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STOP SICKLE CELL SILENCE What is sickle cell?
Itâ€™s All About Paradiseby
The Outspoken & Brutally Honest
Why Do Black women
compete with one another?
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According to The National Heart, Ling and Blood Institute For more information visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca What Is Sickle Cell Anemia? Sickle cell anemia (uh-NEE-me-uh) is the most common form of sickle cell disease (SCD). SCD is a serious disorder in which the body makes sickle-shaped red blood cells. â€œSickle-shapedâ€? means that the red blood cells are shaped like a crescent. Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped and look like doughnuts without holes in the center. They move easily through your blood vessels. Red blood cells contain an iron-rich protein called hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin). This protein carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Sickle cells contain abnormal hemoglobin called sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. Sickle hemoglobin causes the cells to develop a sickle, or crescent, shape. Sickle cells are stiff and sticky. They tend to block blood flow in the blood vessels of the limbs and organs. Blocked blood flow can cause pain and organ damage. It can also raise the risk for infection. Normal Red Blood Cells and Sickle Cells
Figure A shows normal red blood cells flowing freely in a blood vessel. The inset image shows a cross-section of a normal red blood cell with normal hemoglobin. Figure B shows abnormal, sickled red blood cells blocking blood flow in a blood vessel. The inset image shows a cross-section of a sickle cell with abnormal (sickle) hemoglobin forming abnormal strands.
FACTS ABOUT SICKLE CELL DISEASE (SCD) SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke. Types of SCD Following are the most common types of SCD: HbSS People who have this form of SCD inherit two sickle cell genes (“S”), one from each parent. This is commonly called sickle cell anemia and is usually the most severe form of the disease. HbSC People who have this form of SCD inherit a sickle cell gene (“S”) from one parent and from the other parent a gene for an abnormal hemoglobin called “C”. Hemoglobin is a protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. This is usually a milder form of SCD. SCD Fact Sheet Document icon View and print » HbS beta thalassemia People who have this form of SCD inherit one sickle cell gene (“S”) from one parent and one gene for beta thalassemia, another type of anemia, from the other parent. There are two types of beta thalassemia: “0” and “+”. Those with HbS beta 0-thalassemia usually have a severe form of SCD. People with HbS beta +-thalassemia tend to have a milder form of SCD. There also are a few rare types of SCD: HbSD, HbSE, and HbSO People who have these forms of SCD inherit one sickle cell gene (“S”) and one gene from an abnormal type of hemoglobin (“D”, “E”, or “O”). Hemoglobin is a protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. The severity of these rarer types of SCD varies.
L L A T S ’ U IT BO ISE AARAD
P Jody Watley s
ody Vanessa Watley is a legendary Grammy award winning singer, songwriter, record producer and fashion style icon. You don’t have to take my word for it because I’m getting ready to take you on a musical adventure in Paradise. Actually “PARADISE” is the name of her new album. It has a metro futuristic sound and is inspired by classic disco soul and funk reminiscent of an era in music from artists like Larry Levine, Chic, Shalamar and Change.
With the popularity of the Internet Jody has been able to independently market directly to her fans. The “Paradise” CD is available digitally around the world and you can also get it at the Jody Watley boutique on her website at www.jodywatley.net. “They have been selling like hotcakes”, says Jody. The entrepreneurial side for Jody has always been important when it comes to selling her CDs all around the world. From Paris to the Netherlands, New York, Texas and all around the world people are grabbing up this CD. You can see some of the fans on her website holding a copy of her latest CD. The best part about getting it directly from Ms. Watley is that she personalizes and autographs it. “I just love my fans”, says Jody. “I call them my Paradise Hall of Famers”. Thanks to the Internet you can also get your copy of “Paradise” on various digital outlets such as iTunes, Amazon and Google play. People love Jody’s music and that’s why she tries to find new and innovative ways to get her music out to the fans. Jody is so in tuned with her fanbase that she knows exactly where to find them. There is a hot spot in Hollywood called Georgio’s which is where you will find Jody performing her music. “It’s a modern discotheque for younger people, but everyone is dressed and glamorous”, says Jody. “In the past 10 years I’ve done primarily dance, electronic and house. I’ve been doing house music since the 90s. I really wanted to find a way to bring together some of the modern sounds that I’ve been doing over the past decade and blend that with those classic groves. I started working on it and performed the songs live before I finished recording them. In doing it that way it makes the songs better. My guitarist, Levi Seacer, who used to play for Prince is on one of the songs called “The Dawn”. The feeling I wanted to invoke was GQ’s “Disco Nights” which is one of my favorite songs. It’s not a re-creation, but the spirit of the song. I don’t want to keep people thinking about the good old days. I want them to make new memories and think that the good days are now. You’re alive, we’re alive, we’re all breathing so be fabulous now and don’t keep thinking that you used to be fabulous; be fabulous now.” Jody goes on to say, “I think so many people go through the motions of life, therefore, “Paradise” is all about celebrating life, being fabulous and “Sanctuary” is a song about home and creating that environment of love and that type of reflection”. Living life day-to-day can sometimes be challenging and she acknowledges that in some of the songs lyrics. “You have to get outside of yourself and allow yourself to enjoy life because tomorrow is not promised. That’s the spirit of “Paradise”. Why wait to have a good time”, says Jody. I love the new music however, I did admit to her that I still wanted to hear some of her classic songs especially if I go to see her perform. Thank goodness Jody isn’t one of those artists who will get upset when fans want to go back in time. Jody laughs and says, “The one thing about social media is that I am very active with Twitter and Facebook along with my blog writings on my website. I’ve been able to expose fans to different types of music and not just my own”, explains Jody. “Fans always tell me their favorite songs. I love to sing my classics in my concerts because it is like a musical journey. I give the fans the classics and I put a new twist on some of them to keep it fresh for me and for them. I mix it up with the new music because I am an artist who is progressing”.
I wish all artist felt this way because there are some artists who get stuck in time along with their fans. They get content to be just a nostalgia act. Jody adds, “All they do is old songs and that’s fine for some, but I try to always be in the mindset of keeping things fresh. If you get in a routine of doing the same songs, then it’s no fun for anyone. I respect and appreciate that I have fans who love the classics. The downside to it is that they get stuck. You could have made the best album of your career and they become so closed off that they cannot even process hearing something new. It’s like saying, ‘Oh, I just like your first album or I just like your third album’. That’s great, but you’re going to miss something really special in life and in general if you stay stuck and that’s my philosophy”, says Jody. “In my concerts I enjoy bringing all types of people together. My audience is so diverse and it’s my job to make sure they have the time of their lives. I really try to do that in a classy way, still energetic, still funky, singing live and taking them on a musical journey.” Since that is Jody’s philosophy fans are in for a treat so get ready to live life fabulously with Jody Watley on tour starting November 15. It will be a night of timeless R&B with Lilllo Thomas, The System and Cash Creek. To see if she is coming to your town, go to her website for more tour dates. Some of her hits from her Shalamar days will also be included in the show. “The Shalamar portion of my show will include Gerald Brown who is the original lead vocalist that sang with me on “Take That To The Bank”, says Jody. “We are great friends and we have a good time. He performed with me last summer when I did the Essence Music Festival. He also sang with me on my recent hit single which is called, “NightLife”. For a long time Jody did not have a Shalamar medley in her show. She revealed that she had so many songs that just didn’t fit into what she was doing at the time. It wasn’t until the concept of “Paradise” and the vibe of the show that she was able to incorporate the Shalamar medley into the show. Her hit, “NightLife” seems to be doing very well and fans love it. It was the top five on the commercial pop and urban charts in the UK and it was a top 20 dance hit in America. It has that classic soul, disco, funky vibe to it.
Jody explains, “I kept hearing a male voice on the song while I was creating it. You don’t really hear records like that anymore and I asked Gerald to sing with me. It really made it come full-circle because his recording career started as a member of the group”. I was pretty relieved to hear that Jody does know her fans want to hear the old stuff however, she cares enough to enlighten them with new music as well for their enjoyment. I told her about an artist (I won’t say her name) who sang Christmas songs for 90 minutes of a 120 minute set. I, along with a lot of the audience were not happy. Yes, it was Christmas time, but that’s not why I bought tickets to the show. Radio City Music Hall does an excellent Christmas show if that’s what I wanted to hear. After Jody and I got a good laugh she said, “You must give the people what they want. In my set I try to definitely do that and still give them something new and fresh. The first song that opens my show is “NightLife”. People were on their feet because it’s energetic along with that classic, funky Jody Watley vibe. It feels like they know this song already and love dancing to it. It’s just a great time” explains Jody. “When you come to a Jody Watley show, you’re going to get everything and more”. She takes you through the whole musical shebang. Even hits that you didn’t know were hits are in the show! What makes Jody’s career so unique is that there are so many genres and so many facets to it. Jody was the first in 1989 to collaborate with Eric B and Rakim to include a rap on her R&B record. We see this has become a popular formula for commercial pop, R&B and hip-hop. There is no collaboration on this album with any rappers. She only did it that one time in her career with Eric B and Rakim on her second album. She collaborate again with Rakim on her hit single, “Off The Hook” in the 90s. However, after she broke that ground, that was it. “This album is strictly beautiful, gorgeous, retro futuristic dance music that has live strings and live instruments on it,” explains Jody. “I worked with Mark Pablo who is more known and respected in the underground worldwide global DJ community. Miguel Atwood Ferguson is an incredible musician. There are live strings on the title song. There is no other record out there like this right now. The closest may be Daft Punk Rock that Mel Rogers helped collaborate on,
but I started working on “Paradise” even before that album came out. It let me know I’m on the right track. True music fans miss a certain level of quality in music and the downside is that radio does not play that type of music for adults.” Jody’s longtime friend and assistant Wallace warned me not to go back in time with a million questions about Jody’s past when she has so much great new music. He was absolutely right because Jody’s entire musical journey is all online. Her career is truly a remarkable, musical journey. However, I am a Shalamar fan and I just wanted to know how she felt during that time in her life to be a part of such an instrumental group. She granted me my wish and this is what she had to say about that time in her life. “I think that it taught me how to be on stage and what to do when things don’t go right,” remembers Jody. “When we started out it wasn’t glamorous, it was all about paying your dues and performing in places where there were only a few people. I learned how much work it takes to be a professional artist and how to be adaptable”. Jody was so talented that she was the groups choreographer, she did the wardrobe, costuming, the album cover and the entire Shalamar look was conceptualized by Jody. As her solo career grew, you could still see the continuation of her strong sense of style throughout her career. Jody is now the proud owner of the Shalamar trademark. On a business level there are many ways to continue to be Jody Watley and at the same time rejuvenate the Shalamar name. It was all about learning the business and how to be an onstage performer. “I also learned how to work with men being that I was the only woman as a teenager starting out with Shalamar. It was very difficult at times to deal with things such as sexism, verbal abuse and sometimes physical abuse”, reveals Jody. “I had to learn how to deal with it and how to move on in life and have joy. Life is too short to not enjoy it. Now I am always trying to find ways to enjoy it. Even through trouble times you can look back on it and say, ‘Wow, I learned from that’. It is always about moving forward”. If you talk to Jody’s mom, she would tell you that Jody has been a performer since the age of four. Growing up in Chicago Jody knew that she was always going to be something. “I always wanted to be a singer, performer, writer and fashion designer. Now I get to do all those things through my career,” remembers Jody. “I was the child that was a go-getter. I would always be looking for opportunities. At one point I told my mom I was going to have my own modeling school and have my own business. These were things I said to my mother as a little girl and I was able to build upon all of my dreams”. As a child, Jody would write poetry to escape from the challenges she was having as a little girl growing up. The family life she had with her mom and dad ended in divorced. “My dad always said I was going to be a star”, remembers Jody. “Before I knew what a star was, I used to think he was talking about the stars in the sky.” R&B singer Jackie Wilson is Jody’s godfather therefore, show business was something that she was always around. Her parents knew Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin who have known Jody since she was a little girl. Her father and grandfather were ministers, therefore the family moved around frequently and lived in a few states. For some people moving around can be traumatic especially for children who may have gotten comfortable with their surroundings and made friends. However, it looks like the constant moving prepared Jody to be very adaptable with life in dealing with all types of people from all ethnicities and income levels. At one point her dad had lost everything and he was trying to get the family back on track. They ended up moving to LA which was perfect for Jody because she was the type of child that was always looking for an opportunity. It paid off because her career has taken her all around the world. She even lived in London for a few years. When you talk to musicians and artists who started years ago, they will tell you how much the music industry has changed. “The music industry as we know it is gone,” says Jody. When I first started out as a professional recording artist, you went on tour or we performed at clubs. Independent promoters would book acts, but now everything is really difficult if you’re not associated with some of the big corporations o control of the venues”, recalls Jody. “When I first started there were independent privately owned radio stations all around the country. You could drive from the West Coast to the East Coast and hear different types of music. It was original music because stations could play what they wanted to play. They would make a playlist, a double-play or a triple play list. DJ’s could play an entire album of an artist if they wanted to.
I remember when Stevie Wonder’s song, “In The Key Of Life” played on the radio. I sat in my mom’s car and listened to the whole thing commercial free. That would never happen today.” In the 90’s everything became deregulated and that made it more corporate. You cannot call in to a radio station to request a song; it’s already automated. The DJ’s don’t pick what they play; they get told what to play. The freedom to choose what is played is over and therefore the diversity in the music is gone as well. Today there are major changes on how people get their music and Jody realizes that she had to change the way fans can get her music. People don’t really buy music the way they used to because there is more competition for their time: the Internet, video games and television can take up a lot of an individual’s time. “That’s one of the reasons why I made “Paradise” with only seven songs,” explains Jody. “That’s the classic amount of songs that were used through the mid-80s. Isaac Hayes only had four songs. With the attention span of fans being so short, it’s all about quality over quantity. Nobody needs to listen to 20 songs of filler. Just give me the good stuff ”, laughs Jody. Another way technology has changed the industry is that fans no longer have to wait for a record company to tell them when an artist will release new material. All you have to do is Google the artist name to get your update. Jody adds, “If I’m curious about certain artists, I would just Google them and find their Twitter or Facebook page. I don’t have to wait to see if the video plays on BET or MTV anymore. I can just go to YouTube. It’s all about reality TV now therefore, everything is more accessible and older fans must go on You Tube because they will not hear certain songs on commercial radio. Technology is just changing the habits of how people discover music.
With the Internet and social media dominating the way we live fans, colleagues and artists can interact with each other easily. “I met Erykah Badu on Twitter”, says Jody. “She is one of my twitter friends and has given me high praises. It’s great because you can hook up directly with the artist. Back in the day you had to go through a manager and hope the artist got the message that someone wanted to collaborate with them.” It’s easy to directly stay in touch with artists today. Ebony magazine has announced their top 25 black music style icons and Jody Watley was listed among some amazing artist. “It’s an awesome list of musical icons which include Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Beyoncé, Prince, Lenny Kravitz, and Michael Jackson”, recalls Jody. “It is an honor for me anytime that type of acknowledge comes my way. It was a nice surprise to be included with my contemporaries and artists I grew up inspired by as a child.” Not only do fans love Jody; designers love her as well. She mentioned that a young French designer by the name of Jerome C Rousseau designed a fierce booty for her. “All the young girls love his shoes: Rita Ora, Katy Perry and his 2014 collection is inspired by Jody Watley”, says Jody. “My style has always been a part of my music. With some great artist you can always attach a visual and that’s what sets them apart beyond just having talent; they have a vibe. When you think of Jimi Hendrix, you have a visual of what he looks like and his style.”
Jody has always marched to the beat of her own drum whether it’s with the jumbo earrings or high fashion outfits. Jody revealed to me that back in the day the record companies didn’t understand the bridge between fashion and music. When “Harper’s Bazaar” asked Jody to be in the magazine, the record company couldn’t understand what a fashion magazine had to do with selling records. Jody had to pay her own way to get to New York for the shoot because the record company wouldn’t pay for it. Now the record companies understand and that’s why you see Beyoncé, Rihanna and other girls inside the magazines. I can only guess that Jody Watley helped to open that door. The labels were only worried about crossover backlash or what the urban audience was going to think. The advice Jody leaves for those following in her footsteps is to know who you are. “Know yourself and don’t wait for somebody to tell you who you are; know who you are”, advises Jody. “You have to be strong and don’t be afraid to say, “no”. I’ve never been afraid to say “no” no matter what the repercussions would be. Stay true to yourself and hold onto that because when all is said and done, you will have to live with yourself. This industry will chew you up and spit you out. We have seen sadly enough some artists who became self-destructive losing the balance between show business and life. Living your life is number one and you have to keep that in mind. Don’t just aspire to be famous or rich; aspire to be joyful and great in what you do. This industry can make you lose yourself and you might end up doing all kinds of things. I’ve never written or recorded a song that I felt I couldn’t sing 25 or 30 years later and feel good about it.” Hmmm... That’s a good point. Maybe that’s why some artists don’t want to sing the old songs. It could be that they didn’t like the song in the first place. Now I understand what artists may have gone through and I will never ask them to sing old songs again. What brings back good memories for fans may not be the same for the artist. As I ended the interview, Jody’s last words of advice for aspiring artists was like getting a golden key. “You have to always hold onto your authentic self in this business and watch your own back. Never believe that someone is going to watch your back better than you.”
THE OUTSPOKEN & BRUTALLY HONEST Interview by Belinda Trotter-James
came into the national spotlight when she appeared as Jackie Christie’s friend on Basketball Wives LA. However, fans of Ms. Carter know that she has been an actress long before the LA spotlight. New fans have formed an opinion about her before seeing her long list of movie roles. In this exclusive interview Sundy will clear up a lot of things that we witnessed while she was on Basketball Wives and reveal how she feels about the entire experience and her upcoming projects. Since Sundy is friends with many Hollywood celebrities, it was only a matter of time before she would be discovered and put in front of cameras that loved every move she made on Basketball Wives LA… “Jackie and I are really, really good friends and she vented to me a little bit about what was going on in the previous season and I just gave her some sound advice,” explains Sundy. “The producers liked the chemistry between Jackie and me so she put a word in and I went in to do an interview and it kind of spiraled into me being on the show.” In the previous season it looked as though Jackie was always in the middle of a misunderstanding with the girls. Then when Jackie appeared the next season with Sundy, audiences thought Jackie had a partner to pull into the drama. However, that did not happen. Jackie appeared to be an angel on the show while Sundy seemed to be the fire starter. She could not get mad at how she was portrayed on the show because it did happen however, Sundy clears up exactly what we thought we saw... “This is the thing…” begins Sundy. “When you deal with reality television, you have to look at it with a grain of salt. You have to understand editing; you have to understand that you’re in the moment and don’t know what realistically happened. So how they portrayed me on the show I wouldn’t say that I’m mad at it because those things did happen and they did occurred however, what I don’t like is the part that wasn’t shown to make those things occur. They did not show me being provoked into saying something that was said. Therefore, if the audience is observing my reaction, then they can come to the conclusion that it was me being a bully or me being a shit starter or a hater and all those things. They thought it was me being negative and it wasn’t. They never saw all the things that happened to bring all of that out. I don’t think anybody in their right mind would just go on national TV for no reason and just start bashing everybody.” “I don’t think I came across like that initially because if you go back to the very first episode, I was trying to be cordial with everybody that was there. However, I feel like people had Googled me, looked me up and brought up things that were none of their business. I felt like these girls had it out for me and I don’t understand why. I wanted to be very organic to the show. I didn’t want to look anybody up on Google and certain people I didn’t have to look up because I already know a little bit about them. So as far as how they portrayed me on the show, I can’t say I’m mad at it because it is what it is. It’s just basically a part of editing and that sort of thing so I cannot be mad at it at all to be very honest. I can’t jump for joy either and say, ‘Oh yes! I love my character on the show.’” “I think if people could just step back, look at the situation at hand and say to themselves, ‘I wonder why or what happened prior to this conversation?’ If they would’ve gotten the full feel, I bet people’s opinion of me would be totally different. I couldn’t believe the reaction I was getting from viewers. Wow, I’m like the biggest villain on the show and I didn’t even know. It’s crazy because when you’re in the moment, you’re just being who you are; every one has an opinion. It’s not a scripted show. I’m very outspoken and people take me being outspoken as something totally different when I’m just being brutally honest. If I don’t like something, I’m going to speak up. If you ask me, ‘Do you like my shoes?’ I’m not going to say I like your shoes if I really don’t. I’m going to say, ‘No’. I’m going to give you an honest answer. Don’t ask me if you don’t really want to know the truth and that’s pretty much what a lot of those scenarios were about. It wasn’t about them asking my opinion, but if I don’t agree with something, I’m not just going to agree. I’m not going to follow the crowd. I’ve never been a follower. I’ve always been one to lead and that’s just what it is. I never was a cliquish kind of girl. I don’t roll in clicks so I felt like at some point the girls had clicked up and it was three against three.”
Reality TV has a way of manipulating the audience to see a person in one way or another. The magic of editing can either make you or break you. With that being said would Sundy take the chance to do another reality show? She replies, “You know what… I would do another reality show. I have already opened my life to the world. I feel like there are so many other layers that need to be shown and exposed. I definitely would do it so that people can get to know that other side of Sundy. People need to see that I am America’s sweetheart and I’m not that horrific person. I am a humanitarian, I do have a heart, I do love, I am not a hate filled person… I am not that person at all. To get to know me is to love me. Everyone that knows me knows who I am. They have been in my company, they have had conversations with me and those who have been in my life have nothing bad to say about me whatsoever. Even they were surprised and said, ‘What the hell is going on?’ So I would definitely do another reality show. Why not.” Doing a reality show can be wonderful however, when you put yourself out there, you have to take the positive comments along with the negative. There are some fans that make it their life’s work to put negative information out on celebrities whether it’s true or not. “You have to understand these are fans,” says Sundy. “These are people that have literally nothing to do. They have nothing but time on their hands. I don’t know what it is that makes them want to pick at a person. I look at it like this… When you are chosen, you are always going to be ridiculed. When you have that ‘wow’ factor, when you have something totally different about you, people are going to attack that and they’re going to try to make you look as negative as possible even in a good light. They don’t showcase me feeding the homeless, they don’t showcase the fact that I paid for two girls to go to their prom. I paid for their gowns, hair, nails and a car service. I provided everything for these unfortunate girls who couldn’t afford to go to their senior prom. They don’t showcase the great that I do. So, I just equate that to the Bible. I always go
back to my roots which is the Bible and I look at Jesus Christ and say, ‘Wow, Jesus did so many wonderful things, but look at what they are doing to him. Look at what they’re saying about him.’ I’m not trying to compare my self to Jesus, but what I’m saying is he was chosen and if you look at the greatest people that were chosen… Martin Luther King… Malcolm X… they were all ridiculed for being great. I mean clearly God has a purpose for me and greatness is within that purpose. Somewhere along the line it has to be there because it is no way I should have so much negative feedback. Many people feel they know me well enough to hate me… Really? They don’t even know me. They don’t know anything about me besides what they see on TV and for all you know it could be a scripted show. You don’t know me, but you’re developing an opinion. On the flip side I do have some people who are my fans who love, support and care about me. They live all over the world as far away as Africa. So I get those messages as well. It’s like a Catch-22… I feel like the great ones are ridiculed and I’m not bragging, but there is definitely something different about me.” It’s a shame that people can do well by others and still be seen negatively. If this is happening to you, it only means that a major blessing is about to come your way because if it wasn’t true then negative forces wouldn’t be trying so hard to make you give up and drop to your knees in frustration. This is just part of the journey so don’t you dare give up in your quest for love, happiness and freedom. Even though for some this is the first time seeing Sundy on a national level, she is an actress first and has appeared in over eleven movies which include State Property, Bringing Down The House, Soul Plane, Ex$pendable, 4 Life and After Autumn just to name a few. Sundy adds, “I have a history in theater as well. I just did a play entitled, My Husband’s Mistress with Tara Wallace from Love & Hip-Hop and I am working on other things. I have so many things down the pipeline that I am working on. So reality TV is kind of hard when you’re in reality TV and you try to flip over to film or TV. The transition will be easy for me to go back to film and TV from being on reality TV because I did TV and film first. I didn’t come into this doing reality television. I started off acting and I have about 12 movies under my belt.”
“When music videos were a great thing to do at the time, I was in great videos where I didn’t have to be the girl who had to be naked. I was able to be an actress in the videos. I didn’t have to pop my booty, drop down or shake it. I didn’t have to be that girl. I was very fortunate to be able to pick strategically what it was that I wanted to do. State Property was my foundation and that’s where I started and it just snowballed from there; next was Soul Plane and Bringing Down The House. People look at these roles and say, ‘Oh that was such a small role,’ but in Hollywood there is no such thing as a small role. I don’t even look at it like a bad thing; I look at it as a great experience for me. I learned so much more because not only am I in this movie, but I’m also behind the camera looking, observing and watching everything. I was just taking everything in so I’m learning on both ends. At the end of the day I will always get a residual check and my name will always be in the credits at the end so I will be forever be paid by any movie I have ever done.” Sundy also takes time out of her busy schedule to lend a hand in charitable events plus has a foundation she started. “My foundation is called My Heart Foundation and it was started because my son had heart surgery when he was one years old,” remembers Sundy. “Heart disease runs in my family on my mother’s side and for some reason it only shows up in the boys of the family. All of her brothers have either had some kind of heart situation, heart surgery, a murmur or something, but we learned very on that my son had a particular heart disease. We had to wait a whole year until he could get the surgery because he was too small to have it before then. After he got the surgery they told me he wouldn’t grow pass four feet; he is 6’2”. They said he will never be able to play sports; he played basketball, football… he does everything! He’s in the gym, he boxes, and he does so many things so my foundation is dedicated to my son, Derek. I really just wanted to bring awareness to heart disease in children and to let people know that you don’t have to be an older person or obese have heart problems. There are so many scenarios and that’s why you have to be very careful and mindful when it comes to your children. They must be checked so that they don’t have these problems. They could have missed that in my son if I didn’t take him to the hospital.” To keep the awareness going on heart disease in children Sundy hosts Sip ‘n Shop pop ups every few months to raise awareness and money. “I like to do Sip ‘n Shop events. I did one Sip ‘n Shop silent auction in LA. I took all the clothes that I wore on Basketball Wives LA and auctioned them off. Then I took the money raised from the event and gave it to a children’s hospital in LA. I’m working on getting a website built and doing more events. The LA Sip ‘n Shop was so successful that I did one in Atlanta, Philly, DC and Baltimore.” To have something that looked like a tragedy ultimately turned into something very beautiful and helpful which brought awareness to children with heart disease. Many celebrities who have had some sort of tragedy or challenge will often use their voice and celebrity status to bring awareness, light and love to those in need. “You have to use your voice,” says Sundy. “When you have a voice, you have to use your platform to speak about it and let people know plus you have to educate them. What type of person is a celebrity who says nothing? What is that? Along with the Sip ‘n Shop I was also able to showcase small urban businesses that don’t really get the chance to showcase their items and have someone come out and wear/use their products. I host the event, I go to the different vendors and I speak with them about the event. People might miss what I do because there is so much negativity out there. They may see that I do a Sip ‘n Shop, but may not know the story behind why I do a Sip ‘n Shop. Sometimes the negativity can outshine the positive things I do. You can read all about the My Heart Foundation on Sundy’s Instagram. Fans of Sundy can also check out her fan page at whosthatladyent.com to see where the next Sip ‘n Shop pop-up will take place along with her other projects. Stay tuned…
WHY DO Black women COMPETE WITH ONE ANOTHER? By Letrise T. Carter
Why do Black women compete with one another when we were all designed and made uniquely different? Our curves are not the same, our character is not the same, our physics is not the same, and our intellectual position is not the same. Our destiny is not the same. Yet, we all compete with one another as if we are shackled together. Why must we as women attempt to fit in with other women? Is it our pride or ego that is manipulated into thinking we must compete? It’s the burdens on societal rules and stereotypes that have invaded our domain. We enter relationships thinking on an ordinary level, yet we are not ordinary! We are a gift created to bare the unthinkable pain and bring forth life. We are caregivers, we are lovers, we are teachers, and yet we still compete. We are sexy, we are alluring, and we are ecstasy! We are the missing rib that unites the second greatest love that man could receive. Why must we want to be ordinary when we are unique? Our lips, eyes, and hips are unique to our creator’s sculpted masterpiece. We are a one of a kind. So why must we compete to be ordinary, when we were created to be a one of a kind masterpiece? So the question remains, why are we as Black women competing with other women when we are all different? About the Author: Letrise Carter is the CEO and contributing writer to Sistah’s Place2 Blog Corner at www. sistahsplace2.blogspot.com and Sistah’s Place2 Entertainment Showcase at www.sistahsplace2. com . She is currently working on her debut fictional romance and drama novel Sister’s Secret written under the pen name Mya Diamonds due out late summer 2015. She resides in Chicago, Illinois. www.Twitter.com/sistahsplace2 www.Facebook.com/sistahsplace2. Email: Letrise@sistahsplace2.com
THE HEARTBREAK SURGEON Interview By Belinda Trotter-James
When we speak about our trailblazers in the entertainment industry, one lady that is definitely on the ‘A’ list is American born actress, author, screenwriter, director, producer along with being a heartbreak recovery expert… Troy Byer! You know her work from appearing in such films as Francis Ford Coppola’s, “The Cotton Club” and was a regular on ABC’s prime-time soap opera “Dynasty”. She went on to appear in other films such as Disorderlies, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Eddie, The Gingerbread Man and John Q just to name a few. She wrote the film B*A*P*S followed by writing and directing “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Love Don’t Co$t A Thing”. Those bold moves made her the first woman of color to write and direct a studio-released film. If you remember watching Sesame Street, then you probably have seen Troy. It was the beginning of a brilliant acting career. “Yes it started with Sesame Street,” says Troy. Who would have thought Sesame Street would be on the air this long!?! Troy knew… “Oh absolutely I did because I knew the creative team of Jim Henson, Lisa Carr and all those people who worked on it. They were very clear on what they were doing and that’s providing education for children,” explains Byer. “As long as we have children, we’ll have education. It was a match right out the gate.” Troy asked me if I remembered the show, Zoom. I did and automatically started singing the theme song in my best tone death voice. She immediately figured out my age since I knew exactly what she was referring to with the show. Of course we laughed about playing the, “How old are you” game. She would have been great on Zoom. “I wanted to be on Zoom”, says Troy. “That was a good show.” Aside from her acting Troy has jumped into the female screenwriting and directing pool. Sometimes when you don’t see your favorite actors all the time, it’s not because they have stopped working or retired. We find that they are exploring and experiencing life with other areas of hidden talents that they have decided to tap into. Troy shares how she got sucked into the pool… “I started writing because there weren’t enough good roles for actors,” starts Troy. “I didn’t like the stuff I was being offered so I started writing. When I wrote B*A*P*S, that was my first piece. They didn’t hire me; they hired Halle Berry which I’m grateful for because we got the movie made, but I originally wrote that for myself… that was the whole intention, but I didn’t have enough of a ‘name’ to get the movie made and so after that I felt that if I want to hire myself not only do I have to write it, I have to direct it because the director decides who gets hired. So my writing and directing was all about my commitment to provide a better role for myself.” As my momma used to say, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself ’ and that’s exactly what Troy did. The next film she wrote and directed for herself was, “Let’s Talk About Sex”. “I played one of the leads. I played the role of Jazz,” says Troy. Now that Troy has the acting, writing and directing notches in her belt it was definitely time to tap into her talent as an author. Her best selling self-help book is an insightful look in healing heartbreak called, Ex-Free: 9 Keys To Freedom After Heartbreak. For the past few years ladies have been listening to Steve Harvey to get over their relationship problems. However, we find that Troy has been giving a woman’s perspective on relationship issues and what to do about them. She has been featured on Steve’s show a few times. He states, “Troy is a Superhero of healing people with heartbreak. This book is a must read for anyone who’s ever had an EX.” “Steve already had his show on the radio”, says Troy. “We started doing relationship tours together which was really fun.” I told Troy that my sister-in-law was dating a guy for seven years. When she realized he had no intention to put a ring on it, she terminated the relationship. We knew she did the right thing because after all those years, he didn’t come after her because she was not the one. He loved her but not enough to put a ring on it. Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger says a man should know in one year if you are the one. However, everyone has their own story and Troy had two eye popping tales… “Well, with my first marriage you’re talking to someone who dated her husband for three weeks and married him”, remembers Troy. “With my second husband we dated for two weeks and got married. So when you say wait for a year, sheesh! That’s a lifetime to me.” We both laughed. I dated my husband for a year and we eloped in November of our second year. I thought I had Troy beat but, she blew me out the water. “Yeah, I won’t do that again,” says Troy. “First of all I don’t think I’m getting married anymore if I can help it.” If you guessed that ExFree is a book based on her relationships, you’re right. “Some of it, yes it is,” admits Troy.
“Because my first and second… Wow I can’t believe I’m saying my first and my second husband… With my first husband our divorce was very amicable and we really had a wonderful divorce. I mean the experience was great. I got to know him better and it was really cool. At that point I thought, ‘Wow, maybe I can write a book to let people know that you don’t have to be angry or suffering. So it was partially from experience and partially from my training as a psychologist. Getting married again after a divorce is something that is so personal and individualized that there is no right or wrong answer. After two marriages Troy hinted that she may not do it again. Her mother was married eight times. Maybe her hesitation has to do with not wanting to outdo her mom. Troy responds, “Oh I definitely don’t want to beat her record. Make no mistake about that. I don’t want to be married again because there is no reason for me to be married. My son is grown, I don’t need to be married for money thank God and I have my house; I have my life… What would I get married for?? With my last husband I did it because he really wanted to get married and I really liked him, but I wasn’t ready to marry him. I shouldn’t have married him. He’s a great guy. We would probably still be together if we did not get married.” With both marriages Troy did not have the traditional wedding with the ‘must have’ white wedding dress along with the long months of planning and inviting guests. She eloped with both marriages. “I eloped both times because if I would have had a wedding my friends would have said, ‘STOP THE WEDDING!!! So, I eloped,” reveals Troy. When it comes to love, relationships, heartbreak and starting over there is a never ending story to tell. There are millions of stories to write and relationships to experience. Troy’s next code to crack is the subject of being, “Between Husbands” which is her next thought provoking book.
“Troy is a SuperHero of healing people with heartbreak.” ...Steve Harvey
“That particular book is going to be a five year process”, says Troy. “I’m collecting essays from women who are between husbands. I’m looking at what they are experiencing now that they are not married and how they get to experience things all over again like having that first kiss again. What would your first kiss be like? So I will be looking at stuff like that. I am collecting some really great data so don’t look for the book for at least another four years.”
However, she asked me if I made a mistake when I was eight years old? I would guess that I did.
Now that’s going to be a good book worth waiting for. Actually Troy should turn it into a movie. There are lots of women between husbands who are still hurting five years or more later. It’s something that has not been addressed enough. It’s just like labor pains… After the baby is born, no one bothered to mention that you may still have labor pains!!! Stop keeping things to yourself. Life has many, many layers and the only way you are going to peel through some of life’s layers is to find out from others who have gone before you how to get through the fire without coming out crispy. It’s okay to be a little scorched, but no one wants to come out crispy.
The way the conversation was going meant that my spirit was talking to her spirit. I didn’t think she was analyzing me. I knew that she was helping my spirit pull off one of the layers of my humanness. As I was typing this section, I do remember being about eight years old coming home with my mom and brother. We lived in a walk up which was about five flights of stairs. I ran ahead and was waiting at the door. It seemed like they were taking forever to climb the five flights so I yelled FIRE! Wow! It worked. They were up the stairs in record time and I got the tongue lashing of life from my mother because there was no fire. I made a mistake in yelling the word ‘fire’.
The next question I asked was very telling of how some women handle breaking up, then going back to an ‘ex’ and then calling it a mistake. Troy broke down the word, ‘mistake’… “The thing about a mistake is if it produces a result that disempowers you,” says Troy. “There are no mistakes if there is value. So if you go back to an ex to have sex, there is value in that; it’s just taking care of business. There is nothing wrong with using each other. However, I don’t want you to misuse each other.” So what I found out in speaking with Troy is that I have been using the word mistake to identify an experience that wasn’t really a mistake. It was just an experience. Therefore, our vocabulary and the definitions of words have to change. When I was growing up the word ‘mistake’ was always used for something or some situation that went wrong. Then Troy asked me to think about the time when I was eight years old. Girl, I can’t remember what I did yesterday.
“When you were eight years old, you probably made a mistake”, analyzes Ms. Byer. “Words stick with us around eight or nine years old. That’s when it happens. That’s a word that probably stuck with you when you were about eight or nine. I’m not trying to analyze you but, that’s probably where that word lives in you.”
This is why it’s so important to read books by Troy and others regarding insights to your situation. You have to learn that you are a spirit walking around in a human body that makes mistakes. Until you start peeling back the scares that may plague your life, you can walk around the earth feeling like something is wrong and not know how to fix it. Once you get a chance to speak to someone like Troy or Steve, you will be able to free yourself of those heavy layers of issues that make life seem lonely and unbearable at times. The combination of Troy Byer and Steve Harvey is a lethal injection on how to gain insight on how to get over the heartbreak of an Ex or how to know if he is ‘the one’. The powerful principles they reveal through their books, workshops, films and Steve’s television show is priceless.
Troy thought I was going to end the interview so that she wouldn’t be able to go deeper into my layers. However, I knew that she has been busy earning her doctorate in psychology. I know and recognize when answers start to appear in my life. I have learned to sit still for a few minutes during my day to go within for guidance. So I was very grateful for her insight. As I was telling Troy about my spiritual journey, she revealed to me that she is coming out with meditation tapes in the spring called “Psychological Meditation”. “It’s therapy on demand”, explains Troy. “If you’re going through frustration, you can go to the tape on frustration and it will explain what frustration is and how it impacts you psychologically and then there is a guided meditation to do.” Most people feel that there is nothing to help you get through life smoothly. However, I find that the guidance one seeks is within themselves. People always rush outside of themselves to fix a problem when the answer is always within. All you have to do is sit still. That’s what the story of The Wizard of Oz was all about. I know it sounds crazy, but you have nothing to lose by trying it for yourself. With Troy’s meditation tapes I know you will be able to peacefully go through the fire. Remember how diamonds start out as dirty rocks that are put under intense heat only to emerge as beautiful, strong, brilliant diamonds. When you are able to live life on your terms, you find the time to help others. Troy has been very active with the Penny Lane Organization which helps with foster care, homeless children and transitional youth. “I do work with youth who have aged out of the foster care system, but are not quite prepared to take care of themselves yet”, explains Troy. “They are between the ages of 18-23. What I do is something like a sponsorship/mentorship program. Right now I have one specific girl that I am working with and we are helping her get a driver’s license. I find a project for each of the kids I am working with and together we find out what they want to accomplish and when. We help them manage their lives and let them know that they are not alone.” Troy’s next film is due out later this year. You can celebrate tax day by seeing the film. She wrote and directed it based on her book Ex-Free called “I Really Hate My Ex”. It stars some of our most talented actors which include the one and only Troy Byer, Chris Spencer, Leon Robinson, Darrin DeWitt Henson, Shari Headley, JD Lawrence, Bresha Webb, Ernie G, Daphnee Duplaix, Tomiko Fraser Hines, Christopher Bailey and Michael Bernard Beckwith.
Fans can keep up with Troy on Twitter and other social media networks as well as her website www. troybyer.com. Remember to pick up your copy of Ex-Free: 9 Keys To Freedom After Heartbreak available now in paperback, kindle, Ebook and audio. It also includes a 21 day Freedom Action Plan! Enjoy!
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