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YouTube star and creative producer Maya Washington, popularly known as ‘Shameless Maya,’ has never said no to a challenge. Maya describes how growing up in Canada offered her a supportive environment of both diversity and exploring the arts. Once Maya moved to New York City, she says she finally found the courage to fully express herself because to make it in NYC, you had to be “shameless.” Maya also talks about the peaks and the valleys of her career, as well as the ups and downs of her romantic life, and how following her heart has led her to live in Sweden. Maya describes the realness of motherhood during a pandemic and how pushing past her fears has allowed her to experience love and success beyond her wildest dreams.
Before landing her dream role as the first Black lesbian superhero in The CW’s Black Lightning, Nafessa Williams prayed for the endurance to persevere in Hollywood. In this enlightening conversation, Ashley and Nafessa discuss taking leaps of faith. In Nafessa’s case, that was trading in the safety of her district-attorney job to pursue acting. Inspired by Sidney Poitier’s famous quote: “The reward is in the journey”… Nafessa now pushes through doubt and fear and embraces her process. Nafessa explains how looking back on God’s resume helps her move forward and how the waiting seasons of her life have made endurance her greatest strength.
With over 40 years in the entertainment industry, Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph has a trove of  both trials and triumphs to her credit. The Tony Award-nominated multi-hyphenate takes Ashley back to the beginning of her career and describes who she was before landing her breakthrough role as Deena Jones in the seminal Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Sheryl underscores key lessons she learned from her parents and mentors, including the power to determine which doors to leave closed. The original Dreamgirl also unpacks the most difficult season of her life: navigating her divorce as a single mother, leaving the hit tv show Moesha and losing herself along the way. Sheryl recalls the encounter that helped her “rise to the occasion of her own life,” and how, just like her character Deena, she owned her inner diva.
Ten years after releasing a concept trailer that would go viral and propel his career, Dear White People creator Justin Simien is learning to take a step back and celebrate his wins. Already close friends, Justin and Ashley reflect on their personal and professional growth since the show ended and revisit the risks that led to their success. The fearless visionary unpacks the pressures of breaking ground as a Black creative and touches on the discipline necessary to create opportunities for himself and the next generation of Black artists. With all his success, Justin says he no longer chases accolades for validation. Instead, he’s committed to resting in the truth that only he “can keep his cup filled.”
Insecure(HBO) &Twenties(BET) actress Christina Elmore has always had a game plan for her career, but now she’s learning how to let the cards fall where they may. Ashley and Christina, who’s also one of her very best friends, dig deep into what it means to let go of unrealistic expectations and allow your most authentic self to emerge. Like most black and brown women, Christina has faced pressure to be everything to everyone throughout her life. As a self-proclaimed planner and overachiever, Christina has found this constant need to over perform and people please damaging. She discloses how she protected her mental health amidst harsh criticism about her body after returning to theInsecureset just six weeks after giving birth. Christina reveals how motherhood and the “fourth trimester” has helped her navigate uncertainty and release the need to control every detail of her life. Christina also opens up about learning to love her postpartum body and embracing where God has her now. 
A recognized leader in the DEI field and Ashley’s mother, Cynthia Featherson has always been the backbone of her family. However, she has rarely asked for what she needs in return. As she gets older, Cynthia realizes that keeping her world small and her feelings bottled up does not serve her. She attributes this new-found awareness to Ashley. Throughout the years, Ashley has encouraged her mom to speak her truth unapologetically. In this episode, Cynthia shares the difficulties she faced growing up as the only daughter, granddaughter, and niece in her immediate family. And she tells us how Ashley’s openness has taught her to be more vulnerable. 
Jurassic World: Dominion actress DeWanda Wise is allowing herself to take risks and give God the steering wheel.  DeWanda says because she and her family didn’t have a lot growing up, she “was always a person who questioned, naturally, the status quo.” She shares how her intuition, even at a young age, has shaped the stories she gets to tell in her work. DeWanda explains how she has come to realize her purpose in life is “to bear witness and continue to be a mirror, to my friends and to society at large.” DeWanda says she has learned to lean into — even love — uncertainty as she navigates her career and family life.
Originally aired by NPR's The Limits with Jay Williams on 7/19/22.Emmy-nominated actor Colman Domingo discusses the power of intentional art, his recent projects, and coping with loss.
Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, actress and author Michelle Williams has been perfecting the art of manifestation. Michelle tells us what happens when she speaks about her greatest dreams and fears out loud and says that you must “put voice” to your ambitions for them to happen. She tells Ashley about her battle with depression, acknowledging that even at times when “we think we’re unscathed physically,” our mental health can be heavily impacted. Michelle shares how following her intuition continues to serve her, and how she was able to take the time during the pandemic to heal and “get loved on.”
This week, Ashley welcomes Dear White People costar Griffin Matthews to dig into the promises made over the course of their lives. Griffin details his upbringing in the suburbs of Pittsburgh from experiencing racism in his youth to finding community in college and healing from those past hurts at Carnegie Mellon. He discloses how the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on gay marriage empowered him to dream of marriage and how that commitment impacted his relationship with now husband Matt (affectionately known as Butch). Griffin and Butch have since become foster parents to two young boys, and like all new parents, faced a lot of uncertainty. Griffin challenges Ashley to expand her definition of a life promise fulfilled and reveals what the pandemic taught him about dreaming into the future. Griffin's credits also include HBOMax’s The Flight Attendant, Amazon’s ROAR, and the upcoming Marvel series She-Hulk.
To get to her breakout role as Mercedes on Glee, Amber P. Riley made some hard choices that eventually led her to the life she’d always dreamed of. But, as she tells Ashley, it didn't happen overnight. Amber’s relationship with the Glee cast was tested through real-life experiences they navigated together, including some she describes as “trauma bonding.” She also discusses the tragic losses of several of her Glee castmates. Throughout the different seasons of her career, Amber has come to accept that she can’t control everything and moved beyond chasing a rockstar lifestyle to finding peace and meaningful ways to celebrate her wins.
Hip Hop rising star Lady London is known for her unique flow and powerful freestyles. Unlike some of her most memorable lyrics, her success hasn’t been improvised. Lady London explains to Ashley why she believes “stagnancy is the same as regression” and how she finds growth in times of being uncomfortable.  She shares her struggles with being “subject to public scrutiny or subject to whatever people have to say” on social media. She discusses how she used her darkest times to find the importance of prioritizing her mental health above all else.  Lady London shares how intentional work and studying her craft created opportunities that catapulted her to musical stardom. 
Ashley’s husband Darroll Jenkins Jr. reveals the changes and challenges he overcame to become the life partner he is today.  Darroll, who is now a sports agent, talks about letting go of his basketball dreams and what it took for him to build an abundant life with Ashley. Darroll admits to being a selfish boyfriend at the start of their relationship, but now lives to love and support Ashley for a lifetime. Darroll and Ashley tell the emotional story of how they made it down the aisle and what keeps them leveling up to be their best selves, both individually and together. 
Actress and singer/songwriter Naturi Naughton-Lewis’ greatest trials have become her greatest triumphs. Ashley and Naturi chart her journey from singing in her church to stardom becoming the final member of the platinum-selling girl group 3LW. The two-time NAACP Award winning actress recounts making the difficult decision to leave 3LW at its height and details the decade it took her to get over the pain it caused her.Naturi explains how she held on to the unwavering belief that her best days were ahead of her. The New Jersey native shares how she emerged out of those trying times as an actress with credits in Hairspray on Broadway, the blockbuster film Notorious and the hit television show Power. Now a newlywed, she opens up about finding love after a season of heartbreak and learning to embrace her light and love herself after years in an industry that she says devalues dark-skinned women. Naturi also gives Ashley the exclusive on her recent heart-to-heart with former 3LW bandmate Adrienne Bailon and how they’re choosing to “lead by example” as they rekindle their friendship as adults. 
Ashley chats with close friend and critically acclaimed actress Aisha Hinds about her path to replenishment. Aisha has appeared in a number of hit series including 9-1-1, True Blood and The Shield. She made her mark with a powerful performance in Underground playing icon Harriett Tubman. In this vulnerable conversation, Aisha reflects on how her parents’ divorce left her feeling fractured as a young girl and led to her “pursuit of wholeness.” Aisha discusses how her church family stepped in during a trying time in her youth and helped her get back on the right track. She also reveals how she’s paid that restoration forward with her nephew. Aisha celebrates her “destiny advocates” in the industry who challenged her to dream bigger and pursue iconic roles that have forever shaped the trajectory of her career. 
Trials to Triumphs host Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins welcomes award-winning actress Malinda Williams to the show for a powerful conversation about discernment. Malinda has appeared on a wide variety of beloved TV shows including Sister, Sister, Moesha and Soul Food. She has also turned in powerhouse performances in films such as The Wood, Accidental Love and First Sunday. Malinda explains why she's cautious about the roles she selects; how her willingness to follow God's clues led her to her iconic role as "Bird" on Soul Food; and the lessons she learned about standing still in the moment. Plus, she'll divulge how the phrase, "Ask, Seek, Knock" has allowed her needs to be met without conditions.
Emmy- and Tony-nominated and Grammy-winning actress Danielle Brooks opens up to Ashley about pushing through some of her darkest hours to find love, sisterhood and her purpose. She talks about the sacrifices that led to dream roles in HBO’s Peacemaker, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and The Color Purple on Broadway. She also describes how she balances marriage and motherhood with the hectic career of a working actress. Danielle vividly recalls the “no” that led to her biggest blessing, and how that closed door prepared and positioned her for all the open doors that followed. She confides in Ashley that her big dreams have proven small compared to what God had planned for her.
Comedian and executive producer Robin Thede created HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show to surround herself with funny women. She explains to Ashley that making room in the entertainment industry is serious business.  After years ascending from the writers’ room to on-camera work, Robin says she realized that her work isn’t about making everyone happy, but about “elevating the art in some way that’s valuable.” Robin tells Ashley about her humble beginnings in Davenport, Iowa where she dreamed of making it on SNL. She also talks about a time when she “wasn't ready in my belief in myself.” She says that being patient with ourselves is the key to success.
Ashley sits down with Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Estelle to talk about “the courage to lay it all down.” Estelle shares how losing her manager at a crucial time in her career led to a turning point. Like a rocket rising and watching the pieces fall away, she released harmful habits during this intense season of growth. Estelle says she steered herself out of her own way to make room for new experiences. She reveals what her parents’ rekindled romance taught her about time and growth, how she manifested a role on the animated series Steven Universe and why she checks in with herself to make sure she’s always pursuing quality projects. In this new season of life, Estelle is all about remaining intentional and moving with the divine order. Now armed with an attitude of abundance, she’s no longer “strengthening” her way through, but confidently turning things down to receive more.
Ashley has a heart-to-heart with her close friend and Dear White People costar Logan Browning about the places and people who made her. Logan, best known for playing Samantha White on the hit Netflix series, speaks candidly about the show’s cultural impact and what it taught her about colorism in the entertainment industry. She shares how she found the confidence to challenge the status quo and turn down roles that should go to darker-skinned actresses. Logan also opens up about her father’s battle with cancer, how it redefined  “strength” and “weakness” for her,  and how she came to finally see her mother as a whole person. 
Comments (2)

Keni

Listen. This is by far the best episode of a podcast that I've listened to so far. I'm so inspired by Malinda's genuine faith and relationship with the Lord. THIS IS SO TIMELY. Thank you ABFJ 🤎 I've downloaded this one to listen over again!

Jul 26th
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Gisele Lourenço

can't wait 😍

Apr 25th
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