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Vixen Chat: 'American Idol' Alum Syesha Mercado Conquers Broadway

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Syesha Mercado may have been an American Idol season seven runner upbut like those before her, she is invested in her craft and plotting a career far beyond the confines of reality television. The singer, who labels herself an optimistic, generous and loving person, has already conquered Broadway and continues to showcase her killer vocals online. During our exclusive Vixen Chat,  she also dished on daily inspirations and future plans. Equal parts sweet and genuine, we're sure you'll fall in love with Syesha's infectious energy.

Get into our girl talk on the next page.

Photo credit: Getty Images 

 

VIBE Vixen: Where does your inspiration come from?

Syesha: My earlier inspiration comes from my mother. She was a gospel singer. When I was younger,  I used to create monologues for my family and recite them. I always had the passion in me. My mother told me that when I was two I wanted to sing and dance. Before I could remember, I would follow my mother around the house and sing behind her. As  I got older, I understood the influence that people could have over their audience. I knew that I wanted to inspire others through performing.

What are you inspired by today?

My inspiration now comes from many different places. I listen to all types of music, so lots of different genres inspire me. Recently, I've been listening to a lot of Tye Tribbett, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. The music that I listen to always depends on the mood that I'm in. I love to create and listen to different types of music. It allows me to be able to bring creativity to my craft.

What are you working on today?

Currently, I am in a Broadway play called the Book of Mormon and an urban film called Dreams. In the Book of Mormon I play the character Nabulungi. In Dreams, I play a character named Mia.

What are you focusing on professionally right now?

I've decided to focus more on my acting career. Doing The Book of Mormon on Broadway right now has been a rewarding and challenging experience. Every show is a little different than the last and every audience is different as well. It's an amazing experience when you get to see the crowds reaction to your performance.

 

Which form of acting do you enjoy more? Broadway or film?

I love doing both Broadway and film. Film is a little different because sometimes you are only filming for two weeks and then you don't see the production until months later. With Broadway, I think that the theater schedule is a lot more demanding on your voice and your body. Sometimes you are acting on a stage for weeks straight. You have to make sure you get a lot of rest because there is not much time between shows. There are no second chances on Broadway. You have one moment to be on stage and then you're done. They're really different, but I enjoy both of them.

What was your first film experience like?

I play the character Mia in the Lionsgate film Dreams. She's an aspiring singer who struggles with personal family issues that hinder her from pursuing her dream of becoming a star. Marvin Winan Jr. showed interest in me doing the film. He wanted me to be a part of the movie and after seeing his vision and reading the story, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I fell in love with the script. It was my first film and I didn’t really know what to expect.

What are some professional goals you would like to accomplish in the new year?

I hope that we have a successful run with The Book of Mormon. Dreams is available on DVD now and I am really excited about that. I'm thinking positively about my future. I hope to be involved in more films and acting opportunities. I'm definitely  going to continue doing music and doing covers on YouTube. I recently began constructing a studio in my home where I can create whenever I get inspired. I am just really grateful to have been granted all these opportunities. It really has been a dream come true.

 

Press play to view a clip from the movie with Syesha's character, Mia.

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VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk podcast amplifies the voices of women and she/her-identifying individuals in their respective industries as they discuss their journeys toward becoming the bosses we know today. From their demeanor and confidence and persevering through life’s pitfalls to make a name for themselves in their own way, being a boss is much more than 'just running sh*t.'

Miss Peppermint started as a staple in the New York nightlife scene, and after appearing as a contestant on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, she’s continued to make a name for herself.

Outside of the show, she's traveled the world and is hoping to release her third album, which she hints will be influenced by the '90s, R&B, and neo-soul. She's also planning on re-releasing her debut album, Hardcore Glamour, for its 10-year anniversary.

"I'll be doing a lot in New York this year for World Pride," she explains to Boss Talk's host, J'na Jefferson. Pride takes place throughout June. "The last album I dropped was 2017... I'm excited about that, I'm writing it now. It's just poems, but I'm excited."

Peppermint, who was the first openly transgender contestant on the Emmy Award-winning show, was also the first transgender woman to originate a principal role on Broadway for her role as Pythio in Head Over Heels. 

 

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"On paper, it shouldn't make sense... it's hard to explain what it is," she says of the musical, which combined a loose adaptation of 16th-century piece The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia with the music of the new wave group, The Go-Go's. It closed in late-2018.

"The better way to explain it now that it's over and closed is 'a revolutionary show about dismantling the patriarchy...'" she says about Head Over Heels. "I knew that they wanted to cast a trans actor... I wanted to put as much as I could into it, and try to do our non-binary siblings well and proud... [the show] became something I really believed in."

Peppermint continues to share her love of performing all over the world and is also an activist, who aims to promote the importance of LGBTQIA representation and advancement. She has worked and supported organizations such as The Point Foundation, which aims to help LGBTQIA students attend college. 

"People are just starting to catch on that having queer voices is essential and inevitable," she says of further representation of LGBTQIA individuals in media and entertainment. She praises Pose creator Ryan Murphy for showcasing trans people of color both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes.

"Giving [trans people] the power to speak for themselves, rather than slapping the community with stereotypes or archetypes... we're past that," she continues. "We're not in the phase where they're feeling comfortable to be who they are, but I think we're getting close."

Listen to the full episode below.

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

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All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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