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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Actress Nikki Soohoo puts a new face on the issue of immigration in ANNIE UNDOCUMENTED

by Cyrus Webb

"I love attacking my fears. It empowers you. It's your own mind that is keeping you from accomplishing something. Once you actually accomplish it you feel like you can take over the world." ~ actress Nikki Soohoo 

Neale Donald Walsch said that "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone," and for actress Nikki Soohoo this has proved true again and again in her career.

Many got to know the talented creative from the movies THE LOVELY BONES and BRING IT ON: Fight to the Finish.  No matter where you have seen her, however, her personality always seems to come through both in front of and outside of the camera.

In her newest project ANNIE UNDOCUMENTED that premiered online October 22nd we see Nikki pushing herself once more. It's a web series where she plays Annie, a teenager who discovers she’s not a legal American citizen. While so much has been said about the issue of immigration, Annie's character puts a face to the discussion, making the issue more real for all of us. (The series also stars Connor Well, Brianna Hildebrand, Bridger Zadina and Devyn Smith.)

It is roles like this that Nikki loves. She told me recently that this is one of the things she loves the most about being an actress. "You have a huge audience that is able to see you and get to know you and be a part of your life," she says. "I love being able to talk to my fans, connect with them and help them reach their full potential."

Before acting Nikki was a student of dance. It was in high school that she started acting and saw it as "another avenue of expression."

ANNIE UNDOCUMENTED draws you in from the very beginning, using technology to connect the character Annie with her friends and life, The series' first two episodes also chronicles how difficult it can be for those who live in fear of their secret coming out---and what those who love them are willing to do in order to help.

Once again this goes right in line with what Nikki told me she hopes she's able to do for her fans. "I love being able to inspire people to do something in their lives," she says. "I think anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it, work hard and believe in themselves."

Though she can't personally relate to the situation her character Annie finds herself in, Nikki brings the best of herself to the role, making you feel as though Annie's challenges are your own. Nikki says she gets that drive to do her best from her parents. "They told me growing up it doesn't matter what you do, just do it well. If you love it and put your heart into it you'll never fail."

Created by Daniel Hsia and Elaine Low, ANNIE UNDOCUMENTED is sure to become a conversation piece for individuals of all ages, especially young people who are seeing the debate over immigration play out in front of them--maybe even with someone that they know. (Watch the part one of the series below)



Stay connected with Nikki at www.nikkisoohoo.com, on Twitter at @NikkiSoohoo and on Facebook and Instagram under her name.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Leeza Gibbons: Changing the World by Embracing the Power of Now

by Cyrus Webb

Over the years one of the greatest blessings I have received in my life is receiving the gift of today. It allows me to remember that although yesterday wasn't perfect my life is not over as long as I have breath in my body. Though it poses a great opportunity, what a waste it would be to use it repeating the mistakes and choices that we have already made.

One of the books that I read last year that really brought this point home was TAKE 2 by pop-culture icon Leeza Gibbons. Known for her contagious optimism and skills as a media personality, the book takes you into the makings of the woman she is today and allows the reader to see how where they are right now doesn't have to determine where they go.

It was my pleasure to have a conversation with her not just about the book but her own lessons learned along her incredible journey.

What has been the secret to her success? "I think in life we get exactly what we are willing to put up with," she told me. "If you don't respect yourself, then you can't expect anyone else to honor who you want to be in the world. We teach people how to treat us. You have to value who you are."

To this point she says in Take 2, "Surviving and even thriving through change depends on your ability to search out the good and work with what you have. How well you do that depends on how you view shifts in your life. (p.23)"

This reminds us that anything worth having is going to require some work on our part. "Whether you are trying to recreate your life or invent a new product you have to drop the dread and you have to banish the blame," says Leeza. In the book she refers to it as a form of rebooting. "That's the biggest option we have," she told me. "It comes down to thinking." She gave examples of individuals who were all great at their professions. "The one thing they all have in common is they know how to think. When you change the way you think everything else in your life will adapt."

What Leeza shared reminded me of what she wrote in Take 2 in the chapter Ask Yourself: Are You Worth It? The section was called "Who Do You Think You Are?, and she began it with this profound statement: "How we see ourselves is exactly who we'll become." This has a great deal to do with the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.

"You do have to have a real sense of who you are and a real foundation," Leeza said to me. "You have to run your own race and don't worry about what others are doing." She then shared something that I hadn't thought about before, having a mission statement for your life. "Take some time to really write down what you want and who you are," she urged. "We do it in business, and we should do the same for ourselves." Our mission statement should include how you interact with the world and how you want the world to see you. By doing this Leeza says we will then know who you are and where your lines in the sand are."

It's obvious that someone like Leeza is setting an example for men and women alike when it comes to the course she is on. I asked her what it was like to know that she was an inspiration to others. "I think that when we are of service then we really do feel productive and proud," she answered. It was then that she shared that she went back and forth about writing Take 2 and if she really had something to say that others would be able to glean from. "I finally got to the place where I said how I am received is not my work. My work is to embrace it and put it out there." It is that realization that has not just made the book a reality but put its message out in the world for others to take in.

Writing Take 2 wasn't about saying everything for her was perfect. It was more about showing a path and focusing on a way to a better way of looking at life. "Where we put our intention and attention is where things go," Leeza says. "Where focus goes energy flows." This is important to keep in mind even when we make mistakes. "If you never fail then you're not taking enough risks in your life. All successes are built on failures." Leeza says we cheat ourselves by not starting anything simply because of the fear of failure. For her it is better to try and fail and then build on that failure moving forward.

A great deal of what has helped Leeza in moving forward is the realization that she is not the source of all the answers. In the chapter Let Your Spirit Soar she discusses prayer and it's role in her life. "Anytime I need to feel connection and to recognize that there a greater power at play in my life, I pray. Often I ask for strength and wisdom and to have an open mind to recognize God's messages to me. I think so often we pray for something, but we don't like the response, so we deny it. I pray that I will accept the reply and recognize that no is an answer, too. (p.174)"

"Perspective is a beautiful thing," Leeza said as we wrapped up our time together. "It's about learning to be in gracious acceptance. Real strength comes from knowing your limits.  Be quiet and allow answers to come in." This definitely requires a bit of faith on our part. "We can only know so much," she says. "People who are happy don't see the top of the staircase, but they keep climbing anyway."

As Leeza relays in the book "This is your moment... Don't wait for some far-off time when the alarm will ring and you'll suddenly know to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight." All of us can begin walking towards that spotlight right now. It all begins with the choice to do so.

TAKE 2 is available right now in print,electronic form and as a audiobook on Amazon. You can stay in touch with Leeza at her website www.leezagibbons.com and through social media at www.facebook.com/officialleezagibbons and www.twitter.com/leezagibbons.

Yvonne Pierre: Walking Through Fear By Faith to Recognize Those with Down Syndrome

by Cyrus Webb

Many of us are aware of October being recognized for Breast Cancer Awareness month, but how many know it is also the month for Down Syndrome Awareness as well?

For writer/director/radio personality and mother of two Yvonne Pierre this is something she recognizes not just in October but year round. Her son Zyon has Down Syndrome, and through her own journey she has not just been able to discover more about what's important in life for herself but others as well. Because of this she has created The Rise Awards, an opportunity to spotlight and recognize those with Down Syndrome that are doing amazing things.

"One of the things that I learned early on was to tell my story and things I've overcome," she shared with me recently. "Having a child with Down Syndrome has opened my eyes to wanting more and redefining what life and the meaning of purpose is. Being a mom has made me look at life differently."

As an individual in the public Yvonne has addressed the issue of fear in her professional life and the effects it can have on us all. "It is about realizing that it's much bigger than me," she says. "It's a human thing to fear. For some it stops them, but I focus on the bigger picture. I think the fear bothers me most when I focus on me. I have to focus on the substance of what it is I'm doing."

She sees The Rise Awards as a thank you for the examples that individuals with Down Syndrome are being for all of us. "It's acknowledging and letting the world see them and see their stories. There's a huge misconception of what people with Down Syndrome are able to accomplish. A lot of people told me what my own son couldn't accomplish and what he'll never do. I came across these powerful stories of individuals with Down Syndrome doing great things. We often measure people's intellect based on their ability to read, but not being able to read doesn't define where you can go in life."

Yvonne says that those with Down Syndrome have talents that range from music, art, dance and so much more. "I want to show the different colors of Down Syndrome and not the perception."

This year's Rise Awards will take place Friday, November 7, 2014 at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts & Community Center (3181 Rainbow Dr, Decatur, GA 30034). This year's honorees are Bernadette Resha, Sean Sieleni, Sujeet Desai, Dhahran Hart, Gloria Huerta, Jr., Grace Carter, Haile King Rubie, Meagan Stacey and Olivia Brosseau.

For more information visit www.theriseawards.com.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Soul Train Award Nominee Sebastian Mikael: Living the Dream, Enjoying the Moment

by Cyrus Webb

Whether we realize it or now we all have been given amazing gifts. The challenge for us is to do what it takes to see those gifts nurtured. For recording artist and musician Sebastian Mikael it's not so much about recognizing the gifts he's been given. He is using them to their full potential everyday and the world is responding to his talent in a big way.

Originally from Sweden, Sebastian made the decision that if he was going to be able to take his gift all the way he had to make a change. That change led him to America in 2008 and just 3 years later he released his first mixtape called J'Adore.

With his video single "Beautiful Life", which debuted in September 2011, Sebastian was able to showcase his lyrical ability and the ability to bring people in through words. At the time we were going to press that video had over 150k views on Youtube alone. "My lyrical content is not always about love, but what we go through and feel in life,” he says. “I like to put hope in my music. Stuff that makes you feel good musically and lyrically.”

Fast forward two more years and his single "Last Night" featuring Wale has become one of the biggest singles of 2013, with the Youtube video grabbing over 530k in its first 3 months. (Just this month it was announced that the single was nominated for Soul Train Music Award Best Independent R&B/Soul Performance While he is enjoying it's success, Sebastian is not taking it for granted. "It's incredible to see how people are embracing the single. People are looking for something that's real, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share that with them. I've always been creative (painting,etc), but I think that doing music has always been a passion and something I enjoyed doing."

Now with the support of his label Slip-N-Slide he has taken to the road, sharing not just the music but the message that is his life: Nothing is impossible. "Whatever your passion is you have to do what it takes to pursue it," Sebastian told me. "It's definitely a blessing to be able to do this. All of the ups and downs that come in the industry...this is one of the amazing things about it. There's not a lot of people from Sweden coming here and doing what I'm able to do. Everything is possible. Nothing is impossible."

He's been spotted on BET, MTV, VH1 and Centric as well as visiting radio stations while he is on the road. This, coupled with the tour stops, has allowed individuals around the world to not just see his talent but to get a first-hand look at what it means to appreciate the gift.

Sebastian's message to his fans? "Thank you for the support. This couldn't be possible without you. I also want to tell you that when it comes to your own dreams it's a lot of hard work, and you have to really put in more than what's required. It's going to be worth it in the end. You just have to have faith and put in as much work as you can."

Listen to Sebastian's interview with Conversations LIVE at www.tinyurl.com/sebastianmikaelinterview. To stay abreast of all of Sebastian's upcoming projects visit his website www.sebastianmikael.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sebastianmikael.

(Photo Credit: Faye Nightingale Photography)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Conversations Celebrates This Year's Soul Train Music Awards Nominees

Conversations LIVE radio host Cyrus Webb congratulates all of the nominees for this year's Soul Train Music Awards. "What a great roster of talent that are being spotlighted," he says. "It was great to have some of the nominees actually make a visit to Conversations LIVE over the past year."

Recording artists Shaliek, Tamela Mann, Sebastian Mikael, Erica Campbell and Kelly Price have all appeared as guests on Conversations LIVE over the past year.  Find their conversations with Webb below:

Shaliek


Check Out Music Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with conversationswithmusic on BlogTalkRadio




Tamela Mann


Check Out Entertainment Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Cyrus Webb Presents on BlogTalkRadio




Sebastian Mikael


Check Out Entertainment Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Cyrus Webb Presents on BlogTalkRadio




Erica Campbell


Check Out Motivation Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Inspirational Conversations on BlogTalkRadio




Kelly Price


Check Out Motivation Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Inspirational Conversations on BlogTalkRadio






Hosted by Wendy Williams, this year’s Soul Train Music Awards will take place at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 7 and air on Centric and BET on Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. ET.


















Cyrus Webb Presents... #IfLovingYouIsWrong Cast Conversations

Once again Tyler Perry has brought his creative genius to television, this time with the highly addictive show IF LOVING YOU IS WRONG on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Conversations LIVE host Cyrus Webb is speaking with the cast, sharing their stories and letting you hear directly from them what it's been like to live their dreams.
Below you'll find Webb's conversations with actors Denzel Wells, Octavio Pizano, Eltony Williams and Dawan Owens. Enjoy!




Check Out Motivation Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Inspirational Conversations on BlogTalkRadio




Check Out Entertainment Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Cyrus Webb Presents on BlogTalkRadio




Check Out Motivation Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Inspirational Conversations on BlogTalkRadio




Check Out Motivation Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Inspirational Conversations on BlogTalkRadio





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New V. C. Andrews' novel CHRISTOPHER'S DIARY an homage to fans worldwide

by Cyrus Webb

I, like millions of others, fell under the spell of V. C. Andrews years ago. For me, my first experience with her books began with FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC when I was just 14 years old in the 8th grade. The year was 1990. Though most of her fan base is made up of girls and young women, there were other guys in my school that were fascinated with the stories that V. C. Andrews weaved—mainly because they were unlike anything we had read before. The books were written in the first person and told the stories of young people going through extraordinary circumstances. In order to survive they had to grow up fast if they were to grow up at all. Not all here books were the happy endings we had gotten used to with fairy tales, but it did give you some hope. It was the hope that captivated me and kept me reading.

You see, though I couldn’t relate entirely to the exact situations the characters of V. C. Andrews novels experienced, I knew what it was like to go through challenges, family secrets and the doubt of would I be enough to make in the world that seemed to chew you up and spit you out. I knew what it was like to not feel as though I belonged, having very few that seemed to understand what I was going through or who I was. Through the fictional stories of V. C. Andrews individuals like myself felt a connection. That connection would continue from book to book, even after her death and the books that would continue thanks to ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman.

That brings us to the new book CHRISTOPHER’S DIARY: Secrets of Foxworth. This book is one that I think fans of V. C. Andrews will devour and further see themselves in because it deals with the fantastical world that V. C. Andrews created with Foxworth Hall and its inhabitants—and the mystique that surrounds about what may or may not have happened there.

We are guided through the book by Kristin Masterwood, a distant cousin of the Foxworths who in many ways still lives in the shadow of the family and the mansion, even though it has burned to the ground. Her trip the grounds with her father leads her to the discovery of a book that is written by Christopher Dollanganger Jr., the brother of Cathy, Carrie and Cory. Readers of the Dollanganger series will remember that it was Cathy’s perspective that guided us through much of the books. Now we are able to get her Chris’ perspective and look at the world the way that he saw it. Through Kristin, however, we get so much more. We get to share the experience of what the Dollanganger series has meant for us over the years, and better understand the phenomena that the books have created and why.

You see with Christopher’s diary Kristin is drawn into the world as he lived it—just as we as readers were able to do through the series. Like us, Kristin saw the story impacting her life and her relationships—and she began to wonder if the curse of the Foxworths might have found its way to her after all.

In the 90s the horrendous things that the Dollanganger’s experienced seemed almost unimaginable. For us that had known challenges, though, we have always known that such evil did exist. The news of the day also bears that out as we hear of families that do cruel and unspeakable things in secret. I have always believed that V. C. Andrews was ahead of her time in many ways, making us face the worst of humanity as we look to the good within ourselves and others to survive.
Christopher’s Diary is really a thank you to V. C. Andrews and a recognition of what these books have meant for us. As we see in the conclusion this newest book featuring Kristin, the story doesn’t really end. In many ways it continues through us and those that we share it with, and we are definitely grateful for that.

CHRISTOPHER'S DIARY: SECRETS OF FOXWORTH officially releases Tues. October 28th. Pre-order on Amazon here.