Husband and Wife Build Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival Into a 15-Year Brand

Celebrating 15 successful years, the 2017 Run&Shoot Filmworks’ Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAAFF) screened more than 60 features, short films, documentaries, and television series. The six-day festival featured the movies Marshall, Detroit, Crown Heights, and Rodney King; and two episodes from Spike Lee’s new television show She’s Gotta Have It and two episodes from Issa Rae’s Insecure, among other groundbreaking works.


(L-R: Academy Award-Winning Director Spike Lee, actor Roger Guenveur Smith and Ken Shropshire of Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University for “The Color of Conversation” talk back screening for the RODNEY KING movie. Image: Courtesy of the MVAAFF)



This month, MVAAFF founders Stephanie and Floyd Rance received a special citation from the State of Massachusetts’ Governor’s Office for their significant contributions to the local economy of Martha’s Vineyard. With more than 2,500 participants at this year’s festival, the island saw a marked increase in housing rentals, hotel bookings, restaurant patronage, and lifestyle and consumer shopping.


(“Marshall” film screening; L-R: Charles E. Walker Jr., Esq.; Chrisette Hudlin, wife of Reginald Hudlin; director Reginald Hudlin; founders Stephanie and Floyd Rance. Image: Courtesy of the MVAAFF)



The Rances held the inaugural festival in July 2002 in Oak Bluffs on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. “Fifteen years is an outstanding accomplishment and everyone should be applauded,” says Floyd Rance, who co-founded the MVAAFF with his wife, Stephanie. “I always consider this event our third child and just like our other children we are equally as proud of this event. We have nurtured it and watched it crawl, helped it to its feet, and watch[ed] it walk.”


When Corporate and Art Backgrounds Unite


The Rances came to film festival production from backgrounds in corporate media and film production. Stephanie left her corporate job at Westhill Partners as director of public relations more than 15 years ago to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur and eventually launched her marketing firm, Crescendo.

Floyd, a film producer and cinematographer, started his career working on Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues. The Howard University graduate continued working with Lee and director/cinematographer Ernest Dickerson on the acclaimed films Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, and Clockers, among others. Floyd also produces episodic television and commercials; some of his clients have included HBO, Reebok, Foot Locker, and Family Dollar, to name a few.


(MVAAFF’s founders Floyd and Stephanie Rance. Image: Courtesy of the MVAAFF)



After leaving corporate America, Stephanie was taking a much-needed break while her husband was working on an independent short film in Barbados. During that time, she began to think about marketing initiatives that she could bring to the Island of Barbados. After returning home, she arranged a meeting with the management team of the Barbados Tourism Board in New York, which was looking to increase travel to the island by African American visitors. In her proposal, she included a pitch to bring a film festival to Barbados.

In the summer of 2000, the couple rented a house in Martha’s Vineyard, one of their favorite vacation destinations. They met a filmmaker who brought her short films to the Vineyard and convinced the local owner of the former Strand Theatre in Oak Bluffs to allow her to screen her films. He agreed, and the line to see her series of shorts extended around the block.

“Subconsciously, I kept that moment in the back of my mind,” says Stephanie. “If you’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard, [you know] there’s not a ton to do on the island in the evenings.”


(Netflix Original Series, “She’s Gotta Have It,” L-R: Actor Cleo Anthony, actress Margot Bingham, MVAAFF co-founder Stephanie Rance, actress Dewanda Wise, actor Lyriq Bent, MVAAFF co-founder Floyd Rance. Image: Courtesy of the MVAAFF)


A Setback Turns Into an Opportunity


In 2001, the Barbados Tourism Board was ready to move forward with creating the island’s first film festival. Instinctively, Stephanie knew the film festival was a good idea for the Island of Barbados, as she reflected on that moment with the female filmmaker in Oak Bluffs. Not knowing anything about producing a film festival, she stumbled across a group on titled Black Filmmakers, which still exists. She posted information about the festival and soon filmmakers were submitting their works along with registration fees for consideration to screen their projects. She received almost 15 film entries and secured both Showtime and AOL Black Voices as festival sponsors.

Unfortunately, the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks occurred that year; the Barbados Tourism Board, nervous about the negative impact on international travel, pulled out. Thinking on her feet, she decided that it would be a great idea to host the film festival in Martha’s Vineyard.

MVAAFF’s inaugural four-day event in 2002 had only 10 attendees. Though Stephanie had secured sponsorship for the fest, the representatives never showed up.


(“Insecure” stars Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji enjoying a screening at the MVAAFF. Image: Courtesy of the MVAAFF)


“I could have given up,” Stephanie recalls of that early disappointment. “But I said, ‘You know what? I think I have something here. I’m going to stick with it.’ And 15 years later, the film festival is a huge success with sold out audiences and rousing standing ovations nightly. It’s been a long and rewarding journey. We are very proud of it.” There is much to be proud of. Now hailed as the summer’s finest local film festival, the MVAAFF attracts more than 2,500 attendees worldwide.

The Business of Building a Film Festival Brand


Producing the MVAAFF is a family affair for Stephanie and Floyd, who have two children. “There are pluses and minuses in our partnership,” Stephanie explains. “The great thing is that the money stays in the family. We might squabble about which films get in and which films don’t; Floyd is looking at it from a cinematic lens, and I gauge movies based on what pulls at my heart strings. We’re great partners, and I wouldn’t do it with anybody else.”

Still, the couple says that building the festival is a labor of love and has not been an overnight success. MVAAFF has also experienced a healthy increase in both revenues and sponsorship. From 2002 to 2005, the festival saw a 15% increase; from 2006 to 2010, revenues jumped by 25%; and from 2011 to 2015, the festival saw a 45% gain.

Each year, the festival has attracted more sponsors, as well as sponsors for individual events; over the past five years sponsorship doubled. Also, the founders included merchandising to their bottom line, with the sale of branded T-shirts and caps, which have become the festival’s must-have items. The growth has kept pace with the increase in conference registration and participation, numbers that remained steady even through the 2008-2009 recession.

Bringing Diversity to Martha’s Vineyard’s Arts Scene


The MVAAFF showcases between 50 and 60 films; currently, all the films are screened at one location, the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center (MVPAC), which seats 800 people. Utilizing one theater venue for the festival is an added value for the filmmakers, sponsors, and attendees since no films or events are scheduled at the same time.

The MVAAFF draws a diverse and affluent group of attendees and loyal supporters. . There’s a large contingent of people from the Washington, D.C., area, with several from President Obama’s administration, including former Attorney Generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch as well as state and local politicians. The event also draws educators, doctors, and lawyers; and Ivy Leaguers from Princeton, Stanford, and Harvard, including Professors Charles Ogletree, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., and Khalil Muhammad. The festival is also popular among the alumni and students from historically black colleges and universities, including Howard, Morehouse, Hampton, North Carolina A&T, and others.

(Academy Award-Winning Director Spike Lee. Image: Courtesy of the MVAAFF)


Aspiring and veteran filmmakers, producers, writers, executives, and a host of celebrities from across the country frequent the annual festival. Some are regular vacationers on the island; for instance, director Spike Lee has been a longtime supporter. Others celebrities and friends of the festival have included Ben Vereen, Jeffrey Wright, Ava DuVernay, Reginald Hudlin, David E. Talbert, Gail King, S. Epatha Merkerson, Marla Gibbs, Naomie Harris, Janelle Monae, Karyn Parsons, Delroy Lindo, Morocco Omari, Dee Rees, Daphne Reid, Debra Lee, Lisa Davis, Esq., and many others.

“Our festival is different from other festivals, it’s like a family reunion,” says Stephanie. “It’s not a celebrity gawk fest; we’re not into that. It’s not pretentious; it’s laid back and cool.”

Over the years, the festival has screened a wide range of works including Hidden Figures, Baggage Claim, The Princess and the Frog, Birth of a Nation, Chi-Raq, Four Brothers, Idlewild, Miracle at St. Anna, and Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley, along with noted documentaries Anita, A Ballerina’s Tale, The Nine Lives of Marion Barry, and television series Blackish and Backyardigans. 

(Filmmaker’s Brunch. Image: Courtesy of the MVAAFF)



Expanding Beyond the Vineyard


The Rances are extremely pleased with the support they have received from the film studios and television and cable networks as well as from the black film community. By creating a great platform for future filmmakers, Stephanie and Floyd are proud to have seen several festival participants go on to achieve greater milestones in their film careers. In fact, the exponential growth of the Martha’s Vineyard festival in recent years is leading to expansion beyond the beloved island.

The Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival is very special to us and our loyal attendees,” says Stephanie. “We will remain on the island, but we are currently planning another three-to-four-day festival stateside that will launch in October 2018.” The name, date, and location of the new event will be announced separately.

“We are asked constantly to start a new festival,” Stephanie continues. “We would like to serve and accommodate the larger artistic community, and we plan to make [the new festival] bigger and better.”


Mayweather Joins All-Black Billionaire’s Club; Here Are the Other Members


The Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor boxing match was more than just surprisingly competitive and compelling. It also made Mayweather the only boxing champ to score a remarkable 50-0 record and is projected to catapult the superstar fighter into in an elite class of athletes who’ve earned over $1 billion during their career.


Floyd “Money” Mayweather


mayweather (Image: Instagram/FloydMayweather)


According to Forbes, “the money fight” will likely gross around $700 million, making it the richest fight in boxing history. The exact amount of revenue will be confirmed later on this week once details about the pay-per-view sales are disclosed.

Meanwhile, Mayweather, who has generated $700 million in his career, is slated to earn $300 million from that one night, which would tip his career earnings to $1 billion. Here’s a breakdown of how the richest boxer of all time has made money.

After this fight, Mayweather would become the third professional athlete to reach this extraordinary benchmark following Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Here’s a look at how these two world-class athletes earned $1 billion, along with a breakdown of why LeBron James will likely join this exclusive club.


Michael Jordan


(Image: File)


Although Jordan is regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, he only made about $90 million during his stellar career in the NBA. However, thanks to lucrative endorsements, like his lifetime deal with Nike, and big investments, like his purchase of the Charlotte Hornets, he was added to the Forbes $1 billion list in 2015, for the first time. Today, his net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion. Here’s how Forbes calculates his earnings:

He was the NBA’s highest-paid player only twice during his 15-year career. His total career playing salary was $90 million, but Jordan has earned another $1.3 billion (pre-tax) from corporate partners since he left U. of North Carolina in 1984. His biggest backer has always been Nike, which generates nearly $3 billion in annual revenue from the Jordan Brand. Nike commands 90% of the U.S. basketball shoe market, with the Jordan Brand representing more than half of that. MJ also maintains his longtime endorsement relationships with Gatorade, Hanes and Upper Deck. His biggest single investment is his 90% stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. When he bought a majority stake in 2010, the team was valued at $175 million. It is now worth $780 million. He also owns seven restaurants and a car dealership.


Tiger Woods


(Image: File)


Woods’ became the first billionaire in sports back in 2009. However, his stock and public persona took a major hit following his notorious sex scandal in 2009. As a result, the iconic golfer lost big endorsement deals. Plus, he has failed to win a major tournament since 2008. His net worth currently stands around $740 million.



LeBron James


(Image: Twitter/KingJames)


The next athlete projected to join the club is King James, himself. In 2016, James signed a mega lifetime deal with Nike worth more than $1 billion. He also has endorsement deals with Coca-Cola, Verizon, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, and Microsoft. He received a big payout as an owner of Beats Headphone in 2015 when the company was acquired by Apple. As a result, he made roughly $30 million. In addition, he and his longtime friend and business partner, Maverick Carter, own 17 franchise restaurants and a production company. 

Today, James’ net worth is estimated to be $400 million, however, with his business acumen, it will only be a matter of time before he reaches billionaire status. 

The Importance of Meditation at Work


Having one of those days when you’re buried in paperwork while your boss piles on a list of unrealistic demands and a difficult co-worker manages to get on your very last nerve? If so, then it may be time for you to step away from your desk and take some time to meditate.


BE Modern Man Quentin Vennie Quentin Vennie (Photo by Daryl Taylor of D. Taylor Images)


We’ve all had tough days like this while working on the clock. However, we don’t always deal with the stress of challenging situations and people at work in a healthy way. That’s why Black Enterprise invited entrepreneur, wellness expert, and author Quentin Vennie to stop by our office in New York City to share advice on how and why we must meditate.


Mindfulness at Work


Vennie explained why it’s imperative for everyone, especially working professionals, to give themselves a mental break and practice mindfulness.

“So often throughout the day we’re faced with so much adversity, so many things, so much stress, [and] we’re trying to multitask,” he said. “Sometimes I think it’s important to just take yourself outside of that. Focus your attention on one thing and move forward from that point.”

In a nutshell, here is why Vennie says mindfulness is crucial for success:

  • We are what we think
  • You can’t be faithful and fearful at the same time
  • Focus on what you want to accomplish
  • Gratitude is the best mechanism to defeat depression

Vennie also talked about using meditation as a tool to overcome affliction. Watch the full interview below.


Overcoming It All


Vennie, who says meditation has personally helped him overcome drug addiction and severe depression, was also recognized as a 2017 BE Modern Man of Distinction, where he shared his story. Here’s an excerpt:

I was born and raised in a single-parent household on the west side of Baltimore. My father was a heroin addict, and by the time I was 12 I had been shot at and spent more time visiting prisons than most of the people I was close to. Despite spending a lot of time in my old neighborhood in West Baltimore, I went to predominantly white schools in the suburbs of Baltimore County. I experienced racism, discrimination, prejudice, you name it. I was diagnosed with acute anxiety and mild depression when I was 14, and then diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety and panic disorder, and mild to severe major depressive disorder, at 26. I endured a two-year addiction to my anxiety medication, survived an accidental overdose and two failed suicide attempts, but was fortunate to discover a wellness system that saved my life (yoga, meditation, and fruit/vegetable juicing). Not only did it help me get off all medications, but it also made my anxiety and depression easier to manage.

I started telling my story of my battles with anxiety, depression, and addiction in 2012 when I first started my journey into sobriety, and on May 30th of this year, my first book, Strong in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Addiction and Redemption Through Wellness was published in the U.S. and Canada, and published in Australia and the U.K. on July 1st. I was able to successfully turn my trial into a triumph that has positively impacted people worldwide.

Now, it’s time for you to meditate with us! Follow along with this 14-minute meditation session guided by Quentin below.

Six Things Black People Should Always Hold Valuable

In 2004, I founded the Texas Black Expo. My goal was simple: to create economic synergy for black businesses by providing a stage for them to expose their businesses to thousands of people at one place. In essence, to highlight the value of black businesses and increase their capital so they could add value to the community by reinvesting within the black community to counteract many of the negative ills that disproportionately affect our community.

(Image: Milkos)

While we have been very successful, it has not been without opposition. Annually, we are flooded with anonymous emails and letters attacking our organization. For having a Black Expo and valuing black businesses and black people, we are called racist. I wonder if the people attacking us are the same people who turn a blind eye to the many pressing needs within our community? And yet when we take initiative to do something to build our own value, they attack us.

Take Black Wall Street, for instance. By unstinting effort, within five years of its destruction, Tulsa’s Greenwood Community was rebuilt and once again flourished. However, because blacks didn’t recognize their value and the value of what they created, once segregation became illegal, in an attempt to be affirmed by the culture that we valued more than our own, we left our grocery stores, movie theaters, and colleges, and gave our resources to people who to this day don’t value us.

Time is up for us in seeking affirmation and finding value in what others have to say and think. We must value ourselves and our resources, and recognize that if we don’t value ourselves then no one else will. Here are six things the black community must value:


1.Value Our Entrepreneurs


We have to have a concentrated and strategic effort to support black entrepreneurs. We are a $1.2 trillion consumer group, yet the average income of a black business is only $72,000 annually, and the average net worth of a black family is $4,900 compared to $97,000 for a white family. As entrepreneurs, we have to think bigger. Think globally. When you get on the world stage, while biases still exist, you will find that they are lessened, and one thing that is common is the value of economics. Provide a good product or service, and you will prosper.

2. Value Our Economics


One of the primary drivers to the economic health to any community is real estate. Some of the cheapest and most profitable real estate in our communities is located within inner-city black communities. Yet, we devalue it and let others buy it up for cheap and reap the benefits while we struggle to pay our exorbitant mortgages for our massive homes in the suburbs. Gentrification is a result of us not recognizing our value. If others recognize our value and bid for our land and houses, why can’t we?

3. Value Our Ethnicity


African Americans are the only group in America that have no direct connection with their homeland. Whites proudly proclaim that they are Irish or have German blood, yet African Americans too often diminish the fact that we are African.

I have had the privilege to travel to Africa and have experienced the culture, wonderful food, and great people. Even within the slums of Kibera located in Kenya, while you have people living in one of the world’s largest slum communities, the people are friendly, kind, and highly intelligent. In addition, the culture the land and environment is ripe for entrepreneurs to profit from economic opportunities if we operate with a clear vision.

4. Value Our Esteemed Community Organizations


In February 2012, Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman. Enraged, I immediately wrote an extensive post for Facebook. However, as president of the Texas Black Expo, a nonprofit organization that relies on contributions and sponsors, I was encouraged by my board chair to take it down. What a shame. Here I stand as the president of an organization designed to advocate for the black community, but I can’t speak freely, as it may jeopardize our revenues.

It is imperative that we support our esteemed local and national community organizations as they advocate for you and the black community. Consider one of our most highly regarded national organizations, the Urban League. Twenty-five percent of the Urban League’s annual revenue comes from individual contributions. The largest portion of their funding comes from corporate sponsors and government grants, yet if there is a crisis in the black community individuals are up in arms if they are forced to be politically correct in advocating for the value of blacks due to concerns over resources.

5. Value Our Education


I overheard a pastor once sharing that one of his parishioners was once asked, “Why are Jews taught to remember the past, yet blacks are encouraged to forget it?”

His answer was, “It’s because of who’s doing the teaching.”

If the oppressor is the one doing the teaching, he will teach that oppression is a good thing. We must educate our children informally at home, but formally by building schools and supporting our historically black colleges and universities. If not, they may actually believe that blacks willingly immigrated to the American continent, as Dr. Ben Carson stated during his first address as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. And remember, our HBCU’s are businesses as well, and cannot be sustained if we don’t value them enough to invest in them.

6. Value Our Existence


We have heard it before, but it bears repeating. Black-on-black crime is plaguing our communities, and an African American male is more likely to die at the hands of another black person than by any other method. We can make a lot of counter arguments, such as white-on-white murder is also a leading cause of death in the white community. And we need to understand there are reasons beyond our control as to why our communities are in the shape they’re in. But the bottom line is we must be more prudent in controlling the things we can. We must police our own communities and stop killing our own brothers and sisters.

Black lives matter. I also believe that Black Life Matters. By this I mean the totality of the African American experience, and our culture, history, and economic power. I believe the actions and statements of President Trump are the wake-up call that will convince the black community to begin to truly value black life and not be concerned about what others think. We respect the value and skills that people of European and Asian descent bring to the American table, and their right to value their heritage and culture. In that same respect, we are equally proud of our African heritage. We affirm that to assert that Black Life Matters, and to celebrate our roots and our futures, makes us better and more patriotic Americans, and well prepared to forge a stronger and more perfect union with all of our brothers and sisters.


Why Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is an Undisputed Champ in Boxing and Business

If you wonder why six-time boxing champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather came out of retirement to face off with Conor McGregor, a UFC star who’s never stepped into a professional boxing ring, part of that answer is simple and, somewhat, obvious: it’s about the money.

“If I could put myself in a position to make nine figures, why not?” Mayweather told Stephen A. Smith earlier this month in an exclusive interview.


Floyd Mayweather (Image: Floyd Mayweather via Instagram/floydmayweather)


Although the world-renowned boxer named other reasons behind his decision to step in the ring with an opponent many deem unworthy, the candor in this statement is indicative of his business acumen and the drive that has made him one the highest paid athletes of all time.

Throughout his career, Mayweather has earned millions per fight and amassed a staggering net worth of $340 million. Still, that has not deterred him from taking advantage of an opportunity to earn more money, even if his unbeatable record is on the line. With this fight, he is projected to raise his career earnings to top $1 billion, which would place him in an elite class of athletes (like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan) who’ve reached this astounding benchmark.


Mayweather (Image: Instagram/FloydMayweather)


How Much Will Mayweather Earn From Fighting McGregor?


According to reports, Mayweather is slated to earn $400 million from his fight with McGregor whether he wins or miraculously loses. His projected earnings can be broken down by pay-per-views buys, tickets sales, and sponsorship.

Pay-per-view Sales

In addition to his wealth and undisputed boxing record—49-0, with 26 knockouts—Mayweather is known as one of the biggest pay-per-view attractions in sports history. This Saturday, viewers will pay $99 to watch the “PPV King” rumble with McGregor in HD and $89 for SD. In total, the fight is expected to generate about $400 million in PPV orders, just like his 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao, which produced a record-breaking $4.6 million PPV buys. Also, the fight is likely to generate a killing overseas since it has a MMA crossover appeal and McGregor has a huge international following.


Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao Image: file


Ticket Sales

Even though tickets sales to watch the Mayweather-McGregor fight inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas have not been as robust as expected, sales are still estimated to reach at least $50 million, which is pretty impressive.


According to The Telegraph, Mayweather will walk away with $25 million in just sponsorship deals alone from this one fight.

“The extraordinary earning power of Mayweather’s brand has seen his sponsorship partners One Entertainment request up to $15.5 million for six sections on the boxer’s shorts, with requests for $3.5 million for his waistband, and $1.5 million for a 4 x 2 inch patch on the front thigh of his shorts. They are asking for $1 million for his robe and even a million for his ‘victor’s cap’.

“The ring cushion behind Mayweather’s head during the fight, in one of the corners, has been bought out by a betting agent for $3.1 million. Mayweather Promotions are also asking for additional compensation for mass production of any caps or boots.”


How much will each fighter earn?

Although Mayweather and McGregor signed confidentiality agreements, it is estimated that Mayweather will take a majority stake in from revenues that will be split either 70/30  or 75/25. As a result, Mayweather will earn approximately $220 to $240 million, while McGregor will gain about $70 million.



A History of Mayweather Fights


Early in his career, the self-proclaimed TBE (“The Best Ever”) boxer earned $2 million from his first 15 fights preceding 2005. In June 2005, Mayweather earned $3.2 million for his match off with Arturo Gatti. By 2015, he made more than 100 times that amount for one fight. Here’s a breakdown of his earnings per fight since then:

  • 2015: Andre Berto –– $35 million
  • 2015: Manny Pacquiao – $250 million
  • 2014: Marcos Maidana – $32 million
  • 2014: Marcos Maidana – $40 million
  • 2013: Saul Alvarez – $75 million
  • 2013: Robert Guerrero – $50 million
  • 2012: Miguel Cotto – $40 million
  • 2011: Victor Ortiz – $40 million
  • 2010: Sugar Shane Mosley – $30 million
  • 2009: Juan Manuel Márquez – $25 million
  • 2007: Oscar De La Hoya – $25 million
  • 2007: Ricky Hatton – $25 million
  • 2006: Carlos Baldomir – $8 million


mayweather (Floyd Mayweather flashes wads of cash Image: Instagram/floydmayweather)


The Business Man


The undisputed boxing champ used his business skills outside the ring to earn roughly $25 million by selling merchandise and from a few endorsement deals. In 2007, he broke ties with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, realizing that he would earn more revenue by promoting his own fights. So he launched his own boxing promotion firm called Mayweather Promotions and thereafter cashed checks ranging between $25 million to $40 million over the next six years. Meanwhile, his record-breaking fight against Canelo Alvarez generated more than $70 million. 2007 is also the year that he dropped his moniker of “Pretty Boy” and adopted the nickname “Money.”

Today, Mayweather is recognized as one of the richest athletes on the planet, who has topped the Sports Illustrated lists of the 50 highest-paid athletes in 2012 and 2013, and the Forbes list in 2014 and 2015.




Meet the Members of The Money Team

One thing that Floyd Mayweather Jr. prides himself on is being able to call the shots. Fresh off of his victory over Andre Berto on Sept. 12, 2015, The Champ now stands at 49-0 and is poised to set the record for biggest yearly earnings by an athlete ever for his minutes of work in the ring.

[Related: Cool Jobs: Hot 97′s TT Torrez on Beating the Odds to Be a Power Woman in Radio]

Outside of the ring, Mayweather empowers his team, known as The Money Team, to individually pursue their passions and create profitable businesses for themselves. Behind all of the glitz and the glamour, the team—made up of Mayweather’s closest confidants and business partners—isn’t satisfied with just being closely associated with the world’s highest-paid athlete. They are applying their individual skills and talents to fashion, music, management, culinary arts, sports, and entertainment. Meet some of the members of The Money Team.

(Image: Ricki Brazil)

Ricki Brazil, @RickiBrazil
When you think of The Money Team, Ricki Brazil is one of the guys involved with almost every aspect of the team’s success. Organizing and propelling the brand forward through strategic planning is a key focus of his. In addition, Brazil is personally building his women’s ready-to-wear line Ricki Brazil by Ricki Brazil into a nationally and internationally recognized brand. The line has been featured at Miami Swim alongside iconic fashion labels such as Cavalli, and can be seen on everyone from Angela Simmons to Elle Varner. Honored for his achievements at the BET Weekend Young Hollywood awards gala, Brazil is just getting started.

Key piece of advice: Don’t discount anyone just because they might not have the biggest name, tons of fans, or a huge following. You never know how the guy moving and shaking on the ground level may be able to help you out.

(Image: Melissia Rene)

Melissia Rene Brim, @MelissiaRene
The first lady of The Money Team, Melissia Rene Brim has taken her love for fashion and beauty from a personal interest to a thriving brick and mortar and online business. Devanna Love Boutique & Beauty Bar is a women’s full service clothing boutique and salon. Owned by Brim, who came up with a unique “one-stop-shop” shopping experience, her site opened its doors March 2, 2014. At Devanna Love you are not only able to shop but get a number of salon services as well, which differentiates the boutique from many other clothing and shoe stores.

Key piece of advice: Whatever it is you have your heart set on doing, do it! Don’t let anyone take you off your path to success. There will be a lot of road blocks, but you have to make a detour for yourself and others will follow.”

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‘Girls Trip’ and Other High-Grossing, Black-Directed Movies

moviesmovies (Image: Instagram/malcolmdlee)


Despite seeing a 12% downturn in box office tickets this summer, Girls Trip, a film celebrating black sisterhood, has earned $100 million. This makes the comedy the first movie with an African American cast, director, and writers to reach this benchmark. As a result, the film’s director, Malcolm D. Lee, has joined 11 other African American directors who’ve achieved such a landmark, domestically.

Back in 2013, Lee’s Best Man Holiday earned $30 million during its opening weekend but only $70 million in total domestic gross. Still, the director told that he remained confident that he would eventually reach the “century club.”

“I thought it would be possible at some point in my career. There was talk that it could have happened with Best Man Holiday and I loved our release date, but we were sandwiched between Thor: The Dark World and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in a very busy holiday season. I thought it could possibly happen there, but this is certainly the one that I thought could possibly happen. I’m grateful that the fans came out and supported it. They got me to the century club,” Lee said.

In honor of Lee’s milestone achievement, here’s a look at five other high-grossing movies directed by African American filmmakers.


The Fate of the Furious – Directed by F. Gary Gray 


Following its release in April, The Fate of the Furious earned a whopping $225 million in the U.S. in less than a week. The film, which was directed by F. Gary Gray, went on to gross $541 million around the world, making it the biggest worldwide film opening since 2002.

This is not the only film that Gray directed to tip over the $100 million mark. Straight Outta Compton (2015) raked in $161 million in a mere nine days while The Italian Job (2003) made $106.1 million over the course of a little more than three months.


Get Out – Directed by Jordan Peele


Jordan Peele’s socially conscious horror flick Get Out grossed $117 million in just 16 days, making Peele the first African American writer and director to earn over $100 million at the box office with a debut feature film. Just as impressive is the fact that the comedian-turned-filmmaker made the movie on a shoestring budget of $4.5 million. Altogether, Get Out grossed a total of $175 million, which is a hell of an ROI!


Stir Crazy – Directed by Sidney Poitier


Legendary filmmaker Sidney Poitier is the first black director to make a film that earned over $100 million following the release of Stir Crazy in 1980. The film was also the third-highest-grossing move that entire year.


Fantastic Four – Directed by Tim Story


Tim Story’s 2005 Fantastic Four was a commercial success that earned $154 million domestically in 10 days and a gross income of over $330 million around the world. Story also directed the sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), which made $131 million in the U.S.



Creed – Directed by Ryan Coogler


Ryan Coogler was only 29 years old when he released Creed in November 2015, a spin-off and sequel to the Rocky film franchise. The film earned $30.1 million in its opening weekend and ended up grossing $42.6 million within five days. Its earning tipped over the $100 million benchmark in 38 days.



Other black directors whose films topped $100M in the U.S. include Keenan Ivory Wayans for Scary Movie (2000), which grossed $157 million; John Singleton, whose 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) earned $127 million; and Clark Johnson for S.W.A.T (2003), which earned $116 million. (See a full list at

Despite these examples of high-earning films made by black directors, the amount of diversity in Hollywood remains scarce. According to a report published by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, only 10% of films were directed by a person of color. Diversity is profitable, but when will Hollywood get the picture?



Black Men XCEL: BE Circulation Director Celebrates A Father’s Legacy

Johann Alleyne-Morris on Black Men XCEL

In recognition of our very first Black Men XCEL Summit, celebrating the best of black male achievement, the Black Enterprise staff is sharing their stories of the men who’ve had an extraordinary impact in their own lives…

Johann Alleyne-Morris on Black Men XCEL Circulation Marketing Director Johann Alleyne-Morris (Photo by Seimond London)


Who is the man in your life who’s inspired you to excel?

My dad, Dennis Daniel.

How would you describe the impact he’s had on you?

It was an ironic impact. I never grew up with my dad in my life. For years I blamed him for all of the “wrongs” that happened or the things he never taught me—until I became an adult. I took an honest step back and looked at all of the amazing things he achieved as a professional and the sacrifices he made. He was the director of air traffic control for the entire airport, which took him away from the household and from being a dad a lot. But because of it, we had private schooling and access to things that most kids in Guyana didn’t. The impact of that shaped my path in life, it showed me what is really important in my life and what not to sacrifice in my life.

What’s your fondest memory of him?

The memory that sticks with me the most of my dad happened while we were on a bus. There was a gentleman sitting across from us who was smoking a cigarette. My dad politely asked him to put the cigarette out because there were kids on the bus, to which the individual responded no. At a mere 5′ 5″, but he seemed 6′ 5″ at the time, my dad slapped the cigarette out of his hand and told him in a few not-so-nice words where he could put the cigarette. At that moment my dad showed me a lesson he never had to explain to me: Never back down from the things you believe in despite any obstacles or challenges.

What’s the biggest lesson he taught you?

To never give up and never make excuses when things are not going right in your life. He taught me to stand up and face my challenges head-on. He didn’t start with much, but he was able to make a good life for himself. And he never allowed anyone to say they couldn’t do something, considering the battles he faced when he passed away from Parkinson’s, which was the one battle he couldn’t win.

What are you doing to make him proud?

Continuing his legacy—learning from his mistakes and creating another exciting chapter of our family tree.


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Black Men XCEL: BE Executive Administrator Celebrates A Brother’s Love

Yvianne Hyacinthe on Black Men XCEL

In recognition of our very first Black Men XCEL Summit, celebrating the best of black male achievement, the Black Enterprise staff is sharing their stories of the men who’ve had an extraordinary impact in their own lives…

Yvianne Hyacinthe on Black Men XCEL Executive Administrator to Multimedia Sales Yvianne Hyacinthe (Photo by Seimond London)


Who is the man in your life who’s inspired you to excel?

My younger brother, Hayden Hyacinthe, besides my father and husband, is the man in my life who has inspired me to become the mother and woman that I am today.

How would you describe the impact he’s had on you?

Hayden impacted my life by showing me from a very young age that no one should take advantage of another just because they are genuinely a nice person. He saw how others took advantage of my kindness and took it for weakness. Once I moved out of my parents’ home at the age of 20, and got a roommate from college to share an apartment with, he was so protective of my every move.

What’s your fondest memory of him? 

My fondest memory of Hayden is how he always called me—on a daily basis—to make sure I was taking care of myself since I no longer lived at home. He wanted to make sure I ate, which I barely did because I wasn’t a very great cook at the time; my mom always did the cooking at home.


Hayden Hyacinthe


What’s the biggest lesson he taught you? 

The biggest lesson Hayden taught me was to feel the freedom to express my needs and my hurts without ever having to raise my voice or get angry because he said it takes away from being happy. Life may be difficult or unpredictable at times but we have control of it and should know how to maneuver the obstacles in it. He showed me that I should always be loved unconditionally and no less. He told me never to lose track of who I am and always remember where I came from and never let anyone make me feel less of a human being because I am a beautiful person inside and out.

What are you doing to make him proud?

I do the best that I can on a daily basis to live the way he feels I should. He emphasizes always that we have one life to live, and he wants me to live it to the fullest. And to also remember that our mom is no longer with us, therefore I am the one who replaces her and should be a positive example for all my younger cousins as well as my daughters and granddaughter. He continues to make sure I take my medication for hypertension because he says if I can prevent having another stroke, I should do as my doctor prescribes—and I do. As a matter of fact, every day at work at 11:00 a.m. when I take my medication, Hayden is the first person that comes to mind.


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Black Men XCEL: BE Education Editor Celebrates An Uncle’s Intellect

Robin White Goode on Black Men XCEL

In recognition of our very first Black Men XCEL Summit, celebrating the best of black male achievement, the Black Enterprise staff is sharing their stories of the men who’ve had an extraordinary impact in their own lives…

Robin White Goode on Black Men XCEL Black Enterprise Education Editor Robin White Goode (Photo by Seimond London)


Who is the man in your life who’s inspired you to excel?

Besides my father, that would be my Uncle Herby, my father’s oldest brother and also my godfather. He was a brilliant man who earned a Ph.D. in psychology in the ’70s and taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He was and is the most intellectual man I’ve ever known. To this day he is the person I measure other smart, accomplished people against, and no one else has matched my Uncle Herby. I don’t think that’s just my hero worship of him either; he was truly a thoughtful and humane and deeply intellectual man. He was a man who read to his children and who took a genuine interest in his younger siblings (he was the oldest of five) and their families. He continues to be very much a kind of lodestar for me. If he were alive today, he’d be 97.

How would you describe the impact he’s had on you?

Uncle Herb was a Quaker—one of the few black Quakers. Because of his influence I chose a Quaker (though nonsectarian) college, Earlham College in Indiana. He had always given me “permission” to be myself in a way that I didn’t experience in my own home (although I did grow up in a loving home). For example, I am naturally somewhat shy and although I love to sing I rarely sing in front of others. But I remember once Uncle Herby asking me to sing a short chorus in front of him, my aunt, and two cousins, his sons—and I did. It just seemed OK to do—there wasn’t any space for silly bashfulness. I don’t know why, but he had that effect on me. He was also a proud black man but had friends of all races. I’ve tried to emulate that in my own life.

What’s the biggest lesson he taught you?

First, fearlessness. He set an example of bold, authentic living by pursuing a terminal degree and also a rich avocational life. For example, he swam regularly and also took art and sculpture classes. He sculpted a bust of his father, my grandfather, whom we all called Pop, that my father still has today. He lived a vibrant, creative life that I found inspiring. Second, he taught me not to set artificial limits around myself, but to be open to people and experiences—to vigorous living. Third, to care about others. All my uncles were great, but he was the only one who took a sustained interest in my well-being and who included me in the activities of his own family.

What are you doing to make him proud?

Not enough! His own sons graduated from Harvard and are now medical doctors—I’m piddling along as an education editor. But seriously, I think what would make him proudest would be for me to be my authentic self, to be courageous (still working on that one), and to continue pursuing the things that delight and thrill me. I also think that when I look out for my nieces, nephews, and their children, I’m following his example.


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