Girl Talk

October 28, 2008
I got the sweetest comment from Kayla, a ballsy young lady who like me, knows the power of a good google search:) I'm pretty honest when I don't know something. But what I do know, Im definitely willing to share, so if you ever have a question feel free to hit me at harlem.charm@gmail.com. 

So on to Kayla's question . . .

OMG. So I was doing a Google search on Fredricka Whitfield and Howard University and your blog came up. This is really random, but I want to commend you on everything you've accomplished. You're living my dream, lol. I'm filling out my Howard app now. That's my dream school. I know that you're probably busy, but could you offer any advice on getting into HU, earning a spot on the Hilltop staff and landing a good communications job?


Hi Kayla,
Thanks for checking out the blog and for your kind comment. You make me feel like all my name dropping may be a good thing:) You definitely are already on the right track by gathering information on something you are interested in from various sources and starting early!

* Getting into Howard
Show you are versed on the long history of the school and how you can add to the rich legacy. Also show how well-rounded you are and that you are active and have diverse interests. I was a student ambassador (A sexy title for campus tour guides) and we also helped out with applications in the admissions office. Having a strong list of interest and clubs you are involved in can make the difference in getting you in.

*Getting a spot on The Hilltop
Be ready to work hard and dependable. When I was on staff the folks we loved the most and promoted and gave the best assignments were people who you knew could come through. In any newsroom, there is always a need for fresh ideas and practical ways they can fit into the current plan. So show up at that first budget meeting and don't leave without a story! Then work hard to make it the best and turn it in before the deadline. Go above and do some secondary reporting. If they ask you to interview a new rookie bball player. See if you can get a quote from his middle school couch who always knew he'd go far, or his high school girlfriend on what a great guy he is to add some color. 

*Getting a job in Communications
Though the face of media and how we get our information changes, there's no doubt that their is demand for info. My first piece would definitely be to get skilled in the many ways to tell a story. Take online classes and a few broadcast because newsrooms whether magazine, newspaper or broadcast are asking their reporters to work across mediums. Also, start now with reaching out to people who you'd like to learn from (like you already did). It's much easier to build a relationship now, then to wait until you need a job or internship and cold call. Attend every workshop or speaker that you can in the school, even if it's not your area. The circle of people in media is small, and even smaller for people of color. So when you meet someone, not only do you connect with them, but all the people they know. Often jobs you are interested in are never posted on a job website, but filled by people who are recommended. That isn't to sound disheartening, but just shows how important it is to expand your network. My biggest mentor and inspiration at Howard, Professor Yanick Lamb, always says, "You have to circulate to percolate" . . .and as usual she was very right:)

Now the most important part for it all, BREATHE.

It will all work out and hard work and having a plan will always pay off. Get ready to have a great time in DC with a historic president in the White House.


Being Healthy

October 21, 2008
Growing up, we weren't big Halloween people. I remember dressing up in Kindergarten and that was about it until maybe 13. And honestly, I didn't miss it. My mom bought us plenty of candy to compensate for trick or treating and we had our share throughout the year (I have the fillings to prove it!) 

So once I was older and October also began to include Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it just made for one spooky month. It wasn't until later I realized some of my favorite people always seem to be Libras.

But I would be remissed not to remind myself and all ladies to remember how important your health is this month and others. This pic is me and Robin Roberts at Howard's School of Communications First Visionary Awards Luncheon in 2006. It was extraordinary . . . and I prayed even harder for her recovery once she was diagnosed with breast cancer after meeting her.

And youth isn't a free pass to great health. Outside of living in NY, pursuing journalism, loving Howard U, and working it in power suits, me and Robin have something else in common . . .we are cancer survivors. 

I was blessed to catch mine early when I was a sophomore in college and after six months of chemo and three months of radiation, I have been all clear with thankfully a great chance of no return.

One of best friends mom wasnt so lucky and her death from breast cancer and a hypochondriac cousin  gave me the kick in the butt to see if a small lump in my groin was anything to be concerned about. It was. And I'm always overwhelmed with thankfulness I went and checked it out.

If we are honest, all our days our numbered in this world, but let's work to maximize our time by having those checkups and making the most of the time we do have.

My admiration of Robin has only grown since she was diagnosed with cancer and boldly and gracefully allowed viewers to share in her personal experience. 

Happy health this month and others and make yourself a priority! 

The Buzz

October 17, 2008

A few years back my Godmom, a retired library director, gave me The Secret Life of Bees to read on one of my trips home from school. I added it to the stack and it sat on my book shelf for a year. I picked it up to read. Another book caught my eye. I put it down for another year. Along came the spring, my second as a New York resident, I had read a little more of the book when a meeting with the Fox Searchlight people and a few folks from the job popped up.

We saw clips of the film - and more importantly learned of the amazing cast and I was hooked. I went home and picked back up the book and was hooked. Such a beautiful story, and as a brown girl from the South reading of times of Segregation always makes my heart beat a little faster. Some of my book club also read the book and the amazing story of lost, heartache and finding yourself is something we all can relate to.

The Saturday before the site relaunched my editors and I went to a screening of the film at the Urbanworld film festival. Queen Latifah was stunning in person, but I was there on a mission, to see this movie and I was anticipating greatness. And I was not dissapointed. The cast did their thing. Gina Prince-Bythewood nailed another film - and not just because they played my all time favorite India.Arie song that got me through high school when I though I would combust if I had to stay home another minute.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Gina and ask her questions about bringing the story to life onscreen. I have gotten better since a while back when I would be talking over my interviee, interjecting and a little too excited. But Gina almost made me revert to that old self as I wanted to inject my two cents "yeah, that was a great scene" "I know, can't believe that" "ooohhh" To see someone doing what they dreamed of and worked hard to get to, is always inspiring and comforting. And the fact that she met her husband Reggie at her first gig out of school - A Different World and the two still have a beautiful relationship where they are a team, just makes her that more cooler.

Like Russell Hornsby and his wife
. Adorable! He looks at her like Barack looks at Michelle. Love it:)

This movie is PHENOMENAL . . .the first one in months I am determined to buy a ticket and see the first weekend

Bridal Block

October 8, 2008
I love weddings. I would go to one every week if I could. I encourage all my girls to get married just so I can go . . .but I must say things are getting out of hand. I didn't think folks would actually listen to me.

The latest bride is my RA from freshman year (ANNEX!). She is such good people and I remember my first day at Howard like it was yesterday. My black power tshirt and fresh kinky twist (eww, why did I fall prey to that trend, glad my hairline survived), she just had this natural cool as she welcomed me to the floor and the longest nails EVER. And now she's somebody's wife. And now Im looking in the mirror wondering when did I get to this spot. I remember how immediate it was for my pack of aunts on questions of me meeting a special guy as soon as I hit college. I just scratched my head at how quick it had went from NO BOYS to get engaged. Cant a girl just chill and enjoy dating and relating for a few years?

Maybe the thought of me getting married is so foreign because of the current prospects. One part of that sabatical I've been on from the social scene is I haven't met that many new guys. I take that back. I haven't met any worthy of a good daydream. Yes, you can put it on Barack Obama for raising the standard. And everytime you say that, you know the fellas are ready to come back, "well, are you Michelle?" And I'm working on it. Getting some brooches this weekend when I head home

Get Your Shine On

October 6, 2008

"Hey MIA," my hip hop dance class teacher at the gym yells to me, as we do our warm up routine. "Im just gonna call you that today" I was a little surprised and embarrased, but couldn't deny the fact I hadnt been there in weeks, maybe months. Though my ego, wouldnt let the moment pass without feeling itself that my absence had been noticed.

Then one of my best buds in NY said I was MIA in a gchat I actually replied to. I'm trying. really. Just my work ethic is probably my detriment at times. Is enough ever enough?

Yes. It is.

And I was excited to enjoy the little things over the weekend as my cousin Rob came to town who has been like my brother since our births a few months apart. Friday, we hit up my buddy Z's bday costume party and with a shiny dress and no official get up, I became a Dreamgirl. Jessica became catwoman, and was not feeling about all these kittens with official costumes . . .got a little catty:)We had a good time, till Long Island Rail Road came on the wrong side and we ended up in Far Rockaway . . . :/

Saturday we grabbed breakfast with my cousin and her friend. Though she totally blasted me in an email on all my shortcomings and why she only puts up with me because we are blood, we had a great time. Guess she's decide Im worthy of her time? Who knows. But she does have a fab new apartment on the bottom floor of this brownstone on 119th. Love Harlem!

After we hunted down this blazer at Banana Republic he had to have, we hit Central Park for the 30th birthday picnic of my 149th st neighbor and fellow SWD alum, Rakia. Met her at Belle's Young Legends Dinner and she has been like a big sis ever since. And for some Decatur girls, a picnic with friends means spades. We made great partners even with all Rob's smack talking and his partner trying to mack him a little I think. Get it girl!

That night we had great Thai at Room Service and realized we couldn't hang like we used to and took it to the house. Today was a good feeling as I saw myself getting tagged in photos - proof I am back in action