The Fight to Rename a Kentucky Airport After Muhammad Ali Continues

Muhammad Ali

Earlier this month, Black Enterprise reported on the more than yearlong, uphill battle a Kentucky-based educator, Robert Holmes III, has faced in hopes of honoring Muhammad Ali in Louisville, the city where “The People’s Champ” was born and raised. Back in June 2016, Holmes launched the Global Friends of Muhammad Ali, a grassroots effort that is committed to renaming the Louisville International Airport to “Muhammad Ali International Airport.” The group started a petition on Change.org, calling on Ali fans to support an initiative that would pay tribute to the legendary boxer. After being shared on MPowerChange.org, it collected over 14,000 signatures.

 

Muhammad Ali (Image; Muhammad Ali 1966 via Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

 

Despite receiving an overwhelming number of signatures and even support from members of the Ali family, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s spokesperson Chris Poynter told Black Enterprise that “there is no active committee looking at the matter of renaming the airport.” He added that the power to change the name lies within the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, which “will ultimately make any decision to rename the airport.” The Louisville Regional Airport Authority, however, also confirmed that it “has no current plans to change the name of Louisville International Airport (SDF).”

In addition, Fischer’s office reached out to BE emphasizing that the city has already paid homage to their hometown hero in a variety of other ways. “Louisville has several major Ali memorials already, including the Muhammad Ali Center (a major institution) and a prominent street named after The Champ. By focusing only on the airport, you leave the impression that the Champ’s hometown isn’t honoring his legacy, which is the furthest from the truth,” said Poynter.

Holmes, however, dismissed the mayor’s response as “a great attempt at a political spin to dodge the question. It’s obvious that Louisville has done things to honor its greatest citizen, but that’s not the [issue].” Holmes added that other cities, like New Orleans, have renamed their airports after superstar natives. “If they can name their airport after Louis Armstrong, who’s a jazz musician, certainly Louisville should be able to coalesce around the idea of renaming the airport.”

According to Holmes, the opposition to rename the airport boils down to the fact that Ali was an outspoken black man who voiced opposition to racism and war. “I feel that there is a racial component to it and I think that’s one of the reasons why people don’t want to touch it,” he says. “Because he was a very brash, young man in very turbulent times during the 60’s and the early 70’s. He spoke his mind and he stood his ground and he stood up for what he believed in. He stood up against social injustice and racial disparities not only all over the world, but he also spoke about the racial disparities right here in his hometown.” After winning the heavyweight championship, the boxing legend “returned back to Louisville, [but] he didn’t receive a total warm welcome from the entire city. There were segments of the white community that did not celebrate Muhammad Ali and you still have that today.”

Although Mayor Fischer’s office told Black Enterprise that the airport authority will make the ultimate decision to rename the airport, Holmes pointed out that the mayor maintains power to appoint “several members of the board.”

“If he wanted to make that decision, to say that I want to rename this airport in honor of Muhammad Ali, I don’t believe it is that hard,” said Holmes.

 

 

3 NBA Stars Making Big Business Moves This Year

NBA stars business moves

With the start of the basketball season upon us, it’s clear that some of the biggest NBA stars spent the offseason brushing up on their business game.

Russell Westbrook

NBA stars business moves TUMI x Russell Westbrook (PRNewsfoto/TUMI)

 

Just this month, Westbrook, the league’s reigning MVP, released a limited-edition collection with luggage maker TUMI. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard co-designed six pieces, including travel satchels, backpacks, and totes in a red camouflage print with his personal motto “Why Not?” embossed on the interiors.

“I’ve always enjoyed the process of transforming an idea through the design process, and the creative team at TUMI really executed my vision,” said Westbrook in a press release. “I’m proud to share the functional and stylistic collection we’ve created together with people all over the world.”

This isn’t his first crack at designing. Known among NBA stars for his eccentric fashion and “nerd” glasses, he teamed up with Barney’s New York in 2014 to for a two-year partnership to create the line Russell Westbrook XO. He also has—of course—his own eyewear company, called Westbrook Frames.

Earlier this year he signed a 10-year extension to his deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand, reportedly making him the highest-paid Jordan Brand athlete ever.

 

Chris Paul

Paul, who is making his debut as a member of the Houston Rockets, made headlines with the off-season trade. But that wasn’t the only news he was making this summer. In July he launched a capsule collection of men’s clothing and accessories with Five Four Club, after signing on in March to become the face of the brand.

“I’m a firm believer in not just doing business with a company just because you know them. You invest in the people,” Paul told Esquire about collaborating with the brand.

Not to be left out of the travel bag game, the NBA Players Union president launched another line just last month. The Chris Paul for Hook & Albert Collection includes a weekender, Dopp kit, and lapel pins, among other accessories, and is available at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Outside of fashion, Paul has a number of business interests—like most NBA stars. Last year, he invested an undisclosed amount in WTRMLN WTR, an energy drink startup, along with Beyoncé.

 

LeBron James

 

Perhaps no current pro better embodies the idea of a business-savvy basketball player than James. He co-founded media and entertainment companies and invested in Beats by Dre–before it was sold to Apple. He’s also earned hundreds of millions in endorsement deals, including his historic contracts with Nike.

But it was a $1 million investment he made in 2012 that paid off big this summer. That’s when his stake in Blaze Pizza, the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country, became valued at $25 million. He reportedly owns about 10% of the company, in addition to co-owning several franchises.

“LeBron and I have always been about finding companies that we truly believe in and putting real money into them. We’re not talking putting in $15,000 or $20,000,” Maverick Carter, James’s business partner, told ESPN.

“It’s real money plus the expertise, understanding and knowledge that we bring, as well as bringing LeBron’s name and likeness to the product.”

This could lead to an off-the-court business match-up between two of the biggest NBA stars: Kevin Durant, whose defending champion Golden State Warriors beat James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s finals, is also getting into the pizza biz. His company, Durant Co., just invested in Pieology and will own both a stake in the company and some of the franchises.

 

The Culture of Offense is Why Black Workers Are Punished for Speaking Out

The national controversy surrounding NFL protests took a dramatic turn on Monday when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued a statement indicating that he will bench any player who refuses to stand during the national anthem. “If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said. “Understand? We will not… If we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”

(Image: iStock/tacojim)

 

ESPN journalist Jemele Hill, a black woman, responded by tweeting about how disgruntled fans can effectively boycott Jones. “This play always works,” Hill tweeted. “Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers,” she concluded.  

Hill was subsequently suspended for two weeks on Oct. 9, 2017. ESPN cited “a second violation of our social media guidelines” as a rationalization for the suspension. “In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences,” the network said in a statement.   

 

The Culture of Offense

 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s recent threat to bench non-compliant team members, coupled with ESPN’s suspension of Jemele Hill, illustrates why I oppose what I call the “culture of offense.”

The culture of offense normalizes and encourages employer-based punishment for offensive but non-violent comments or political gestures. 

Since what may be considered offensive varies on one’s perception and offense is perceived differently by individuals across the socio-political and ideological spectrum, punishing these football players creates a slippery slope that threatens the rest of us to freely express ourselves without the looming threat of consequence.

 

The First Amendment and the Workplace  

 

The right to free speech is not entirely protected at the workplace. “An employee may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be employed,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes. In other words: to keep your job, you often can’t say or do what you like.  

This is in part due to an absence of protections at the state and federal levels regarding speech-related terminations. “At the protective end of the spectrum, five states (California, Colorado, Montana, New York, and North Dakota) prohibit employers from punishing employees for legal off-duty activities that do not conflict with the employer’s business-related interests,” according to the American Bar Association.

“These limited protections for off-duty political speech are not available to approximately half of the U.S. population… Accordingly, the majority of Americans only have legal protections for their speech only when it relates to a narrow category of topics protected by federal, state or local law.”

And yet, increased state or federal protections are unlikely to reduce the threat of workplace suspension or termination as it relates to politically motivated speech or actions, precisely because said speech or actions impact “business-related interests.”

This is particularly true during this deeply divided period in American political history. As such, employers are increasingly at risk of losing profit when their employees make on-the-job political statements or issue remarks that offend a target customer. This would explain the rationale that Jones used to explain his no-kneeling policy. “Too many of the fans of the Dallas Cowboys perceive this as disrespect for the flag,” he noted. “And so I don’t want our team doing it.”

 

The Solution: A Shift in American Values  

 

The solution to the challenge I have presented is not a shift in policy or an increase in regulatory protections. The solution is a cultural shift from offense to toleration.

Far too often, people are quick to take offense when presented with ideas that do not align with theirs. In many instances, the offense becomes a rallying call for punitive action. This has become increasingly apparent as a result of the NFL protests, during which 47% of Republicans agreed that NFL players should be fired or suspended when caught kneeling during the national anthem.

As the Republican response to the NFL protests demonstrates, the culture of offense has normalized and encouraged employer-based punishment for non-violent comments and political gestures. NFL owners, broadly, and Jerry Jones, specifically,  have cited “business-related interests,” which translates to nothing more than offended consumers, as the key motivator driving the decision to reprimand players who kneel during the anthem.

The onus is on us—ordinary citizens and consumers—to renounce the culture of offense and to promote toleration, civil debate, and the free exchange of ideas. Although it is OK to respectfully disagree with others, encouraging employers to retaliate whenever one is offended puts us all, regardless of race, ideological orientation, or political affiliation, at risk of being punished by our employers for making comments or political gestures that others might disagree with.

 

 

 

Coming Soon: Your Medication Will be Printed Out Like a Document!

Although it may be several years down the road, instead of taking multiple pills, what do you think about combining them into a single printed medication dose?

 

(Image: iStock/JPC-PROD)

 

The technique, which was developed at the University of Michigan, can print multiple medications into a single dose on a dissolvable strip, microneedle patch, or another dosing device. The researchers say it could make life easier for patients who must now take multiple medications every day. The work could also accelerate drug development.

A new study led by Max Shtein, professor of materials science and engineering, and Olga Shalev, a recent graduate who worked on the project while a doctoral student in the same department, showed that the pure printed medication can destroy cultured cancer cells in the lab as effectively as medication delivered by traditional means, which rely on chemical solvents to enable the cells to absorb the medication. Their study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers adapted the technology from electronics manufacturing called “organic vapor-jet printing.” The way it works is the active pharmaceutical ingredient of a medicine is heated, evaporated, and then combined with an inert gas such as nitrogen. The vaporized medicine and gas combination are then placed into a device that evenly sprays the combination onto a cool inanimate surface—similar to spray painting. The medication condenses and an ultrathin film is left with the “print” of the medication. This was done to objects such as a dissolvable strip (like your Listerine breathe strips) and Tegaderm bandages.

(Nurse Alice on Fox News Happening Now talking about Printed Medications. YouTube)

 

This technology could improve compliance rates of people taking their medications, improve the quality of life, and customize the way we deliver medication and allow medications to truly be delivered in doses most suitable for the patient. Currently, many pills come in a standardized dose, for example in 5, 10, and 20 mg of a said medication. With vapor jet printing there is an opportunity to customize the dose and perhaps give 7.5 or 12mg of that same medication if more appropriate based on the patient’s size and condition. There may be times when a smaller person doesn’t need as much medication as a larger person but because of how current medication is packaged there isn’t an opportunity to customize the dose. This technology also has implications for speeding up clinical trials and getting more effective medications to patients sooner as these medications are dissolved and absorbed differently than traditional pills.

When I spoke to Dr. Max Stein, lead researcher and an associate professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, he mentioned that this technology is promising and even with the rigorous process of getting FDA approved, he’s optimistic that we could see the likes of this technology as soon as five years from now.

What do you think? Would you be interested in taking multiple medications in one dose? What questions do you have about printed meds? Post your comments and questions below and/or on social media including #AskNurseAlice and I’d be happy to answer them.

Jay-Z Reportedly Interested in Buying Harvey Weinstein’s Stake in TWC

Jay Z

Jay-Z may be looking to make an investment in The Weinstein Company (TWC) in the midst of the controversy surrounding the company’s founder Harvey Weinstein, a powerful film producer accused of sexually harassing and assaulting scores of women throughout his three-decade career.

Jay-Z (Image: Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

 

The New York Times reported last week that the Academy Award-winning producer made sexual advances at multiple women in Hollywood, including high-profile actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Ashley Judd. Some women who rejected his non-consensual advances said that, in turn, he used his clout to sabotage their career. Three women also accused him of rape.

As a result, on October 8, Weinstein was ousted from TWC, a mini-major film studio that he co-founded and co-chaired with his brother Bob. TMZ reports that Jay-Z is interested in purchasing Weinstein’s 23-percent stake in the production company.

In 2016, Jay-Z signed a two-year deal with TWC that includes a first-look deal at film and TV projects. The hip-hop mogul worked with Weinstein to produce Time: The Kalief Browder Story, a six-part documentary that premiered earlier this year. The rap star also has several upcoming projects in the works with TWC, including an adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights; a miniseries about Trayvon Martin; a program exploring American race relations hosted by Jay-Z; and a biopic about comedy legend Richard Pryor.

According to TMZ, Jay-Z would partner with other investors to purchase the stake and he “wants his relationship with the company to continue and grow.”

Fox Business, however, reports that rumors of Jay-Z purchasing Weinstein’s stake are false, according to their sources.

In response to the allegations of sexual assault, Weinstein released an apology, telling the New York Times: “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.” He added that he will take a sabbatical and is working with therapists to “deal with this issue head on.”

African American Director Brings Thurgood Marshall Biopic to the Silver Screen

If you have to see one motion picture this weekend or place a film on your must-see list of fall films, I wholeheartedly recommend Marshall. As the title suggests, the movie is about Thurgood Marshall, the iconic civil rights attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who used the courtroom to break racial barriers and help decimate institutionalized Jim Crow when he won the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared state laws that established segregation in schools to be unconstitutional. It is fitting that the movie is being released on the 50th anniversary of Marshall being named the first black Supreme Court justice.

Directed by the Acclaimed Reginald Hudlin

 

I had an opportunity to attend an advance screening of the movie and found Marshall to be not your typical biopic. It features Marshall as a young attorney for the LDF in pre-World War II America, battling for justice in one of his less publicized cases—an African American chauffeur accused of rape and attempted murder of a wealthy white socialite in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Helmed with a blend of pulsating energy and nail-biting suspense from acclaimed director Reginald Hudlin, the movie is a legal thriller; an interracial “buddy film” of a partnership fused by a shared mission in the face of insurmountable odds and a commentary on social and criminal justice that’s powerfully relevant today in an era marked by Black Lives Matter and racially divisive politics.

 

(Reginald Hudlin. Image: File)

 

Hudlin decided to cast Chadwick Boseman as the legal legend-in-the making—noted for his performances in biopics on baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson (42) and “Godfather of Soul” James Brown (Get on Up) as well as his starring role as T’Challa in the upcoming Marvel Comics superhero blockbuster The Black Panther—for the lead role. Although Boseman bears no physical resemblance to the lighter hued Marshall, he plays the role with a mix of strategic intelligence and tenacious swagger—Shaft with a briefcase—that’s compelling to watch on screen. Other cast members—Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, and Laura Dern—play pivotal roles and offer bravura performances.

Marshall Initially Rejected by Hollywood

 

Hudlin himself displayed his own brand of resilience and negotiating prowess to get Marshall produced. Hudlin received the material from top producer Paula Wagner and after he decided to create the movie, he says the project was turned down by every Hollywood studio. Undeterred, Hudlin made contact with Chinese-based Super Hero Films Ltd. and through interpreters negotiated full financing for the movie’s $10 million budget. “They loved the script and embraced this movie about a hero,” recalls Hudlin. “Once I received the financing, I filmed the movie without any further discussions about my approach or aspects of the production, which rarely happens. Super Hero Films were amazing partners.”

 

(Marshall move poster. Image: Twitter/MarshallMovie)

 

I spoke with Hudlin—in complete transparency, he’s a long-time friend and business partner of Milestone Comics—about why and how he brought Marshall to the big screen.

BLACK ENTERPRISE: In terms of just the richness of Thurgood Marshall’s life and career, why focus on this slice? What engaged you to produce this film about this case and how did it come to you?

Reginald Hudlin: When you look at his whole life, it’s so full of adventures and achievement that you really can’t make a two-hour movie. It’s really more of a mini-series. When we talk about the film, we talk about the historical importance. What gets lost in the conversation is that it’s a really fun movie. People laugh a lot more than they think they’re going to laugh. They get a little choked up, and then they’re cheering. It’s a surprisingly good date movie. I don’t want people to go because they feel an obligation to support the movie or they feel like they have to go learn something. I think they should go and expect to have a good time, and then they’ll turn up. They actually got some insights they didn’t expect, but it first and foremost is entertainment, and that’s what we deliver.

In terms of distribution, are you looking at other platforms for Marshall, so that it would gain further traction with audiences? For much of 2017, box office has been flat in part due to competition from all these other platforms. So, how did that play into the marketing and business strategy with Marshall?

It is true that it’s been sort of a depressed year for movies in general, but let me point out a counter-trend. Hidden Figures, Get Out, Girls Trip. Those films have all overperformed compared to expectations, and part of that is that black ones are always underestimated and it also says, general audiences are more open to films with black leads because they look interesting and different. They are interesting. They are different. All three of those movies brought in very big mainstream support.

Do you also believe what will work for Marshall is that historical content seems to be very resonant with millennials? There’s a social consciousness in recent years that continues to be demonstrated by that segment.

Well, I think part of it is reflected on the times. Clearly, when you look at what’s happening politically in the country right now, and actually even globally, we’re at this pivot point. Sometimes to understand the future, you have to look at the past and just say, “OK. Here’s what happened in our last pivot point, so what can we learn from that in terms of what we need to do for the future?”

What is the continued marketing plan? Is there an approach similar to the release of the film Selma in which African American businesses financed students and younger people to see that film? How will you seek to gain greater traction and exposure for the film?

The movie has a modest budget. We’re being distributed by a relatively small studio, Open Road, so we’re using a combination of things. There’s a heavy focus on digital marketing. There’s been a lot of press because it’s a movie that people want to talk about, and want to talk to the stars about, talk about the movie’s broader implications, and the traditional television advertising and so on. So, it’s a mix of those elements. I’ve been working with big studios for quite some time so it’s kind of a shift back to the old school but we’re being very aggressive about it. We’ve been doing a lot of screenings. We’re very excited that we’ve arranged screenings for 11th and 12th graders in 20 different cities. They get to see the film. We’re providing the schools with educational materials, so they can talk with the kids about the movie and the times, so we’re really doing not just really promotional streams, but doing educational streams as well.

Even though Super Hero Films provided full financing for the film, you said you had a small budget. How were you able to get it made and give it a big budget feel?

We started with a $10 million budget, which is modest, but we feel like we got a lot of movie for our dollar. We got fantastic production value, great costumes from the award-winning Ruth Carter. We got the cinematographer who shot all the X-Men movies. So we didn’t cut any corners in terms of the quality of the work. We just did it with what we had.

We filmed a 140-page script in 30 days. Normally, Hollywood films would shoot three to five pages a day so we were going at an incredibly fast clip. Fortunately, I know how to do that without compromise. You just figure out how, and a big part of that was having rehearsals with the actors, so we did so much of the work before we got in front of the cameras, so everyone knew what they were doing. When you have world-class actors like that, they can make it happen.

You’ve identified some actors who definitely have gained great exposure recently when you look at Chadwick Boseman and Sterling Brown. Josh Gad is also someone who brings another bright spotlight.

I just feel very fortunate that the actors saw the material and said, “Wow, this is the kind of movie we want to be involved in.” That makes all the difference.

‘Girls Trip’ PR Exec Explains Why We Shouldn’t Look to Hollywood to Tell Our Stories

Ryan Ford talks diversity in Hollywood

As the executive vice president and chief creative officer of Cashmere Agency, Ryan Ford is behind public relations, social media, and experiential activations for Hollywood hit films like Girls Trip. But beyond Ford’s day-to-day position, he’s also committed to providing solutions for multicultural creators to get the spotlight they deserve.

Photo credit Ryan Ford

 

Below, Ford exclusively shares his insights on the one debate that has circled around Hollywood for quite some time.

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in the film industry and how are you working to make that change happen?

I’m constantly perplexed when movies like Girls Trip or Straight Outta Compton are deemed as surprise hits. Since the very first moment that films like that are announced, everyone that I know understands that they are going to be huge hits. I mean, like everyone. TV is the same thing. Whether it’s Netflix’s Luke Cage or Master of None or more traditional outlets like TNT’s Claws or FX’s Atlanta, shows that are offering viewers new and engaging yet wholly authentic looks at multicultural life shouldn’t be deemed as surprise hits.

Cashmere is a marketing agency that helps clients engage diverse communities through culturally authentic content. So, it’s our main focus to be able to anticipate hits before they happen. To achieve that? Just listen to the demos that you are trying to target. Or simply go to a barbershop or check in with Black Twitter.

What’s your solution for changing the diversity landscape in Hollywood?

The landscape has already changed. The entertainment industry is recognizing the value of diversity. On average, films with more diverse casts are outperforming their less inclusive competitors.

It’s clear what people want to see. It’s just that Hollywood is behind. Hollywood is good at doing something second. They don’t want to be first. It’s too risky for them. That’s why we shouldn’t even be looking to Hollywood to give us the kind of depictions that we are so hungry for. Social media is offering a new generation of content creators to thrive. And it’s not only the subject matter of the content; it’s the various forms that it’s coming to us in. Digital influencers are using Snapchat stories, or YouTube videos, or Facebook memes, or even Instagram carousel pictures to offer us visions of ourselves through new, always-on mediums.

4 How-To Tips to Get Your Child Into Modeling

After our story a couple of years ago on 50 Cent’s two-year-old landing a $700,000 modeling campaign, many of you shared adorable photos of your little ones on our Facebook  page and asked for child modeling advice.

We did a little research over the weekend and found some valuable insight into the industry. Keep in mind that making $700,000 is very rare, even for adult models, and probably won’t be the case for your child.

(Image: iStock/ataphoto)

 

Before investing the time into finding your child an agency and going on castings, first make sure that modeling is something that he is genuinely excited about. Your kid should never feel pressured to model or feel like you will be mad if he decides it’s not something he wants to do. Once you’re certain that your little one is really on board, take note of the tips below.

Take Clear and Clean Photos

When taking snapshots of your kid, note that less is more. As adorable as the photo of him with cake and sprinkles all of over his face may be, that typically isn’t the photo that agencies want to see. Instead, he should be facing the camera; no hat, sunglasses or makeup. “You can easily take this kind of picture at home with a digital camera,” according to BabyCenter.com. “Make sure the pictures show your child’s features and take a variety of poses, including head shots and full-body shots.” The photos should be in color.

Once you’ve taken several quality photos, send two to three by mail to reputable agencies “with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a short letter stating your interest,” Charles Ramsey, owner of Product Model Management in New York City, tells Parents.com.

 

Don’t Spend a Fortune on Photos

You don’t have to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on professional photos. Some agencies may try to convince you that this is necessary, but it is not and agencies that say otherwise are probably running a scam. Margaret Pelino of Ford Models tells Parents.com, “But why would you spend a fortune taking pictures of, say, a 3-year-old? He’s not going to look the way he does for very long.” Simple at-home snapshots are actually preferred among many top agencies. An agency may ask if you have a composite card (a card with several small photos of your child) which shouldn’t cost much more than $200.

Never Pay Money Upfront

One of the biggest signs that an agency is conning you is if they ask you for money upfront. Most reputable agencies will not start taking money until your child has been signed and companies are booking him for work. Parents.com says that once the model is signed, the agencies “usually take a cut of about 20 percent from you for setting up each modeling job and the same sum from the company that hires your child.” If an agency is trying to persuade you to pay any initial fees, especially if they’re costly, decline their offer and continue your search for representation elsewhere.

Go With a Reputable and Registered Agency

Doing your research on agencies is critical so that your child is protected and has a good experience. Pick an agency that is registered with the Better Business Bureau and one that has an impressive portfolio to reflect their credibility. You representation should have some proof, whether a page on their website or via their social media, of campaigns that they’ve booked for their clients. For example, Future Faces’ official Facebook page has multiple photos of their clients in ads for top brands like Ruum and H&M.

For safety purposes, never leave your child alone with an agent or photographer. Be with him at all times, even if the agency is reputable, to ensure that his physical and emotional safety are protected.

 

 

 

Lisa “The Inventress” Ascolese Covers Exclusive ‘Shark Tank’ Season 9 Premiere Event

Shark Tank

Calling all inventors and entrepreneurs: Have you ever wondered what happens on the set Shark Tank, the critically acclaimed and multi-Emmy ® Award-winning ABC reality show that has reinvigorated entrepreneurship in America? Lucky for YOU, I’ve documented my journey to Los Angeles where Season Nine of Shark Tank was filmed and I share how the innovative magic happens below.

 

Lisa Ascolese (Image: Lisa Ascolese)

 

Here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of the iconic, innovative souls and superstar “Sharks” who, over the years, have helped shape and mold what entrepreneurship is to date.

As most of you know, I reside in the NYC area, and so naturally, I chose to fly out of EWR Newark, New Jersey into Los Angeles, California LAX. For the line of work I do, flying is a daily practice. When you are an entrepreneur, always have a bag packed and be ready to take the next flight out whenever to wherever. Here’s the thing, you need to go where opportunities arise. And most of the time, opportunities don’t stay around forever. Act fast and always be prepared to move.

As I settled down in my seat, I reached for my journal. Fun fact! You will never find The Inventress in flight without these three staples: pencil, journal, and a bottle of sparkling water. I do most of my creative brainstorming on planes or during long car rides. I choose to journal in pencil for many reasons but most predominantly because the direction of my thoughts change continuously. I am always searching for the next innovative idea. Before I knew it, we arrived in beautiful, L.A.—one of my favorite cities in the entire world! My flights always seem to zip by so quickly because I tend to sink into a writers coma…  (Ha!) And now, the real fun begins…

I took an Uber (shout out to an ingenious company) to my hotel. And because I arrived late at night, once I checked in, I completely checked out and it was time to catch some zzz’s. Jet lag will do that to you, my friends.

The following morning I woke up from my slumber at approximately 5 AM. Regardless of the West Coast time difference, my body knows not to sleep past that mark. Although I followed my typical morning routine; journal, yoga, juice, emails, etc., my routine added in some additions that I must say, I wasn’t too inconvenienced by. In fact, I was elated to add them to the list. Following my delicious organic green juice and a few thousand client emails (just kidding… it was only a few hundred), I began to prepare for my big day as a consultant on the set of Shark Tank. I got busy preparing topics of discussion, questions, background information and fun facts. I couldn’t wait to arrive and collaborate with like-minded individuals who share the same passions as me! I am inspired by people who live their purpose… because I live mine.

And we’re off! A beautiful stretch limo arrived to my hotel at 8 am sharp to bring me to Culver City aka my Shark Tank family.

For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the television industry, it takes a village of hardworking, passionate, and focused individuals to make a production (of any size) come to fruition. Excuses and exhaustion do not exist… especially on Hollywood sets. And here’s why; Shark Tank films for approximately 10-12 hours a day. There is very limited time to capture all that needs capturing and so, each minute must be valued at its highest level. Also meaning, everyone must perform at their best all day, every day.

Upon settling into to my designated area, I am greeted by one of the most highly respected businessmen in the entire world, Mark Cuban! Mark is extremely kind, patient and humble. And although this was day seven of filming 10-12 hour days, he had no complaints and was standing strong. Our conversation was short, yet riveting. Time was not on our side as it was time to film and business is business. One thing Mark shared with me I find worth mentioning is his passion behind building schools across the country. To him, education is priceless and he will do what it takes to ensure children have an opportunity to indulge in creativity and arts.

I then witnessed an amazing product pitch…. top secret information! You’ll have to tune into Season Nine to experience this innovation.

We were all given a small break and it was at that time I was introduced to a full of smiles, Robert Herjavec. Robert is the jokester of the group. Always looking for a laugh, very pleasant and adds a fresh perspective into the mix. I was elated to connect with him and share our similarities. We both share a strong creative vision.

Next up, I reconnected with Daymond John and I was thrilled! It had been a minute since I had last seen Daymond and so getting ready for the day, I was excited to reconnect with a man whose work ethic and creativity I admire so much. Daymond has always been extremely focused and driven. In that moment, he was also very serious. You could tell he was there to get the job done and I cannot tell you how much I admire his outlook when it comes to the workplace. Fun fact! I will share this with you… the minute his beautiful daughter, Minka arrived on set, his entire demeanor changed! That little girl lights up his entire world and gives him life. It was a beautiful sight to see… oh, the joy of being a parent!

Time flies when you’re having fun… it was officially time for lunch. The cuisine was delicious and I had the honor of enjoying it while mingling with some of the Sharks. It was here I connected with Season Nine guest Shark, Bethenny Frankel and my QVC neighbor, Lori Greiner. Both Bethenny and Lori are fabulous, powerful women who lift others up, two hands at a time! This was my first time meeting Bethenny and her aura is wonderful. She is a very classy lady and extremely intelligent. As for Lori, it was also a delight reconnecting with her. Although we both run circles at The Q, it’s a nice treat seeing your colleagues outside of your typical workspace. And I must note, Lori’s outfit was stunning. She has a new clothing line launching soon and I highly recommend you check it out!

Other notes worth mentioning…

The entire Sony/ABC team deserves to be recognized for treating everyone on that set like family. For me personally, it was one of the most sincere welcomes I have ever experienced. The team’s hospitality and warmth is something I will never forget and admire deeply. And mind you, every single team member held these spectacular standards. It did not matter if you were an executive producer, intern, or an assistant, everyone was kind, everyone was caring and everyone was hard at work because they loved their job. I cannot explain how important it is to love what you do. Being passionate keeps you going… makes you feel alive… it invigorates your soul! Find something that lights up your world and I promise you, YOU will NEVER work a day in your life.

And in the blink of an eye, the filming of Shark Tank Season Nine wrapped! What now? I take you behind-the-scenes to the after party…. and trust me, you don’t want to miss this!

There was no time for me to change. So ladies and gentlemen, always be prepared to spice your outfit up or down. In this industry, time is never on your side. Fortunately, I was already dressed to the nines (my mother always said it was better to be over-dressed than under-dressed). But of course, The Inventress always travels with accessories to give her outfit that extra splash of fun. I can’t help it… I’m innovative!

The after-party vibe was super edgy, sexy, and cool. Between the karaoke, Shark Tank-themed cocktails, and old school music, we all had a blast! A weight was lifted off of everyone’s shoulders now that the season had officially ended filming. This was a celebration…. Mark Cuban changed out of his suit and switched to sweats! It was nice to be able to let your hair down in a judgment-free zone. The entire cast and crew was invited! No one was left out and everyone celebrated together as one big, happy family. Barbara Corcoran was missed deeply as she was rehearsing with her Dancing with the Stars partner, Keo. Not to worry, we will catch up with her toward the end of this blog!

Following the party, it was time for bed. I got into my limo and as I was driven back to my hotel, I thanked God for the life that I currently have. Not many people get the opportunity to live their dreams, meet their passions, and surround themselves with others who truly want to see them succeed. I, in that moment, reminded myself how truly blessed I am and why it is so important for me to help others get to that same space. I strongly believe in lifting each other up, two hands at a time!

Upon entering my hotel room, I had the biggest smile on my face. I was so grateful for that wonderful night, with wonderful people I now consider family. Within five minutes I was out for the count… tomorrow would be the most exciting, yet most labor intensive day of the trip as I would be working my magic on the red carpet.

Once again, I woke up at 5 AM to begin my day. By now, you probably have my routine memorized… journal, yoga, juice, emails, etc., and once again my routine added in some additions. This time, I was studying the media deck Sony, ABC, and Black Enterprise magazine supplied me with. The deck consisted of headshots of every single Shark and guest Shark, their respective bios and facts. It was my job to memorize each page to the best of my ability and also come up with unique questions to ask everyone at the red carpet premiere. I studied the pages for hours and organized my questions all while continuing to run my for-profit-business, Inventing A-to-Z; my nonprofit business, The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs; and balancing my family from L.A.

And now, it was time to get this show on the road…

The press event took place at the gorgeous, Paley Center in Beverly Hills, California. My driver picked me up early to ensure I took my place on the red carpet with time to spare. Beverly Hills is a fabulous sight to see. The views are spectacular, the environment is innovative and rich. I gathered myself together and got out of the limo. God is good my friends… I ended up sharing an elevator ride with one of my childhood idols, Alfonso Ribeiro! I adored Fresh Prince of Bel Air.… what a wonderful trip down memory lane! Alfonso and I enjoyed a beautiful chat. He is so very warm, loving and overall a super cool guy. I knew he was going to be the Shark Tank Premiere Panel Moderator following the red carpet, but it was so nice to share this intimate moment with him.

As we both stepped off the elevator, we went in different directions. Alfonso went inside the building to prep for his moderating position, while I took my place on the carpet to interview the stars. The atmosphere was chaotic. Press was everywhere you turned. It was a unique experience to be behind-the-scenes as an interviewer, as I am typically in front of the camera for these types of events. That said, I wouldn’t change it for the world! I was honored to have been granted this experience through my dear friend Brandon Andrews, top talent scout for Shark Tank and my Black Enterprise magazine family whom I also adore.

For those of you who are not in the entertainment industry, here is another fun fact you will find interesting. As I settled into my spot on the carpet, I was surrounded by every single major media network you could imagine… E!, Extra, etc…. it was fascinating! Press people mean business. It is all a competition, and what I mean by that is, just because you have a designated space on the carpet, does not guarantee you an interview with every star because, once again, time is not on your side. And so, each reporter must go to battle to ensure their network gets the coverage they are looking to achieve by interviewing the stars they admire most. I am always up for a challenge. When I put my mind to something, nothing and no one will stop me and so, I was 100% positive I was going to do whatever it took to get Black Enterprise and my fan base the coverage they deserved!

The talent starts to arrive and everyone looks dapper, super elegant, and chic! Not to mention, the rooftop where the premiere was taking place overlooked the iconic Hollywood sign. Simply priceless!

My first interview was with Mark Cuban. I was thrilled to connect with him after all the fun the entire cast had the previous night. Mark shared that fans will be blown away by Season Nine. He is still so honored and humbled to be a part of something so special and that to me is commendable. Fame certainly hasn’t gone to his head… he does this because he loves it, not because he has to. He is truly blessed.

My next interview was with Bethenny Frankel. She is such a doll! She placed emphasis on taking nothing for granted in life… she is extremely proud to be a guest Shark this season and has many surprises in store for the viewers! And I must also mention, she was gracious and dressed beautifully!

Next up, Daymond John. Daymond is very comfortable in front of a camera. You could tell he was excited to launch the new season and hear everyone’s thoughts. He is a very cool, honest entrepreneur. I also had the opportunity to present him with a Humanitarian Award on behalf of my nonprofit organization, The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs or  “AOWIE.” He was completely blown away and humbled. We as an AOWIE family, are thrilled to honor him!

And finally… it was about time! I had the opportunity to connect with Barbara Corcoran. She had been missing during the majority of filming as she was also juggling a cast role on Dancing with the Stars. She is funny as hell and sweet as pie! She stood out in a beautifully detailed and tailored bright orange suit. We bonded over innovative thoughts and had some real girl talk! I love that woman with all my heart!

Rohan Oza… such a fun, silly down-to-earth businessman! One of his biggest projects to date is the beverage drink, Bai, which he collaborates with Justin Timberlake on. The minute he started talking about Bai during our interview… I naturally had to start singing his own commercial to him! And guess what? He LOVED it! Listen guys… sometimes you have to put yourself out there. Never be afraid to be true to yourself! When you’re genuine, you are able to build connections with others in a more organic way.

And… Mr. Kevin O’ Leary….

Kevin is misunderstood. And I hate to blow his cover but…. he is absolutely wonderful!!! He is extremely personable. Kevin took his time on the carpet by giving each network an extremely generous amount of his time. He even started asking ME questions during our interview!

I also had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Lopez and her beau (and guest Shark) Alex Rodriguez. Both are very pleasant, creative, and charming!

Following the red carpet… there was a special panel discussion hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro inside of the building with all of the Sharks and Guest Sharks for Season Nine. The panel was very interesting and the commentary from others was brilliant!

The entire cast acts like one big family. Everyone is super playful, have a great sense of humor, and push each other to be the best version of themselves. A common theme most touched on was how they started and how they now use their platforms for good.

For me, Alex Rodriguez stood out of the crowd. He shared that when he was young, he loved sports and knew that one day he wanted to get into the field. However, he was fearful that if that happened, he would go broke after hearing horror stories. And so, he started investing his money at a young age and continues to do so on a much larger scale present day.

Daymond also shared some very inspiring, insightful words of wisdom. He spoke about how you don’t need to have a famous last name and a truckload of money to make a difference in this world or build an empire. He placed emphasis on having a hustle mentality and pursuing only things you are passionate about. He is very humble and inspired many.

As I was leaving, I bumped into Barbara Corcoran’s brother and his beautiful wife. Both are so genuine and full of life. Her brother, Ed, is an ingenious graphic artist and has his own company. But something about him was different. Instead of talking about himself and his own business (which is extremely successful and worth mentioning) he instead, spent the majority of our conversation highlighting his sister. Explaining how proud he was of her and how lucky he was to be a part of her life. That is true love. That is family values. That is, precisely how we should aspire to act. Instead of being so self-driven, take time to lift others up and recognize their success. He is a special man, and Barbara, you are a very lucky sister. I am a big believer in speaking things into existence, and so publicly, I’d like to take a moment to formally invite Ms. Barbara Corcoran to be a speaker at The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs “AOWIE” Conference on August 18, 2018, in the NYC area.

Before my Los Angeles trip came to a close, I knew it was imperative for me to capture all of my emotions via journal in that moment. And so, instead of taking my limo back to my hotel, I decided to walk the streets of Rodeo Drive, journal in one hand, pencil in the other. I walked, I wrote, I walked, I wrote… until finally it was time to go back to my hotel, pack up my belongings and head back to NYC.

I am so looking forward to future collaborations with all of the magnificent people I met during my stay in LA. For anyone reading this, I want you to realize that you too, can be a part of something this special! YOU are no different than I am. In fact, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Please realize this is 38 years’ worth of me grinding to get to this place. My success wasn’t created overnight… Passion, hard work, perseverance, dedication, and inspiration got me to this space and I am here to help you get to this space as well. Never…. and I mean never be afraid to ask for help, seek guidance, or find a mentor. Find a way to turn “no” into “yes.” And always grab the opportunities God places in front of you with all of your might and run as fast as you can. And when you get to your place of achievement, always bring someone with you. I always say it, but it is true! There is so much room at the top… let’s share it together and lift each other up, two hands at a time!

And before I end, I must thank many people who deserve to be credited. Please realize, I am not the only one involved with making this entire experience come to fruition. I have my own village (quite literally).

Brandon Andrews, thank you for your innovative mind, huge heart and beautiful friendship.

Clay Newbill, Mark Burnett, Yun Lingner and Phil Gurin; thank you for your kindness, ingenious wit, passion and hard work. (Television Producers)

And finally, Daymond John, thank you for publicly accepting your AOWIE Achievement Award and now being an honorary member of our organization, The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs.

Until next time my friends….

5 Ways Millennial Entrepreneurs Can Recharge in Memphis

Work smart, travel often. That’s the modern-day motto for millennial entrepreneurs who want to gain a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace – and maintain their sanity!

If you’re looking for your next idea-boosting escape option, Memphis, Tennessee, may be one of the best-kept rejuvenation secrets in the South.

It’s not your typical getaway spot; you’ll indulge in the most fascinating foods, lodge at the most unique and reputable hotels in the world, tap into pieces of history in museums, explore different facets of traditional and contemporary music, and visit legendary homes that will inspire you to keep growing your entrepreneurial ambitions.

Have you been slaying your business goals, and need an extra dose of creative inspiration to take your business pursuits to the next level? Here are five ways millennial entrepreneurs can recharge in Memphis:

1. Restaurants

It’s hard to deny the impact that good food can have on your mental flow. After eating some of Memphis’ delicious delicacies, you’ll be inspired to create your best marketing plan yet!

Memphis is known for its great barbecue bites, but there are many other dishes that will satisfy your cravings. Some other foods your taste buds can enjoy are the Chicken Barbecue Nachos at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous Restaurant, Deviled Egg appetizers at Felicia Suzanne’s, the Pan-Seared Salmon at The Lookout at the Pyramid, and Fresh Baked Peach Cobbler at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

If you’re in Memphis during Black Restaurant Week – an initiative launched by event strategist Cynthia Daniels of Cynthia Daniels & Co., you’ll get to take advantage of dining deals provided by some of the most exquisite black-owned restaurants in the city.

(Cynthia Daniels, far right and team. Image: Justin Fox Burks)

 

 

2. Hotels

Your environment can either enhance or stifle your creativity. That’s why choosing the right hotel is nothing that should be taken lightly (it’s a pretty big deal if you want to unwind completely).

So, if you’re looking for lodging in Memphis, your best bet would be to stay at two iconic hotels that are perfectly sculpted with a lot of pizzazz and visual excitement: The Peabody Memphis and the Big Cypress Lodge.

The premises of the Peabody Memphis are adorned with golden décor, making you instantly rise to a feeling of royalty. The beauty continues as you walk to your room and allow your eyes to be seduced by the elegance and comfort of all the furnishings. Lying on the Egyptian cotton sheets may give you the mental rejuvenation you need to create your next million-dollar idea. Most visitors in the hotel get their adrenaline rush when they witness the famous Mallard ducks in the world-renowned Peabody March. If you’re ready to network with the “Who’s Who” of Memphis, join the rooftop party that takes place every Thursday evening in the summer months.

 

(Image: Courtesy of blackcoupletravels.com)

 

 

The Big Cypress Lodge is one of the greatest wonders of the world; it’s where the great outdoors meets the most exquisite flavors of indoor comfort. As you sit at peace with the images of nature, you’ll get to overlook the mega Bass Pro Shop. And there is no need to step outside for a tasty bite when you can ascend the tallest freestanding hotel elevators to enjoy cocktails while you gain inspiration from the view of the Mississippi River.

(Image: Courtesy of Big Cypress Lodge)

 

3. Music

A bit of local music in Memphis will both soothe and revitalize the soul.

Amid the poetic sounds, soothing saxophones, and dimmed lights, you’ll feel like you are in a scene from the 1997 film Love Jones when you step into the Dizzy Bird, a Black-owned venue located in the Edge District.  It’s a “music innovation hall where artists come together to embrace what it means to be a Memphian,” says Dizzy Bird co-manager Bertram Williams.

You’ll also be inspired to remain committed on your entrepreneurial journey when you witness the talents of performers who have been perfecting their craft for over a decade. Jazz saxophonist Marqué Boyd is one of those young Memphis leaders who captivates the audience with his musical skills – highlighting a trap jazz blend of classic songs from the ’90s and contemporary jams.

 

4. Museums

Memphis is a hotbed for raw, hip, and underground gospel and blues music, and you’ll get a chance to hear the story of the most influential players in music when you explore the museums.

At the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, you can read the stories of black and white musicians covering the walls, and you’ll realize that music at Stax went beyond color barriers.

And it won’t hurt to stop and practice some of the old dances that kept your grandparents moving, like the Push and Pull by Rufus Thomas.

(Image: Courtesy of blackcoupletravels.com)

 

You can witness the complete Memphis music story at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, where you can learn about the origins of popular music.

While at Sun Studio, you’ll discover the African American influence on musical legends such as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. The museum shuts down at night to become a fully functioning recording studio to the talented Memphians whose music still impacts the world today.

No one who enters The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel will ever leave the same person. The Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, is now a center for progress with interactive displays that carry the message of hope to all. If you’re not emotionally connected to everything else you see, this will definitely move you to find a way to use your business ideas as an engine for social progress.

(Image: Courtesy of blackcoupletravels.com)

 

 5. Legendary Homes

What is your vision for your personal and professional life?

Sometimes you have to step into the shoes (or home!) of someone else in order to get a glimpse of what’s possible for you.

Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, will definitely serve as a motivation booster, forcing you to eradicate all self-limiting beliefs that place restrictions on what you can achieve.

(Image: Courtesy of blackcoupletravels.com)

Elvis was more than a dynamic entertainer. He was a successful businessman and a firm believer in family. A tour of his lavish home reveals an extensive archive of artifacts, and an in-depth view of the King of Rock and Roll.

If you’re ready to expand the possibilities for your business, book your next flight to Memphis and you’ll get a total mental makeover that will work wonders for your endeavors.

 

A version of this article also appeared on “Career Goddess Academy.”