Huami Magazine Dallas/Fort Worth March/April 2024

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2024 Volume 3 Issue 2 ® MasterBarber Mentor Trailblazer CHARLOTTE, NC

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Business Owner Dallas/Fort Worth - March/April 2024 2 336-558-4660 O u r m i s s i o n i s t o s a f e g u a r d t h e c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , i n t e g r i t y , a n d a v a i l a b i l i t y o f i n f o r m a t i o n s s y s t e m s , i d e n t i t y , a n d d a t a a s s e t s b y p r o v i d i n g p r o a c t i v e s e c u r i t y e x p e r t i s e , c r e a t i n g a n d m a i n t a i n i n g a r e s i l i e n t a n d s e c u r e i n f r a s t r u c t u r e , a n d f o s t e r i n g a c u l t u r e o f s e c u r i t y a w a r e n e s s .
e g o b e y o n d i n d u s t r y s t a n d a r d s .
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Now, Then, Later....... Just Get It Done!

There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It!

A Letter from the Editor

Well, the first quarter of 2024 is almost over, and the question that I ask is, what have you done so far? If you are like me, you have created a list of goals for this year, and with anything, life has happened. With many distractions and obstacles, it can often be difficult to sift through the many challenges. However, success is a close friend of determination and persistence, so I encourage you to push and persevere and remember why you made that list in the first place.

What if tomorrow didn’t arrive? All of your plans, hopes and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never happened? There would be no reason to save for a rainy day, and you could spare someone the trouble of making promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired today? What would you do?

I often imagine what it would be like if everything that I imagine I could do, I get it done. It feels so good to plan, yet it does not always work out how I plan. I truly believe that God gives us each a divine plan and purpose for our lives. I believe God speaks purpose into our minds and hearts, but He doesn’t stop there. He intends for us to return to Him for guidance and instruction for our purpose.

I’ve been told that I often seem like I do too much. Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on me that I couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonder how life would be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity is a blessing that isn’t afforded to everyone. A challenge to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn something new about myself. Relinquish your pride and in return acquire life.

I once heard that if God blessed us like an all-you-can-eat buffet, we would probably eat all that we can eat in one setting and never return to Him for anything more. That is not how God works. God wants us to stay connected and follow the path He creates for our lives, which is constructed with steps that must be followed as He intended.

As we approach the second quarter of the year, I want to encourage you to revisit the goals you have in place and remind yourselves of your why. If we can think about it, then it is possible. If we trust God’s plan, then it will definitely happen, and it will happen in His time.

The best advice ever given to me happened when someone told me to make my tomorrow happen today. In doing so I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only hope provided. I have also learned the difference between what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and when to be quiet, because someone may get it confused with being arrogant.

Work on your goals and dreams and goals now. All of your hard work will pay off. More than anything, we must keep pursuing what we have asked for. We must trust God and get it done!

Make you tomorrow happen today, but most importantly make it count. Life is but a whisper and we must put ourselves in a position to hear what it is telling us. Dallas/Fort Worth - March/April 2024 4 4 November/December 2014 Want To Advertise? Call (336)340-7844 Editor In Chief Terry L. Watson Alana Allen - Deputy Editor Writers Tonya Dixon Terry L. Watson Alana Allen Jeuron Dove Photographers Perfect Lenz Photography Shaw Photography Group Still Shots Photography Who Shotya Photography Layout Mykel Media Company Linda Bennett HUAMI MAGAZINE is published quarterly by the Mykel Media Company. Any reproduction of any portion of this publication is prohibited without written permission from the publisher prior to doing so. Mykel Media doesn’t accept responsibility for statements made by individuals featured or advertisers. Comments concerning this publication P.O. Box 20102 (336) 340-7844 On The Cover Photo by Shaw Photography Group
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Dr. Jay Davis
Master Barber. Mentor. Trailblazer
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McNair Foundation Inc. Daryle McNair Dr. Ardeanna Dale Wideman Sylvia Pennington Artesha Fernandez

Dr. Jay Davis, a renowned A-list barber located in the southwest community of Dallas, TX, is a trailblazer in the barbering and hair replacement industry. Born and raised in Arkansas, he now calls Dallas home and has over 17 years of expertise in barbering and mentoring. Without question, Dr. Jay is a highly respected figure in his field.

In the ever-evolving world of barbering, Dr. Jay Davis has set the bar high, and his consistent passion and dedication have led to endless opportunities. Notably, Dr. Jay holds the distinction of being the youngest barber to earn a doctorate, a testament to his dedication and commitment to his craft. His passion for education and skill development led him to establish the upcoming MasterBarber University, an institution dedicated to nurturing the next generation of top-tier barbers and entrepreneurs. Dr. Jay’s innovative techniques and profound understanding of hair aesthetics have made him a sought-after professional among the A-list clientele, such as God Shammgod, Raekwon, Floyd Mayweather, and many more. Even more, Dr. Jay’s work is not just about cutting hair; it’s about enhancing each client’s personal style and confidence and building lifelong relationships.

He shares, “As a mentor, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and expertise. I am also committed to inspiring up-and-coming barbers to reach their full potential. I hope that my journey from Arkansas to evolving to being a respected professional worldwide will serve as a beacon of inspiration for many.”

Jay shares that his success is a reflection of the sound family structure he was raised in. “Family has been my main support system all of my life, and it is very important to me. I have one son, Jayden Davis. My parents were married two days before I was born and continue to be, now for 38 years. I also have two brothers and a sister, and I am the oldest of the boys and have many nephews and nieces. Family is all we got, and we have to stick together. If one has an opportunity to lead, he must lead the family the best he can, and others will follow.”

Family is all we got, and we have to stick together. If one has an opportunity to lead, he must lead the family the best he can, and others will follow.
Dallas/Fort Worth - March/April 2024 7

Jay graduated from a small school, Arkadelphia High School in Arkansas, with an advanced diploma in 2003. He attended a few different colleges and studied engineering before dropping out his senior year to enroll in barber school. He later graduated from New Tyler Barber College in North Little Rock, AR, in 2008 and graduated with a Crossover and Instructor License from Washington Barber College in SW Little Rock in 2015. He achieved the status of a Hair Replacement Specialist in 2017 and an SMP Specialist (Scalp Micropigmentation) in 2020. That same year, Jay graduated from Miracle University in Virginia with his Doctoral Degree.

Jay is the owner of Master Barber LLC, a brand and school that promotes education, cosmetic and barbering events, products, and much more. Jay says, “At Master Barber, our mission is to provide high-quality education and training to aspiring barbers. We strive to create a supportive learning environment that encourages our students to develop their skills, knowledge, and confidence. This includes full service grooming, image consulting, as well as hair replacement systems for clients dealing with hair loss.” He also owns Associated Building Consultants LLC, a consulting company that consults with barber/stylist entrepreneurs on their business and future decisions. Additionally, Jay manages short-term rental and cleaning companies, including Not A Trace Cleaning Co.

It’s obvious that Jay is a man of many talents. I mean, look at all that he has accomplished in such a short period of time. He shares, “I always knew as a kid that I would be successful just because of my drive and the hunger to learn things. I always strived for excellence because I wanted to be somebody. Yet, I never knew that I would be a barber or entrepreneur. I thought I would be an engineer or work in finance.”

With all his potential to be anything he wanted to be, life would present Jay with a few twists and turns. “I made a bad decision that landed me in prison; whilst incarcerated, I truly understood what it meant to be patient, seeing as that in jail, you are on someone else’s time. As I sat in a jail cell in 2009, I gained a lot of vision, and I told myself that all I had to do was put 100% into my craft and trust the Most High! I told the Most High to show me the way, and it became clear why I was there and that this journey was for me. I knew I wanted to be impactful, not just for my clients, but for my family and peers, seeing how we grew up and how many looked up to me. The vision sometimes would get blurry as I would stray away from my purpose. I would ask for guidance and strength to clear the obstacles and get back on the right path and for the strength to say no. Go home instead of being out all night, and the understanding of what it would take to be successful. My vision allowed me to broaden my horizon and do many other things outside of barbering.”


Jay says he loves the opportunity to bless someone with his grooming experiences. He is aware that many people are suffering from many things, and he realizes that hair brings back confidence and a positive mental attitude. “Self-confidence is everything, so to be able to bless them and make them more confident brings a rush of excitement to me. I love learning about different people and cultures and building personal and business relations with them. You learn to listen, and you learn to give advice. You learn it’s great to be a barber and count your blessings because so many are less fortunate. I have also fallen in love with being able to help my community and mentor the youth regarding life and the opportunities we have with the odds against us.”

It’s apparent that the challenges Jay has faced, including his past decisions and experiences, have helped him to become a better person, a better father, and an astute businessman. He adds, “Being in prison taught me how to be patient. To get home, I had to be patient so that I could be a father to my only son, who was born right before I went to prison. I had to be patient with myself to change because I was there not just for my decisions but mostly due to the lesson that was present for me to learn. Keeping the Most High first and focusing on my own spiritual growth allowed me to avoid the same mistakes I have made.”

Dr. Jay says that his life and career have been impacted by both people and experiences. Prison, as he’s mentioned, and also the Covid 19 pandemic. He also says a few mentors and business partners have helped him including Dr. Will McNeely, Curtis Smith (Xotics), Dr. Darrin Lyons (DL Master Barber), and Arlo Washington. While his journey has been challenging at times, Dr. Jay says he wouldn’t change anything. “The journey is what made me into who I am today. We all wish we could have done something differently or sooner had we known better; however, life doesn’t work that way and had we got whatever we wanted, we probably would have lost it all for not being mentally or spiritually ready for it”. h


The Academy, Modeling, Dance & Leadership, LLC

As children, we all have fond memories of spending time with family and watching our parents as they lead by example. We may not have thought much about it as children, but even the little things we saw left an imprint. Dr. Ardeanna Dale Wideman, affectionately known as Dr. Dee, encapsulated what she learned and has used it to help mold and mentor hundreds of young men and women throughout Greensboro, NC, Guilford County, and the surrounding areas.

The Academy, Modeling, Dance & Leadership, LLC, located in Greensboro, prides itself on being an organization whose focus is to help children see themselves as beautiful, capable, and qualified. Dr. Dee explains, “Our team of qualified instructors takes a holistic approach to prepare its members for leadership and performance opportunities. The mission of The Academy is to offer its members training in collegiate and commercial modeling styles, various dance techniques, and leadership mentoring. Each member participates in community service, servicelearning, and fundraising activities. Members are also groomed to showcase their skills in various public arenas, and they are reminded to regularly demonstrate the three Cs: Confidence, Charisma, and Class, on and off stage. Along with the models’ access to training, we encourage them to express their uniqueness. We accomplish this by offering our Tu-Tu Cute Fashions. The models make their own Tutu and implement their own style in fashion. These Tutu’s are also used in fashion shows. ”

At its core, The Academy was birthed from what should be the most common of places: Dr. Dee’s childhood influences. Blessed to have been influenced by three generations of women, Dr. Dee says these women shaped her eye for detail and aesthetics.

“I had the privilege of knowing and having had a relationship with my great-grandmother as well as my grandmother. My time with my grandmother was crucial to who I am and how I view the world. She was a woman who was always well put together. I remember going to her house; the decor was beautiful and immaculate. Everything had its place,” Dr. Dee shared.

Because of her exposure to the generations of women who shared their time teaching her the importance of always making sure you are as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside, Dr. Dee’s passion for fashion was ignited early in life. She shares, “As a child, I’ve always loved and gravitated towards fashion because of what I saw modeled by my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.”

Like most working-class families, Dr. Dee’s parents worked hard during the week, but the weekend was their time to go and release the stresses of the world. “My parents would get all dressed up to go out, and of course, I was impressed by them. I remember being a little girl watching


my mother and grandmother getting dressed for a night out. It wasn’t just putting on clothes and make-up. It was an event. It was time shared between mother and daughter, between women,” Dr. Dee said, reminiscing. “I watched them as they fussed over each other and consulted each other, you know, the way women do. ‘Momma, what do you think of this dress?’ ‘Oh, that’s going to look good on you!’ ‘Hey, I got this new lipstick. You like the color?’ they’d say. It was a beautiful interaction, and I was enchanted by the richness of it all.”

Dr. Dee learned at an early age that when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you look even better. “My mom knew how to sew. She was very good at it. She taught my three older sisters to do it, and they loved it, but I never took to sewing. I didn’t like the task of actually making the clothes. Instead, I loved fashion,” Dr. Dee shared.

Her love for fashion would continue to shape her young life. When she was young, Dr. Dee says her mom enrolled her in the 4H. (4H is a community-based program that has existed for nearly 100 years. It can be found at more than 100 public universities across the nation, and it provides experiences where young people learn by doing.) Dr. Dee says one of the elements of the program she experienced was sewing and fashion design. She says, “I was only interested in the final product.”

4H also taught her a valuable life lesson that she has passed on to her students. “There was a contest where we had to attach an interfacing. It was demonstrated to us, and we were given time to go home and practice. I got so frustrated because I couldn’t get the interfacing to lay right, the sewing machine bobbin kept getting jammed, and I couldn’t manipulate the stupid sewing machine for the life of me. Finally, it was the day of the competition, and everyone was paired off. Of my three older sisters, my eldest sister was the best at sewing, and of course, I was competing against her. When it was her time to go, she was absolutely perfect. Everybody

clapped, and then it was my turn. I sat down at the machine, but before I started, I did what I do best. I started entertaining the crowd,” she shared. “I started the process, then started making jokes. ‘Now, y’all. We don’t have to be absolutely perfect. And I don’t know anybody in here who is. If you are, send me the recipe so I can apply it to my life…’ And, of course, everybody started laughing. When I was finished, it wasn’t perfect, but everyone was laughing. But guess what… I won first place.”

Dr. Dee’s sister was infuriated, but she reminded her of this important fact, “I told her, you know what? You can be the smartest and sharpest pencil in the can, but attitude will take you places that academics alone will not. If you have both, the world is your oyster!” That is an important perspective she has helped young people adopt through fashion and leadership.

While 4H taught her more about the commercial and business side of modeling, her perspective on the profession changed while she was a student at North Carolina A&T State University. She says, “At NC A&T, I participated in the Couture Productions Modeling Troop. That experience allowed me to learn more about how clothes tell a story.”

Growing up, Dr. Dee was also very involved in the church. Her mother, a teacher, was a Missionary, and her stepfather was a Deacon. It was in the church that the sparks of her passion for fashion were fanned. She says, “The bug hit me early. I was always in fashion shows and pageants at my church. Then, as an adult, my first husband, who is the father of my three sons, became a pastor. So, I was a First Lady. The way we would fundraise was to put on fashion shows.” Staying true to her 4H background, she orchestrated the shows so they would have an overarching effect. “This was a fundraiser for the church, but it was also a community event. It was an opportunity for everyone to step out and do something different.”

Jasmine White Valerie Fearrington Chef Michael Stover

Understanding that knowledge is power, Dr. Dee has empowered her passion by seeking education and certifications that assisted her success as an educator and a leader. After graduating high school, she went the traditional route to higher education but left college to marry her first husband. After the marriage dissolved, she found her bearings, and there was no looking back. “I have five associate degrees, a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a doctorate. God has been great and allowed me to even start my first organization after going back to school,” Dr. Dee says casually.

She continued her education at Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC), earning a Diploma in Cosmetic Arts in 1997 and an Associate of Arts degree in Occupational Technology and Cosmetology Instructor Certification in 1998. She also earned an Associate of Arts degree in General Education in 1999 and an Associate of Science degree in Pre-Psychology in 2000.

While studying cosmetology, she learned how hair and fashion went hand in hand. “As students, we were encouraged to go to the Bronner Brothers hair shows, which were enlightening to me. I learned so much, but the most important takeaway was learning how cosmetic arts and fashion were connected,” she explained. She also shares her knowledge of cosmetology with her models. Dr. Dee’s salon, Upper Level Styling Salon, is located at the Academy and allows members to learn more about the profession firsthand.

After Cosmetology school, Dr Dee opened a salon but continued to teach at GTCC at night, all while being a single parent. As an instructor, she was challenged to engage her students and help them get through the theoretical aspects of their studies. So, she went to what she knew and loved, which was fashion.

Dr. Dee says, “Back then, many young ladies enrolled in cosmetology school just to say they were doing something. They either weren’t ready for university or didn’t want to go that route. They signed up for cosmetology classes, thinking it would be easy because they were doing hair. However, when they started classes and found themselves in chemistry, biology, and dermatology, they would become disenchanted.”

To keep her students excited, Dr. Dee took what she learned about the fusion of fashion and the cosmetic arts and started producing hair shows at GTCC. She involved her sons and other young men and found a way to include a fashion component in the shows.

In 2003, she left GTCC to focus on completing her master’s degree. As unbelievable as it may sound, while she was teaching full-time at GTCC, Dr. Dee ran her salon, raised her three sons independently, completed her bachelor’s degree, and ran the fashion/hair shows. Oh, and she also found time to work in the Guilford County school system.

Amazingly, acquiring higher learning is something Dr. Dee has managed to do very well. In addition to the degrees that have been mentioned, she has an Associate of Arts Degree in General Education, an Associate of Science Degree in Pre-Psychology, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She was working on her Master’s in School Counseling and was close to the end before having to leave GTCC and return to the school system to complete her practicum.

Latasha Blackwell Jean Wright

Something else that comes naturally to Dr. Dee is her love of children. She says, “No matter what I have been involved with, it has involved children. I taught choir and was a choir director for several choirs in the city, and I always had them do a fashion show as a fundraiser,” Dr. Dee laughed. “But seriously, the point I am getting to is that once I became a full-time counselor at Southwest Gilford High School, I saw some of the same kids I had worked with in the choirs. Life has a way to come back full circle.”

As a predominantly white institution, Dr. Dee shares that Southwest Gilford High School didn’t have many extracurricular activities for students of color. There were quite a few students of African-American descent who attended the school, but the majority of the student body was white. The activities at the time were soccer, croquet, and things like that. She often ran into many of her former choir members, and they would beg her to give them an outlet. “I listened, and I came up with some ideas and took them to the principal. He loved them. So, I started an organization called Fashion Forward,” she says.

Fashion Forward encouraged professionalism and leadership. It was available to sophomore through senior-level students, and students had to apply. Dr. Dee used her contacts in the community and had them come in and interview the students. The criteria were based on the four A’s: Attitude, Academics, Attendance and Attire. Students would have to come to the interviews dressed for success. If students passed the in-person interview, they were called back to the modeling audition and selected from there.”

Fashion Forward wasn’t just teaching students how to be runway models. It also taught them to be role models in the classroom and the community. She says, “Community service was a big part of the program. We performed concerts throughout the city, and at Christmas time, we collected toys and took them to the children at the local hospital. Then we put on a Christmas concert for them.”

Fashion Forward allowed students to shine, and the exposure allowed some models to receive offers and scholarships. Dr. Dee also presented each graduating senior who had completed the program with a $200.00 scholarship to help with college expenses.

Eventually, the time came for Dr. Dee to leave Southwest. She would still manage the Fashion Forward program as an off-campus advisor, and her next assignment was at McLeansville Elementary School. There, she started a similar program, creating a perfect opportunity to introduce mentorship into the programs. The groups worked together, and the high school students participated when the elementary school had shows. When the high school had shows, the elementary students participated and got a glimpse of what they had to look forward to, and the high school students were role models. It was a win-win.

She has also worked at other schools and developed similar programs, including Quintessential Guys & PAW Power Ladies and the Triple T-Top Tigers & Tigeretts at Sedalia Elementary.

In 2012, Dr. Dee realized the impact the school programs were having on the participants. She decided it was time to stop limiting it to just the students in those schools. “I sat down with my legal team and talked it out. They agreed that I

The MDL Models The Picturesque Models

was proposing exactly what the community needed, and it would take off like hotcakes. This is when The Academy: Modeling, Dancing & Leadership LLC was born,” she says.

Dr. Dee pitched a multifaceted program encompassing modeling, leadership, mentorship, counseling, and community service. The program would function as a building block and strong foundation for the students who attended. It was initially called Lovely Ladiez & Gr8t Guyz Modeling & Leadership Academy, LLC. However, to be more inclusive, Dr. Dee dropped the gender-specific labels so that all would feel welcome. She shares, “I set the maximum number of students at twenty-five because I wanted to keep things intimate. The services we offer require a personal touch, and I don’t want to lose that element. I want people to know that although there is a cost for your child to attend the program, we work to keep things cost-friendly.”

The Academy has been going strong since 2012 and shows no signs of slowing down. After years of guiding and mentoring young boys and girls, it is only natural that some former students find their way back to her. “I now have the children of former students who attend The Academy,” Dr. Dee said proudly. She also created a space for adults, and the group was challenged to decide what their name would be. Dr. Dee says, “I said, ‘You know what? We all look different. We come in all different shapes and sizes, and we are all beautiful. We’re going to call ourselves Picturesque Models.”

The mission of Picturesque Models is to promote internal and external health and wealth while looking fashion fierce. With its establishment, Dr. Dee has seen her efforts come full circle. Students from the Fashion Forward program have returned with their daughters and are working side by side. This also rings true in her own life. As a child, Dr. Dee watched her mother, grandmother, and greatgrandmother model beauty inside and out. They taught her how to value herself, what strength looks like, and where true beauty comes from. Now, she is passing those same values on to her granddaughter, who works with The Academy. “I didn’t have daughters, and I named my son Gene, the male version of my mother’s name. He named his daughter Jean after my mom. Jean now works as an MDL instructor. I see the influential women in me, in her,” Dr. Dee shared.

Dr. Wideman is a proud member of The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated Delta Alpha Iota Zeta Chapter. This organization is very supportive of the programs with The Academy.


Dallas/Fort Worth - March/April 2024 15
The MDL Dancers

In the inviting city of North Little Rock, Arkansas, known for its waterfront attractions and warm Southern charm, there exists a culinary sanctuary called SAPs Creole Cuisine. Behind its doors lies not just a restaurant but a symbol of a remarkable woman’s journey—a journey marked by resilience, triumph, and an unwavering determination to live out her dreams.

At 38 years old, Sylvia Pennington is the proud owner and operator of SAPs, Creole Cuisine, which is recognized as being authentically New Orleans. The acronym SAPs is for (S)ylvia (A)nn (P)ennington. Her story is a testament to the power of the human spirit to rise above adversity. When Huami Magazine caught up with the restaurant owner, she was preparing a food-tasting presentation for the Arkansas Minority Health Commission (AMHC) as their official caterer for their upcoming health fair.

“I am attempting to combat the health crisis within minority and underserved communities. “Most people don’t want to eat healthy because they don’t want to sacrifice good-tasting food. I cook healthy food and my food tastes good. I’ve made my own seasoning for at least 15 years and every dish has its own no-salt seasoning.”

Her journey began in the vibrant, colorful city of New Orleans, where she was born and raised within the rich tapestry of the Creole culture. But her early years were marked by hardship and struggle. She was the youngest of three siblings; her family dynamic shifted when her mother married, and their family nucleus changed. “When my mother married my stepfather, we moved from the comfort of having my extended family close by to a very different life.”

Most people don’t want to eat healthy because they don’t want to sacrifice goodtasting food. I cook healthy food and my food tastes good.

Unfortunately, their family became poisoned by abuse and dysfunction. “Things were really bad. From the ages 11-16, I slept with a knife under my pillow for protection,” Sylvia said. Although she experienced a parental disconnect, there were others who were sent to fill those emotional voids.

“We spent lots of time in church and it was there that I met the late Lois Charles. God sent her to make my life a little easier because she just clung to me for some reason. She would hug me and love on me. She gave me something to look forward to. We called her mother and she was really like my other mama,” she shared. There were others who filled the emotional gaps, void of familial support.

“11SG Calvin Bassett stood out not just as a JROTC instructor but as a beacon of guidance and support. Recognizing the struggles I faced, Serg Bassett and his wife didn’t hesitate to extend their care beyond the classroom. They ensured I was clothed, provided me with glasses, and even introduced me to the world of fine dining — a first for me. More than a teacher, Serg became a mentor, imparting lessons on self-respect and the expectations one should have from others. In my heart, he occupies the space of a father, a sentiment echoed in his unwavering acceptance of me as a daughter. They have two sons, and I always say that I’m their third child,” she laughed.

Despite the challenges she faced, Sylvia’s spirit remained unbroken. Academically, she ranked in the top 10 of her class, graduating with honors in 2004 from L.B. Landry High School and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of New Orleans. Then, in 2005, Katrina hit. It was two months before my oldest daughter was born. Sylvia, along with approximately 30 family members, evacuated the area and ended up in Memphis, Tennessee, where she stayed for about seven months before returning back home to New Orleans.

In the aftermath of Katrina, Sylvia’s resilience was tested once again as she sought to rebuild her life amidst the chaos. Forced to leave New Orleans, She found herself in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she began a new chapter working in photography and raising her family. She never wavered from her heart’s desire to one day own her very own restaurant. But life had more twists and turns in store for Sylvia. A tumultuous marriage shrouded by infidelity left her feeling isolated and alone, but it was during this dark period that Sylvia found solace. Dallas/Fort Worth - March/April 2024 18

“I was feeling depressed. I begged God for peace..for 30 days, I prayed for peace. I isolated myself from everyone and spoke only with my brother.”

Fueled by a deep-seated passion for cooking instilled in her by her mother, Sylvia’s dreams never wavered. Despite the setbacks and challenges she faced, she remained steadfast in her determination to open her own restaurant. In 2022, that dream became a reality with the grand opening of SAP Creole Cuisine—a testament to Sylvia’s perseverance and unyielding spirit.

Today, you may find her spending time with her daughters, 18-year-old Myrionne and 10-year-old Mykell, or planning her upcoming wedding to her fiancé, Daron Plummer Jr.; she is a shining example of resilience, triumph, and love. Through the highs and lows of her journey, Sylvia has remained guided by faith and fueled by the love and support of those who have stood by her side.

As guests step through the doors of SAPs Creole Cuisine, they are greeted by delicious food and the indomitable spirit of a woman who refused to let life’s challenges define her.

Sylvia Pennington’s journey reminds us that no matter what obstacles we face, we can overcome anything with courage, resilience, and love. As she continues to write the next chapter of her story, Sylvia stands as an inspiration to us all, a beacon of hope in a world where anything is possible for those who dare to dream.

“What I love most is coming through the door, knowing that I accomplished my dream. I cut on my own light and see that God never left me.”


20 A T a s t e o f N e w O r l e a n s

The McNair Foundation Incorporated

“I Am About My Father’s Business”

Daryle McNair of Charlotte, NC, is the face and visionary of McNair Foundation Incorporated. This nonprofit organization focuses on preparing students for their future tomorrow. It also offers scholarships and educational assistance for deserving students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s).

The inspiration behind The McNair Foundation Incorporated is connected to Daryle’s desire to honor his parent’s legacy. He lost his father in 1995, and as time went on, he also lost his mother. Daryle shares that his mother and father made a great impression on him, and he always wanted to do something to honor them. “My father would always ask me what my plan was for my life. He wanted to know what I had in mind for my legacy and what I would do to be an asset to society, not a liability. I thought about education,” he says.

Daryle describes himself as a go-getter. He is very involved and a vital part of his community. Daryle is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. He works for Wells Fargo Bank as a Wholesale Relationship Associate in Commercial Investment Banking. Daryle is a proud Prince Hall Masonic Family member and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated member. Along with his wife Stefanie, who will celebrate 20 years of marriage in May, he has one daughter, Amiah.

My father would always ask me what my plan was for my life. He wanted to know what I had in mind for my legacy and what I would do to be an asset to society, not a liability. I thought about education
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The team of The McNair Foundation is composed of Daryle, the Founder and President; Dr. Stephen Cathcart, who serves as Vice President; Stephanie McNair, Secretary and Treasurer; and Ryan Howell, who oversees Fundraising and Technology. The organization also relies on the support of several volunteers.

Daryle focuses on education, specifically providing scholarships and educational assistance for students who attend HBCUs. Daryle also supports minority at-risk mentorships. “As an HBCU graduate, I was often around other HBCU graduates. I saw the importance of education and how it could prepare someone for what it would be like in the world, especially for a black man. I learned that it’s not a level playing field, and the HBCU experience helped prepare me for that,” he says.

When asked what he loves most about what he does, Daryle says it is the chance to help others. “Nothing beats the feeling of providing assistance or presenting someone with a check and helping them to continue their education. Whether it be speaking to someone and offering ideas and information, I love being able to help others. We also offer intercessory funding, which focuses on helping students who may have some funding but not enough. Knowing that I have a legacy of helping and serving others and being known for giving back, nothing beats that,” he shares.

The McNair Foundation is able to serve students anywhere within North Carolina. Their reach has extended to the eastern town of Rowland, NC, and even Durham. When an applicant is determined to be most deserving, The McNair scholarships are awarded. “We ask our prospective scholars to submit an academic resume and cover letter. When applying for a job, your resume will be the first thing someone will learn about you. The reason for doing so is we want them to get into the practice of being able to stand out on paper first,” Daryle explains. Dallas/Fort Worth - March/April 2024


Networking is something that Daryle has learned to master. He shares that with any nonprofit organization, you can never have enough funding. “Whether it be at Johnson C. Smith University or a cigar house, I am constantly networking and talking to people to let them know what we do and let them know what we do, just to see if we are a match. You have to be mindful of who your sponsors are. We have been blessed to have some great companies to believe in us and support our cause.”

One significant way Daryle and his team raise money for their organization is with The Annual McNair Invitational Golf Tournament. This year, it will happen on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Rocky River Golf Club in Concord, North Carolina.

Moving forward, Daryle is working on developing a virtual mentorship. Most often, to be able to make school visits to meet mentees, there is often a lot of paperwork to complete, including background checks, etc. The virtual mentorship will alleviate the need to make school visits and allow Daryle’s team to reach more people from greater distances through Zoom meetings. Daryle is also looking to sponsor an athletic league for young participants. “I think about the little guys who are playing football and basketball. Their participation can be economically challenging for their parents. We want to help ease that burden through sponsorship and allow these kids to participate. Their participation will keep them off the streets and learn the value of teamwork at an early age,” Daryle explains.

For more information about The McNair Foundation Incorporated or any of its programs, please visit their website. h


Learn More About My Experience of Being A Caregiver For My Mother

CHAPTER ONE: What Do We Do Now?

I can remember the day just as if it was today. My mother had suffered an Ischemic Stroke nearly four months ago, and it took her independence and her ability to communicate and left her paralyzed on the right side of her body. Within the previous 120 days, she had visited three different rehabilitation facilities, and we had reached the point in her recovery process that required our family to make a very difficult decision.

While in rehab, Mom didn’t make a lot of progress. Her ability to speak and her speech was measured very low, as she suffered from Aphasia. (A disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these areas are on the left side of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury. - Even more, she didn’t make a lot of progress in physical therapy and still required some assistance with every physical need. Our family all agreed that we didn’t want Mom to continue to reside in the Skilled Nursing Facility, so preparations were made for her to come home and to my home, to be more specific.

Photo Provided by Adobe Stock Photos
Yet, there was much more that my family and I would be tasked with doing, and we were thrust into the role of caregiver without any formal training or experience. The only tools and resources I had available to assist me were my unwavering love for my mother and a Godly assignment to honor her.

Coming to my home and providing accommodations for my mother’s new physical and emotional needs was something that I never imagined that I would ever have to do. Yes, my mother had new emotional needs, as she was still adapting to her new style of life, a style that depended on someone for everything she needed. At that time, I could only imagine how difficult that was for my mother, a woman who, up until the morning she suffered her stroke, was always helping anyone who needed help and putting all of her needs aside. If I could try to accurately describe the level of my mother’s independence before her brain injury, my best description would be of a servant and someone who refused to be still and rest until everyone else was taken care of.

What Do We Do Now?

The day finally arrived for my mom to come to her new home. As a family, my siblings had devised a plan to care for her. This also involved working with a reputable home care agency. With their assistance, my mother’s basic care needs would be met. All that I expected to do was coordinate the scheduling of their visits and administer my mother’s medicine, which would also involve insulin injections. We had plans in place to assist our mother with getting to the bathroom and managing things of that nature. I don’t consider myself to be a professional chef, but well before my mother’s stroke, she’d developed a love for my cooking, so I felt comfortable in that category. Yet, there was much more that my family and I would be tasked with doing, and we were thrust into the role of caregiver without any formal training or experience. The only tools and resources I had available to assist me were my unwavering love for my mother and a Godly assignment to honor her. Looking back on the previous 120 days, to even the day I got the call that my mother and best friend had suffered a stroke, and fast forward to the day my mother came to live in my home, my life would never be the same.

Welcome to the world of caregiving.


I decided to share my experience as a full-time caregiver for my mother to consult, console, and inform other families who may be going through a similar situation. As a son, caring for my mother never feels like work; if so, it is a labor of love. Please continue to follow this message, Becoming A Caregiver, in Huami Magazine.

I hope that sharing my experience will help others. From one caregiver to the next, God Bless You!

Dallas/Fort Worth - March/April 2024

Artesha Fernandez, also known as Teash, is best described as vibrant, spontaneous, funny, and stylish. She is also a popular creative and the face and voice of Tea with Teash Podcast, a Tea With Teash, LLC product. Tea With Teash discusses various topics, including health, relationships, and daily motivation.

Born and raised in Kansas City, MO, Teash enjoys being a representative of the culture. “I love engaging with the public and keeping up with all the awesomeness my Brown Sisters and Brothers possess,” she emphatically says. In addition to managing her podcast, Teash works as a Medical Biller for a local clinic specializing in Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology. She has an Associates Degree in Human Service Management and Healthcare Administration.

Nearly five years ago, Teash says she thought about starting a podcast. It was in November 2023 that she made the decision to play with her craft and applied for her business license. In doing so, Teash built an umbrella for her amazing ideas and plans, and things began to really take off. “I started building my pages, researching my topics, and reaching out to those who were amazing to interview. My efforts involved individuals, both local and out-of-state. I just went for it. My intention was to become a Black Business Owner and make something remarkable out of my artistry.”

What Teash says she loves most about being a Podcaster is being able to not only share her life and my charismatic personality but also have the chance to tap into the lives of her peers. “I love saluting anyone that has really good things going on, and I love meeting new people and being able to share their attributes, businesses, products, and services. I also enjoy giving them extra exposure for their greatness in case the world has missed it,” she says.

I love engaging with the public and keeping up with all the awesomeness my Brown Sisters and Brothers possess.
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For Teash, coming up with better ways to get exposure and create watch worthy content has been a little difficult, and while she is fairly new to the world of podcasting, her presence has been noticed. She adds, “I have definitely brought a new meaning to the phrase “being new means nothing”. I’m getting things done”. Teash appreciates where she has come from and is equally excited about where her podcast production is going.

Teash is all in with Tea with Teash Podcast but hasn’t been able to accomplish what she has alone. She credits her sons for impacting her life and career the most. Allowing them to see her in action and following her dreams is all Teash ever wanted to show them, she says. “Even though my sons are 22 and 16, they are still impressionable and watching me. I wanted to give them Mommy/Artesha and what Artesha wanted to do with her life outside of being their amazing Mother.”

Her advice to anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps is to believe in yourself when no one else does, take it one day at a day, and make every move you make your biggest move. “I have made it by asking questions, praying, and keeping at it. My advice to others is to make a lot of noise about yourself and don’t quit!”

Looking ahead, Teash plans to open her very own black-owned business eventually. She doesn’t want to reveal the type of business yet. She also plans to continue to make a lot of noise throughout her city and remain involved with everything creative, possibly TV. She says, “I would like to have a full production set for my podcast and continue to bring Positive Culture Love.” To learn more about The Tea with Teash Podcast, please visit their website. h


The Seven Thirty Theatre

Trina, Dee, and Kila are a tenacious trio breaking barriers in the world of Black musical theatre. They are the first Black and womanowned musical theatre organization in Indiana. The trio owns and operates a nonprofit urban musical theatre and arts academy in Indianapolis, IN, and Chicago, IL.

After many years of performing and producing money for others, they decided they had enough and formed their very own companies. These are the Urban Theatre, the Seven Thirty Theatre, and KaidyDid Productions. Urban Theatre, formerly known as the Indiana Performing Arts Center (IPAC), was founded in 2005 by Trina Dingle. The Urban Musical Theatre is a nonprofit performing arts theatre organization with a primary focus on diversity and inclusion. Trina has worked in theatre and development for over 30 years and aims to increase the exposure of people of color represented in theatrical productions. Dingle has been instrumental in leading female entrepreneurs within their artistic focus by providing doors of opportunity within their artistic lanes, especially in leadership roles such as CEO, executive director, arts administrator, creative director, and playwright. She stays busy planning, budgeting, securing funding, and so much more. Trina is primarily behind the scenes and the backbone of both theatre’s as the executive director.

Dee “Dutchez” DuVall brings over 25 years of seasoning to the trio and is the artistic director. Dee’s love for the arts began at the early age of nine. Her parents were musicians, and she was trained classically. She went on to study theatre, music, and classical voice. After earning a degree in Performing Arts, DuVall immersed herself in Broadway, Gospel theatre, Madrigal Performances, filming, and commercial roles. Dee has had the opportunity to tour and perform in over 300 productions abroad within the industry. She is a singer, actor, and ensemble dancer. In 2010, in addition to acting, Dee began directing and teaching artistic styles. A significant part of her craft is utilizing her creative juices to implement, organize, lead, and develop ideas into any script. As the artistic director, Dee is known for effortlessly adding grace, class, elegance, sophistication, and style into any of the roles the productions demand.

The theatre’s production manager, Kila Adams, brings with her over 25 years of experience and a degree in theatre. She began her journey into acting at the young age of five. Kila earned her training from the Broad Ripple Magnet High School and the Asante Children’s Theater. She gained more experience at Indiana State University and transferred to Butler University, where she majored in theatre and journalism. Her formal training has provided her vast experience in Classical, Broadway musicals, Period pieces, and Gospel productions. Kila, also having skills as a playwright, began writing and acting in her own productions. This led to her touring and performing in over 200 productions with national artists around the United States.


Adams portrays all things theatrical and is exceptionally creative and talented in media and technical design. With such an expansive array of experience, Kila has the artistic ability to envision and estimate the shape each production will take on. She is responsible for the creation of KaidyDid Productions, which is the production partner for both theatre’s. KaidyDid encompasses all things directly related to producing a show (i.e., lighting, costumes, staging, etc.).

Urban Musical Theatre (UMT), located in Indianapolis, Indiana, focuses on providing black and brown individuals an opportunity to develop and showcase their artistic talents in a safe and family-oriented environment. The theatre began in 2005 as the Indiana Performing Arts Centre (IPAC), which aimed to provide people of color and underserved populations access to the arts through its ability to draw in crowds from local churches, schools, civic organizations, and the overall community. The idea behind IPAC was simply to keep the spirit of Black theatre alive and at its highest excellence. IPAC, now UMT, holds the same purpose and is committed to providing arts education programs, performances, employment opportunities, children’s theatre, and community outreach throughout Indiana. When asked why they changed the name, DuVall stated the former name was just too long and did not really roll off the tongue. In addition, with their future production expansion, they felt it was necessary to remove “Indiana”. So, they created a name that fit more of who and what they were about.

At their theatres, they like to explore the strengths and weaknesses of those who audition for roles. Kila is tasked with being the talent development and casting director. She focuses on theatre etiquette, offers character development and stage etiquette, and trains individuals on how the set works as a whole. In addition, there is a vocal director who is there to help and train those auditioning. “It is important that each person provides their area of expertise so that we work as a family unit,” says Dee. She is tasked as the artistic director and focuses on all things scene development from an overall perspective, not just per scene. Dee is very hands-on and gets down to the nitty-gritty when it comes to business.

As their audience grew and their desire to expand and do more for the community, they decided to open a second sister theatre in a larger city. This is where the Seven Thirty Theatre (STT) came to be in Chicago, IL, in 2013. Much like the Urban Theatre in Indiana, there was a need to allow the underserved and people of color population to showcase their artistic skills and talents. Within a year of planning, the ball was rolling for STT to open its doors in Chicago. Also a nonprofit Black Theatre organization, STT strives to be a permanent platform for people of color to perform, grow, and learn. The plays performed at STT allow their artists to explore, experience, and depict a wide range of dramatic programs that highlight the Black artist, singer, dancer, actor, and musician on stage.

When asked why the name Seven Thirty, DuVall stated that all evening shows start at 7:30…period! “The name was also a quirky spinoff, and so we rolled with it,” adds Kila. They pride themselves on their professionalism, punctuality, and work ethic. They do not play any games when it comes to business.

Having a deep passion for each area of expertise, all three ladies complement each other in the business and as friends. Like all businesses, they have faced adversity and challenges

throughout the years. One challenge that Kila finds is that the auditioning actors in the area need to be made aware of who the theatre chooses for each production. To overcome this casting challenge, they highlight that all roles are open to everyone, and there is no favoritism. Additionally, Adams asserts that funding equality is a major challenge and hurdle for their companies. “There is also a constant comparison to our counterparts, and we simply are not in competition,” adds Dee. She goes on to say, “We are here to provide an opportunity to artists.”

On top of that, she finds challenges in how the funders determine who they provide for, generally people versus organizations. “We take the time and effort to go into lowincome neighborhoods to recruit and show individuals what they can achieve and accomplish,” says DuVall. She also adds, “We are knocked down before we even walk in the door based on other less performing artists and companies”. The ladies are proud of the top-notch business etiquette they demonstrate in their companies. As an all-female-owned company, it offers its own set of challenges.

So, with so much talent, experience, and a deep passion for the arts, what do these women love the most about what they do? Well, Dee is in love with production and feels she was truly born to do this. She finds joy in the audience, seeing that this, too, could be them. For Kila, her heart is warmed when actors have that aha moment and realize they are exactly where they need to be. When they doubt their abilities and then instead perform at their highest level, it is the most amazing feeling for her. Trina loves that even from behind the scenes, she can help expose the underserved and people of color in a positive, artistic way. The ability to contribute to an individual and population finding and elevating their artistic lanes is priceless. In addition, the ladies find inspiration in their art in different ways. For Dee, she is inspired and motivated by being told they “can’t” by the naysayers. This sets a spark for her and pushes her to level up her game. Meanwhile, Kila finds her drive and is most inspired when thinking of her late sister cheering her on at all times. The strength her sister upheld during her health battles is an even greater motivation for Adams.

In their journey towards success, social acceptance, and simply continuing to keep the arts alive for people of color, these ladies are very optimistic and have learned from all the lessons they endured. They hold a very positive attitude and wouldn’t change much of anything that has transpired throughout their journey. They do hope that the viewpoint of others will be more openminded, family-oriented, and more of a familiar creative concept. For all of their companies, “no accolades are necessary, as our work speaks for itself,” says Dee. The big question is, what’s next for this tenacious trio? They are gearing up to expand their productions across the Midwest and southern states. They started planning productions for 2024 last year and are working on their next state venue. They are excited to be producing The Best of Broadway Cabaret Shows, which will take place in late March or April. These ladies are on fire and plan to take over the musical arts and Broadway entertainment arena. Be on the lookout for their upcoming productions, as you will not be disappointed. Remember, Black Theatre Matters.



C. Michelle Greene-Smalls

Natural Hair Advocate/ Author Signs Book At Barnes And Noble

“I was excited to share my book with others interested in wearing the natural locs hairstyle.“

C. Michelle Greene Smalls has had to overcome many negative messages about her natural hair. Both within her family and the larger society, she was pressured to wear her hair in styles that required the use of chemicals, including relaxers and geri curl products. However, from a young age, she preferred to wear natural hairstyles like afros, twists, and locs. Greene Smalls has documented her hair journey in her first book, Quit Making Excuses and Loc Your Hair. She held a book signing for her book on Saturday, February 10th, 2024, at Barnes and Noble at Westwood Plaza, 1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd, Charleston, SC.

“I was excited to share my book with others interested in wearing the natural locs hairstyle” says C. Michelle Greene-Smalls. “It was also great to see several African American celebrities who wear the loc style, including South Carolina’s own Shanola Hampton from the shows, Fearless and Found.”

A natural hair advocate, Michelle’s book is a compelling blend of memoir and education, chronicling her personal journey toward embracing and styling her hair in its natural form and providing information to readers who are interested in styling their hair in locs. Her book delves into her personal experiences and challenges, making it relatable and inspiring for a wide audience.

C. Michelle Greene-Smalls, MSN, RN, CCM, is the bestselling author of Quit Making Excuses & Loc Your Hair. She is a native of Mayesville, South Carolina. She’s a wife and registered nurse with a master’s degree in nursing education. One of her most recent accomplishments included being recognized as South Carolina Black Pages Top 20 Under 40 in 2019. Michelle has been writing her blog, Succeeding Naturally, for four years. Her additional hobbies include traveling, playing word games, and crafting.

For more information about Greene-Smalls, her natural hair advocacy, and her book, go to her website.

Information and Photos Provided by C. Michelle Greene-Smalls
Lola Knight The daughter of Rashaun Knight and Zaria Knight


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