Inside my Target ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood 2014 Red Carpet Experience

Last week, I went to Los Angeles to be the official red carpet correspondent for Target at the 2014 Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it was, or how much I learned from the experience. You see, I’m a writer and I’m a very stereotypical Pisces. I tend to be introspective and anxious about being thrust into the spotlight. But I also believe that great things can be the result of pushing yourself. This past week, I pushed myself. And I got great results from that.

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The red carpet experience is electrifying, and it can be stressful. I had to hold my own between heavy hitters and industry veterans like Lola Ogunnaike and Tanika Ray.

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Reporters from CNN and the AP were around me. Target chose me for this tremendous opportunity. I had to get over my self doubt, put up and shut up. I was called upon to step out on faith, and I did my best. There’s a blog post about it all over at the official Target blog, A Bullseye View – click here to read it! And here is the video of me doing my thing on the red carpet, interviewing celebrities and discussing the beautiful community created by Essence Magazine.

Three thoughts upon watching myself in this video:

1 – yes, I was nervous

2 – oh my, I nod my head a lot when listening

3 – YAY and YES and I DID THAT!! I’m proud of myself.

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Red carpet interviews are SO different from the kind of interviews I normally do. It’s a hectic, crowded, loud environment and you have to tap into an inner wellspring of aggression to secure your interview. Then you have one opportunity to make the right impression. That may mean one question. All I could do was my best and I look forward to improving my TV interview skills! I managed to connect with a dazzling array of celebrities. Let me tell you about the behind the scenes bits that didn’t make it on camera!

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Lupita Nyong’o is so petite and beautiful. She LOVED the color of my dress and I had to tell her, that acid yellow citron would look GREAT on her as well. And she totally agreed! Lupita was like yes, you are right! I had to ask her what it’s like to be at the eye of the storm – right now everyone wants a piece of her. She admitted she was overwhelmed at times but she was so grateful to be brought into this fabulous family that Essence has created.

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Spike Lee gave thanks to Target for sponsoring the event. Target is also donating $50,000 to support the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Spike Lee later paid tribute to the trailblazers of the civil rights movement who will be celebrated there.

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One of those civil rights trailblazers, Nichelle Nichols AKA Uhura, said she remembered me! We totally hit it off at the 2012 Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. She is so incredibly sweet and warm, and we discussed the legacy of Star Trek and how it shaped the world’s awareness of the importance of diversity.

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Danai Gurira plays Michonne on AMC’s The Walking Dead and you might expect her to be super fierce, but she is a SWEETHEART. We got along so well, and she’s so brilliant and eloquent, and totally about the sisterhood of black Hollywood.

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Common is just as languid and handsome as you’d expect him to be in person, and he was very happy to discuss his charity organization, the Common Ground Foundation, and the stellar work they’re doing in Chicago!

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Ledisi is one of my absolute favorite singers, and she recently gave me such a sweet shoutout on Instagram. It was SO nice to connect with her in person and to hear her feelings about being at the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. There is so much love, sisterhood and humility in the room!

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Yvette Nicole Brown welcomed me warmly to the first ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, and it was so great to reconnect with her.

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Tai Beauchamp has been doing this red carpet thing for a minute and her poise and grace were so abundantly apparent. The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon is one of her favorite annual events, because it’s about sisterhood and community!

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Tatyana Ali, Tai and I were all wearing the same eye catching color – I predict citrus will be BIG for Spring! Tatyana is a sweet spirit and she is a beloved part of the ESSENCE community. She always makes me feel so welcome and I love her for that!

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Mikki Taylor has a spirit of love and abundance and to know her is to be enveloped in that aura. She exudes the meaning of the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood luncheon and nobody could be a more befitting MC.

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Adepero Oduye is so talented, so wonderful, so down to earth and regular, she feels like family. She is one of those women who I see and instantly want to hug, because she’s been so consistently sweet to me. And please note the accents on her gorgeous suit – acid yellow again! I’m telling you, it’s about to be a THING.

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Target’s own president of Community Relations, Laysha Ward, stopped by to discuss why Target’s focus is on celebrating sisterhood, and what Target is doing for this community! Laysha is so amazing and inspiring!

So what did I learn from the Target red carpet experience, where I spoke and shared so much about celebrating sisterhood? The experience helped to show me my own strengths. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone. Listen to life as it speaks to you, and accept new opportunities with grace and without fear.

Life is taking me on a journey. I have no idea where I’m going to wind up but I will enjoy every last moment of it. Thank you to Target for believing in me and for choosing me for this incredible opportunity!

 

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Thanks to Target, I’ve got beautiful Peter Pilotto tote bags to give away to two lucky winners within the United States. How do you enter, how do you win?

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I want to hear from YOU, the Afrobella community. How do you give back to your community? What do you do to enrich the lives of others?

Comment below and let me know. At the end of this week (Friday, March 7), we will close the contest and two winners will be chosen at random.

Best of luck, bellas! I can’t wait to hear how YOU celebrate sisterhood!

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Comments

  1. We are speechlessly proud of you! What an AMAZING job you did! Can say that I am envious and happy all at the same time. Keep holding it down and making us black girls proud!

  2. I give back to my community by volunteering at my son’s school (Campbell Elementary) in Austin, Texas. This is where I help assist other parents and grandparents by providing avenues on how they can connect to resources for their child(ren)/ grand(children) who have special needs. I am what is called a “CAMPUS PARENT REPRESENTATIVE” aka “CPR.” As a single mom it can be difficult navigating your way around to find tools to help you help your child be more successful in school. I am that bridge that connect people with people and resources. Hopefully, as a advocate I am enriching the lives of others.

  3. so proud of you! you did great :D

    • Thanks Gabi!!! I feel so accomplished now. Like I can do anything, even stuff I’m afraid of (except for swimming…but that’s a whole nother post)!

  4. Temaka Williams says:

    I give back to my community by volunteering my time with ChicagoCares. I volunteer in the capacity of reading to school children during weekend reading programs. I also organize book and back to school drives for the elementary school that I attending as a child. I have lead efforts that have provided hundreds of books and dictionaries to students!

    Here is a link regarding a past event: http://sochic2.tumblr.com/SupportLiteracy_Temaka

  5. As a mom, educator, and blogger I give back to my community daily by ensuring that I am equipping today’s youth to be tomorrow’s leaders. I am committed to helping people live a happier, healthier, more informed life!

  6. What an awesome experience, thank you for sharing – and YES that acid yellow looked fab on you!

  7. Soooo proud of you for receiving this opportunity! You did an amazing job. :)) Just seeing you there with all those legends and new inspirations gives me chills.

    I give back by being the Team Mom for our Backpacks for kids program at my kids’ school. Every Friday we supply 53 kids w/ free or reduced lunch with food to feed them over the weekend.

  8. Congratulations Bella! You were awesome and you looked amazing!!! Sooo so proud of you! I look forward to seeing more greatness from you!

    I give back to my community by volunteering my makeover services at charity events, and to battered women, etc so women who may not realize how beautiful they are, get to see themselves in a different light. Thus boosting their self confidence and letting them know that it is not the end of the road.

  9. Angela B says:

    I give back to my community by volunteering. Whether it be for a church or school function I always am willing to help. I’m a regular volunteer for the National Assn of Free Clinics a very worthy cause.

  10. You did a great job!

  11. Amazing! You looked and did great! You’re such an inspiration. Keep up the amazing work. I’m inspired! I help out my community by volunteering my time with creative youth organizations in my neighborhood. I’m a firm believer of arts in education and I love to find ways to give youth an opportunity to express themselves creatively.

  12. You look stunning in that fab dress , the colour is perfect and you also have a great smile that sets the whole thing off and stands out.

  13. Well done you looked fab and this was amazing to watch.

    keep doing it !!!!

  14. What an amazing opportunity for you. It’s something how fear and uncertainty really show up when great opportunities reveal themselves. You make me proud, even though we’ve never met. And yes, yellow looks great on you. You’re one of those Phenomenal women.

    Andrea.
    Take a look a listen to this new women’s empowerment song by a woman of color.
    http://www.amazon.com/Phenomenal-Woman/dp/B008PBMG9E

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  3. […] for her role as Patsey in the film “12 Years a Slave.” I had the honor of interviewing her on the red carpet on behalf of Target, and she is just stunning and eloquent and glowing. Lupita truly is lovely, as you can see even in […]

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