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Esosa E. Brings Hatshepsut Back To Life In “The Woman Who Would Be King”

On March 25th,  The Woman Who Would Be King is making its way from South Africa all the way to Washington, DC. This one woman fictional play is inspired by the life of Hatshepsut, who is known as one of the greatest women in history. In this play, the audience will be able to step into the shoes of a woman who strategically mastered her adversities to emerge as the first female ruler of ancient Egypt.

“I’m very excited to bring my one woman show to the DMV-area,” Esosa E., Creator of The Woman Who Would Be King said, “Although I am from here, this is the first time I’ve had the privilege to share my work with the community. Hatshepsut’s story really resonates with me and I am honored to share it for Women’s History month. She’s a woman who defied the traditions of her time, took power, and ruled peacefully for over twenty years. Right now our world needs more stories and examples of female leadership.”

Esosa E. is an award winning producer, writer, actress, health expert and fashion designer. She has been named an “Afro-Renaissance Woman” by the Weekend Argus and a “Young African Visionary,” by Obaasema Magazine. She has been included in Applause Africa’s list of “30 Most Intriguing Africans in New York,” and featured in The Roots list of “10 African Artists and Entrepreneurs You Should Know.” Currently she plays the role of Ngozi on the hit international TV and web series An African City, which has been featured by the New York Times, BBC, NPR, CNN, Vogue, Ebony, ELLE Magazine and the list goes on. She is a woman with many talents and is constantly adding accolades to her resume.  If you want to learn more about Esosa E, you can visit her website www.esosae.com.

We asked Esosa E. about her inspiration for creating this one woman play as well as how she hopes the audience will feel after the experience and what we can all do as a community to have a better grasp of our true history.

What inspired you to to create this one woman play?

First of all I’ve always been fascinated with ancient Egypt, but at the same time very disturbed by media portrayals of Egyptians that overall deny or imply that Egyptians were not of African descent. The other thing is that as an actress I have seen a ton of one woman and one man shows that inspired me. I think the first one I saw that made me say “I want to do that!” was Whoopi Goldberg’s “The Spook Show.” I actually found the play and read it first and then somehow got my hands on the footage. Whoopi is so brilliant in it. I love Anna Deavere Smith, I’ve seen every single one of Roger Guenveur Smith’s one man shows including “Rodney King” which I hear is coming to Netflix soon, and Sarah Jones “Bridge & Tunnel” on Broadway was the most spectacular character work I’d ever seen. As an actress I haven’t yet been represented by an agent to audition for consistent work and so I’ve focused my career on creating my own opportunities. An Egyptian Queen was a role I knew I could play, so rather than waiting for someone to find me and cast me in it, I started writing.

When you initially envisioned “The Woman Who Would Be King”, what was the driving force?

I was driven by wanting to do justice to this woman, Hatshepsut’s story. I found it incredibly fascinating that she declared herself Pharaoh and ruled successfully for over twenty years only to have an attempt to completely erase her from history. We all know about Nefertiti, Cleopatra, but Hatshepsut is just as if not more important, because she was trailblazer for women in power.

How was showing the play in South Africa? Has there been/Do you expect a different response/reaction here in the states? In what ways are they similar or different?

Having the opportunity to premiere the play in South Africa was incredible. I hadn’t exactly planned it, but I ended up there, fell in love with South Africa, and it made sense to have a play about an African woman, an African story premiere in Africa. I got an overwhelmingly positive response, so I am really grateful about that. I was scared when a group came to see the play from the Egyptian Society in South Africa, but they really loved it, and so I felt confident that I’d done the research I need to do, while of course taking creative license. South Africa and the U.S. are very similar in a lot of ways in that South Africa is the “U.S. of Africa.” People come from all over the continent to make a better life there, and so I met incredible people from everywhere: Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Angola, and more. They do still have underlying racial tensions that you can feel from apartheid, just as America still does from slavery and segregation. We unfortunately also now share something else in common with South Africa, as the President who has been holding onto power is extremely corrupt, abuses government funds, and is a misogynist.

What do you hope to accomplish/inspire with “The Woman Who Would Be King” play in the future?

After this production I’d love to continue touring it wherever people will have me! I’d love to perform at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, take it to Richmond to the Black History Museum, and also take it over to Los Angeles. The big dream of all dreams is The Public Theater in New York City and maybe also The West End in London. I studied Shakespeare at the Public Theater and have been in deep love with that theater and the work I have seen there ever since.

How do you want the audience to feel after seeing this play?

I hope they feel compelled to do more research on Hatshepsut, and hope they feel inspired to empower and encourage their daughters, sisters, or female friends to go for whatever it is they want. But above all it’s a story that at its core is about having a dream and manifesting it against all odds; I think anyone can be inspired by that.

Are there themes in “The Woman Who Would Be King” that may draw parallels to our current political climate? How so?

It’s funny because I thought that when my play debuted in America we may have a sitting female president, but that’s not the case. Regardless the play is about power, and the maneuvering one may undertake to achieve power even if it requires “alternative facts.” I think that mirrors our political climate for sure. The other aspect is that it is about a woman who since her youth had to deny her talent and clear ability to lead just because her society deemed it unacceptable. Hatshepsut had to create a persona and she even told the lie that her family lineage was Divine. In essence to take power and make people more comfortable with a woman ruling she said she was the spawn of a God.

We know that our true history has been hidden from us in the past. How do you think we as a culture can make it more of a priority to learn and teach the facts of our heritage as opposed to the narrative that’s been drilled into our American school system?

It’s so important that we start teaching our kids to not take as fact everything they read, and that we acknowledge that “history” can change depending on the perspective the story is told from. It’s dangerous to have history told in our school systems that only comes from one perspective. In order to achieve a diverse narrative we all have to step up and do our part to work to introduce new curriculums and information. We also have to take the time to do our own self-study and teach our young ones what they need to know. One of the things I would love to do with this play given the funding is to create a curriculum around African rulers and ancient African empires and take it into more schools. It is not fair or healthy to begin Black history in schools with the slave narrative. Children need to know that they are the descendants of Kings and Queens as well. For now, I will be visiting Bell Multicultural High School in Columbia Heights this month to perform the play, and I look forward to having the opportunity to share with the kids.

 

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Ladies in The Industry Networking Conference

No two women are created alike, and it’s our differences that will allow us to create our version of success in our lives. That was my major take-away after attending the Ladies in the Industry Networking Conference curated by Serene MGMT (https://www.serenemgmt.com/) and held at the Sheraton in Silver Spring.

Hosted and moderated by Deja Perez of 93.9 WKYS (http://dejaperez.com/), the networking conference centered around women in the media, whether it be music, radio, television or any other type of media outlet and how to navigate these mostly male-dominated industries. Not only were we treated to 3 dynamic panels with renowned guest speakers, we also were given the VIP treatment including access to vendors, a delicious lunch and swag bags. 

On the Sexism and Power panel we had PR powerhouse Candice Nicole (www.candicenicolepr.com), Ashleigh Demi of TV ONE and WPGC 95.5 (http://instagram.com/iamashleighdemi), and Raro Lae, and owner of the international media outlet “Raro Lae” (www.raralae.com). Not everyone compromises themselves to get to the top, and these women are proof!

The Relationship Panel dropped several jewels on how to maintain a satisfying and lasting relationship while developing and sustaining an unconventional career in media. Raven Paris of DTLR Radio and Love The Culture Radio (http://instagram.com/raven_paris), DJ and radio personality for Lit Radio DJ Mim (http://www.djmimdc.com/) and Lush of Lush Radio (http://www.lushradioonline.com/) provided valuable advice and lively and hilarious discussion. 

Something that we often overlook is how motherhood can affect the way one is able to thrive in the media industry. The Motherhood in Media panel provided numerous real-life stories that any working mother could relate to whether it was tips on work-life balance, how and when to expose our kids to our careers and how to do it all with grace and style. News coordinator for Fox 5 Michelline Bowman (http://instagram.com/michelinebowman), CEO of FSCo Agency Farrah Shanel (www.fscoagency.com), Kierra of Kmwexclusive.com and DTLR Radio(www.kmwexclusive.com), and WHIM Radio Personality, Blogger and Momager Lady J (http://instagram.com/ladyjapproved) all shared their experiences in a relatable, genuine and motivational way.

Thank you Nia and Megan of Serene Management and Ladies in the Industry for the invitation. I could tell that I wasn’t the only one that left with more information than I walked in with. Make sure you follow Serene MGMT on Instagram (https://instagram.com/p/BJOJaOaBzu_/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SereneMGMT/) to stay up to date with their future events. It was #LITI2017!

Photos courtesy of Ladies in the Industry (www.instagram.com/ladiesintheindustry)

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Do It #ForTheCulture Event Recap

 

“Do it for the culture (culture)/They gon’ bite like vultures (vultures)” – Migos

 

 

 

In the midst of Black History Month (or is it African American History Month?), the city celebrated with numerous activities and events that applauded the achievements and accomplishments of many distinguished members of the community. We are also lucky to be in an area that abounds with cultural creativity and excellence. The event #forthecuture made sure to highlight some of the DMV’s massive amount of talent.

Held at the Congress Heights Arts and Culture Center and curated by Distinctly Creative, attendees were treated to art, music, spoken word and genuine culture. Distinctly Creative is an art collective whose mission is to give a diverse, holistic, and collaborative representation of the DMV creative scene through a wide array of social and professional development opportunities. Their goal is to re-define how people think about DMV creatives while presenting their work to the community in a welcoming and fun environment. This month they presented 6 events as a part of their month-long celebration dubbed Black Renaissance.

 

The largely young, Afro-Bohemian crowd energetically mixed and mingled amidst a backdrop of artistic expression from artist murals, paintings, handmade jewelry, scarves and other pieces while enjoying the rhythms and sounds provided by Little Bacon Bear on the 1’s and 2’s. Hosted by Yasmine Arrington, performances included keyboardist and musician Drew Keys, poetry and spoken word by Whiskey Girl, Droopy the Broke Baller with Crochet Kingpin, with performances by Rodney Johnson me Ras Blesson. Each with their own distinctive flair, the performers delivered their messages in the crowded space with ease and excellence.

Particularly impressive were the displays of Afro-inspired artwork by some of the city’s most talented and tenacious artist. From depictions of our favorite hip-hop icons to novel portrayals of anything from black body to black love, there was a piece of art to suit any taste and aesthetic. Featured artists included Artifex Jay, Antwon Maxwell Photography, and Ebony Harris.

The vendors also added their standout pieces to the mix, while a portion of the proceeds received that night were donated to the Congress Heights Arts & Culture Center. You could find anything from handmade jewelry, intricately designed athletic wear, vintage couture, head wraps and scarves. Some of the vendors included Furthermore…, LLC, Andrew Williams, Ryann Kelly, Crochet Kingpin, Ruby Sampson, Uzo Njoku, CustomTaylorred, Yung Osiris, Dez Carter, WashingtonCuts, Tiger Swan Style, FemmeUSA, Cvlismv, Kyra the Bohemith, Sheetal D., and Kaylee P. For more information on the artists and vendors, head to Distinctly Creatives’ Instagram page (@distinctlycreative) or their website (www.distinctlydc.com).

Make sure you follow them on all platforms so that you can stay informed on future events and continue to do it #fortheculture!

 

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The Love Jones Cafe: A Welcomed Departure From Typical DC Nightlife

The Love Jones Cafe returned and if you weren’t in the building, then you missed out on a special evening. Presented by DCWKLY and the DCNIGHTS App, held at the swanky SAX Lounge, the Love Jones Cafe was a sophisticated soirée and a welcome departure from the typical nightlife scene here in DC.

The night began with El Lambert and The Band crooning guest with a variety of throwback and current R&B jams while guests were also treated to complimentary DeLeón Tequila and MtnDew Black Label cocktails and excellent service and bites by the SAX crew. Elegantly lit, the vibe in the house was palpable. Once the panel discussion began, let’s just say no topic was off limits.

Moderated and hosted by “The Massive Host” King Flexxa, the panel comprised of author and activist Tony Lewis, Jr, relationship blogger Diamond Mitchell, and the Duncan’s, Alfred and Sherrell, who were famously engaged and married all within 24 hours (Forever Duncan). Their insight was particularly insightful, engaging, and at times, hilarious. From the idea that reality TV has set unrealistic expectations for relationships to the “Netflix and chill”/”Hulu and Do You” generation, each panelist was able to provide personal stories as a backdrop for each topic discussed. And just like the movie, poet and spoken word artist Mr. Poetic Rock Star treated the crowd to his brand of word play.

I even gained some valuable information on love and relationships that I hadn’t even considered before. The predominantly female crowd laughed, cheered and at times added their own input for a lively and unforgettable evening. Fellas, you need to make sure you are in the building for the next Love Jones Cafe: not only was an ample amount of knowledge dropped, you could not deny the ladies showed out and filled the room with their beauty and radiance.

 

I leave you with some gems from the evening. Be sure to keep a look out for the next installment of the Love Jones Cafe, February 28th. Be there.

On trust:

We should grow together, but you shouldn’t want your spouse to change your whole vibe for you –Tony Lewis, Jr.

There are certain thing you are not going to do if your intentions are pure. –Diamond Mitchell

If I tell you and you don’t do it, then we have issues.– Alfred Duncan

On Social Media:

I was in a relationship with my husband before we were in a relationship, so when he posted that picture I knew we were in a relationship.– Sherrell Duncan

It serves as validation because we are going public. — Diamond Mitchell

On moving on from past relationships:

In relationships and in life we are the sum of our experiences. You’ve got to learn from what you’ve been through.–Tony Lewis, Jr.

The hardest thing to do is self reflect and to own up to the thing that you did in the relationship.–Sherrell Duncan

Medicate each other with love.– Alfred Duncan

If you don’t feel confident in your decision making, you won’t feel confident in the one you picked.–Diamond Mitchell

On falling in love with potential:

If we are not speaking to the potential (of the other person) then we are really doing a disservice.–Tony Lewis, Jr.

Potential expires very quickly. — Diamond Mitchell

He’s pouring into me and I’m pouring into him.– Sherrell Duncan

Check out the rest of the pictures from 1.24.17 edition of The Love Jones Cafe here!

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Things To Do This Weekend: The MLK Edition

IG: @michellesashawrites

Our President is STILL black, so we shall turn up one last time in his honor this MLK weekend. There is plenty to do, so check out a handful of your options below.

1 Up Tour at the Howard Theater Join the wave and catch Retch at the Howard Theater for the 1 Up Tour. The DMV’s own Dope Music Village will also be performing and it’s sure to be a memorable experience. Gaining considerable traction in the hip-hop game, including appearing at the A3C Music Conference and Festival, as well as being one of Karen Civil’s “Civil’s Picks”. Tickets are $15

SoL Day Party and Clothing Drive Who doesn’t appreciate a good day party? This Saturday head to Cities for the return of the SoL Day Party. In honor of Martin Luther King weekend, ForWard Vision Group is doing their part by giving back. They will have a representative from We Feed Our People on site collecting NEW Underwear and warm winter clothing (including skull caps, gloves, and/ or blankets). Another party for a cause! RSVP here (soldaypartyatcities.eventbrite.com)


It Was All a Dream Day Party at Gryphon Set your Sunday off right for the It Was All A Dream Day Party at Gryphon. Hosted by King Flexxa with music by DJ Quicksilva and DJ Stevo. To RSVP, hit the DCNIGHTS app for your complimentary passes for Gryphon Sundays or hit this link.


Fetty Wap at Echostage You know you don’t have to work on Monday, so come Fetty Wap’s way to Echostage to see him live in concert. Tickets are still available if you head to Ticketmaster now.


Founders Day at Rosebar Join The Network DC on Sunday for a special edition of Rosebar Sunday’s as they celebrate the Founders Day of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Long weekends were made for nights like this. RSVP here


While long weekends are great for a good time, don’t forget to take time to reflect on what this weekend is truly about. Head to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall to remember that we are all a part of his dream. The last weekend before we bid a final farewell to our President, let’s not forget MLK’s message; “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

[via usaguidedtours.com]

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Chopped Bartender Competition Powered by (BELVEDERE)RED

4 Mystery Ingredients, 3 Bartenders, 1 Great Cause.

What better way to kick off the holidays than a party for a cause. The Chopped Bartender Competition powered by (BELVEDERE)RED was held at the luxurious SAX Restaurant and Lounge. Organized by Candice Nicole PR, the event was filled to the brim with light bites, beautiful people, and of course cocktails provided by Belvedere.

Party goers kicked back with their drinks, enjoyed party favors, and mingled as the competition began. Finalists Frank Mills of Jack Rose, Tyler Hartman of Joe’s Seafood, and Crystal Altizer of Soundcheck not only mixed their best cocktails with the provided ingredients, but also put on quite the show. The DJ kept the energy going as the bartenders did their thing. It was super entertaining to watch these three finalists in their element; it was easy to see that they take pride in their craft.

When it was time to announce the winners, all eyes were on center stage. You could feel the anticipation in the air as everyone gathered around with their drinks and their smartphones to capture the winning moment. Frank Mills of Jack Rose was crowned the undisputed winner on the night. The panel of three judges praised the way he used the ingredients, and it was apparent he had quite a support system in the house. Apparently this isn’t the first time Frank has won a bartending competition, either. Check him out this past summer at CÎROC’s Drink Of Summer Mixology Contest.

If you are still looking for a way to give back before the year ends, gather your friends, grab a bottle of (BELVEDERE)RED, and have your own bartender battle. As members of the DC community, the battle against AIDS is one that should be close to all of our hearts. Join the likes of Bono and John Legend to lend your helping hand in a unique and fun way.

Belvedere proudly donates 50% of their profits from each bottle of (BELVEDERE)RED to the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. Belvedere continues their partnership for (RED), the organization founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage people in the fight against AIDS through collaborations with the world’s most iconic brands. Visit their website for more information.

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4 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays in DC

It’s that time of year again. Whether you’re singing “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” or muttering “bahumbug”, it’s never too late to get into the holiday spirit. Luckily for us, DC has so many options when it comes to the holidays. From Christmas light installations to holiday parties and shows, the holidays don’t have to only be about busy malls, packed parking lots and Santa Clause. Here are 4 positive ways to get your Ho-Ho-Ho on this holiday season. 

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7th Annual DC or Nothing Turkey Drive

 

‘Tis the season to give back!

When you see people set aside time, energy, and resources in pursuit of a good cause, it’s almost a no-brainer to shine a light on them!

This past weekend marked the 7th annual DC or Nothing Turkey Drive held at the popular venue, Bar 7. The mission, envisioned by Grammy nominated singer Raheem DeVaughn, author and activist Tony Lewis, the party kingpin and philanthropist DJ Quicksilver of 93.9 WKYS, and award-winning Chef JR Robinson, was to help feed over 300 families in The District this Thanksgiving season.

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Powered by Raheem DeVaughn’s own Love Life Foundation and a host of other sponsors, the mobilization effort was incredible to see. Canned goods took the place of cocktails as they lined the bar, while bags and bags of groceries and turkeys seemingly burst through the front doors of Bar 7. As they prepared packages and hit the streets to personally deliver the goods, I saw lots of familiar faces, including DC WKLY’s own Anwaa Kong, and Mo Betta of Santa Cause.

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From volunteers collecting donations to sponsors lending a helping hand themselves, it was beautiful to see so many gather and pitch in to effect change in a community that so desperately needs it. According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, 110,500 District residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2015 (income below $24,000 for a family of four) while 27 percent of the city’s Black population lived in poverty in 2015, up from 23 percent in 2007. And nearly three-quarters of all District residents who live in poverty are Black. That is why it’s imperative that our leaders use their platform to not only uplift the community, but also show others that every little bit helps and goes a long way.

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Millennials take note! Success is more than hard work and achieving your goals and dreams. In the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” This event highlighted that when people come together behind a worthwhile cause, lives can be improved, and even changed for the better.

 

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DC = District of Collaboration

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Recently, I got a sneak peak into a new wave in the city called DC: District of Collaboration. Not only is the name clever, but so is the concept. Powered by producer and newly-minted artist El Lambert, the concept is simple: collaboration. It’s a way to capitalize off of the spirit of co-existing while simultaneously showcasing some of The DMV’s up-and-coming musical talent. When speaking with El Lambert, who declared that he wasn’t even an artist a year ago, he expressed his hopes that this concept will be the beginning of a more supportive and collaborative culture within the DC music scene.

Every last Sunday of the month for the next 12 months, El Lambert will drop a new single featuring a different DMV artist. Each song will be different, and, based on this methodology, we can expect a unique and eclectic blend of music from singers, rappers, producers, and poets all from the district. We can also anticipate a single release event each month to showcase the song, as well as the artists involved in the project. When it’s all said and done, the songs will be released as a District-Only compilation album

The first single, What A Feeling is a blend of reggae/afro beat and R&B. Coined “Reg&B”, El Lambert taps artist and producer Fúnsho for this feel-good club single. Playing off of the “island sound” trend, i.e. Controlla by Drake and Work by Rihanna, Nigerian-American Fúnsho blends his own background and artistry to deliver a fun and dance-worthy tune.

We were also treated to El Lambert’s smooth and mellow single How Does It Feel and Fúnsho’s politically and hip-hop charged single Prezzy.

DC: District of Collaboration is a well thought out plan with a lot of potential. With similar concepts gaining considerable traction in other large cities like LA, New York, and Atlanta, let’s hope that this project will put DC on the map as a place where artists can come together, support one another, and help each other shine. Be sure to keep a look out for more from the District of Collaboration and listen to the first single, What A Feeling!

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