Saturday, 31 May 2008

Black Brits make Hollywood Breakthrough


This weekend 13 of the hottest Black and Asian talent within the British film industry will fly to LA to meet some of the most influential players in Hollywood to discuss how to break the international market. Dubbed the Breakthrough Brits, the group consists of the likes of playwright, Kwame Kwei-Armah, writer/director Noel Clarke of Kidulthood fame, and producer Ester Douglas. The trip to LA has been scheduled to take place during the 9th Hollywood Black Film Festival (3-8 June) in Beverley Hills, California which attracts some of Hollywood's most prominent acquisitions and development executives, agents, producers and directors. To commemorate the event a special photo-shoot was commissioned by the Film Council, and shot by acclaimed photographer, Donald Macellan, who recently had a series of portraits of black British actors on display at the V&A.

Back to UK Blak pt 4 - Soul II Soul





Congratulations to Jazzie B for winning an Inspiration Award at the recent Ivor Novello Awards. It's only fitting that I dedicate the next installment of Back to UK Blak to one of my favourite groups, like ever. 'Back to Life' and 'Keep on Moving' still remain the group's most popular hits, but for me it was always about this track. 'Fairplay' featuring the cool and classy Rose Windross on lead vocals, conjures the feel-good spirit of the soul clubs during the 80's (not that I'd know about it, my mum rarely let me out). Check out the flamboyant styling, and unabashed creative expression. This was the first time we were exposed to Soul II Soul's style ethos which comprised of medallions with African flag pendants, funky dreads and bold, vibrant head wraps. The group's main influences were from Africa, the Caribbean and America - the three strongest influences for Black British youths of my generation. If my memory serves me correctly the video was shot at one of the legendary Soul II Soul nights at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden. I remember as a youngster really wanting to go, but the closest I got was visiting their library with my best mate Antonia during the daytime *frown*.

Side-note: I've also posted another video from the group, "Missing You" feat Kym Mazelle. I totally forgot about this track, what a choon!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

One day I saw a Black Prince


My little Khy Khy turns three in just over an hour. This time three years ago I was sitting on my couch, playing with one of those scooby doo thingy that that teens are quite fond of, while ignoring the intense stomach cramps that were slowly gaining momentum, signalling the imminent arrival of my son. My memory isn't the greatest, but I can still remember the day I went into labour vividly...

Being surrounded by a houseful of guests whose mere presence was irritating me so much that I drove up to the maternity ward just to get away from the noise. Then subsequently being shown the door by the 'midwife from hell' because I wasn't in established labour. Trying to sleep as a bolt of pain struck every twenty minutes. Finally waking up at 7am and driving back to the hospital with Rich and my parents in tow. Being lulled into a sense of security as I foolishly thought 'This labour stuff ain't bad after all", boy was I wrong, soooo very wrong. Hanging on to the gas and air mask for dear life as it finally dawned on me that this labour thing is just as bad as they say it is. My mind slowly drifting away into an out of body existence to deal with the pain. Me feeling as if I'm floating away as the voices became a jumble of incomprehensible words and sounds. The humour and beauty of the midwife who was assigned to me and genuinely seemed to care. The look of horror and hopelessness on my mum's face who was obviously less equipped to deal with her daughter being in pain, than she thought she would be. Rich incessantly saying to me "Just breathe like what we learned in the ante-natal class" - no I didn't wallop him, bless. The joy I felt when the midwife announced that I was 10 centimetres dilated. When the time time arrived for me to push. How this was by far the most painful part of this labour malarky. How it seemed to go on forever although my midwife said it would only last for 30 mins. Trying to jump off the hospital bed and being pushed back down by midwife, Rich, mum and sis-in-law. Everyone cheering me on as if I was a marathon runner. How they all screamed in unison after my final push although I didn't actually believe my baby had arrived. Finally seeing my baby with my own very eyes and feeling as if this is the most surreal experience in my entire life. Realising it was a boy when he peed on the poor midwife who had just spent the best part of eight hours delivering him. Holding him for the very first time and both of us looking into each other's eyes as if trying to figure one another out. Being left in the stirrups as my birth squad seemed to have forgotten about me as they cooed with my new baby. Suddenly feeling very tired and short of breath. Being rushed out of the delivery suite straight upstairs to the maternity ward when I could barely sit up (this is the NHS after all, they need the beds). Saying goodbye to all my family, Rich included, as it was after visiting hours. Curling up with my baby and being afraid I might fall asleep and he might roll off the bed. Putting him down in his cot and watching television. Falling asleep and waking up every couple of hours to check that he's okay. Finally falling asleep and being awoken by his first cry at 6am.

Despite the trauma of labour this still remains the happiest day of my life. And three years later the drama and happiness continues. Happy birthday my little prince, mama loves you.

Tyra as Stepford Wife



I've yet to read the article, but whoa, this pic of Tyra is fab. I' m loving the whole part Morticia/ part 60's housewife/part fashionista, get up. In the article the ex-model turned talk show queen purports to be a dynamic combination of Oprah, Martha Stewart and Tyra. The full article will appear in the New York Times magazine this Sunday. 

Fanatical Feminism


Pic: Rebecca Walker

Rebecca Walker, daughter of revered feminist writer, Alice Walker has written a highly emotive piece in Femail about the estranged relationship she now has with her mother, since becoming a mother herself. Apparently Walker views motherhood as a hindrance and the worst thing that could happen to a women. Rebecca, who obviously would have felt the ramifications of this belief, candidly speaks out about having a mother who treated her like a contemporary and was more concerned about her feminist work than the emotional investment required to raise a child. This is a fantastically written piece, that will really make you question the tenets of feminism, or at least that of the hard-line variety anyway. Read the full article here.  

It's good girls...


So very good...Just returned from the cinema. Too tired and emotional to blog now so to be continued...

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

When your blog turns around and bites you


I came across the really interesting article in today's Independent about an ex-Gawker publication blogger, Emily Gould, who received a bitter dose of her own medicine when the finger of scrutiny and derision that she leveled at celebrities during her blog posts, reversed inwardly as she rose through the ranks to emerge as a pseudo-celeb herself. The piece offered some really interesting insights into the psyche of us bloggers, suggesting that bloggers blog out of a deep seated desire for validation from peers and society alike. Mmm interesting point. Read the piece for yourself.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Colures is Back


The new issue of Colures is on the news stands. I'm not going to lie - I absolutely adore this mag. The images are breathtaking, the design is minamilist and chic. It's just a classy and aspirational affair, the kind of mag that instantly adds a touch of class to your coffee table. My only gripe is it's so hard to get hold of. It's not readily available in Smiths, or Borders...In the past I've been able to pick up a copy at the newsagents not too far away from me but that's the only place I've spottted it. Mini gripe aside, check out the latest issue www.coluresmagazine.com

BET on Black Brit Beauty


Jamelia strikes a pose

It seems as if the programmers at BET have finally got their act together. When the channel launched in the UK a few months ago it was criticised strongly for churning out old programmes which were aired in the US months ago. Now UK audiences are pretty clued up on what is happening across the pond, so they couldn't pull the wool over our eyes. So taking the criticism on board last night they aired an half hour profille on Estelle's US escapades, and tonight at 8.30pm you can check out 'Beauty Blackout' a programme which takes a look at mainstream attitudes to black beauty. The show will be hosted by Britsh journalist, Sharon Carpenter and feature interviews with the likes of Jamelia, Alesha Dixon, and Rachel Ritfield, so the programme makers have obviously done their home work...Should be a good one. Check it out if you can.

Beauty Blackout, BET, Sky Channel 209

Correction: The show airs from 8pm - 9pm

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Young and Free, Only 17



So guess who decides to go clubbing last Friday? It was Richard's fault entirely. He was taking pictures down at Rampage's reunion dance at the Inc club in the 02 Arena and thought it might be a neat idea to drag me along as well. For those who aren't familiar with Rampage, they were (are) a really popular bunch of DJ's, who basically provided the soundtrack to the lives of many young Black Londoner's during the mid 90's. Back in the day you could guarantee that a Rampage dance would be a road block affair. It's the kind of event that would cause you to pull out all the stops with regards to your personal grooming. Hair, clothes and make-up had to be on point because you were bound to bump into your work mates, college friends and ex-boyfriends. Like all good things that must come to an end though, Rampage parties were no different. In amongst trying to hold down careers and starting and raising families, I guess we all kind of grew up and clubbing moved way down on the list of priorities for most of us.


But by some stroke of genius here we all are again 10 years or so later, trying to re-live that magic. Who knew that everything aspect of the 90's rave scene would be delivered with such authenticity? At 2am I'm still trying to decipher why 200 plus people are standing outside the venue queuing up to get in. I loathed queuing for clubs in the peak of my raving years, so you can imagine how hard it is to resist the urge to say to Rich "Let's just knock it on the head." Plus my feet are killing me. I'm wearing a pair of strappy gold sandals, shoes that I haven't worn for about a year, and the unfamiliarity is becoming more and more apparent. I'm shuffling from foot to foot and trying to remain a good sport. We're standing in the guest list queue and the doorman assures us that we'll be let inside within 10 minutes. But he's lying. And did I mention that my feet are burning me? Then to make matters worse, a Black Joe 90 look-alike enters the equation. Lanky, loud and wearing oversized spectacles, he plants himself right behind me and Rich, his opening statement instantly grating me - "Women run the world they do". He keeps repeating this nonsense in a voice that is so shrill, annoying and hysterical sounding that I just wanna chin him. He just doesn't stop talking. Then deciding that his audience of 6 wasn't sufficient enough, he tries to talk to me (BLANK). Not one to give up easily, he diverts his attention to Rich, figuring that he'll get in there by talking about that universal topic of interest to men - phones. But again - BLANK. The model chick and her two mates in front of us - BLANK.

I try my best to block him out. Right now all I care about is getting inside, having a glass of Bailey's and listening to a few good tunes. Finally the moment arives. We're frisked down, and ushered into to the club. Typically, the club is half empty and a hundred or more people are still waiting outside. Ah well never mind. I have to sit down for 15 mins for my feet to recover. Rich buys me the Bailey's I've been longing for and heads off in among the crowd to start taking pictures. It then dawns on me that without my female friends I might be in for quite a lonely night. Just as I'm thinking that, Rich spots our friend Lorraine. She's here with another one of our friends, Ursula, and I rejoice at some much needed female company - yeah, the party is on. Minutes later we're in among a sea of faces, swaying, dancing and reminiscing to old soul classics. "Forever My Lady" (reminds me of a guy I was seeing who showed me the door because I was taking too long to give up the goods). Brandy's "Best Friend" (takes me back to my University days , sitting in the canteen having a laugh with Buki, Denise, Raj and Aeesha). "Stroke You Up" (brings back memories of R-Kelly being a cool, up and coming artist taking the R&B world by storm - what happened dude?) It was that kind of night... a night of enjoyment and reflection. My young adulthood captured sonically in a four hour segment. By the time the music changed to Jungle to House then to Garage, me and the girls had found three prime spots on top of the speaker boxes and just decided to chill. I refused to acknowledge my tiredness. It was only when the ragga (or bashment as it's now known) came on, and I couldn't even lift a leg that I knew it was time to hit the road.


Reluctantly we leave the club, when we arrive outside the 02 Arena at 6am I'm surprised to see a world in motion. Birds are soaring energetically, businessmen are boarding their trains, and store vendors have opened up shop. This is another part of clubbing that I recollect vividly - the feeling of embarrassment when you re-enter the real world with dishevelled stinky clothes, smudged make-up, and sweated out hair, set against the rest of the population who are up and about looking well-presented and clean. To quote an old school saying, "Shame guy".

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Naomi: on location in Kenya

When she's not slapping and boxing down people, you tend to forget that Naomi Campbell is a top class model . I remember seeing her up close and personal at last year's Kulture 2 Couture event and thinking 'wow', she's a real stunner. Streatham's finest is featured in the June issue of I-D magazine. The pics were shot on location at at her friend, Flavio Briatore's resort in Malindi, Kenya. Admittedly they are bit risque, but fab nonetheless.









Doing it for the kids


Some of the attendees from the 'Black Role Models' seminar

I just want to take the time out to big up my mate Leila Thomas, who for the last year has been busy creating a mentor resource pool for black professionals who want to do their bit for the community. Urban Synergy was formed by Leila who fed up of reading about yet another black teen stabing or shooting, decided to rally her friends and family members together to create a scheme designed to match black professionals with young people.

Since Urban Synergy was launched in 2007 it has gone from strength to strength. Last week the organisation worked in conjuction with a group of boys from Deptford Green School to create a seminar entitled 'Top Tips To Reach The Top' where the youngsters were granted the opportunity to talk to black professionals in the career fields they wish to enter. Read the full story here in The Mercury newspaper. And if you are interested in learning more about Urban Synergy visit http://www.urbansynergyuk.com/

Real Life Daddy Daycare



I'm looking for stay at home dads for a feature I am writing for Pride. See the brief below and get in touch if you fit the bill, or know of anyone who does.

Thanks

Keysha

In honour of Father's Day, Pride magazine is planning a real life story about men who are currently living the day to day existence of a stay at home dad. I would like to interview 3 men who gave up their careers to stay at home and raise their children. Maybe your partner earns a higher salary so you both felt it was financially viable for you to give up your job. Or maybe you were tired of working 9 to 5 and found fatherhood the perfect opportunity to severe ties with the rat race to embark on something more fulfilling. Whatever your story, I'd love to hear from you. Please email me at keysha@pridemagazine.com

Back to UK Blak pt 3 - Glen Goldsmith



Oh my gosh, I laughed soooooo loud when I found this clip on You Tube. I really didn't think any other living soul would remember Glen Goldsmith apart from me. For those who don't know, Glen Goldsmith was a Black British soul artist who scored a hit with a song called 'Dreaming' during the mid-late 80's. The song was a nice enough two step soul ditty, but my young adolescent self was more preoccupied with the way he looked. Back in the day he's what we would refer to as a sweet boy. I've got a bit of a Glen Goldsmith story actually, don't worry, it's innocent enough. While doing the promotional rounds for his hit single he came down to my local Our Price (which was a rival to HMV for those not old enough to remember) in Lewisham and you know I just had to be there. So me and my bessie mate Antonia arrived at the store in what we thought was good time, but was surprised to see hordes of equally enthusiastic young women queueing to get a moment with their idol. Nonetheless we joined the queue, and I remember spotting a few friends from school and having a catch up. And then it happened....I finally got the chance to met him. He was handsome, no doubt, but I was mortified to discover he was tiny... We're talking Prince tiny. Probably no taller than me and I'm 5ft 3 and a lil' bit. So alas, my GG fixation slowly started to wane. Also, now looking back at this clip as a "sophisticated adult, I'm surprised to see how camp he looks. The leather jacket, leather gloves, eyeliner, incessant vogue-ing, were all a bit lost member of the Village People. But was he genuinely camp or were all men like this in the 80's? Hmph, the verdict is still out on that one. I've Wilkepedia'd my childhood crush and and apparently he hasn't migrated to 'One Hit Wonder Heaven' but has been busy writing songs for other artists, and was the author behind the mega hit 'Mysterious Girl' by Peter Andre. Not bad eh? Check out the video and tell me what you think.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Summer Blues

I woke up in such a bad mood today. It all stemmed from my rudely interrupted night, and I don't mean of the sexual kind... far from it. Khy woke up at the crack of dawn with a stuffy nose, and I discovered that Rich had fallen asleep on the sofa yet again, leaving all the lights on. Left with the task of sorting everyone out, I dragged Rich to bed and rubbed Khy's chest down with some Vicks. I couldn't even bring myself to look at the clock (a tip I read in this month's Psychologies, apparently clock watching at night leads to anxiety) and eventually dozed off again. My alarm clock shrilled at 6.05am, and despite me slapping my snooze button profusely it refused to be ignored. I eventually stumbled out of bed daydreaming about the winning Lotto numbers, and tried to think of imaginative ways to get out of getting out of work but to no avail. As I approached my car I felt a tiny drizzle of rain and remembered that I never did get round to replacing that umbrella - never a good move for a black girl with natural hair. Driving Khy to nursery was equally frustrating. I swear every traffic light decided to turn red as soon as I approached, and at least two lorries decided to do a three point turn right in front of my humble and unassuming Ford KA2. But despite the delays, I managed to drop Khy off and still caught my train in time -yeah

Work wasn't too bad though surprisingly. It's a nightmare at the best of times, and usually amplified when I'm in a foul mood. But today thankfully there were no calls from emotionally fragile poets trying to recite their work to me over the phone (true story), or pushy mums calling to pitch a non-story about their beauty queen daughter passing her GCSE's. At lunchtime my grey mood was to make an unwelcome return though. I had to go to the bank, so was left with no choice but to have fast food for lunch, cue: CrapDonalds. Whilst nattering to my friend on my moby, I went to pay for my chicken deli sandwich and realised I had no money - shame. "We take cards now ma'am", the unusually chirpy cashier informed me much to my delight. So happily I inserted my card, juggling the transaction along with my phone convo with my mate which had now moved on to the merits of living in Catford, and whether or not moving to Penge would be a savvy move in view of it's chavvy reputation. Unbeknown to me though in the midst of my chat I had left my bloody debit card in the Mickey D's card reader - doh! Moral of the story: if you get out of bed on the wrong side, make sure you lie back down, roll over, and fall out on the right side.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Swooning in London City



So the Sex & The City premiere went down in Leicester Square yesterday, and where was I? Stuck at home, minding my pesky toddler, while watching BBC2's Teen Mum High. Oh the life of the fabulous! I tried in vain to get tickets to the glitzy screening, but my attempts fell flat. But then again after seeing this morning’s pap shots, I don’t feel as if I’ve really missed out on too much. Talk about land of the living Z Listers. I mean, Alex Curran?? Not to take anything away from the fab four though - they looked delectable. SJP decided to keep it British by opting for a stunning lime green dress by Alexander McQueen, topped off by a quirky headdress by Philip Treacy. There’s been a lot of mocking in the press with regards to the spectacular head creation, but I loved it. I thought it was very fitting of the quirky dress sense of Carrie, and gave real SATC fans a taste of what to look forward to in the film. Cynthia Nixon looked amazing in her elegant black gown with daring neckline, and Kim Catrall stayed true to her sassy onscreen alter ego in her figure hugging Viviene Westwood red number. The verdict is still out on Kristen Davis's vintage gown - yeah or nay?

But most importantly, word on the street is the film lives up to it's hype. Roll on May 28th...

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Cocoa Chat: Yaya Dacosta




Anyone who is a fan of America's Next Top Model will remember the sassy, outspoken, Afrocentric aspiring model/actress, Yaya Dacosta. I remember among my friends our opinions were equally split on whether we championed the Harlem born beauty. On the one hand many found her unbending confidence, and desire for perfection quite inspiring. While the naysayers considered her to be arrogant, manipulative and self-righteous. Well whatever your thoughts are, there's no denying that of all the ANTM protegees, Yaya is so far the most successful. She has already had a major role starring opposite Antonio Banderas in the dance film Take the Lead. And this month sees the release of the John Sayles directed, Honeydripper, an African American ensemble film starring Danny Glover, in which Yaya also has a significant role. I caught up with Yaya recently during her promotional rounds for the film. I defintely found her to be assertive: this is a girl who knows exactly what she wants from life. But I also found her to be talkative, polite in an old-school sense, and really frank. She spoke quite candidly about her experience on America's Next Top Model. I have to hand it to her, becasue not many up and coming entertainers would be brave enough to take on the whole Tyra machine. But she really shed some light on what goes on once the cameras stop rolling. Read here for the full interview:
Ms Quiche: So tell us about Honeydripper?

Yaya: Honeydripper is a real beautiful story that takes place in the 1950’s. One thing that I think that people will come away with is is that this film is different. And I just mean it stands out from all the other films that John Sayles has done because of the political undertones which is just a natural consequence of the time, the place and the people. It’s really just about people’s lives and I think it’s something that everyone can relate too, or maybe not everyone, but I know so many people around the world who really for example love blues music and it’s interesting to pay attention to that moment.

MsQuiche: You star alongside Danny Glover and Lisa Gay Hamilton, two highly accomplished actors. Were you intimidated going into a film with such an experienced cast, or quietly confident?

Yaya: I think that being relaxed and, or confident would be very dangerous. A slight a sense of nervousness or anticipation or pressure, or some kind of tension is necessary in order to do the work well. I’ve been lucky in the sense that I’ve been able to work with people that were not only talented but really nice and really cool. Lisa Gay Hamilton gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard in my life. Charles Dutton is an amazing storyteller and had us all laughing all the time, and Danny Glover is such an inspiration.

MsQuiche: So how did you get to hear about the role of China Doll who you play in the film?

Yaya: Well with acting scripts they don’t get sent to you, you go and seek them out. If your agent sees that an audition is happening that week, if there’s a role that you could be right for, they’ll try to set up an appointment for you. I mean there’s no difference between the way I’m doing it and the way the majority of actors are doing it. Scripts get sent to you when you’re well established like Johnny Depp and Meryl Strepp or you know, Halle Berry. But I’m at the beginning of my career.

MsQuiche: You first came to our attention in America’s Next Top Model. The show kind of hinted that you had other interests, but when did you get into acting?

Yaya: You know, "hinting" would be giving too much credit to the Editors. There was no mention at all of the fact that I was an actor. The evidence was in the storyline: they put me in as a dancer with an attitude, and that’s everything that you got. These shows are written as everyone has their boxes. Eut I’d just graduated from school and just kind of you know did that as a fun thing. But I’ve been studying acting since I was 11.

MsQuiche: So do you look at the America’s Next Top Model experience as a negative?

Yaya: No I don’t. I mean of course there were moments where you look at yourself saying things that you didn’t say because of editing. Or seeing situations manipulated and looking back at your journal at what you wrote that doesn’t coincide with what they were showing the viewers. But because it’s your career, you have to get over that of course. But it was positive. And the most positive thing about it was that I was able to use the attention from that to attract viewers to the projects that I’m really interested in, like HoneyDripper, hadn’t it been for Top Model, we may not be doing this interview.

MsQuiche: So it seems as if acting is your main priority now; do you still have an interest in modelling?

Yaya: I have a hard time being absolute with anything, so it's nice to do both. Everything is last minute in both businesses actually. It’s Wednesday and you’ll get a call from your modelling agency saying that you have a casting at one o’ clock for some editorial work and by the way it pays around $150 dollars, and of course people don’t realise what models go through. You go through a lot before you get to be a Naomi or Giselle. So anyhow at the same time you get a call for a model casting and you get a call from your acting agent for an audition. You kind of have to make a choice.I will choose the acting audition because that’s my main thing, but otherwise if I can make it yeah , if they call me for a job, a catalogue or whatever and I have the time, absolutely.

MsQuiche: Do you still keep in touch with Tyra?

Yaya: I haven’t seen or spoken to her since the last day of filming the show. It was a kind of 'thank you very much for being on our show and goodbye'. Sure there are some people that keep in touch, especially the winners, if they really want to try and manage you and to make you successful to prove that the show really does work. I really don’t know, pretty much what you saw on TV is what I saw.You know it was four years ago and it is on my list of things that I’m proud of. But as far as keeping in touch, I keep in touch with Toccara and Amanda and Dianne.
They are the ones I'll talk to about something that only they would understand because it is a whole other world and it’s really hard to explain to other people. You can’t be honest without sounding ungrateful or confused because no one understands. Occasionally when someone who was on the show with me needs to vent or I need to vent, we will call each other because we know the real deal and everyone else thinks that we are crazy. But no, I haven’t spoken to Tyra at all, she’s obviously doing well and I think the season’s are continuing. I don’t know. I don’t really watch it but you know people ask me all the time “ what do you think about so and so?” and I’ll be like “I don’t know” (laughs).

MsQuiche: I love the fact that you wear you hear natural, which is quite a rarity in the entertainment industry...

Yaya: You know this is a funny question because people ask me about my hair all the time…

MsQuiche:You have beautiful hair by the way.

Yaya: Oh thanks! But it’s nothing new, you know like for me it’s just great because I’ve seen so many more curly, kinky, nappy whatever you want to call it, heads walking down the street now. I grew up in a time when that was not ok. In my family, you know my mother never had a relaxer in her entire life. My sister and I (have never had a relaxer) it was never an option. It wasn’t me trying to be a revolutionary, you know cutting off my perm trying to make a statement. It had nothing to do with that. That was just how I wore my hair and when I was younger, especially in junior high, I excelled academically but not socially I didn’t because people didn’t like me. I was skinny, I had natural hair and that’s just so uncool and I didn’t have name brand clothes and all those other things. So it became something that obviously was a part of me and I never wanted to change it and it never got to me to the point where I wanted to change it. I just realised that I was different and it was ok because my parents let me know that it was ok to be different. Once I got to high school though, things changed. Friends of mine who had relaxers started to ask me about to get my hair and started to confess that they like it like it was a really a dark secret. So I’ve always felt like an ambassador, I never really wanted to be but I would try to help people out and show love. I just realised how empowering it was and you know these days even strangers come up to me saying 'I cut my hair off and you inspired me' and it’s great and it makes you realise that times are changing. Ultimately I just want my hair to be healthy. So to act as the whole ambassador thing is by default and it’s a blessing and I’m glad that so many people are inspired, I think the more the merrier. That way if more girls feel beautiful as they are then great, but at the same time I’m not judging anybody, so please weave it up! Do what makes you feel good.

MsQuiche: You were born and raised in Harlem. What was it like growing up in such an iconic area?

Yaya: Well you know when I was growing up it was dirty. I mean now it’s changing because of gentrification, but when I was growing up it was not pretty. I was not allowed to go play outside because it was dangerous. There were gun shots all the time, constant boxes on the street with candles and pictures in them of somebody who had been shot. I lived in a dangerous strip of Harlem, maybe not all of Harlem was like that, but where I lived it was not ok. You did go trick or treating. Stuff like meant that there was no room to celebrate the glory that it was back in the day because what it was in the present was so depressing and it wasn’t uplifting. So now I've found a new pride for being from where I an from by going away from it. Which is interesting because it’s something that often happens when you look at certain writers. They have to go away to come back to love it and so that’s what happened with me.
MsQuiche: So how did your parents manage to keep you on the straight and narrow?

Yaya: My parents are amazing people and I’m just lucky to have come through. They have four kids and all of us came out pretty sane. They are a wonderful example and I just hope I can be that good of a parent. You know, even last night, it was late and I try not to take taxis ever but it was late so I was like fine I’ll take a taxi home. So the driver was from the Gambia and my hair was out in loose curls. He was like “Are you Puerto Rican?” and I was like “what?” and then we had this whole conversation about being an African from here. I was like “I’m from Harlem” and he was like “No no, you're not a Harlem girl, Harlem girls come in here and they do this and they do that…” Basically saying that if you were really a Harlem girl you wouldn’t be dressed or acting that way. I came in his cab and said “Hello sir, how are you?” he was surprised. Well that’s very unfortunate. But anyway, how did my parents do it? I don’t know but I love them and I hope that I can do it too.

MsQuiche: Where are your parents from? I read somewhere that one of your parent's is West African, while elsewhere it said you were half South American?

Yaya: I really apologise but I don’t pay a lot attention to the Internet. I don’t have access to it and I forget sometimes how much people spend wasting their time, speculating and inventing things. My sister sees lot of this stuff and she like “Oh my goodness, can you believe some of this stuff?” So she fills me in sometimes. So what I’ve decided is I’m over giving too much information about my personal life. Right now all I care about is that people think I’m good actor.

Honeydripper is out now in the UK

Monday, 5 May 2008

Kelly is Beautylicious






















My favourite honourary British girl, Kelly Rowland, officially opened the St Aubyns Holistic Centre & Training Academy, in Kennington, London on Saturday. The former Destiny's Child band-mate is quite skilled at make-up application, so spent the afternoon giving a bunch of school girls a make over, as well as answering general questions from the audience. This event marked the first of Sherry Dixon's Make-up Workshops, and as you can see, the turnout was pretty impressive.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Back to UK Blak pt 2


When you're a child you really don't know what good music is, do you? When Sade first hit the scene in the early 80's, I was hard pressed to understand what all the media hype was about. Maybe my infantile mind was too restless to sit back and appreciate the whisper like vocals, dinner jazz compositions, and understated coolness of Sade and her cohorts. I dunno... I just didn't get it. Fast forward to 2008 though and I'm a fully fledged Sade devotee. Looking back at the old music videos shows just how ahead of time she was. Sade captured the zeitgeist of 80's Britain, a time when the general population aspired to an upwardly mobile social status, a standard of existence that is still adhered to. Her style was iconic too. With trademark slick ponytail and fire engine red lips, the former St Martin's fashion student always looked as if she'd just strutted off the pages of British Vogue. And what I also love about Sade is that her elegant, cappuccino sipping, thoroughly middle-class imaging, works at total odds with how she conducts life off-stage. This is the woman for instance who had the Jamaican police force, no less, hunting her down for dangerous driving and disobeying an officer - bad gyal! Although her album releases are too few and far in-between, she still remains one of the greatest Black British musical acts this country has produced. 'Your Love is King' is one of the earlier hits from her debut album, 'Diamond Life'. Enjoy!

Liya has breakfast at Tiffany's

Ethiopian supermodel, Liya Kebede is the new face of Tiffany. The-27-year-old mum of two is one of my absolute favourite models around at the moment. Why? Well not only is she astoundingly beautiful, but she works tirelessly to campaign for humanitarian issues of relevance to her people back home. Liya is the current Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organization, which helps to raise awareness for the difficulties that women and children in the developing world encounter. In all honesty I can't say I'm overly enthralled by the ad image. The above version is not too bad, but when I initially came across the ad in last Friday's ES magazine, I had to do a double take because I mistook Liya for Catherine Zeta Jones - she had been photoshopped to oblivion. My feelings are, why bother to hire a black model if you're not prepared to show a true reflection of their skin tone. It's a step in the right direction, but it's also half a step backwards too.

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I am a thirty-something African Caribbean female from South East London. My blog will shine a light on Black British culture offering the best in entertainment, fashion, beauty, community, film & music, with the occasional personal musing thrown in from yours truly. Thank you for taking out the time to peek into the pages of my diary. Now grab a cup of cocoa, relax and enjoy.