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Sneak Peek of ‘Icons, Idols + Influencers’ featuring Tracee Ellis Ross (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Award-winning actress and Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross will be profiled during tonight’s new episode of Aspire’s Icons, Idols + Influencers. The show airs at 7:30 p.m. EST.  During the conversation, Ellis opens up about self-esteem, insecurities and much more.

“Insecurity and self-doubt is a part of daily life and I’m a human being that has a vulnerable soul, and I do risky things in my career so that crops up all the time,” says Ross. “I think loving yourself is a daily activity that requires compassion and kindness, and it’s something I’ve learned how to do.”

Icons, Idols + Influencers showcases Hollywood’s leading black figures in film, television, sports, arts, music and social action through one-on-one intimate and candid conversations and his hosted by veteran entertainer Chris Spencer.

The show is produced for Aspire TV by Black Robin Media with executive producers Lynne Robinson and Jeff Friday.

Photo Credit: ASPIRE.

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ASPiRE’s Melissa Ingram to receive AAFCA’s Synergy Award + more

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

CONGRATS to ASPiRE Network’s Vice President and Channel Manager—Melissa Ingram. She is the recipient of AAFCA’s coveted SYNERGY AWARD and the first female honoree. ASPiRE is the cable network founded by NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

The SYNERGY AWARD celebrates inroads made by film and TV professionals in the Southeast and provides an opportunity for creative professionals to connect and collaborate with their peers across the industry.

“Aspire has carved out a great niche with its programming that puts a spotlight on Black excellence, and a great deal of that success is owed to Melissa’s leadership,” says AAFCA president Gil Robertson. “AAFCA is enormously proud to add her to the list of other Atlanta-based film and TV honorees who have contributed greatly to the phenomenal growth of our industry in the southeast.”

Pasts recipients include filmmaker Rob Hardy, TV producer and playwright Mark E. Swinton , film mogul Roger M. Bobb and Eric Tomosunas of SwirlFilms.

In addition to the SYNERGY AWARDS, AAFCA will also host its first ever Summer Screening Series in Los Angeles and Atlanta with screenings of 30, 25 and 20 year old anniversary titles that celebrates Black culture and life, as well as the evolution of Black filmmakers.

Featured films for the series launch are COMING TO AMERICA (1988); POETIC JUSTICE (1993) and DOWN IN THE DELTA (1998). One of the series’ main highlights is a special Q&A with John Singleton, who directed POETIC JUSTICE, taking place Saturday, July 14th at the Mark Taper Room in downtown Los Angeles.

“We are very happy to celebrate these landmark films that not only entertain, but also raise awareness of the African American experience, says AAFCAPrograms Director, Nicholas Maye. “The fact that these films are still impactful 30, 25 and 20 years later speaks to the long-lasting power of Black film and its images and themes.”

Stay tuned…

Photo Credits:  AAFCA

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‘ABFF Independent’ hosted David Banner returns for a sixth season!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Congrats to Grammy® Award-winning music producer, recording artist, actor and activist David Banner. The versatile entertainer is returning to ASPiRE this summer as the host of the sixth season of “ABFF Independent.” The network made the big announcement early Tuesday morning.

According to the press release, the one-hour show premieres on Tuesday, July 11 at 8 p.m. and presents the best independent shorts and documentaries from emerging Black artists. The new season of ABFF Independent will also feature films that cover a wide range of emotions and experiences, including humor, love, desperation and determination. Themes include: Love, Making a Statement, School, A Better Life and the Teen Years.

“ABFF Independent” is executive produced by Jeff Friday, ABFF Founder and Founder/CEO, Film Life, Inc. The series is produced in partnership with the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), which is the largest African-American film festival.

ASPiRE has ordered nine hour-long episodes.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: ASPIREtv


RC hosts ‘ATL Soul Music Fest’ Press Meet & Greet [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

I had the distinct pleasure Friday night of hosting a Press Meet & Greet for the upcoming ATL Soul Music Festival.  The two day event, now in its second year, is held over the Memorial Day Holiday (May 28 & 29) at the Wolf Creek Amphitheater and features some of the hottest R&B/Soul artists in the country.


Ray and Stacey J

This year’s lineup includes Syleena Johnson, The Robert Glasper Experiment, Lalah Hathaway, Eric Roberson, Anthony David, Rahsaan Patterson, Avery*Sunshine, Kindred The Family Soul, Angie Stone and Goapele.  My co-host for the evening was Atlanta media personality and “Rickey Smiley Morning Show” producer Stacey J.


Anthony David taking pictures with press

The Press Meet & Greet took place at iWi Fresh Day Spa in the Castleberry Hill district of the city and was attended by a number of area tastemakers, influencers and music enthusiasts including Carlton Hargro and Larmarrous Shirley of SLO MO Magazine.


Vanessa Fraction

The evening also featured entertainment by Chicago comedienne Vanessa Fraction and vocalist D Maurice. Valencia Joseph, Marketing Director for ASPiRE TV, discussed the network’s new media partnership with the Festival as well as its hot lineup of Black Music Month programming.  Stacey and I also conducted interviews with D Maurice and 2016 Festival performer Anthony David.


D Maurice performing songs from his new project Mosaic

Dope sounds were provided by DJ Funknatra along with his Prince tribute CDs that were raffled off throughout the night. There was also complimentary eats and wine as well as giveaways from Glow Skin Enhancement.  The event was sponsored by ASPiRE TV & UPtv, McDonalds and iWi Fresh Day Spa.

Check out more photos below:


iWi Fresh stands for “It Is What It Is”


JHigh Art


Yolanda Owens, owner of iWi Fresh Day Spa


Stacey J, D Maurice, Vanessa Fraction and Valencia Joseph


JHigh Art featured pieces of Nina Simone, Biggie Smalls and Diana Ross


Book Author Yvonne Pierre and Singer-Songwriter Leaf


Chris Daniels from “The Burton Wire” with Carlton Hargro from “SLO MO”


D Maurice performing


D Maurice‘s new solo project is titled Mosaic 

Photo Credits:


10 Business Tips RC learned from Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Legendary NBA player and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson recently appeared at 4th Annual Dream Project Symposium in Atlanta, GA. The two day event, founded by EGAMI Consulting Group CEO Teneshia Jackson, was created to build a platform for current and aspiring entrepreneurs and business professionals that leads to networking, creativity, and resource collecting.

The symposium took place at the Marriott Marquis and featured a myriad of celebrity speakers including Mr. Johnson as well as Miss Robbie star of OWN’s “Welcome to Sweetie Pies,” Beyoncé‘s stylist Ty Hunter, Money Maven Patrice Cunningham and Fashion and Lifestyle expert Tai Beauchamp.

During his Q&A session with Jackson, Mr. Johnson talked candidly about how his company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, secured strategic partnerships with such globals brands as AMC Theaters, SONY, Delta Airlines and Starbucks.

One of the biggest takeaways from the talk was to show willing to outsource time-consuming responsibilities to experts. For instance, if your business needs a more efficient payroll system, there are a number of Help with Payroll companies out there such as Zenefits that can provide HR management software to make balancing the books and paying staff quicker and easier.

Ultimately, business owners should always be on the lookout for new ways to save time and money, and embracing the latest developments in technology such as software can have a dramatic impact on productivity and workplace cohesion.


“I asked myself, ‘What companies are in suburban America that would fit in urban America?’ Since African-Americans were the number one people going to movies I thought ‘AMC or Sony.’ That would be a great fit because we already go to the movies and it’s one of the most affordable things we can do as a family,” said the former L.A. Laker.

He later shared 10 Tips on how to be a successful entrepreneur that I thought were worth sharing. Check them out below:

  1. Always be prepared and do your homework
  2. Stay focused
  3. Don’t be afraid to approach mentors
  4. Build relationships today for business tomorrow
  5. Reputation is everything…Be consistent!
  6. Drive the best company service your customers have ever seen
  7. Sometimes you have to take people to the deal
  8. Always reinvest in your company…your lifestyle change can wait!
  9. Always have an exit strategy…Don’t fall in love with anything!
  10. Always run a SWOT on Your Business (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats)

Take a look at more conference photos below:


Standing Tall…Dream Conference creator and EGAMI Consulting Group CEO Teneshia Jackson


Beyoncé‘s stylist and fashion icon Ty HunterIMG_1947

Sheri Riley with conference speakers Patrice Cunningham,

Black Enterprises Alfred Edmond and Prudential’s Shirley Ann Robertson


Media Personality and Lifestyle expert Tai Beauchamp with guest


“Magic” took the same principles he learned from the NBA into the boardroom


Magic Johnson with his ASPiRE TV employees

Photo Credits:

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ASPiRE’s ‘Changemakers’ to feature Big Boi and Kandi Burruss

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

My friends over at ASPiRE are showing some love to two of Atlanta’s biggest stars, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and Kandi Burruss during this new season of Changemakers.

The 30-minute reality series features African-American celebrities who are using their success to give back to others.  The shows will spotlight Patton’s Big Kidz Foundation and Burruss’ Kandi C.A.R.E.S Foundation respectively. The new episodes will premiere this Wednesday, November 11 at 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. EST.

“‘Changemakers’ is one of the only series of its kind that focuses on celebrities who are changing the game in their communities by doing extraordinary things,” said Tina Thompson, director, programming, ASPiRE. “This series is a perfect example of the type of positive programming that makes ASPiRE the distinct and unique network that it is. We are committed to shining a spotlight on the next generation of gamechangers.”

Check out the full show descriptions below:

Changemakers: Antwan “Big Boi” Patton – Wednesday, Nov. 11 @ 8PM

The Big Kidz Foundation established by Big Boi in 2006 was developed to nurture the intellect of youth by providing them with culturally diverse experiences in the field of humanities in order to expand their leadership abilities and create social-conscious individuals. The Foundation was established with a firm belief that cultural exposure, musical and literary expression and the invaluable experience of travel makes for a well-rounded person.

Changemakers: Kandi– Wednesday, November 11 @ 8:30PM
Kandi C.A.R.E.S is dedicated to providing education, empowerment & enrichment to the lives of single parents, and children who are the product of single parent homes.

Photo Credit:


Nicole Ari Parker & Boris Kodjoe talk ‘Childhood Health & Wellness’ on ‘exhale’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The Ladies of “exhale” sit down with this week’s special guests to talk about protecting the future of the black community – our children.  They share their personal perspectives, as well as important information about the myths and realities of raising a healthy child – including facts about nutrition, sex education, bullying and caring for a child with special needs.

Special guests include Nicole Ari Parker & Boris Kodjoe (Actors, Sophie’s Voice Foundation), Shawn Stockman & Sharonda Stockman (Boyz II Men Singer and his Wife, Founders of Micah’s Voice), Areva Martin (Attorney, Author and President and Co-Founder of the Special Needs Network), Shari Headley (Actress and Anti-Bullying Advocate), and Dr. Valencia Waler (Neonatologist and Pediatrician).

Click here to see a preview!


Tracee Ellis Ross talks ‘Feminism’ with ladies of ‘exhale’ (PHOTOS)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

In tonight’s episode of “exhale,” the Ladies get to the core of what being a woman is all about – that’s right, they’re exploring black feminism – to understand what feminism really means…and how it’s changed.  The ladies and their guests talk about gender equality, the black feminist movement, sex positive feminism and the importance of teaching black girls how to love and respect themselves.

Special guests include Tracee Ellis Ross (actress, writer and teen advocate), Kimberle Crenshaw (Law Professor and Feminism studies Scholar), Feminista Jones (Blogger and Sex Columnist), and Sahar Simmons (Briana’s Neighborhood cartoon) .

Check out the photos below:

Tracee E Ross

 Tracee Ellis Ross

Issa Rae with Ross

Ross with ‘exhale’ co-host Issa Rae

Photo Credit:

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Malinda Williams & Brad James host preview for ‘Marry Me…’ (PHOTOS)

The Cast of Marry Me For Christmas/Photo Credit: Megan Alodie for

Written by | Ray Cornelius

UP, “America’s Christmas Channel,” held a preview party for its newest original holiday drama titled, Marry Me for Christmas  last night at Café Circa in Atlanta. The event was hosted by the film’s lead actors Malinda Williams of Soul Food  fame along with Brad James from Tyler Perry’s For Better of Worse.

The movie airs this coming Saturday, Dec. 14 at 7p.m. with encores at 9p.m. and 11:00p.m. and on UPTV’s sister channel, ASPiRE on Sunday, December 15 at 8p.m.

As previously reported Marry Me For Christmas  stars Williams as Marci Jewel, the stylish owner of a New York City ad agency who has managed to put marriage and motherhood on hold for her career. However, with pressure from her family to come home for the holidays and a deadline looming for a new client, Marcy drags her employee Adam (James) home to Atlanta and does the only thing she can do in the face of ailing mother (Victoria Rowell) and nosy relatives: fake a fiancé. While at home, Marcy learns some unexpected lessons about love, trust and family, particularly when it comes to her new faux fiancé Adam and old beaux Blair.

The film also stars Jason Weaver, Tamara Bass, Karon Riley, Carl Payne, GregAlan Williams, Victoria Rowell, Deeta West and Chrystale Wilson.

Check out some photos below from last night’s party:

Up with Malinda and Brad

 Brad Siegel, Vice Chairman of UP, Malinda Williams and Brad James

Brad James Malinda Williams

 Brad James and Malinda Williams 

Jasmine, Malinda and Anisa

 Jasmine Burke, Malinda Williams and  Anisa Nyellij

Cast with VC of UP

 Chrystale Wilson, Malinda Williams, Brad Siegel, Brad James, Deeta West and Tamara Bass

Karon Joseph Riley Brad with Malinda2

 Karon Joseph Riley/Brad James with Malinda Williams

Brad, Malinda and Karon

 Malinda Williams with leading men Brad James and Karon Joseph Riley

 Up Malinda ASPiRE

Brad Siegel, Malinda Williams and Paul Butler, GM of ASPiRE Network

RC with Crystale RC with actor

RC with actors Chrystal Wilson and RonReaco Lee

Terri J. Vaughn RC with Malinda1

Terri J. Vaughn with Brad James/RC with Malinda Williams

Malinda, Brad and Rhonda

Malinda Williams, Brad James and Rhonda F. Baraka, writer & exec. producer

Photo Credit: Megan Alodie for

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RC attends Atlanta Premiere of ASPiRE TV’s new talk show, ‘Exhale’ + PHOTOS

Exhale hosts: Angela Burt-Murray, Erin Jackson, Issa Rae, Rene Syler and Malinda Williams 

The Atlanta premiere of ASPiRE TV’s new talk show, Exhale  was held last night in the Rich Auditorium of The Woodruff Art Center. The evening began with a star–studded red carpet, followed by a VIP reception and a viewing of the show’s first episode.

Opening remarks were given by ASPiRE’s General Manager, Paul Butler as well as a special presentation from City of Atlanta Council Member, Keisha Lance Bottoms.  Bottoms presented Butler with a proclamation officially declaring June 27 as ASPiRE Day. After the screening, the audience was treated to a lively Q&A session moderated by noted author and playwright Pearl Cleage and featured the show’s five hosts and Exhale  producer Lynn Robinson of Black Robin Media.

As previously reported, Exhale  is ASPiRE’s newest original series and is hosted by former news anchor Rene Syler, comedian Erin Jackson, former ESSENCE magazine editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray, Awkward Black Girl’s  Issa Rae and actress Malinda Williams. Exhale  will attempt to cover a wide range of topics including family, relationships, career, money, and faith. For co-host, Angela Burt-Murray, the show represents a fresh perspective on life issues that other talk shows like The View  and The Talk  do not offer their Black female viewers.

“I think that Exhale  is completely different from anything else that’s out there. First and foremost, it’s hosted by five African-American women that are completely different. Secondly, we’re going to focus strictly on the issues and topics through the lens of what African-American women are thinking and feeling. I think for so long, what we are feeling personally has just been marginalized in the national conversation but on Exhale,  Black women are priority number one.”

Check out the photos below from last night’s premiere:

Avery SunshineDorsey Levens

 Soul music singer Avery*Sunshine/Former NFL Player Dorsey Levens

The Producers

ASPiRE TV Producers: Walter D, Jabar Lasley, Mr. Sho’Nuff, and Tim Nunez Sr.

Kiki Haynes and Kent FaulconRC with Pearl Cleage

For Better or Worse actors Kiki Haynes and Kent Faulcon/RC with author and moderator Pearl Cleage

Meelah, 702Terri J. Vaughn

702 singer Meelah Williams/actress and producer Terri J. Vaughn

Rene Syler and Family

Exhale  host Rene Syler and her family

Rhonda Baraka and Kids

Exhale  writer Rhonda Baraka and family

E. Roger MitchellRC with Ken Ford

Film and stage actor E. Roger Mitchell/RC with electronic violinist Ken Ford

Melinda Williams and LaTavia RobersonBrad and Jasmine Burke

Exhale  host Malinda Williams with former Destiny’s Child’s  singer LaTavia Roberson

Acting couple Brad James and Jasmine Burke

Host on the panel

Panel discussion with Exhale  hosts and producer Lynn Robinson and moderator Pearl Cleage

Exhale  premieres tonight at 8 p.m. EST on ASPiRE TV.

Photography Credit: Megan Alodie for