Thursday, June 30, 2011
There is still time to buy and read the book before the movie comes out in August.
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.
I ATTENDED A SCREENING OF THE HELP AND THIS GUT WRENCHING HEARTFELT FILM EXPLORES THE LIVES OF WOMEN IN THE 60'S WHO WORKED AS MAIDS. WHEN SKEETER DECIDES TO WRITE AN EXPOSE ON WHAT IT'S LIKE FOR THESE WOMEN TO WORK FOR WHITE PEOPLE IT BLOWS THE LID OFF THIS SMALL MISSISSIPPI TOWN AS THE MAIDS FIND THEIR VOICE AND COURAGE TO SPEAK CANDIDLY ABOUT THIER LIVES AS BLACK WOMEN.
Friday, June 24, 2011
IHANA AND I AT THE PEEPS STORE LAST WEEKEND AT THE NATIONAL HARBOR. MY NEW HANGOUT
THIS IS WHERE I WILL BE SPENDING MY TIME TONIGHT IN MY COZY CHAIR READING AND DRINKING SOME WINE.OR IF I HAVE A CHANGE OF PLANS OUTSIDE AT THE NATIONAL HARBOR FREE MOVIE NIGHT WATCHING DREAMGIRLS. MY CABLE IS OUT THANKS TO COMCAST.
FINISHING THIS GREAT NOVEL I NEED TO SUGGEST TO SISTAH SOULJA TO TURN THIS BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY INTO A MOVIE.
MY NEW INDULGENCE IS CHOCOVINE. CHOCOLATE FLAVORED WINE.
Simone Smith is the epitome of elegance and class. As the mother of four children and beautiful wife to one of music and television’s hottest and successful men, Simone has turned her aspirations into more than just floating hopes. Combining her love for accessories and design with an entrepreneur’s spirit, LL Cool J’s leading lady has turned her ”hoop dreams” into reality with the Simone I. Smith Collection. In this exclusive OliveCocoMag interview with the dedicated designer, Simone opens up about the passion behind her SIS Collection, how she and hubby LL keep their marriage smokin’ hot, and her two-year fight of learning to walk again after an unexpected diagnosis. Dare to live–and wear–Simone’s dream.
OC: As the gorgeous wife to one of hip-hop’s hottest and most successful stars, how do you remain comfortable in your own skin and maintain a positive self image?
SS: Well, I’m definitely not an insecure person. I know who I am. I’m spiritually grounded and I’m very comfortable in my own skin.
OC: We see you a lot on the red carpet and you seem to have a quiet, yet strong, demeanor. How do you balance being a mom, business woman, and a wife?
SS: First of all, I’m definitely not quiet! [laughs] My marriage and my kids definitely come first, you know? I make time for my kids…I do the regular things that moms do. I run my house, I drive my kids to school, and I have a great support system. It’s definitely important for me and my husband to have ‘Mommy-Daddy time.’ We do the movies, we go to dinner, but we also do family things with the kids as well.
OC: We commend you for remaining humble and doing your own thing. How important do you think it is for a women to have their separate life away from everything else?
SS: I think it’s important for women to have their girl-time with their girlfriends. I think it’s important for women to maintain their individuality. Alot of times women tend to lose themselves in relationships. I definitely do dinner with my girlfriends…we have get togethers frequently. I make time for me, but I also make sure Todd [LL Cool J] and the kids are always straight at home.
OC: Let’s talk about your jewelry line. I had the chance to view some of your pieces and they’re stunning! How did you get started with jewelry design?
SS: Well, Todd actually brought the opportunity to me. He presented the opportunity to me, and being that I think I’m a hoop-connoisseur [laughs], I jumped right on it! I love earrings and I love to mix high end pieces with costume jewelry. I love accessories, and this is just a lifestyle brand that all the ladies will love…God willing!
OC: What types of pieces does your line feature and to whom are you catering?
SS: It’s definitely for ALL women. I’ve actually launched with big earrings first, so we have amazing cuffs, and then we also have a lot of the earrings designed that are offered in several sizes. I definitely encourage women to have the confidence to really go out and put on that big hoop earring, but the majority of the earring styles come in different sizes for those who aren’t so daring.
OC: So in other words, you have jewelry that you can kind of lounge around the house in or do a little yard work, and then you have the jewelry that if you want to step out for a night on the town with your girls, you can make a statement? It’s a lot of variety!
SS: Exactly! We also have diamond pieces. You know, a lot of the pieces that don’t have diamonds on it are just really beautiful designs. Dress them up or you can dress them down.
OC: What about jewelry do you think makes women feel so sexy?
SS: I just think when you get up and you get dressed and when you have a great pair of earrings to put on and a great cuff and a great ring and necklace, it just makes you feel good. It makes your outfit complete. It completes your outfit! Jewelry just completes me. Like once I get dressed, if I leave out of the house without a pair of earrings on, I just feel like ‘Oh God, it’s all wrong.’ [laughs]
OC: You see a lot of stuff in the media with couples and all their business in the news. How have you managed to not fall “prey” to the Hollywood lifestyle?
SS: I would definitely have to say I’m a real person, I have real friends. I’m not caught up in the celebrity of who’s who. My friends are my friends because of who they are as a person versus who they are. I do have celebrity girlfriends like Mary J. Blige and Regina King, but they’re my girls because of who they are on the inside. I still have my girlfriends from my childhood, and I definitely maintain all of my relationships with my bestfriends, and a lot of people can’t say that! I just really love genuine people.
OC: When you’re not creating your own projects, what do you do to relax and have time for yourself?
SS: Girl, you know, I love going shopping! [laughs] I go to the spa, get massages…I love a great foot massage. I get my nails done, you know, just do the whole pamper me, just for myself. I like to do the same things everyone else does.
OC: It’s so wonderful to see that you’re a woman with curves and a ‘real’ body. How much pressure–if any–have you felt to change your image from being in the spotlight?
SS: I don’t feel pressured at all. I’ve had four kids…I think I look damn good after that! I like my curves, my husband likes my curves, and that’s what really matters. I do workout abut 4 days a week and I eat pretty healthy most of the time.
OC: Relationships are full of ups and downs and added with fame it can be a little more tricky. How do you and LL Cool J keep your relationship fresh and spicy?
SS: I would have to say that we’re definitely friends first. Secondly, we don’t take each other for granted. And lastly, I don’t think nobody can do my hubby like I can! [laughs]
OC: Love and romance is something all of us women can relate to. As a grown married woman, how important is it for women to romance their men?
SS: It’s very important! I think that’s probably one of the reasons I’m still happily married. I know when to light a candle, I know when to run a lavender scented bath. I’m attentive and observant when it comes to my husband.
OC: With so many couples getting divorced, we know everyday isn’t a walk in the park. What is some relationship advice you can give to young women?
SS: I would have to say that you definitely have to compromise. Communication is very important. I tell all my girlfriends, whether they’re married or not, you should read this book by Stormie Omartain called The Power of the Praying Wife. And you know, you’ve got to maintain some give and take, but always be true to yourself.
OC: What are the 3 most important things in your life in which you cannot place a monetary value?
SS: My faith, my family, and my health.
OC: What the first thing that comes to mind when you hear these words—
1. New York - My home, stomping grounds, no place like it
2. Todd - Smith
3. Feminine - Simone I. Smith Jewelry
OC: What’s one thing you wish people knew about you?
SS: When faced with adversity and difficult times, I am a fighter and survivor.
OC: Are there any difficulties–or maybe on thing in particular–that sticks out in your mind that you’ve had to overcome?
SS: Absolutely. I have a piece of jewelry, that when it’s purchased, proceeds go towards the American Cancer Society. The reason why I did that is because back in 2004, I had a very invasive surgery done because they found a Chondrosarcoma tumor in my tibia bone. So I had an invasive surgery called microvasuclar reconstructive surgery, and they had to remove my whole tibia bone and replace it with my fibular bone from my left leg. It took me almost 2 1/2 years to learn how to walk again. I fought through it, so I was a little depressed for like about…two weeks…but my grandmother called me up and told me, ‘you better not be depressed and get prayed up for those doctors who are doing this surgery on you and you’re gonna beat this.’ So I prayed to God and since then my test results have been great. In another 3 years, I’m waiting for my doctor to tell me that I’m cancer free!
OC: Many OC readers share the same dreams, fears, love lives, and insecurities, but in the end we are all tough! What do you think of OliveCoco’s mission? And what makes you a strong OliveCoco woman?
SS: I think OliveCoco’s mission is an amazing foundation for women to tell their stories. I think I’m a strong OliveCoco woman because I’m a wife, a mom, a God-fearing woman, a sister, a friend, and an entrepreneur. And the fact that I’m living out my dream! I hope my story inspires someone else.
OC: Speaking of your dream, how has that transition been from coming from behind the scenes to now working in the industry?
SS: It’s been great! It’s really, really been great and it’s been a true blessing, and the response I’m getting from women who say they put the earrings on and they see the earrings…I mean it just makes me feel so good because it’s something that I definitely love doing. About ten years ago, I was doing the bandannas with crystals on it and it was successful for the time that it was out there, but my youngest was only a year old, so I really needed to just kind of lay back and watch her grow. Now it’s just perfect because she’s not a baby anymore. The response that I get from the women that have purchased the earrings is just great and I’m so thankful.
OC: As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give–to women especially–who are trying to create their own thing like a jewelry collection or any kind of business?
SS: You have to surround yourself with the right team of people and just don’t give up. It’s important that you surround yourself with the right people.
OC: What kind of values do you instill in your house full of daughters to make sure they grow up to be the epitome of their mother?
SS: Well first and foremost, we go to church. I encourage my daughters to say their prayers, read their Bibles, and believe in yourself and that you’ve got to trust God.
OC: How do you want women to be affected by your jewelry collection?
SS: I just want my jewelry to really inspire women to go out there, put on a big hoop earring. Whether it’s with a gown or with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, go outside the box. Be a little daring!
Raven-Symoné emerged from her dressing room at Los Angeles’ AZ Studios in awe-inspiring fashion. Dressed in a black Wacoal tank top, shimmering gold shorts by bebe and black Ruthie Davis high heels, the 25-year-old actress flaunted her new figure with the confidence of a seasoned super model.
As Mark Sacro photographed her in four wardrobe looks that captured her natural beauty and summertime elegance, it became evident that the girl who starred in our favorite childhood sitcoms has grown into a certified sex symbol.
But despite the seductive eyes that often remained focused on the camera’s lens, Raven-Symoné never took herself too seriously.
During the three-hour photo shoot, she cracked jokes with our production crew, dished about a hilarious first date and revealed that one of her favorite rap albums is Smell My Finger by the quirky California rapper, Sugar Free. Her unabashed sense of humor makes her a fun person to hang out with, which translates well to her television and film audiences.
After memorable stints with the “The Cosby Show” and “Hanging With Mr. Cooper,” Raven-Symoné built a $40 million brand as a teenager in the wildly successful Disney productions, “That’s So Raven” and “The Cheetah Girls.”
She took a brief hiatus after the conclusion of “That’s So Raven” and is now returning to television with the ABC Family comedy series, “The Great State of Georgia.”
Shortly after having lunch at AZ studios, Raven-Symoné sat down to discuss her new TV venture, relationships, how she achieved her new sexy figure and the day she realized her brand power.
“The Great State of Georgia” appears to be your first mature role as a television actress. What can viewers expect from the show?
The show focuses on the problems you can go through when auditioning and being rejected and, sometimes, accepted. It’s a good journey that my character, Georgia, goes through with a friend and her aunt, which is played by Loretta Devine. I find it interesting that I’m doing a role that mirrored my younger life when I moved from Georgia to New York. This is more of a sophisticated comedy, but we don’t take away from the fun aspect of it.
What did you learn while working on “That’s So Raven?”
“That’s So Raven” was a blessing beyond belief. It was a set that was very nurturing. The main thing I learned was to pace yourself and have fun. When you get a job in the industry, you have a lot of obligations. Sometimes, you get tired, you get cranky, and, then, you’re labeled a diva. I’m not a diva. I’m tired, and my head hurts. So, I had to pace myself. Work starts at 8 a.m., and it ends at 8 p.m. During the show, some people would say, “You’re young. Keep going,” and I did. But eventually, I had to take a break because I was tired.
What was the most stressful thing about being the star of your own show as a teenager?
I was 15 when I started filming and dealing with adults in an adult way. I also had the burden of 200 people’s paychecks in my hands. So, there was no sickness, lateness, no messing up or laziness. There is a sacrifice you have to make. The friends that are still with me, they know what I deal with. Learning from Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy and Mark Curry, the cast never put it all on me. I learned to be honest and know that there are so many people that make it happen. Being labeled a “boss” at 15 is a lot of stress. That’s why I walked away.
When did you realize that you were not just an actress, but that “Raven-Symoné” had become a brand?
I knew that there was a business of Raven-Symoné when my father told me to “make sure that the public knows your real name and not just your character’s name.” The Disney Channel also helped to package what I wanted to do. But I know that there is more out there. Hopefully, the business aspect will be set up where I can back away and give opportunities to young men and women [to] showcase their talent when others may overlook them.
People are excited about your new figure. How did you achieve it?
During “That’s So Raven,” I dealt with stress that an average 15-year-old might not go through, and my body showed those stresses on the outside. Doctors say that stress kills and that stress manifests itself in different ways. For me, and the way my genes are, I happened to get a little thicker. After “That’s So Raven” ended, the weight of the world was off of my shoulders. I was able to look at what was going on with me, instead of finding comfort in things that might not be the healthiest. By releasing those issues, my stress went away internally as well as externally.
Did exercise play a role?
I’ve been exercising since I was 9 years old. I was on tour with ‘N Sync, and I did my own tour. Anyone who has been on tour knows that it’s excessive training all day. I have had the same exercise routine my entire life.
Are guys intimidated by your success?
I guess guys do find me intimidating because they don’t come up to talk to me. I have to go to them. If I do talk to a guy, they understand who I am. I work from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. After that, I don’t talk about work. It’s all about the person the camera never sees.
What do you find attractive in a man, and what is your ideal first date?
The things I find attractive are ambition, talent, teeth and a car. I don’t like to drive. It doesn’t have to be a Bentley. You can drive a Pinto, and I’ll pay for gas. But I won’t pay your insurance [laughs]. My ideal first date is no weave, no eyebrows, no makeup. I need to be in sweats, and I need him to be in sweats. We can drive around and see different houses. That’s my favorite date ever. I don’t want to go anywhere special. I just want to go for a ride.
Is there a way to balance a relationship with your schedule?
I was raised to be about my business. I love the people who are around, but if I get a [business] call, I have to get up and go. I’m on a path for myself. When I’m done, I’ll start that other side of life. I can’t have distractions. If you’re a distraction, you gotta go.
What advice do you give to young black actresses who are trying to establish a career in Hollywood?
The first thing, when trying to get into Hollywood when you’re not the cookie-cutter type, is to not put a label on yourself. I’m African American, but, when it comes to TV, don’t label yourself. I don’t want to be labeled because, I then put restrictions on myself. When other people label me, that’s different. I go into auditions knowing I’m not going to get the role, but at least that person has seen me and remembers me. But if you label yourself from the beginning, you won’t go out for the role that was written for other cultures. Make your own way. With the technology today, you can become a brand.
What will be Raven-Symoné’s legacy?
I want people to say, “She made me laugh and brightened my day. As a brand, she kept in mind the different flavors in the world.” And I want people to know that I was always honest and told the truth.