Read Smoke!

Read Smoke!
My latest book, "Smoke: poems of love, longing and ecstasy" is available for purchase on Amazon in e-book and paperback. Click book for link.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Comfort Zone: Why I'm Coming Back

The comfort zone is not only my favorite song by Vanessa Williams, but what this blog is for me. It is my safe space. A creative haven. The only place where for the past seven years, I have written like no one is watching.

I started this blog during the first semester of my senior year at Yale. Back then, I wasn't sure what I wanted to be. I just knew I wanted to be fabulous and in love. So I blogged about my daily struggles as a college student, the pitfalls of my love life, and budget beauty baubles and DIY tips I swore by. Honestly, I  can say, I was blogging about DIY beauty before it became popular. Now evvverybody is doing it! No shade.

I digress. Before  I knew it, I was on to something. My blog started picking up speed in 2008, but something happened. I graduated. And I started working as a television reporter. Working on-air is a unique occupation because your likeness and your public opinions aren't really your own. You represent the call letters your recite every time you sign off. And so, out of fear of revealing to much, and a desire to focus on my career, I stopped posting. Almost.

In 2010, I was still working in tv when I felt a familiar itch. Really, I needed an escape. I'd fallen for an elusive figure that I call *Miles. Miles was everything I ever wanted in a man, and in retrospect, he represented everything I wanted for myself. He was good looking, successful, smart, and well-off. He was young with a high profile job as head of company he'd built from the ground up. I admired his independence, his cocksure attitude, and the way it seemed that everyone wanted a piece of him.

Maybe that's why I fell so hard. Deep down, I wanted to  be just like him.

Nonetheless, I think Miles sensed my inner restlessness. I think he caught the glimmer of utter fascination  in my eyes whenever I looked at him. I couldn't hide it. After the first date I was hooked. And over the course of two years, every time he disappeared without explanation, I didn't give up. I resigned, with foolish hope, that one day he'd complete me.

You know how the story ends. I figured out how to complete myself.

But nonetheless, during that time, and every other major romantic or professional hurdle, I wrote myself through it on this site. No holds barred. Yes, an alias, or several, but for some reason, I've always been able to be honest on this blog. It is home for me.

And for that reason,  I am coming back home. I don't know how this will pan out. I am trying to complete a fiction (inspired by Miles, go figure) and my career is all types of crazy (more on that in the future). Plus, I try to update my official site regularly. Nevertheless, I will be making it a point to return with more heartfelt stories, observations, DIY tips, and commentary that pertains to Black women. I hope you will rejoin me for this adventure and provide feedback too.

Also expect to sneak peeks from my upcoming work of fiction. I'm super excited about that.

When you don't know where to go, let your heart lead the way.

Flyness and funk,

8 Actresses Who Could Play Whitney Houston in Lifetime's Upcoming Biopic


 Angela Bassett rose to fame portraying iconic African-American women like Tina Turner and Betty Shabazz in Blockbuster biopics, so it is only fitting that in her directorial debut, the legendary actress will help bring the life of the late Whitney Houston to the small screen.Lifetime's  telepic Whitney Houston (working title) is slated to premiere in 2015.

 According to Lifetime, the made-for-tv movie will chronicle the tumultuous relationship between Houston and singer-songwriter Bobby Brown — from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity through their courtship and rocky marriage.

 I don't know about you but when Whitney passed away, I cried for about a week. I cried in car as I listened to WBLS play "The Greatest Love of All".  I cried every time I turned on the tv and saw the young, exuberant Whitney we all fell in love with. In downward facing dog, there were tears falling on my yoga mat as my fellow yogis pretended not to notice the only Black girl in class having a breakdown. And during the televised funeral, at parts, I was straight hysterical.

 Please, don't laugh. I'm from Essex County, New Jersey. We claim Whitney s our own and we are forever proud of her, regardless of how the media has tried to spin her ups and downs. Nobody is perfect. Everyone has demons.

 Having said that, I feel relieved to know that Angela Bassett is at the artistic helm of the inevitable Whitney Houston movie.   Not only am I sure that Yale trained (shameless plug) thespian will make a solid director, I think it's safe to assume that as a master of her craft, and a personal friend of Whitney's, Bassett will coax an incredibly nuanced performance from the movie's lead actress.

 Which of course begs the question, who will play Whitney Houston? The actress will have to possess some physical likeness (don't pull a Nina Simone) and a deep emotional range in order to avoid playing Whitney as a one-dimensional erratic diva, the way the media often portrayed her in the years leading up to her death. Many names are being tossed around (including Willow Smith. #HaveASeat) but here are a few actresses that I personally think would do the role justice.  

esq-renee-elise-goldsberry-061112-lg Former soap star Renee Goldsberry is a triple threat. She can act, dance, and yes, she can saaang. She'd easily be able to put herself in Whitney's shoes and even recreate some of her earlier videos. Watch this clip of her singing on One Life to Live and you too will be convinced.  

NAACP 17th Annual Theatre Awards Nominations
Sharon Leal doesn't have the same name recognition of some of the other actresses on this list but in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married she proved that she had chops, and in Dreamgirls we learned that she could work a stage.
If Lauryn Hill is cast as Whitney Houston it will be OVAH! I mean, that would literally make my 2015. Lauryn is strikingly beautiful, she and Whitney share the same New Jersey roots, she's a great actress (remember Sister Act) and at home on a stage. Even more, I think Lauryn would be able to draw upon her own experience of  battling demons while under the glare of public scrutiny. More than any other actress, if properly coached,  Lauryn could deliver the most authentic performance. It would also be amazing for her career.
Tika Sumpter played Whitney Houston's daughter in the movie  Sparkle and I think she resembles a young Whitney Houston with her striking features, chocolate skin and statuesque body. Though she'd able to draw on her own experience with Houston, the role would likely be a stretch. Appearance wise, however, she'd be a great fit.
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Yaya Dacosta is another actress who would probably have to step up to the plate skill-wise, but in terms of looks, DaCosta could be a dead ringer for a young Whitney Houston. There's also something about her presence, a certain je ne sai quoi, that makes her a very convincing super star.
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Taraji P. Henson is the most skilled technician on the list and the Oscar nominated Baby Boy actress seems the most capable of expressing the seemingly contradictory aspects of Whitney's personality.  Whitney was at times a walking anomaly, one part world-class diva and one-part round-the-way. The thing about Whitney is, though  was heralded as one of the greatest singers of our time and by all means was a super star, she never stopped being Whitney from East Orange, New Jersey. People were shocked when she told Wendy Williams "If this were back in the day in Newark, I'd meet you outside," but that's who she was. That's why she loved Bobby. Not because he was so different from her, but because she could be herself around him. For this reason's, I think Taraji's own lack of affectation, her candor, would lend itself nicely to the role.
Joy Bryant is a strong actress (and Yalie) who's yet to get her big break. This movie could be her Introducing Dorothy Dandridge moment.
And finally, Meagan Good is my wild card. As an actress, it may be a stretch. We've never seen her in a nuanced role since Eves Bayou, and even then, her character was somewhat one-dimensional. Still, the real-life preacher's wife has gone on record to say she wants nothing more than to play the woman who once starred in The Preacher's Wife. Without a doubt, she will campaign for the role and likely be a front runner.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Charlize Theron's Dress, J'adore Dior Commercial, Replica

Hi Divas,

A few of you were interested in knowing whether or not a dress similar to the fierce Dior creation that Charlize wore in the J'adore commercial existed. This Night Moves evening gown which retails for $798 has very similar design elements including the beaded black lace, the dramatic split at the thigh, a slight train so that the dress moves when you walk (like Charlizes does), and a strapless sweetheart neckline.  It come in black and nude as well as black and fuchsia  It's not an exact replica but I love this dress, and if you liked the one in the commercial you'll probably like this one too.

-flyness and funk,

Sunday, November 11, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: Bailey's Cream With Spirit Commercial

Every once in  while there comes along  a commercial that does more than entice us with a product, rather it makes an artistic statement that remains with us long after the spot has aired. The J'adore Dior commercial starring Charlize Theron was a classic, and the Bailey's Cream With Spirit commercial is a classic in the making. Meant to be a celebration of modern womanhood, it features beautiful woman dancing in billowing beige gowns to the fabulous music of Blondie's Rapture. Take a look. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wedding Dress of the Week: "Bloom" by Ines Di Santo

And we're back with a reader favorite, Wedding Dress of the Week! I decided to post a creation by one of my favorite bridal designers, Ines di Santo. "Bloom" is an off white silk tulle mermaid gown, featuring three demensional silk flowers and swarovski crystals throughout the skirt, and a sweetheart neckline. It is both romantic and old Hollywood glam!

Flyness and funk(y brides),

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cinema, Sex and Cigarettes: My 11 Favorite Femme Fatales

Femme fatale literally means deadly woman, but she usually only murders a man's ego.  A femme fatale is an alluring and mysterious woman who uses her charms to entrap a man into an irresistible asymmetrical relationship.  She can be manipulative, often leading a man to his ruin, but at least the journey to his demise is always filled with  pleasure.

The ancient archetype is rooted in man's innate fear of unbridled female sexuality and his reverence for the  mysterious female reproductive system. Examples of the femme fatale exist in the folklore and mythology of every culture on earth, from the Biblical tale of  Samson and Delilah, to the Greek myth of the Sirens; beautiful, sweet sounding sea creatures who lured male sailors to their untimely deaths.

Fellas, think twice before you let a woman grease your scalp.

The femme fatale trope was popularized in America during the 1940's when Hollywood began to  produce hundreds of hard boiled crime dramas, stylistically referred to as film noirs. Film noirs were literally dark pictures. The main characters were often cloaked in heavy, oppressive shadows and the lighting was dramatic. These films explored the dark side of human behavior, reflecting the growing pessimism of a post-war, post-Depression America.The story line often revolved around a femme fatale who seduced the male protagonist and lead him directly into harms way.

Within the patriarchal construct, the femme fetale is most often vilified, juxtaposed with a less intimidating, sweet and loyal woman, and maybe even reformed by film's end. Perhaps the message men are trying to send is that we women should not aspire be so cunning and evil... but don't be naive. There is a lot a girl  can learn from the deadly woman.

The femme fatale knows how to seduce. She is alluring, even if with the help of a lush head of hair, a painted face and dazzling clothes. Her sexuality may be palpable, but her aims are never overt. Her desires lurk just below the surface, in a coy look, a double entendre, or even her low, raspy, post-coital voice. She makes her target come to her, and no matter what, she never allows him to feel he completely possesses her. She is like water in his hands. She is witty. She is smart and an absolute master of seductive one-upmanship. Watching a femme fatale on screen is pure cinematic magic, and a lesson in love for those girls who are willing to learn.

Below I've listed my personal top eleven (couldn't narrow to ten) favorite  fatale performances, that I think every woman who wants to hone her skills should see. Some are classic film noir, others and neo-noir (coming after the classic period), and one is a romantic comedy that just so happens to feature one hell of a leading lady.

Happy watching.

11. The Postman Always Rings Twice- Based on the 1934 novel by James M. Cain that was considered so sexual and so violent when first published,  it was banned in Boston. Lana Turner plays a buxom blond trapped in a loveless marriage with a much older man. She seduces a drifter that ends up working in their diner and together they conspire to kill her husband. The combination of Lana's innocent gaze, and not so innocent tight white shorts prove to be irresistible.

10. The Last Seduction- Linda Fiorentino plays a ruthless bitch Bridget Gregory who steals 700,000 from her husband and goes on the run. She ends up in a small town called Beston where her crooked lawyer advises her to lay low.  While there, she seduces a nice small town guy and turns him into a practical killer. The way she plays with his mind, keeping him on edge and using sex to enslave him, is pretty legendary.

9. Niagara- In this 1953 technicolor film noire, Marilyn Monroe plays Rose, the younger and very attractive wife of a depressed vet. She and her lover conspire to kill her husband and fail. The tables turn when her husband sets out for revenge. Niagara has a morbid ending, but the sight of Marilyn in a tight fuschia dress, writhing in such a way that seduces everyone on screen and off is indelible. There's a ten-second shot of Monroe just walking away. Her presence in this movie is hypnotizing and proves that unbridled female sexuality can truly  drive a man to death and destruction.

8. To Have and Have Not- To be honest, this is a romance-war-adventure film, not a classic noir, but any woman would be remiss to not watch this often over-looked gem. This was Lauren Bacalls very first movie role. She was just 19 but her famous bewitching 'look' and her breathy, low way of talking suggested she was far more mature. It's no suprise that during the course of the film her much older co-star Humphrey Bogart fell madly in love with her, left his third wife, and embarked on a long and storied romance with Bacall. The on screen chemistry is palpable.  Also the dialogue between Bogie and Bacall in this movie is phenomenal. Here's the line no one can forget:
"You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. (She opens his door and pauses.) You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together - and blow."

7.The Big Sleep- Following To Have and Have Not, Bogie and Bacall appeared together in several classic noirs. I most enjoy The Big Sleep, in which Lauren plays Vivian Rutledge, the oldest daugther of a wealthy general who hires a detective (Bogart) to resolve some gambling debts. In this film, Bacall is not a femme fatale in the classic  sense of the term, but she is a mysterious, irresistably captivating woman. Once again, the  chemistry between Bogie and Bacall is off the charts, and Bacall's seductive langour and slow, suggestive delivery is worth study.

6. Double Indemnity- This is considered the definitive film noir and Barbara Stanwyck the definitive femme fatale. If you only watch one film noir ever, this is the one to watch. From the moment Stanwyck appears at the top of the stairs in nothing but a towel, an anklet, and some pom-pom heels, the seduction is on. She seduces an insurance agent and convinces him to kill  her husband and make it look like an accident so that she can collect the insurance money. The only downfall of the masterful movie is the horrible blonde wig the director made Stanwyck, an otherwise gorgeous movie, wear. But... he wanted her to look cheap.

5. Basic Instinct- If you can get past the  gore of the opening scene during which a blonde woman mercilessly stabs a man to death with an ice pick while having sex with him... This is a great movie. It's actually one of my favorites. Sharon Stone plays Catherine Tramell, a crime novelist and the last person to be seen with rocker Johnny Boz before he was killed. Michael Douglas plays a homicide detective assigned to the case who is determined to convict Tramell of the crime, only he gets caught in her seductive lair and the two begin a torrid affair. Stone plays the Hitchcockian icey blonde to the hilt and who can forget the gutsy interrogation scene where Stone uncrosses her legs revealing her you know what....

4. Body Heat- Another fantastic neo-noir, if there's one word to describe this 1981 flick, it's steamy. It takes place in Florida during a heat wave. Matty Walker, a rich man's wife begins an affair with an inept, somewhat sleazy attorney. She later convinces him to kill her husband so she can collect the insurance money. Kathleen Turner's (also the voice of Jessica Rabbit) frank sexuality and use of coquettry in this film demonstrates how a seduction, albeit a dramatic one, should be played out, step by step. She also proves that every siren should own a diaphonous white dress.

3. Vertigo-Kim Novak plays an icy blond in Hitchcock's psychological thriller about a detective hired to follow an acquaintance's wife because she's been acting possessed. Despite her obvious neurotic tendencies, Madeleine, Novak's cool character, proves immensely seductive and the detective falls in love. Novak plays the quintessential cold coquette, an enigmatic beauty with a strange ability to make a man not just fall in love, but become obsessed. Beautifully shot, wonderfully complex, this happens to be my favorite Hitchcock movie.

2. Gilda- Gilda is the film known for making Rita Hayworth a superstar and the 'love goddess' of her time. She plays a hedonistic and flirtacious femme fatale married to an older man, a cold, wealthy casino owner. Unbeknownst to her husband, Gilda has history with his right hand man, Johnny, and the two embark on a heated love hate relationship in which she taunts him with her sexuality. It's hard to put Hayworth's performance in Gilda into words. She is everything a woman aught to be; healthy, exuberant, dazzling and utterly bewitching to watch.

1. Boomerang- Yehp. This is my favorite movie and as I've written in the past Jacqueline Broyer is my sheroe. In the movie, Robin Givens plays marketing exec Jacqueline Broyer, who becomes boss to Marcus Graham, a successful play-boy, after a corporate take over. Graham, who is used to loving and leaving countless women, is dumb founded when Jacqueline doesn't immediately respond to his advances. She makes him sweat. He has to put in effort to seduce her and even when he thinks he's got her, she spurns him for trying to get too close. The comedy demonstrates how easily roles are reversed when a woman keeps her options open. Broyer is smart, witty, refined, gorgeous, and dressed to kill in every clip. In a movie filled with beautiful women (Halle Berry for heaven's sake) Givens steals the show.

Flyness and Funk(y femme fatales),

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stream of Conscious Holiday Manifesto… Reflections on A Quarter Century

* A writing ritual I do at each year's end. Personal, cathartic-- and for some reason I feature it on my blog. Feel free to skip. Or better yet, try it yourself.

It is the final day of my twenty-fifth year and what a fleeting year this has been been. Twenty-Five passed in such a flurry, I want to do it again. So I will. Tomorrow, on my birthday, I will be celebrating 25. Again. After all, they always say you’re only 25 once... and I never do what they always say.

This year has felt like a turbulent flight and right now I’m idle on the runway trying to figure out where to take off to next. I tried new things like belly dancing and ballroom. I got serious about my book. I believe it is my big idea--- you know, the aha-moment of a lifetime. I moved on from heartbreak and began reaping the benefits of being a Siren (in the making). With a quater-century down, and a powerful loss in the recent path, I began to see how important it is to live like there's no tomorrow.

I began 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida where I was in the third year of a contract with a television news station. What can I say about my experience as a local news reporter except I learned a lot about TV, about myself, and you couldn’t pay me enough money to move down there and do it again. When the opportunity arose for me to re-sign a new contract for another three years as an over-worked, under-paid (and appreciated) TV journalist I said, “No, thank you.”. It’s funny how I was so certain about what I didn’t want even though I had no idea what I did want. The truth is I had no back-up plan and that was on purpose. I have wanted to be a media personality since I was 14 years old. It never dawned on me that I’d despise my first television gig.
But maybe that was paying dues…
It has been a month since I’ve moved back home and I can honestly say I have no regrets. I do not miss working in Florida one bit. I’ve been waiting for the morning when I’d rise and feel like heading to the studio at the butt-crack of dawn, but… that hasn’t happened yet. I’m proud of myself for going after my dream, landing an on-air position right out of school, and moving to a new state where I didn’t know a soul. That gave me some chops. But your twenties are about figuring out what you do want out of life just as much as they are about figuring out what you don’t want. What I didn’t want was to be far away from my family. What I didn’t want was to continue turning mindless stories whose sole purpose was to take up two minutes of air space.
I do want to matter.
I’ve always wanted to matter and in fact, now that I am back at home, getting reacquainted with New Jersey winter, I know that the next move I make has to put me some place where I am making a difference in someone’s life and using my brain. Perhaps I was making a difference as a Black woman on TV in Medium-City, South. My fans often referred to me as a positive role model, but after three years, that wasn’t enough. I'm using this time to re-evaluate.
In your twenties (and twenty-five just happens to be the ultimate metanym for "your twenties") the greatest obstacle isn’t figuring out what you want to do with your life, but overcoming your innate fear of being your best self. I've come to learn that the hardest part isn’t completing the journey. Sometimes it's taking the first step. As I see it, most humans have a deep-rooted fear of inadequacy. I realize that now as my big idea--- the book serves as a gross reminder of the thin line between the life of your dreams and what could have been.

It’s several days after Christmas but it really didn’t feel much like Christmas at all. Still, my soul is merry. I am at home, finally, surrounded by people I love. What my 25-year old person will know this time around is that it is okay to re-prioritize your life. Right now, I love how simple life is, even if this state is only temporary. I love being with my family, hugging my parents each day, and lying in my bed until the sun wakes me up. The daily glamour is gone. I am sans weave and a full face of make-up. In fact, I spend most days in jeans . And yet, in my natural state, I merely feel as if I am back stage, preparing, for the performance of my life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


As my loyal readers may know, for the past three years I have been toiling away in Medium City, South as a television reporter. Well guess what? In ten days I am moving to Big City, North to pursue my dream as a writer. I hope to post more and in 2012 to be able to tell you where you can purchase my first book. It is a non fiction.

Flyness and Funk,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life is like a Jigsaw Puzzle

"Life is like a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box." -Anonymous

I’m vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard with mom and dad. At the same time I’m reflecting on a major turning point of my life. I have decided to not resign my current television contract which means I’ve got about 3 months to secure a second television job, preferably in Big City, North versus Medium City, South. That task alone comes with serious trepidation, but I’ve also been trying to make sense of where I am headed, and where I want to go. I wish I was published by now, but I am not. I’m questioning if television journalism is really the career for me. I don't want to punk out and duck out early. And then there’s the possibility of law school looming over my head as it is the logical finale many BAP educations. Anyway, suddenly I’m adult, and time is ticking, and I have these humungous dreams and the SHIT IS SCARY.
It started to rain on Monday. The cable is crap so I found this jig saw puzzle in the closet. It was Monet’s Summer broken up into 500 little pieces. If you are familiar with that painting you’re aware that it is like 95 percent blue and white, so putting it together was a mother. Speaking of moms, after the first day she saw that I didn’t have much finished so she lent a hand. It took the both of us four days but we did it and in the end… I realized completing the puzzle was a valuable lesson for me.
Life is a lot like a (difficult) jigsaw puzzle. It comes together piece by piece.
You have to start with the edges. These are the only pieces you know for sure. Your character, your values, your knowledge, and your passions in life. The edge pieces are the framework you need in order to complete the puzzle.
Sometimes you’ll find the next piece by searching for it by color or by shape.
But even then, you may over look it. So when you get stuck, you move on. Try something new. You start working on another section of the puzzle.
Sometimes you get lucky and you stumble upon pieces. That helps you out a lot. But luck only takes you so far.
Jig saw puzzles take patience. Sometimes you’ll feel as if you’ve reached a dead end but you can’t give up. You just keep trying different pieces until something works. Sometimes it helps to take a break, come back and look at the puzzle through fresh eyes.
In jigsaw puzzles you can’t connect one piece, without the other. So even though by luck or technique you may move quickly through a puzzle, there truly are no short cuts.
Jig saw puzzles are far easier when you have someone (like mom) or a group of people to help you. They’ll help you find the pieces you may have over looked on your own.
Jig saw puzzles are hard. But with patience, diligence, and determination they are possible.
And finally, you can’t enjoy the picture until you’ve completed it--- so you might as well have fun working on it along the way.