Debbie Allen

There’s nothing I hate more than a clashing of many fabulous events. One evening last week Naomi Campbell threw her Haiti charity show and party, MC and actor Bashy was holding a screening of his out this month movie shank, and MOBO founder and friend Kanya King invited me to join her as her guest to go and see the 100th theatre show performance of west end theatre production ‘’Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’’.

Kanya and I have known each other for years. Back when she was a TV researcher and I was a presenter on the Channel 4 iconic show THE WORD. Clearly our ambition was apparent from day 1 when we probably could only afford to grab coffee at Starbucks but ended up at the most expensive outdoor café on Portobello Road just so we could sit in the summer sunshine in our cute dresses next to model and flyest girl of her day-Veronica Webb who was at the next table with Spike Lee!.

Over the years Kanya and I have moved through the industry and caught up with each other over girlie dinners after late night meetings and edits.
We’ve collaborated on ideas, supported each other, fallen out for a minute more than once but our maturity and professionalism always has us talk it through and keep it moving *onto the next one.

We were well overdue our 2010 catch up so a few days ago Kanya called and asked if I’d like to accompany her for ‘’Cat on a hot tin roof’’ I was there.
But not before Bashy reassured me that I could miss his screening and come to the red carpet premiere this month instead, whilst (if I’m being real, and you know me, always got to preach the truth) – I couldn’t afford the £75 ticket for Naomi’s show and party- there’s a recession! , And I have a decade long love hate relationship with the fashion world so it was a clear-cut decision.

Also I had been meaning to try and see the theatre show from last year when my teenage heroine (Fame’s amazing dance teacher Miss Grant, otherwise known as Debbie Allen), had been in town with Mariah and told me to go watch it as she had directed the show. Well once I’d been forcibly removed from Debbie’s presence as I couldn’t stop clinging to her shrieking ‘’I love you, I wanted to be you, adopt me!’’ Debbie gave me her e mail details under duress and I promised her I would be going to see the show first chance I got.

The theatre was heaving with a very diverse audience when we arrived and we were immediately introduced to the shows producer Stephen C Byrd- a very sophisticated, elegantly dressed man who was a totally beautifully mannered charmer. Stephens currently the only African American producer on Broadway and kudos to him as ‘’Cat on a hot tin roof’’ was the biggest grossing play on Broadway in 2008!. So when we were ushered to our seats and I noticed we were sitting right next to the shows producers I was paranoid about the usual theatre worries. What if I fall asleep, what if I look bored, what if my phone rings even though I’ve turned it off, what if the mans head in front of me is so large I cant see. You get the idea.

Anyhoo, none of that worry was necessary as the play was intense and immediately intriguing. American actress Sanaa Lathan –daughter of movie man Stan was wonderful as the long-suffering wife of a once football commentator turned alcoholic. She had really long monologues but she dealt with them with easily and was unexpectedly funny too. All the male audience members were clearly drooling over her as she was not just gorgeous but was also just wearing a slinky slip all through the show. Our very own British actor Adrian Lester played the lead man and whilst his character barely spoke he did have an intensity that was mesmerising. Although it did jolt every now and then as his Mississippi plantation Deep South accent kept getting taken over by English which was a slight distraction. I thought I might have been imagining it until upstairs in the post show VIP drinks when others commented on it too confirming I wasn’t imagining it.

The other 2 actors I loved were of course the legend James Earl Jones who played Big Daddy. This mans voice has to be bottled for history. His was the voice of Star Wars Darth Vader! The Lion Kings Mufasa! Alex Haley in Roots! He’s won Tony’s, Emmy’s, Golden Globes, and a Grammy but my favourite thing is him reading the Bible! Yes, I found it very difficult to read the Bible as a kid until years ago when I first met Mariah she introduced me to the bible audio book read completely by James Earl Jones. His calming, strong, trusting, safe voice makes this the best gift!. He didn’t disappoint in the flesh either playing the old cancer stricken rich former slave. I was really looking forwards to seeing actress Phylicia Rashad-the legendary Mrs Claire Huxtable from the Cosby Show too. She was great as Big Mamma the sweet, classic black mother role many of us can relate to knowing.

The play was long-3 acts; it was very intense, mostly serious with odd lighthearted humorous spots of relief. The storyline was based around sibling rivalry; inheritance greed, parental antagonism and I learnt the meaning of the word ‘’mendacity’’.

The play was very very good. Post show in the bar there was a nice mix of journalists, paparazzi, actors, celebs and so on. Kanya and I talked about the play with radio host Vanessa Feltz, her guy Ben and her daughter. A few bitchy folk were slagging off poor Richard Blackwood who played a butler in the show and barely had 2 words to say. They couldn’t believe he had taken this as the next step in his career. I thought it was a good look as now he can add West End Theatre to his CV but they were not having it. A lovely big white iced cake was wheeled out and cut. You know I didn’t leave until I had at least 2 slices.
Straight afterwards the producers invited us to join them at the IVY club restaurant where at midnight we all had a lovely dinner with the whole restaurant to ourselves. The table of ten of us was a really nice group of power players that were really doing big things. Discussions revolved around private island ownerships, their private jets and so forth. I felt proud of them. A true sense of how much hard work must’ve gone into their lives. More power to them!
At 2am it was time for carriages as I watched them all jump into their private chauffeured cars, threw Kanya into a cab and hobbled into the underground car park to get my own car to drive myself home shaking my head at the surreal life I sometimes find myself surrounded by.
If you want to see ‘’Cat on a hot tin roof’ I’d thoroughly recommend it. In fact, a charity I whole heartedly support- the ACLT (AFRICAN CARIBBEAN LEUKAEMIA TRUST) is having a one off ACLT night show on March 15th. That will be great night full of faces we all know and love! What better excuse for a great night and a worthy cause. I salute you the cast of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF-BRAVO!

Twitter

I recently got accused on twitter of not sharing helpful industry info with some of my followers. I jump on twitter usually in traffic jams in the car so decided to catch-up on the virtual world. I noticed a lot that troubled me so I had a rant. Post rant, many followers suggested my rant was great, insightful and should be printed for prosperity. So here it is. In twitter lingo and as it appeared for authenticity.

1. Long drive catchin up w/ twitter activities-noticing folks throwing sly subliminal shots at each other- real folk talk 2the face not da text

2.   Also noting a lot of folks living a twitter fabricated life that’s not their real life…and scarily their followers believe it- dangerous

3.   Young peeps b aware that alot of people u look up 2 live very different lives from their internet personas- don’t believe all u read on here

4.   Even interns call themselves CEO’s /presidents of their own companies online. Hilarity. Don’t talk. Let your work and rep spk for itself

5.   There’s a really shady, ugly side 2 this showbiz industry of ours.Keep yo integrity &be classy always. Don’t let haters who want 2bu distract

6.   lucky I value integrity cos sum of the stuff I’ve seen/heard/witnessed in da music game rEVIL.UGLY.Not a game u wanna get in2 if ur scurrred

7.   seen em all burst on2 the scene as the next big artist/journo/presenter/label head/manager/dj/whtever,a couple yrs down its #wherearetheynow

8.   This industry is TINY. u put 1 foot outta place morally we all know about it.U think u were slick on the low-but we all know. We laughing..

9.   Djs who take payola,gals who wanna sleep their way up,artists who hustle illegal runnins,friends who only sort friends,racism-we see it all

10.This twitter game is not to take over your working day-your real life&ambitions r in the real world,not an online persona. B real to yoself

11.If ur positive,honest,know your craft,be better than the rest,you’ll do just fine.The ultimate devil is yo ego– I’ve seen it DESTROY peeps

12.Young folk- industry music parties r not like they used to be. When jay/puff were new/young, parties were real for dancing, talking and fun…

13….Now they are mostly wack. Full of naked chics tryna “have baby by me-be a millionaire” and fake ballers tryna look fly. Always boring.

14.I guarantee you that the house parties u go to are more real and fun than the industry ones u wanna be at.

15.I am so sick of “industry players” makin promises 2 young, gullible, ambitious people only to leave them w/broken dreams.have yo brain on lock

16.Ladies. In this game. Your business mind spks for itself. But next its your sexual reputation. Once that’s gone,its a wrap.

17.There are 30+ aged music industry peeps tryna spk in 18+ kids lingo. You’re not down. Folks are laughin. And cringing. Stop it.

18.Stop being bitter if you feel you’re not where u should be in your career. No one spoon fed anyone. Everyone wks hard for theirs and owes no1

That was the rant. Sometimes I have them. Forgive me. Its as if the music industry has warped young peoples definition of success and life. I know I am part of the problem. I have written a column for over 15 years and focused on music acts. That was because I was in a very insular music company. Now I’ve grown a bit. I’ve opened my eyes can see that there are so many young talented people out there but as the media focus only on music we assume that’s all we can do. There are young people making massive strides that aren’t in music am going to find them and talk about more of them moving forwards.

For similar reasons last fortnights BRIT AWARDS felt good and bad. The excitement was high from the night before the show when Adidas threw a pre Brits blow out VVIP bash at Bungalow 8 introducing their 2nd round of star wars and originals spring/summer 2010 collection inc eyewear and watches.. there were actual darth vadar and R2D2 types mingling with us. One even encouraged N Dubz Fazer and I to get friendly with him!.
In the Adidas gifting suite, (which is basically an American concept generated from uber VIP awards shows where brands gift celebrities and VIPs with free stuff,) it was full!. There were paparazzi from the daily tabloids, Sabrina Washington, Brigitte Kelly, Ralf Little, Mini Viva, Kesha ,N Dubz, Bashy, designer Wale Adeyemi, hip-hop photographer extraordinaire Paul H, makeup artist to the stars Kristina Theodoris, comedian Eddie Kadi, Twin B, Master Shortie ,Ryan Leslie,  stylist Richard Shoyemi , stylist/presenter Vernon Francoise, Lesley the boxer , Cookie from the legendary British female rap group Cookie Crew (what you’ll know about that?), Tim Westwood and more. There was dancing, music, shrieking.I got in at 3am and knew the next day I would be a hot mess cos I disrespected sleep so irresponsibly.

The actual BRIT awards I liked. With talent like JLS, Dizzee and Jay Z all recognized it felt as a lot of us in the industry over the past 2 decades who have fought to help put young black and urban talent on the British map could exhale. Finally it felt like there truly was an equal playing field where our favourite acts were championed alongside the rest. A lot of us did smile and exhale. Some were still bitter but hey-you cant please everyone.

The bottom line in the genre of R&B and hip-hop felt respected and accepted in a field] that before we felt continuously rejected, belittled and unworthy. That’s got to be a good thing. It was one of my fave Brits ever cos young British black talent was finally recognised and seen as equal on the music playing field.
Backstage at Earls Court felt good.
Dancers were taking photos with each other and collecting the Dizzee / Florence bank notes that were used in their performance with both their faces imprinted on them.
(my godson was very happy with his!) , Peter Andre was getting a last minute fake spray tan, Lady Gaga had a last minute nail job done which was very brave, Robbie Williams looked a lil nervous but was as friendly as ever getting his wet shave backstage just before he hit the stage.
Btw-isn’t it interesting to note that jay z has his finger on the pulse with every current trend and robbie’s seen as old. Yet jay is a year older than Robbie!

The show was entertaining, JLS were good, Astons hair looks much better with less gheri curl juice these days (though I am bored of the Usher-esque ‘’green ‘’yeah’’ lasers in everyone performances-there’s at least one at every show these days!).

Predictable was Liam flinging his award into the crowd –that had everyone laughing at his foolishness-it was lucky someone didn’t get knocked out and sued for concussion or worse- has anyone seen the award on e bay yet?.
Of course Jay and Alicia were class A- we wouldn’t expect or be delivered anything lower.
When Liam flung the microphone into the crowd pit a very frightened soundman was freaking out with the gallery screaming for a brief panicked moment.
All the performances were very good and then came Cheryl.

I hate to kick the chic whilst she’s down but home domestic or not if you’re gonna be part of a band, be a judge on a singing show and pretend to be an artist you cant represent on a stage of that calibre by miming badly- it was a bad set. I’m sure loads of other acts have issues of their own but when they’re performing they all give it their all. This was poor!

The bad for me was the aftermath- the realisation that music industry parties were very different today than they used to be. Don’t get me wrong, the turnout and excitements great but the focus is always on slack girls, snapping celebs and seeing what people can spot in this blog obsessed world instead of having fun. So inevitably there isn’t any real fun. Just a lot of fake smiling. Back in the day real heads were always scattered amongst the fake to keep the balance.
The official Brits party at the venue was full of corporate suits who took pleasure messing about with the huge dressing up box full of costumes and wigs

The funniest thing was Jay Z remains the ultimate NO.1 hustler I my eyes. Not only does he turn up briefly to the Warner Music party at Chinawhites in respect to his Warner team, but the drinks beverage Armand de Brignac (who pay him substantially) managed to throw a party practically next door so Jay could make an appearance at both. That’s gangsta slickness.. At Jays party at Mirah it was pandemonium with Idris Elba , Keisha Buchanan and Sugababes in the house, Daniel Meriwether and Tulisa took the mic and sang-very Clive Davis Grammy party stylee ha ha!
Every act that you can imagine went to one or the other of the parties from Ne Yo, Mel B, The Saturdays , Alesha Dixon DJ Ironik, Mclean, Tinie Tempah, Trevor Nelson, JLS, and more. Dizzee threw his own party, Universal Music threw theirs at the Mandarin Oriental which Gaga was the main focus of and was a big party in terms of fabulosity and freeness.
Artists tweeted from the parties all night about their proximity to Jay and how lean they were -which is a telling enough sign about how much fun is usually going down. I luckily had a fine distraction that insisted on taking me for a shawarma roll and fresh juice at an all night eaterie so escaped early!.

Jazzie B

London’s a great city for diversity, a multitude of activities and people. This past week was a particularly typical crazy week in London town.
Firstly I was persuaded by a new friend to join him at a Book slam at Shoreditch Town Hall where poets and MC’s did their thing .it felt a scene from ‘’Love Jones’’ the UK version.
Then there was a very untypical Dotiwala social night where the legend that is Jazzie B invited me to see him, and his mate Goldie sound clash at Camden Round House where Trojan sound system and Roots Manuva were doing their thing too. A big night!
Next it was the Adidas pre Brit award party at bunglow 8 before the big night of the annual Brit Awards where we loved the Warner Music after party and the Armand de Brignac Jay Z party-(more on that next time),then I Saw Bashys new film ‘Shanked’-again!
Then I was asked to pop up to the Red Bull Music Academy in London Bridge to meet SoulIISouls front man-Mr Jazzie B.

Jazzie B has an aura that surrounds him.
You hear his big booming distinctive bass heavy voice before you see him.
Even if u couldn’t see his face his silhouette is so distinctive its a brand logo in itself. Years ahead of Jay Z, Jazzie is always head to toe “all black everything’. Big leather coat and pill box peaked cap are on, even indoors.
In fact-i don’t think I’ve ever seen him without these 2 Jazzie staples. They are to him what Linford’s lunchbox was to him and Tinchys SITH tee is to him.. He’d asked to meet me for lunch – I moved every mountain I needed to in order to make it- (you work around luminaries like Jazzie B).

Its always fun speaking to him. We can dispute about issues all day long. We often butt horns with our differences of opinion but we love a great debate.
Jazzie was excited about being involved with the Red Bull Academy as I was at seeing it with my own eyes. An awesome project where the drinks giant gives back to the community by setting up a building full of music studios, lecture theatres, radio studios, cafes and lounges where groups of young people from across the globe are flown in free to participate in terms of training-all financed by Red Bull. The applicants apply to attend and come from all walks of life and various genres of music. An amazing learning ground. Many iconic music names like Mark Ronson and Jazzie come in to work alongside the students and give back to the community. It was an impressive set up to observe.
After watching Jazzie do his thing with the students we had a chat over lunch where he told me he was very excited by his upcoming annual trip to Antigua for the ‘’BackIIlife’’ festival that begins on April 28th for a week.
Jazzie explained that ‘’the festival is
about coming from the colonies. We take UK peeps back to the colonies. Under the stars. 365 beaches. Best 7 nights for music lovers’’.

Jazzie was also high and happy about relaunching the SoulIISoul clothing brand at Olympia at the Pure show on Valentines Day. It’s a new take on the original collection. Lots of studded T shirts.( If you didn’t know, Jazzie used to be involved in fashion before he was a music star). For the new collection he’s spent a lot of time looking at fabrics including bamboo and cotton that last. The emphasis is on longevity. Jazzie said he was doing a clothing line again as ‘’
Nowadays music & clothes are taken more seriously -back in the 80”s the fashion industry didn’t support
me the first time around. Having kids now I’ve noticed a more savvy fashion substance’’.

I wondered what the music industry in London was like back in Jazzies hey day. He revealed ‘’ because we were pro black S2S never got any press. No front covers. We were too intimidating so it was interesting to me to see an ad on BBC3 last week where they were describing “British pop” alongside Chipmunk’’.

S2S were big and respected both here and in The States- I wonder if they realise how unique that is in the history of UK music. Interesting. The Beatles. Loose Ends. Soul to soul. Spice Girls. Craig David.Estelle. Jay Sean. Ha ha!
Jazzie thinks there needs to be more support within the industry ‘’We still behave like crabs in a barrel. There’s no community any more. In my era Young Disciples and Imagination -we were united. Stop labelling music genres. The station Radio1xtra – why isn’t it on FM as well?. I bought my kids digital radio to hear the Rampages of the music scene. My kids watch AKA. Are we living in democratic society? Does good music get played or is it payola? Isn’t having a radio plugger like payola/ its like legalised apartheid!’’.
(See readers-you don’t leave a conversation with Jazzie without being given food for thought.)
Jazzies thoughts on the UK black Music scene today were interesting?
He thinks there’s been ‘’More ignorance than there’s ever been. Too much segregation. No good black management teams. No substance. Look and learn from the D&B scene.
There’s no level of integrity in the grime scene. If you’re pledging allegiances to cross over to collaborate with dance music and indie then we have a problem that’s immeasurable!. What are young acts reading? Have they forgotten about wealth? Have we bought cars without mortgages?. When my records were charting alongside rock and indie it was on their own merit!’’.

Of course I wondered how he felt about the current wave of grime-UK hip-hop acts…he explained ‘’These acts are growing wildly. They’re like the plant without the flowers. I wanna be optimistic but the flaunting these guys do scare me. God bless the Dizzees and Chipmunks but other acts-how are you a household name with no depth?’’.
Jazzie did reveal to me that his ‘’favourite UK act is Wiley because he has depth and is a source of inspiration’’.

I explained that I loved Wiley musically too but he had caused me no end of disappointment by constantly doing his ‘missing in action’ act when I wanted him to film for me. Jazzie laughed ‘’that’s cos Wiley is real!’’.
Jazzie revealed that his main champions back in the day were Eddie Grant as well as Tim Westwood ‘’I love that he doesn’t take himself seriously and takes the piss out of himself. BTW Tim its not Marley marls beats!’’…..and Trevor nelson ‘’he has a reasonable IQ. He’s a reasonable DJ and loves what he does’’.

Jazzie finished by revealing that he loves the fact that we have the MOBO Awards nowadays and that he likes the constant controversy surrounding  MOBO as ‘’it means they’ve made it’’. Without MOBOs we might not have seen grime raise its head as far as it has. The Brits and Mercury’s may not have bothered acknowledging us. Although like the title ‘’Music of black origin’’ states, when S2S came out we were black. Not urban. I rest my case’’.
See you in Antigua Jazzie!

My Birthday

See all the pictures here

I am beyond belief. Obnoxious, outrageous and a lil crazy. All the best creative folks are. Being slightly nuts is a prerequisite for dynamic, forward thinking genius!. This year I actually outdid my past efforts and made my birthday last well over a month. Now no-one knows whether I’m a Capricorn or Aquarius. I had an intimate PJ party chez Dotiwala in January and last weekend I had a big bash in central London. Before it even got started I had to change the venue twice cos the club policies wanted to micro manage my guest list and even requested me to take off some of my guests/personal friends from it (including Sway, Lethal B, Westwood, Rampage and more!).

These people weren’t hardened criminals but merely well known artists, DJs etc. Not liking that policy at all I switched clubs to accommodate my people. Just for a laugh, cos we know that police and the 696 bill means artists like Giggs and So Solid will be an issue, I put them all under pseudonyms. Showing that I have a sense of humour after Giggs’ diss track about me last year called ‘’Last straw’’, he and his guest were on the guest list as ‘’H.Ardest’’ and ‘’L.Straw’’. LOL!.
In the end I held the party at WILLAS in Mayfair. It was perfect. They never once asked about my guests, they accommodated my food needs; they allowed me to have my own DJ’s- my mates and brothers in arms -the triple threat that are DJ Manny Norte (the name you can trust), DJ Jarren C and Lonyo. Not only are they currently genuinely this cities best party rockers, but it doesn’t hurt that they are all fine as hell and easy on the eye too- the ladies in the house were swooning.

I guess its no coincidence that they run celeb parties when it comes to music. Well, Beyonce, Rihanna, Kelly et al, I knew and had them first-so there! he he!
Outside the club on the red carpet guests were greeted by a huge media banner board,…of photos ….of me that my media pals thought would be funny-you know me-I loved it.
Even better? Another resourceful best friend had a stamp made of my initials to brand every one of my guests entering and leaving –how fabulous, my inner need to leave my brand on all around me (like the proverbial dog stating its claim) fulfilled.
Knowing that clubs often get worried by a hip-hop looking crowd I decided to make the theme ‘Motown’.

A reason for guys to don their swanky suits with a quirky twist and the ladies to go all out with feminine, sexy ensembles. Also-immediately there’s a sense of fun and no attitudes or moody peeps. Everyone certainly went all out. By 9pm we had Rick James (Troy), Marvin Gaye (Richie P), The Temptations (Maclean, DJ Abrantee, Thadboogie, song writers to the stars Wayne Hector and Ali Tenant), next came Mary Wilson (former Mis-Teeq lead singer Sabrina Washington), The Supremes (ex Mis-Teeq member Su-Elise and Radio1Xtras DJ Sarah Jane).
Clearly a lot of guys let their beards grow a la Marvin and others wore afros for 2 hours before it got so hot there were just a pile of afros and Rick James weaves flung on a sofa-ha-at least now guys know how ladies with weaves feel-it ain’t easy having long tresses fellas!

My crew-5 girls/5 guys-arrived at 6pm in our tracksuits to get it all together from microphones and silver trays to banners and napkins. We spent an hour getting the silver and gold helium balloons together accompanied by flutes of champagne so we were merry by 8pm. To be honest without my crew I’m nothing-they sorted out everything including the giant white chocolate and exotic fruit Patisserie Valerie cake that never even got cut as the dancing didn’t stop.
The night began with Motown themed soul food from THE SPOT in Willesden.

They had tray after tray of mouth watering hot fried chicken, chicken waffle syrup mini sandwiches and corn bread served by cute waitresses.
Kiss100fm”s DJ Swerve , Master Shortie and hip-hop photographer Paul H all looked very Blues Brothers meets Motown, whilst national lottery presenter and former Eternal singer Kelle Bryan wore patterned angel wings. Legendary female rap group Cookie Crew member Cookie won the prize for dancing non-stop from 8pm-4am and looked as immaculate from beginning to end with my young Harlesden massive queuing to grab pictures with her at the end of the night. Good thing all were costumed up and they didn’t recognise Blak Twang, Mis Teeq ladies, Master Shortie ,Wretch32 and Smurfie Syco or there may have been a full on photo shoot!

However as expected at a party full of many music industry peeps there were a couple of randoms who kept trying to wrestle the mic out of my big brother Richies hands to ‘’spit for the crowd’’. One succeeded for about 10 seconds before being kicked to the kerb early in the night. Thank goodness then when as the party hotted up and Manny Norte began remixing in Motown classics with old hip hop classics that certain artists in the house were moved enough to take the mic and show how its really done.
Asian R&B trio Serese (who performed at the MTV Asia awards), jumped up first to sing the Mary Jane girls hit ‘’All night long’’ and received a rousing applause.

Not to be outdone next up was new about to blow singer Maclean (son and nephew of John and Bitty), who sang a very heartfelt sweet version of Marvin Gayes ‘Too busy thinking about my baby (Jasmine!)’
After that it was like a free for all on the mic with the gorgeous Addictive ladies jumping up to take us to chuuuch with their version of Stevie Wonders ‘Superstition’ before Kel Le Roc and Terri Walker tore the spot down with renditions of Motown/ lovers rock/reggae, you name it- it went down.
That of course (blame it on the alcohol) made the non singers brave and a completely unrehearsed or prepared DJ Manny Norte, Abrantee and Rampage founder Richie P serenaded me with their crazy version of a Jodeci classic-which people began videoing so great was their resemblance to the R&B supergroup!.

By 2am the club looked like Soul Train déjà vu-and the men kept telling me they were having to drink more than usual courage juice to approach the ladies as all the women looked ridiculously glam.
Fashion designer Patrick Kevin and his fly-as-always boys looked dapper and flew the flag for coolest male dance crew early on, though soon enough they were hotly contested once Hip hop theatre entrepreneur Jonzi D took over the dance floor making a break-dance and body popping circle which then presenter/DJ Abrantee and Presenter and radio host Kat had to show off their skills in. Actress Tameka Empson then took the circle over and had everyone rolling with her comedy impressions of a back flipping breaker. Within moments London and New York were jamming together as Former hot97 New York head Tracy Cloherty , Ice cream company mogul Pina Colicci, PR maven sisters Jennifer and Beverly Mills, my childhood Southall and Harlesden massive, Former MYSpace don Andrew Davis and PR man about town Saj Ismael, Eastenders star Preeya Kalidis-(Amira), Former Honeyz lead singer Celena Cherry and her glam squad, Warner music ladies Taponeswa Mavunga and Mel Rudder and many more were actually throwing shapes.

It was ,as we like to call it ‘’hilarity!’’.
I think the younger hip-hop grime crowd may have been stunned with the way us 80”s old school got down. Cookie said ‘’we’re old school and true school, new school ain’t ready for us’’. Never a truer word was spoken by the paralysed look on the young uns faces as they watched us electric slide, soul train and break out the stanky leg!. I smiled knowingly as I watched my 21 year old god son jamming to slowjams with his gal, the kids I grew up playing on Southall streets laughing with my former MTV News crew, music chart names singing with my family and all jamming to classics like ‘Electric Relaxation’-Tribe Called Quest,, ‘You dropped the bomb on me’ -Gapp Band, ‘Flava in your ear ‘ Craig Mack  and ‘Rumpshaker’ Wrecks n Effect.
At 3.30am , much later than I had predicted, the music was shut down and still 50 peeps hung out to chill, chat, discuss who looked the best, have a last minute dance off-it was too much. I looked across the room at all the people that I cherish in my life that have crossed my path and shaped me into who I am today from school and university pals, to Channel 4 and MTV pals, to my bosses, my interns my friends and more-they’ve all made me who I am .

I have been blessed with many moments and its all thanks to these people. The 3 morals of the story?. 1-The most beautiful view is the one you share with loved ones. Its not where you’re at-its who you’re with. 2-You can have a ‘’black music event’’ in central London without any problems, 3- I am older, wiser and when I need to change out of my 4 inch heels into my Ugg boots, even with my emerald green glam gown on-I feel no shame. Even when celeb stylist Richard Shoyemi looks on disapprovingly!

Ivana Trump

It’s been a busy week. Not least because last night was my eehh hmmm-21st-birthday party in central London-so this week I’ll mostly be recovering from that- I had to throw myself a bash as the young clubs and parties don’t really represent me like they used to back in the day. At the risk of sounding like my parents I miss the old days and old skool parties. Where people went to look fly, dance bad, and flirt. Unlike today’s getting absolutely slaughtered on alcohol and wearing nothing creative-just a hanky to cover your modesty. My party had a Motown theme so I could indulge in my diva quest to be the lead Supreme (even though I’m tone deaf and couldn’t sing myself out of a paper bag!) – more on that soon!

I’m getting too old to rave at hip hop/grime jams now anyway (most of my friends don’t still think grime is the stuff you use mr sheen to get rid of!) ,and so have made a conscious effort to continue grafting behind the scenes to make a change for young talented Brits and bring more must-see TV to our screens, but also to socialise like the adult that I’ve finally accepted I am.
After all, who wants to be like the sad lonesome oldie raving at the club by himself with kids he could’ve fathered?!- I could name a few but in my resolution not to name and shame I’ll hold it down. After all like Jigga said “30 is the new 20” and I’m hoping that means if you’re over 30 its even better!

In my attempt at slowing down my widely perceived wild life I am now a regular dinner party giver and receiver- This fortnight I have also made time to give blood, pop into Sisqos party (slight party-ban slip oops!), attend a TV function at BAFTA , went to a private screening of Bashys new movie Shank, had a private listening session to the first album of an actress whos about to put out her first music project, attend the south bank show awards-very high brow and had a lovely new year lunch at The Ivy with old mate drum&bass guru Goldie and his new wife Mika (they married in Thailand on Christmas day-how sweet!),

A more mature lady than myself is the legend that is Ivana Trump. As a teenager her and her husband Donald were figures of urban myth with their multi storied American towers and jets whizzing around the globe. So imagine my delight when seated next to her at dinner at Christmas last year at nobu in aspen around a table of power players. Boy did I feel like the odd one out. Ivana held my awe with tales of her monthly adventures around the world. “In January I take the helicopter to St Moritz, in June I take the boat to Capri, in September I…”. I was fascinated! What a world she lives in!

Post dinner we exchanged e-mails which impressed me as most over 50’s I know find the TV remote control too high tech to use. Ivana has a great sense of humour and whilst I initially expected to find her irritating and haughty in that manner that the privileged have, I soon learnt she’s actually a very collected, shrew, wise lady with a very global outlook. So I wasn’t surprised when she chose to join the final series of celebrity big brother in the UK. She’s very young at heart and so totally up for a laugh.

What I hadn’t figured though was how cool she would be in the house. Unlike many an older celeb who tries fruitlessly to battle young peoples personalities and make their mark she was just observant and joined in with the game like a wealthy cat that has the cream and doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody. Obviously she didn’t need the winners cash prize. Watching her you get a sense that she’s content and smiling inside at the yet unlearnt lessons of her fellow reality stars lives.

I was happy to join her for her post show celebrations where she got out those amazing legs of hers that put most teens to shame.
Im imagining many of us will be running around like headless chickens this week for the annual money grabbing exercise in the name of cupid that is known as valentines day.
Here are my tried and tested words to the loved up.
A Jacuzzi of bubbles, champagne and chocolate strawberries is always memorable, relatively inexpensive and fun-but don’t try and keep a hard copy of the memory- all technical devices should be banned from the vicinity unless you’re trying to be the next Paris Hilton/Kim kardashian.

Don’t go over board in trying to impress your partner with any hugely expensive surprises- they’re always desperate last minute attempts that go wrong. Your loved one would much rather you remember all their favourite things and indulge them sporadically year round than get it wrong on feb 14th.
If you’re buying underwear then for gods sakes check their size before entering the store- and don’t tell them you asked the store assistant to try it on to see what it looked like.
A permanent keepsake gift is always more thoughtful than the tried and tested flowers- I was once given a beautiful, ornate 6 foot candle stick made of wrought iron that is so beautiful its stayed with me throughout the years- much longer than its giver.
if you don’t know a restaurant beforehand don’t rely on someone’s hearsay that its good. An ex once took me to a place he found in the yellow pages cos it was described as a romantic Italian; it wasn’t very romantic when I turned up in a frock at a shack in Charing Cross road.

Doing something really simple but thoughtful is always a winner. The man who arranged a picnic in the park with all my favourite food followed by a speedboat ride along the Thames in Windsor to take me to the ballet school show at the school I trained was lovely.
Finally remember that if all else fails its only 24 hours-book yourself into a spa until its all over-that way you have spent your hard earned cash on someone who deserves it-you!

Ms Terri Walker

I left you last week with my New York New Years Eve shenanigans where Mariah showed why she’s still numero uno diva extraordinaire at Madison Square Gardens.
The following night MCC was performing a show at Atlantic City. Not wanting to exhaust her or distract her from her sleep and work duties I took up my girl Estelle’s offer to spend a couple of nights at her swish new Manhattan apartment.

Stell and I had decided to go see a Broadway show so tickets were booked and as we chilled during the day I asked her where Atlantic City was and what it was about. She explained in was a mini Vegas a couple of hours outside of Manhattan but the Lidl/Morrisons version. She suggested showing me if I wanted to go that night. ‘’But we cant’’ I questioned ‘’ we have Broadway show tickets for the Alvin Ailey dance company booked remember’’. To which she retorted ‘’jas, you only live once-we can go after the show and meet Mariah at her after paty if you like. And that’s her Estelle remixed our whole evening!.
I paged MCC and told her what we were considering. She hit me back saying ‘’ you’re so silly, if you had decided that this morning you could’ve flown with me in the jet for 20 mins now it’s a 2 hour drive-but come-it would be great to see you guys’’.

I was still contemplating it with the group when Estelle decided for us. ‘’right ,after the Broadway show we’re going-lets make a night of it!’’ and within 30 mins 6 of us were piled into a huge black escalade and en route to Atlantic city at 11pm!. The drive up was nuts, the stereo wasn’t working so we played ‘’marry,shag,dump’’. Would love to reveal some of the comments that had us rolling but you know what they say-what happens in the back of an escalade…..
We finally arrive at Atlantic city at 1am and Mariah’s tour manager meets us at the entrance to walk us in. good thing he did, cos Stell and I being typical Brits still not having learnt to carry ID around at all times in America hadn’t brought proof that we were over 18 and so the club weren’t going to let us in!.

That’s where having MCC hosting the party with her hubby nick cannon comes in handy.
We stepped in , all hugged and screamed in delight, threw back some ‘’apple juice’’, danced on the tables, all that in 45 mins-which is how much longer Nick was on the decks before the Carey Cannons made their farewells and exited , we strolled to the club next door where Jermaine (Dupri) was holding his bash, danced for 20 more mins and then jumped back into the ride to arrive back in Estelle’s crib by 6am. That’s what you call a last minute whirlwind adventure!. A 4 hour round trip with a superstar to see another superstar for an hour. It’s a mad life.

The next night I flew home to London for my official birth date where the original plan was to have a dinner party in a restaurant. but alas the brits were getting their knickers in a twist because of the ‘’horrific snow ‘’  drama so I thought it best not to force my friends and family to attempt to get to the restaurant so I suggested a pyjama party at my crib instead. That way peeps could relax and chill and spend the night if necessary.

It was the best idea.
Chinese and Indian food was ordered in, an amazing patisserie Valerie cake was organised by my mates, I put hair rollers in and by the end of the night there were bin liners full of empty cristal bottles outside the crib. It got so mad that at 5am the girls forced a big, well known, UK music man to let us paint his nails blue. Under duress and over powered by a strange alcoholic substance in a silver bottle with a foreign name, he surrendered.
At 6am when I insisted I ‘’couldn’t find any nail varnish remover’’ (wink wink) to take it off he stated ‘’fine-I’ll use that alcohol shot stuff’’.

And readers we watched as the lethal potion actually stripped his nails clean-and people drink that!
Another of my guests that night was Ms Terri Walker. Readers-Terri has one of my favourite voices of any British female artist. Terri lives literally around the corner from me so got herself into her PJ’s on route to another rave. As soon as she walked through the door and I thrust a flute of bubbly into her hand. Terri and I have known each other years. We met when we both dated band members from a well known boy band from back in the day. She recalls meeting me ‘’ I remember thinking ‘damn this girl is fabulous-you were wearing a fur jacket and just looked fierce’’. My memory of ‘Terri fun’ is once at her birthday karaoke I shrieked my way through lots of songs with enough attitude and my tone deaf vocals whilst all her guests cringed in embarrassment for me LOL!.

Now Terri’s back with her 4th album after spending a few years off when she was lending her vocals to renowned producer Salam Remi for his singles for Fergie, Jennifer Hudson, Nas and others.
Terri revealed that her new music is going to be pure hip-hop laced with infectious soulful, dreamy melodies and topics. She’s so excited she cant wait to let you all hear it. She confessed ‘’I’m just happy to have found me again, music will always stand the test of time if its from the heart and a true depiction of you. Before I was chasing the dream of being a singer, now I’m chasing the dream of leaving a mark and inspire people’’.

When she stepped away from the music biz Terri reverted back to her real name ‘’Chanelle’’ when she called me to reveal ‘’I’m coming back into the music scene-new music and Terri Walker is back!’’. (Readers it had taken me about 3 years to remember to call her Chanelle-my old brain cells cant take this!). Terri laughed at me saying ‘’I’m really excited about the UK at the moment, we have created our own scene, Donaeo is by far one of my favourites as he is consistent and had at least 3 club anthems .I also love Tinnie Tempahs tune ‘’Pass Out’’-its an undeniable hit’’. Touching on the big chart hitters from last year Terri added ‘’ I’m not opposed to the Chipmunk and Tinchy era, I think they are great young businessmen but their music doesn’t really hit a nerve for me unfortunately. I think they’re clever on how they structure their songs but after a while I feel like its very formula. I get it-but its just not for me, maybe I’m just old ha ha’’.

Terries new album  ‘’Champagne Flutes’’ which is produced by the legendary Salaam Remi will be out the first half of this year, a track from the project entitled “Hey Baby” was featured on the “Sex and the City Vol2” soundtrack. ‘‘Champagne flutes’’ will have contributions from “Skibeatz”(Jigga,Camp Lo,Lil Kim) “James Yarde” (Drawing board (moi) ) and whoever else can excite Terri!. She laughs ‘’I’m going for that Hip-hop sound with beautiful melodies and racy topics. I’m mad excited!’’
Its hard to stay focused on day to day business as usual with Haiti’s tragedy playing in the background of our daily lives, Terri agreed ‘’I think the UK should really show Haiti’s history over the years and show their struggle even before the quake. It couldn’t have happened to a more unfortunate country –we need to keep supporting them’’.

With Valentines Day mere days away Terri suggested donating Valentine gift cash to the cause and revealed ‘’I’m usually breaking up with someone or single on valentines day lol, this time however I am seeing someone and hopefully we’ll be soaking in a champagne filled bathtub’’!.
But before that readers -its my big birthday party this weekend and with its Motown meets Dreamgirls dress code Terri’s threatened to get on the mic channelling her inner Diana- more juice on the whole crazy night soon!

Mariah Carey Starts Tour in NYC

In all my years of ping ponging back and forth across the Atlantic from new York and working with the biggest music artists in the world can you believe I had never seen a gig at the world famous venue Madison square gardens? I had been there for MTV VMA related stuff but never to see a gig.
Well to kick start 2010 that was all changed!.
New York was as excitable about Mariah kick starting her US Tour out in Manhattan as Jigga fans convinced he’s a part of the illuminati.

So on a cold, snowy, biting day where the NY wind was zooming through the cross streets with vicious unforgiving cyclone like speeds, we were picked up from chez Carey-Cannon at 4pm to make our way to MSG in the black giant SUV convoy.
We were there early for sound check as the streets around the venue were pandemonium with police locking off roads in preparation for the thousands that were gathering. MSG corridors were full of excited dancers, singers and celebs. As I walked through the backstage dressing room corridors and spotted framed superstar live photos from all walks of life on the walls I was awed at the venues history! .Its not called the worlds most famous arena for nothing!.
Backstage Mariah’s dressing room was large and airy but they’d made it seem lovely and cosy,all white silk drapery, it was candle fragranced and luckily nice and warm as Mrs C was having her outfits fitted and resting her voice before she hit the stage.

The legendary choreographer Debbie Allen –who had choreographed the show-was busily getting everyone together. The best sounding vocalists anyone could ever have – Maryann Tatum, Trey Lorenz and Sherry Tatum Frederick- were warming up their vocals and keeping us entertained backstage with raucous laughter and much family style fun and frolics. The dancers were stretching, techs were running around and all was very backstage MTV Diary feeling LOL.
As it was my first MSG experience I decided to take my excited ass out into the main arena corridors to check out the vibe which was beyond hysterical by fans that were by now merry and in the mood to party .I even passed a few folks I’m sure I recognised from my twitter page! Never met them but smiled as I passed in acknowledgement!.

I always stop to check out artist merchandise to see how creative they’ve gotten but my eye was drawn to a great keepsake-the official tour programme-$25. So I bought 2. Flicking through it my eye froze over a certain page where I looked back at myself! There amongst Mrs C’s fun photos were 2 pics of me, MC and Brat on one of our vacation escapades a few years ago! . MC always looks amazing, Brat looked cute, and I was a freakin mess!. I wasn’t mad though. I was honoured to be included in such a superstars programme full stop but had to laugh at the fact that on that day I had thrown on anything at the last minute that didn’t match, AND my hair was an ocean dried mess!. I was rocking gold Adidas runners, denim shorts with the words ‘’bad gal’’ on them, a gold lame American apparel swimsuit and a Rocawear red, black and white classic trackie top-what a mess! Maturity must have kicked in though cos I didn’t give a s***. All animated I called my mum to tell her , she told me to focus on my own stuff and snapped me straight back to reality.

Starting the show were Nick Cannons new male vocal group Rydz N Rtists who were really good-the arena loved them. Thousands of hysterical young ladies were screaming for them to take their shirts off and all sorts-they were like the new Jodeci/ B2K and with no autotune helping their vocals I think they’ll go far. They’re signed to the music arm of Nicks company NCredible.
Next up was heart throb Trey Songz who had a lot of ladies hysterical and screaming. After his set I actually had to accompany some young girls who shall remain nameless to his area to get autographs and photos. They thought I was the best auntie ever until we were told by his team that he’d just left to catch a plane. I sniggered under my breath as the lil ones all looked crest fallen. But not for long cos the main star they’d come to see was about to hit the stage!.

We returned to our backstage area, I checked to see that Mrs CC was ok and didn’t need anything but of course her assistant/friend Rachel had everything covered so we just chatted for a while. The arena was full of fans, friends, celebs and family. I hugged the ever charming, smiling  Stephen Hill (HEAD OF BET TV) tight as we caught up , Mariah’s co star in Precious- Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe-was there with friends and as the house lights went down I thought my ear drums might actually burst with the screaming and roaring from the crowd.

Mariah came on around 10.30pm and for 2 solid hours sang hit after hit from her past 2 decades of smash hits wearing a number of diva esque outfits-at one point even summoning onstage her hair, makeup and assistant to ‘’refluff’’ her cos she was a diva. Loved that part-shes fly and she knows it and doesn’t give a daym what folks think-pip! The fans were delirious with excitement when at midnight she counted them down and a solid 2 minutes of pyro fireworks, confetti and balloons covered the whole stadium. Of course they were pink and lavender!. Even though I know mc has hits for days its not until uyou see her killing the stage for nearly 3 hours that you realise just how many! When ‘’Fantasy’’ dropped I jammed hard! Post show we hung out in the dressing room toasting the show with drinks before hitting nightclub M2 where Nick was dj’ing. Joining us were actress Gabourey and new American internet celebrity Love B Scott who is the hottest new celebrity blogger Stateside (check him out) and as we brought in the New Year Mariah asked me ‘’I have another show in Atlantic City tomorrow– are you coming?’’…..but I had made other plans already to go see the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe as well the  hit show ‘’Fela Kuti on Broadway’’. But my life’s never simple and the next night my whole diary was remixed again with a crazy Thelma and Louise esque adventure. To find out how catch me next week!,.

Empire state of mind

SO after my Christmas festivities with the Carey-Cannons, I travelled back to New York with them and spent my last few vacation dates there.

I took advantage of the free time and fitted in jivamukti yoga lessons; walked the streets, taking in the beautiful window displays; and caught up with my Manhattan-based pals like my old MTV News crew, the new owners of VIBE magazine, the former head of HOT97 radio, and of course, my homie Estelle, who now calls the Big Apple her home.

One night, just before New Year’s Eve, Estelle and I met up in Fifth Avenue, where we did a spot of shopping. We had lunch at Balthazar restaurant and popped into Bloomingdales to buy Estelle a pair of earmuffs. Having your ears unprotected in the New York cold isn’t advisable!

Estelle accompanied me to Gucci and patiently waited an hour whilst I contemplated the shoe section. When shoppers stood in shock when they spotting her, I felt proud of how far her talent, perseverance and tenacity had brought her. When some fans tried to take pictures with her in the store and the security advised that photos weren’t allowed, she actually stepped outside with the fans in the blistering cold to pose with them so they wouldn’t be disappointed. That’s a gracious star.

We had our usual hair and nail appointments crossed off the to-do list before Estelle mentioned that it was her label boss John Legend’s birthday dinner that night and that she would love me to accompany her. Well, you know me readers. Why have dinner with one west London bred superstar when you can make it two superstars from different sides of the Atlantic? So off we went.

John was celebrating his 31st birthday at a lovely restaurant in town, where we arrived to find a long table of 20 of his nearest and dearest, including his girlfriend. We had a lovely evening with great food including steak and fries, enjoyed great conversation and great company.

Straight after dinner, John escorted us downstairs to the restaurant’s club area, where the VIP tables were laden with beverages and the ceiling was covered with silver balloons.

One by one, the area quickly filled up with stylish folks, including artists Ludacris and Ryan Leslie. DJ M.O.S was very good at keeping the crowd bubbling from midnight onwards, with old school R’n’B classics, as well as hip-hop joints like Jay Z’s ode to New York, Empire State of Mind. To see New Yorkers jump up and down to a track that made them proud of their city made me smile, but also made me wish that a UK act would do the same for London town. A few UK acts have tried it but nobody has really made an anthem yet.

John had one of his backing singers sing for the partygoers (it would’ve been cooler if Estelle had sung in my humble opinion), and red velvet cake was brought out for us to keep our sugar levels up. John took the mic as we sang him happy birthday and then thanked us all for coming.

At 2am, we left the party and to our dismay, it was snowing heavily outside. All of us ladies had our legs out bare in dresses, but thankfully, as we yelped and panicked, Estelle shoved us into a car that took us back to John’s crib, where around 15 close friends were just chilling and chatting.

Meanwhile, John’s British bulldog Puddy was also receiving a fair amount of attention, which was unsurprising. Talk about a gorgeous, sweet-mannered canine! All the girls were cooing and gushing over him so much that producer Consequence ended up starting a monopoly game with all the neglected fellas!

After it hit 5am, we thanked our host John for a lovely evening and braved the snow again. We found a cab driver to take us home and then the munchies kicked in, so we tucked into mac n cheese and fried calamari and then dozed off over our hot chocolates.

The next night was New Year’s Eve, but The Voice’s entertainment editor gets very cross with me when I go over my word count, so I’m going to have to tell you all about NYE next week – I know, almost a moth late. But hey, diva news is always worth waiting for! And yes, be rest assured, it was yet another typical New York night in the life of a media industry chic!

Amen

Happy New Year readers! I’m writing this column sitting underneath the twinkling white lights of the hugest Christmas tree looking outside at the snow covered Aspen mountains where reindeer are literally bouncing around me. I hope your holiday period was fun and you had a chance to reposition, reenergise and can now re-emerge into 2010 with a new positive, can-do energy.
I don’t want to spoil the festive spirit so let me get the serious stuff out of the way first. Last month I complained about a London nightclub’s door policy towards young black men. well since that column we literally had hundreds of readers responding with similar experiences so I did a bit of research. And it doesn’t look good. i was angry and frustrated at what looked like the unfair treatment of a group of people but after doing some digging I hate to say it but I think I can understand the catch 22 situation.

I spoke to a friend that runs big celebrity clubs in London who told me to look at the bigger picture. Some things he told me were shocking. Like ‘’if I let too many black people in our white guests feel uncomfortable’’. On the other hand he explained that police often clamped down on ‘’urban music functions’’ because there was always trouble expected. He cited ‘’when white folks get drunk and fight they tend mostly to use fists and bottles, when its black people its knives and guns which leads to us automatically losing our club licenses and our business is our living so we will do whatever we can to protect that’’. Putting aside that the party I was speaking about was my private guest list which had people I could personally vouch for , my club owner mate retorted ‘’yes but you cant vouch for every group of young black men that come into a west end night club and we’re not prepared to take the risk with our business!’’. So I wonder whether it’s a vicious circle that will never change. Are we our own worst enemies? And if we don’t take a stand and start supporting and empowering our young people so they don’t feel the need to resort to violence will this ever change?
Why were clubs trouble free in my youth- Subterainia and Hanover Grand were full of young black people with no trouble. surely quality  door staff always know troublemakers and should be able to pick them out without descrimination . Are we responsible for our own bad press? Or is it the media that always makes a huge deal about young black men and crime? After all isn’t football violence worse but just accepted?. Last month politician rod little said that most crime was committed by young black men and ‘’all we get in return is rap music and curry goat’’!. Then 2 young men were arrested for attempted murder of a pregnant girl and the media ran a huge photo next to the story of Tinchy Stryder and the hip-hop musical 1day with the weakest cited connections!.

Is it any wonder people are scared into making rash decisions about young people of colour?. If we cant vouch for our own events being trouble free why should anyone else take a risk on us?. Also-Isn’t there more violence at football matches? Lord knows what the police would  be doing to us if our club violence was on par with that. But we also have to acknowledge the shortcomings within our own communities. They do exist.

A young black man I am happy to see making continuous steady moves upwards within his acting career is Aml Ameen. You may remember him from THE BILL or the movie Kidulthood. Well just before Christmas he invited me to see him perform at the Tricycle Theatre. So on a wintry December Saturday afternoon we went to see him playing the part of Justice in the play ‘’Detailing Justice’’ .The play was part of The Not Black and White Season– where Aml undertook the challenge of playing three very different characters, in three different plays. In the 1st he played Rio- a young man convicted of Rape, who meets his father in prison. In the 2nd he plays Lavelle- a 17year old righteous intellectual kid who disturbs the world of a politician. In the last he plays Justice Ncube, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker, who has his fled his country after an attempt on his life, because of his political affiliation. He’s detained in a London detention centre, for months, and Aml emotionally showed the decline of his mental health. Aml had to use an accent from Zimbabwe, and he pulled it off. He told me afterwards it was ‘’without a doubt the most testing job of my career so far’’.

The story in ’’Detaining justice’’ was told from the points of view from all the various characters and I have to admit even my judgemental opinions were changed by the end of the performance. I often skip past immigration stories in newspapers and can find myself sympathising with David Cameron when he suggests curbing numbers on immigrants. But after watching this my viewpoints were really changed which I guess is the point of a good story and brilliant performances. Aml’s performance was so strong with him evoking tears in the audience and keeping us gripped until the end. I felt ashamed of my previous judgemental ideas about immigrants. I was so proud and grateful to Aml for opening my mind.
Not about to take a break anytime soon Aml is just as busy this year. He’s starring in director George Lucas’ last epic movie RED TAIL. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots to fly in a combat squadron during World War II.

Aml has landed the role of Bag O Bones, he’s just a cocky pilot a part of the squadron, and one of his scenes is with Cuba Gooding Jnr. Aml excitedly revealed ‘’ it was a real honour as an actor to watch his process as he prepares for a scene.  Even though my part is small, I’m hoping this a sign an indication of where my career is moving towards. Hollywood films, International recognition and opportunity’’.
As if its not enough that aml has broken Hollywood he’s also begun directing his own movies. the 1st is The Pick Up– Aml explained ‘’it’s a A short film I’ve written and this will be my directorial debut through my film production company AmeenDream entertainment. It’s set in a house club about a bunch of lads, that make up elaborate stories to try and get dates with these University girls. We had an open casting and its set to be a slick stylish sexy short film’’.  Hmmm that sounds a bit suspect doesn’t it readers. Ha ha.i may take up writing and directing movies starring fit, young virile men. Maybe that’ll be my new years resolution!.