Nicole Ari Parker x 'Save Your Do'


From 200 Cigarettes to Soul Food... to now starring on Broadway (as Blanche, in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire), the super-famous and über-glamorous, Nicole Ari Parker, also wants you to Save Your Do!

Parker's new, business venture is the phenomenal and pioneering, SAVE YOUR DO 'Gym Wrap,' a revolutionary, patent-pending "edge-control technology," that she describes as, "The fashionable way to save your hairstyle while at the gym, exercising outdoors, or living an active lifestyle." 

Further explaining the significance of the product, Parker says, it "minimizes sweat absorption through a unique blend of materials that allows heat to escape while letting cool air in. The moisture ‘wicking’ process occurs at the molecular level within the fabric resulting in drier flat hair!"

(Nicole Ari Parker's patent-pending, 'edge-control technology')

Here are some examples:

In addition to being an entrepreneur, Parker is forever the philanthropist; 10% of all SYD 'GW' proceeds will go to the Sophie's Voice Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports outreach, education and research for children and adults with Spina Bifida.

And speaking of support, it was Parker (along with her wonderful husband, Boris Kodjoe), who encouraged my dream and played host to us, for a weekend -back in 2008- during our STYLE 101 College Tour, therefore any opportunity that I have to help promote them and their selfless causes, I WILL!!!

(Team STYLE 101, with Boris, Sophie & Nicolas Kodjoe. 2008)

But, don't just take our word for it, here's what some of Parker's satisfied customers have to say about the amazing, SAVE YOUR DO product line:

Delicia Echols says, "My hair is absolutely dry."

Terri Ewing says, "It’s completely changed my whole life."

Jordan Myers says, "It’s the best product out there."

Well... there you have it... Parker's product REALLY WORKS!!! BUY IT NOW ---> www.SaveYourDo.com <--- BUY IT NOW !!!

xoxo, Avon!

***For more information about Sophie's Voice Foundation and to make a Donation, please email: info@sophiesvoicefoundation.org, or call: 1.404.377.1104. Thank You!

www.saveyourdo.com, www.sophiesvoicefoundation.org

101 with Sandra Gustard

The secret to Jamaica's fountain of youth, is Sandra Gustard's Pimento Oil.

Traveling across the globe, in search of the best, natural healing, Gustard has combined some of the world's finest ingredients into an elixir that's sure to sooth the soul... Here's the scoop:

1) What does cleanliness and being ‘earth-balanced’ mean to you?
To me (Lady English), cleanliness simply means being in a state of purity, untainted, unsullied… uncompromised! To be ‘earth-balanced’ means to be in harmony with God’s supply and provision for our sustenance, as ‘He’ intended; the desire to be at ‘one’ with nature, in its purest, unadulterated form!

2) Do your products reflect the way you feel about life and Mother Nature?
Definitely! I only want to ingest and/or apply herbal, natural medications to my body; therefore it behooves me to want the same for my consumers! I pride myself on the fact that all of our products are chemical, additive and preservative free! Our product line is small, as I have to undertake research to ensure that any product that Cockney Finestyle, LLC releases, is only of the highest grade and cultivated in its natural state!  Each bottle or jar is custom made, bottled [and] labeled by hand, there is nothing mechanical utilized in our process!

3) Who inspires you?
God! I give Him all the honor, praise and glory for the wisdom and strength to persevere, despite the challenges.  Secondly, Madame C.J. Walker (one of the first, female African-American entrepreneurs), [who was quoted as saying] “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard!” [And] finally, Estée Lauder, because she only wanted her brand in the hands of people who were known for having ‘the best!’

4) When did you embark on your journey of becoming an entrepreneur?
Well, prior to migrating to the States, I was a freelance journalist, booking agent and artist manager (amongst other things), so I always knew I could sell music and people! However, in 1997, [after women] kept stopping me on the street and asking about my attire, I decided to sell clothes and shoes [out of] London! I sold my wares mostly at West Indian beauty salons, nail shops, etc., and did brisk-business selling as a ‘mobile boutique!’ I established Cockney Finestyle, LLC in 2001 (as it was my intention to open a chain of stores selling European fashions), but both the stores I had, failed, as the clothing sizes were just, too small for the majority of customer[s].

After a visit to Jamaica [in] 2008, I discovered Pimento Oil at Bath Fountain, a natural, mineral spa where people would flock to heal all kinds of sicknesses. I received a full-body massage (with Pimento Oil), and after that day, I felt like a new person.  I had suffered permanent nerve-damage to my left arm, several herniated discs and a severely pinched nerve, for which I had been receiving cortisone shots.  I approached who I thought was the creator of [Pimento Oil] and ordered several gallons of the ‘miracle oil,’ [but] when the container’s arrived in New York, I was horrified to find that it was a poor replica of the original!  So, basically I just researched the ingredients, had my family send me the leaves, barks, berries, etc., and came-up with my version of  ‘Pimento Oil.’ I literally, just cooked and soaked everything for 3 months… used it, and gave away many, many samples to people, to see if it did what it was supposed to do, and the rest -as they say- is history!

5) Where do you find most of your work materials and/or ingredients?
All of the ingredients come straight from Jamaica, with the exception of the packaging.  All of the botanicals in our products grow abundantly wild in Jamaica, without any assistance, other than real, Jamaican sunshine!

6) How may customers reach you?
[Our] products are available at www.fountainoil.com, or you can email [me] Lady English, at www.pimentooil.com, or call toll-free at (866) 223-2414.  You can also [tune-in to] the Keeling Supermix (Mondays, at midnight), [to] hear me [give] weekly, tidbits of information [on] the natural, medicinal properties [and] benefits of the ingredients I use; [on] 93.5 FM [in the] Tri-State area, or streaming live, at www.wvipfm.com.

101 with Dr. Kevin Strong

During Earth Month, there's always a lot of talk and hype about which 'eco-friendly,' 'consumer-conscious,' or 'food-friendly' company is the best, or who's doing what... But this month, we are proud to present to you, a company that walks the walk, year-round!
(photo: Kevin Strong, M.D., Founder DTJ)

Kevin Strong, M.D. is the mastermind behind Dunk The Junk, a program that is committed to America's youth and has found the 'plain-sight' cure to this nations junk food epidemic... Let's take a look:

1) It’s such a catchy phrase, ‘Dunk The Junk,’ who thought of that idea?  
I wanted to create a cool brand, to compete with the predatory pizazz of BIG JUNK FOOD.  I love [basketball], and I was so tired of seeing a million junk food ads and images every time I tuned in. My plan was to inspire a counter-culture movement in the [basketball], hip-hop and graffiti worlds, to dismantle the junk food epidemic with STYLE. DUNK IT!

2) How does your organization zone-in on helping people? The science is clear. Sugar consumption (particularly through sugar-sweetened drinks), is the biggest contributor to the obesity and Type II Diabetes epidemic.  We attract kids with our street art, ethos savvy beats and acrobatic slam-dunks; and then educate them about the perils of excessive sugar intake.

3) During the Fall of 2011, as a way to curb poor diets, several elementary schools in the U.S., issued new rules that prevented parents from preparing ‘Bag-lunches’ for their own children. What are your thoughts on such legislation?   Ridiculous! Have you taken a look at what the public schools serve kids for breakfast and lunch? As an example, Fruit Loops, Trix, chocolate milk and peaches -in heavy syrup- for breakfast… This ‘nutritious’ [meal] contains 13 teaspoons of added sugar, which is 2-times more than the American Heart Association recommends for the entire day (for an adult woman). Perhaps, you could argue in support of that move, if schools were serving quinoa, tofu and steamed asparagus. Not!

4) When certain demographics of people, such as low-income families, are inundated with un-healthy food stores placed in their neighborhoods (e.g. fried food carry-outs/liquor stores/etc.), is there a chance that such business practices are methodical or is it just happenstance?    Junk food is where the profits are.  Food companies want [money].  The more junk they sell, the better the bottom line.

5) Even further, when certain demographics of people, such as upper-income families, are pleasured with healthier food stores placed in their neighborhoods (e.g. farmer’s markets/coffee and tea shops/etc.), is there a chance that such business practices are methodical or is it just happenstance? I love the concept of the farmer’s market, however, they are often expensive to shop at, or a far distance to travel. Healthier eating does not need to be expensive. Milled grain is half the CPU (cost per unit), of sugar cereal. Drinking free, tap water, instead of soda or sugary drinks, is cost-savings and will have the biggest, single impact on reversing the epidemic. Rice and beans -with some veggies- and water, for dinner, is cheaper than McDonald’s.

6) The comparison and contrast of the two, previous questions highlight the issue(s) of ‘access to healthy food’ in our society. Based on your observation(s), what causes the breakdown to such access, and how can these issues be resolved?   Our approach, at Dunk the Junk, is to put the emphasis on the most impactful change. We all need to stop buying and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and drink FREE water instead. We all need to take advantage of the luxury of a free and safe water supply. Through our innovative, education methods, we hope to shift the demand away from junk food and towards unprocessed, raw foods; rotten bananas are a common site at the roadside stores in Maine, they are being passed up for junk. I do not fault store owners who choose not to stock bananas, when I see them rotting on the shelves. If we are successful in our mission, more companies, stores and distributors will be forced to bring the good stuff. We clearly have our work cut out for us.

7) Do you feel that the current, First Lady of the United States, is doing a good job of educating America on the importance of exercise and a healthy diet?  The First Lady is doing a great job on the exercise piece, however, if the goal of her campaign was to reverse the obesity epidemic, then a slogan like,  “Let’s Not Drink Sugar,” makes much more sense. The science clearly shows that the best way to reverse obesity and Type II Diabetes is to consume less sugar (particularly sugar we drink). I find it hard to believe that our government’s top, nutrition advisors are not aware of this science.

8) In  2012, while citizens are simultaneously baited with fast-food advertisements and weight-loss solutions, is it important to eat healthy? Junk is junk. Real food is real food.  Our bodies and organs have evolved over millions of years to eat food straight from the land.  We need to return to our roots and get back to the essence of food. There is something primal and seductive about raw food and we need to tap [into] that energy, pick up some raw food and DUNK THE JUNK, it feels good.

101 with Chavon Henderson

Amongst other things in life, Ms. Henderson is a total, free bird... but don't just take our word for it... see for yourself!!! GET INTO IT!!!

1) So, Ms. Henderson, how are you?!
Mr. Dorsey, darling! I’m great…I can’t complain.

2) At what age, did you figure out that fashion was meant for you (recreationally and/or professionally)?
I figured both out at different times, recreationally [at] about 17 years old [and] professionally [at] about 19/20 years old.

3) When did you decide that you wanted to become the President of FAM (Fashion At Morgan), and were there any obstacles to overcome, as the first female in that position?
I decided I wanted to be President of FAM, during my tenure as Treasurer [on its] executive board. To be honest (as I reflect on being just a model), I never considered or saw myself as a President, that progression -into being the 1st female President- was God’s work; totally, not something I planned initially. Being in that position I faced many obstacles, but I can see now, that those same obstacles helped mold me into the person I am now, they changed me for the [better] and gave me an advantage that most people will never have. Being not only a leader, but a female leader, is a difficult feat in itself… I’m thankful for the experience!

4) Why is it important to follow your heart? It is sooooo important to follow your heart, because you only have one life to live, and if you aren’t living it for yourself, I guarantee you will be miserable! Following my heart -or intuition- has proved to be more resourceful than following what everyone else was doing.

5) Do you feel that your education in business and finance will help you to achieve greatness? Yes! One of the biggest misconceptions about me is that I was a fashion major (LOL), although fashion is my 1st love, I understood that business and accounting is vital, no matter what field I work in. I plan to work in fashion (in some capacity), but I also plan to own and operate my own business! Grad school will certainly deal with ‘fashion business management,’ or something of the sort. In short, I want to be in charge, work in fashion and get that money!

6) So, where do the free birds fly (and are you one of them)?  Free birds fly everywhere!!! My newest passion, www.wherethefreebirdsfly.com, is a blog, soon-to-be turned [into] a movement! I’m forever promoting a free lifestyle that encourages freethinking and freedom to express oneself, as deemed fit… I am certainly A FREE BIRD!

101 with Jessie Evans

On the eve of his organization's annual, spring fashion show, Jessie B. Evans, Jr. sat down with us, to give us his insight as to what it takes to be a leader and get the right jobs done.

Let's take a look, shall we...

1) Hello, Mr. President… Can you explain to us, what “FAM” is, exactly?

FAM is a fashion and modeling club, on the campus of Morgan State University, we are the link between the collegiate-level fashion industry and the professional, fashion industry. I would say that FAM is more than just an average [student] organization, we are a combination of creative minds coming together, achieving the impossible (and even beyond that), we share a bond that can be most similarly compared to that of a blood-family.

2) Where are you from, and have you learned any valuable life-lessons, along your journey?

[I was] born in Baltimore, Maryland [and] raised in Salisbury, Maryland. I have learned a lot; main lesson being, that you can please some of the people, some of the time, but you can never please all of the people, all of the time. I've also learned to never give up, and that ‘safe’ is a dirty word, which is why I live [my] life a little, on the edge. I do what I want and say what’s on my mind, and that attitude [has] shown through my fashion shows; my creativity and ability to take risk shows in my masterpieces (i.e. fashion shows and/or events).

3) Upon your arrival to Morgan State University, how did you imagine your college experience would be?

I honestly imagined that it would be somewhere else. However, I have grown to love and appreciate THEE Morgan State University. When I came to audition for FAM, I looked at the [previous] President and said, "That is going to be me, one day.” Wouldn't you know it? LOOK AT ME NOW (lol)!!!

4) When did you realize that being a public fixture (as a model, spokesperson, stage talent, etc.), was the best career choice?

I never, really said that being an MC or host, or model, was my career of choice… it kind of chose me. I can be kind of shy sometimes, honestly, but when I hit a stage, I'm no longer me… I'm the character that I am embodying. So, for that reason alone, I am the ultimate actor, because this gift that God has given me, allows me to act out any role in life; a role as the President of FAM, or the role of an MC or host, or whatever.

5) Who do you look to for inspiration?

I never know how to answer this question. Honestly, I guess what inspires and drives me is my family. I yearn to see them happy and carefree and well taken care of. I just thank God, honestly, for all of His blessings and all of the good times, but also, I thank Him for the bad times, because they made me a stronger person -the person [that] I am today- and for that, I always say, "Everyday Should Be The Best Day Of Your Life."

* For more information on Jessie Evans, please visit: www.twitter.com/PrettyBoyJ.

Designer Spotlight x Kelechi Odu

Okay, so I must admit, although I am already familiar with the talented designer of this label... that reality has nothing to do with the fact that his clothes are right-up-my-alley!!!

For Spring/Summer 2012, Kelechi Odu showed an exquisite array of supple fabric with strong and muted colors, finely-tailored in the most masculine way. My immediate response was, "re-luxed," which is a phrase I coined a few years ago, that basically defines 'relaxed-luxury.'

The inspiration for Odu's collection, was an imagined Fela Kuti (alive and well), retired but still rebellious, receiving of admirers and new found revelations, amongst his dwelling; a man of means. Acquaintance aside, Odu did a masterful job at interpreting a theme and seeing it all the way through to the runway... my hope is that this process goes all the way through the selling floor, as well ;-)

***For more information on Kelechi Odu and to shop the collection, please visit: www.KelechiOdu.com.

Designing Men (André, Kanye & Pharrell)


When discussing the three, gentlemen below (André, Kanye & Pharrell), it is important to keep in mind that music is their 1st Love. Although they've become very convincing at presenting clothing for men and women, some of them may still be toeing the line and/or learning the ropes!

Here's a peek into their lives, as designing men... ENJOY!!!

André "3000" Benjamin
1/2 of the critically-acclaimed, rap duo, Outkast, is a Grammy award-winning musician, actor and now, spokesmodel.

Benjamin (known for his wittingly-creative and tailored aesthetic), is currently the face of Gillette's 'Masters of Style,' shaving campaign. He initially began his expansion into the fashion industry, around 2008, and hasn't looked back... He's created his own fashion label, titled Benjamin Bixby, has been featured in VOGUE magazine, and Esquire magazine named him the "Best Dressed Man in the World," in 2004!

* Video: Gillette 'Style'

Kanye West
The perennially controversial über-star, has made a household-name for himself, while simultaneously stealing the spotlight and selling out arenas, worldwide.

West (who has a knack for labels), loves fashion so much that he dedicated a song to it (Christian Dior Denim Flow), name-dropped a few, female supermodels and revved up his already prevalent machismo. In 2008, Vanity Fair magazine added West to their coveted, Best Dressed List, and just last year, he launched his eponymous, women's wear label (replete with a ready-to-wear showing), during Paris Fashion Week; an unusual feat for any musician, proving -once again- why Mr. West is a man apart!!!

*Video: Kanye's Paris

Pharrell Williams
1/2 of the hit-making, music duo, The Neptunes and 1/3 of the rock band, N.E.R.D (and arguably, one of the coolest guys on the planet), Williams is an Academy Award performing and Grammy award-winning producer, who routinely works with industry heavyweights such as Madonna, Britney Spears... and, even Blue Ivy Carter!!!

Williams (a former, poster boy for Louis Vuitton), began his musical career as a youth, and went on to become a multi-million dollar, recording artist and producer. Around 2005, he launched the lucrative, fashion label Billionaire Boys Club (BBC), but has since become increasingly passionate about the environment, which led him to invest in Bionic® Yarn, "...the first high-performance eco-thread, and represents the fourth-generation yarn structure in the history of commercial textile production." Williams and his Bionic Yarn team, have collaborated on clothing/textile projects with Gap and Timberland, and they have even bigger plans for the future!

* Video: Bionic Yarn


www.google.com, www.outkast.com/andre-3000, www.kanyewest.com, www.bbcicecream.com, www.youtube.com/gillette, www.vimeo.com/11195693, www.facebook.com/bionicyarn, www.startrakmusic.com, www.n-e-r-d.com

"Red Tails" x The Tuskegee Airmen


Produced by: George Lucas, Rick McCallum and Charles Floyd Johnson
Directed by: Anthony Hemingway
Written by: John Ridley and Aaron McGruder
Original Music by: Terence Blanchard
Featuring: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds, Method Man and Ne-Yo
Length: 125 minutes
Date of Release: January 20, 2012 (2012-01-20) (Theatrical).  May 22, 2012 (Available on DVD)

During World War II, Black (read: African-American) pilots and service men, were caught between a rock and a hard place, as they faced challenges at home -in America- and abroad. Most of their stories have either gone unheard of or swept under a rug, due to their race/ethnicity, but earlier this year, acclaimed filmmaker George Lucas helped to shed light on the victory of a small group of those men, the Tuskegee Airmen (to be exact).

Lucas' production company (LucasFilms, Ltd.), fully-funded the project, titled Red Tails, and has openly expressed the opposition he faced in trying to get Hollywood's support of the film, during its pre-release. On Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, Lucas admitted that most studios/execs felt they wouldn't make a profit from the release/distribution, because of the film's all-Black cast. 

Inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen, but based on a fictional plot, the cast is led by Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr. (who've both portrayed Tuskegee Airmen in previous films). Howard and Gooding play the roles of squadrant leaders, guiding a group of young, Black men through combat in Germany-occupied Italy, during WW II, yet some film critics differ on whether the fictionalized inaccuracy hurts the film. Rotten Tomatoes, says the film "suffers from one-dimensional characters [and] corny dialogue...," while the Los Angeles Times said, it "squanders a great subject, reducing the real-life struggles and fierce heroics of the Tuskegee Airmen to rickety cliché."

However, in defesne of the film, screenwriter Aaron McGruder (a co-writer for the project, who onced criticized Lucas and is famous for his political cartoon, The Boondocks), said, "Some people are going to like this tonal choice and some people are going to say, 'Oh it should've been heavier and it should've been more dramatic.' But there's a version of this that doesn't have to be Saving Private Ryan." Exploring this topic further, Roger Ebert says, "It makes the point that the airmen were skilled and courageous, and played a historic role in the eventual integration of our armed services," but it, "could have done more..."

In addition to the film's efforts, the Commemorative Air Force's Red Tail Project has traveled the country, raising money to build an exhibit that Founder Don Hinz says, would "carry the lessons and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen into every classroom." The CAF project seeks to spread the values and history of the airmen, and has used Lucas' film to capture more success. In a letter written to CAF supporters, Kenneth O. Wofford, Jr. (son of Tuskegee Airman, Col. Wofford Sr.), said, "there was a time when the Tuskegee Airmen were not celebrated as heroes," but that, "the values... are as relevant today as they were in World War II." Wofford highlighted the airmen's -and his father's- fight against Nazi Germany and their fight against segregation at home, a struggle that was dubbed a 'Double Victory' because they helped defeat the enemy at war and were able to see the end of racial turmoil, on U.S. soil.

Moreover, in preparation for the film's DVD release (on May 22nd, 2012), Lucas has included a special feature in the package, titled Double Victory, which documents historical evidence of the Tuskegee Airmen's challenges and triumphs, as well as some of their personal, survivor stories; stories that have inspired people such as 15-year-old Kimberly Anyadike, who set a record for being the youngest, Black female to fly coast-to-coast (from Compton, California to Newport News, Virginia), after learning about the airmen. Anyadike, Wofford says, "is an example of what kids can achieve when inspired." Therefore, the hope is that Lucas' film will continue to reach audiences and motivate them, while keeping them entertained.

To date, the film has grossed over $49 Million, and cost $58 Million to produce; it was nominated for a 2012 Saturn Award (for Best Action/Adventure Film).

www.google.com, en.wikipedia.org, www.imdb.com, nydailynews.com, rogerebert.suntimes.com, www.latimes.com, Rise Above (a Commemorative Air Force book, 2011), www.commemorativeairforce.org, www.redtails2012.com

The Color of Style x Toni McCullough

Following up on our #StyleTalk series, here we have the story of a young mother who has a passion for fashion, and a knack for helping others... Please join us, as we introduce you to Mrs. Toni McCullough, creator of the indie-fashion label, The Brand That I Am!

1) Hi, Toni! Can you tell us a little about yourself and who you are?
I am 28 years old, married with two boys and I work for the Department of Education [New York]. I teach Special Education, which I love, working with kids with autism. I have a web-store that sells children’s and adult, graphic t-shirts.

2) When did you first start to become active in fashion and modeling?
[During] my teenage years, I was inspired by my cousins (Avon Dorsey and Zada Watson).

3) As far as being creative, what project(s) are you working on now?
New [t-shirt] designs; self-portraits of individuals.

4) How has life changed for you, as a wife and a mother, and does your family support your career?
Life is great! Being married and having children made me work harder and strive for the best! Yes, they support me; my husband, Ariel, and our sons design with me. All I can say is, I am so excited [at] having a family that supports and helps me with my career.

5) Where do you envision yourself, this time, next year?
I would like to have my shirts in children stores, by this time, next year.

*For more information on Toni and her designs, please visit: www.thebrandthatiam.com.

#StopKony... or should we?!

On March 5th, 2012, a non-profit, advocacy group uploaded a video to YouTube. Days later, the video received over 1 Million views, and a couple of weeks later, it had 10's of millions of views!

Invisible Children, Inc. (founded in 2006, by American filmmakers Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell), filmed, edited and produced the aforementioned video, titled Kony 2012, which is a modern-day, political campaign calling for the arrest and persecution of Joseph Kony (leader of Africa's Lord's Resistance Army, in Uganda). The film admonishes viewers to join the increasingly popular #StopKony movement, but upon closer examination of what was being presented, I felt a reaction -opposite- to what the filmmakers proposed; I was prompted to 'dig a 'lil deeper' and not just blindly (read: blithely) accept what was being purported.
* Video (KONY 2012):
"Nothing is more powerful than an idea," states the video's opening sequence, and minutes later -into the film- Russell (as narrator), says it's all, "an experiment," and that, "in order for it to work, you have to pay attention." With that being said, what if the purpose of the video, is to plant the 'idea' of Kony as a bad-man, into the minds of millions of people around the world? ICI's official statement on the issue reads, "Since 1987, Joseph Kony has abducted more than 30,000 children in Central Africa and forced them to be child soldiers in his Lord's Resistance Army. The KONY 2012 campaign employs film, social media, street art, and face-to-face interaction to make the case that the arrest of Joseph Kony this year is one thing we can all agree on."

However, a less sophisticated video (utilizing an old-school, journalistic approach), produced by British film company, Journey Man Pictures, documents Kony, UP-CLOSE-AND-IN-PERSON... without any hint of danger surrounding him. Journey Man's video follows a reporter interviewing Kony and select LRA members, covertly traversing the Ugandan landscape. Touted as the only interview Kony's ever done, the reporter and film crew are granted carte blanche access to Kony, receiving confessionals from a man who is admired by his comrades, a group that appears to be reserved and non-threatening. Although it was filmed in 2006, the Journey Man video was released to the public (read: uploaded to YouTube), on March 8th, 2012; three days after ICI's Kony video was uploaded.

* Video (Exclusive interview with Joseph Kony):

Certainly, Kony sits atop the International Criminal Court's most-wanted list, and has been accused of more than 20 crimes involving his militia, either within and/or around Ugandan borders. Nevertheless, Kony says these alleged war crimes are all, "propaganda," and that the LRA has, "never been involved," in any such activity. "I'm not guilty," says Kony, he's "fighting for democracy." In addition, the Central Intelligence Agency lists the LRA as a "political pressure group," but also indicated, "350,000 internally displaced persons returned [to Uganda] in 2006 following ongoing peace talks between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda," in 2007.

In general, National Geographic reports that Uganda, "a landlocked country in East Africa; savanna plateau with mountains and lakes," was once considered, "The pearl of Africa," by Winston Churchill. The country also has, "...substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt [and] has largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas," according to Wikipedia.

Given this situation, Uganda might -now- be a land that is ripe for commercial opportunity and may be targeted for exploitation, helped along by the sudden, international interest in Kony. Consequently, soon after ICI's and JM's videos were posted, several, other counter-videos surfaced, most notably from the people of Uganda, who have begun to speak out in opposition of the Ugandan government and the #StopKony movement.

Following this further, results from Uganda's last, presidential election (held in February 2011), show that Yoweri Kaguta Museveni won against lead opponent, Dr. Kizza Besigye (Museveni's former physician), thus granting Museveni another four to his already 25-year-reign as Uganda's president, since 1986. Moreover, Besigye, has been arrested, jailed and chastised, several times -since 2001- for running against Museveni and publicly challenging the unilateral, 'no-party' political system advanced by Museveni. Oddly enough, Museveni (who gained control of Uganda, after the fall of Idi Amin), has seemingly become a shadow of the notorious Amin and has helped the country to receive a 'very corrupt' rating, by Transparency International (the global coalition against corruption); 80.8% of Ugandan authoritative institutions are found to be corrupt (TI, index report. 2011). Undoubtedly, these are just a few of the many issues that Kony and other Ugandans have highlighted on film.

Indeed, it is hard to determine if we -or anyone- should be stopping Kony, and if so, what for?! Clearly, Ugandan officials did not detain him or LRA members, amidst their presence of peace talks a few years ago, even after the ICC's issuance of arrest warrants on July 8th, 2005! Lastly, for those of us who are neither on-the-ground in Uganda, nor in the purported war zones, we are left, only to speculate, and without much knowledge of the hardcore facts (read: real evidence), it can be more comfortable to side with an idea, or something/anything that draws on our emotions because it sounds right or is visually appealing/finely-packaged; as of yet, ICI's #StopKony video has received 87,280,690 views, while Journey Man's Kony interview has received 219,724 views... Who's Telling The Truth?!

www.google.com, www.nationalgeogrpahic.com, en.wikipedia.org, www.cia.gov, www.invisiblechildren.com, www.kony2012.com, www.transparency.org, www.journeyman.tv, www.youtube.com (invisiblechildreninc/journeymanpictures), www.icc-cpi.int

101 with DJ Teffler

Microphone check... 1-2-1-2... If you haven't heard of the Juvy Tek mix-mastermind, Paul 'DJ Teffler' Asuwata, then you've definitely been missing out on a LOT of good music!

Hailing from Nigeria, Africa, as one of Gidi's Finest, DJ Teffler has blessed us with some lyrical knowledge and has given us a connect on what keeps his musical blood pumping; so listen up...

1) Mr. Asuwata, can you describe to us, what “Juvy Tek” and the “Teffler” movement is all about?
Juvy Tek is all about music production. It's a partnership [that] my partner, Ehi, and I started 10 years ago; we create beats and produce hit-records for artists, all around the world. [The] Teffler movement is all about Gidi’s Finest, and becoming one of the greatest DJ’s that ever touched the turntables (as well as helping other DJ’s), we are tackling one city at a time; as of now, we are invading the DMV area. With that said, God holds the plan for the future.

2) You are a direct descendant of Nigerian ancestry, how does that differ from being an African-American versus being an ‘African’ in America? 
I was born and raised in Nigeria. I moved out, to the United States, at the age of 15. The bulk of my childhood experience -and culture- I learnt while I was in Nigeria. An African-American was born and raised here [in the United States] mostly, and thus, did not have the direct influence of growing up in Africa.

3) Where does your musical influence come from?
My musical influence is very diverse. I listen[ed] to a lot of 70’s funk, pop and R&B, jazz and 90’s rap music, growing up. As I got older, I started to embrace my country’s musical culture and listen to it more.

4) When did you realize that you wanted to be a DJ (disc jockey)?
I've always had a love for music growing up. Being the fact that I play the piano at my local church, I did it for fun during my college years, and I loved how the crowd responded to the music I played. I loved seeing the crowd go wild, so I took it upon myself to better my skills and made it my main focus to always deliver, as a DJ.

5) Who are some of the most prolific musicians/artists that you’ve worked with?
I've worked with numerous, Nigerian artists. I recently did a remix work for Beyoncé. I've also worked with artists under Slip-N-Slide/Atlantic Records. I've worked with Nigerian superstar, award-winning rappers such as Naeto C, Dr. Sid and Ice Prince, and I am currently working on records for artists under Def Jam, Warner Bros. and Arista Records.

6) Why is it important for you to continue on your path in the music industry?
I feel, with the diverse, musical culture that I have, I can make people experience music on a difference level. Music is everything… it is universal, it is inspiring, it is motivational; it’s emotional, spiritual and in other aspects, educational. Music can change the world. I believe I can facilitate that change, and help better other people’s lives with my kind of music, based on the humanitarian efforts I plan to make as I move along in my career. Even if you're not into music or you don't want to dance, my selection of music will make you ‘ginger’ (get you on the dance floor). That’s what music is all about, to uplift people. Stay inspired!

*** For more information on DJ Teffler, please visit: twitter.com/TEFFLER.

101 with Rodney Bethea

From Philly to L.A., there's 1 guy who's seemingly un.stoppable.

Known, on the street-style scene, as 'Hot Rod', Mr. Rodney Bethea, is the creator of MelroseAndSpaulding.com, an exclusive, one-stop-style-shop on the world wide web.

We caught up with him recently, so that he could give us the inside-scoop on his world of hotness...

1) So, Mr. Bethea… Can you explain to us, the origin of your pen-name, "Hot ROD”?

When I lived in Baltimore, [some of] my close friends called me "HOT SHOT." Around the time I bought my first Corvette, people started calling me "HOT ROD," because they said it looked like a hot-rod (and my name is Rodney), so "HOT ROD" made sense to them. Soon after, with most people, the "ROD" dropped and now most of my friends just call me "HOT."
2) As a native of Baltimore, Maryland, where else have you lived, since migrating to California?

Actually, I’m a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and lived a few years in Baltimore.

3) Amongst the rapidly growing population of style bloggers, who do you consider yourself to be?

Most fashion bloggers are very predicable; it's usually all about them and their style that’s become like their uniform. I consider myself to be an ambassador of all things cool. Sometimes, I may blog about my preppy look, high-end designer look [or] vintage look (it changes according to how I feel, that day), or it may not [even] be about fashion at all. I may feature classic, vintage cars or music; it’s about the lifestyle. My style, home, car, entertainment, etc., should all be equally cool and stylish. You can’t dress cool and not have a cool crib, and you can’t have a cool car and jump out of it [not] looking cool, as well. I strive to be the total package.

4) What else can we expect from you, in the future?

My blog, MelroseAndSpaulding.com, is being revised, to become a fashion, lifestyle and media center (also with a retail store, attached with a lot of my cool, vintage products), it will go live, mid-April [2012]. I’m also in final talks with [a] big retailer, to come on as creative director; I'll announce it once we finalize the deal. And I've moved in a new, creative space in West Hollywood, so it will be a lot of "HOT" stuff coming out of there.

*** For more information on Rodney Bethea, please visit: twitter.com/MelroseSpauldin, or on Instagram: @HotRod3k.

#StyleTalk Series... Being a Black, Fashion Professional

Within each work place, there is going to be some inherent drama, or ups and downs.

For the fashion industry, there's been a huge microscope placed on the lack of Black models being used for runway, editorial and/or campaign assignments, but while those are major concerns, there's been no widespread discussion about the virtual non-existence of Blacks working behind-the-scenes or on the front line!!

STYLE 101 talked to four of the Maryland area's best talent, to find out their thoughts on some of the unspoken issues facing Black, fashion professionals...

1) What is your background and/or field of profession?

Make-up artistry/Beauty Advisor

I guess it really depends on how far back you want to go… In the late 70’s (as a high school student), I was really into photography; in the 80’s, I parlayed that love of photography into video (as it was really heating up), and became a cameraman for local TV in Baltimore, Philly and New York. In the 90’s, I was in broadcast sales and rose to the rank of General Sales Manager, and stayed in sales -in one form or another- until July of 2011.

Fashion Stylist.

My profession is [working as] a wardrobe stylist and make-up artist.

2) On a local level, how would you evaluate working as a fashion professional? Are the opportunities the same locally, as they are nationally/internationally?
Business has been good. Locally, business is doing well; my name is getting out there, especially with FAM (Fashion at Morgan). Lately, I’ve been getting business for the DMV area, which is amazing! There is so much talent, here, in Baltimore… so, for people to call me and want to work with me… it’s a beautiful feeling.

Locally, everyone is really trying to get noticed, and [Baltimore] is considered a small market, as it’s the number 24th or 25th television market and 21st or 22nd radio market (in the country). The opportunities are available, however, you cannot stop here. In order to get the larger and more fruitful shots, you have to impress those in the larger markets, with what you can do here. Nationally, there are a lot of great photographers, as there are here, locally… but, again, out there in the markets where Fashion is decided (i.e. what the hot colors will be for spring/wedge or stiletto/with or without platform/animal print or pattern/off-or-on the shoulder/long flowing or short and snug/etc.), is where any good fashion/editorial photographer wants to be.

On a local level, I would evaluate [it] as a lot of hard work that takes patience and endurance, but persistence pays off. The opportunities can be the same (nationally/internationally), but in the world of fashion, it can get a little tricky, because, although you are judged on your talent, the nature-of-the-beast is all who you know, sometimes.

As a fashion professional, I feel as if the opportunities are available locally, if you want to get a feel for the industry; there are a lot of people working to get to the same place. When you have like minds, it’s best to work on small projects in order to get the skills needed before gaining further knowledge when pursuing opportunities nationally/internationally. It’s always a good thing to create a portfolio and then travel to major cities that host events, to present your work and put your skills to the test.

3) As a Black, fashion professional, what are some of the challenges that you have faced (if any)?

Recently, I [have been] working as a Beauty Advisor for a well known, luxury cosmetic and skincare line. Most of the company’s clientele are middle-aged, white women, so it has been very difficult to introduce myself to [them]; some have been receptive, but others, not so much.

Take a look at the Oscars; better yet, look at the behind-the-scenes of most of the Hollywood films -on any DVD- and tell me what you see? I face the same challenges I’ve faced when I started in broadcasting, over 25 years ago; there are not very many African-Americans running camera/lighting/gripping/etc. on the major sets. For some reason, it’s the same in production, as well as photography. Mathew Jordan Smith is one of my favorite photographers and he has made a big name for himself, of course, his work is outstanding and I’d love to chat with him one day, but, as you see him, there are so many others that you will never see… why is that?

As a Black, fashion professional (in the year 2012), I have not faced many -if any- challenges, with regard to the color of my skin; it’s more so networking and being in the right-place-at-the-right-time, which I am not always where I should be when trying to get my name out there (hopefully this interview will help)!

As a Black, fashion professional... I would have to say that I don’t have many challenges. There have been times when I’ve walked into an establishment and upon introducing myself as a wardrobe stylist/make-up artist, I’ve gotten responses like, “Oh... I would’ve never thought YOU were a stylist,” as they look at me from head-to-toe, [admiring] my full-figure (lol)! I just smile, hand over a business card, and I’ll respond, “You don’t see the resemblance??? André Leon Talley is my Dad!!!” (LOL)!

4) Do you think it’s harder for Black, fashion professionals and models to find work in the national/international fashion industry? Or do you find the Black fashion dilemma to be over-exaggerated?

As I [have] said before, there is so much talent within our generation, I think now -more than ever- is our time to get things done. If it is difficult, it’s probably because there are so many gifted, beautiful, black people.

Take a look at [my] aforementioned answer… No, I don’t think it’s over-exaggerated, I think it’s very relevant. This goes along with the prevailing thoughts on beauty, there will be a select few ‘of color’ that will make it, but (as it has been in the public eye), it is not the rule.

Well, I think it is hard for unknown, fashion professional[s] and models to find work nationally/internationally (Black or not). I do want to acknowledge that it was not always easy for Black, fashion professional’s -in the past- to find work, and because of their struggles and hardships, [they] have life lessons to remember and take with them, on every job.

No, I don’t think it’s harder for Black, fashion professionals and models to find work in the national/international fashion industry, nor do I find it to be over exaggerated. I do believe that it can be a cutthroat industry; you have to remain persistent to yourself and growing in this industry, or other professionals will find your weakness, use it against you and discourage you from wanting to continue your growth.

5) Do you feel that the adversities against Black models are the same for male models, as well as female models?

[no response]

I feel that each will have their own, separate situations, challenges and concerns.

The adversities against Black models either male or female are extremely competitive and both -equally- have to work hard to achieve success.

Yes, at times, because every agency wants something different and that makes it harder for some models than others. But, again, if models are persistent with their career, they can make things happen.

6) Overall, what are some changes that you think should take place, in order for the fashion industry to become more diverse?

As a culture, we should be more supportive. We are observed more than any other race. If professionals see us encouraging one another, that’s an open door for opportunity right there. Black people bring diversity [with them] wherever they go; that’s the special quality we have that makes us stand apart from the rest.

You know, it’s interesting you should ask that; I was [recently] having this conversation with someone. However, it was more about photography, video and production… but again, it does apply here, as well. The fashion people (those in charge of what the public digests and calls fashion), really need to be as open minded as they think they are; so what, if a young lady is not a perfect-size-0, ok, she’s a 4 or a 6, or maybe even an 8, wouldn’t that be more in-line with what the average consumer would be? And for that matter, her hair is braided, short or she’s bald; her skin tone is coal black, pale white, or maybe even green… He [the average consumer] is not 6 ft. tall; he may be a little stocky, may not be a perfect [suit size] 40 or 42 long, he might be a 46 long… I could go on and on… Get the idea? The world is full of so many shades, shapes and sizes, I’m waiting for a designer to celebrate all of these great differences that God has put on the planet, and when that designer shows [up] on the scene, I want to be right there to photograph that new line.

Changes that could take place in the fashion industry, to become more diverse, [would be] opening up more internships for young models and/or fashion-inspired individuals with fashion dreams; this could help with networking and more collaborations amongst young and old, and/or bringing together different minds.

I think established moguls should visit more schools that offer fashion programs and recruit students that have a true interest in the industry.

7) Where do you see your career going in the next, five years?

So much in store... I’m just praying that PrissyVixen, Inc., will be a success!

I can’t answer that. I live day by day, and take the opportunities offered me. If I had to say where I’d like to be, it would be international, photographing the best of the best and working with the big magazines; shooting product, beauty, fashion and of course, sports, as well as personal projects that would involve landscapes (urban and rural). All of that would, of course, be to earn a good living so that I might help people, through my photography.

Hopefully [crossing fingers with a smile] doing something/anything in fashion -I enjoy- comfortable and happy.

In the next five years, I see myself owning my own fashion house that offers full-service to everyday and celebrity clients; it would consist of a clothing store, hair studio, make-up artistry, photography and customized clothing from designers. I don’t think this is something that has ever been done, so I want to be the first.