Alaina Lewis Alaina Lewis

Vixen Initiation: Alaina Lewis Talks Screenwriting and Her Moment of Inspiration

To say Clutch Magazine’s former Senior Editor Alaina Lewis is on the move is an understatement—her pace is more like a gallop. Since leaving Clutch to focus her efforts on her own PR company, Electric Heart Media, Lewis has carved out a unique niche by combining her talents as a journalist and a media producer.

Not only does Lewis generate press for her clients, the talented CEO also offers a wide range of hard-to-come-by services like video production, website development and photography. As a result, the client roster for EHM is already robust: prestigious events (Cannes Festival, American Black Film Festival, Miss Black Minnesota Pageant), international restaurants (London-based Pizza Fresha), as well as up-and-coming celebrities (teen rap sensation Young Marqus and NBA-hopeful Marcus Hill).

Lewis prides herself on providing her clients with personal attention. She’s even traveled with Young Marqus on his recent 12-city tour while simultaneously shooting footage and arranging exclusive backstage interviews.

Vixen caught up with the writer-slash-director-slash-producer just days before she was about to jet off on a promotional trip to Mexico and Hawaii for Young Marqus and Jacob Latimore. Excited about her successes, Lewis was eager to talk about screenwriting, her moment of inspiration and sneaking in through the back window.

Alaina LewisVIBE VIXEN: What is the goal behind Electric Heart?
ALAINA LEWIS: My focus is to create an electric pulse for my clients across the web. I like to give people the platform to be seen worldwide.

A lot of us have dreams but never live them. What pushed you?
I was a postal carrier for five years. I was also pursuing my degree in screenwriting and working with Clutch. I wanted to finish my last class and I couldn’t take the time off, so I quit. This is what I’m supposed to do.

Wow, just like that?
If you do it at home for yourself, it’s a hobby. But if you do it for the world, it’s a business. So, I have to go all in.

How was year one?
2012 was great! I have been on a five-year plan--this is my fourth year. Every single year I can say I have added another layer to what I do and really pushed to manifest my dream. I am absolutely floored to look at where I was then and where I am now.

What about that film degree?
[Laughs] I’m using my film degree! I shoot a lot with my clients. I created all the behind-the-scenes footage for Young Marcus for the web series “Life on the Road w/Young Marqus” and shot some footage for a [yet-to-be revealed] reality show.

What’s next?
My goal and dream in life is to be a screenwriter. With the exception of Ava Duvernay and Shonda Rhimes [Scandal], we don’t have a lot of heroes who have a household name like [Steven] Spielberg and James Cameron.

I want to have a name in the industry as someone who creates diverse works--that aren’t necessarily Black works. I’m laying my tracks out now so that when I actually do board my train, I have a way to get there. I’m not looking to be the next Tyler Perry. I want to be the first Alaina Lewis.

When did you realize you wanted to be a screenwriter?
Well when I was a kid, I was awkward. I was shy, so I’d create characters. I would do it in the sense that I knew I was too awkward to live the life, so I tried to become the characters. Then, I met [Mighty Ducks creator] Steve Brill in downtown Minneapolis. I almost passed out. He told me if I wanted, I could be in the movie. So, I was in MD3 in the scene at the Mall of America. While they were glorifying all the actors, I was watching him make a movie. I saw someone putting a movie together and I had never seen that in my life. It was that day I made the transition from wanting to write novels to being a screenwriter.

How does that tie in to what you’re doing now?
This is my way of showing the world this what I do, but it's not all that I do. I recently sold a script. And, I’m working on my big feature, called Assassin’s Avenue. It’s a Precious meets Hustle and Flow. It’s about a 14-year-old boy whose mom is addicted to heroin. His only salvation is hip-hop. His goal is not to become a rapper, not make a million dollars, it’s just to get to high school. It’s such a pure goal. Just to be able to be educated and have an opportunity to have an education and promise. And, there are things in his life making that seemingly simple desire seem unattainable.

Words to live by?
My mantra has always been I’d rather have you underestimate me than see me coming. If you are not going to let me in through the front door, I am going to come in through the back window.

New Year’s Resolution?
My New Year’s resolution is to have an amazing year. Believe it and then you will see it.

For more on Alaina Lewis and her company, visit electricheartmedia.com and press play for her 2012 highlight reel below.

 

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Andrea Kelly Says She's Been Attacked For Calling Out R. Kelly's Behavior

Andrea Kelly has found it hard to march for women as they continue to support her polarizing ex-husband, R. Kelly.

The former choreographer shared her sentiments on an upcoming episode of Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta shared on Entertainment Tonight. Speaking with close friend Debra Antney, Kelly tearfully expressed her frustrations with her ex-husband and praised Antey for sticking by her side.

The former couple was previously in a child support battle for their children Joann, 21, Jay, 19, and Robert, 17. During the time of filming, Kelly owed $161,000 in back child support to his ex. In May, it was reportedly paid off by a mysterious donor.

"When I think about the ways that I have been abused by Robert, from being hogtied, having both of my shoulders dislocated, to being slapped, pushed, having things thrown as me, the sexual abuse, the mental abuse, words can't even describe," she said.

In addition to the child support case, Kelly was charged with 11 felony counts of sexual assault. He's pleaded not guilty despite reported evidence of videotapes that reportedly show the entertainer engaging in sexual acts with minors. Andrea tells Antey how difficult the process has been for her since speaking out about Kelly's behavior in the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly. 

"Here I am, putting myself in a position because I want to help women, and they are attacking me," she said. "There's some things that I don't even speak anymore, that I feel like, once you give it to God, you better leave with God, because if I don't leave it with God, I'm definitely going to be somewhere with my hands on the glass, visiting my children every other Sunday."

Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on WEtv.

Watch the clip here.

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Courtesy of Baby Tress

Baby Tress' Edge Styler Ensures Women Of Color Will Always Shake The Beauty Table

"Do you have edge control in here?"

It's an inquiry my niece asked me over the weekend as we got ready for our cousin's graduation. Atlanta's heat is friendly but mixed with nimbus clouds, frizz (and thunderstorms) are on the horizon. Given the circumstances, a high bun seems to be the best choice for me and my niece, a slick-back style with extra attention to our baby hairs. It's typical for either one of us to grab a toothbrush to slick and swoop our edges with pomade or gel, but with The Baby Tress Edge Styler, the process is easier and equally as stylish.

Created by boutique communications agency Mama Tress, the styler is everything baby hair dreams are made of. It's also a testament to the rise of the "style" in popular hair culture. With a dual comb and brush top, its pointed tip elevates a consumer to baby hair connoisseur.

But the styler isn't something created to appropriate black culture or piggyback on what boosts the most likes on social media. The handy styler was created by Mama Tress CEO Hannah Choi and her team consisting of other women of color like public relations coordinator Mariamu "Mimi" Sillah. The New York native tells VIBE Vixen the styler was made as a gift for an event they hosted but its intentions to propel black hair were always present.

"We try to make it clear that this is for women of color. Because we all understand the history of baby hair, we all have connections, we all have stories, we all do it differently, some people swoop it; if you see some of my coworkers they do the swirls," she said. "This is a product that we want everyone to see and think, 'I don't need to be using a toothbrush. I deserve more than a toothbrush.' This is a tool made thoughtfully with women of color in mind and we are women of color who came up with the idea because we know what we need."

Coming in six different colors, the styler's bristles are stronger than a typical toothbrush and give anyone's edges a look all their own. Over the years, styled baby hairs have gotten the white-washed celeb treatment. From the runways of New York Fashion Week to fans of black culture like Kim Kardashian, its recent love affair among popular culture crosses out its rich roots.

Many have attributed the actual rise of baby hairs to the '70s with pioneers like LaToya Jackson and Sylvia Robinson of CEO Sugar Hill Records sporting their luxurious edges with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas being the all-time queen. Recent entertainers like Ella Mai and FKA twigs have made them fun and creative. There are also the many Latinx and black around the way queens who have kept the culture alive.

 

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A post shared by Ebony Brown (@wildcatebonybrown) on Jun 3, 2019 at 1:31pm PDT

“Our tool is more than a beauty product, it’s a conversation starter," Choi, who is of Korean descent, previously told fashion site Beauty Independent. "There are nuances of someone’s world that you won’t see if you’re not part of that community. And we felt that the conversation around why this market is so underserved should be brought to light and talked about. We are seeing such a big change now in fashion and beauty in terms of representation, and we want to be able to have that conversation without it being heavy. We want it to be approachable. Our brand is very approachable.”

When it comes to moving in the black hair space, Sillah feels empowered at Mama Tress. It also makes it easy to develop black hair tools like the styler. "I feel like my voice is listened to because I am a consumer of all these things. It's empowering to be in a position to have more control," she said. "If we're being honest, a lot of the black hair spaces are not owned by people who look like us. To be in a position where I can say "No, don't create this product, we don't wear things like this,' or 'Actually you should name it this because this resonates with this community,' I'm an advocate for my community. That's part of the reason why Baby Tress was created because it's about a larger conversation, about things not being thoughtfully made for us."

Baby Tress' next steps are to make the styler accessible to consumers and create even more products dedicated to black women.

“We need to be in retail spaces because this is a product you need to see up close and touch it and play with it,” said Shannon Kennard, account executive at Mama Tress tells Glossy. “Everyone who tries it falls in love with it.”

Sillah is more than ready for women of color to elevate their beauty regimen, one creation at a time. The future of Baby Tress includes an array of more products designed with women of color in mind.

"Anything that has to do with baby hair, we can bring to Baby Tress and make it beautifully designed and effective," she said.  "That's what this is about. It's about that step up. Again, we should not be using a toothbrush anymore."

Learn more about Baby Tress here.

 

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Beyonce Readies New Line And Serves As Muse For 'Lion King' Makeup Collection

Beyonce is keeping her fans quite busy this week. Yesterday (June 4), the latest trailer for the forthcoming The Lion King live action film gave the masses a first listen of Beyonce as the voice of Nala. To add on to the Disney film's energy, Beyonce's longtime makeup artist Sir John has revealed a special Lion King makeup partnership.

According to The Cut, Disney's Sir John x Luminess Lion King Limited Edition Collection includes "a 6-shade sculpting palette, a 12-shade eyeshadow palette, two matte lipsticks, two liquid lipsticks, a tinted lip balm, and a highlighter." Neutrals, pinks and shimmer jewel tones are all named after characters and other movie references, with various women (including Beyonce) modeling the new work.

 

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From day to night, statement or muted.. I love that there’s so many different looks you can create with this 8 piece collection 🙌🏽 I’ll be posting a few tutorials this month to show you guys some really cool things you can do with these products. & be sure to check out #TheLionKing in theaters July 19!  #DisneyLionKing #SirJohn #LuminessCosmetics

A post shared by S I R J O H N (@sirjohnofficial) on Jun 2, 2019 at 3:05pm PDT

 

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No filters needed ⚠️ Can’t Wait To Be Queen Eyeshadow Palette working that good light 👑✨ #TheLionKingCollectionbySirJohnXLuminess #SirJohn #LuminessCosmetics

A post shared by S I R J O H N (@sirjohnofficial) on Jun 4, 2019 at 9:18am PDT

While that was happening, Bey also caused a stir amongst the BeyHive with the announcement of her own forthcoming merch line. The "BeyHive" range officially hits her website on June 11, right in time for all the summertime functions.

Beyoncé's new "beyhive" range has been sent to several members of the BeyHive is promotion of her new merch line, launching June 11. https://t.co/zIkzJ9B8Qq pic.twitter.com/Ql9yWXKNDR

— BEYONCÉ HUB (@theyoncehub) June 5, 2019

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