Huami Magazine Memphis March/April 2024

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MEMPHIS March/April 2024 Volume 2 Issue 1 ®
We Are Honoring: Sponsorships Available General Admission $150 Business Leaders Community Leaders Nonprofit Orgranizations Continuing To Connect Our Communities

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.

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 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.

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! Nashville - March/April 2024 4 Howard Gaither Photography Tamara Smith Terry L. Watson Publisher Dorjea’ McClammey Writer Monica Montgomery Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Marrissa Dick Writer Still Shots Photography Photographer Rolando Ochoa Photographer Smitha Lee Photographer Email Mykel Media Company LLC Greensboro, NC 2024 All Rights Reserved Scan The QR Code Above To Visit Our Website 336-340-7844 General Inquiries A Letter From The Editor
Terry L. Watson
Later....... Just
Now, Then,
Get It Done!

From assisting young people with their financial needs for college to serving members of his community, he is ready to serve.

Charlotte, NC

Trina Pringle

She has helped to establish a prominent theatre in the midwest. Learn more about her journey.

Indianapolis, IN

Michanna Talley Tate, Esq.

Following in her father’s footsteps, learn how this former scientist upholds the statutes of law in the Upstate community.

Greenville, SC


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Alisha Wright Designs
Alisha Wright
Also Featured 26 30
Daryle McNair Bluford S.T.E.M. Academy Dr. Johnita Readus Author of Locs
C. Michelle Greene-Smalls 36 Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Lola Knight
A Caregivers Story Terry L. Watson


Alisha Wright of Memphis, TN, is known for having a sharp eye for detail. She is also the face and founder of Alisha Wright Designs, an interior decor design company based in the music city. Her company offers Residential and Commercial interior decoration and commercial and residential renovation. Soon, the services she provides will include handmade decor items.

Alisha’s early life was rooted in sports. She had been a cheerleader since the age of six and cheered through primary and secondary school. She went on to deeply engross herself in the dance and cheer culture locally around Memphis. Alisha has been a Memphis Redbirds Redhot Cheerleader, a Memphis Grizzlies Grizz Girl Dancer, and a member of a local hip-hop dance troupe called M-Town Image. She has also opened up for artists who graced the stages of Memphis, like Chris Brown and India Arie. Additionally, she’s danced, sang, and acted in theater plays in the Memphis area, which she says is probably one of the best experiences she’s had in her life.

She graduated from the University of Memphis in 2004 Magna cum laude with a degree in Public Relations. Alisha left the United States in 2008, moved overseas, and lived in Spain and Japan. At one point, she returned back to the US and lived in Hawaii. “I lived abroad for seven years and had the pleasure of teaching dance abroad. Japanese culture had a significant impact on my spirit, and it changed the way I view the world. It was in Japan that I discovered my knack for design. The time I spent there was also the pinnacle of my life experiences. It was in Japan that I discovered two major lifechanging things - Meditation and Design.”


Alisha shares she began decorating professionally through event design. While living abroad in Japan, she worked for a Boys & Girls Club that was located on a Navy Base in Sasebo. There, she developed an educational program called The International Club, which focused on a different country every month. Alisha would educate kids about the country’s culture, language, dietary preferences, etc., and develop a unique event centered around these facts. “One summer month, we focused on Indian food and film culture, and Bollywood was the theme. I decorated the Teen Center with a Bollywood theme, using beautiful jewel tones, and organized an Indian cuisine-themed dinner and movie night featuring a Bollywood movie. My coworker was in attendance and adamantly and emphatically said I should consider pursuing this trade as an actual profession. And so began my career as an event planner,” she says.

Years later, Alisha ventured into real estate but rapidly found that she preferred to design and decorate homes a lot more than selling them. In 2021, her next move was to launch her design company, Alisha Wright Designs. “I’ve been incredibly blessed to have an array of clients, from closet design to kitchen and bathroom renovation. My artistic gift is innate and is a direct gift from the Creator.”

Alisha says what she loves most about her career is the ideology of leaving behind a piece of her essence in every home she touches. “It is a great honor and a great responsibility to create a space that the client falls in love with. It reflects what they envision the most and inspires them every time they enter the room. That is the most gratifying aspect of what I do,” Alisha states.


It is a great honor and a great responsibility to create a space that the client falls in love with. It reflects what they envision the most and inspires them every time they enter the room.

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She also adds that her internal fire is a motivating factor. “I have a perspective that screams to come out.” Another motivation for her is being a mother. She shares, “Few things in life will metamorphose a woman than raising a child. My daughter is absolutely fantastic and amazing! She has transformed me in ways that nothing else in life could have.”

While Alisha has exceeded her own personal expectations for her life as a designer, there are a few things she would change about her journey if given the chance. First, she would change her confidence level. She adds, “If I believed in myself enough earlier in my life, this journey would have been more of a flow. I did not truly know that everything I needed was already within me. I also would have told myself to think less and do more, as the momentum of motion brings forth the manifestation of what you dream your life could be. The lack of this motion is what slows down your momentum, which takes you further away from “the zone”. This, in turn, creates a stagnancy, which will block your blessings. A wise woman told me early on in my life to be like water. This is the best advice that I have ever received. Water flows in the path of least resistance, and the path of least resistance is the path of allowance. When you allow the flow, you allow the universe to bring you blessings rather than seeking them or trying to create them through the control of your reality. The truth is we honestly don’t control anything. We can control how we respond and act, and in some situations, feel, but life happens whether we choose to participate or not.”

Alisha advises anyone looking to pursue an interior design career to go for it fully and to believe in yourself first and foremost. She says, “Listen to your inner voice as it is that voice that comes directly from God. Get as much mentorship and technical training as possible and try to design every single day, whether it be something as small as a centerpiece or as large as a bathroom renovation. Also, keep your ideas and never veto anything; add to it, build on it, and refine it.”

Next, Alisha plans to commercialize handmade products such as centerpieces, wedding bouquets, and wall art/murals. Nashville - March/April 2024 12

Dr. Johnita Readus

Leading The Way At Bluford S.T.E.M. Academy

Malcolm X, a prominent civil rights leader, activist, and advocate for Black empowerment, wrote, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Academically, education is the transmission of knowledge, skills, and character traits and comes in many forms. Notwithstanding, an educator’s most important responsibility is to search out and construct meaningful educational experiences that allow students to solve real-world problems and show they have mastered that knowledge by transitioning it into practical skills. Teachers pass on knowledge, foster critical thinking skills, inspire students, serve as role models, and play a vital role in the holistic development of our children. Unfortunately, the people tasked with cultivating tomorrow’s societal leaders do not receive the recognition or pay they rightly deserve. Most importantly, teachers are our children’s constant motivators and inspire all students to pursue their dreams. Most already know that the United States has not always been a proponent of African Americans receiving a quality education.

Fortunately, Black leaders continued to fight for equality in all facets of human life, especially education. Laws such as Brown vs. the Board of Education outlawed segregation, especially since Plessy vs. Ferguson was not particularly advantageous to the Black community. Thankfully, African Americans have always possessed the wherewithal to press toward the mark for a higher calling. One such little girl who pressed was Miss Ruby Bridges, who, at the tender age of six, advanced the cause of civil rights in November 1960 when she became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South. There is much to say about being the first.

Meet Dr. Johnita Atkinson Readus of Greensboro, NC. She is an author and educator, Guilford County Schools Principal of the Year, Guilford County Employee of the Month, and the owner of A’JAR Solutions, LLC. Additionally, she is the first principal in her family, and she has a Ed.D.

Dr. Readus credits her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson, for initiating her educational journey; Dr. Readus shares, “It all started for me with my parents because they were both educators. My mother said I would line up my baby dolls and teach them when I was five. She told my dad then that the family had another teacher. So, education has always been a part of my life. My parents were my role models. My father was also a coach, so it was nothing to see extra dinner plates set at the table when one of his ballplayers was there or when my mother was mentoring or tutoring some of her students. My parents would feed them before their parents came to pick them up, so I learned to serve others from them. I believe the gift of service is the best gift you can give others. It started with my parents leading the way. My sister, Dr. Johnette Atkinson McCain, is the Director of Aggie Academy Lab School at NC A&T State University and an educator. So, education and service have been stable in both of our lives. That’s how we grew up, and that’s what we know. As I grew up, I knew I wanted to follow in my parent’s footsteps because I always found myself working with children. I worked at daycare centers; I worked in youth programs; I always surrounded myself with children and doing something to help others.” Dr. Maya Angelou once stated, “Nothing will work unless you do,” and that’s what Johnita set out to do - - work.

Since Johnita was born and raised in Fayetteville, NC, by servant educators, she knew that attending an institution of higher education was the expectation. After graduating high school, she attended Winston Salem State University, earning her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education. Two months after graduating, she married her childhood sweetheart and the love of her life, Mr. Melbrice Readus, a career military man. According to Johnita, marrying her husband and traveling with him benefited her educational experience. She shares, “I’ve been married for 32 years, and traveling with my husband has been a wonderful experience. We’ve lived in Hawaii, New York, and Virginia. Living in those states helped shape who I am as an educator today because I saw education in different arenas, with each place having a different educational structure. I would sit back and learn the different dynamics. I was a sponge everywhere we moved, just soaking up knowledge. During this time, I realized that my passion for education was in K-12, which was a blessing for me and my children, Ashleigh and Alan. So, when my children started school, I would work in that particular grade level, perfecting my teaching techniques. When they went to kindergarten, middle,

I challenged my students and staff to do something they have never done before. If I ask my staff to do something, I feel like I need to be a part of the work, so I take up that challenge, too.

and high school, I would teach in those areas, learning policy and procedures and the logistics to be a well-rounded educator. I believe those experiences have shaped who I am as an educator. Once my husband decided he was ready to retire in 2010, we decided that Greensboro would be our home. Once settled, I started as a first-grade teacher at Cone Elementary School in Greensboro. My principal noticed that I was always giving people strategies, ideas, and resources, so when the curriculum facilitator retired, she asked me if I would like to serve in that position. Initially, I had no desire for that role because I love teaching. Still, when she explained the role, I realized I was already doing it by helping my colleagues with their curriculum planning and teaching strategies and gaining more experience by serving on several district boards, so I accepted. I stayed in that position for eight and a half years, and then, one day, she encouraged me to become a principal. That changed the trajectory of my life and jump-started my leadership journey to NC A&T State University. There I was a NC Principal’s Fellow and earned my Master’s Degree in Administration. Then I continued earning my doctoral degree in education from High Point University.” What others see in us is amazing when we passionately and humbly operate in our God-given gifts.

After earning her degrees, Dr. Readus was offered a position at Oakhill Elementary School, where she served for one year. She would later become the principal at Sumner Elementary for five years. This was her first principal assignment. After, five years at Sumner, Dr. Contreras moved her to Bluford calling her the “Culture Builder”. This awesome recognition attracted Dr. Sharon L. Contreras, the North Carolina Regional Superintendent of the Year, who recognized that Dr. Readus possessed the same passion for providing a high-quality education to each child that prompted her to ask Johnita to become the principal of Bluford-Peeler S.T.E.M. Academy. Dr. Readus shares, “This was a great opportunity to implement my leadership skills and learned experiences to help bridge two schools, build a nurturing culture for the students, and welcome the community. Dr. Contreras said, ‘I want you to bridge those two cultures together and help them thrive,’ that’s what I’ve been striving to do for the past five years, and I love every minute of it. I come to work daily with a smile because I enjoy my work. I don’t just sit behind my desk all day. I help my teachers, and I also read to my students. There’s nothing better than coming to work and seeing my students running down the hall to greet me or seeing my faculty working as a team to meet the student’s needs, working with parents, and meeting curriculum mandates.”


The author Toni Morrison wrote, “If there is a book that you want to read but hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it”. That is what Dr. Readus did when COVID-19 changed the world. Through the pandemic, Dr. Readus shares, “I challenged my students and staff to do something they have never done before. If I ask my staff to do something, I feel like I need to be a part of the work, so I take up that challenge, too. I fulfilled my lifelong dream of writing a children’s book during the pandemic. My first book is entitled Ashleigh’s New Normal. Ashleigh was in the second grade and thought she knew all the school rules and procedures until the COVID-19 virus changed her normal school day forever. This book talks about how Ashleigh feels during the pandemic and leaving her teachers and friends to remote learning. I read this book to my students, who loved it because they could identify with her struggles. They encouraged me to write a book about Ashleigh returning to school, so I’ve written Variant Invasion: While Ashleigh Returns to School and Ashleigh Sees Herself on the Screen. All of my books are in Bens Boys in Greensboro, a wonderful restaurant in Friendly Shopping Center, and on Amazon.”

Johnita is an inspirational and motivational principal because she charged her entire staff to do something that made them feel good despite what was happening in the world.

With someone who walks her talk, it’s easy to see why her staff would nominate her for Principal of the Year. Johnita chuckles as she explains that she was nominated three times before she received that award. “I was very humbled to receive that award. I have been nominated for Principal of the Year three times. I used to tell people I’m like that bridesmaid that never goes away! She’s always right there with the bride. Regardless of whether I won, I was always happy and excited for everybody else. Still, it’s just an honor to be nominated, especially since we are the third largest district, so to know that out of 132 schools that you have been selected is a good feeling.”

Being a visionary, Dr. Readus has high expectations for Blueford-Peeler S.T.E.M. Academy. Most remember the tornado that came through Greensboro destroyed many homes and uprooted some communities. Peeler Elementary was also affected, so the two schools merged. Dr. Readus shares, “The students and parents at Peeler were displaced, and they needed to be embraced. I always tell people my job is not done until all our kids are proficient and confident that they can go out into the world and be whomever they want. It’s not just me talking to the students. My entire staff motivates our students by teaching them about the importance of intelligence and character and how each student can add value to the world. When you enter our school, there’s a sign that reads ‘intelligence and character,’ which we instill in our students because you need both to have a true education. I always tell my students that people don’t lose their jobs because of their ability. People lose their jobs because they don’t know how to get along with each other. So, we’re building character as well as intelligence. And that’s my goal, for them to be productive citizens in society and value the world while doing something they love to effect change and make a difference in the world.” h

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Another thing Johnita and her staff do is teach their students how to work through struggle utilizing a scaffolding method and critical thinking. By using these same methods in their own lives, Johnita emphasizes that you can’t be effective if you’re not healthy on the inside, either. “I make it a practice to work with each teacher so they can be great at what they do, and that’s why we have a lot of professional development here. I love collaborating with my colleagues, and that brings me joy. To know that I’m helping another person thrive and do well in their environment, well, that’s phenomenal. I believe it’s important for me to pay it forward. That’s why I continue to provide professional development to educators. I want to inspire the next generation of leaders, so I teach coaching and share educational procedures. I believe I’m paying it forward like others have done for me. I didn’t get here on my own. I am standing on the shoulders of educators who coached and mentored me. When I go back home to Fayetteville, NC, I love on all those teachers and my parents’ friends who inspired me. I’ve had mentors like Dr. Doris Brown, Dr. Renee McKinnon, and even my brother-in-law, Dr. Brian McCain, who is a principal, who’ve given me nuggets of wisdom in this field. They helped me build intelligence and character. I work hard daily but always tell people to work hard and stay humble. I live by that creed.”

Johnita is aware of the gifts God has given her and professes that He is the head of her life. She identifies as a “Servant Leader” and takes her educational beliefs with me everywhere she goes. She is a proud member of New Light Missionary Baptist Church located in Greensboro, NC, and works with the Women’s Ministry or wherever she is needed to serve. She says, “Servant leadership is probably my strongest characteristic, along with instructional leadership.” Hebrews 13:16 instructs us, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

Guilford County is blessed to have an inspirational leader among us. One who is inspiring motivates others, and one who shows kindness and love towards others. She is a proponent of pressing toward the mark so her staff can be forward thinkers. She reminds them to be “that teacher where students can say they were my favorite teacher instead of saying, yeah, I had that teacher, but I wasn’t very fond of them. Which teacher do you want to be?” She also prepares her staff for life after Bluford-Peeler S.T.E.M. Academy by encouraging them to make a difference and to blossom wherever they are planted. She shares, “We might not get our flowers like everybody else; instead, it might be in a hug. Teaching is so rewarding; it’s the greatest profession ever.”

Dr. Johnita Atkinson Readus also helps inspire and motivate students, parents, and other educators outside the classroom. She is the CEO of A’JAR Solutions, LLC. A’JAR represents opening endless possibilities through coaching, mentoring, and professional development. Dr. Readus is there to assist you in developing that passion. h

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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. Nashville - March/April 2024 20
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!

Nashville - March/April 2024

Michanna Talley Tate is a woman who wears many hats. She is a wife, daughter, sister, and friend to many. The Greenville, SC, native is also an Attorney, a Professor, and a former Scientist. Her list could go on and on, but more than anything, Michanna genuinely loves people.

Michanna graduated from Southside High School and then attended Howard University for both undergraduate and graduate school. She attended Stetson University College of Law for law school. Today, she is the founder of Access Law LLC, formerly Michanna Talley Attorney at Law. Her firm’s main practices are Real Estate Litigation, Personal Injury, and Medical Malpractice.

Michanna says that as a lawyer, she loves helping people get results. “I originally opened my law firm in the summer of 2012 under the name Michanna Talley Attorney at Law. I was teaching science courses online and also running my law firm. When I went to law school, I intended to be self-employed and start my own law firm, which is exactly what I did. I used the money from teaching to pay my office rent, supplies, and everything else I needed to run my law firm. And to gain clients, I went to lots of networking events. I always tell people that in life, you can always do something else. I have a Masters degree and a Bachelors degree in Biology. I used those degrees during my time employed as a Molecular Microbiologist. I also used those degrees to teach science courses at different colleges and universities. I also have Graduate Certification in Epidemiology & Biostatistics (Public Health), yet even with that, I decided to do something else. That something else is law.”.

The vision to become a lawyer came from Michanna’s dad, a lawyer with his own law firm. Growing up, Michanna states that being a lawyer was not something she ever wanted. However, when you are a scientist, she adds that being self-employed is next to impossible. “I went to law school because it was a degree I knew I could use to be self-employed.”

Her life has been mostly impacted by her parents and the lessons they taught her. “In my dad, I had a built-in mentor. The foundation he taught me was priceless, and I have built on that and made my firm and the way I practice law my own,” she says. Michanna also credits her educational experience at Howard University for shaping her life. “At Howard, it wasn’t just about the academics. It was also about the culture of excellence, being away from home in a big city, and having to make my own positive decisions.”

Access Law LLC

In my dad, I had a built-in mentor. The foundation he taught me was priceless, and I have built on that and made my firm and the way I practice law my own.
Nashville - March/April 2024 23

In her many years of practice, Michanna has enjoyed many memorable experiences. It comes with the territory, and they have helped her to become better. One experience she recalls involves a client whom she inherited from her dad. She says, “My client was (1 of 35) owners of 7.5 acres in Greenville County. That caused the property to become “stuck.” Recently, the judge ordered that my client owns all 7.5 acres and does not have to buy out any other family members or owners. My client drove down from New Jersey for the hearing and was so happy. He asked to hug me at least three times. I love it when my clients get a great result.”

As with any profession, Michanna has faced some challenges and has learned how to manage them appropriately. One was her desire to help everyone just because she could do so with her legal knowledge. As a result, after eight years of having her own law firm, she gave it up due to being burnt out. She became a prosecutor for about two years before returning back to her own firm. With her return, Michanna says she chose to focus on a few niche areas of law and treat her firm as a business with a goal of making a profit. Of course, Michanna is committed to helping her clients, but she wants to ensure everyone is benefiting. She is able to accomplish this by sticking to the types of cases she likes. “I have learned to say no because, quite honestly, there are lots of attorney options to choose from,” she explains.

Family is very important to Michanna. She adds that it’s essential for her to sustain her family’s legacy in practicing law because there are not many minority lawyers who handle the matters that she does. “I learned to handle these matters by receiving foundational training from my dad. My dad was one of only a handful of Black lawyers that handled real estate in the Upstate. Over the years, that same number has decreased. I am standing strong in this field and enjoying it,” she says.

Michanna remains active in her community by educating others on the law. She routinely volunteers for a nonprofit located in Greenville that assists minority entrepreneurs and speaks to new and ongoing business owners. Michanna also volunteers and speaks at other events, such as home-buying and estate-planning seminars. Last year, during Black History Month, she spoke on the issue of her property at a large manufacturing company in Greenville.

Michanna’s advice to others who may follow a path similar to hers is simple. “Everyone is not your assignment. Don’t wait until you are drained to remember this. Stick to what you like to do and do it well.”

Looking ahead, Michanna shares that she plans to continue to focus on real estate litigation, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases. That is what she likes to do. “I would love to take on more speaking engagements. I guess it is the professor in me. I genuinely love conveying information to people because I know so much incorrect information exists. I like to make sure people have the truth.”

To learn more about Attorney Michanna Talley Tate and Access Law LLC, please visit their website.

Access Law LLC 206 Green Avenue Greenville, SC 29601
Michanna Talley Tate, Esq.

The Urban Theatre

Trina, Dee, and Kila are a tenacious trio breaking barriers in the world of Black musical theatre. They are the first Black and woman-owned 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 familyoriented 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.

Dee “Dutchez” DuVall Artistic Director Talent Development Director Kila Adams

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 low-income 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 allfemale-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 open-minded, 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. h


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
Nashville - March/April 2024 31

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. Nashville - March/April 2024 32

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


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. Nashville - March/April 2024 36
Information and Photos Provided by C. Michelle Greene-Smalls

The daughter of Rashaun Knight and Zaria Knight

Lola Knight Nashville - March/April 2024 38 Charlotte - Jan./Feb. 2024 45

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