Monthly Archives: August 2012

What’s Going On?

What’s Going On?

Chris Lighty, Tony Scott ©Getty

“What is going on?!!!!!!”, as Marvin Gaye would sing

Yesterday, as I wrote to you about hope, another entertainment heavyweight lost his.

I was running all day – back-to-back meetings – got in from my last one at 11 PM last night and crashed. So I didn’t know until this morning that hip-hop manager and mogul Chris Lighty apparently committed suicide at his NY home, self-inflicted shot to the head. He was only 44.

If you didn’t know Chris, you knew his clients, past and present: Mariah Carey, LL Cool J, Puffy/P.Diddy/Diddy (what’s he calling himself these days?), Busta Ryhmes, Nas, Q-Tip, Tribe Called Quest, Missy Elliott, Fantasia, Mya, Ja Rule, Three 6 Mafia, Soulja Boy, on and on.

Chris, a self-made, rags-to-riches entrepreneur, told his artists, “You can’t rely on just the income that you make off of being an artist”. He brokered major commercial deals for his clients including the infamous $100 million for 50 Cent when Coca-Cola bought Vitamin Water for $4 billion.

Reports state moving trucks were at Chris’ home, as he was in the process of a divorce and moving out. He had recently sold his Manhattan condo for $5.6 million to pay a $5 million IRS debt, but still owed $330,000, plus other financial pressure; yet he was reportedly worth an estimated $30 million. Yesterday, he allegedly had a heated argument with his estranged wife, said “I’m tired of this”, walked out to the patio and ended it all. Shocking.

Hollywood hasn’t fully recovered from the first shock…
Less than 2 weeks ago, famous director/producer Tony Scott, 68, jumped to his death off the 184 foot high Vincent Thomas Bridge crossing the Los Angeles Harbor on August 19th. One friend reported Tony had bouts of depression and another said he had terminal brain cancer, but his family denied it. Notes he left didn’t reveal much. Hearts are still busted.

If you didn’t know Tony, you knew his movies: Top Gun, Enemy of the State, Beverly Hills Cop II, Man on Fire, DejaVu, Unstoppable. He did 5 movies with Denzel Washington alone, not to mention executive-producing television hits like CBS’ The Good Wife and Numb3rs. He lived here in Beverly Hills and got started in the biz helping his equally famous brother Ridley Scott (Alien, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, American Ganster, Prometheus).

Chris & Tony, two entertainment powerhouses, who some might say “had it all” by industry standards – successful careers, wealth, influence – both decided, we can only assume, that whatever they faced in life was not going to get better.

Hope is that belief that things will get better.

I pray for hope to permeate our lives today. I am deeply saddened by these tragic events and pray for the families and especially their children.

Fam, please lift up not only our entertainers, but our executives as well; and lift up one another.

If life is weighing heavy on you, tell someone, a family member, a friend, a pastor, a professional counselor, somebody. Life is hard sometimes. We all have ups and downs, especially artists, myself included. My husband and I have lost everything at one point or another- jobs, careers, health, financial security, home, church homes, cars, relationships. You name it, we’ve lost it… most times, at no fault of our own. That’s one of the reasons I don’t gamble. Not that I believe in luck, but with my track record, are you kidding?!

Losing stuff can be a downer. But we find ways to cope and each day, we make a choice to live. Things are temporary. Our hope is in an eternal home and an eternal God who loves us deeply.

I am always reminded of the honest songs in the Bible. When the singer penned Psalm 42, he said “My tears have been my food day and night… My soul is downcast within me… Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

There will be days when things happen that cause our souls to be downcast, but like the psalmist, we can challenge our souls to put our hope in God. And even if everything unravels in our lives – marriage, financial deals, health – God is still steadfast. I can personally attest to that.

I wish you hope and love today.
I wish you peace and great perspective.
I wish you a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Keep you head up.

Enjoy your time with those who love you…
Because be clear, there are people who love you madly (and not that scratch-up your car nonsense); but love you like “give their all for you”, for real. See the truth.


What are you wishing for today? Got hope?

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Hope’s Way



Yesterday, we traveled Hollywood’s Way.
Today, let’s explore Hope’s Way.

I can hear some thinking, “Hope, again? Why so much talk about hope?”

Why? Because we all need hope, especially when our economy is still heave-hoeing, hurricanes are hitting, elections are heating up, and despair is having a heyday.

Hope is that feeling, belief or expectation that things will get better; and not only get better, but turn out for the best.

In my daily life as an artist and minister, I doggedly hold on to the belief that things will turn out for the best. That’s the only way I can get through auditions, counsel artists, run a production company with my husband, and serve full-time in ministry. If Kevin and I did not trust God 100% that He is working out all our ups and downs for our good, how could we get up in the morning?

Are you hanging on to hope as well?

Every couple that walks down the aisle in a tux and gown to say “I Do” has hope.
Every parent that holds a newborn in the hospital has hope.
Every artist that chases a dream cross-country to Hollywood has hope.
Every employer and employee that show up to work each day to get a job done has hope…
Otherwise, why would anyone bother?

Hope is essential.
And our hope does not disappoint because it is based on God’s love for us.

Romans 5:1-5 explains that when we have been saved by faith, we have peace with God through Christ and we can boast in hope of God’s glory as well as boast in our tribulations “knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Our hope springs eternal…
And it’s being formed out the very hard times we try to avoid.
Our trials produce perseverance which produces character which produces hope.

Today, let’s not despise the tough places.
Let’s look at our hope that’s being created, like a candle’s flame that won’t go out.

I pray for each one of you today – that hope will not disappoint you as God’s love is poured out in your heart. Please do me a favor and pray for someone you know who also needs hope today. Let’s get a hope-fest going on.

That’s Hope’s Way,

What’s one hope you have today?
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Hollywood’s Way

Hollywood’s Way

Row I: Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington,
Row II: Elizabeth Taylor, Dorothy Dandridge, Marilyn Monroe, Pam Grier ©

“Why aren’t women ticked at Hollywood’s way?,” a friend asked.

We were discussing my blog, The Sexy Conflict, which was Part II of To Be or Not to Be Sexy. That’s the Conflict! about our adventures in Hollywood navigating our faith and the industry.

It’s a great question, especially from one of our guys.

If Hollywood says that in order for its leading ladies to be bankable in both domestic and foreign markets [see previous blog], they have to be perceived as internationally sexy (as in men all over the world want to sleep with them), why aren’t women ticked at being reduced to body parts? Why are actresses and singers lining up to go along with the program instead of trying to change it?

I think there are several reasons. You can agree or disagree with me. I’d love to hear from you.

Why are we, as women, going along with Hollywood’s way?

1) Little Say
Women have little say in how things go down in Hollywood. A couple of days ago, I referenced the LA Times article “Unmasked the Academy” that confirms Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian, 77% male and median age 62. I asked the question, “Do you think more females at the table could make a difference – especially in how women are portrayed in our media and film?”

We need more female involvement in producing, directing and writing our roles. Does anyone else find it remotely interesting that the ones setting the standard for leading ladies to be women they want to sleep with are a group of older men? Women and men need to be empowered to create art about our entire female experience, not just vamp, kitten and catlady.

2) Fear
Fear is one of the strongest motivators in existence, and the fear of not “making it” in Hollywood could be the most significant reason women exploit their inner-siren. If a female desires to be an international silver screen star and comedy isn’t her thing, what are her options? If she chooses to not go the route of the leading class pictured above, she may fear that there are thousands of girls waiting in line to take her place thinking, “I’ve got next.”

3) Drive
Many have the “whatever it takes” mentality, which says “If there’s no moral issue with disrobing, and if it will help us advance and get a LOT more attention, what’s the big deal?” Honestly, to survive in the LaLa , we have to be driven. But at what cost? Our industry uses up and discards talent so quickly, it’s a wonder anybody lasts longer than the decade it actually takes to make a star. The ones who hang in there are usually described as driven beyond normalcy. A casting director I know said he knew an A-Lister that would “eat her own children if she thought it would progress her career”. I would say that’s driven beyond normalcy.

My 2 Cents
I could keep going, but I’m reminded of your desire for shorter blogs. Thus, let me wrap up with my 2 cents.

I spend a lot of time counseling artists. I help them find their purpose and follow their dreams while deepening their faith. Ground Zero for us is trust in God. Everything else – family, career, team, etc. – is built on the foundation of trusting God.

That means that we don’t have to compromise, walk in fear or be driven beyond normalcy in order to “make it” in Hollywood. We entrust our entire career to God. We sing Psalm 37:23-24 that says “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

We believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:25-27, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”

We may have to make some sacrifices along the way, as we’re swimming upstream, but they’re worth it. I recently read Angela Bassett’s autobiography (I read autos all the time), and she talks about the moral decisions she made that no doubt impacted her career. She’s a leading lady, none-the-less, isn’t she?

I realize this is a family conversation. Others may not struggle with any of this. But it’s a discussion I feel like we need to have, especially in light of my recent conversation with the Hollywood casting director and my viewing of Sparkle.

So, what are your thoughts? Why are we going with the status quo? How can we make a difference?

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Roller Coaster Transitions – VIDEO

Roller Coaster Transitions


Hi Fam,

Are you experiencing a transition?

Today, I’d like to share a small portion of a VIDEO I preached at H0PE IN THE HILLS of a message called “Embracing Transition”. I briefly tell the story of my real adventure at Six Flags Magic Mountain here in the LaLa with my family.

The way that I handled this “X2” 4th dimension roller coaster is the way I handle most transitions in life – DRAMA!

How about you? How do you handle life’s transitions?

© X2 Roller Coaster, Six Flags Magic Mountain, CA

When it’s all said and done, let’s embrace our transitions. They’re going to come, whether we want them to or not. We should lean into the curve because our God promises to never leave or forsake us, which is translated as “I will never drop you or abandon you”, Joshua 1:5-6. Isn’t that wonderful?

Can you relate?

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Historic Moves in Hometown

Historic Moves in Hometown

Condoleezza Rice & Darla Moore make history. © Associated Press

Born and raised in Augusta, GA, I personally know the significance of the Masters Golf Tournament in the U.S. and abroad.

“Where are you from?” people ask.
“I live in LA now, but I’m from Augusta, GA,” I explain.
“Home of the Masters,” is their usual response, no matter where I travel in the world.

Augusta has had its ups and downs, but this week, I am glad that the Augusta National Golf Club, host of the Masters, made history by inviting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become its first female members in the 80-year history.

Kudos to the club for finally realizing what they were missing, but more kudos to Rice and Moore for accepting. Neither of these two self-made, impressive business leaders needed an invitation from Augusta National to validate who they are. Their resumes and credentials go toe to toe with any of the other members i.e. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc.

Rice, 57, was former U.S. Secretary of State, National Security Adviser, and foreign policy leader. Moore, 58, was the highest-paid woman in the banking industry in the past who became vice president of the private investment company founded by her husband billionaire Richard Rainwater, and she’s credited with tripling the company’s profits. She has been a huge philanthropist donating over $70 million to alma mater University of South Carolina, was the first woman on the cover of Fortune Magazine and was called “The Toughest Babe in Business”. Augusta National is lucky to get them.

I understand the need for private clubs to maintain the right to invite whomever they wish into membership. I have always encouraged folks, especially artists, not to wait on anybody to give them permission to do what they desire to do. If somebody doesn’t want you in their club, go start your own. But I do understand and celebrate the significance of this historic move. As one commentator pointed out, multimillion dollar business deals go down in these golf clubs. It’s great
that women can now have the possibility of being a part of those conversations.

From a Hollywood perspective…
I’m reminded of the LA Times article Unmasked the Academy about the 5,765 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who decide each year who will receive our industry’s top awards, the Oscars. Just like the 300+ members of Augusta National, the names of Academy members are private. But the LA Times did an in depth survey and found that these Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, with a median age of 62. This private, older, non-diverse male club called The Academy is basically making decisions that affect all of us in the industry. Do you think more females at the table could make a difference – especially in how women are portrayed in our media, film and television?

From a Biblical perspective…
Jesus was quite radical in how He treated women during a period when they had fewer rights. He chose not to treat women as second-class citizens, but as a Rabbi, He allowed women to serve with him and support the ministry (Luke 8), to learn under His teaching (Luke 10), and to receive one-on-one counseling to the shock of His disciples who were “surprised to find Him talking with a woman” (John 4). He cared for, healed and set free so many women and chose to reveal Himself in His resurrected form, first, to a woman (Mark 16). I imagine that He didn’t have all the hang ups that we do today regarding women in His church. I think that much of what we do actually breaks His heart. We really do need His perspective.

And we need to pray for and support as many young women as we can, especially our leaders. We’ve provided scholarships through our production company, and I hope to one day provide scholarships for women to study in the college and seminary programs that I’ve matriculated through. I avail myself to women in the industry and ministry. Our film sets are at least 50% female, unheard of in Hollywood. In addition to myself as writer and producer, we’ve hired females as producers, directors, designers, supervisors, editors and assistants. I recently met an awesome female cinematographer and I’m looking for female gaffers and sound mixers. Holler if you know anyone – who is excellent in her craft. You know me. :=)

I’m happy for Condoleezza and Darla.
I hope their decisions to accept the invite into Augusta National will open up opportunities for many other women all over the world. In the meanwhile, there will always be those of us in the cut and behind the scenes creating opportunities for our sisters wherever we can, myself included.

What are your thoughts?
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The Sexy Conflict – Part II

The Sexy Conflict – Part II

Tia Mowry © Vibe Vixen

Wow, did I open up a can of worms this week.

Specifically in my blog To Be or Not to Be… Sexy. That’s the Conflict! about our adventures in Hollywood navigating our faith and the industry’s perceived standard of sexy.

I merely scratched the surface; but in a few words, it appears I entered into a dialogue that’s been raging all summer. Who knew? I was simply commenting on my recent conversation with a casting director and seeing Sparkle.

The article, Too Hot for Christianity?, in EEW Magazine (Empowering Everyday Women of Faith & Color) sums up the debate and asks the question “Is a sexy image ‘too hot for Christianity’, or is it just a part of the nature of the business for women in the film and entertainment industry–Christian or not?” The editor sites quotes from fans who question why Christian actress Tia Mowry (Sister, Sister and The Game) would pose sexily on the cover of Vibe Vixen (photo above).

I haven’t met Tia yet, (though I’m constantly asked if I’m her or her twin), but I do know that her Vibe Vixen cover story coincided with the release of her new pregnancy & mommyhood book, Oh, Baby! and the second season premiere of her Style Network reality show, Tia & Tamera.

If Tia’s cover shoot was anything like the cover shoots I’ve done, she was styled by the magazine’s stylists and photographed by the mag’s photographer.Then the mag’s editors chose the shot that they thought would sell the most magazines. Did they accomplish their goal? More income for the magazine and more exposure for Tia’s book and show?

Let’s be honest. The issue is not that Tia posed sexy on a magazine cover. There are women who are on magazines with a lot less clothing. The issue, for those who have vocalized their disapproval, is that Tia is a professed Christian and goes out speaking to churches and has built a platform on a brand that is wholesome and then she poses sexy on a magazine cover. If people of faith didn’t know her faith, they wouldn’t care one way or the other.

Could Tia have chosen not to take pictures in that particular outfit in the first place? Of course.
Did Tia think that other Christians would question her faith because of the outfit? Of course not.

Lett’s Talk!

To my faith fam outside of Hollywood:

Please understand that every artist of faith does not feel the same way you do about what’s appropriate or inappropriate within their closets. They are not making decisions based on what you think about them. They are making decisions based on the advancement of their careers and goals and their artistic team i.e. agent, manager, stylist, publicist, etc. They are trying to eat and pay rent and become stable in an industry where 99% of professional actors made less than $10,000 in their craft last year.

I said in my earlier blog that a well-known casting director confirmed that in order to be considered one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, women had to be perceived as internationally sex-able. Meaning, in order for women to be considered bankable to domestic and foreign film markets, there’s a perception that men all over the world need to want to sleep with them, i.e. Halle Berry, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, etc.

This is where the conflict enters for Christian women in the entertainment industry, particularly those of us who serve in vocational ministry and leadership. As sexy as we feel and know that we are, we don’t have the luxury of running around – in good conscience – intentionally trying to make men all over the world desire to sleep with us. We cannot – in good conscience – purposely get dressed with the intent to make men lust after us so that we get a better film credit.

As followers of Christ, we are called to love the men who are not our husbands like brothers (1 Timothy 5:1-2). This means that we care enough about them that we make a decision to not use our sexiness as a tool of career advancement. We are called to be the best artists we can be, make connections and trust that God can advance our career in the way that honors Him.

I read a quote recently involving a Grammy Award-winning female artist who is Christian and sings secular music. Her husband/manager said that he was so proud of his wife’s dramatic and sexy weight loss, because he wanted “every man to want her and every woman to want to be her”. Mad confusion! What Christian husband wants other men lusting after his wife? We in the LaLa need your prayers.

And to my faith-filled Hollywood insiders:

I understand that we are all in different stages of growth along this path with God.

I reached my convictions very early, just having graduated from Howard University, while pursuing a professional theatre career in NJ/NY. God called me to serve Him in vocational ministry, and I instinctively understood that nobody would take me seriously as God’s representative if the characters I chose to portray or the clothes I chose to wear seemed contrary to His word coming out my mouth.

Some people of faith are still tripped up over how Denzel Washington could be Christian and do Training Day or how LoLo Jones could be Christian and pose in the buff for Sports Illustrated.

This is the conflict that many of us face, and I get it. We love the Lord, and we want to work as artists. We don’t want people telling us what to wear or what roles to choose. You may even be wondering, “Why do Christians even care so much about what I’m doing?”

Why? Because they see us as high-profile representatives of them and the God we all serve. As soon as we name the name of Christ, believers and non-believers start judging our decisions to see if what we do lines up with Christ’s message. That’s just the truth.

I feel great about my body as a woman, wife, minister, actress, model, dancer, and healthy vegetarian. I feel great in my clothes. I love style. I feel great about being sexy with my husband, and we enjoy each other. God created sex and within our marriage, there are no boundaries. We have freedom. But it would be irresponsible of me to use my freedom to trip other men up (1 Corinthians 6-10).

I understood this also when I was single (after all the ups & downs of dating and dating-gone-bad… see my book, Confessions). I felt great about my body, but did I need to seductively expose it to men who were my brothers in the faith? If they were truly my brothers, that would be like encouraging incest, right? I’ve never compromised my style, but as I’ve grown in the Lord over the years, and I have matured, I’ve become more aware of my responsibility to help men treat me as their sister, friend and minister.

Ladies, if we choose to publicly flaunt very low cut tops or super high cut bottoms, it creates a real distraction. When men stare at our bared bodies, they are not listening to anything we say about truth or God or anything else for that matter. As I said in my previous blog, we are not responsible for men’s issues of lust and sin. We all have to work that out with the Lord. But neither is it right for us to encourage, desire or exploit men’s lust for our gain.

What about when we get a gig? Is it alright then, because we are practicing our craft? What about when we’re on the red carpet? Shouldn’t we be sexy? The advice I give to artists of faith who contact me (advice that I live by) is to first pray over every opportunity, ask God what He wants and if what we’re doing brings Him glory, consider the long-lasting ramifications and if what we’re doing will cause newer believers to stumble, and explore the intent behind it.

I’ve portrayed good guys and bad guys, but all of them have been clothed. I think that’s the real issue for people of faith. Body parts and public sex. When we start disrobing and simulating sex onscreen, it causes mass confusion. If I portray a ballerina dancing in leotard and tights, nobody cares because my body is covered. When characters were taken as slaves with brief nudity in Roots, nobody cared because it was historic like National Geographic and non-pornographic.

I recently posted a fun Olympic-type pic from a commercial photo shoot I did as a track runner. Nobody cares because it’s just somebody running, no lust. But if I posted provocative honeymoon pictures in a sexy bikini, folks would be up in arms. My faith in Christ would not be any different. But people might question my faith because they’d want to know why I, a Christian minister, would feel the need to expose myself? They might ask, “Why would you want men to see all your body unless you want them to want you?”

Could there be a deeper issue here that’s rooted in acceptance? If all we’ve ever been taught, through our community, media and culture, is that we are accepted only when we are sexually desired, then should we be surprised at plunging necklines and hiked-up hems? If superstars build their platforms off sexy, why would we think to do otherwise? There’s a whole shift and renewed mindset that must occur.

The Bottom Line

I believe that we, as artists of faith, have to do more than just try to be sex-able in order to be Hollywood’s leading performers. I’ve seen the Lord soar careers to the Academy Awards of His daughters who could care less about convincing Hollywood of their sex-ability. We don’t have to wear paper bags and look sour, but we also don’t have to sell sexy over our faith. We can be confident in our own sexuality without selling our souls for roles.

We have to have a solid foundation built on more than our bodies, especially since work is fleeting. A recent Hollywood Reporter article explains how the new A-List is not an A-List at all. It’s a Hot List. And the young leading actors on it are HOT today and NOT tomorrow.

Some of the most sex-able leading ladies have had a tough time navigating an industry that so quickly disposes of them – Marilyn, Dorothy, Elizabeth. Halle Berry, who has been named to People Magazines’ Most Beautiful list the most (at least 11 times), is trying desperately now to move to France where photographers cannot take her or her daughter’s photos without permission. She was run off the road by paparazzi while pregnant, has been stalked and had her home broken into, and is constantly caught on camera cursing photographers out for invading her daughter’s privacy. Halle is fighting for custody of her kid and could care less right now whether men around the world want to sleep with her.

The bottom line is that we need to do all for the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31-33:
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God…For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

Let’s care more about the good of many. Just because we have the freedom to be sexy and let it all hang out doesn’t mean that we should opt to do so, particularly if it detracts from our ability to be effective witnesses.

Those are my candid thoughts.
What are yours?

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No More Private Parties

No More Private Parties

© People

Do private parties even exist any more?

Prince Harry, England’s 3rd in line, erroneously thought so on his recent trip to Vegas.

But during his very private party,
on his private vacation,
in his private hotel suite,
playing a private game of strip billiards,
the prince’s private parts were photographed
by a private opportunist and sold to TMZ.

So much for private.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper wanted to know what jerk took the nude photos and leaked them to the tabloids. Others asked where the 27-year old prince’s security team was and why they hadn’t confiscated people’s cell phones. As if young people today are going to willingly cough up their iPhones and Droids at the door? Are you kidding?

As long as there are tabloids buying compromising photos for thousands of dollars and flipping them to make millions, there will be phone-handlers eager to snap and send.

Which brings me to my point:
There are no more public private parties.

Meaning, if a party is in a public place, even a private hotel suite in Vegas, it’s not private.
If a party is inside your home, and there are friends and family who feel that they can benefit off you, it’s not private. Assume that everything we say and do can go public.

Now, when paparazzi have climbed into trees and bushes and over walls to sneak and take pictures of people in the privacy of their own homes, they’ve been sued and had to pay millions in liability. Because that’s just WRONG. But if we decide to strip down in a public hotel with people we don’t know, assume that exposure is going viral… and quickly.

If we take photos or sex videos on our phones or anybody else’s phone, even if it’s someone we love dearly, it’s probably safe to assume that the images will one day make their way online. Gone are the days when we could be young and foolish and in love and pose for each other thinking he or she will cherish us forever and keep private moments private. Entire reality personalities’ lucrative careers have been launched off people’s “private” moments.

Let’s assume that everything we say and do will come into the light one day.

When Jesus shares with his disciples how to listen and be trustworthy in Luke 8:16-18, he says, “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open…”

What if we all lived like this?
Like light on a lamp stand!
Knowing that nothing hidden or concealed will remain so.

I really do feel bad for Prince Harry.
No one, royalty or otherwise, deserves to have his/her private affairs sneakily photographed and sold to the tabloids. That’s just dirty. But the prince has to know that there are some things that he as a prince might not want to do i.e. playing strip billiards in Vegas, especially just two weeks after representing the Queen and Royal Family at the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Just saying.

Hopefully we can all learn from this, and every other “leak”, that our private affairs are no longer private. So, let’s make every effort to live in such a way that there is nothing to leak and nothing to hide.

Because, it is 2012.
And there are no more private parties,

What are your thoughts?
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Bruce Banner or the Hulk?

Bruce Banner or the Hulk?

The Avengers © Marvel

“So, which one is it? Are you a big guy that gets all little or a little guy that sometimes blows up large?”

That’s the question the security guard asks Bruce Banner, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo, after his alter-ego Hulk crashes to earth and wakes up in a pile of rubble in this deleted scene (above) from Marvel’s The Avengers, 2012’s top-grossing film which made over $1 billion worldwide.

“I’m not even sure,” Bruce aka The Hulk explains.

Is his true identity the Hulk?
Or is his true identity Bruce Banner?
Which one is actually in control?

Couldn’t we ask ourselves the same question?

Are we the Hulk, a mean-green smashing machine who sometimes allows control?
Or are we Bruce Banner, a human being who sometimes gets angry and loses control?

Got me to thinking about my own life before and after I believed in Christ. I think I was definitely more Hulk pre-Christ: unbridled impulse, tearing up a lot of stuff along the way. Hopefully, I’m more Bruce Banner post-Christ: doing my best to keep my natural, harmful tendencies in check.

The difference is that Bruce is relying on himself to find an answer to redeem his inner Hulk. I’m relying on God. Contrary to popular belief, I understand that I/we are not innately good and cannot truly get a handle on our sinful tendencies by simply looking inwardly.

The Apostle Paul explains his/our great struggle in Romans 7:14-25 (excerpt): “…Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Don’t we all have the Hulk in us, waging war, ready to knock folks out?

© Marvel

Little boys and girls run around saying, “Hulk smash!”, while big little boys and girls want to. That’s who we naturally are. But once we confess that’s not who we want to be, destroying everything in our path, we need One who can actually give us a new nature. And even with our new nature, we still have to make the choice to do the right thing. If we were to be completely honest, we might admit that most days, it’s an all out internal war! Thanks be to God who delivers us.

I wish this scene would’ve made it into the film, but I understand why it was cut. If I recall, a battle for the world is ensuing and the Hulk is needed. To cut away to this philosophical interlude of Bruce Banner waxing poetic about identity issues probably slowed the pace down way too much.

Do we really want to ponder who Bruce is or who we really are?
Or do we go see The Avengers in 3D IMAX to see the Hulk smash?


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To Be or Not To Be…Sexy. That’s the Conflict.

To Be or Not to Be… Sexy, That’s the Conflict!

Sparkle © 2012 Sony

To be or not to be… sexy.
That’s the conflict.
Particularly for female artists of faith.

I recently re-met a casting director whose candor I appreciate. When asked about Hollywood’s standard for a leading lady, she told her audience the truth: Hollywood’s leading ladies are “internationally sex-able” (though, her language was a little more colorful).

Internationally Sex-able

Translation: In order for women to be considered bankable to domestic and foreign film markets (TV is different), men all over the world have to want to sleep with them, i.e. Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, the list goes on and on.

Hollywood is a business like every other business and is built on the bottom line of making money. Audiences tell Hollywood what they want to see based on what they actually pay to see (not bootleg). So, if audiences, all over the world, consistently buy more tickets to see sexy actresses in leading roles, those are the ones pushed through the system. This creates an industry jammed with actors, singers, dancers and reality stars who want to crossover to the big screen, all trying to out-sexy each other (an exception being our funny ladies who make Hollywood lots of money making folks laugh).

Case in point, we are daily bombarded with leaks on actresses taking meetings to star in a film version of female author E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey smash trilogy, which has been #1, 2 and 3 on the New York Times bestseller list for over 25 weeks. With the LA Times reporting US sales of 20 million copies and worldwide sales of 31 million since its April mainstream release (over $145 million in revenue), every young A-List starlet is salivating over the lead role in what has been nicknamed “mommy porn” and the chance to be this generation’s Marilyn.

I just saw Sparkle (pictured above) starring American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and recently departed Whitney Houston (both very public about their faith as followers of Christ), produced by Sony Pictures with Bishop T.D. Jakes. I’ll try not to give any details away since it just opened. If you like the original, you’ll like the remake. You’ll love the feel-good soundtrack, costumes, and set. You’ll root for Jordin and be moved by the performance of Carmen Ejogo. And it explores this tension of a household of artists who don’t know how to reconcile their faith and their desire to “make it’ in the music industry, starting with mom on down. There seems to be this idea that you can’t do both. I fundamentally disagree with the premise that artists have to choose sexy over faith. What do you think?

The Conflict

This is all nothing new. But it’s got me thinking again about why women of faith have such an adventurous time navigating our industry.

While we love our art and want to work as authentic artists – bringing truth to the camera and stage – we usually don’t want to run around purposefully trying to make every man yearn to sleep with us, particularly if we value fidelity. We want to be beautiful and have the freedom to celebrate who we are as women, expressing our unique and flattering styles. We love who we are in our own skin, our bodies that were created by God, our sexuality and sex with our spouses. We have nothing to be ashamed of, yet, we don’t want to be reduced to objects of lust just to make studios a buck.

We learn from scripture that we’re a big family and we’re to look at those whom we’re not married to as brothers and sisters, not sexual conquests. In I Timothy 5:1-2, Paul encourages Timothy and other believers to “…exhort the older man as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

Purity is key. I’m surrounded by men in the industry and ministry, and yet, I am able to see them as brothers. Sex with any of them would not only be adulterous, but like incest. I don’t want them yearning to sleep with me. I have a husband whom I love sleeping with.

Now, I have been in both worlds long enough to know that there are lots of folks who struggle with lust. Each person has to take responsibility for his/her own sin, but I certainly don’t have to encourage or fan the flames. In ministry, I daily try to help folks be faithful to their significant others, in the same way I strive to be faithful to mine. We all have to ask God to help us look at one another with absolute purity.

I preach too, so I also have all kinds of standards people want to dump on top of me, from how long my skirts are to what type of shoes I wear. For the record, when I preach, my length is always to the knee. But I have long legs and I love heels, so I always ask my husband before I speak anywhere, “Is this cool?” Why? Because my husband is a man, and he would tell me if what I’m wearing is going to cause other men to not focus on the words coming out of my mouth. We’re honest with each other and do what’s best to help others.

This is such a loaded topic and I could keep unpacking it, but alas, I have a meeting to go to.
I’d love to dialogue more, as the conflict is not going away.

Let me know your thoughts,

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Hit the Easy Button

Hit the Easy Button

Wouldn’t life be grand
if we could hit the EASY button every time things got difficult, just like the Staples’ commercial?

Financial problems? Hit the EASY button.
Relationship woes? Hit the EASY button.
Health issues? EASY button.

Wouldn’t that be ideal?
But on the real, is there an EASY button for life’s adventures?

Yesterday at HOPE, I continued our Don’t Give Up series with the message, “Why Aren’t Things Easier?” In my preparation, I explored the bible, looking for an answer to that specific question:

Why isn’t life easy?

Things are easy in the Garden of Eden in the very first 2 chapters of the bible – Genesis 1 – 2. But by Chapter 3, we are tempted, we sin, and it’s all downhill from there. No more easy.

No more walking through paradise, in perfect and healthy bodies with no varicose veins, naked and unashamed, eating whatever we like, whenever we like, in perfect communion with God and each other. Now we have to work to eat and that’s by sweat and toil.

Genesis 3:17-19 says, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken…”

Long story short, the first family falls apart. Brother murders brother. Sin abounds for generations. Things are hard. We need help. Jesus comes. Jesus saves. Jesus ascends. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit as our Helper until He returns. In the meanwhile, we are commissioned to make disciples – loving people as God loves them, living life as Christ taught us to live.

Nowhere do the scriptures tell us that life is supposed to be easy. If anything, we see examples of people, even our Messiah, who persevere through hardship, even to death, and still keep the faith. We see people who decide to rejoice when their faith is tested because they learn to endure as they mature. (James 1:2-4). We see people who grow up as they get through each challenge.

What about us?

Are we growing through our difficulties?
Are we maturing as we make it through each circumstance?

Making it in Hollywood, and anywhere else for that matter, is NOT easy. But each job along the way is worth it, right? The friendships and relationships are wonderful, yes?!

Making relationships work is NOT easy. But living life each day with someone you love is fulfilling, right? Relentless love is worth fighting for, period.

Having children, raising children, serving in ministry, starting a business, running someone else’s business, excelling in school, all of these things are NOT easy. But can we imagine life without them? Nothing in life worth doing is going to be easy, so we might as well embrace the adventures and rejoice along the journey.

The next time that we see easy in the bible is Revelation 21:1-4, the second to last chapter of the whole shebang. There is a new heaven and new earth, a recreation of Eden (so to speak), where there is no more death, mourning, crying and pain. Bring on the easy! Be encouraged, Fam. Easy is a’coming!

Until then, we endure. We mature.
We grow up. We enjoy life.

So, go ahead. Give yourself a pat on the back. You may not have an EASY button,
but you’re looking mighty grown and accomplished these days.

Keep your head up,

Have you had to endure lately? Are you growing?
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