All Articles Tagged "celebrity"

How Much Of Your Personal Business Is Good For Your Career?

July 1st, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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As much as celebrities fight for privacy and wag their fingers at the media for spilling their tea, sometimes they bring it on themselves. This doesn’t mean we should be insensitive to the fact they do have a personal life outside of entertaining us. But how can they expect the public to respond when they try to capitalize off their own drama?

While rumor control is understandable, how much of your “business” is good for your career?

It seems like the world is trying to piece together exactly what happened to make Ben Affleck and Jennifer Gardner call it quits. Married for 10 years and a day, the former Hollywood couple have announced they’re filing for divorce. As you would expect, media outlets are digging for as much dirt as possible. Did he cheat? Were his gambling habits to blame? ABC News just reported Affleck will remain on the property to be close to his children. Are all of these “juicy details” really necessary, or should they tell folks in their camp to zip their lips?

Personally, I can’t imagine trying to go through a divorce with my husband in the public eye. Not only are there cameras on you 24/7 but you also have to protect your children and how much exposure they have to what’s going on. With three children under the age of 10, Lord only knows how Ben and Jennifer are handling their changing family dynamic.

Thus far, I think they — and other celebrities who experienced similar life changes — have done a good job of working on personal issues while maintaining their “professional appearance.” Obviously your private life is more important than a career, but do you really want your dirt to spill into the media and affect your coins? Heaven forbid things turn left and you might never recover from the court of public opinion.

Then again, there are certainly celebrities who can’t seem to be quiet about what’s going on at home.

How many ex-boyfriends does Taylor Swift need to thank for helping her sell albums? Notorious for spilling the tea, Swift continues to capitalize on her own personal business. And honestly, who can blame her and other artists? It oftentimes is a very lucrative decision. Would any of us purchase an album that didn’t come from the heart, or at least touch on relatable situations? Nicki Minaj and her longtime love, Safaree Samuels had a nasty break up that resulted in diss tracks, trash talking on Twitter and what seems like a healthy dose of shade at the BET Awards. Sure it made for catchy tracks on “The Pinkprint,” but was all the extra necessary?

Gone are the days when people bow out of the spotlight to take care of their home life. With reality shows that air practically any and everything, many celebs are opting to put their dirty laundry front and center for profit. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal choice and conviction. Just realize that us regular folk will more than likely not have the same luck in the workplace. In fact, you might just get your walking papers should you allow your personal life to spill into your job.

Unfortunately, I’ve been witness to the demise of a relationship on social media where both parties used each other’s Facebook rants to try and get alimony and custody of their children.

What makes for good entertainment doesn’t always work in real life.

What Do You Do When He Cheats? 15 Stars Speak On Infidelity

June 19th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

In the light of Cynthia Bailey and Peter Thomas’ cheating scandal, a lot of us have been asking ourselves, “what would I do if he cheats?” It’s hard to know if it hasn’t happened to you, so these celebrities share what happened to them.

Is That Drake? Celebrity Look-Alikes Of Different Races

June 16th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

We thought “brother from another mother” was just a sweet saying. But these celebrity look-alikes might just make us reconsider.

“Has Anyone Told You That You Look Like Solange?” Celebrities People Always Say You Resemble

June 2nd, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

As soon as someone says “You know who you remind me of?” you know exactly what they’re going to say. From compliments to somewhat shady suggestions, these are the celebrity comparisons people love to make about everyday people.

Publicist Sasha Brookner Shares Her Keys For Launching Successful Artists & PR Firms

June 1st, 2015 - By Rana Campbell
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photo credit Djeneba Aduayom

Photo credit: Djeneba Aduayom

As anyone involved in the music industry knows, public relations is an ever-important part of launching (and maintaining) one’s career. How you handle your relationship with your target market could either help or hurt, so having someone on your team whose job it is to manage and leverage those relationships is crucial.

Meet Sasha Brookner founder of boutique public relations firm Helio PR. Over the past 16 years, Brookner has worked with artists such Ceelo, N’Dambi, Katt Williams, Goapele, Ledisi, and Lira. We chatted with Sasha about her background, what it’s like being a publicist, and how she believes the branding and publicity paradigms are changing for emerging and established artists.

Check out the interview below!

MadameNoire (MN): What inspired you to be come an entrepreneur and launch your own PR firm?
Sasha Brookner (SB):  When I was growing up, my mother and grandfather both had their own businesses. I was able to see the freedom they had as business owners. That was always in the back of my mind.

I went to UCLA and majored in history. During my last  year, I didn’t have enough credits to graduate on time, so I decided to do some internships in publishing, A&R, promotion, and the last one was publicity. It was cool because I was working directly with writers to develop stories.  I didn’t have to deal directly with the politics of music executives and labels. That was the beginning where I figured out I could do this.

As soon as I graduated, I got a job at Red Ant, a subsidiary of BMG, as an assistant publicist. When Red Ant went under, an associate called me up and wanted me to come over to The Courtney Barnes Group. I worked there for a couple of years and branched out and started my own company.

MN: What were some challenges you faced early on?
SB: When you start your own business, you have to be the rainmaker.  At the time, I had saved up enough money so that I really wasn’t stressing it that much. Public relations is great because there wasn’t a lot of overhead. I started working at home. There weren’t a lot of hurdles because I was already seasoned as a publicist. Everyone told me that if I really did a good job and focused on whatever I was doing, things would spread word of mouth.

Another challenge was that I had to be very creative because I was working with independent  grassroots artists who didn’t have radio, marketing, or worldwide tours. We were up against corporate firms who are already established and working with major label artists. In the beginning, you had to be much more creative with pitching.

MN: Who was your first client?
SB: N’Dambi. She had such an interesting story. Before we knew it, we got her in L’Uomo Vogue and Vogue Hommes. She was getting so much press even Erykah Badu (who she sang background for) was like “Wait, who’s doing your press?” This was before the female neo-soul thing took off.  Now, it would be almost impossible to get a background singer selling CDs out the trunk of her car into these outlets.

We get 85 percent of our clients through referral. That started with N’Dambi. Then, Ledisi and Goapele were calling me. I saw artists that were falling short in marketing. That was our niche in the beginning. We expanded to painters, graphic designers, actors, and spoken word artists.

Sasha Brookner 2

MN: What is it like to work with mainstream celebrity clients versus more grassroots artists?
SB: It’s easier. We started working with Katt Williams during the end of his Wildin’ Out season on MTV. He was taking off with Pimp Chronicles. When you’re working with someone who everyone wants to interview, it’s more work, but it’s not as challenging. It’s not like you have to pitch. Then again, there are problems such as personalities and missing photo shoots. When there’s a lot of money involved, there are a lot of issues and then you have to do crisis management.

Grassroots artists are my favorite and more satisfying. You’re taking people who normally wouldn’t get this type of exposure who are seasoned in their craft and helping them get to a plateau that they probably would not have.

With bigger artists you don’t want to over-saturate the market because you are getting so many requests. With independent artists, you want to do as much as you can that is quality press.

MN: How has the PR world changed over the years?
SB: The biggest shift has been the digital world. When we first started off, it was just magazines and television. Magazines worked four-to-five months in advance. Now, you can do a story and 24 hours later the story is up on an online site. The pieces are much more topical and newsworthy.

When I started off with music artists, they were just in musical publications talking about music. Now, the majority of my clients are all using fashion (and other creative avenues) as outlets to promote whatever projects they have.

MN: Why has celebrity branding become so prominent in our culture?
SB: The word “branding” has become a buzz word. I like my clients to be more fluid. I like to go and let it happen organically as opposed to typecasting  someone, putting them in a box, and then selling that to the media.

However, I understand the importance of creating an identity that is recognizable to the people and the fans. Some people skip over the “Why are you important? What void do you fill?” You definitely have to live your brand, master your craft, and be known for something.

If it doesn’t match your personal brand, you shouldn’t do it. There are people like Taylor Swift who turn down movie scripts all the time that don’t reflect who she is. Or, someone like Immortal Technique, a rapper, who turns down corporate endorsement deals.

Reinvent yourself. Beyonce is the paragon of this. Do it so that it is an evolution and not a marketing scheme.

MN: How would you advise the everyday woman trying to build her brand?
SB: Interacting on social media is important. You have to figure out a way to mix the professional and personal. I’m really big on presentation. Find a good photographer and good writer for your bio.

That’s really important and is the first thing that you should do. When you’re dealing with media, they are top-notch English majors that went to journalism school and know their stuff. You can’t just hit them with something that is wack.

Network. I’m on Facebook all the time. I realized that all these people (like editors at Vogue) who may not have gotten back to me before were following my political tirades on Facebook. They loved my radical ideas and were like, “If you need anything, just shoot me over an email.” I realized that I was creating more relationships when I wasn’t even trying to.

Go to the sites that you want to be on and look for the Contact or About Us in the masthead. You can reach out to editors just to establish a relationship.

MN: What has allowed you to get so far in your career?
SB: Picking clients wisely is important. I won’t take on a client if I don’t think I can get them any press. I don’t care how much they’re paying. The industry is so small. People talk. We get 85 to 90 percent of our clients via word-of-mouth. I don’t want anyone unhappy. We’re very selective, however, yes, you do have some pay-your-bill clients.

Be proactive. Meet people. I always tell people, “Be careful. You could meet a guy at a party. He could have on ripped jeans and Birkenstocks and you pay him no attention. He could be the brother of the CEO of Coca Cola.  You never know who somebody is.”

Be organized and get back to people. There are a lot of publicists I know who don’t. Even if I get back to say that an artist isn’t available or we can’t do it at this time, I make a point of trying to get back to people. I know publicists who worked at major labels and ignored everyone. Then, they branched off and started their own PR firms and those same editors won’t deal with them.

Sasha Brookner 2

MN: Where do you see Helio PR going in the next few years?
SB: People have been asking me that for years, but it’s really just been consistently what I’m doing such as finding new acts that are dope. I don’t see myself being in a high-rise or corporate entity.

Although I only have four to six clients at a time, they are clients we are really invested into. What I do sustains my lifestyle. I get a lot of freedom. I get massages. I sleep eight to nine hours. What I do affords me the ability to live my life and do what I want to do.

Rana Campbell is a freelance writer and marketing/branding strategist. Connect with her on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, Linkedin or visit

Kenya Moore Is Not Alone: Celebrities Who Tried And Failed At Matchmaking

May 20th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Kenya Moore isn’t the only celebrity having no luck with matchmaking. These stars said that when they tried to seek help to find Mr. Right or Mrs. Right, things went horribly left for them.

Do Honorary Degrees Devalue The PhD?

May 13th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Kanye West honorary degree, via Kim Kardashian West Instagram


Well folks, I think I have seen everything. Kanye West just received an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thankful for the recognition, “The College Dropout” Grammy winner also mentioned how important the art of “I’m sorry” can be. “‘I’m sorry’ is something you can use a lot,” mentioned West. “It gives you the opportunity to give your opinion, apologize for it and give your opinion again.”

I personally never understood why colleges are willing to hand out honorary degrees, but do understand the marketing ploy. Having a socially relevant and influential figure associated with your institution can certainly help when it comes to funding and attracting applicants. Yet it seems like these days they’ll hand almost anyone an honorary doctorate.

Do you think standards have gone out the window when it comes to the recipient? Or is anyone who makes a splash in pop culture fair game?

“Recipients of honorary doctorate degrees do not earn the degree through academic achievements, rather with generous and altruistic actions or lifetime accomplishments that benefit a community, nation or humanity in general,” one site notes.

This might explain why figures like Bill Gates, Oprah and the late Maya Angelou have complimentary degrees. They made significant contributions to society. Now we want to add Kanye West into the mix? Just to put things in perspective a little, the late great Steve Jobs (y’all remember him) who once gave an amazing commencement speech at Stanford University and didn’t even receive a honorary doctorate. He thought it was weird!

Like West, Jobs was a college dropout whose success is a testament to hard work and dedication. Come to think of it, many celebrity recipients of an honorary doctorate either dropped out of college or didn’t attend at all. Both Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and True Blood star Alexander Skarsgård are two examples of people who received an honorary degree from the very college they left. Mike Tyson dropped out of high school and received a Doctorate of Human Letters from Central State University.

I guess better late than never?

At the end of the day, honorary degrees are subjective. If a college or university feels someone is an appropriate recipient, they will have no problem giving out a doctorate to a celebrity. We might agree with some and side eye others, but ultimately just have to nod and keep it moving.

And what about celebrities with shamed legacies like Bill Cosby? Given he has well over 15 honorary degrees, should they be rescinded?

I personally don’t have a PhD. It’s too much school for me, but who knows what can happen down the road. I do however know plenty of friends and relatives who went to school and put in the hard work to obtain one. Some don’t care if a celebrity gets an honorary doctorate while others think it sets the wrong tone for those pursuing higher education. Why pay so much money to the point of debt when you can just have one handed to you?

Read Surprising Celebrities Who Received Honorary Doctorate Degrees

Financial Sense Or Attachment Issues? Do Celebrities Get A Pass For Living With Their Parents?

April 17th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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It feels like society frowns upon people living with their parents, and yet, it seems like more and more celebrities are doing it.

Is something not considered taboo if you make millions?

For the most part, I don’t think many adults want to share a roof with their parents. Outside of being a buzz kill for personal relationships, many of us go to college and work hard to have something of our own. You also don’t want your mother or father trying to dictate how you live.

When I left home for college at 17, I told myself I wasn’t going to come back to my parents. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great childhood, but I wanted to be independent. Outside of staying with my mom for a semester when I transferred colleges, I’ve pretty much lived on my own up until I met my husband and got married.

Everyone has their own individual needs and preferences. I know a few people who had to move back in with their parents due to a job loss, desire to pay down a debt, or save up for a house. Living with your folks to make a sound financial decision is smart, though most of our society would look down on people who do it instead trying to see the reason behind their choice. For example, how many people are turned off after hearing a prospective boyfriend or girlfriend still lives with their parents? You might even go so far as to call them “moochers,” lazy, or having some weird attachment issue to their folks.

I’ve been guilty of side eyeing a family member who had no problem moving back in with her parents after college, and did little or nothing to “maintain her keep.” Because she didn’t have to pay rent, she was able to pay off most if not all of her debt, and yet, didn’t feel the need to help around the house or pick up after herself. I’m sorry, but you really can’t complain about how hard it is to be an adult when you don’t cook or clean for yourself, and have someone else do your laundry.

Doesn’t work that way boo.

After learning Bow Wow (or Shad Moss) lives in the basement of his mother’s house with fianceé Erica Mena, I grabbed a snack and started looking through the comments. It seems like people are 50-50 when it comes to his situation. On one hand, he’s playing it smart by living with his mother, especially when you consider his new gig on CSI:Cyber is still fresh. That didn’t stop criticism from coming in that he needs to be a better provider for his soon-to-be wife.

And what about Bradley Cooper who moved his mother into his house after his father passed? Perhaps that was the reason why he and his ex Suki Waterhouse have been so on-again/off-again.

While I personally couldn’t live with my parents, I’m not going to knock someone who chooses to do so (not counting my relative. Her laziness is public knowledge). In the case of Bow Wow, the home he shares with his mother is a mansion. Lord only knows the number of rooms and the privacy everyone has. Hopefully he has a great relationship with his mother that includes a love and mutual respect for his future wife. Should things go left, he and Mena can always get a place of their own considering they have the money to do so.

Then again, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your parents at a small distance, like a guesthouse or nearby property.

What do you think about people who live with their parents?

Work! 15 Celebrity Women We Can’t Believe Are Over 60

April 15th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Instagram

Image Source: Instagram

Tina Knowles looks stunning in her recent wedding photos. And the newlywed and mother of two isn’t the only celebrity woman keeping us inspired. We can’t believe these gorgeous celebrity women are over 60. They look amazing at any and every age!

Did You Know? Celebrity Men Who Admit To Having Plastic Surgery

March 5th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Women aren’t the only ones who get a nip and a tuck. These celebrity men who admit to having plastic surgery say they’re not ashamed to say they’ve had some work done.