Many aspiring actors move to Los Angeles in hopes to find success. Some of them imagine themselves on red carpets, while others envision receiving their own Hollywood Walk Of Fame star. What happens when that illusion breaks and you have no idea what you should do? That’s the question legendary actor Bill Duke answered in his new book  “Bill Duke: 40 Years On Screen and Behind The Camera.”

 

“One of my purposes for writing the book is hopefully that it is helpful for other people coming into the industry. A lot of kids have the passion but don’t understand the business,” said Duke.

 

His business mind was what propelled his career. Known for his roles in popular films such as “Predator,” “Commando,” and currently “Black Lightning,” Duke digs deeper into why he loves being an actor. His family played a large role in providing him motivation. They developed his work ethic since childhood.

 

“They worked relentlessly. My mother had two jobs and my father had three.  Sometimes they worked seven days a week. They didn’t let anything stop them,” Duke said over the phone.  

 

Though his parents gave him courage, it was seeing popular Black actors on-screen that changed his life.

 

“Sidney Poiter was such a profound influence. He wasn’t just an actor, but he stood for things that mattered, “ said Duke.

 

“He stood up for his pride, himself, and his family. That inspired me”

 

Though he was shining on screen, his personal life was dark. He doesn’t hold back speaking about his past drug habits in his book. Some of those habits hindered his career. It wasn’t until a good friend introduced him to transcendental meditation that his life changed.  

 

“A friend of mine saw me tumbling down. My head was not right. She told me about transcendental meditation. At first it was okay. After about a month it changed my life. I was higher than any drug I took at the time,” Duke said.

 

Years later, Duke is drug free and continues to motivate incoming actors about the art of filmmaking. He stresses the importance of finding your own path and not waiting on anyone. The explosion of mainstream media further proves why building your own brand is important according to the actor.

 

“There has been a paradigm shift from television to media. Look at Issa Rae. She had a show online then HBO came after her. Same thing happened to “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” It started online. You can discover yourself.” Duke asserted.

 

Though artists are succeeding in the industry, Duke advises to deny the fame hungry mindset. He explains why enjoying the craft should outweigh any recognition you may receive.

 

“I understand people that want recognition but its all momentary fame. There should be more attention to the business. It’s called show business. Actually, it should be called business-show since business is everything. Times are changing.  You have to leverage yourself into success,” Duke explained.

 

“Bill Duke: 40 Years On Screen and Behind The Camera” is currently available where books are sold.

Category: Cover Stories

Dr. Wanda Austin was appointed as the first African American female interim president at the University of Southern California, a university with nearly 45,000 students and an endowment of over $5 billion.

 

“I'm an alum, I'm a trustee, I really have a passion for USC and that experience is critical to connecting to our values and to be able to share with the very diverse population that we have here, that I understand the needs of all of our stakeholders,” explained Dr. Austin in an interview with the L.A. Watts Times.

 

Austin, who took over for Max C.L. Nikias as USC’s president, graduated with her doctorate in engineering from USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering in 1988. Since 2010, she has served on the USC Board of Trustees. In 2018, she received the USC Presidential Medallion and was asked to take over as interim president of the university in August 2018. Austin is no stranger to leadership roles that require managing high expectations.

 


 

 

The New York City native has an extensive background in aerospace engineering having served on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology until January 2017 where she advised the President on the intersection of science, technology and innovation as it related to forming effective U.S. policy.

 

 

She also served as the first female and first Black CEO of the Aerospace Corporation, an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the application of science and technology toward critical issues affecting the nation’s space program. From eight years, Austin led the organization’s 3600 employees and managed annual revenues of $950 million at 17 offices nationwide.

 

Austin, the second oldest of three girls, first learned of her passion for math and the sciences, when she was in seventh grade. She recalled having her teacher share in front of her entire class how skilled she was, “‘Wanda you're really good at this don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not.’”

 

Austin’s parents were always supportive of her receiving a quality education even if that meant being bussed out of her neighborhood for school. She went on to attend The Bronx High School of Science.

 

“That enabled me then to go off to college,” said Austin. “For an African American girl, in an all-White school that was very empowering and encouraging.” 

 

Austin went on to earn her a B.A. in mathematics from Franklin & Marshall College, an M.S. degrees in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and ultimately her PhD from USC.

 

LAWT: Can you describe that moment, when you were first asked by the board of trustees to fill in as USC's interim president?

 

Dr. Austin: I would tell you that I was honored and delighted that the board had confidence that I could help lead us during this interim period as we do a search for the next president. I am very committed to USC, I believe it is a world-class university and that it is doing phenomenal things not only on campus but also in the community so I was happy to serve in this capacity.

 

LAWT: Amidst such controversy that you're taking over, what has the response been like from your appointment and the reception?

 

Dr. Austin: The reception has been overwhelmingly positive and upbeat. We have gone through a challenging period as many institutions do when you have institutions of this size, but I believe that based on my experience and history and demonstrated track record with respect to leadership that the community is confident that I will focus on the right things.

 

LAWT: You’re no stranger to being the first, do you feel like your position with the Aerospace Corporation prepared you in any way for this position with USC

 

Dr. Austin: I would say that my experience in being the CEO of the Aerospace Corporation, my experience with serving on nonprofit and for-profit board, such as the Chevron and AMGEN board has provided me with outstanding experience from an organizational leadership perspective that will help me as I lead at USC.

 

LAWT: The #MeToo movement has become increasingly prevalent in today’s workforce, as a woman of color in a male-dominated field, what advice would you give to young women striving to attain your success?

 

Dr. Austin: The first piece of advice I would offer is to make sure that you are putting in the work so that you can be your best whatever your field is prepare yourself so that you can

 

Communicate to everyone in your network people in your family about what your vision is for yourself or to alert you to other opportunities to

 

Thirdly, if you feel that you’re running into barriers, work through do a sound check  to say am I seeing this correctly, it’s really important for women to speak up in the sense of making sure people understand what their objectives I think people will knock down

 

LAWT: If you could share a message with the Trojan family about the future of USC, what would that message be?

 

Dr. Austin: That’s a great question. I would talk about my vision for the university going forward, USC's education research and patient care missions are very strong. We have an opportunity to make some improvements in our process that are going to strengthen us I think will be an example to others about how to improve governance in higher education. I believe that we are on a good path. I want to make sure that we create an environment where people can feel confident that they can be the best that they can be and achieve their full potential.

 

In Austin’s short tenure as interim president, she has implemented school-wide policies to help in the prevention of negligence as it relates to medical care and student’s safety. She helped to establish the USC Office of Professionalism and Ethics, which was formed to manage complaints of misconduct across both of the universities’ campuses. The goal of the office is to provide university leaders with the information they need to respond quickly when problems arise. It will also track ongoing investigations to ensure they are completed as quickly as possible and that corrective action is taken to protect the USC community.

 

“We've made significant changes at the student health center, which is professionally overseen by the Keck School of Medicine now which is a significant change,” commented Austin.

 

USC has hired 10 new mental health counselors, several new doctors including more certified female gynecologist, and new experts in sexual assault prevention. Austin emphasized the importance of transitioning the university through better practices from the top down.

 

“There are some key things that we want to focus on going forward,” started Austin. “First is communication, to increase our communication with our internal and external communities and second is to make sure that everyone understands our priority to provide a safe and secure environment; and [finally] to encourage people to if you see something that you think is not right, to say something.”

 

The past eight years under Nikias’ leadership, the university saw the creation of two new schools, the construction of the USC Village and the introduction of several new buildings to the University Park Campus.

 

Though Austin’s time as president has an expiration date, she wants to ensure to leave the university in a progressive state. The board of trustees have approved the formation of a search committee and the hiring of search firm Isaacson, Miller to coordinate the selection of a successor. A second search company, Heidrick & Struggles, will also advise trustees.

 

“Our goal is to complete this search within four to six months,” according to USC board Chairman Rick Caruso. 

Category: Cover Stories

With three decades of marriage under their belt, award-winning entertainers David and Tamela Mann have learned quite a bit about making a relationship work. 

 

Most people know the couple from their frequent appearances as Cora and Mr. Brown in several Tyler Perry productions on stage and TV.  Their talents have also been acknowledged with an NAACP Image Award for David and Grammy, Stellar and BET Awards for Tamela.  

 

But successfully managing marriage, family and careers takes a lot of effort, which the Manns detail in their tour, book and album entitled, “Us Against the World.” Through these mediums, they share insight about love and family as well as tips for married couples to remain in love with each other. 

 

 “The Mann Family Tour” wraps up on Nov. 11, and features the talented duo along with their children performing comedy, songs and skits, all advocating for love and keeping marriages and families together.  

 

The book, set for release on Nov. 13, further promotes that message by tracing the fun, drama and challenges that David and Tamela have encountered and overcome during their union. David said the goal is to strengthen marriages and help couples focus on ways to stay together instead of parting when bumps arise in a relationship.

 

Through the memoir, “Us Against the World: Our Secrets to Love, Marriage and Family,” David said, “We take everybody on a journey of 30 years with the Manns.  We take you on our ups and we take you on our downs. Also, while writing the book, we had to go back and revisit some things, issues, problems and situations we thought we had resolved.”

 

Agreeing with David, Tamela said, “There’s some skeletons that we talk about, but yet being transparent. We want to encourage families to give hope and inspiration that they can stay together and not give up on each other.”

 

David added that the book also includes prayers for different situations and discusses love, laughter, finances and romance or “keeping the fire alive” in relationships as well. The couple also talks about renewing marriage vows along with recounting some of their biggest arguments in their marriage.

 

Blended families is another topic the book touches on as David and Tamela recall a rough spot after meeting the child he was previously unaware of, but had fathered before they were married. “That’s where the book title came from, after getting that knock at the door about my child.  I thought, ‘I’m not going to be able to do this.’”

 

“I wasn’t sure where I fitted in either and I didn’t want to deal with baby-mama drama” said Tamela. “But, he (David) explained that it was us against the world.”

 

“I explained that she was my first priority and it’s us against anything tearing us, the marriage or family structure apart,” David said.

 

As for the album, which drops on Nov. 9, David admitted he was “intimidated about singing with Tamela,” but was quite pleased by the results. “Us Against the World: The Love Project” consists of 10 songs with six duets by the couple.

 

“Ever since being part of Kirk Franklin’s The Family,  fans  have  been asking  us  to do an album together. With our new book coming this fall, we thought that was the perfect time,” said David.

 

“The whole album is an inside look at our love story and the journey we’ve  been on together,”  added Tamela. “So, recording this project has been really special for both of us.”

 

Songs on the album, such as “I Love You O” and “Good Love,” recall memorable moments in the Manns’ relationship.  The couple harmonizes on the title track, “Us Against the World,” and expresses a love letter to each other in “Signs.”

 

The momentum continues for David and Tamela with the release of the holiday film, “Merry Wish-mas,” on Dec. 2.  They executive produce and star in the original romantic comedy, which airs on TV One.   The movie, directed by Terri J. Vaughn,  also features Kim Fields, Twanda Braxton and rapper Yung Joc.

 

Keep up with David and Tamela Mann at tillymannmusic.com, Facebook.com/davidtamelamann and @DavidandTamela.

Category: Cover Stories

Standing on the streets in South Carolina, a young timid boy sold drugs to make ends meet. He witnessed murders, ran from police, and physically fought for survival. He eventually goes on to become one of the most successful radio personalities in the country. Charlamagne Tha God had the external success but was fighting battles internally. He spoke all about his mental health in his new book “Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks On Me.” 

 

Charlamagne, whose real name is Lenard McKelvey, book tour made a stop in Los Angeles at The Grove’s Barnes & Nobles. The event, hosted by E! News correspondent Zuri Hall, highlighted the various mental health topics explained in his book. 

 

Before the event, Charlamagne spoke to the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper about his reasoning behind developing a book on mental health.

 

“I had no idea that it was a mental health issue. I thought anxiety and PTSD were just things that happen.  These were all based out of circumstances I experienced,” said Charlamagne.

 

His personal circumstances spiraled out of control once the panic attacks started. In the book, the radio host describes the physical sensations that drove him to seek help.  The help he needed was something he never considered until his wife persuaded him.

 

“She told me to find a therapist,” said Charlamagne.

 

“We in the black community think going to a therapist is a taboo subject. But why are you working on all other aspects of your health and not your mental health?  Imagine if you had a messy closet. A therapist job is to help you clean out all the junk you’ve accumulated over the years. That’s what has helped me.”

 

“Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me” not only includes Charlamagne personal mental health history but also gives insights to clinical diagnoses. Every chapter includes a clinical analysis behind the stories shared. 

 

“The perspective that I wanted to be immortalized was a black man sharing all my experiences for the past 40 years and another brother, Dr. Ish Major, coming in giving that expert analysis and clinical correlation to my experiences.”

 

After a public firing from his radio job with host Wendy Williams, Charlamagne eventually found his way to a new radio show called The Breakfast Club. Since then, The Breakfast Club accumulates millions of listeners and online views.  As his success grew on social media, so did backlash from listeners.

 

“Social media is creating an unattainable picture of perfection. In social media you only see everybody’s highlight reel. You never see the background. People are afraid to talk like how I’m talking because they fear the backlash.”

 

He briefly stopped before continuing.

 

“If I was a fourteen year old growing up in this era and had to continue to try to be perfect, I would just kill myself as soon as I make a mistake” said Charlamagne.

 

Though the book shares the reality of dealing with anxiety, Charlamagne acknowledges positive ways to deal with daily stress. He says he never reaches for his phone in the morning.

 

 

“Why would I expose myself to such negativity early in the morning?  I read my daily affirmations and positive quotes.  If I’m driving, I’ll listen to nineties R&B or Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations.  I don’t want any negativity to rot my brain,” Charlamagne explained.

 

“Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks On Me” is available online and any retailer bookstores. 

Category: Cover Stories

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