about it. But when coal undergoes extreme pressure, diamonds are formed. We can all agree that diamonds are very beautiful and precious. You may evaluate your life right now and think, there’s nothing beautiful here. There are only stresses and pressures. Pressure to be a good husband or wife, pressure to be a good parent, pressure at work, pressure at church…pressures everywhere! Whatever you do, don’t cave in and don’t quit. Allow the purpose of that process to prevail and watch diamonds form in your life. Recently I lost my grandfather. In some ways it was like losing my Dad. He raised me, fed me….well, let’s just say he didn’t spare the rod. Funny as I was asked to eulogize him the preacher kept the little boy in me from crying out loud. Later as I reflected over our many experiences together, I realized it wasn’t the good times I learned the most from, it was the very tough ones. I’m telling you, those around you are left with more pearls than pain because you didn’t run away from the painful places. For me those lessons cannot be buried nor evaluated as anything other than priceless!


You are valuable beyond your belief. Stop looking at your circumstances and situations as a reason to devalue yourself. Instead, see your circumstances and situations as a process that you’re going through and know, on the other side of this, you will see your full value. You are PRICELESS!

! !


Watching Hellen Gooden apply make-up is like seeing a painting come to life. Working in a makeshift makeup station at the Detroit museum for our special Sparkle edition, her movements are quick and precise exhibiting professionalism gained from working as a makeup artist for over 20 years. She is bent over her canvas (the model) in intense concentration seemingly unaware of her surrounding. You are quickly Watchingof Hellen Gooden apply make-up is like seeing a painting to life. Working in a Kayla makeshift makeup stationthe atstyle the Detroit museum reminded her awareness of all that is happening around her whencome she instructs her assistant Stringer to change of makeup she for ourdone special Sparkle edition, movements are quick and precise exhibiting professionalism gained from workingisastoalet makeup artist wants on her next model to her reflect the atmosphere of the photoshoot setup. It seems her preferred method of working the artistic flow take20 over instead premeditate finished a trait only a handful of make-up artists in the business get away with days. for over years. She of is bent over herthe canvas (thelook, model) in intense concentration seemingly unaware of hercan surrounding. Youthese are quickly Like a trueof artist she lets “the the surrounding take the flow of the artistic process”. She is one of rare who reminded her awareness ofenergy all thatof is happening around herover when she instructs her assistant Kayla Stringer to those change themakeup style of artists makeup she cannot guarantee finished will the reflect the moodofboard but delivers a spectacular eyepreferred candy that usually wants done on herthe next model look to reflect atmosphere the photoshoot setup. It seems her method ofsurpasses working isalltoexpectations. let the artistic Founder of of Bellviso Global, an Airbrush teaching company in London Ms Gooden hasaway come farthese fromdays. the flow take and overCEO instead premeditate the finished look,make-up a trait only a handful of make-up artists inUK, the business can get with teenager who grew up “painting my face with all imaginable make-up colors all at the same time trying to emulate beautiful BolLike a true artist she lets “the energy of the surrounding take over the flow of the artistic process”. She is one of those rare makeup artists who lywood actresses” in England. Watching a Bollywood movie at the age of 7 is what determined the course of her life she states “ cannot guarantee the finished look will reflect the mood board but delivers a spectacular eye candy that usually surpasses all expectations. It fascinated me how they used the colors in these Bollywood movies, and I just used to love it; looking at the make-up, the hair Founder and CEO of Bellviso Global, an Airbrush make-up teaching company in London UK, Ms Gooden has come far from the and amazing colors of the dresses. As I grew older I developed a passion for it” It is this passion that has carried her through to teenager grew “painting face withartist all imaginable colors but all at the same time to emulate beautiful Bolthis stagewho in her lifeupwhere beingmy a make-up and stylist make-up is not a career a way of life for trying her. From the employable age lywood actresses” in England. Watching a Bollywood movie at the age of 7 is what determined the course of her life shenow states of 17 she immersed herself in the beauty industry, developing her artistic skill and knowledge of the industry which se-“ It fascinated howwith theythe used theofcolors in these Bollywood and Iofjust used toonlove it; looking make-up, the hair cures her top me billing likes London Fashion TV. Aftermovies, many years learning the job she tookatathe cosmetology course andthe amazing colors of thecollege dresses. AsinI grew oldertoI developed passion for and it” Itlater is this has carried through at Fernandis Beauty here Michigan validate hera knowledge an passion air brushthat makeup courseher with this many stage make-up in her life where being aanmake-up artist stylist is not into a career butstage a way of life for her. From the employable age For artists, becoming instructor is anand organic progress the next of their career. For Hellen it has gone beyond, of 17started she immersed in the beautyher industry, developing herofartistic skill and to knowledge of thesaw industry now sewhat as a strongherself inclination to impart hard earned knowledge make-up artistry the new comers: her setwhich up a “successfully company that on London harnessing the creativity of our students. Bellviso Global is ajob passion driven company. Ourcourse ulticuresoperating her top billing with thethrives likes of Fashion TV. After many years of learning on the she took a cosmetology mate goal is to see the many talented up coming [make-up] artists who take our class maximize their creative potential. It is so inspiring to at the Fernandis Beauty college here in Michigan to validate her knowledge and later an air brush makeup course with Dinair. see the talent and dedication of the younger generation. To fire up their imagination, to encourage them to push the boundaries of creativFor many make-up artists, becoming an instructor is an organic progress into the next stage of their career. For Hellen it has gone beyond, ity, tostarted use theashuman body as canvas createher arthard that earned moves and amazesof people is what I work hard for.” Chatting herset days the what a strong inclination totoimpart knowledge make-up artistry to the new comers: sawtoher up abefore “successshoot, we have no doubt she does these and more. With her exuberant and platinum plated can-do attitude it feels as though she would infully operating company that thrives on harnessing the creativity of our students. Bellviso Global is a passion driven company. Our ultispire anyone she meets to push their boundaries. So we ask her; was it this passion to teach new artists that saw her move to London to start a com-

mate goal is to see the many talented up coming [make-up] artists who take our class maximize their creative potential. It is so inspiring to see the talent and dedication of the younger generation. To fire up their imagination, to encourage them to push the boundaries of creativity, to use the human body as canvas to create art that moves and amazes people is what I work hard for.” Chatting to her days before the shoot, we have no doubt she does these and more. With her exuberant and platinum plated can-do attitude it feels as though she would inspire anyone she meets to push their boundaries. So we ask her; was it this passion to teach new artists that saw her move to London to start a com-


pany in a middle of a recession or the thinking of a shrewd business woman? The US, apparently is ‘way ahead of Europe and the rest of the world’ when it comes to Airbrush Make-up artistry, “I have travelled a lot for work and pleasure and being in the business I noticed that not many of the make-up artists I spoke with new what airbrush make-up was let alone use it. The huge potential for an airbrush make-up business in Europe for someone like me who has been practicing it for years was obvious. Although other make-up academies now teach Airbrush make-up in England, Bellviso Global is the only one who specialize in teaching Airbrush make-up. The reason I chose to set up base in England is because London is a unique city. It is a place where Parisiennes chic meets New York girls sass in the fashion and beauty business and people from all over the world come there for the experience. Business wise it is a strategical place to be as it is the centre where the US connects with the rest of the world. Even though we are based in London, we have also been working in Spain and Milan and we hope to expand to the Middle East and Africa soon. However, I never wish to loose connection with the US and particularly Michigan - which is where I first registered and started my company - and I intend to build up Bellviso here as much as I have in London.” With all these going on with her company we feel we are served well to have her participate in this photoshoot here in Detroit and as we express our appreciation we are rather taken aback by her humble response as she tells us “I am grateful that Impact Detroit has given me the opportunity to share my experiences, I hope many make-up artist who will be reading this will be inspired to aim higher. I would also like to give a special thanks to all those I worked with at the photoshoot for the experience. For me it is a blessing that what I love to do most brings me to work with such amazingly talented artists as these.” We are left thinking how can someone who combines talent with astute business acumen and humility as Ms Gooden does go wrong, as we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.









Profile for Universal Xperience

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Impact Detroit Magazine's Holiday Issue is available to download today FREE. Our holiday issue celebrates the one year anniversary of the ma...

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