Talk show queen Wendy Williams makes Broadway debut in 'Chicago'

Talk show queen and best-selling author Wendy Williams began her Broadway debut engagement as Matron "Mama" Morton in the Tony Award-winning revival of the musical Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre. Williams' engagement runs through August 11.

Before the debut, Williams told Page Six that she memorized the words to her character's solo tune, “When You’re Good to Mama,” saying “I sing it in the shower." And that she had plan to hire a vocal coach so she could learn to “pace my voice so I don’t blow it out. I’ve never had laryngitis before in all my years in radio, so I want to be very careful to spare my instrument.”

Williams follows Queen Latifah and Chandra Wilson, tackling this role of this corrupt matron of the Cook County Jail in various movie and stage productions of Chicago.


Beyoncé and others achieving true independence, collectively

J. Cole, Gabby Douglas, Frank Ocean, Necole Bitchie, Soledad O’Brien, Rev. Al Sharpton, President Barack Obama, Dwyane Wade, Beyoncé and YOU!

On the 4th of July, fireworks will start the day and celebrities will speak of Independence and what it means to be sure. The African American community will have to look inside and endure. Our independence has become dependent on things that don’t hold true. The fact is we are celebrating as a united country, but a deeper look may show two. Two disparate countries that don’t treat each other as equals to this day.

We celebrate as if we are equal when we are advancing, but are not equal in opportunity or pay. We respect and pledge our lives to Thee. We are not creators of Jihads or movements against the country. Laws have been passed that clearly affect how a brother moves everyday. For those who rap and sing about slinging, selling or smoking dope, it can affect you and other brothers in a significant way. There are movies that talk about and display the tragedies at hand.

We understand exactly what is happening when we read Gideon’s promises and the stories that it says for every man. Many young brothers become felons because they cannot get out of jail. Let them listen to rap songs, disastrous lies and tales. Young brothers are caught in the motion of having to plead guilty because they don’t have money for a lawyer or bail. It’s the only way they are set free, they say.

We all love and respect Beyoncé onstage. She has things that we all appreciate to this day. We know what she means and we understand what it brings. But, is that independence for you and me today? She must be the example for some to see independence and what it is to hold and have a business that’s true.

Is it independently thinking that you won’t destroy your brother or sister today? Or destroy the image of African Americans when you act recklessly or ratchetly as they say. Independence is a wonderful day and fireworks go off in our heads. But typically when our community hears “pop” and “boom,” it means somebody’s dead.

It’s collective thinking that advances our call and brings meaning to the things that we say aloud. When James Brown sang “Say it loud. I’m black and I’m proud,” we didn’t have to wonder why he said it. Now I am not certain we remember the lyrics to this song and that we are independently proud. Collectively, let us all get in step so that we can move in a level of respect to understand what independence should do.

Independently, intellectually challenging and competing against all those who come our way independently thinking that collectively we’re linked in a valuable and indispensable way.

So, on the 4th of July, we celebrate with loud, speaker boxes. We have picnics and eat. Let it not be that what you consume will affect your heart, add to high blood pressure and obesity too. For all those things we see, here are a few who have helped us on the way to independence. The African American community progressing and independently understanding that we are linked and understand that we should be all that we think we are to accomplish and really inspire others to say how great our community is as they celebrate with us.

It’s not about a song of independence, but let us understand, collectively, how to elevate our community on this Independence Day all day long.

'The Young and the Restless' star Redaric Williams talks soap scenes versus reality

Redaric Williams’ silky caramel skin, seductive hazel eyes and killer abs have more than Lily’s temperature rising on “The Young and the Restless.” Those who aren’t even fans of the long-running soap have been tuning in to see Williams play Tyler Michaelson. The 6-foot-1 looker is making such an impression that he’s been featured in a couple of prime time CBS commercials alongside other resident “Y&R” eye candy. In fact, “Y&R” has already signed him to a long-term contract.

Although he acted as a child, the former college athlete didn’t really start taking acting seriously until six years ago when it was clear sports was not going to pan out. Deciding New York would be his best bet over L.A., he headed east, but quickly discovered his steamy good looks and athletic build generated more attention from modeling agencies. This led to international modeling contracts, and Williams actually became the face of the South African beer brand, Carling Black Label.

He tells rolling out's contributing writer Ronda Racha Penrice:

“As an actor, these storylines are just a blessing after a blessing after a blessing but, in real life, that’s a dangerous place to be,” he warns. “You talk about dealing with a co-worker, which is very common; that’s a very, very real scenario [with] married couples or even people who are in extended relationships that are very committed to one another, and they have a co-worker who maybe is getting a little too close for comfort.

“It’s a very realistic depiction of a dangerous life situation and I think that’s why it makes for good viewing,” he adds. “People kind of tune in because they want to see what’s going to happen because I think [we] can kind of learn from situations that we see on the soaps.”

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Uneku Atawodi: 1st and Only Black Female Professional Polo Player

Uneku Saliu-Atawodi wears her crown well. The first female black professional polo player on the international stage represents her native Abujua, Nigeria by giving back through her charity, Ride to Shine. She regularly spends time with orphans, teaching them riding techniques, and raising money for their education trust funds so they can achieve their dreams of being "doctors, lawyers, [and] football players."

The 25-year-old knows all to well what it feels like to be a child with a dream. Atawodi started out cleaning the horse stables and today, she's the first and only black female professional polo player in the world.

"The world is fast becoming more and more globalized, and traveling around the world and living on my own from 14, playing polo in beautiful countries in the corners of the world from 16, that really helped me to attain a globalised view way before my time," she offers.

"I have played in so many amazing countries around the world and have been led to meet so many amazing people, most of which have helped me in my career decisions, and have led me to some very successful business choices. A world view on anything you jump at in business greatly helps your decision-making process. Analogies from around the world give you hypothetic views on every choice you make before you make it."

On what keeps more black women from entering the sport...
There is an influx of all cultures entering the sport, and that comes from the sport being more popularized in modern times, and getting to more people. I guess in America, it is the wealth bracket, as it is deemed an expensive and an elitist sport. But I find the polo community to be one of the most welcoming sporting communities and if you approach a club with your interest, you might end up with a beautiful new life experience.
On why it was important to earn a masters degree in international business and a bachelors in equestrian science?
I quickly realized that to advance in the sport I love, one would need to be a successful individual. My dream was always to own a polo resort. While traveling around the world playing, I've learned that most polo communities are financially successful via real estate. I am also greatly inspired by conceiving a business model and seeing it come to life. My mother used to say I had a bit of a short attention span with popping up with various business ideas everyday. I sold cookies at 11 and made a 300 percent profit, so you bet you my a** thought I was Bill Gates [laughs]. My international business degree helped me understand how different countries around the world operate in business and because I knew that my love came from traveling the world, I knew that I wanted to do business with various people around the world. Understanding their cultures as it pertains to relationship and business intrigued me. 
An education is very important. It helps you understand how basic things in the world work and revolve. It also helps you answer why, which we should always ask. The inquisitive mind of a child ought not be stymied. So even as adults, train your brain to always want to understand things in sports, in life, in love and understand why.


'True Blood' Actress Rutina Wesley on Sex Appeal

HBO's "True Blood" actress Rutina Wesley who plays waitress-turned-vampire Tara Thornton has gone from being an unknown Juilliard-trained actress to a television superstar. She tells rolling out in a recent cover story interview that she constantly inundated her husband, actor Jacob Fishel, with on-set stories.

For her, it's been an amazing ride to the top. “Early on, I had to catch myself,” she says, chuckling. “All I would do was talk about work. I was so excited to be on TV. He was like ‘Can I have my wife back, please?’ ”

Wesley gets to display a side of herself that isn’t tortured and teary-eyed. After years of being known as the show’s resident “tough girl,” Tara Thornton got a sexed-up makeover last season, courtesy of her transformation into a vampire. And Rutina couldn’t be happier with the change.

She also shares during the interview in part:

“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot more opportunities — especially since I’ve been a vampire,” Wesley concedes. “People see me in a different light. I get to be really sexy, instead of [always wearing] a tank top and jean shorts ripped at the bottom.”

“Sometimes, there’s a double-edged sword because of that stereotype of the aggressive, angry black woman — they think that’s all I can do,” Wesley says, revisiting  the aforementioned “angry black woman” criticisms. “So when I get auditions, I really have to go in the room and show people a whole other side of me.” She says that producers and directors are now beginning to see the sexier, funnier,broader side of Rutina Wesley.

“I’ve had such a journey and such a transformation and I feel like that’s the greatest thing … it’s been a great change for me,” she says.

President Barack Obama, Jay-Z: The new Father’s Day role models

What do Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Barack Obama and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter have in common? Fatherhood.

Jay-Z and his daughter, Blue Ivy, are all over today’s news headlines. What does this say to the brother who doesn’t know who his father is? How will he treat his future son or daughter? Will he love and understand them?

We wonder if President Obama has set the bar too high? Maybe men don’t identify with him as a father and the new image of African American fatherhood.

While seated in the audience at Morehouse College’s commencement, President Obama demanded respect for women. The applause from the crowd was deafening, illustrating the crowd’s excitement that someone finally said what they were all thinking. It is Father’s Day and we must also remember that it’s father’s time.

Being a father can be seen today from so many perspectives. It can still be a tragedy for fathers who are in prison and absent. What must they do? Not having a father in the home has a psychologically profound effect on children. We must follow a mandate, and if necessary, change how we father today.

Each and every day we see there are men who have taken over the race. We see fathers like Lil Wayne attend to their children and not try to erase their responsibility. Can we compare ourselves to him? Can we start fatherhood too early, creating compounding problems that last?

Nas wrote “Daughters,” a song where he speaks from the heart to his daughter. There are others who dedicate songs to discuss what they’ve done wrong and the father they never they never knew or had. Is that a reason to treat a young sister or the mother of your children badly?

Excuses removed, the children lose. Make sure we treat our children like stars. They’re the reason we should push ourselves and work a second job if necessary. It’s a new day. Fatherhood is for all black men to give what they didn’t receive.

What did MLK do? He fathered a movement.  We see other men who make a difference like Rev. Al Sharpton and David Dinkins. Fatherhood is playing a role. Take, for example, the great LeBron James. We know the mother of his children and we his family in commercials with him. We know that he takes them to the barbershop. We know that Steve Harvey has sons and two lovely daughters, and he sets examples for what men should do. We have Tom Joyner, who’s taken the time to father and create a charity where he’s giving millions of dollars to educate our children.

Let us not forget the fathers who make sacrifices during wars, like Colin Powell and the men who serve in the military and are separated from their families. Much respect to those who give and set examples we retain — starting with the tears that run from their children’s faces because he’s absent. It’s truly a reflection of pain. Let’s remove these stains from the souls of our children and express greatness where we can.

Change today. Don’t worry about yesterday because you can’t change the past. Being a great father or a surrogate will have a profound effect on our future.

Shout-outs to all fathers who do what they can. Let’s stand up and reflect on a positive African American man.


Cicely Tyson wins first Tony Award (Video)

Cicely Tyson, 79, wins of the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for "The Trip to Bountiful" at The 67th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 9.

It's the Harlem native's first time on Broadway since 1983, when she played in the revival of "The Corn is Green."

Wearing a custom purple gown, Tyson gave a soul-stirring speech, saying "I'm the sole surviving member of my immediate family. I've asked over and over again why. I now know why. You wrapped me up in your arms after 30 years, and now I can go home with a Tony."

It was "The Trip to Bountiful's," which received four nominations, only Tony win.

Beyoncé, Salma Hayek Pinault Join Gucci's 'Chime for Change'

Fashion powerhouse Gucci has launched Chime for Change with female powerhouses: pop star Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, movie star Salma Hayek Pinault and Gucci creative director Frida Giannini who will serve as ambassadors of health, justice and education, respectively, for women in crisis around the world. To kick the campaign in full gear, Beyoncé will headline a concert in London on June 1, 2013 at Twickenham Stadium.

In a recent interview with Harper's Bazaar magazine, the trio shared why their bells are ringing. Here's what they had to say in part:

"We have to take the lead. If we are educated, our girls will value education. If we respect our bodies, they will value theirs ... Until we walk the walk, it just continues to be talk." –Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

"The best accessory a woman can wear is confidence ... I am inspired not only by my fellow cofounders of Chime for Change but also by individuals like Malala Yousafzai [the 15-year-old Pakistani education activist]." – Frida Giannini

"I'd like to see the life of a woman valued and respected around the world. It is incredible to think that at this time in history there are many places where we do not have basic human rights." –Salma Hayek Pinault

10 Powerful Quotes from Oprah Winfrey’s Speech at Harvard’s Commencement

Oprah Winfrey served as the keynote speaker at Harvard's 362nd commencement. Rolling out was on hand when the media mogul inspired graduates as her words provoked thought for anyone seeking to reach a higher level in their personal life or career.

  1. "There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
  2. "Trouble don’t last always. This too shall pass."
  3. "It doesn’t matter how far you might rise. At some point, you are bound to stumble."
  4. "Even though this is the college where Facebook was born, my hope is that you will try and go out and have more face-to-face conversations with people you disagree with.”
  5. "I have to say the single most important lesson I learned in 25 years is there's a common denominator in our experience. We want to be validated. We want to be understood."
  6. “To fulfill the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity.”
  7. "What you learn, teach; what you get, give. That, my friends, is what gives your life purpose and meaning."
  8. "The highest, most truthful expression of yourself is as a human being. You want to max out your humanity."
  9. "Lean in to use your voice, lean in to make change where it needs to be made, and lean in to invest your heart and your soul in ideas and people."
  10. "I am going to turn this thing around, and I will be better for it.”