Twitter Is Raving Over Angela Bassett’s Powerful Speech at the Black Girls Rock! Awards

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actress Angela Bassett speaks onstage wearing sequined outfit

Some are born icons, some eventually achieve icon status, and some have icons thrust upon them. Such was the case with Angela Bassett, who became the recipient of the Icon Award, the highest accolade at the 2019 Black Girls Rock! event.

After Academy Award–winning actress Regina King introduced Bassett to the audience, the actress delivered an empowering acceptance speech, in which she discussed the winding road to finding her life’s purpose and what it means to stand in the face of adversity as a black woman.

“My purpose as a black woman, as an actress, has always been to portray excellence on the screen, to be proud, unapologetic, and without regret,” said the Black Panther queen.

“It hasn’t always been easy. And there have been tough times, days when the phone didn’t ring, even after What’s Love Got to Do with It, as well as moments of uncertainty and of doubt,” Bassett said.

“But what women like my mother, Betty Jane, and my Aunt Golden taught me is that there will be times when you seemingly face insurmountable obstacles, but that’s when you dig deep into your soul for the courage and the fortitude … .”

She additionally thanked her family for “giving me the opportunity and the space to be a black girl who rocks.”

Later, she urged the audience to persistently remind the world of their worth and irreplaceability. “When you’re told you’re not good enough, you tell them, not only am I good enough, I’m more than enough,” she said. “When they say send her back home, you tell them, I am home. I am the foundation of what you call home. When they tell you that you’re angry or nasty, you tell them that they’re mistaken. This is me. This is me being resolute and standing firmly in my truth. And when they say you’re not beautiful, you tell them that you are the descendant of royalty.”

Continue on to Harper’s Bazaar to read the complete article.

How To Make Yourself Attractive To Small Business Investors

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African american businesswoman sitting in office

You’ve finally found your passion and launched that dream business only to find it challenging to get funding. You’re scratching your head because you have a solid business plan, yet the dollars aren’t rolling in. The truth is that potential investors look at you, the entrepreneur, as the investment. Not the business idea. In other words, potential investors tend to bet on the jockey, not the horse.

An interesting study conducted by Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Shai Bernstein focused on identifying the specific startup characteristics that are important to investors in early-stage firms. The results indicated that investors were most influenced by information about the founders. In fact, the most experienced and successful investors chose to respond only to information about the founding team. That’s why it’s essential to understand what small business investors are looking for so you can make yourself as attractive as possible.

Develop a robust network

The first thing potential investors will do is investigate you, the founder. One way they will do this is to research whom you know and what they say about you. Investors understand that it’s impossible to build a successful business in a vacuum. By having an extensive, well-connected network, you will give them the confidence they need to invest in your business.

Understand your audience

Conduct thorough research on potential investors. What are they like as individuals? Have they invested in ideas like yours in the past? Get to know them well enough that you can interact with them on a personal level. Good sources to learn about angel investors are AngelList, Flashfunders and SeedInvest. Find investors with interests and values that mirror yours, and your chances of success will increase significantly.

Build a strong social media presence

A strong, positive social media presence can entice investors. Connect with them through LinkedIn and Twitter and let your personality shine through. Social media is also an excellent way to get to know your potential investors. Make a note of topics they post about frequently, then use them during your pitch to show that your values and ideas mesh with theirs.

Prove you can be fiscally responsible

Investors are looking for someone that can not only manage their money but grow it significantly. Show them that you have proven success in this area. What past wins demonstrate that you have what it takes to make your business profitable? Small business investors may also look at your personal finances, such as your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, personal assets and the amount of money that you have invested in the business. A good financial record will help make you a more attractive investment.

Show you can execute flawlessly

Ideas are abundant, but people who can execute them are not. Steve Jobs once said, “To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” What experience do you have taking a great idea and bringing it to fruition? Does the founding team have a track record of executing flawlessly?

Create a great pitch and practice, practice, practice

A written business plan is essential when pitching to small business investors and venture capital firms. Early-stage investors might see thousands of business plans a year that they must somehow narrow down to 100 meetings and then to maybe four companies in which they invest. That’s why your plan needs to be very succinct—about 15-20 pages long.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

She Left the World of Wireless Communications Behind To Enter a Traditionally Male Endeavor-Flooring!

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Krista Farley pictured standing in front of her Floor Coverings work vehicle

Krista Farney left a job she had for almost two decades, but she loves her newest gig, even though she has had to enter some previously uncharted territory.

“I am navigating in a traditionally man’s world, dealing with installers and contractors,” the 39-year-old  said of her new life as a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

Farney, whose background is in sales, previously spent 18 years as a district manager for a wireless communications company. Farney was asked to relocate to Phoenix, but she didn’t want to uproot her family that included her husband and two children ages 17 and 10. So she officially retired from the corporate world at age 38 and fulfilled a lifelong desire to be her own boss. “I worked with a franchise coach and found that Floor Coverings International was the perfect match,” Farney said. “It allows me to use my sales skills and drive to customers’ homes and meet with them. I’m not confined to an office.”

In Floor Coverings International, Farney found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. By performing her due diligence and finding the right brand to fit her needs and wants as a franchisee, Farney couldn’t be happier. “I reached out to the Small Business Development Center at my local college and they provided a wealth of resources and support with starting a business,” Farney said. “I also spoke with many small business owners and bounced many questions off them. I’m having so much fun helping homeowners redecorate their homes.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Gabrielle Union: A Journey to Fulfillment

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Gabrielle Union seen at ULTA event wearing a long red dress

By Jovane Marie

Gabrielle Union found her way into the mainstream and straight to our hearts at the start of the new millennium with her breakout performance as the leader of the East Compton Clovers in Bring It On.

In the nearly two decades since then, the actress’ life has evolved to encompass a multitude of additional roles across a personal and professional spectrum—outspoken activist, best-selling author, fashion-forward designer, dedicated wife and, most importantly, doting mother.

Actress to Activist

Union’s influence emanates far beyond her on-screen portrayals. Proudly raised by her parents to have a world perspective, she supports a multitude of causes, from racial justice to ending violence against women, voting rights to eradicating poverty, and diversity to health initiatives.

Her tenacity in standing up and speaking her mind was cultivated through education and life experiences, both positive and negative. As a young black girl growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, Union admits she wanted nothing more than to completely assimilate, letting racially tinged jokes and perspectives roll off her shoulders to avoid being seen as “other.”

Exposure to African-American studies while attending UCLA had a huge influence on Union’s mindset, highlighting the importance of calling out injustice and oppression and opening her perspective to a treasure trove of change-makers.

“Learning about those brilliant Black activists and authors encouraged me to have pride in myself and in my voice,” she said. “I realized that assimilation can be a path to becoming invisible and complacent. I’d rather be ‘other.’”

With the strength of those lessons at her back, and following a sexual assault that threatened to marginalize her even further, she began speaking her mind fearlessly and unapologetically, raising awareness about the issues that mattered to her—a characteristic that has endured in her day-to-day life.

“My goal is to use my platform to provide a sense of connectedness

Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design
Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design

for those who suffer in silence,” said the activist, who was appointed to former President Obama’s National Advisory Committee for Violence Against Women in 2010. “It’s been a journey and an evolving consciousness—not an easy process, but definitely worthwhile.”

She’s a Boss

As she’s solidified her place in the film and television industry, the America’s Got Talent judge has lent her efforts to establishing and growing her commercial empire, calling upon her down-to-earth persona and relatable personal brand to connect with fans and consumers.

In 2004, she became a brand ambassador for Neutrogena, a successful partnership that lasted for more than a decade.

In 2012, she partnered with Napa Valley-based winery JaM Cellars to develop a full-bodied Chardonnay cheekily named Vanilla Puddin.

In 2014, she became the first celebrity ambassador—and creative advisor—for nail beauty company SensatioNail.

And in 2017, her entrepreneurial spirit erupted with both the launch of Flawless by Gabrielle Union—a hair care line created specifically with black women in mind—and the announcement of her partnership with major consumer fashion brand New York & Company, where she serves as the face of the brand’s 7th Avenue Design Studio and launched an acclaimed namesake collection.

The Flawless brand was born through Union’s experiences with trying to care for her natural hair while working in the industry. More often than not, she lamented, the stylists on set would have no idea how to manage her textured mane, leading to damage and dismay.

When the opportunity came along to create a line of products that catered specifically to her hair care needs, she jumped at the chance, working with a team, including former Macadamia Beauty CEO Vince Davis, to produce a range of catered shampoos, conditioners, repair masks, oil treatments, edge control, and more. A common thread throughout the brand’s offering is the use of a group of key ingredients proven to promote healthy hair, including argan, marula, macadamia, coconut, and avocado oils, as well as pea protein.

“My goal with our Flawless products is to help women with textured hair create ever-changing looks without compromising the health of their favorite accessory—their hair,” Union said of the collection, which is sold online, in JCPenney Salons and at ULTA. “I just want them to have great hair days. Period.”

Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design Studio materialized to the star’s admitted surprise—she never expected to be courted by the popular retail chain to serve as a brand ambassador. Operating as a sub-brand and inspired by her character on series Being Mary Jane, the line features chic dresses, modern suiting, and versatile separates that “embody the career woman who needs easy, effortless, styles that are polished and on trend.”

Kaavi James Collection; Caption: Kaavia James Union Wade and Gabrielle Union visit New York & Company Store in Burbank, CA, to launch Kaavi James Collection on May 09, 2019. PHOTO BY JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY
Kaavi James Collection; Caption: Kaavia James Union Wade and Gabrielle Union visit New York & Company Store in Burbank, CA, to launch Kaavi James Collection on May 09, 2019. PHOTO BY JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY

“Mary Jane’s style reflects power, leadership, and risk taking,” she explained. “She wears classic styles, but with a twist, which is why I think she’d definitely shop at New York & Company.”

Beyond her ambassadorship, which features Union modeling fashions on the company’s website, in print and digital advertisements, and on social media, the actress has ventured into a “whole new game” with the launch of her namesake collection, featuring a wide range of fashionable choices, all reminiscent of the style icon’s eclectic taste.

“I wanted to offer on-trend fashions at affordable prices that flatter all body types—that’s the bottom line,” said Union, who was given free rein to design whatever she chooses and prides herself on being fully hands-on with the creative process.

Two years into her venture, the designer recently pulled from a new source of inspiration to drive her latest launch—five-month-old daughter Kaavia James Union Wade. The adorable all-inclusive capsule collection, entitled Kaavi James by Gabrielle Union, features an array of stylish dresses, T-shirts, jumpers, and onesies (many of them unisex!) in sizes 0–24 months, all within a $15–$45 range. In addition to serving as fashion muse, Kaavia (whose parents recently trademarked her name for future projects) serves major face in the campaign’s advertisements, posing alongside her mom with her hilarious signature “Shady Baby” expression.

Family First

When it comes to priorities, the multi-hyphenate talent makes it clear—nothing is more important than her family. Just check her social media (which is plastered with their faces). She married NBA star Dwayne Wade in 2014, in the process becoming stepmother to his three boys, Zaire, Zion, and Xavier.

After struggling with infertility due to a form of endometriosis, the couple turned to surrogacy, welcoming Kaavia in November 2018.

The new mother has been open and honest about her fertility struggles, believing there is healing in the knowledge that many couples face similar challenges as they try to conceive.

Union’s life today may seem like a fairytale, but it has required blood, sweat, tears, self-love, introspection, and a dogged determination to succeed to transform her life from then to now.

A Pre-Destined Path

Union embarked on her acting journey in the mid-90s, performing in a guest role capacity or as a supporting character for a number of popular sitcoms, including Family Matters, Moesha, 7th Heaven, and Sister, Sister.

Interestingly enough, she hadn’t grown up with stars in her eyes, dreaming Hollywood dreams. The driving force behind her foray into the acting world, she admits, was money to help pay for college.

“You want to know when I became serious about being an actress?

Gabrielle Union interacts with fans during America’s Got Talent auditions. TRAE PATTON/NBC
Gabrielle Union interacts with fans during America’s Got Talent auditions. TRAE PATTON/NBC

When I made money! It really wasn’t for the love of it, in the beginning,” said the star, who graduated from UCLA with a BA in Sociology. “My plan back then was to eventually go to law school, but pretty quickly, I realized I could make a living doing this. So, I recalibrated—and never looked back.”

She hit a double whammy in 2000, appearing in Love & Basketball (as superficial high school mean girl Shawnee Easton) and co-starring with Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On (as captain of the East Compton Clovers, Isis), both of which were extremely popular and have since become cult classics.

Her role in Bring It On held a great significance for Union—she credits it as one of the biggest boosts of her career—as it not only addressed the real issue of appropriation but also served as a catalyst for her to be conscious of the roles and narratives she agreed to portray on screen.

“It’s interesting, because I had wanted a part in another cheerleading movie that came out around the same time, but they didn’t pursue Black women for any of the roles. I couldn’t even get an audition,” she revealed. “In this movie, the very premise was about cultural appropriation and how the hard work of African Americans has been repackaged with blond hair and blue eyes. The social justice of it appealed to me.”

The role directly led to her casting in the ground-breaking medical drama City of Angels, which held the distinction as network television’s first medical drama with a predominantly African-American cast. The show, which ran for two seasons on CBS, featured a who’s who of eventual Black Hollywood royalty, including Blair Underwood, Viola Davis, Maya Rudolph, and Vivica A. Fox.

It was her portrayal of successful TV news anchor Mary Jane Paul on

Union discusses television series on The Talk on the CBS Television Network. MONTY BRINTON/CBS ©2017 CBS BROADCASTING, INC.
Union discusses television series on The Talk on the CBS Television Network. MONTY BRINTON/CBS ©2017 CBS BROADCASTING, INC.

BET network’s Being Mary Jane, however, that truly solidified Union’s superstar status and staying power. The award-winning series, which ran from 2013 to spring 2019 over the course of four seasons, followed the personal and professional life happenings of the broadcast journalist as she searches for “the puzzle pieces that she, and society, insist are missing from her life as a single Black woman.”

The show was an absolute homerun for BET (debuting as its highest-rated show and quickly becoming the network’s signature series) and was praised across the board for its complex characters, captivating storylines, and willingness to tackle powerful issues. African-American women across the world hailed the series as they saw themselves and their families reflected on a weekly basis.

For Union, participation in the project was a labor of love and her greatest creative decision, offering an opportunity for her to take a role she cared about, while playing an imperfect, complicated, messy character.

“I didn’t want to play a perfect character that was a fully wholesome role model who had all the right answers,” she said. “I’d never been challenged like this—I could be required to show a bunch of different colors within one scene. In many ways, we shared similar struggles and triumphs, loves and losses, and especially the penchant for epic reads. This role was one of the most gratifying of my life.”

Producing for the Future

Building on years of experience in front of the camera, in 2014 Union added to her repertoire by stepping behind the camera to produce, starting with the Lifetime original film With This Ring. In the years since, she has served as an executive producer on a number of projects, including last year’s Breaking In (for which she was awarded Breakthrough Producer of the Year at the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards) and Spectrum Originals first major original series LA’s Finest (a Bad Boys spin-off co-starring Jessica Alba).

She also launched her own production company, I’ll Have Another (named as a nod to her best-selling book, We’re Going to Need More Wine), signing a first look deal with Sony Pictures TV last year to develop broadcast, cable, and digital projects.

It is a responsibility Union doesn’t take lightly, as she realizes that she is one of but a handful of Black women who head their own production companies.

“As I’ve taken on new projects, I’ve become more aware of the lack of diversity behind the camera,” she noted. “It’s been proven that real inclusion actually makes dollars and cents, and Hollywood is starting to change, but we still need to increase the diversity of directors, executive producers and studio heads.”

The Road Ahead

With her family by her side, her career expanding, her businesses and partnerships blossoming, and her voice for social justice reverberating, Union is living life unapologetically and striving daily to reach her full potential.

“I’m just trying to think limitlessly and not put a cap on my dreams,” she said. “When you’re open like that, the world will take you all sorts of places you could have never imagined.”

It’s obvious that for this multi-tasking mama, the best is yet to come.

Separate but Together: Twin Sisters Break Ground in Construction Industry

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Cheryl McKissack and Deryl McKissack speak onstage standing behind a podium dressed in black evening dresses

By Samar Khoury

Construction is largely known as a male-dominated industry, but that has never stopped Cheryl McKissack Daniel and Deryl McKissack. In fact, these twins are equally acclaimed with years of history and expertise in the worlds of construction and architecture.

Representing a legacy that spans five generations, Cheryl serves as president and CEO of New York-based McKissack & McKissack, the oldest black-owned and female-run construction company in the country. She brings more than two decades of experience in the construction industry to her role as principal-in-charge and project executive. She is charged with several high-profile projects in the commercial, healthcare, education and transportation sectors, while ensuring that diversity is implemented during each phase of a project or program.

Cheryl’s firm is renowned for several marquis projects, including the revamping of Long Island’s Railroad Hub, which runs underneath the Brooklyn Nets’ home. McKissack & McKissack has also been hired to build new terminals at JFK and LaGuardia airports. Long-term projects include managing the Manhattan Transportation Authority capital program, as well as all the design and construction initiatives for the School District of Philadelphia. Cheryl’s company, which has more than $500 million worth of projects for the next few years, currently employs more than 150 employees and has contracted more than $50 billion in construction over the past decade.

As chairwoman and CEO of McKissack & McKissack in Washington, D.C., Deryl has esteemed credentials that are just as impressive. She landed her first major contract in 1996 in Washington, D.C., where she renovated the Treasury building after a fire. Deryl’s firm was also the lead architect on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C., and she managed the design and construction of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

With 27 years in the construction business, Deryl is credited with managing more than $15 billion in projects nationwide. Her firm has offices in several cities, including Detroit, Miami, and Los Angeles, and has been chosen to be featured in Architect Magazine’s thee-part series on increasing diversity in architecture.

And yet, that’s barely scratching the surface of all this sterling pair have accomplished.

The History of McKissack & McKissack

Cheryl McKissack seated, smiling wearing a white suit and leopard print scarf
Cheryl McKissack Daniel

The story behind McKissack & McKissack began in 1790 with the sisters’ great-great-grandfather, Moses I, a former slave. Moses took on his slave owner’s last name, McKissack, who taught Moses how to making bricks. After being granted his freedom, Moses sold his bricks, and his son, Moses II, took his father’s trade further by becoming a master carpenter. Moses III and his brother Calvin McKissack then formalized McKissack & McKissack as a construction firm in 1905.

In 1968, Cheryl and Deryl’s father, William DeBerry McKissack, took over the business, exposing the girls to the field at a young age. “We would go to work with him every Saturday starting at ten years old, walking construction sites, tracing documents, you know, learning about building systems early in life. It was all ingrained in us,” Cheryl told CBS News.

After William suffered from a stroke in 1982, their mother, Leatrice B. McKissack, took over the business. She has major projects under her belt, such as the $50 million complex at Howard University and a building at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Keeping the Family Together

Cheryl and Deryl supported their mother as she grew McKissack & McKissack. Cheryl graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, later graduated with her master’s, and Deryl earned a bachelor’s in structural engineering.

In 1990, Deryl opened McKissack & McKissack of Washington, and in 1991, Cheryl opened the New York business, buying the original McKissack & McKissack in 2000. Although the sisters went their separate ways, they are carrying on the family name.

“I used the family name for my business because the name was known for architecture throughout the country,” Deryl said to Family Business Magazine. “My business was started out of my own internal passion to build a business on my own.”

Deryl McKissack smiling wearing a navy blue suit and sitting in a chair outside an office building
Deryl McKissack

Breaking Ground

Staying true to their innovative spirits, Cheryl and Deryl continue to raise the bar in the construction and architecture industry.

As active member of Women in Transportation (WIT), Cheryl serves on various boards, including the New York Building Congress, New York Women’s Forum, Greater New York ACE Mentor Program, and Women’s Builders Council. Under the leadership of Mayor Bill de’Blasio, she takes part in the OneNYC Advisory Board, Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force, and the MWBE Advisory Council. Pervious boards include the National Women’s History Museum, Fisk University, and the National Liberty Museum Board, where she was honored as a “Hero of Liberty” for her support of humanitarian initiatives and for promoting the responsibilities of a free and diverse America.

Her advice? “You need to define yourself,” Cheryl said to Essence magazine. “Don’t let other people define you. If we had let them do that, we would not be where we are today.”

Deryl offers her own words of wisdom for those wishing to follow in both her and her sister’s footsteps.
“Don’t be afraid of math, science, and technology,” she said to The Glu. “These disciplines can be very challenging, but they are also enjoyable and fascinating because our society is dependent on the knowledge and discovery that is created through these courses of study. Also – have a plan.”

Cheryl and Deryl strive to remain at the cutting edge of architecture and construction while remaining true to themselves and the legacy that McKissack & McKissack is—now and in the future.

‘Go Kill It,Girl’:’She’s Gotta Have It’ Star DeWanda Wise Scores Lead Role in ‘Jurassic World 3’

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DeWanda Wise pictured at movie screeing with hair pinned up and wearing shiny black dress

When the film “Jurassic World 3” hits theaters on June 11, 2021, moviegoers will see DeWanda Wise front and center as the lead.

The Maryland born actress just joined the cast, according to Deadline, which includes Laura Dern and Jeffrey Goldblum, who starred in the original 1993 film “Jurassic Park.”

If you recognize Wise, it’s because she starred as Nola Darling in the now-defunct Spike Lee Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It.” She also played in TV shows such as “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “The Good Wife” and the soap opera “One Life to Live.”

Wise celebrated the news of the role Friday on Instagram, where she also thanked the people encouraged her along the way. According to the actress, the constant motivation she received is what helped her land the “Jurassic World 3” role.

Wise celebrated the news of the role Friday on Instagram, where she also thanked the people encouraged her along the way. According to the actress, the constant motivation she received is what helped her land the “Jurassic World 3” role.

“If you believe in the power of words, in the strength of positive energy, as I undoubtedly do, you know that every ‘Can’t wait 2CU in more movies! You should play _____! Go Awf! You inspire ✊🏾 Queen
Shine 🌟Please play ______ Yaaassss 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 And of course… I love you ♥️’ Went into this,” she wrote. “#ThankYou beyond🙏🏾See you in #JurassicWorld 🦖🦖.”

And Wise’s followers continued to provide encouragement under her post.

“GO KILL IT, GIRL!!!💛👏🏻,” someone wrote. “🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾! So so excited for you @dewandawise !! Love seeing you on our screens! It’s where you belong! Congratulations!!! 💕👑.”

“You truly deserve this!” a second person commented. “So happy and excited for you, really can’t wait to see it either you’re are the PERFECT addition to this franchise!! ✨✨✨🙌🏾✨✨✨.”

Back in July it was announced that “She’s Gotta Have It” would be cancelled after its second season. But one of Wise’s fans told her the new role made up for that and then some.

“One door closes and an even bigger one opens!” that person wrote. “So excited your talent is coming to the big screen in a blockbuster no doubt!”

Continue on the Atlanta Black Star to read the complete article.

Why the ‘Office Ladies’ podcast is worth your time

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Angela and Pam from The Office series in an ad for their new podcast

In the wise words of Dunder Mifflin’s expert prankster, Jim Halpert, “sometimes goodbyes are a bitch.”

When Michael Scott bid his emotional farewell to the Scranton branch in Season 7 of The Office, he and Jim never officially said goodbye to each other. The sentiment was mutually understood, but the goodbye itself was too painful, so they simply ignored it. Years later, that’s exactly how fans and cast members parted ways with the show itself.

The NBC comedy ended in 2013, but fans have ultimately refused to let it go. The Office is one of the most popular shows on Netflix, acts as fodder for endless memes, and has even inspired an Off-Broadway musical. Though a reboot currently remains off the table, former co-stars and IRL best friends Jenna Fisher and Angela Kinsey wanted to give people another way to celebrate the off-air series, so they decided to host a podcast called Office Ladies.

Each week, the two ladies of The Office will re-watch an episode and share memories, a few fast facts, and behind-the-scenes stories from filming. The first episode, “Pilot,” aired Wednesday on Stitcher’s podcast network, Earwolf, and fans should definitely give it a listen.

In Episode 1, Fischer and Kinsey recall the early days of shooting, back when no one had any idea if the U.S. version of the UK show with the same name would take off. They take listeners back to the “Pilot” episode, which aired on March 24, 2005, and reminisce on which hilarious moments were improvised, Jim and Pam’s first flirts, how Sprinkles the cat came to exist, and more.

If you tune into the podcast, here are some of the enlightening tidbits that you can expect to hear.

Steve Carell is as nice as he is funny

You may have heard rumors that Steve Carell is a super agreeable guy, and Fischer is here to confirm. “He’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” she says, noting that while he’s not constantly cracking jokes he is personally responsible for some of the funniest moments on the show.

In the pilot, for instance, Carell improvised the line where Michael’s talking about his heroes. Showrunner Greg Daniels apparently asked Carell who he thought Michael Scott’s heroes would be, and that’s how they created the line, “Bob Hope. Umm, Abraham Lincoln definitely. Bono… and probably God would be the fourth one.” Iconic.

Jenna unpacks Pam and Jim’s undeniable spark

One of the fan-favorite relationships on the show is, of course, the slow-burn romance that develops between Jim and Pam. Jenna Fischer is just as obsessed with the two work pals turned spouses as you are, and is excited to lend some commentary to the couple. She talks about the flirtation between the two characters in the pilot, the heartbreaking talking head where Jim wonders if he’ll be invited to Pam’s wedding, and her favorite moment between the two: Their cat party conversation.

Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.

For women in the workplace, the thickest glass ceiling is not where you think it is

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woman sitting at desk smiling with chin resting on hand

Although we have a long way to go to achieve gender equity in the workforce, a study done jointly by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company shows that we have made progress over the last five years.

Women, especially women of color, are still underrepresented at every level in corporate America, but the representation of women in the C-suite increased. Forty-four percent of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% five years ago.

The glass ceiling is still the biggest barrier to advancement, but in a surprisingly low-level area: the first rung of management. The report revealed that only 72 women were promoted or hired to manager for every 100 men. This means that only 38% of women have made it to management versus 62% of men. The stats for Latinx and black women are significantly lower.

Overall, black women and women with disabilities reported that they don’t have equal opportunities to grow and advance their careers. Only 1 in 25 black women are C-suite executives. And for every 100 men promoted to manager from entry-level, only 68 Latinx and 58 black women are promoted.

The Women in the Workplace report reveals findings from surveying 329 participating organizations that employ 13 million people and more than 68,500 employees.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Former Corporate Fundraiser Brings The Top Mobile Flooring Franchise To Virginia

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Having worked alongside entrepreneurs and small-business owners for the last decade, Resa Kierstein, a former corporate fundraiser and mover and shaker in her world, finally decided it was time to join the ranks of those she’s been raising funds for– and she did it in style. The 45-year-old Kierstein recently launched her Floor Coverings International franchise, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International of Great Falls marks the franchisor’s first location in Virginia, not unnoticed is the fact that a talented female breaks the state open for future franchisees who are looking for one of the top franchise opportunities in North America.

Kierstein was formerly vice president of fundraising and development for a national non-profit whose focus was assisting small-business owners in starting, running and growing their businesses.

“I’m thrilled to be utilizing my past business skills and offering this great mobile service to homeowners here,” Kierstein said. “I’ve completely divested myself from my comfort zone of a corporate career and am beyond excited to bring Floor Coverings International’s passion for a ‘customer first’ experience to our area.” Floor Coverings International, Great Falls serves customers in Sterling, Reston, Herndon, Great Falls, McLean, Ashburn, Fairfax and Prince William in the state of Virginia.

Kierstein’s mother also owns and operates a small business. “My mom instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in me at a young age,” Kierstein said. “I watched her and thousands of business owners in my previous job become highly successful contributors to their communities, while employing others and supporting their families. Their enthusiasm and passion finally rubbed off and I made the decision to join them and live the American dream.”

In Floor Coverings International, Kierstein found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. Kierstein added that Floor Coverings International, Great Falls holds a Class A Virginia contractor’s license. “It is the highest standard in the state and will set Floor Coverings International apart, potentially, from others in the home services industry,” she said. Lastly, Floor Coverings International also has a very strong commitment to community involvement, led by CEO Tom Wood. That struck a chord with Kierstein. “A key component of our business is our support for charitable organizations in our community and fulfilling a personal passion for giving back,” Kierstein said.

For information on a franchise visit flooring-franchise.com

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

These 3 Latina actresses are helping make Broadway more inclusive

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Actresses Lindsay Mendez, Mandy Gonzalez and Bianca Marroquín are pictured together

Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez, Bianca Marroquín and Lindsay Mendez are committed to the “sisterhood” of Latinas in the arts, and they are all working hard to encourage young people to pursue creative work. Pictured from left to right: Actresses Lindsay Mendez, Mandy Gonzalez and Bianca Marroquín.

Mandy Gonzalez was a teenager when she sat in her bedroom in Saugus, Calif. and watched the cast of “Rent” perform at the Tony Awards. Watching actress Daphne Rubin-Vega sing “Seasons of Love” made a lasting impression because she was “someone who looked like me… I thought ‘I can do this,’” recounted Gonzalez.

Flash forward to today, and there’s no doubt Gonzalez, who is Mexican and Jewish, has made it in the acting world. She currently plays Angelica in Broadway’s hit musical “Hamilton.”

Gonzalez is one of a small group of Hispanic professional theater actors working on Broadway today. Even though Hispanics make up 18.3 percent of the nation’s total population, the first-ever Actors’ Equity Association study of diversity noted that less than 3 percent of its members identify as Hispanic or Latinx. Broadway audiences don’t reflect our country’s diversity, either. A January 2018 report from the Broadway League discovered that Latinos account for only 7.1 percent of theatergoers.

However, Broadway has indeed been inching toward progress in terms of diversity over the years. For example, the original 1979 Broadway production of “Evita” was picketed by the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors for not hiring Latino actors to tell a story about Argentinians. But when “Evita” was revived in 2012, it had actors of Latin descent in the two lead roles, among others.

And today, a quick glance at the headshots of performers in “Hamilton” paint an inclusive picture. Aspiring Hispanic performers can also look to multiple Broadway shows for inspiration—there’s Karen Olivo in “Moulin Rouge,” Eva Noblezada in “Hadestown,” and Shireen Pimentel in the upcoming “West Side Story,” to name a few.

Still, many are quick to note there is still a long way to go.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy/Ted Ely/Courtesy of Bianca Marroquín

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

Meet Bahara Golestani, newest addition to the cast of NBC’s “This is Us”

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This is Us promotional poster showing the cast in various situations

Bahara’s road to acting was not your ordinary. She was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and soon after she and her family were forced to flee the country and become refugees in Moscow. Eventually Bahara and her family were sponsored by the UN and were helped to settle-in the U.S.. Even though she faced many struggles while growing up, she never lost the passion and faith of one day becoming an actor.

After making a splash in multiple headlines with her announcement on Deadline, Variety and The Wrap, beguiling and multi-faceted actor Bahara Golestani is the new fresh face to watch on the new season of NBC’s smash hit series “This Is Us,” which returned for its 4th season in September.

A graduate of the world-renowned Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre, Golestani is best known for her roles in TNT’s “Animal Kingdom” and is also a voiceover actor. Her upcoming projects also include the Jason Koch-directed indie film BENEATH THE BLACK VEIL and the highly-anticipated Michael Bay blockbuster film 6 UNDERGROUND premiering on Netflix in December 2019.

Having been both nominated and winning multiple Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG, People’s Choice, and NAACP Image Awards, NBC’s “This is Us” returned to television this fall to continue the captivating and unique story of the Pearson family. The newest season will dive deeper into the family’s history including stories from their pasts that have shaped their present day lives.

Having been announced recently in the industry trades and spreading like wildfire to the rest of the world, Bahara portrays a mysterious and important character that will drastically affect the lives of the Pearson family. “This is Us” Season 4 Trailer

Bahara professional headshot wearing a black turtleneck sweater
Bahara Golastani – PHOTO CREDIT: ANDY ROONEY

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Golestani walked an untraditional path to achieve Hollywood success. She grew up in a creative household; her father was an artist and her mother was an actress, so she always had a natural passion to perform and to pursue the arts. She grew up playing the violin and loved performing in school plays. At the young age of four, she and her family were forced to flee the country and became war refugees in Moscow.

Their lives were completely transformed as they had to leave their home abruptly with nothing and led a refugee life with no stability. They ultimately were sponsored by the UN in Moscow helping her and her family move to America eventually residing in Phoenix, Arizona to start a new life. Golestani had a difficult childhood adapting in America as she didn’t speak a word of English. With the help of the hit television series “Friends,” she was able to learn the language and at the same time, became enthralled with acting. After high school, she pursued modeling, successfully landing several magazine covers, but always knew her true passion was to act.

From the moment she stepped foot into the Stella Adler Academy in Hollywood during a campus tour visit, she knew this was exactly where she belonged. In order to make money for the costly tuition, she worked diligently for two years on multiple jobs and finally saved enough money to move and enroll herself in the Academy. Upon graduating from Stella Adler, she persistently went out on auditions and worked as a professional fitness model, even successfully placing first in female bodybuilding competitions.

After landing roles in various short films, Golestani has since appeared in TNT’s “Animal Kingdom,” CBS’ “Madam Secretary” ID TV’s “Betrayed,” and film AN AMERICAN FUNERAL, before landing her breakout role on the newest season of NBC’s “This is Us.”

When Golestani isn’t busy acting and continuously honing her craft, she can be found working on her fitness continuously bettering herself both physically and mentally. As a speaker of five different languages (Farsi, Russian, Dari, Pashto and English), she has worked as a translator/consultant on film and TV sets and has also completed voiceover work in films like 6 UNDERGROUND. Golestani has a huge compassion for refugees of war and is very proud of her Afghan roots. Ultimately, she would love to become a role model to those in similar positions to her when she was a child and plans to become even more active through various charities and organizations.