Category Archives: the moxies

creative women pursuing their dreams

candace nelson :: the mother of all cupcakeries

all you need to say is two words to me — champagne and cupcakes — and i’m there! and such was the case last night when i attended a preview event at sprinkles, the latest cupcakery to land on dc. georgetown to be exact. the grand opening is tomorrow, march 3rd so get ready to swing by for a bit of deliciousness!

can i just say that this little one-hour adventure almost wrecked my whole diet?! woowee, thank goodness i exercised some self restraint in there!

anyway, just in case you think it was a totally nutty idea for sprinkle‘s owner candace nelson to open a cupcake bakery in g’town since it’s sorta georgetown cupcake‘s territory (and baked and wired‘s if you’re keeping track), well, think of it this way: no one complains when yet another shoe store moves to m street, right?

different flavors for different folks!

and you should also know that candace was the first (yes, that’s right…the first) person to open a bakery that sold cupcakes solely in the world! that was back in 2005. so candace knows her way around these neat and petite treats.

the top pic is of candace and the one at the bottom with the dog bone? doggie cupcakes!

and if you’re a true blue cupcake fan, then you’ve probably seen candace dole out her expertise as a judge on food network’s “cupcake wars.” she’s also been on “the today show,” “the tyra banks show,” “throwdown with bobby flay,” “regis & kelly” and yes, “oprah“!

candace and her husband charles opened the first sprinkles in beverly hills and they now own 11 bakeries across the country. they have plans to open several more all while parenting two little ones! they have a 3 and a half year old and a 3 month old. nobody could believe that candace, with her itty bitty self, not only bakes cupcakes all day and surely tastes the goods from time to time, but just had a baby recently.

she gets extra moxie points for that one.

and let me tell you, candace and charles are the nicest folk. they were such gracious hosts as they showed us around. and i’m not just saying that because candace taught us how to ice cupcakes and let us give it a whirl in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

okay, so mine (below) didn’t exactly come out like masterpiece, but hey, i make no claims to baking as my talent.

a really cool thing about sprinkles is they have a room upstairs that you can rent for a party. it’s the perfect spot for a baby shower or bridal party.

so if you’re in the dc area, swing by sprinkles cupcakes! they make a darn good coconut cupcake, by the way, and offer a huge menu of flavors including the favored red velvet.

when you go, tell ’em niki sent you. i’m pretty sure they won’t know who the heck you’re talkin’ about, but hey, tell ’em anyway.

 

sprinkles cupcakes

3015 m street, nw

washington, dc 20007

 

sha hayes :: tv host & producer dreaming big

ambitious.multi-talented.insightful

niki: you just picked up and moved from dc to new york and said, this is what i’m going to do!

sha hayes: yes indeed. it was something that i said i wanted to do years ago anyway, but at the time i was helping to raise my nieces i kinda felt guilty of leaving them. but once they got to the point that they’re okay…i was like, okay, i can go now.

not everybody believes in God but i was literally coming back on the bus from new york and in my mind i was going to quit [my job at] discovery. i said, “God, i don’t know how i’m going to survive financially, i don’t know what i’m going to do, it’s a terrible job market, it’s a recession…

i know she probably thought i was crazy because i was sitting there smiling from ear to ear, thankful to Jesus, and I was like, “oh my God, this saved me!” because then i didn’t have to quit.

i’m on the bus and i get a call on my cell phone and i’m thinking, okay, who’s calling from my job? and it’s hr and the hr lady is like, “hey, i sent you a notice for you to come meet with me this morning.” so i get off the bus and i go in her office and she said, “we’re letting you know that we’re eliminating your position.” and i know she probably thought i was crazy because i was sitting there smiling from ear to ear, thankful to Jesus, and I was like, “oh my God, this saved me!” because then i didn’t have to quit.

sha hayes on “dr. oz”

i give people that testimony because sometimes you just really got to wait on the Lord ’cause i tell you, had it not been for that moment i wouldn’t have been able to survive without having the opportunity of getting unemployment and still be able to go out there and pound the pavement, and sending my headshots out and getting the work i was doing. so it was such a blessing. it just aligned me in the perfect time when i was supposed to be here.

i had just put a security deposit on my apartment where i’m staying now. so i didn’t know that that was going to happen but in my mind i was just like, i’m going to quit in two weeks. so when you move in directions of faith and say, this is going to happen for you without thinking, oh, well, let me see, i can’t do this because of such and such… you’re setting yourself up for failure because you’re waiting on disaster to happen. i didn’t say to myself, okay, well, let me execute more plans. if i had done that i would’ve been five more years waiting to move versus me just doing it. so i’m just blessed behind that.

niki: when did you first know, even though knowing you, you probably always knew, that you had this gift to entertain people?

sha hayes: when i was about 7 or 8 years old i can remember being at a family function and there was band playing at my aunt’s house. they had a cookout or something and i got up there and sang that song like i wasn’t afraid. i was just walking around the crowd. i just felt in my element. i used to sing “i will always love you” and one time my mother had to come up there and get me and she said, “okay, that’s enough now, baby.” i didn’t feel like, oh my God, everybody is watching me. there was never a time when somebody said, “baby, sing that song” and i was like, “no.” i was like, [singing] “AND I AM TELLING YOU…”

on her way to a red carpet event!

niki: let me find out you’re a triple threat! i never knew you could sing too and i know you can dance.

sha hayes: well, you know, the thing about it is i would never make singing a profession only because i’ve had issues in the past with my sinuses that have caused me to not really be able to pursue it. i tried it for a minute. thing for me is that if i don’t feel like i can do it 100%… just like i tried stand-up. although i still feel like i can be funny, but to stand in front of somebody with the expectation of, now i’m gonna make you laugh…i didn’t like it. the same way with singing, i didn’t feel like i can be like an aretha franklin singing, then i didn’t wanna do it.

my goal now is hosting my own show. but like queen latifah did, she sold platinum albums singing a jazz album, so i would never run from it if it ever presented itself. but at the same time, i’m trying to hone in on one thing. i don’t want to be, like they say, a jack of all trades, master of none.

sha at former dc mayor adrian fenty’s birthday celebration

i just have to reel it in because i feel like i’ve got this short window of time because of my age. of course, it’s great to have it so if somebody said, “well, can you sing too?” then i’m like, “oh yeah! of course i can.” but i don’t try to go into the studio and try to cut an album and stand outside of bad boy trying to get my demo to them or nothin’ like that. that ain’t happenin’.

niki: so tell me what you’re doing right now.

sha hayes: right now i’m working with food network on a show called “24 hour restaurant battle.” i worked with them last year and they’ve changed up the synopsis of the show for this year. they’re bringing in their own staff. it’s competing teams that come in and on the first episode that i did i actually cooked for one of the competing teams. so i’m actually helping the person who’s competing to win $10,000 to open up their own restaurant. so i’m doing that. i just finished doing “gossip girl.” i did an episode of that.

niki: tell me about your “single muvas” video and how that came about.

sha hayes: i was riding in the car one day and i had been thinking of developing a show. i was thinking, there are no female late night hosts, but then that damn heifer mo’nique… [laughing] no, i love her. she came with her show, but prior to that i was thinking, i’m going to put together a little pilot for my late night show, but you know whenever you see a lot of late night shows they have these little parodies. so i thought, oh my goodness, instead of doing “single ladies,” we need to do “single mamas” and then it just came to putting pregnant stomachs on and the leotards. we wrote the lyrics for the song and went into the studio and recorded the actual song. then we performed that song this past halloween for the “gong show” at b.b. kings on broadway. so we had the opportunity to actually perform that foolishness in front of an audience.

i think somebody told these people in advanced boo the best talent in the entire show and that’s what happened.

niki: did you all get gonged?

sha hayes: we got gonged. yes, we did. but i think it was a set-up. it was a conspiracy because they had people in there that was humping a chicken and they didn’t get gonged. i think somebody told these people in advanced boo the best talent in the entire show and that’s what happened. somebody was passing out post-it notes, “please, boo the three pregnant black women before y’all leave tonight.” i’m telling you, that’s what happened.

niki: what kind of show are you thinking about? like an “oprah” kinda show?

sha hayes: no, not so much “oprah,” i do love to cook so i think i want to infuse kind of like a lifestyle/entertainment type of show where i am cooking and interviewing people. kinda of like a spin on “rachel ray” with like a little dab of “ellen” in it. i want to have that quirky little fun stuff that “ellen” does incorporated into it because that plays into my personality and not so stoic like just interviewing people like barbara walters. so if i had to give an example based on what’s out there it would be like a dab of “rachel” with a splash of “ellen” in there.

sha as a therapist in a “what chilli wants” spoof

niki: and you’ve been doing lots of red carpet stuff lately.

sha hayes: i did for colored girls in new york, the premiere there and there was an urbanworld film festival that b.e.t. does where they bring out independent filmmakers. i did interviews with tyler perry at for colored girls, janet jackson, patti labelle, phylicia rashad, macy gray to name a few. hill harper was there, ledisi who did the soundtrack for the movie was there as well.

it was an amazing opportunity for me because i have a vision board and i had literally just put tyler perry’s picture on my vision board and i don’t know why i did that, but i just said, let me put tyler perry up there, he’s somebody i would wanna work with in the future. and literally that next week i was meeting him, taking pictures with him, interviewing him. i didn’t see that in the full scope of my vision, i thought it would be grander but hey, if that’s what it connected my vision to then i’ll accept it, i’ll take it.

niki: so what words of wisdom do you want to impart on those who want to pursue their dreams but are afraid to?

sha hayes: there’s one thing that i always live by and it’s something that marianne williamson wrote about called “our deepest fears” and it’s not that we are inadequate but our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. and literally, i live by that. and i write down little quotes to myself. like i remember i had in my signature, “disappointment only comes to those who make an appointment with the future.”

you just have to let yourself live life and know that you’re working hard towards your dreams.

when i was in my 20s i used to say i’m going to be a millionaire by the time i’m 30 and i’m nowhere near, i’m not even 100 near or 1,000 near. so i had to stop telling myself that if i don’t meet this requirement by this time then i failed. you just have to let yourself live life and know that you’re working hard towards your dreams. you’re not your circumstances, you’re your possibilities. you have to really press forward and just know that you are bigger than anything you can ever imagine. that’s one thing i would say, you are powerful beyond measure. keep steadfast in your dreams and don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do it.

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tasia grant :: rising actress

at the premiere of breaking up is hard to do where tasia played monique

driven. expressive. honest

niki: i decided to do this project with my blog because i know so many women who’ve decided to pursue their dreams and of course you fit the bill. you decided a few years ago to really buckle down and pursue acting. tell me what made you finally do that.

tasia: well, i never, in the past, had considered acting as a career. it was just something i loved to do as a child and a young adult, but somewhere along the way i decided that i wanted to start doing it again. i got into a class at nick conti’s professional actor’s studio and while i was there i realized how much i really missed it. i started getting some connects and talking to people who were doing it professionally and it kinda inspired me. i decided to throw my hat in the ring and start auditioning.

when i started booking things like independent films, some small plays and things like that i kinda got the feeling that i might be able to make money doing it. once i was able to get an agent and do paid jobs i realized that i loved it.

i think what caught me is that when i’d be on a 12-hour shoot it did not feel like work. i never watched the clock. i never watched the time pass. i was just really into what i was doing. it was the complete opposite of how i felt about my corporate job.

niki: what are you doing right now?

tasia: right now i am getting ready to start rehearsal for a stage play which i’m playing the lead. it’s called, untold secrets – the balinda michaels story. it’s a one show date in march. i’m also getting ready to do a play in the drama ministry at my church. that’s important because i’ve tried to make sure that i’m not just acting for pleasure. i’ve tried to find a way that i can contribute at my church and still do what i love.

niki: tell me about some of the other projects you’ve done.

tasia: i’ve done quite a few independent films. one has been very successful and is showing at all the major film festivals now. and i believe it’s coming up on a distribution deal. it’s called breaking up is hard to do directed by tabari sturdivant and the writer/producer is nikki simpson.

i also did my first speaking role in the feature film, meet the browns by tyler perry. i got that role in 2007 and i was a reporter. i started off with only two lines and then mr. perry had us do improvisation in that scene and thank God i was up on my improv skills because i ended up having several more lines.  i’ve had a couple commercials, regional and national. i just got my first national sag commercial for dunkin donuts.

niki: who’s been your motivator? has there been one particular person who’s a mentor to you?

tasia: there isn’t one person who’s been a motivator. there’s a collective group of actors. some who are my peers and some who have been in the industry longer than me that i would say inspire me. they keep me motivated by their drive.

being on the set of meet the browns… before i got the speaking role i was a stand-in for diary of a mad black woman. i was a stand-in for kimberly elise. she’s really, really shy and at first i didn’t think she was going to speak to anybody and finally i had a chance to sit down and talk to her. just that short conversation that we had, she was just really inspiring. i was a stand-in which is basically a glorified extra. it’s basically an extra but you stand in for the principle so you get a lot more experience as far as direction is concerned.

kimberly said, “most people were in this position before they got to where i am.” she said, “i remember being where you are. don’t give up. and it’s so good that you’re willing to humble yourself and go through this process in order to get where you want to go.” she was like, “work hard, stick at it and do things like this to get yourself exposure and experience.”

from the play love can be dangerous where tasia played letitia sometay

it was very inspiring for someone who didn’t even have to give me the time of day to give me encouraging words. the group of actors that are my peers are so inspiring because everybody is just hustling so hard and it really encourages my hustle. it encourages me to stay on my game and keep my grind up.

i decided in my 30s to walk away from a career that i had been building for 14 years. and i decided i wanted to do a totally different career and i had the full support…

niki: i feel that whenever you’re in any type of creative field it’s sometimes hard to keep the creativity going. how else do you keep yourself motivated? is it your peers?

tasia: nah, honey, let me tell you. you don’t even know the half of it! [laughing] honestly, staying motivated is the hardest part of it all. but my family is motivation for not giving up. my husband has made such a great sacrifice. i mean, look at me, i decided in my 30s to walk away from a career that i had been building for 14 years. and i decided i wanted to do a totally different career and i had the full support… i mean, literally when i told my husband i wanted to leave my job. i actually called him that morning and asked him if i could put my resignation in the next day.

niki: and he said, yes?

tasia: and he said yes. it let me know that he trusted me. he knows i’m responsible. i had been with that company a long time. i said, “give me 30 days. i’m going to work my time at that job but in the mean time i’m going to be hustling to get gigs.” and in that time he had seen my work pick up.

i had done a couple commercials. i was doing industrials, those are corporate videos. you know how your company will have those training videos when you first start working? half the time those are actors acting out the different scenarios. i had really lucked up and got a lot of training video jobs and they paid really well. and they were really consistent. so he saw that i wasn’t just giving him lip service.

and then i had small children. i had to make it work for them to show them not to give up on your dreams and that even when you make non-traditional or maybe unpopular decisions in your career that if you put everything into it and you have the talent and the training to back it up, you can still make it happen. i don’t want them to feel like they’ve made these sacrifices and that they put their faith in me all for nothing. so that’s what keeps me going.

but i’m gonna tell you, honey, it’s hard! there’s so much rejection in this business. it’s tough not getting the part. you feel like maybe you’re not good enough.

niki: how do you deal with the rejection? do you take it personally?

tasia: you don’t take it personally but from time to time when you have those modes, yeah, when it’s going like two weeks and you’ve haven’t gotten an audition do you start to self-evaluate. [laughing] you start thinking, okay, let me check in with my agent like, am i still in the running? [laughing] and make sure i’m not delusional and think that something else is happening here that’s not.

photo by richard mellinger

but as i’ve been in the business i’m learning that this is a high and low business. it’s like really close to real estate to me. in real estate when you’re rolling, you’re rolling. when you’re selling houses, you’re selling houses but when the market crashes there’s a lull. well, in acting, most people are fortunate if they get one in every ten auditions. but then you have to put in perspective. thank God i have ten auditions! you know what i’m saying?

niki: where do you see your career going ultimately?

tasia: i would really love to do film and tv. i would say that i’m a versatile actress. i think that i have talents in all areas but i have a passion for dramatic roles. i think that i’ve been successful in roles that are meaty and deep and gritty and emotional.

in [the play] steel magnolias i played the part of m’lynn which is the role that sally field played and that role had so many layers and emotions and highs and lows and i love stuff like that. it allowed me to really dig deep into the character as a person. the role was older than i am so i love playing roles that are challenging like that.

i played ruth in a raisin in the sun last year and it was the same type of role. although i could relate to her a lot better because she was a mother and a wife and the struggles of a family.

tasia as ruth younger in a raisin in the sun. photo by michael cole

and the ironic thing, niki, is that at the time when i played ruth, you know walter lee was struggling about providing for his family and they were living with their mother and they were all trying to figure out how to make it. at the same time, my husband had been laid off and i was acting full-time. my mother was living with us and we were literally living this life and experiencing those things. so it was just such a wonderful experience to have a role where i could use my life experiences to really bring these people to life. those roles are not only giving something to me, but giving something to others.

my goal is to be in films and roles on tv where people are really connecting with me and i impact them in some kind of way like the role was impacting me.

when i did m’lynn this woman sent me an email later and thanked me for helping them understand what a person feels like when they lose their child. that’s how connected they were to that. and with a raisin in the sun i had so many mothers and wives come up to me say, that was my life on stage. that type of thing is what i thrive on. connecting to people.

my goal is to be in films and roles on tv where people are really connecting with me and i impact them in some kind of way like the role was impacting me. i find so much fulfillment in that. i don’t know but i feel like i’ve really done something when i have those opportunities.

i wanna be like ruby dee. i want people to say, tasia grant’s in this film so i know it’s gonna be good. i wanna go see it. like if i know ruby dee is in it. i know i’m gonna love her, no matter what she does. i want to have a long career where i’m well respected.

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in march tasia is hosting a workshop series called, “getting your kid in the biz.” the two-part workshops will be held on saturdays and sundays in the atlanta area. the first part will focus on what it really takes to get your child in the acting industry and what the commitment really means. the second part is packed with industry info and resources parents need to get started. it also includes a coaching session to prep the child for initial agency auditions. for more information email at gettingurkidsinbiz [at] gmail [dot] com.

alexandra ferguson makes one sassy pillow

alexandra ferguson is the owner and creator of this “sassy little pillow company” and sassy it is. sometimes a girl needs a little inspiration printed boldly on her home accessories. at least i do anyway. and hey, a gun that shoots hearts never hurt nobody either.

pssss…all items are handmade right here in the good ol’ us of a.

shop alexandra ferguson

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life a bit sweeter

when my friend michelle told me about a year ago (i think it was about a year ago) that she was planning to adopt internationally, i have to admit that i thought she was a little bit nuts. just the expense of it all is rather mind blowing, but i understand that she and her husband feel that this is what the Lord has led them to do so i support her wholeheartedly!

so i’d like to introduce you to michelle and tony mckinney via their ethiopian adoption story. grab a tissue. 🙂 by the way, you can also check out michelle’s blog, life a bit sweeter and follow the mckinney’s through their adoption journey.