Kerry Washington’s Purse, New Weapon Against Domestic Violence

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Kerry Washington may not have ever experienced domestic violence, but that doesn’t mean she can’t use her voice or her celebrity powers to continue the conversation–especially when it’s a subject that’s been hushed for too long.

The face of Scandal has partnered up with the Allstate Foundation once again, just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to encourage women to speak up about both the abuse and the financial burdens that come about in abusive relationships. In a collaborative design effort with Dee Ocleppo, Kerry Washington assisted in creating the 2015 Purple Purse for Allstate’s campaign, where the actress has also been appointed ambassador. This is the starlet’s second take on a purse with the organization where she debuted her first chic bag last year.

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The significance of using a clutch as a conversation-starter on the topic stemmed from the impact of economic abuse on relationships and the need to put “financial control and freedom directly into [women’s] hands.” A 2009 national Allstate Foundation poll found over 75% of Americans believe the recession further strained domestic violence victims and survivors and 67% believe the poor economy caused an increase in domestic violence. They also reported “57% of cities cite domestic violence against women and children as top cause of homelessness.”

Kerry Washington spoke her involvement in the major project and the empowerment behind the purse.
“Financial abuse is prevalent in 98% of the cases of domestic violence and the number one reason why women go back to abusers. These women don’t feel like they can take care of themselves financially.”

“Purple purse assists women in becoming financially independent and saves their lives and their families. I love being able to be part of that solution.”

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On why she chose a purse, the Emmy-nominated star mentioned the symbolism behind the fashion piece.

“A purse is where your financial well being lives. All of the things that are of value to you live in your purse, so it’s kind of the perfect metaphor for this work.”

On the Purple Purse website, Allstate invites their users to experience how financial abuse keeps victims trapped through an interactive video — and it’s chilling. The beginning of the visual starts with the viewer hearing a glass shatter as she washes dishes and the screen asks:

You’re a 33-year-old, stay-at-home mom, married since the summer after college. In the past few years, financial troubles have pushed your husband’s temper from jealous to controlling to physical. You no longer feel safe in your own home.

Do you want to stay or leave?


The user is then navigated through steps she would take if she decides to leave, and a few issues she would encounter, such as not having the financial means to get out of the relationship. Do you call a friend? Turn to a family member? Run off to a hotel?


The video proves that although it’s easy for bystanders to ask, “Why don’t you leave?,” many women may not have the financial means to do so. That is where the Purple Purse initiative comes in as it teaches women financial tools such as saving, debt management, and credit clean up.
The $350 purse is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, with 25% of the proceeds going towards more than 160 domestic violence organizations across the nation and locally. These programs aim to provide life-changing services to survivors. And if that’s too much for your wallet, Purple Purse is also selling awareness charms for $10. The charms serve as a symbol to show victims they are not alone, with a detachable card of a survivor’s story.

Check out Kerry Washington’s purse and PSA on the making of the purple purse below and let us know ways you speak out against abuse amongst women.

Are you a domestic violence survivor? What were some of the reasons you stayed? What gave you the strength to ultimately leave?

Culled from

Educators To Bear Arms In School Premises As Safety Measure

The Argyle Independent School District in north Texas has started the 2014-15 school year, as KDAF-TV noted, “with guns blazing” — or, rather, with newly armed teachers who have been given the right to use them “to protect our students.”

KDAF reported that all teachers who are given a gun must obtain a license to carry it, pass a psychological evaluation and get training in how to use the weapon. Signs like the one below have been posted at all four of the schools in the small district.

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Argyle is not the only school district that is arming its educators this year. In fact, nearly 20 states have laws allowing adults to carry licensed guns into schools. KCUR radio in Kansas City, Mo., reported that a dozen mostly rural school districts in Missouri have provided weapons and training to teachers this year — even though Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in July vetoed legislation that would have allowed teachers to get special training to possess guns in schools. The legislature may override the veto this month.

Here’s what Nixon said when he vetoed the bill:

“Arming teachers will not make our schools safer. I have supported and will continue to support the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers, but I cannot condone putting firearms in the hands of educators who should be focused on teaching our kids.”

Kansas City Star columnist Lewis Diuguid wrote in this piece that anyone seeking to overturn Nixon’s veto should consider what happened recently at Idaho State University. An instructor carrying a concealed gun accidentally shot himself in the foot in the chemistry lab. Students were in attendance at the time but luckily none of them were hit.
I can see how people would be worried and concerned with weapons being physically present in schools. However for this particular case I m willing to take my chances because at least the students stand a chance of having an option as opposed to just being helpless if an invasion ever happened.
New gun laws need to be passed and only mentally capable people need to be able to carry weapons. The issue the government has to deal with now is how exactly to determine who is mentally capable of carrying one.

Is Posing Nude Really About Self Confidence or Merely A Dangerous New Trajectory

Zoe in Womens Health Magazine

Zoe in Womens Health Magazine

I posted a photo on Instagram yesterday of Zoe Saldana nude inside the pages of Women’s Health Magazine. On the photo there was an inscription that read “I love skin. I don’t believe the body is something to hide”. This got me thinking and hence the motivation for this post. My first thought was, why not walk around nude since the body is not meant to be hidden? My second thought was own the nude shoot you have been paid to do but do not promote is as if it should be accepted as “normal”. Stay with me here.

I have chosen four women that I personally love to share in this post because I do believe that these women stand for the improvement and empowerment of young girls the world over. I am also in support of owning your flaws and accepting your body the way it is which is what these covers claim to promote. However, the touch ups and make up used for these shoots do none of that any justice. Sometimes these photos look nothing like the actual people. This then puts further strain on the girls the “nude photos” are supposed to empower.
Nudity has been around for centuries and probably going nowhere. In fact the adult movie industry has been booming since the 70s. The days of Farrah Faucet and Elizabeth Taylor was the commencement of the nude cover boom and it looks like with the likes of Kim Kardashian this will not be going anytime soon. Ten years ago women who posed nude for photos and magazines were supposedly breaking barriers and were prepared for the backlash that came with it, nowadays it has become normal to just go ahead and take your damn clothes off. It’s not as embarrassing, not as shameful.

If anything it exudes confidence. Am I too old fashioned to get it? I consider myself very liberal, very open to change and very accepting of it, but please I do not want to see your vagina every time I turn around, or do I? Perhaps I should look away? But it’s everywhere, how do I avoid it? Here’s the question I m trying to pose? Is the idea behind this current, more popular nudity crave expected to be accepted and respected? What exactly is being sold with such magazine covers? Am I to be comfortable with my daughters posing nude or aspiring to do so?
Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and other models have walked the runways around the world to panties and bras trying to sell exactly those “panties and bras”. I guess I can be forced to understand that aspect of it. They can’t sell lingerie with coats and sweaters on. They and such other models in those circumstances get a pass. But the idea of just standing butt naked and being plastered in front of a magazine that millions of people will see? Should these women be embarrassed, should they start to say NO to the magazine owners and photographers by refusing those nude shoot proposals? Would they in doing so be interfering with their own art an that of the photographers? I know that this is an ongoing topic in which no resolution or conclusion would be gotten- at least not today, not in this post, not in this era at least. Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Cara Delavigne and the youngies in the modelling industry are now raising the bar as well. I simply needed to see how you guys were feeling about all this nudity.
When Paper Magazine first revealed Kim Kardashian’s naked cover (her derriere) on the cover of their magazine, the entire world went ballistic and yes I agree the internet almost got broken. Some were quick to say that it was a wrong move because she was a mother. (Mind you she herself knows that she is a mother) Others wondered whether her husband was fine with the decision. Later it was rumored that all the shoots that she accepted were approved by her husband.

Does that mean that men do not really mind their significant others being nude in magazines? Is it a way to show off how beautiful they are, or strictly as a means of business? What about those men that would not approve of their wives, fiancees, girlfriends do such? Are they insecure?
Here’s the verdict. If you must do it, be tasteful about it, don’t bare it all out but if you had the choice, refrain.

Titi Sonuga My Woman Crush With A Message

speaking at the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria (2015)

speaking at the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria (2015)

I lead this post with this title and with this picture so that those who have not heard the name Titilope Sonuga will not only take her seriously but understand the magnitude of her work. Her website says more about her than I will ever be able to write, not in too many words though, but in just enough words.
I first saw Titi in season 2 of the web series “Gidi Up”. I was like ‘Oh ok, the girl is acting as a poet? that’s fresh”. At least she was not posing as a rich businesswoman or fashion designer or publicist or model manager (was just bored seeing those roles being played and replayed). A poet? yum!. She exuded confidence with her original locs, whether it was her natural God given hair or some braids, she simply screamed authentic. Then I watched her and her other cast members on the couch on talk show “The Juice” hosted by Toolz and confirmed she was actually a poet and not merely playing one. Hooked I was
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The award winning Poet, author and spokesperson continues to inspire as she partnered with Intel to empower young girls with the #shewillconnect initiative with the help of technology and the internet, while giving back to the world. What’s not to love? See the she will connect website

There is something about this lady that I am yet to put my fingers on. I am a lover of words myself perhaps that’s the attraction? The partnership for the progression of girls maybe? She seems to live her very own authentic life, what could be more attractive? Titi has tons of awards to her name for her amazing work as a poet and writer, she seeks to empower women with her words and encourage us to love ourselves just the way we are, and for that Titi Sonuga, you are my woman crush today.
Learn more about Titilope Sonuga on her website above and follow her on instagram @titilope
I know I ‘ll meet her soon, in fact I ll hunt her down whenever I visit Nigeria and I m sure she’ ll be happy to meet me- a fan.
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titi beach

Meet Kanya Sesser, the Lingerie Model With No Legs Who’s Inspiring Confidence in Others

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Kanya Sesser is not your average 23-year-old woman. She was born without legs and began her life deserted on the steps of a Thai Buddhist temple. It was a rough start, to be sure. But Sesser didn’t let that stop her from becoming a Los Angeles-based lingerie model with a lucrative career.

Sesser was adopted when she was 5 years old and moved from Thailand to Portland, Oregon. After she did a photoshoot for Billabong at age 15, she was approached to model lingerie, the young woman told the Daily Mail. Sesser has also modeled for Volcom, Rip Curl Girl and Nike.

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“It’s something fun and it shows my story — I’m different and that is sexy,” Sesser told the Daily Mail. “I don’t need legs to feel sexy.”

“I like expressing myself in a different way than people usually see,” she said. “This is just who I am.”

The young model is also an avid sportswoman (opting to travel around on a skateboard instead of in a wheelchair) and has excelled in a number of arenas — skateboarding, surfing and basketball, to name a few. She has her sights set on the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea, where she hopes to represent the United States in mono-skiing.
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Sesser’s career is reinforcing body-positive attitudes, redefining beauty standards in the process. “We want to challenge the unrealistic standard of beauty that’s there now,” Wendy Crawford, a disabled activist who has also modeled, told Elle.

“I think all women have a hard time with body image and self acceptance, and if we could see our assets and our qualities as opposed to looking at ourselves negatively and not let the outside world define us, we can do anything,” she added. Historically, the modeling industry has lacked diversity in a range of areas, including race, age and size.
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Sesser never planned on being a model and intends on continuing her career as a sportswoman, she told the Daily Mail. Despite not having planned for a modeling career, the young woman still finds it fun. As for why she enjoys modeling so much, Sesser simply says: “These images show my strength.”
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Follow this beauty and see some of her amazing unbelievable photos on instagram @kanyasesser
For this awesomeness and the spirit she brings to the world, Ms Sesser, you are my Mazel of the day.

Motivational Monday “Your History Is Whatever You Choose to Tell About Yourself”


No matter what you’ve been through, it can become beautiful in the retelling.
By Elizabeth Gilbert

Everybody in my family is a talented storyteller. We can’t play team sports, we have a tiny little problem with drinking and we’re all pretty dysfunctional about money—but man oh man, can we tell a good story.

I spent my childhood watching narratives get spun, twisted and renegotiated as family events were transformed from incidents into stories. There’s a big difference, it turns out, between the two. An incident is an event that happens in real time, with real consequences, usually involving real (and raw) human emotion. A story is what you make out of it later. Incidents are wild and dangerous; stories are controlled and reassuring. In the process of building a story, you sand down the sharp edges of an incident, buffing away all the pain and immediacy and urgency, creating something you can carry around safely in your pocket. A story is a magnificent thing because it puts you back in control.

Growing up, my grandfather used to tell the tale of his cousin who had a habit, back in the 1950s, of getting drunk late at night and then going for nude swims in the Erie Canal, all alone. One night this poor fellow locked himself out of his truck—which contained his clothing. He was forced to walk home, several miles along the one main road of his hometown, wet and naked.

But it gets better! My grandfather’s cousin had found a tiny washcloth in the bed of his pickup truck—the only thing he could use to hide his nakedness. As he walked home, whenever he saw a car approaching from the front, he would use the washcloth to cover his private parts. Whenever he heard a car approaching from the back, he would cover his bottom. Inevitably, of course, two cars approached from both directions at exactly the same time. Should he cover his privates or his bottom?

“So I asked him,” my grandfather said, “‘What did you do?'”

And the cousin shook his head ruefully and replied, “All I can say is this: I’ve always hoped that I made the right decision.”

God, how I loved that story!

Of course, as an adult, I can see that it might not have been so hilarious back when it was actually occurring—back when it was an incident. But my grandfather’s cousin had taken that unhappy incident and crafted it into a really good story, which he then gave as a gift to his family. He may have exaggerated some of the funnier details while editing out some of the sadder ones. My grandfather himself, over time, probably embellished the story even more. I may have just embellished it myself, retelling it here. Some may have a problem with this. They might say we are obscuring the truth. But I think it’s fine. I even think it’s humane. The truth is hard enough when it’s happening.

Here’s another example: From 2001 to 2003, I went through an awful divorce. This was an unhappy incident, indeed. I was miserable, depressed, shamed. At the time, a well-meaning friend said, “Hey, you’re a writer! Someday you’ll write about this!” I was offended, thinking it impossible that I could exploit my own pain for a story.

But I did transform my incident into a story. I had no choice, really—it’s my inheritance. Not that writing Eat, Pray, Love was easy. Figuring out how to make a good story out of an unpleasant incident never is. What should I leave in, what should I take out? The choices matter because your history is whatever you choose to tell about yourself. I thought, “Which private parts of myself should I cover up, and which private parts should I reveal?” It was intense. The emotional stakes were high. It felt like traffic was coming in both directions and the only thing I had to protect myself was a tiny little washcloth of words. All I can say is this: I’ve always hoped I made the right decision.

Beckham and Hart Twinning for H&M

Why am I so in love with this commercial? Additionally I never thought Kevin Hart was funny until 2014 and I mean that in a good way. Now I am a fan and I have always been a Becham fan, come on, I m Nigerian, we love soccer. Tell me what you think about this commercial below.
Jennifer Mairo

Climb With Remi, Cause After My Heart

Remi Abere at Mount Kilimanjaro

Remi Abere at Mount Kilimanjaro

Climb With Remi Facebook Page

This is a public service announcement to all Nigerians at home and in Diaspora, all Africans who want to fight against poverty and sufferings, and to citizens of every country around the world who acknowledge that suffering to one is suffering to all of humanity. The Climb With Remi initiative is one that plans to show Remi Abere, alongside friends, family and supporters as they climb mountain Kilimanjaro for a cause. At 49 years of age, She first climbed the same mountain last year, risking it all (work, four kids, husband etc.) just to challenge herself and to achieve personal fulfillment.
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This year she is embarking on the journey a second time and this time it’s not just for fun, its for a cause. The #climbwithremi initiative plans to use this medium to raise awareness and funds for the various internally displaced persons (IDP)camps across Nigeria. The website launches in a few weeks but you can still be a part of the movement right now.
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Here’s how; Follow Climb With Remi on twitter @climbwithremi, like the Facebook page in link above and sign up for the newsletter on the website page and get updates and progress as the climb approaches.You can also make donations on the website and share updates on social media with the hashtag #climbwithremi. Let everyone know that you are part of such an amazing extravaganza. If you have ever wanted to be part of a cause that makes a real difference but somehow was unsure which organization or which cause, this might be the perfect fit for you.
For this great initiative my Mazel of the week goes to Remi Abere for coming up with such a plan and for giving back. You continue to inspire.
Tag me on instagram and twitter @jennifermairo with your post so I’ll know you are in.
Jennifer Mairo

Truthful Tuesday The 5 Pieces of Advice Gynecologists Wish You Knew

Found this piece on and had no choice but to share. We need this info, even men need to know this so they can understand how to better relate with their female partners as their bodies experience changes.
All women are supposed to visit their gynecologist once a year, but we aren’t always comfortable asking the questions our doctors wish we would. Here our experts give you answers to the questions they wish you asked them.

Kanye West Can Be President And I Will Be Voting

yeez first

Many of us know Mr West as the unapologetic rapper that will say exactly what he is thinking. He has challenged president Barack Obama, taken the nicrophone from Taylor Swift and suggested that she was not worthy of the award that she had just been given because Beyonce his long time friend was clearly more worthy. Kanye has also said that former president George Bush did not care about black people (after hurricane Katrina). You have to be really be unafraid to make such comments and do such things.
In recent times, Mr West is known as the husband of Kim Kardashian and the father of North West. He is also her stylist and fashion influencer. Many people love to hate on their relationship but I love them and do not stand in judgement of their personal relationship.
Let me give a little bit of history. Kanye West is a rapper that I have always loved. His lyrics go way beyond b**** and n***** and money and fame and clubs and don perignon. West has always used his music to shed light on race and power and the image of the black individual in a country where blacks struggle to stay true to themselves (topic of another post). Simply put, I have loved Kanye West from the second he stepped foot into the music scene.
Now let me get to the main reason behind this post. Kanye West running for president. When MTV announced that Kanye West would be receiving an honorary award at the 2015 VMAs, presented to him by Taylor Swift, the same lady who he had just a few years before rudely taken the mic from at the same award, the entire world went crazy, many tuned in just to see the reaction on both their faces when the magic would finally happen. Taylor did a good job and Yeezy (kanye’s nickname) blushed and smiled until he stepped onto the stage and hell broke loose. Well, so many people say. I just think his speech was sometimes too confusing to someone who may not love him as much as I do. Mr West took 5 minutes before he could say anything as he held on to the mic, more like for dear life with anxiety while he gathered his thoughts, rather than for the screams the fans hollered.(although Yeezus likes to put on a good show) First I thought “ok Kanye, start talking”, but then I realized that the poor guy needs an outlet and struggles with explaining his position on things because of his somewhat ADD nature. (I recently posted his very first interview with MTV, and you can see how he struggled to express himself every time he lost his train of thought. See it
So for me, it was not surprising at all, I just prayed that he would be able to get his thoughts out.
And so the speech began with bruh! bruh! (how black people say bro, as in brother). and my heart started beating fast. Note that MTV did not alter or cut off Mr West’s speech of at least 10 minutes while we all watched him make some amazing comments and sometimes called some people out e.g he said that MTV kept replaying the fact that Taylor Swift would be presenting him with the award because they knew that their ratings would go up, he also said that he probably would not have taken the microphone from Ms Swift that time if he had been a father and had understood that Ms Swift was someone else’ daughter, and then right at the very end of his speech, he made the announcement that he would be running for President in 2020. Mouth agape the entire audience and the entire world of social media went ballistic. I was screaming at the top of my lungs at home. Like wtf just happened?
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Here’s the verdict. If Donald Trump can run for president (whom I love but think might not be prepared- needs more education on policy issues) then why cant Mr West? If Ronald Reagan, one of the most cited presidents in republican history could be President and he was an actor at the time he ran, then why can’t a rapper? Oh because he is a black man? Try black educated man. Or because Kim Kardashian is not qualified to be a first lady? (haters beware, you all hate on her but secretly admire her- take a seat). These people cannot continue to be judged for mistakes they made one hundred years ago. I do see how the Iranians, French and other countries will look at America if this ever happened though. Wait, Kim’s ancestors are from Armenia, the middle east, her being first lady might somewhat be the start of new peaceful relations with Iran and other Muslim nations( I say this very seriously), then talking about France, Kanye and Kim know all the designers in Paris, attend Paris fashion week judiciously(I wonder if President West will have the time to do any of those anymore) etc. Think about it America, this is all beginning to make sense and might be better for the nation.

I love Kanye West, I love his message, and if he comes up with his plan on policy issues, jobs, the middle class, education, the debt ceiling, health care etc. and further tones down just one single notch and not have his occasional outbursts?, of course I am willing to hear them and vote for him. One hundred percent. Shoot, sticking to the same thing that we know has not worked and brought us to where we are today, besides, he will have other experts assisting him in these decisions anyway. So hell, I m in. I am Jennifer Mairo and I approve this post

After the Show: Catching Up with “Power” Creator Courtney Kemp Agboh

"Power" creator Courtney Kemp Agbor

“Power” creator Courtney Kemp Agbor

Let me explain the main logic behind this post but before I do I would like to make a confession. I do not actually watch the show “Power”. Here are a few things I actually know about the show. 1) 50 Cent is executive producer and he stars in the show. 2) It’s about a thug/businessman and 3) It is constantly being compared to my fave show “Empire.
Now down to business. I am only making this post because I found out that the creator of the show “Power” is not only a black woman but an actual Nigerian black woman. In order words black women are taking over television. First Shonda Rhymes, now Kemp Agbor, and then what about the stars of the shows? First Kerry Washington, then Viola Davis (who recently won an Emmy for her role in “How To Get Away With Murder’) and them Taraji P. Henson on “Empire”. I m sorry but if you are not already drooling as you read this post then you may not be as much of a happy person as I thought you were lolol.
Below is the interview that Demetria Lucas had with Agbor and I wanted to share it will with you all.

by Demetria Lucas

You know how much I love “Power”! So you can only imagine how happy I was when the show’s creator, head writer, and show runner, Courtney Kemp Agboh, agreed to an interview for ABIB. I liked her before our chat (in the same way that I like David Simon from The Wire) because she’s created a show that I obsess over. But post-interview? I’m officially in love! In addition to being all things awesome, Agboh is a former magazine girl (just like me) turned Hollywood powerhouse (um, not me… yet).

I caught up with Agboh via phone as she was sitting in the dark in her LA office, finalizing a script for a Season 3 episode of “Power”. (Hint: two characters pull guns on each other… again.) For 45 minutes we talked all things “Power”, from Black women harping on Tasha’s complexion, to Omari free-styling Jamie’s primal scream, to Shawn’s 17 extra lives— and much more.

Check out Part 1 of my interview with Agboh below!

ABIB: Where did the idea of “Power” come from? I read it was two shows kind of rolled into one?

Agboh: Mark Caton and 50 Cent had an idea for a fast paced music series. I was putting together a show about my dad. He died in 2011 and I was trying to work my way through that loss. My dad was not a drug dealer, but he was a self-made man, who was very invested in looks, and in perception being reality. Many of the building blocks for creating Ghost are based on those traits. Also, my favorite book, or one of them, is The Great Gatsby, so that figures into the show as well.

ABIB: I can totally see that. The “fake it til you make it” idea?

Agboh: That and the woman who got away that he couldn’t have, and when she comes back, only showing her the one side of him. All those things

Agboh with “Power” Executive Producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson

Agboh with “Power” Executive Producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson

ABIB: How much input does Fiddy have on the show?

Agboh: Lots! We talk about everything. We have long phone conversations. He reads everything, but he doesn’t write, per se. But he is a writer. All rappers are poets. A lot of times we’ll be on the phone and I will literally write down exactly what he says and put it in the show.

ABIB: I know that you write most of the show, in addition to being the head writer and the creator and the show runner, but some of the reads on the show…. in the finale Tommy says to Ghost, “No matter how much your suits cost or how many clubs you ever own, you just a ghetto ass corner boy from around the way with a drunk for a daddy and no mama. You ain’t changed at all.” I’m like, Oh God. Pause the show. Is that all you or is that the collection of writers?

Agboh: I’m a very angry person. Just because I didn’t grow up with guns, doesn’t mean I don’t secretly go off in my head occasionally. As a writer, you get to have characters express things that you wouldn’t say out loud, you know? I’m wearing a pencil skirt and a little cardigan while we’re talking, but I just wrote a scene where one character pulls a gun on another. It’s part of the imagination, and that’s how I talk in my head.

ABIB: I love it! I wonder what you thought about the show’s comparisons to Empire? Fiddy was very vocal about it. Are you flattered to be compared to the other show or is it unfair because they’re comparing two shows just because they’re Black and they’re really not very much alike?

Agboh: It’s tiresome and bordering on racist. Nobody compares “Breaking Bad” and “Nashville”. No one says Dynasty was the same as Hill St. Blues. Those shows are so different. So many people approach me and ask me, ‘what do you think about Empire?’ I told 50 a while ago: “show runners do not make diss records. We don’t beef publicly. It doesn’t work that way.” It’s just a show and we’re another show. I have much respect for Ilene Chaiken who is the showrunner over there. No one ever talks about her. I have respect for the actors. I think it’s an obnoxious comparison. I guess people have to make it and have to cover it but our show premiered a season prior [to Empire], so it’s at little like, “huh?”

ABIB: We hear a lot of talk about he disadvantages of being a Black woman in Hollywood, what are the advantages?

Agboh: The advantage is that people still think I’m a unicorn. So sometimes I get to have these experiences that other people don’t get to have. I get to mentor young Black women. I get to chose who I hire behind the camera. I get to say unpopular stuff out loud and have a platform. I get to say my truth.

Naturi Naughton as “Tasha St. Patrick”

Naturi Naughton as “Tasha St. Patrick”

ABIB: I know you’re very active on Twitter, but I’m not sure how closely you follow the TV recaps and blogs about the show. Has there been anything that audience latches on to and you’re just like “really, people?”

Agboh: My number one bugaboo is Black women that say Ghost is somehow dissing Black women by being with Angela. I’ve never told anyone else this, I’ll give you an exclusive. We were doing testing for the show, and when you do tests, you also do quadrants of people. There were a number of people who wrote when they first saw the pilot and said Ghost wouldn’t have been with a woman as dark as Tasha.

ABIB: Wow.

Agboh: And do you know who those people were?

ABIB: Black women.

Agboh: Black women! Why the hell do we hate ourselves so much that we would think that? Its’ so amazing what we do to each other, that we’ve internalized that much hate, and carry it around in ourselves. Ghost isn’t trading up with Angela. That’s his first love. That’s the one thing that I’m like, “Ugghhh! you’re missing something!”

The other thing is when people say Tasha is “ride or die”. If you go back to the first season, Ghost says to Tasha, “I want to be more” and she says, “What more?! We have everything!” He literally says, “Can you get on board? I want to go legit” and she says, “I don’t want to do that. I want you to be what I want you to be.”

ABIB: Sometimes I feel very sorry for Tasha. She has a man who wants more and she can’t see it. She is very limited in the way she thinks.

Agboh: Tasha is complicated. She once had ambitions of her own. She wanted to be a singer. She has half an accounting degree. But she decided to supplicate her desires and get on board with this man and she made a bad bargain with Ghost.

Tasha is one of my heroes on the show. Tasha is growing. What we see in the first episode, in the pilot, Tasha has the first line of the series. There’s a reason we start with Tasha. She says to Ghost, “Tell me I’m beautiful.” She doesn’t own her own beauty. She needs Ghost to tell her about it.

Over the course of the series what you’ll see is that she begins to figure out for herself her own worth and that her worth is beyond the outside package. At one point we talked about getting rid of the nails and the weave, then Shonda did that sh– on HTGAWM and we were like nah, we’ll go another way. But we are going to explore the idea of who is Tasha under all that. She’s trying to navigate a situation with not a full set of maturity. One of the things that’s there if you look, those twins are 10 years old in the show; she just turned 30. So how old was she when she had them? She didn’t have a lot of childhood or post adolescence. She kind of hustled into this. We’ll see her grow.

I ll bring you guys the part two of the interview as soon as its available.

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