Friday, March 31, 2006

For Lawrence....

Last week I went to my friend Kathi's bridal shower that she threw for her daughter Erin's upcoming nuptials. It was a sort of coed bridal shower/getting to know you party for each other's families. Kathi and her family are all musicians and come from heavy jazz backgrounds. They have a really beautiful brownstone in Park Slope and naturally there was plenty of live music and everyone was taking turns and serenading the bride & groom to be. My friend, Nicole Hudson was there from St. Louis and we were all singing songs...I sang "Natural Woman" and "Out Here On My Own" because Erin told me that she told people that she had "A Celebrity" coming over. I love going over to Kathi & Jim's house because they remind of a very special & happy time in my life. I met Kathi and her family when we were all performers at The New York Youth Theater. I don't remember what show we met on (it was either The Wiz or Once on This Island) but I do remember that I liked her immediately and we just sort of "clicked" and we have been friends ever since. My friend Lawrence (for whom this blog is named) was the Creative Director of the Theater and credit him for pulling "it" out of me....

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Many, many, many (lol) years ago, I saw an ad in "Backstage" for singers/dancers for an upcoming production of The Wiz. Now, I had been bitten by the theater bug early in junior high school but a severe case of stage fright kept me from doing anything about my "itch" I decided to muster up my courage and go to that audition for The Wiz. So I arrive at the address listed on the ad and find myself standing in front of this er...shabby church. I see a flyer saying that the auditions are down in the basement. Now please know that The Wiz is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE Broadway shows...I mean...I have seen it FOUR TIMES!!!! So unfazed I duck my head down and enter....I am amazed at how er...shabby it really is and I take one look at the "Theater" and say to myself..."There ain't now way in HELL they are doing The Wiz in this little ass room". But I decide to overcome my fright and ride the process out. My name gets called and I go in say a few words and meet Lawrence (Hell...I can't even remember if he was even sitting there now) I sing a song and he tells me to wait out side. After everyone auditions he calls us back in the uh.."theater" and announces who they want to call back. Everyone who isn't called leaves and then this big greek looking chick comes out and announces that she's about to teach us a "Simple Dance Combination" which my eyes get really big and I think to my self...."Well, THAT'S THAT...hell, I can't dance...time to go" and I excuse myself to go to the ladies room and never returned to the audition.

But that Lawrence, decided he would track me down...he called me a few months later to ask me if I would be interested in being in a new show he was casting called "Ride to Freedom"....I told him I couldn't play a slave and I felt for sure that was the last I would hear from him. But then he called me a few months later and asked me to take a part in his new show "The Sick Boy" and he wrote the part of Geraldine the School Crossing Guard with me in mind. How could I say no? I took the part and I became a kid again each and everytime I stepped on his stage...playing parts I would have never dreamt of playing. Singing songs I have listened to my whole life and bringing it to life for someone else....Of course he spoiled me rotten and I never had to audition for anything after my initial audition...because of Lawrence...I did Godspell...(This show was on Broadway when I was a kid but I never got to see it) Oh Bless the Lord my Soul is one of my favorites from the soundtrack. I played Evillene in The Wiz, Osaka in Once On This Island, Mrs Hannigan in Annie and he even wrote an entire children's play called "The Lights" based on a character that he created for me...Madame Starless Nightsky...(Night-SKY...Night-SKY!!!" A holiday hating villan who eats lights. I wore a big pink fur coat and big pink wig...I have a big poster of myself from that show....I had kids running for the To this day my mom says that this was the show that she enjoyed me in the most. That theater experience that Lawrence gave me changed my life and help me find myself.

Today, Lawrence sent me an email because, I failed to give him so much as a mention in my blog and I saw him a few months ago (He lives in Toronto) and we had a wonderful dinner together (Korean BBQ...Yum!). And he wrote me to tell me that his new theater company is thriving....He also asked me if I'd like to reprise my role as Madame Starless Nightsky in The Lights!......

I'd like nothing more.

Thanks Lawrence!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mo'Nique's Fat Chance 2006 - Baltimore, Md

Hey Ya'll I am sorry it has taken me a long minute to get back on! I have about of week of down time left before I head back out on the road to Los Angeles, California for the taping of Mo'Nique's Fat Chance 2006!!! But before I get to that I want to tell you about the rest of the casting cities....

Like I said, Miami, was The bomb! It was a different, sort of colorful, exotic energy about the ladies from that city. There were sisters there from Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and everyone had their own special flavor, The ladies greeted me with much was awesome! It really was!

The only downer for me in Miami was that I either lost my phone or it was stolen (I can't really say for sure WHAT happened) but it was a brand new Razr and I LOVED THAT FRIGGIN' PHONE!!!!! but more on my phone later....anyway, we left Miami, immediately after the last interview and we all packed our things and headed to the airport. Once again, (As I did for MFC 2005) I have GROSSLY overpacked....I have these two HUGE bags with me but in spite of it all....the very thought of even remotely traveling with a celebrity is very exciting for me and I am like a kid waiting for Santa to arrive!!!

Well we arrive in Baltimore, after Midnight and the entire entourage is exhausted. We collect our things from baggage and pick up our cars to head to our hotel. We are staying at the same hotel that the Baltimore casting is being held in....The Best Westin at The Baltimore Travel plaza (The sight of the Travel Plaza dregdges up all sort of memories for me that I won't go into at this We all get checked in and everyone heads sleepily towards their rooms. We have a site check in the check out the layout of the rooms and to see how the interviews should go. Everyone is up at 10am and in the ballrooms to check the site and layout how the day is supposed to flow. Everyone is excited because Mo'Nique is a Baltimore native and the city is abuzz with the news of their homegirl coming home to visit. We have the remainder of the day off and I decide to have dinner with Toshia & Sherri, two of the producers on the show. Toshia and Sherri are funny and I love hanging with them....Toshia is a little bundle of energy and Sherri cracks me up with the expressions that she makes to some of Toshia's comments. Anyway, we wind up eating at the harbor at a place call Mo's, the food is pretty good but if I see another crabcake I will scream!!!! After we leave the restaurant we head back to the hotel and turn in for the night. I notice when we return the hotel is just buzzing with energy...apparently Mo' was on the radio earlier and announced where the casting was being held....which resulted in the hotel selling out all of their rooms....sista's were rolling up on buses and cars with luggage in tow! It was truly a beautiful sight to see...

Well, if I thought the turnout for Miami was you had to SEE them in Baltimore!!! I swear that it looked like ALL of Baltimore and the DC area showed up to welcome home their favorite daughter! I saw a WHOLE LOT of familiar faces from Baltimore and Washington I KNEW the girls were going to "cut up" in their interviews and trust me....They didn't disappoint. On the first day of casting Mo'Nique entered the ballroom to speak to the crowd and the place went nuts!!!! She spoke movingly to the crowed with tears streaming down her face...and proclaimed that we were going to take over the world!!!! After listening to some of the most heartbreaking stories watch her in action and see how she is giving folks's a learning experience I could never pay for. I feel blessed to have even be chosen to take a part in what is going to be a phenomenal movement...Trust me.

Baltimore's finest came out and made it very hard for us to narrow down the call backs for the next day....finally the remaining finalists going on to the interview round with me and Mo' their bracelets and went home to prepare to meet Mo'.

It's a funny thing to watch people....Because I am usually there when the ladies arrive and I have coffee and chat with them....I watch folks talk a whole bunch of stuff about what they are going to say and do when it's there turn....and then I watch them get in front of her and be rendered unable to speak. It's very cute.

Anyway...we have wrapped up Baltimore and it's on to Seattle, Washington.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Mo'Nique's Fat Chance 2006 takes Miami by storm!!!

I arrived in Miami last Saturday evening and met the rest of the production staff as well as Mo'Nique at the Marriot Biscayne Bay. This hotel sits at the mouth of Biscayne Bay and the view from my room was absolutely breathtaking. I dropped my bags in my room, freshened up and quickly headed back down to the lobby to meet everyone as we headed off to see Mo' do standup at The Comedy Store that evening. She was absolutely hilarious....just revelling in her F.A.T.-ness. She is very gracious and after the show she quickly headed to the lobby to autograph T-Shirts and say hello to her fans. A lot of people recognized me and only had the most wonderful things to say to me. It's a wonderful feeling...I swear. Sunday morning was the first stop of the five cities we are covering on the road to finding 10 finalists for Mo'Nique's Fat Chance 2006. The women started lining up as early as 6am and by noon they were about 700 strong. These women came from all over and they were of every different shape, size, color and nationality. It was truly an honor to be in the room with such overwhelming beauty. And the best thing about it was the fact that these women all came in love, bonded together and encouraged one another. If there was any hating going on that day, it was very well hidden. We narrowed down our choices to the folks we thought Mo' would be impressed with. The next morning, we (Mo' & Myself) interviewed the remaining ladies from the day before.
Without revealing anything about the actual casting, I must say that it is fascinating to watch her (Mo) at work. Everytime she opens her mouth, someone begins to's a beautiful thing to see. By the time we finished interviewing everyone, we had just enough time to make it to the airport, check in and board a plane for Baltimore, Maryland....the next stop on the MFC tour.

More to come....I promise.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Flavor of Love - Pumpkin Vs Miss New York

I meant to blog this a long time ago....Just when I thought Flav using the term "Habitational Park" to describe the San Diego Zoo was about as low as you could go...someone will show you that you can ALWAYS sink lower....was anyone else horrified at that last episode of Flavor of Love where at eliminations, Pumpkin decided that she would close out the show by spitting on Miss New York????? I sat there with my mouth open!!!! Spitting in someone's face is THE ULTIMATE INSULT!!!!! You will get cut for that shit in New York!!! For Real!!!

I cannot believe this chick was stupid enough to do that in the first place but ON TELEVISION???? I think this may have been the first time since I started watching the show that I actually felt sorry for Miss New York and I really wanted her to just lose it and beat Pumpkin into a friggin coma. You could tell she was frustrated because she couldn't unload on her like she truly wanted to.....ya'll know...

When a sista takes off her shoes.....Baby IT'S ON!!!! All Miss New York was missing was the vaseline and you know she was looking for

I gotta say I was a little disappointed with Hoopz for saying that Miss New York deserved that...I wonder how she would have felt if she was on the receiving end of that spit. NO ONE deserves that. No one.

Now You just gotta KNOW that Sistas across the country will be spitting on Pumpkin wherever she goes...just on GP.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Rip The Runway 2006

Tonight was a GREAT night to be a FAT (As in Fabulous And Thick Ya'll) Girl!!!! As a matter of's a great TIME to be a FAT Girl!!! Tonight was the BET taping of "Rip The Runway" a fashion show with live music and hip hop mixed in. The taping was held at The Roseland Ballroom in New York City. It was hosted by LL COOL J and Gabrielle Union. The evening was AWESOME for me and a very big step for me and a whole lot of my home girls. The Show was a mixture of fashion from a Menswear Collection by Steve Harvey (with a live performance by Three 6 Mafia) and Swimwear by Roger Gary (with a live performance with Busta Rhymes) but baby the ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW was the First EVER Plus Sized Segment on BET with live music provided by Anthony Hamilton, singing his song "Sista Big Bones"...There were three designers in the segment; Courtney Washington, Monif C. & Qrystal Designs...each designer had distinctly different designs with different types of women in their minds. There were about 30 different models of all shapes, sizes, heights & colors. Tocarra kicked off the segment and it was ON after that!! The result was a vibrant rainbow of my beautiful plus size sisters strutting their stuff like beautiful proud peacocks. The crowd went crazy from the moment we hit the could FEEL the energy in the room change when we took the stage. I am SO very proud of my sisters tonight...Tonight we made history ya'll!!!

A special shout out to my sister/friend TJ...thank you so much for the BET STYLE interview...I won't forget it mama.

Tonight Busta Rhymes finished his sound check and walked off stage and as I was passing, he looked dead at me, walked over and said "hey you doin?" to which I replied "hey YOU doing?" because I am sure that I have never met him before in my life (lol) he responds by wrapping his arms around me and giving me this big ass bear hug! He is stroking my back and getting rather comfortable when I whispered in his ear "You don't have a clue as to who I am do you?" and he whispers back "It's okay though, I'm feeling you" he holds on a few seconds longer then says goodbye...leaving me utterly befuddled.

Weird huh?

I also saw an extremely low key Terrell Owens. I also met Melyssa Ford who was very nice and quite beautiful.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Showtime at the Apollo

Shalon and I went to a taping of "Showtime at the Apollo" tonight. Mo'Nique was hosting and her brother Steve met us at the backstage door. He took us up to see Mo'Nique and she and her staff greeted me with much love. We sat right down in front and during the mid point of the show she called me up on stage and introduced me to everyone. She told them that I am proof positive that winning is not everything. It was a great show and a very cool night and I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO looking forward to heading to Miami for the first round of castings this weekend.

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

My Manager Shalon and my best friend Gwen “Diva” DeVoe threw an intimate birthday dinner for me and 15 of my closest friends & family on Saturday, February 18th. I usually will throw my "Annual Birthday Event" but because my schedule has been so up in the air, I decided to postpone it until after MFC 2006 wraps taping. In attendance were a virtual “who’s who” of movers, shakers and supporters of the plus sized industry, among them were Mia Davis (current face of Ashley Stewart stores), Eda Francois (The New Visual Merchandising Manager of The Gap Inc.) and her partner Becky (DJ Extraordinare), Tocarra (of America’s Next Top Model & Celebrity Fit Club 2), Tonya Giddens (Spokesperson for The Just My Size Perfect Fit Bra Tour), Gwen DeVoe (CEO of DeVoe Signature Events), Shalon Scott (My Manager & CEO of Scott Management) and her partner Kimma, Muzette Charles (My home girl since the age of 14 and financial adviser) and her girlfriend Lil, Julia Tirado-Mason (My sister-friend and entrepreneur), My mom, dad & my sister, Karen. My girl Sheka (Miss Full Figured and Fabulous) was in attendance but left early because of complications from a missing tooth filling. Dinner was held at Earl Monroe’s restaurant which is located in Riverbank State Park. The restaurant is absolutely beautiful and the view is magnificent!!! I will definitely be going back when the weather is warmer. We had drinks at the bar and then when we had all arrived we were seated for dinner. Although the setup was a little weird (We were scattered among 3 different tables) it was an enjoyable evening nonetheless. People were moving from table to table laughing, talking and taking pictures while we waited for someone to take our food orders. After nearly an hour (I kid you not) the waitress finally got our orders. I will not turn this into a food critique but I will say that I will try the restaurant again….and hopefully by summer they will have “worked out the kinks”. Despite the questionable service (we only had one waitress for the 15 of us and our waitress was clearly overwhelmed) and the so-so food, I had a wonderful time sharing memories of where we have been in the past, what we are doing now and where our futures lay. I am so very proud of all of my friends, everyone seems to be blossoming now and it is a beautiful sight to behold.

It was a wonderful birthday. Thanks ya’ll!!!