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Sylvia & Me

Sylvia & Me

Author: Sylvia Beckerman

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Sylvia & Me, conversations with extraordinary women who are changing the world by making a difference in their lives and the lives around them. Life changing events can be frightening, exciting, overwhelming; a range of emotions. They are usually followed by decisions made by some bold, strong, independent, persevering women who open the door to a new journey. We’ll be taking journeys through conversations with these women. ‘Sylvia & Me’ can be found on most popular podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play and iHeart Radio. And our website, https://lifeapres.com/podcast Listen, subscribe for free and take us with you wherever you are.
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This week’s ‘My Reading Corner’, I talk with bestselling author Tami Charles. Her newest YA novel, Muted has already received wide acclaim. Although considered a YA (Young Adult) author, her novels are meant to be read by parents and adults. With stress and social media, dreams and promises, Tami’s books are ones that help her young adult audience know that they’re not alone. For the older generation, they give insight into the minds of young adults. Muted brought back Tami’s time tasting fame in her teens and early twenties. She was a member of an all-girl R&B trio. How about performing for Boys II Men, BET and Showtime at the Apollo? The main character of Muted had to be a young girl searching for fame as a songwriter. Once Tami realized that, the words flowed and a powerful story was written. It’s a story of ambition, music and exploitation. And it’s the story of innocence lost and young women regaining their voices. Meet Tami Tami is the New York Times bestselling author of All Because You Matter. She’s written numerous books for children and young adults. Like Vanessa, her middle school debut book earned a Top 10 spot on the Indies Introduce and Spring Kids’ Next lists, three starred reviews and a Junior Library Guild selection. As a teen and into her early twenties, Tami unclicked the buttons, and was as loud as hell as a member of a 1990’s R&B singing group. Muted brought her back to the music industry and found her writing and singing her songs. Tami herself has said: We had a song on the radio that played at like 2 in the morning when everyone was sleeping. We didn’t make it to the grand stage, but those were the times of my life! ‘If hard work was what it was going to take to make it to the top, then that's exactly what I'd serve up - black girl mixed with grit stardust spice magic.’ A powerful conversation with Tami Charles: The all-girls R&B, fame and music Teenagers, dreams and asperations Ambition and exploitation Workplace violence and women Putting a lens on the music industry Young women regaining their voice Writing for young adults All Because You Matter – a picture book with love and a lullaby Muted – a YA novel-in-verse The audiobook, her songs and her voice
When I started talking to Abby, I went into the conversation with the idea that I would be talking to someone who was funny. And for sure, she is. Funny, warm and able to talk candidly about herself. So candidly, that I knew this is exactly the conversation needed for so many. With much humor and humility, Abby speaks about her own struggles. Her struggles with an eating disorder, her intimidation of those who are supposed to be in the know and how improv and comedy helped her hide. And how she finally took control. Control that she is not letting go of. “Anything I should know before I go home?” I asked the chief cardiologist, trying not to sound terrified. “Just don’t lift stuff over 10 pounds for a few weeks.” “My baby is over 10 pounds.” Abby refers to herself as a performer, obsessive compulsive comedian, writer and mom. She wrote and performed with The Second City, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, HBO, Nick Jr., and NPR. And the first all-female improv group found Abby among its performers. Abby's essays have appeared in The New York Times, Self, Jane, and Elle. One was adapted for the television series Modern Love. Abby currently co-hosts the Chucklepath Comedy Show with Molly Reisner. She is the author of five books including Miss You Love You Hate You Bye, named a 2020 Buzzfeed Best Book for Mental Health Awareness Month. And Abby most recently co-authored Sanctuary, a YA (Young Adult) dystopian novel. A candid conversation with Abby: The start of being funny Why improv – putting it out there Not being ‘precious’ about it 1st improv female group Performer, comedian and mom – how about SpongeBob Mental health issues A reckoning and getting help Finding solace in writing Personal essays Young adults, rock bottom and friendship Miss You Love You Hate You Bye – friendship and mental health Finding confidence to speak up – knowing your own body
Judithe Little is the award winning author of two historical novels, ‘The Chanel Sisters’ and ‘Wickwythe Hall.’ She grew up in Virginia where she earned her B.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Judithe studied at the Institute of European Studies and the Institut Catholique in Paris. Afterwards she was an intern at the U.S. Department of State. Judithe then went on to earn her law degree from the University Of Virginia School Of Law where she was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Law and a Dillard Fellow. Judithe lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three children and is presently working on her third novel. 'Coco's freedom translated into her clothing. She wore men's pants to ride in and realized how comfortable it was.'
Gayle Kabaker and Sonya Kitchell Gayle Kabaker, mother and daughter Sonya Kitchell, one a world renowned freelance illustrator and artist, the other a two-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter. One a new grandmother, the other a new mom...mothers and daughters. The bond between a mother and her children starts early on.  For Gayle and Sonya the bond is even stronger. Five months ago, baby Mona made it a trio. Gayle is a world renowned longtime freelance artist and illustrator. She's published over 5 New Yorker covers. Vitalvoices.org, an organization that invests in women leaders worldwide, commissioned Gayle to do 100 portraits. Gayle illustrated the book 'Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower.' Using her art to make a difference, Gayle's work is connected to equality, the environment and civic involvement. For the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Women's March, Gayle was among the artists who the Washington Post commissioned. Gayle's illustration was a takeoff on 'Wonder Woman' showing a caped young woman wearing a T-shirt that says 'Voting Is My Super Power.' Sonya is a two-time Grammy winning singer-songwriter and teacher of music. At the age of 17, Sonya had her first international-selling record 'Words Come Back to Me.' Moving from her hometown of Ashfield, MA to New York City, Sonya spent time in Europe and Asia, She worked as a side musician and songwriter-for-hire. She also delved into photography and film. Sonya worked with many of the greats of our time, including the legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. Mother & Daughter Mom was her daughter's original manager, traveling with her throughout the U.S. and overseas. The fun didn't stop there. Mother and daughter have worked together on several projects. Gayle designed a series of animated illustrations for a client that included a short musical soundtrack composed by Sonya. A conversation with Gayle Kabaker & Sonya Kitchell: 9 year old & her budding career Bonding and art Traveling mother and daughter Art and music The journey can be tough, the outcome worth it No stage-mom here Mom wisdom Daughter wisdom Grandma wisdom The 'Antidote Workshop'
Co-authors of the newly published What's You Story? A Journal for Everyday Evolution, Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond give us an interactive roadmap for beginning a new life story. Rebecca Walker is an award winning writer, feminist and activist. She has contributed to the global conversation about race, gender, power and the evolution of the human family. Rebecca has written, developed and produced film and television projects with Warner Brothers, NBCUniversal, Amazon, HBO and Paramount. And she has spoken at over 400 universities and corporate campuses. Awarded the Women Who Could Be President from the League of Women Voters, Rebecca was also named by Time magazine as one of the most influential leaders of her generation. Rebecca has authored and edited seven bestselling books. Black White and Jewish, Autobiography of a Shifting Self and Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After A Lifetime of Ambivalence, a memoir, are among her bestselling books. She also teaches her masterclass, The Art of Memoir. Rebecca is a graduate of Yale University. Lily Diamond is an award winning writer, educator and advocate. Her work is focused on democratizing wellness for accessible practices. Lily is the creator of the internationally beloved blog Kale & Caramel.  She is also the author of the bestselling memoir-cookbook Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart and Table. And it was named one of the top cookbooks of 2017 by the New York Times, The Independent, and Cooking Light. A graduate of Yale University, Lily's writings have appeared in VICE, Healthyish, the Huffington Post, Better Homes and Gardens and Eating Well. A powerful conversation with co-authors Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond: Finding the voice Writing your story - a transformative experience Encountering your mind Relationships with body, people, nature & technology Why interactive Moving through memories Journaling - what you remember or how you want to remember Seeking answers The need to belong Walking through a day in your life Giving yourself permission Creating the roadmap
What do you think of when you hear music? Does it bring back memories? Does it make you want to get up and dance? Let's add voice into the mix and think about the images that your mind conjures up. Ilyana Kadushin uses both music and voice. And both manage to affect change, whether narrating or performing a book, producing music or co-hosting the podcast 'No, I Know.'  Ilyana has delved into the world of performance, film, art and music melding these creative mediums. Always a part of the storytelling process, Ilyana wrote and performed the one woman "Devour the Apple" musical. She also performed the audio of Stephenie Meyer's bestselling Twilight novels and narrated the heartbreaking memoir of Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad, The Lost Girl. Incredible as it may sound, something positive came out of Superstorm Sandy...the creation of Stories Love Music. Ilyana and her creative partner and husband, James Harrell, were asked to help with some of the displaced seniors. Not knowing what to expect or how they could help, they chose something they both did well...they played music and sang. Music tugs at the heart and can brighten up even the bleakest of times. The moment evolved into Stories Love Music, a nonprofit program for caregivers of seniors with dementia and Alzheimers. Ilyana is an award winning film producer. She won HBO's 2011 Best Documentary for Separate, But Equal. She also won the Audi Award for audiobook narration and is an adjunct faculty of voice and public speaking at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. As a producer and co-host of the podcast No, I Know, Ilyana and husband James, feature live music and spirited conversation. A conversation with Ilyana Kadushin: A little microcassette player A fascination with voices Landing in New York City & Tisch School of the Arts How about some 'voice watching' Twilight series and Edward's character Jeremy Irons inspiration Nadia Murad and The Lost Girl Storytelling and performing Superstorm Sandy The 'spell of music' A senior, a song (Shalom Aleichem), a memory and a voice Voice Performance Coaching Stories Love Music
Paulina Bren is the author of The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free.  It's the fascinating true story of one of the first residences for women only. From its opening in 1928 to the present, Paulina brings us the evolution of both the place and the women who stayed there. Located in the heart of New York City, it drew women from all over the country. Each one brought ‘a suitcase and a dream.' Paulina delves into how the Barbizon was supposedly setting women free. And explains the reality of how it didn't. Some made it, others did not. Known as a safe haven for the 'Modern Woman' seeking a career, the women all were expected to have the same goal. That goal being one of marriage, family and suburban living. Some of the famous among its residents were Sylvia Plath, Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Liza Minelli, Ali MacGraw, Cybill Shepherd and Joan Didion. Meet Paulina  A writer, historian and professor, Paulina teaches International Studies, Women’s Studies, and Media Studies at Vassar College.  Her previous books include the award winning The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring. Paulina is also co-editor of a collection of essays entitled Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe. She alternates her time between the Bronx, Poughkeepsie and MetroNorth. Paulina was born in the former Czechoslovakia and lived in the U.K. before moving to the United States. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University, her M.A. from the Jackson School for International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle and her PhD in Modern European History from New York University. My conversation with award-winning author Paulina Bren: The Bell Jar and Sylvia Plath’s inspiration The building of a ‘safe haven’ The many women The 30’s and restrictions on women Single women, hotels and no check-in after 6pm Ambitions and society Women, careers and goals Rich and poor The not-so glamorous modeling career Contests and summer internship The hidden stories, lost ambitions and suicides ‘The Women’ and standing their ground A timeline for the women’s movement The start of equality and the end of The Barbizon
A former actress (you may have spotted Judith in one of the original Star Trek series episodes), Judith Sherven coined the phrase The Fear of Being Fabulous. A clinical psychologist with more than 35 years’ experience as a psychotherapist, transformational executive coach and business consultant, Judith practices alongside her husband Jim Sniechowski, also a PhD Clinical Psychologist. Judith is an executive coach for a number of tech companies. She helps leaders overcome any insecurities they have about maximizing their leadership: Their Fear of Being Fabulous. Both Judith and Jim are on retainer at both LinkedIn and Credit Karma. Judith writes for LinkedIn as an influencer. She inspires managers to engage their team members with their trademarked program: Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous. It's been called “the missing link in personal and professional development.” Judith has been on over 3,000 radio and TV shows including Oprah, The View, 48 Hours and Canada AM as a guest expert. Together, Judith and Jim have written 7 LA Times bestselling books. Both had been professional actors for a long time before they met in 1987. And both discovered that their Fear of Being Fabulous had prevented them from moving forward with their acting careers. This brought them on a 6 year journey of creating their program. A conversation with Judith: Self-sabotaging a successful acting career The Fear of Being Fabulous incubation The Barbizon connection Patterns identified and their connections Meeting Jim and their journey Owning your own excellence Asking for more with confidence Relationships of all kinds – personal and professional, family and friends Owning your uniqueness ‘You are a miracle’ Making yourself stronger
Sharon G. Flake is a multi-award winning young adult and children’s author. She is a three-time winner of the Coretta Scott King award. Her latest book, The Life I’m In follows her groundbreaking debut novel The Skin I’m In. The impact of her debut novel more than 20 years ago, is felt today. Sharon’s books withstand the test of time. It was a given that a sequel was needed, even if it took her 20 years to be convinced of it. Sharon continues to take on the tough issues: race, self-esteem, self-protection and empowerment. Issues that teenagers can face on a daily basis. With the advancement of technology, these issues can be paralyzing. And she always reminds us that we are talking about children. Teenagers are not adults. They are still children and we need to protect them. With The Life I’m In, Sharon takes on the multi-billion dollar business of human trafficking, targeting venerable teens. Prior to becoming an author, Sharon was a counselor for teens at a foster placement agency. Excelling as a counselor, Sharon garnered valuable insight into teens, adoption and foster parenting. Sharon had literally exploded onto the literary scene with The Skin I’m In over 20 years ago. And she was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Since then, she has won multiple Coretta Scott King Author Awards. Many of her novels have received ALA Notable and Best Books for Young Adults citations from the American Library Association. You can visit her website at sharongflake.com. This week’s ‘Sylvia & Me – My Reading Corner’ a conversation with author Sharon G. Flake Teenagers and children Bullying Responsibility Social media and teenage pressure Remember – these are children Predators and human trafficking Survival and the power of human empathy Compassion and its powerful cure 1st question asked
It’s no longer taboo to talk about menopause. In fact, it’s one of the healthiest topics for women to talk about. Dr. Fatima Khan is the ‘Menopause Specialist.’ She is an expert in perimenopause and menopause. Using a holistic approach to women’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, Fatima is empowering women through the transition. Fatima completed her medical training in the United Kingdom from Imperial College London in 2007 where she received a Bachelor in Medicine and a Bachelor in Surgery. She also received a Bachelor in Science in Pharmacology and Therapeutics with the publication of her research. After extensive training at Kings College London, Fatima received an Advanced Menopause Certificate accredited from the British Menopausal Society and faculty of Reproductive and Sexual Health. Fatima undertook further training in the USA on optimizing hormonal health for anti-aging and longevity. She also sees patients at AGORA Specialist Centre.  Fatima is involved in teaching medical students at the Epworth Clinical School at the University of Melbourne. Fatima and her medic husband currently live in Melbourne with their daughter. She actively educates women on menopause awareness through her social media platform.  https://instagram.com/menopausespecialist?igshid=2zg06ux1u11c A very informative and much needed conversation with Dr. Fatima Khan: Journaling and being aware of your body Mind-Body Connection Heart disease and dementia Hormone replacement Estrogen Perceptions and myths A continuing conversation
The debut of our special Thursday's segment 'Sylvia & Me - My Reading Corner' with author and portrait photographer, Jona Frank. Known for her portraits surrounding youth culture, Jona made a slight detour and wrote a memoir. Not one for doing what is expected, Jona’s memoir is done not with words, but with photographs. But if you’re thinking, great, a book of old photos…you're wrong. 'Cherry Hill: A Childhood Reimagined´ stars Laura Dern as her mother. Jona grew up in the 60’s in suburban Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Her mother lived the life that a suburban housewife was supposed to live. The men went into the City, a grey background while the women stayed at home, tending to their house and family. The stereotypical suburban woman, Jona’s mother never deviated from the standards that had been set for her. She did what was expected of her, not what she may have wanted to do. But Jona rejected this way of life and went on to construct her life from within herself. The result -  Jona is living her life freely, rejecting the standards that others have set. Meet Jona Frank: Meet Jona Frank, whose high school passion for photography led her to study at the University of California on a scholarship. Jona did go home after graduating, but returned to Los Angeles pursuing her personal dreams, not other’s expectations and standards. Her works have been exhibited at such venues as the Smithsonian’s National Gallery in Washington, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and the Kimbal Art Center. Our conversation: A photo shoot in a small town in England and a connection with Cherry Hill Suburbia and the stereotypical woman Art class, a blank piece of paper, a phone call and tulips Doing it her own way Societal norms and individual desires Casting Laura Dern Staged pictures and the strain of maintaining an image Recreating the non-Kodak moments Creating images between reality and cinematic fantasy What’s next
Bunmi Laditan, is an award winning, Webby nominated writer. Most of you may know her by her moniker ‘Honest Toddler.’ Her debut novel, Confessions of a Domestic Failure, is a satirical, realistic look at motherhood. Bunmi has outdone herself with her latest book, : Honest Prayers to a God who Listens. She had originally written this collection of poetry and prayers as a way of following her own spiritual journey. With candor, self-aware humor, and a profound insight, Bunmi saw that so many were struggling with similar journeys. And so with much humility, she agreed to publish Dear God. The book is for anyone seeking to reconnect as well as for those looking for a good word. Bunmi shares her journey, a journey of emotions that we all experience at different points in our lives – doubt, anger, love, desperation, gratefulness and more. Dear God was featured on the Today Show and Bunmi is a contributor to Parenting.com, Mothering.com, iVillage.com, the New York Times and the Huffington Post. Bunmi lives outside of Montreal with her family. Her social media following is large. But more impressive is that there is communication between her and her followers, not just emoji’s. Bunmi relates and is not afraid of having a conversation, even with someone who disagrees with her. A candid conversation with Bunmi: Childhood and faking it Marrying at 16 and converting to Judaism Culture not religion Identity as a Jewish wife and mother Divorce and becoming a seeker Struggles with depression and anxiety Journey to reconnect with God Raising her three children
Jenny Lecoat grew up in Channel Islands, 15 years after World War II. She knew her family’s history, but she didn’t know the horrors that they had experienced. Her curiosity peaked in her 30’s when Jenny saw photos of her family being shown in documentaries on national British television. Seeing them, Jenny realized that she had a responsibility to tell their story and the story of Channel Islands. Especially after having heard a variety of differing stories of the people and the islands’ occupation by the Nazis. There are stories that need to be told and stories that should never be forgotten. Stories that tell the history of events that have taken place. And stories that need to correct the ones that have not been remembered correctly. One such story is the story of Channel Islands and its occupation by the Nazis. She may never have written a novel before, but she had done quite a bit of writing. You see, Jenny had been a stand-up comedian writing her own material. She also wrote for sitcoms and soap operas. And then onto dramas and more serious historical subjects. In 2017 Jenny wrote the screenplay for ‘Another Mother’s Son’, the true story of her great-aunt who, during World War II, hid a young Russian war prisoner. ‘The Girl From Channel Islands’ is a historical novel based on the true story of Hedy Bercu and the woman who hid her from the Nazis for 18 months, Dorothea Le Brocq. The book debuted in February of 2021 in North America. It made the New York Times bestseller list its first week. This week I talk with Jenny Lecoat: Transitioning from standup comic to writing a New York Times bestseller Her dad at 5 and the occupation What you don’t know about the Channel Islands The timing of the North American publication of The Girl From Channel Islands and the release of her movie, ‘Another Mother’s Son’ The untold stories of the heroes of the Resistance Why this story needs to be told and remembered How does it start Never forget What’s next Meet Jenny Lecoat: Jenny is a New York Times bestselling author, screenwriter, former standup comedian, newspaper and magazine feature writer and teacher.  Over the last thirty years Jenny has written for a wide range of formats including feature film, television drama, sitcoms and sketch shows. She has taught screenwriting courses and is a qualified teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Jenny has studied British Sign Language enabling her to work with D/deaf writers and actors. She lives in Essex Sussex, UK with her husband, writer Gary Lawson.
For Nikki Edmundson it all started with a single pair of her own boots - cowgirl boots that is. She cut them down to fit, folded them over and, as the saying goes: 'These boots are made for walking.' Turns out that everyone wanted their own pair with their own story. And so, in the small town of Harrison, Montana, Canty Boots was born. ‘I really had no option except to give them away, sell them or cut them and I cut them. So I cut and rolled them and when I wore them into town, everyone gave me compliments. I just figured why not, you know, why not start selling them. So that's how we started.’ – Nikki Edmundson, Founder Canty Boots®. And that was how Nikki Edmundson started Canty Boots®. She opened an Etsy store and her first customer was from Australia. First sale and already Nikki was international! Cowboy boots always make a statement. And boy, are they ever hard to part with. Security vs Passion Nikki had to make a choice - start her career as a teacher or design and handmake cowgirl boots. Teacher = stability...Boot Designer/Maker = passion and fulfillment. She made the right choice for her and it's been a great journey. Who's Been in My Boots? Try Victoria Secret's Models, Katy Perry, Tanya Tucker, Nahko Bear and Cam Newton, just to name a few. This week's conversation with Nikki Edmundson: All it takes is the first Passion vs Security Her all women's team Rural and hot Bringing stories together Memories and walking He's a rancher Mom of four It's all in the name Finding the balance Keeping it close to home Turning Memories into Walking Stories Nikki learned quickly that selling footwear, especially cowgirl boots online could result in huge returns. Not all boots fit the same. Having cut down and refreshed her own pair, people had started asking her to do the same for them. So she took it a step further. Now Nikki is giving people the chance to hold onto memories and turn their own boots into their own unique story. The result...boots that her customers know will fit and walk in their story.
This past November marked the 10 year anniversary of the release of Utah author Ally Condie’s Matched, #1 New York Times bestseller. Matched was on the list for more than a year. And the first in what would become a trilogy. Last week marked the 1 year anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. It didn’t seem possible that a year later we would have a chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Dystopian and The Pandemic What do they have in common? The word ‘dystopian’ comes to mind: ‘relating to, or being an imagined world or society in which people lead fearful lives’. The difference: The last year was real and full of fear. Matched was imagined. Matched, a dystopian young adult novel has been read by a wider readership than the young adult population. The first in a series of three, it has been compared to ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Twilight’. This week’s conversation is with Ally Condie How did the idea for Matched come about? And why the young adult audience? I had the  privilege to talk with Ally recently. Our conversation covered these questions and so much more: Chaperoning a high school prom Best dresses, red carpet and the dark side Experiences of teaching and inspiration Society and choices Building a society around a character Good intentions taken to extremes ‘A nice girl’ wakes up Teenagers, women, choices and waking up The Pandemic – and yes there’s one in the 3rd book, written over 6 years ago ‘Suburban dystopian romance’ What’s next? Meet Ally Condie The author of young adult and middle grade fiction, Ally's novel Matched was a #1 New York Times and international bestseller. The sequels to the trilogy, Crossed and Reached, are also on the NY Times bestsellers list. Matched was chosen as on of YALSA's 2011 Teens' Top Ten and named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Book of 2011. Ally is also the author of Atlantia, a New York Times bestseller,  and Summerlost, a finalist for the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. She is the founder and director of the WriteOut Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) foundation that runs writing camps for rural teens. Born in Cedar City, Utah Ally has a degree in English Teaching from Brigham Young University. Ally lives with her husband and four children in Pleasant Grove, Utah. In 2017,  Ally graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with a Master's in Fine Arts Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults. You can follow Ally on Twitter and Instagram (ally.condie).
The 1940s and 1950s saw changes to how women were portrayed in film. A change from the victim of the 1930s. Post World War II films introduced the ‘Femme Fatale’ and with it women characters who were mysterious and dangerously seductive, not victims. During the war, women had taken the place of men in the workforce, bringing an independence that for many, had never been experienced before.  These movies were known as ‘Film Noir’ (French for ‘dark film’), classics of the 1940s and early 1950s. 'The Queen of Noir' Ann Chernow So I turned my attention to ‘The Queen of Noir’, renowned artist Ann Chernow. Ann has been painting this genre for over a decade. She does paintings, prints and drawings always in the abstract capturing the essence of the ‘Femme Fatale’. Ann has gone from actual portraits of the films’ stars, to imaginary faces of film, to painting scenes from the films to inventing scenes from ‘Film Noir’ movies. Then came a night alone at an Italian restaurant in NYC and a bottle of wine. The evening resulted in creation of ‘Bad Girls’ – eight separate stories and eight separate images. Film Noir and Femme Fatales have been with her ever since that evening. ‘The reason for women: everybody has a guess. It’s psychological. It has to do with the women in the films. The women in Noir movies all had fabulous clothing and the men just had gray suits and hats. There’s nothing to paint – just gray suits and hats, so the male figure is sometimes an abstract support.’ Meet Ann Chernow Artist, ‘Queen of Noir’, Mother, Grandmother and Teacher. Ann has taught art for over 26 years. Born in New York City in 1936, Ann has been a resident of Westport, Connecticut, considered a haven for artists for the last 50+ years. Ann is a beloved leader in the extended arts community. She has worked in the mediums of lithography, silkscreen, etching and colored pencil as well as oil painting. Ann’s second husband, Burt Chernow founded the Housatonic Museum of Art. He was an art historian and professor at the Housatonic Community College. Burt passed away in 1997. Ann later became the life partner of actor and documentarian, Martin West (d. 2020). Ann’s work evokes a sense of veiled mystery. A veiled mystery that is the essence of Film Noir and Ann’s creativity. I had the privilege of talking with Ann about our favorite genre of film, her beginning, her philosophy, the pandemic and her continued mining. Age 3 ½ - the beginning The RKO theaters and going to the movies at 11 Victims and Heroines The ‘Queen and King’ of Noir Femme Fatales 1930’s and Post World War II Those clothes The abstract ‘That looks like my grandmother’ Miss Bette Davis How to get an invitation Artists and life Advice to young artists Keep on mining
Diversity and the 'Token' How does one start with be diverse without having a ‘token?’ Meet Crystal Byrd Farmer. She teaches organizations who acknowledge the need for diversity but don’t know where to start. She works with organizations and people who are dedicated to social justice and the diversity of people they want to employ, across identities of race, LGBTQ, education, socioeconomics and disability. In today’s atmosphere, the topic of diversity and inclusion has become a heated and often misunderstood conversation. Educators and employers have tried many ways to be what they would consider ‘diverse and inclusive’. There’s busing when it comes to schools. In business there’s a certain air of being diverse by having a woman employee, an employee who is a person of color, an older employee, etc. There are ratios of people of diverse colors and cultures, and rules and regulations that have been put in place. Unfortunately, these good intentions can have the opposite result of what was intended. For some, they become the ‘token’. Crystal Byrd Farmer Crystal knows firsthand what it is like to be the ‘Token’. Growing up in a lower income black community, Crystal was bused to a middle school in a middle class white community. Crystal became the ‘Token.’ Crystal Byrd Farmer is the author of The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization. No punches pulled, Crystal wrote The Token which has been called provocative, humorous and an accessible guide for well-meaning people who acknowledge the need for diversity but don’t know where to start. An engineer turned educator, organizer and speaker, Crystal focuses on cohousing Black, and polyamorous communities. Crystal founded the Freedom School in Gastonia, NC. She serves on the Editorial Review board of Communities Magazine and is passionate about encouraging people to change their perspectives on diversity, relationships, and the world. Crystal lives in Gastonia, NC. This week's conversation with Crystal is candid and revealing: Being a 'token' in middle school Asking a question that can be harmful Macroaggression Bias Privilege - both white and black Freedom School & Self-Directed Learning Doing "The Work' Norms Meetings and location, location, location Recognizing different cultures Ways to be inclusive
Bestselling Author and Psychological Thrillers Wendy Walker is an internationally known bestselling author of psychological thrillers. This particular segment of novels suits her quite well in turbulent times. Especially when those times call for quick action. Her newest book Don't Look for Me, was supposed to be released on September 15th. As they say: 'timing is everything'. In early March preview copies had just been sent to bookstores and reviewers and then...Covid Lockdown! When things happen un-expectantly – Bringing a community of authors together The unexpected happens all the time. How Wendy handled it made all the difference. It took time, research and the use of what she had in front of her. Knowledge is power and Wendy used hers to commandeer her community of authors and lead them in taking the Bull by the Horns. With the power of the internet in front of her Wendy devised a very targeted and carefully executed plan. As a result, the release date of September 15th saw a flood of Wendy's book all over the book community on Instagram. Her plan not only benefited her, but also the community of authors who found themselves in the same predicament. Meet Wendy Walker Wendy Walker is a former family law attorney. While at home raising her three sons, Wendy began her writing career. Her latest thriller - Don't Look For Me deals with the bond between mother and daughter, guilt, blame and gaslighting. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller. All is Not Forgotten took her into the world of PTSD and memory suppression. Next was the thriller, Emma In The Night, taking her into the world of narcissism. And then came, The Night Before, taking her into the world of online dating. Wendy earned her J. D., magna cum laude, at the Georgetown University Law Center where she was awarded the American Jurisprudence award for her performance in Contracts and Advanced Criminal Procedure. She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University.  As part of her undergraduate studies, Wendy attended The London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to her legal career, Wendy was a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co.. She has also volunteered at the ACLU, Connecticut Legal Services and Figure Skating in Harlem where she served on the Board of Directors for over twelve years. Conversation, the Pandemic and a Community of Authors The conversation ran the gamut - from the pandemic to challenges to new avenues: Newly published and the pandemic Targeted strategies Getting the word out Bringing together a community of authors Oh the places we will go Discovering new avenues
With her passion for perfume, Jessica Murphy uncovers the history and empowerment of scent. Jessica is a Scent and Art Historian and a Museum Professional.  She's always looking for new ways to connect art, fragrance, history and popular culture. Jessica shares the continuing results of her curiosity and research skills and along the way, she enriches the enjoyment of perfume. Since 2006, Jessica has been a contributor for the leading perfume blog Now Smell This. And what better name for her website than 'Perfume Professor'. Since late 2015 Jessica has taught and lectured about the history and culture of fragrance at venues such as the Brooklyn Brainery, the Brooklyn Museum, The Institute for Art and Olfaction and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. Currently, Jessica is Manager of Visitor Engagement at the Brooklyn Museum. Before the pandemic, Jessica occasionally offered scent-themed tours. Prior to the Brooklyn Museum, Jessica worked as a Research Associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also worked as a Contractual Educator at the Met and as a Curatorial Assistant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Jessica received her B.A. from Fordham University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Delaware.  A conversation with Jessica Murphy... The beginning - religion or incense Festivals and seduction Commercial use Luxury and class Studio 54 That iconic fragrance Memories and scent
Who do Michelle Obama, Nicole Kidman, Emma Watson and Serena Williams have in common? Shilpa Yarlagadda, Founder of Shiffon. What do Michelle Obama, Nicole Kidman, Emma Watson and Serena Williams have in common? A Shiffon Duet Pinky Ring. They believe in the symbolism of the ring: the power of mentorship between women. Each of these women unite in showing the beauty behind this gem. And the 'Pinky Promise' to pay-it-forward. What is Shiffon? A fine jewelry company Shilpa started in her dorm at Harvard University. In 2017 looking for something to do in her downtime at Harvard, Shilpa started googling. The two areas that interested her the most were fine jewelry and women entrepreneurs. Two major discoveries took place:  Discovery #1 - fine jewelry has a large markup. Discovery #2 -  a large gender gap in the field of entrepreneurship exits. Armed with this information, Shilpa lowered the overhead by selling directly to the consumer. And embarked on a mission to close the entrepreneurial gender gap, 'one pinky at a time'. All while she continues finishing her studies at Harvard University. The Four Events Four events by Shilpa took place simultaneously: Attending Harvard University Launching Shiffon and the Duet Pinky Ring Launching the non-profit, Start-Up Girl Foundation - funding women entrepreneurs Donating 50% of Shiffon's profits from the Duet Pinky Ring to the Start-Up Girl Foundation Featured Forbes has named her in their list of '30 under 30'. The Wall Street Journal featured Shilpa in, 'The Crazy, True Story Behind the Pinky Ring Loved by Nicole Kidman, Michelle Obama and Serena Williams'. And CNBC did a story on her: 'How a 20-year old college student launched a jewelry company whose rings are worn by Michelle Obama'. The Duet Pinky Ring - a symbol of female solidarity and a promise to pay it forward. Since launching Shiffon Co., Shilpa and Shiffon have funded 11 female entrepreneurs. And it doesn't stop with money, it continues with mentoring. An Inspiring Conversation Listen to my inspiring conversation with Shilpa and: The entrepreneurial gender gap Why a spiraling ring Paying it forward Emma Watson and perseverance Doing one thing and doing it well Sustainable business model The network of powerful women supporting each other What's next
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