All posts by Najat

I want a love like….

 

I’ve watched this poem “I Want A Love Like” by Shihan over a thousand times.  

We Used To Be On TV

Growing up in the late ’80s and ’90s, there were a good number of Black sitcoms on television. Families and friends that came in various shades, sizes and make up.

From the wholesome families of The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince, to the dorms of A Different World and the hallways of The Steve Harvey Show as a young person I could see images of myself as a kid, pre-teen and a teenager on each of these shows. That sense of validation is priceless.

Then as a young adult I had shows like Living Single and Martin, where friends who now lived on their own dealt with relationships, corporate jobs or the lack thereof and the ups and downs of forging your own path.

Seems like these images are hard to come by now. Are they replaced by catty reality stars? Or have we settled for the watered down Tyler Perry versions of Black sitcoms on Peachtree TV?

Everything is cyclical so maybe we’re just going through the quiet period before the resurgence happens.

Which ones were your favourite shows and why do you think we don’t see those images anymore?

Golden Globes 2014

Let’s be serious, the highlight and main reason why a lot of folks tuned into the Golden Globes is because of these two hilarious ladies.

Tina Fey and Amy PoehlerTina Fey and Amy Poehler are incredible as hosts – their timing, their skits and the fact that they are not afraid to take jabs at the nominees. You can tell the actors like it as they even play along with their jokes; Julia Dreyfus ignoring them and Matt Damon referring to their joke in his presentation. I hope these two always host the show…or at least Tina does.

Amy and Tina

Now, the second reason why we all tune in – the dresses!! Oh and Leo…I tune in to see Leonardo DiCaprio.

Worst Dressed 

Let’s start with Worst Dressed. This year, there were way too many dresses that fit into this category.

Paula PattonPaula, who was the cruel stylist that lied to you and said “Yes, girl! You rocking it!” Fire him/her now! You are too gorgeous to be wrapped up in such a hideous concoction.

Jennifer Lawrence

I love Jennifer Lawrence. She always has the best speeches, her interviews are hilarious and she has a killer smile. But this outfit…I’m sorry. I was disappointed.

Remember that hot red outfit she wore at the Golden Globes a few years back when her mom accidentally hinted that Jen was going to be Katniss in Hunger Games? Gorgeous! This just looks like curtains wrapped around her with black tape.

Kaley Cuoco

Another funny lady that was a complete miss on the red carpet. The silhouette is great but the colouring is off for Kaley Cuoco. Maybe it’s an art piece and I’m just not getting it but for a black tie event, this just fell short of being the glam that is expected for the Globes. Maybe if her hair was up and she had dramatic makeup…maybe.

Zoe Saldana

For all her beauty and elegance, Zoe Saldana’s dress looked like a mess. The dress appeared incomplete, almost as if her two seamstresses quarreled on how to finish the dress and couldn’t decide. Seriously, this has to be a joke right?

Best Dressed

Now they may not have won an award but these ladies were the Best Dressed to me.

Lupita Nyongo

Lupita Nyong’o! Yes Yes Yes! The skin, the lipstick and the DRESS! She flawlessly wore this Ralph Lauren dress with cape and looks so regal and comfortable at the same time. Her beauty is memorable and now this dress will be. 

Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale looks like she was painted into this Zuhair Murad dress. On the red carpet she told Carson that the zipper broke while in the car. Not surprised as that dress looks tighter than cling wrap. Nonetheless she looks great. 

Amy Adams

Two tone is a daring move, especially with reds and as a red head. But Amy did a stellar job with this. With her hair pulled back, she pulls off this Valentino dress impeccably.

Kerry Washington

I’m biased with this one. I adore Kerry Washington/Olivia Pope so she wins automatically for me. And she’s preggers! Looking all kinds of cute and glowy. Too bad Scandal didn’t win an award but this outfit is already a winner to me.

Mila KunisWhether it’s her sultry smile or her smokey eye makeup, Mila delivers in this metallic Gucci dress. The halter style with the busy neck piece throws me off a bit but overall its a great dress and she rocked it.

Were there any dresses you loved or hated? Any outfits you wished would never see the light of day again? 

Yonced

beyonce

Love her or hate her, Beyonce is larger than life. As an entertainer, I’ve always enjoyed her music and don’t hesitate to belt out her tunes in the car/shower/anywhere.

I’m not going to get into the grand nature of Beyonce’s musical career but delve into her recent self-titled album, Beyonce. A 14 track album with 17 videos that was released unannounced with no promotion. Unheard of in this day and age when artists now give you minute by minute details leading up to their single releases, concert dates, marriages, divorces and nail appointments. Ok, I exaggerate a little but in an over exposed social media landscape this is a huge divergence.

beyonce-yonce-

A few nights ago a friend of mine held a Beyonce viewing party at her place. Yes, these parties happen. It involves watching Beyonce videos, dancing, eating sugary food and in our case analyzing the music videos and lyrics.

The group ranged from Bey fans, nonchalant admirers to indifferent listeners but we all agreed on one thing – Bey knows how to put on a show. From her lyrics to her outfits to the dances in the videos, it reminded me of running home after school to see Michael Jackson videos premiere on television. The crazy dance moves, the catchy hooks and being able to talk about it with my friends. Bey is an icon. Can’t deny it. 

beyonce-partition

Yet, the discussions got heated around two topics – her appropriation of ‘feminism’ via the use of Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi’s famous TED Talk ‘We Should All Be Feminists‘ and Jay-Z’s lyrics in the song ‘Drunk In Love’

The song ‘***Flawless’ opens with a few lines from Bey’s song ‘Bow Down B*tches’, then interwoven are snippets from Chimamanda’s speech. For me the disconnect happened when in one instant Bey is telling her female counter parts in the industry to ‘bow down b*tches’, then Chimamanda comes in saying that as women we need to stop raising our daughters to see each other as competitors. Yes, Chimamanda notes that often women compete against each other for the attention of men, and not jobs and accomplishments which we sees would be good.

But for me its the proximity of the word ‘b*tch’ and an empowering message from one of Africa’s most impressive authors. This didn’t sit well with me. Did it stop me from dancing around singing ‘I woke up like this”? No, I got my dance on!

I-woke-up-like-this

Jay-Z’s lyrics in ‘Drunk In Love’ also didn’t sit well with me. I was already bopping to this song by the time he came in. By the way Bey’s little drunken swaying dance in this video is getting imitated at various clubs and school dances from here on out. FYI it might be the next Single Ladies dance.

Anywho, in this song Jay refers to himself as Ike Turner and even uses the line ‘I said eat the cake Anna Mae’, which if you ever watched the biography of Tina Turner, ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’, you’ll recall that was a disturbing scene in the movie where Ike tries to force Tina to eat a piece of cake in a restaurant while shouting at her.

Beyonce-Drunk-in-Love

Tina has openly admitted to Ike being an abuser and having him used as a reference in a song feels off-putting. Call it over analysis but Bey’s music is heard the world over by all ages and to imagine that she once performed Tina’s famous hit ‘Proud Mary’ at VH1’s Divas. It might just be pop music, but there will be tons of kids and even adults just rapping along about Ike Turner without any thought to what it means but it made me stop and think.

This is not in any ways a call to action or me venting on anything. As a person who appreciates pop culture and works in the field of curating public perception whether around a brand or a service, I know that when it comes to Beyonce’s image and music nothing is an accident. This is a well crafted show we’re watching. A very entertaining show. Me and my girls are often singing along to her songs and discussing her career.

Just wanted to bring light to some things that caught my attention and hope we all absorb art critically and not passively.

Controlling The Narrative

“So, what is PR exactly? Isn’t it just like advertising?”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I get asked questions like those when it comes to what I do. Public relations, media relations, communications and/or publicity is not a new thing but the field of influencing public perception has always seemed allusive.

Some call us spin doctors, others see us as social butterflies depending on where they stand. All in all, it hasn’t always been easy describing what PR entails.

scandal

And then came along Olivia Pope. I was late to tune into Scandal. I had girlfriends raving about this show for months when the first season came out. You couldn’t be on Twitter on a Thursday night and not know what Scandal was about.

So, I gave in and watched. More than Kerry Washington’s to-die-for cheekbones and the character Olivia’s killer wardrobe, what won me over was that for the first time I saw crisis communication, media relations and PR being portrayed on television. This wasn’t Samantha from Sex and the City’s flaky version of PR. No, this was grittier.

olivia pope

 In my head, this is how I look at work. 

Hearing Olivia say things such as ‘controlling the narrative’, ‘deliver sound bites’ and ‘own the headlines’ took me to board room planning sessions and white boarding out strategies for my clients. That kind of PR talk is usually just spoken in those board rooms. Clients rarely understand all that jargon, let alone my friends and family who ask “No, really what do you do??”

Not sure if refreshing is the right word, but seeing a leading black female character who gives light to elements of a career I am passionate about has me hooked on this show. As well as Shonda’s cliff hanger endings on each episode (I want to throw my remote each time the credits roll).

Will this change the mind of those who call us spin doctors? Doubt it. Shoot, it might reinforce it. But who cares. Now when folks ask me what I do I ask them, “Have you seen Scandal?”

Female Entrepreneurs

Ree Ree Blog

I was completely flattered to have been featured on Toronto media maven Ree Ree Phillips’ blog, Ree Ree In The City. As part of her Female Entrepreneur Series, I was interviewed on my experience in PR along with any advice I can offer to young women looking to start their own businesses.

What a great feeling to be seen as an entrepreneur by not only an esteemed boss lady such as Ree Ree is, but to be showcased is truly a reward.

 

Tumbling

Screenshot_2014-01-06-20-48-58

 

Late pass, but I’ve finally joined Tumblr.

Pieces Of A Sleepless Mind…

A glimpse into what I’m glancing over late at night

Eritrean Youth Collective (EYC) Get Yours Conference

Outside of my world of PR, I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering with a great organization that is dedicated with introducing the arts to young people in the city of Toronto. The Eritrean Youth Collective, (EYC), is a youth led initiative that showcases events that brings art to young people.

EYC Get Yours 2

 

During the weekend of September 15th, 2012 I got to participate in their first conference – Get Yours. They had various workshops held that day with topics that ranged from branding, managing your money to defining your own idea of success.

EYC Get Yours

 

The culmination of the day was a Q&A period with NYC based choreographer Luam Keflezgy. I was beyond flattered that the EYC team asked me to host the Q&A session with Luam. She was a delight to interview and shared inspirational stories that everyone in the room could relate to – from her determination to finish her BA, the motivation to fulfill her dream and interweaving her own culture into her art.

Truly an uplifting conference. Looking forward to this conference becoming an annual event.

Dorze Vita Fashion Show

I had the pleasure of working with a great fashion designer, Elizabeth Techane, last sumer to help plan her debut fashion show. Her designs are a hybrid of Ethiopian/Eritrean traditional outfits with a modern spirit.

Dorze Vita

Her event was held in Hazelton Lanes on September 29, 2012. With a great turn out, the models strutted a vibrant line up of dresses, pant suits and tunics that wowed everyone in attendance.

dorze vita 2

Looking forward to working with Elizabeth on her upcoming shows. Stay tuned.

 

 

Ride To Conquer Cancer

My amazing friend Ebere will be participating in the 2012 Ride To Conquer Cancer. We lose too many people each year to cancer, with many still struggling to with the aftermath. Ebere is taking on this challenge to support a dear friend of hers who is a cancer survivor (Chinyere Eni).

I want to support both these women by drawing attention to the Ride and hopefully raise funds their pledge. Please follow the link and let’s all work together together to get rid of cancer. Visit 2012 Ride to Conquer Cancer.