Tag Archives: Lauren A Jones

13Aug/18

Essence CEO Launches Funds for Black Businesses with Queen Latifah

Have you heard? At last month’s Essence Fest, Essence Ventures CEO Richelieu Dennis announced the official launch of the $100 million New Voices Foundation. Dennis, also Founder of the Shea Moisture Brand, had already invested more than $30 million in the 6 months prior to the announcement. “What many of you may not have known all these years is that when you were buying Shea Moisture products you weren’t just investing in that business,” said Dennis during the event’s opening press conference. “We need you to continue buying Shea Moisture so [that] we can continue putting that money back in[to] the community.” The New Voices Fund, dedicated to funding Black Women in business, was originally established in 2017.

Essence

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

As if that were not enough, the CEO also took the opportunity to announce the new Essence Creators and Makers Fund. Essence Ventures, the parent company of Essence Communications, has already invested $20 million into that fund under the guidance of Dennis. Focused on curating African-American content, production company ‘Flavor Unit Entertainment’ lead by Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere is the first partnership on the bill. Appropriately so, being that during the announcement Dennis gave credit to the duo for developing the idea in the first place. During a later panel discussion on Entrepreneurship, Queen Latifah spoke about the financial obstacles that new ventures often face. “One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas. So by supporting us, you are going to keep this engine running in a way you [can’t] even imagine.” Flavor Unit Entertainment will both create and finance film, television, digital, and documentary-style content that reflects the lives and experiences of Women of Color. The Essence Platform — including print, digital, and live events — will be used to market and promote projects taken under the fund.

Essence

I truly respect Dennis for his direct actions against the disadvantages plaguing Black Economics. So far concerning the Makers and Creators who need to “own our content and not just be work for hire” and the Black Women Entrepreneurs that will receive funding for their businesses, I can’t wait to see what else is in store. “Essence and the vision… speaks to Black Women, but also that creates an economic engine through which… we can reinvest back into our community.” Dennis leads by the example that, with initiative, each of us can take part in the collective growth. I’m convinced that, in finding his purpose, Dennis has our backs for the long haul. That’s almost enough to make me grow back out my hair to support Shea Moisture again. Almost.

Essence

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

Stayed tuned for surfacing news about The Essence Creators and Makers Fund.

Applications for The New Voices Foundation are not yet open, however, you can initiate a profile on the site here.

The New Voices Fund is a 501( c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. Tax-deductible contributions can be made here.

12Aug/18

Singer Mya Talks New Album + Being Vegan on FuseTV’s ASMR Video

Rnb Bombshell Mya’s recent album, “TKO” (The Knockout), has an absolutely accurate title. As her 8th studio album, it was released just a day shy of the 20 year anniversary of her beloved self-titled debut album, Mya. She was a boss then and not much has changed. The artist executive produced and released the album via her independent label, Planet 9, with teaser singles like ‘Ready for Whatever’ that surfaced in September 2017. With heat like the track “Damage” (my jam already) and “Open,” that features Goldlink, Mya takes us on a sexy, heartfelt journey yet again. Single ‘You Got Me” is just that–HEAT. With writers like Kevin McCall and Marsha Ambrosius, I’m sure that’s exactly what she intended.

In this video with FuseTV, Mya gets to be the first Vegan to make an ASMR video. Honest moment: I had no idea what ASMR was. Once I started watching the interview I instantly remembered having seen a video of another woman whispering and eating a head of lettuce into a podcast mic. I had dismissed it as some fetish trend for people who liked whispering and watching others eat food. I know, irresistibly sexy right? But this is Maya we’re talking about. Sweetheart, darling diva, supremely sexy but sublime. So… what’s up?

For those of you as curious as I was, ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It is centered around the practice of listening to a variety of spine-tingle inducing sounds like whispering and crunching. With quite the following, ASMR is generally used for meditation, sleep, and in aiding anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Surprisingly non-sexual. Of the several theories I read surrounding the practice, it seems that whispering both relaxes and stimulates by triggering a reflexive sense of intimacy. Who knew? I’m surprisingly here for it and I’m pleased that Mya was the one to break me in. In the video, we get to watch as Mya speaks (or whispers) about being Vegan, her new Alkaline diet, and shares some veggie tips. I’d tell you why she chews and then spits out Carrots like Tobacco, but that would spoil the video.

Catch it here and of course check out Mya’s new album, TKO, available everywhere.