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business, health, life, & leisure

.com magazine

. . .lifestyle of the distinguished urban professional

*Bonus Issue* Conversations

A Special Conversation with

Nedra Simone

ATL’s New Stage Play Queen Candid Talk About


Men v/s Women

The Never Ending Debate Atlanta ~ Charlotte ~ Chicago ~ D.C. ~ L.A. ~ Houston ~ Miani ~ New York - The Fourth Issue -


Makin’ Movez Singer, songwriter, producer, activist, talk

show host, I am on a mission, any way possible, to help find a cure for sickle cell anemia. My major motivation for this mission is my seven-year-old son who was born with the disease. Since that time I have educated myself with years of research, networking within the medical community, and experience from dealing with my son. I havea goal to raise awareness in the United States and Canada for those that suffer with this disease by being involved in fundraisers for hospitals, support groups, sickle cell centers and blood banks. I also have a plan to launch the sickle cell anemia music tour in Detroit Michigan entitled "Cure Every Cell" with local and national music acts. I feel that the sickle cell anemia disease deserves the same amount of attention and effort put into research and finding a cure that other diseases receive. The “Cure Every Cell” tour is currently seeking sponsorship, donations and the support of many people to help make a difference in the lives of people who suffer with sickle cell anemia. To assist with our mission you may contact me at Makin’ Movez J.R. Perry, III Cure Every Cell

Detroit 2 - - The Fourth Issue

I have been the owner of JR's Billiards Since


2001. I was just talking to a friend one day and they suggested that I open a pool hall, so I just ran with it, and haven't stopped running since. I have to admit though, the restaurant club/ industry is really seasonal. I'm really busy from September through February, but as soon as the weather breaks, people would rather stay outside so you have to always have some type of marketing or promotion to continue to draw people in on a regular basis. The colleges are nearby, but there may be larger pool halls in the viscinity with more of a "lax" atmosphere, so JR's relies a lot more on the loyal customers who live in the area, Sunday nights, which are usually packed, and the tournament nights from Loop Leagues of America, which are Wednesday nights. If you're not into pool, then you can definitely stop by for a drink or a bite to eat. There's a full bar, top and bottom shelf, and a full menu including burgers, chicken tenders, and wings. People rave over our wings and seasoned fries. The specials are limitless, but make sense if you want to save a few bucks. During the week you can always get a $4.50 drink, shoot pool for $7 per hour, and throw back a bucket of 5 beers for the price of 4. Happy Hour is every day from 5 - 7 pm which features 25 cent wings and only $3.50 per hour for the pool tables. Every Friday from 5 - 9 pm all top shelf drinks will be $4. There's even a DJ on the weekend from 11 - until. Now for more incentive, if you join the Loop League, you will get $1 domestic beers, 25 cent wings, $3 drinks, and an $18 flat rate on the tables for teams up to 6 players. We're open 7 days a week. Sunday - Thursday from 5 pm - 2 am, and open until 3 am Friday and Saturday. So stop by, grab a bite, shoot some pool, throw back some brews. You can Google Map us at 3131Campbellton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30034, or call 404-349-7760. Makin’ Movez Jamille Brown Owner JR’s Billiards - The Fourth Issue -


A Candid "Off The Record" Conversation With A Charlotte Female Executive. What do you want to see change in the Charlotte Community? Collaboration. The Charlotte community is running, but everyone is running in a different direction. Charlotte has a lot of the "new" young professionals. The new generation type of people who are extreme creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, movers & shakers, and that think outside the box. They're not trying to stay at home and sleep all day. They have 9-5 jobs, and they're starting their own companies, and they're doing things in the community on the weekend, you know. They're the new emerging class of young professionals that are infiltrating the area with new ideas. I'd like to see a lot of positive things come from that because partying in downtown Charlotte is one thing, but the networking and socials are taking things to another level. I feel the networking thing is kind of getting old. So now, instead of saying we're having a party, they're saying we're having a networking event or a social event and people are getting together, but what are you networking for? Most of them have no purpose with it. People want to get out for the hell of getting out because a lot of us don't want to go to simply “party� when we go out. However, with the networking events, they're not giving them anything. You have folks standing around listening to music, if there is any, drinking and that's it. So after going a few times and experiencing the exact same thing, people will loose interest. Now, every networking function is run the same way. Right! People need to find their own niche and capitalize on it. Don't do what someone else is doing. I also see a bigger distinction between the have and have nots. In Charlotte? Yeah! "I'm trying to get mine, and once I get mine I don't really care who doesn't have theirs." Once people feel that they have "made it", they'll forget about where they came from. It's good that people have the drive to "make it" and become great professionals, but it creates a huge disparity between them and the communities they come from. They're leaving but they're not going back to say, "See what I've accomplished? You can accomplish this also." Right. I see kids every day who have never even been to a college campus. We have quite a few right in this area. Or a lot of these kids haven't even been out of Charlotte. That's why every time I meet a black professional I ask them, "Are you mentoring someone? Are you volunteering your time?" Most of the time they will say no. As long as we have that we will not get anywhere. I have mixed feelings about that. I know a lot people I have met who have "made it", or even successful people that I read about and study, all had some type of support group backing them up along their journey. Most of the time it's someone who has already accomplished what they're aspiring to accomplish. A lot of times, especially with women, they've had at lease one parent who went to college and would tell them, "This is what you need to do to make this work for you." Then you have those people,

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such as myself, who came through a completely different path. The majority of the things that a person could do wrong in life, I've done it or experienced it. I've made lots of mistakes and the majority of what I've learned in life has been the hard way. I have a lot of life experiences in which other people will judge me and consider to be negative, but I ended up getting my mind set on what I've wanted to do and I've stayed with it. I haven't arrived yet, but I can see the smoke is beginning to clear. All the people on the outside can see is a finished product, a magazine. No one knows about the countless days that I have sat, and continue to sit, in front of my computer for 14 and 15 hours straight. So what happens is you run into those people whose parents kept them on a straight path, and they attended the "majority" schools, and they have their graduate degrees, and they have their corporate jobs uptown, and they have this "thing" about themselves and they want to look down on other black people. Then they meet me and begin to learn about my life experiences, or anyone else who may have made mistakes, and they're like, "Oh, I don't want to have anything to do with that!". They don't say it but you see it in their actions and I'm like, "That's funny, because we were cool last week, but now you can't associate yourself with the blacks who you feel are beneath you." They feel like they've arrived, they've done what they're supposed to do, and everyone else who's not on their superficial level didn't do what they were supposed to do. I have mixed feelings about that too. I grew up with both of my parents, they've been married for many years, they're both successful professionals, they raised us, and we went to the "majority schools�. We always knew what the expectations were in our household. Every day I knew I had to do XYZ because my father told us he wanted us to do be better than him and that's a high mark. He was one of the first in his family to go to college, and he worked for IBM, so it was a high mark to achieve. I knew that if I wanted to achieve it I had to do certain things. So when it came down to smoking weed, having sex in high-school, things like that, those were not options. And our parents didn't shelter us and try to keep us away from the world. We were exposed enough to also see the consequences of certain decisions. So yeah, initially, when I was still in school, and I would see the people who made the bad decisions, and as a result of their bad decisions they are where they are today, I had a hard time having sympathy for them. Then I changed. I started to meet people who had the same determination, drive, and spirit as I did but didn't grow up like I did. They may have had a single parent who broke her neck to provide for them. They couldn't go to the best schools, not because they couldn't get in, but because they couldn't get a full ride, so they couldn't afford it. So I think our whole community, and not just the parents, need to do a better job of having higher expectations for the kids because that was, and still is, my main motivation; the expectations that I had to live up to. So if I deal with a kid, and they look at me, not that I'm anybody because I feel that the Lord uses me as a vessel of his work, but I want them to be able to realize "As a result of the decisions she made, this is where she is today." I respect people for that but I also respect people who have made it through bad decisions as well such as yours. "This is what I came from, this is what I did, I made bad decisions, but I made a commitment one day to make things better, and when I did that I was willing to make the sacrifice of living in my car to start my own company, or doing what it had to take to fulfill my dreams." So it's all about choices. What scares me now is when I think of my generation and some of the decisions people our age have made in life, compared to the kids of today. When we were growing up we didn't have as huge of an exposure to media and freedom as they do now. So now they're heading towards much more "major" bad decisions than we were. - The Fourth Issue -


Yeah, kids now have the ability to be exposed to anything they want to . . . As soon as they want to, and at a faster pace. Yeah, exactly. There's no resource that they can't get their hands on. It's good, but it's also dangerous because if you're not mature enough to handle that, or if you're seeking out the wrong material, . . . I met a 16 year old that tested positive for marijuana and cocaine. Marijuana AND cocaine? Yeah, I'm like when did little girls start doing cocaine? But other kids are like, "Oh, we’ve been doing that." Like that's the thing to do.. Right, like that's the thing to do. You see other teenagers with tattoos on their hands, arms, necks, on their face, and I'm like "Who's giving you a job looking like that?" My synopsis is they can not see beyond today. You ask them, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" it knocks them off their feet, "Five years, I'm just trying to live til tomorrow." They don't see beyond where they are. If you have such an enclosed peripheral view of right now here today, and do not have an extended vision, then you are doomed. That's what has happened to a lot of our children. There is no thinking about the consequences of tattoos, drugs, and things of that nature. Whose fault is that? Yeah community but it has a lot to do with our world and media. That's true because the media promotes the things that are negative. There are so many positive artists, singers, a lot of them are well known too, and there are a lot of positive books that people can read, but the mainstream media promotes the controversial issues and derogatory influences. You go into any book store and look in the African American section and it's predominately fiction. You know, Quesha slept with LaShea's man. Or Raheem and Tyrone are gay. I just can't stand it. I have black women looking at me sideways because out of all the black authors that have written books, a book about some gay black man coming out of the closet became one of the most popular. This guy can’t just come out and say “Hey, I was secretly gay while I was married.”, he has to be like, “I was secretly gay, and so are millions of other black men!” Don't take me down with YOUR “flamin” ship! [laughing] You know, when I was in school I took an African American studies class and this white guy used to sit beside me and he knew more about black history then probably most of the black people in there put together. So yeah, there's a gap there. We're reading too much of the wrong stuff and we're not reading enough of what we need to educate ourselves with. But you know Bobby, we need to catch these kids in elementary school. There are a lot of programs that deal with teenage kids, and that's not to say that it's too late then, but it's much later in their lives. At 16 or 17 they think they're grown. That’s a great idea! We really need to start them out young, but for the older ones they need a grown man to put a foot in their _ _ _! I will be the one to do it too. I don't take any crap from anybody's kids. I will discipline your kid and tell your mama, and your daddy, wherever he is. ~ klazzy

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k l a T 2 t o N r O 2 Talk 14

beautiful women and only 4 males! If that doesn't represent the dating situation in Charlotte, I don't know what does. The meeting room in MELLOW MUSHROOM was so full of estrogen, that at times the guys didn't say anything, but when they did, the poor men got jumped on! It was all done lightheartedly though. No one got killed. Latoya Joyner is the organizer of the event. Normally, it would be a speed dating situation, where the men would get the opportunity to meet single ladies, and the ladies would attempt to find a man to fit their standards. However, the normal meeting place was closed and only two guys initially showed up. So there was an open forum instead of the dating situation that has occurred in each of the participating individual’s lives. “I simply choose not to be in a serious relationship”, is what I kept saying over and over. I am sure they got tired of me saying that. Every lady that was there “really” wanted a relationship. I was there to capture a story. Several topics were covered. The debated topics were, "Attraction or brains?" "What constitutes dating?" "Who picks up the tab when eating out?", "Is spirituality or religion important when dating", "Attentiveness to opposite sex friends", "How important is communication?" and the everpresent “Trust issues”. Every last one of these questions, or statements brought out many frustrations from the women as well as the men. The women in the room were successful in their careers and wanting someone to share it with. At one point in the conversations, one young lady, named Jackie, stated that she had been told to “not attempt to pay the tab if she is out on a date”, because it may make the man feel like "less of man" if she did so. "Every since I have stop doing that, I have a more comfortable date, and I have had no problems with men picking up the tabs", she stated. Some felt that the person who "asked for the date" should pay! While others felt it didn't matter who asked for the date, the men should "always" pay. "Wise advice once given to me is to never order something you can't afford to pay for with your own money; just in case you do get stuck with paying your own bill", stated Nikki. While that may be true, no female wants to go on a first date worried about who is picking up the tab, so the best thing to do is what? Communicate! I guess we've gotten so used to communicating through emails, PDA's, instant messaging, and text messaging that we have forgotten to communicate effectively with one another verbally. Everyone came to an agreement that communication is the key to a successful relationship no matter what the topic is. So, are you talking to your date? ~Phennix

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Handle Your Business

Atlanta ATL’s New Drama Queen Nedra Simone Is Burning Down Stages

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When I sent the request to interview Nedra Simone her sister/manager, Nicol Green, replied

to the e-mail promptly to schedule a time and place. I knew right then that they were about business. When I was finally able to schedule the interview, I really knew how serious they were about their craft, as am I. The interview was scheduled for 8:30 pm, when most suburbanites are ready to call it a night, but not this writer. Once meeting the duo the two-hour interview flew by quickly. After only a few minutes her personality captured me and I felt as if I was catching up with an old high-school classmate. The scene was relaxed, the couch was comfortable, and the show began. Her bubbly personality and innocent wit stole the show and I could see how her writings could be so successful. Dictating recorded interviews takes a while. Dialoguing takes forever, however, without giving too much away too soon, . . . let's just say that this interview was entertaining for me to dialogue, and even listen to the second time around. Please excuse all of the "laughter" notations, but you can not experience the full effect of the interview without them. Slide over Tyler Perry, and make room on the throne for Nedra Simone the new Queen of stageplays. Enjoy! Tell me a little about your Background? Well, I've been writing all my life, but I started writing professionally in 1999. I Started out writing jingles for the radio station and doing voice-overs and that just came by mistake. I was up at the radio station visiting Magic Man at V-103 and one of the producers came in and asked Magic to write a commercial. He put me on the spot and was like "Wait a minute. Nedra writes!" So I ended up doing a commercial for a Hyundai dealership. Based on the demographic the company wanted to reach, we used Mystikal's "Shake If Fast" as the background music. Are you serious? For a Hyundai commercial? [grinning] Yes! It was the most ghetto commercial. Whenever I would hear it I would just be like, "That is not me!", but, it ended up winning best commercial of the year for V-103. I thought "How?". I hated every time it came on. [laughing] [laughing] So you made a "ghetto" commercial for your first professional work? [laughing] Yeah, for my first professional work. Now what had you done before that to have him say, "Let's use Nedra to do this commercial"? He knew that I was a closet writer, and that I had material I was sitting on but was not doing anything with it. So this was a "fate" situation for you? Exactly, because I was not even there for that, and it just fell right in my lap. Now the writing that you were doing before that, and up to that point, you referred to as "closet writing". Can you be a little more specific as to what closet writing is? Closet writing includes poetry, songs, . . . Because my sister, another friend, and I had a singing group, and I used to write the songs. - The Fourth Issue -


What was the name of the group. DeJour, but that was way back. [laughing] Way far back! DeJour? That was the name of the boy group from the movie Josie and the Pussy Cats. (I only know that because it's one of my daughters' favorite movies that they play over and over and over‌) The name was actually a combination of all of our stage names. Then someone told me oh, that means 'of the day'. Oh really? [laughing] OK! What happened with DeJour, why didn't it work? Were ya'll fighting over money? [laughing] Well, it's not that it didn't work, because I was offered a $1 million contract for two years from Motown, I've never wanted to sing. I only sang because it was expected of me; like in the choir, but I never wanted to do it professionally. So was your sister mad that you didn't take the contract? No, they were actually upset with me that I was offered a contract and they didn't speak to me for a week. [her sister was in the room] Really? That's a new one. I've never heard of that in the music industry before. So once I turned it down then everything was cool. Hmmm‌ So I see friendship does have a price. How old were you when they offered you the contract? 16 [trying to guess her age] How old were you when you wrote your first jingle? (remembering that it was in 1999) What? [laughing] (women and the secrets of their age) Ok, I will not publish your exact age, I'll just use it to bribe you one day. Trust me, you'll get nothing! [laughing] So bribe away! [laughing] So after the jingle with V-103 how did you transition from that? [brace yourselves] [hesitation/grinning] I actually was a video girl for a while.

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What? Yeah, it just happened, because I was not interested in doing videos. I did my first video two months after the jingle. I knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry, but I wasn't happy. So I was doing videos and making money, but I wasn't happy and I couldn't understand why. My sister came to me one day and asked, "What happened to that play that you had started writing?" Because I was good for starting something and not finishing. [laughing] Just like that last sentence. [laughing] Notorious! I need to take some classes or something. [laughing] Classes? You need some therapy! Yes I do. [laughing] But my sister asked, "what do you need to finish it?" I thought about it and I'm like, "I don't know. A week?". So she said "If you had a week, without anyone bothering you, you'd be able to finish your script?" And I said "I guess". So she closed me in my room and told me to work on it, because she knew how important it was to me. So I finished it, and I was proud of that. Then my mother suggested that I should perform the play I wrote. The title was "Lightning Strikes Three Times". So we began to make phonecalls…… Hold on, let's back up for a second. What videos were you in? The first one was for a local group. Then I did "Roll Out", and "Saturday" for Ludacris, "Sick of Being Lonely" for Field Mob, "Welcome to Atlanta" for JD, something for Too Short . . . So how would these people approach you or get in contact with you to do a video? Casting calls, or you're requested. Chris (Luda) and I are good friends. I was at the casting call for "Roll Out" with someone else, and I got the lead, so I'm thinking this was his doing. I called him and he didn't even know I was trying out for the video, and I told him I got the lead. He was like "cool, I'll see you on the set". So I got on the set and the outfit they wanted me to wear, the person needed to be much more…."top heavier" [laughing] than what I had to offer. So they took the lead from me, but I was cool as long as my pay was the same. [laughing] What do they pay for a video shoot? That particular one was three days, and it's $500 a day. [sarcastic voice] What type of "costume" do you have to wear to a casting call? Something as eye-catching, memorable, and tacky as possible. I figured that, I just wanted to hear it come out of somebody's mouth. Yeah, it's all about sight. I also did Nelly's "Hott in Here", but that version never made it to television because Atlanta girls don't know how to take off their clothes. So they went back to St. Louis and shot it there. They got to the part and said, "Ok, everybody is supposed to take their clothes off", I'm like, "What, for how much?, Ummm… No!" [laughing] They wanted you to strip down bare for a video? No, just the chest. - The Fourth Issue -


For a music video? Why would they do that if they can't show it on television? They do on uncut. [laughing] My first video was on uncut, and they had me on a table in a swimsuit, and they put a stack of pancakes on me . . . [I'm sure my face is twisted right now] . . . and they tried to "help" the cause by pouring shampoo instead of syrup on me, and I was like, "Wait a minute, that's starting to burn!" [laughing] [laughing] Can we get some Johnson's? No more tears? [laughing] This can't be no more tears! It had to be Herbal Essence, cause I was screaming for real! I had to endure that for 30 minutes. Pancakes? Yeah! [laughing] And it came back to haunt me. I was substituting and this little boy raised his hand and said he wanted to ask me a question. He said, "Do you want me to come up there?", but they had been outside, and you know how little kids smell so bad when they've been outside playing [laughing] so I said, no you can ask me from there. [laughing] Smell bad? Oh my goodness! So he proceeds, "last night me and my daddy were watching videos…" and I'm thinking "Oh Lord" [laughing] Yeah, he might need to come to the front. [laughing] Yeah, but I'm thinking I haven't done anything at "this" point of my life that I should be ashamed of, so bring it on. He goes, "we saw this girl in the video that looked just like you". So I tell him, "well, people look alike", and he goes "yeah, but this girl had your hair and your eyes, and, do you have a tattoo on your butt?". [laughing] I'm like "Don't ya'll have work to do?" [laughing] Oh my goodness (wondering why this little boys father had him watching BET Uncut)! So I'm thinking I either have to stop substituting or stop doing videos, which pays more, [laughing] so I stopped substituting. [laughing] Love the kids but…. Yeah, so it's been a long road. [laughing] Ok, we're gonna get off the video thing… Thank You. So, you did a few videos, made a little money, so what got you to where you are now? Your sister locked you in the room, you didn't take a bath… [laughing]

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‌smelling like a second grader‌ [laughing] So you finished the play, you started making phonecalls, where did it go from there? Who did you call and talk to? We had Kroger as a sponsor, and they catered the food. We called to book the 14th street playhouse. We sold tickets to the play on the street. I was approaching guys like "would you like to come to a play?". They're like, "Play? Shawty I don do no play." I'm like, "Ok?" [laughing] "Dang!" So that actually lead me to gear my second play to the audience that you normally wouldn't see in the theatre. That felt good to look in the audience to see Timbs and gold teeth, because these are the people who need to hear my message. After the play guys would be like "Shawty, can I get a copy?", and I'd be like, "No! Didn't it just go off?" [laughing] I don't even have a copy, the curtain just dropped like "Pow". [laughing] But it was good because these were the people who would never go to the theatre, but would go to the movies all day long. So how did you finance the very first play? We sold tickets. How much was the theatre? $2,500 How much were tickets $25, but we were out selling tickets the last day for $10 or whatever we could get. My father came down from Detroit to build the set so that was a blessing. See the theatre price was for the whole day so you could do as many shows as you wanted. So you only did one show? We had no choice, my father was still drilling when the curtain was opening. [laughing] So we couldn't have done another show even if we wanted to. We were all venturing into waters we had never been. My sister was the sound person, and someone would ring a doorbell and the phone would ring. So the person on stage would be like, "I gotta get that doorbell fixed". [laughing] See, you're laughing now, but I'm sure you weren't laughing then. Oh no! The audience loved it though. We've done shows where the phone would ring and the person on stage would be looking for the phone like, "Now where did I put that phone?". Then you'd see a phone sliding out on the stage. There was once a sex scene where the people were ripping their clothes off and the man actually threw his clothes off the stage. So when the woman's husband came home the man is looking for clothes that were not there, then you see clothes flying from behind the bed. [laughing] It's been a ride, but the audience loves it. - The Fourth Issue -


[laughing] Ok, so you got the first play out of the way, "Lightning Strikes Three Times", so tell me about the next play. The next play was "Pretty People/Ugly Ways". Ok, so you got one under your belt now, how were things different, and were some things still the same with the second play? Well, I believe every production is gonna have mistakes. Really, what kind of mistakes have you made? Not me! [looking over at her sister] Oh, other people who shall remain nameless? We're performing the play in Jacksonville, FL, and my sister comes to me and says, "Nedra. I left the music". I'm like "You left the music where?", She goes, "In Georgia" I tell her "Ok, that's good to know." [laughing] "I hope you figure that out before the show, we have an hour and a half". So she went to the store and found instrumentals for all the songs. So one of the instrumentals was Tank's "Baby I Deserve". And the instrumental still sings the chorus. So we couldn't find the song and we had to have someone sing the part a cappella. Well the person singing the part was the guy she was cheating with. So whenever they would get to the chorus, the guy would pop up from behind the bed and sing "Baby I deserve", the audience was rolling. [laughing] You have all of these on DVD? Yeah! [laughing] I felt like my career was just over. So people would get too comfortable and make mistakes. So how often did you perform the plays? The first one was done here in Atlanta, and then in Detroit. The second play was done twice in Atlanta, and then in Jacksonville, FL. The new things I also had to deal with were egos. Oh, they're big time stars now? Yeah, right? [laughing] I'm like, "Excuse me, who are you?", "We rode here together, and I drive a Tercel." [laughing] People wanted their own dressing rooms. People wanted to wear certain colors. It was a mess. Ok, and the third play was Secrets Men Keep? Yes. So by now, you're used to renting the facilities and everything else. Were you still only doing one show per day? No, the play we did in Jacksonville, we did three shows in one day. That was not my idea. We had a promoter who picked us up and he wanted three shows with no breaks, with one bucket of chicken. [laughing]

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How long was a show? 2 hours. I felt so sorry for the people with singing parts, and Tabitha (Stallings) had to dance, so she was dancing like a wild cat all day long. That was another part of the business I had never dealt with. I was used to working on my own, but with a promoter it was all about what he wanted to do, and it turned out to be, a bad thing. So what got better with the third play meaning in the beginning you were just blind and you were trying to find your way through the dark to get it going, but you got the first one out there. So as you moved on to the second one and the third one what are some thing that got easier for you as far as getting people together, facilities, financing, sponsorships, etc. Every time I did a show it was on a different level. The first show was held in a facility that only seats about 400. So far we've moved up to the Civic Center which seats about 5,000. It's been a steady progression. The first play was all me. The second play was with a promoter. The third play was a book that Tiy-E Muhammed (The Real Gilligan's Island) wrote and he wanted me and someone else to turn it into a play. So he ran that show, but it didn't work out the way we intended, so I removed myself from it a week before production. So how was that, turning someone else's book into a play? A book is very imaginative, so I had to take all of these words and manifest them into a physical form. You can read a book all day and it takes over your imagination, but to make it work on stage, a lot of things have to change. He was open to that, but we had creative differences. In my plays, and the people who work with me, I've never disrespected anyone and there was a lot of that going on with this production. If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything, so it was best for me to leave. A lot of people did not get paid with this play. Only the people who could have "hurt" his career were paid. After that I wrote a skit for Robert Townsend for the Black Family Channel for a show called "Playhouse 22", that premieres in August. The Play I'm finishing up now is Voices. How long does it take you to write a play, outside of the first one? I'm good now, I wrote Voices in a week. I just love to write. I don't feel comfortable if I'm not writing something whether it's a script or a bad check. [laughing] I have to write something to make me feel like I've done something for that day. [laughing] A bad check. I have to use that one. Writing is important to me. I should have been born with a pen in my hand. So I'm finished with voices and I'm casting for it now. It's about a young couple who have been married for a while and the wife has a baby. Now all of a sudden she starts to question everything the husband does because she's feeling fat from just having the baby. So the basis is the fact that her conscience, the good side and the bad side will be the main focus of the play. That sound like an interesting concept. What was the basis of "Lightning Strikes"? I didn't want to do a gospel play because people are tired of that, but I did want it to have a religious overtone, and still allow the sinners in the audience to enjoy it. [laughing] It was about a young lady who had a religious background, but started to stray as things began to happen to her. She was a singer, and lost her voice to cancer, her daughter was hit by a car‌[laughing] except for one time when somebody had to snatch her off the stage.

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Why, did Nicol forget the car? [laughing] We just have to improvise sometimes, so the basis was um.. you know, …um …something from Church…[Tabitha chimes in] "if God brings you to it he will bring you through it". Yes, that's a good one. Amen! See, I'm not authorized to start quotin'! [laughing] Your mama is gonna read this and flip! [laughing] The people in the audience could relate to it though. People were actually crying in the audience as well. So that feels good as a writer, to write a line and say, "this line should get a tear", and "this one should make people laugh", and it happens. So I feel like I did my job. What was the basis of "Pretty People/Ugly Ways" because you said you wanted that one to appeal to a different audience? Yeah, I did. It was more adult orientated. There was a very intense lovemaking scene. So the basis was in life there are cliques, pretty people, regular people, and ugly people, and how do you define yourself. When I was in school, I considered myself as being in the "in-crowd". Not that I looked down on people, but I didn't stop my friends from doing it either. As opposed to now, I just look down on everybody. [laughing] No, now, I'm more humble, and I can tell someone not to treat others like that. So it was based on how we treat people, and it really threw it in your face. It showed how we classified people as "Ugly" people based on how they looked or how they dressed. So the people who felt like they had looks or status looked down on the other people. It made you think like, "these are the people that you want to be around?" It caused lots of controversy, which is exactly what I wanted. That's interesting, because I talk about that a lot. Especially in the black community, we're so divided; light-skin, dark-skin, fat, skinny, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, etc. They have us divided so much and that's how they're conquering us (whoever "they" are). Now in each play there's a protagonist and antagonist, and I think the concept for Voices is great because the protagonist and antagonist will be directly in the audiences face. What was the antagonist for "Lightning Strikes". [whispering to her sister] What does antagonist mean? [laughing] [laughing] Oh my god, you guys are so silly! I'm sorry, "good guys" and "bad guys" What school did you guys go to again? [laughing] The school of hard knocks! I dropped out and got my GED. Let that be known that you can do something, I don't know quite what it is yet, with your life [laughing] [laughing] You were sitting here just agreeing with everything that I'm saying. [It took us a couple minutes to get all the laughing out with that one] Who were the "bad guys"? Ok, the "bad guys" in "Pretty People/Ugly Ways" were the pretty people. So it was a group? Yes, and the . . . pro … pro-tagonist? They were the ugly people. [laughing] - The Fourth Issue -


Ok, so you had a conceptual protagonistic and antagonistic view for that play? [hesitating] Yes? [laughing] [laughing] So it was a mind set…? Yes. Ok, I can do mindsets… There were mind sets, or a state of mind for each group that posed as the "good guy" and the "bad guy"? Right, the way that you lived your life and treated other people. A'ight. So obviously you didn't do that purposely… [laughing] You got me scared to talk.. No, no, it's cool because in "Lightning Strikes" it's the same type of theme in which you're challenging religion and how people view it. Because everybody reads a scripture and everybody will… what's the word [laughing] [laughing] ..break it down for me now… …everybody will decipher it differently, or everybody will take a different meaning from it. True. So, that's why I find the concept of all of your plays so compelling, especially "Voices", because they're all centered around us dealing with and challenging conceptual views in life. Yeah, "Voices" will be interesting. How far are you trying to travel with this play? This one I feel really strong about because I've had time to grow and I've had more experience. So I want to grow to that Tyler Perry level if not higher. I never want to proclaim myself as being better than anyone or anything like that because there's always gonna be someone that likes someone else's stuff and not like yours. So it's enough out there for everybody to have a piece. The traditional black theatre, in which you dress up to attend, looks down on this new style of stageplay of today. They feel like we're capitalizing off of the everyday lives and experiences of black people. Do you feel as though you're contributing to that? No, I feel like there are levels in everything, and everyone should be able to look at something and have something different to say about it. Everyone should not be one-dimensional. How many acts do you have in each of your plays?

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Two acts, and four scenes. Somehow I knew you were gonna say an even number, because plays normally have an odd number of acts. Why do you choose even numbers? Because I really never did math? [laughing] I really don't like to count past four if I don't have to. Write this down, GED. [laughing] I guess I'm an even person and not an odd person. [laughing] There's no reason behind it. Now you have me questioning my simplicity. Your company is Nedra Simone Visions (NSV). Are you incorporated? Yes. What's Nicol's role in the company? A humble employee. [laughing] [Nicol chimes in] Pro Bono, a lifetime intern! Nicol's job changes every time she walks through the door. She's normally the stage manager covering sound, lights, etc., and she's the CFO. I'm just the creative aspect. All of the business aspect is done by my mother and my sister. How soon will you do movies. I already have scripts that are finished. I have a movie I wrote about two years ago called "Daddy's Little Girl", but, of course, I can't use that title anymore (One of Tyler Perry's new works), so I will have to change the title around a little bit. Momma's Little Boy? Something! [laughing] What else do you want to do? I want to direct videos, commercials, movies, and tv shows. I've already shot a pilot for a show called "In Bed With" in which the female host interviews stars in their homes. The first one was done with Andre Rison (former NFL MVP). You start off in the kitchen asking questions while the star prepares their favorite meal. Then you move into the living room and sit on the couch and ask more questions, then finally you end up in the bedroom laying in the bed in your pajamas, and that's where you finish the show. (Don't want to give away too much of the show) That sounds really neat. It's so funny, when we did the show with Andre Rison and they were laying in the bed the girl was asking questions like, "Have you ever been with a man?" Then she was asking stuff like, "How big are you . . . in inches?", and he goes, "I can show you.", and I'm like "CUT!". [laughing] That will never make t.v. [laughing] I look forward to seeing that. Ok, I'm tired, it's 11:30 pm, and I can't think of anything else to harass you about. [laughing] I truly thank you for you time and I thank you for inviting me into your home. I thank you as well. ~klazzy - The Fourth Issue -


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Klazzy Magazine  

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