All Articles Tagged "Diana Ross"

Tony And Grammy-Nominated “Motown” Star Valisia LeKae Talks Beating Ovarian Cancer And Strengthening Her Faith

September 25th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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LeKae and Diana Ross; Photo courtesy of Valisia LeKae

LeKae and Diana Ross; Photo courtesy of Valisia LeKae

This month, in order to spread more awareness to our community about ovarian cancer, MadameNoire is speaking to several ovarian cancer survivors about their journeys.

The very talented Valisia LeKae was on top of the world with a role many actresses would have gone through hell and high water to get: playing Diana Ross in the lauded production of Motown: The Musical. LeKae was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical and later a Grammy award for all her hard work. But at the height of the awards season and her fame, LeKae was hit with a cancer diagnosis after getting a cyst removed. She had stage 1A ovarian cancer, and even though many of us would break down over such news, LeKae’s faith strengthened, her spirit was revived, she did her research and she vowed to fight. She received her diagnosis late last year and after constant therapy and a tough journey, LeKae received the news in April that she was cancer-free and she is now the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition spokesperson. This is her story: 

Did You Have Symptoms Or Pain?

“Actually, I did not. After my annual visit to my gynecologist, I had a sonogram and my doctor discovered that there was a cyst that I had on my ovaries that had tripled within a year’s time. Based on the size that it was, he stated that I needed to have it removed. I had no symptoms. I didn’t have any pain. I didn’t have any bleeding that wasn’t normal with my cycle. So if it wasn’t for that cyst actually growing, I wouldn’t actually have known that I had ovarian cancer. The cyst could have ruptured. That’s the things about the cysts, when they grow over six centimeters, your doctor tells you that you need to take it out because it could rupture at any moment. That could have been even worse for me because the cancer could have spread all over my body and I could have been stage three instead of stage 1A, which is what I was. Thank God for that one thing that happened within my body because I wouldn’t have known.”

What Was Your Reaction When You Got The News? 

“When I found out, it was after I had my first surgery to get my cyst removed from my ovary. For about 10 days I hadn’t been able to walk straight. I had a really, really awful recovery period. So when I got the call that morning while I was sitting in my recliner, my body, my mind and everything just went on alert. Everything changed for me. I think I had a moment of where I cried for a minute and then life just took a shift. I got more strength, I got up out of that chair and I just did not want to waste any more time. I just wanted to live and so I never thought twice about it. I did what I had to do. I got up, did some research on ovarian cancer, I got in touch with a doctor. It was sort of like…’live your life’ at that moment.”

With All The Success You Were Having, Were You Ever Worried About Your Career?

“You have to take yourself out of the situation when things like that happen. It’s never going to be about me. ‘What do you want me to do God and when do you want me to do it?’ That’s what it comes down to. It’s not necessarily, ‘Oh my God, I’m in the midst of my career and now everything is over.’ It’s just like, God is ready to take me to the next level and he’s going to do it by any means necessary. I was grateful for the career and the accomplishments that I made at the time because it really allowed me to have a platform to say, ‘I have ovarian cancer and I want you to hear about it.’ People were listening to my story. That series of events happened the way they were supposed to happen and I thank God that people took an interest in my story and almost a year later I’m still having interviews about it. I’m grateful for that because people need to know about this deadly disease.”

How Did It Feel To Get The News That You Were Cancer-Free? 

“It’s quite an extraordinary feeling. Every moment is an accomplishment. Every breath is a victory. By the time that I got to April 29, I lived to fight another day. For me, the battle wasn’t over. There’s no cure for this disease. So to me it was like, ‘okay, you’re done with that, but there’s still more work to do.’ There are millions of other women who have this and are still battling it, so it’s not over. The battle continues.”

Who Was Your Support System Throughout This Journey?

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a really great group of people by my side. My partner, he was amazing during this entire time and never left my side. Never once complained. Was at every single therapy session for all six hours. The odd thing about the journey of the two of us is that his mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer seven or eight years ago and she’s battling it now. I honor her every time that I give an interview or every time I’m able to speak to people. But I also honor him because he had to be strong and he had to put on a face and make sacrifices.

I also had a wonderful cast that was there for me, keeping me laughing, smiling, cooking for me, coming to visit me, keeping me in their prayers and showing up in miraculous ways. Everyone who was a part of Motown really was great and by my side, and I’m really, really grateful for that.”

Could You Tell Us About Your Vintage Clothing Business, Teal Tuesday?

“When I started it, I had just got back from the Grammys and I was trying to figure out what I could do outside of my speaking engagements and being a spokesperson to help. I had all of these clothes in my closet that I had worn and been photographed in. Technically the rule of thumb is once it has been photographed you can’t wear it. So I was looking at all these clothes and said, ‘What am I going to do with them?’ And I said that I wanted to develop a site where I can have things that people can purchase, and everything that is purchased, the sales will go towards ovarian cancer research. As spokesperson of the NOCC, I thought it would be fitting that I start it with that organization. But what I would like to do is reach out to charities every six months to a year and have it contribute to a different charity. This clothing wasn’t doing anything for me and so I figured, why not allow this to benefit something else?”

How Did This Entire Process Change You As A Person? 

“I see things differently. I definitely learned patience. Surrendering. That was my first and most important lesson throughout my journey because I’ve been organized and tried to control everything, but once you’re at the mercy of your doctors you have to be where you have to be. You have to go where you have to go and be there for eight hours so you can do your chemotherapy and that’s that. I also learned the comfort of peace and knowing that everything would work itself out. God is in control when it comes down to it.”

What Advice Would You Give To Other Women? 

“Honestly, I just think it’s important for women to educate themselves about their bodies. I’m still continuing to learn about my body, especially after cancer and chemotherapy. I think it’s very important that women ask the questions that they need to ask of their gynecologists. If they’re feeling something, see the doctor that they need to see. Go to your doctor! Have your annual checkup every year, and don’t be afraid to do that. Don’t wait two or three years. Just continue to educate yourself. Know your body more than anything. Know your body.”

Follow Valisia LeKae on Twitter and check out her website, Teal Tuesday, to shop for a great cause. 

Diana Ross Speaks Fondly About Son Evan’s “Perfect” Wedding To Ashlee Simpson, Which She Sang At And Officiated

September 3rd, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Diana Ross was hands-on when it came to planning and executing her son Evan’s wedding to Ashlee Simpson. Not only did the musical legend sing “Endless Love” at the couple’s reception,which was a surprise to the couple, but according to Us Weekly, she also officiated the service for her Evan, 26 and Ashlee, 29, which took place at her home in Connecticut. In an exclusive chat with the magazine, Ross said that the wedding was “perfect,” and that she wishes nothing but love and happiness for her son and his new bride.

“The wedding went perfectly. We had a beautiful rainbow surrounding us, loving family and friends, great music, and great speeches from loving and caring friends, and joyful children dancing the night away.

I thank everyone who supported us on the spectacular day and our neighbors who were kind enough to let us have fun. We had great friends that traveled from Norway, London, Switzerland, and from all over the world. Wishing Evan and Ashlee congratulations. I want only love, happiness, and joy for my son and his bride.”

The wedding was attended by 200 guests, and the women in the ceremony wore white while men donned white tuxedo jackets and black pants. A source told People that when Ross performed, it was actually a surprise to the guests.

“When Diana got up to sing at the reception, she surprised everyone, even her kids! She was the only one on the dance floor and everyone rushed to see her.”

It makes sense that Ross went all out for Evan’s nuptials, he is her last born! Congrats again to the couple! Check out first pics from their big day over at The Daily Mail.

 

 

And Another One! Ashlee Simpson And Evan Ross Tie The Knot At Diana Ross’ Home

September 1st, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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"Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross pf"

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So love has been all up in the air this Labor Day weekend! Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade tied the knot, and on Sunday afternoon, Ashlee Simpson (sister to Jessica) and Evan Ross (brother to Tracee Ellis) made their love official with a ceremony at the home of Evan’s mother, and musical legend, Diana Ross.

According to Us Weekly, the couple were set to say “I Do” at the Greenwich, Connecticut home of Diana, who Evan said played a big part in planning the nuptials. Diana and Stevie Wonder were both on hand to sing, with Wonder performing at the reception, and Ross reportedly at the wedding, according to Perez Hilton.

Also according to Us, Simpson, 29, was walked down the aisle by her son Bronx (her 5-year-old son from her first marriage to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz), and her sister, Jessica Simpson was the matron of honor. Both of Jessica’s kids, son Ace and daughter Maxwell, served as the ring bearer and flower girl for the ceremony.

This is, as previously mentioned, the second marriage for Ashlee, and the first for Evan, who popped the question back in January. The couple started dating last July.

And Evan’s family seems to love Ashlee. Tracee Ellis Ross was “over the moon” for her brother when she found out they were engaged. And just last week she said “I’m so excited for you and Ashlee and I’m just so blessed to have you in my life!!!” while sending her bro birthday wishes. How sweet! One thing the couple has in common? Definitely some powerful families.

Congrats to Evan and Ashlee on their marriage! Once we can get our hands on pics of from their big day, we’ll be sure to update this happy story.

Take Them To The Big Screen: 10 Black Women Who Deserve A Biopic

August 4th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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black women who deserve a biopic feat

I’m going to be straight up and ask an honest question here: Where are all the good biography films pictures on black women?

I’m not trying to start nothing – actually I’m okay and cool with starting stuff – but I have to say I’m not really impressed with the selection of biopics lately. The TLC, while full of gossipy tidbits, was ultimately a huge dud. So was the Winnie Mandela biopic entitled Winnie (which is available on Netflix but I would skip it). And excuse me for being presumptuous but I don’t have high hopes for either of the proposed Aaliyah projects. And I certainly won’t be supporting the Zoe Saldana/Nina Simone travesty, if ever that sees the light of day.

Perhaps it is the subject or the productions themselves, but Hollywood (inclusive of Black Hollywood too) really doesn’t attempt to immortalize Black women as it does Black men. This is particularly true of the big screen productions. In fact, it seems the majority of biopics on Black women are actually made for television, and by default, have all the cheese and camp of a film made for television.

As such, I have created a list of ten women, who would make awesome subjects for a well-produced and funded film production. Also so Hollywood doesn’t go casting Madonna as Rosa Parks, I’ll also include a list of women, who I believe would good fits for the roles.

Saaaang Chile! Secular Singers Who Started In The Church

July 8th, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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There has always been a connection between gospel and secular music and some of the most popular artists have gotten their start singing in the church choir before making a name for themselves in mainstream music. For more on the black church, check out the new Moguldom Studios documentary “Black Church Inc.” available on iTunes and Google Play now.

Singers Who Started In The Church

WENN

Whitney Houston

Dubbed “The Voice,” Whitney Houston’s powerful pipes helped her become one of the best-selling singers of all time. But before she conquered the world of R&B and crossed over to become an international pop icon, the “I Will Always Love You” singer honed her natural talents at the church. She first stood in the spotlight singing in the choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey where her mother was the choir director. After suddenly passing away in 2012, Houston returned to her childhood church for her homegoing service.

From The Mic To On-Screen: Celebrity Singers Turned Actors

June 12th, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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June is Black Music Month and to pay homage to the melodic contributions of some of our favorite artists we’re taking a look at a few of our favorite celebrity singers turned actors who make it tough to decide which role we like them in best. For more on the artists here, head over to XFINITY CelebrateBlackTV.com. From The Wiz to Dreamgirls, check out great films with even better soundtracks, plus interviews, music videos and more all month long.

Singers Turned Actors

WENN

Jamie Foxx

When he put on a dress, blonde wig, fishnet stockings and pursed up his lips as In Living Color’s ugly Wanda, he stole the show. The character helped launchJamie Foxx’s career in Hollywood and he became so popular, he earned a show of his own. But before he became a household name as a bona fide actor, Foxx’s first love was singing. He began playing the piano at five years old and after he graduated from high school, the Texas native went to college on a scholarship to study classical music and composition. Foxx brought home an Oscar for his role playing legendary singer Ray Charles in the film Ray and he’s also released four albums dating all the way back to 1994.

Happy National Teacher Appreciation Day! Celebs Who Were Teachers Before They Were Stars

May 6th, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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Teachers have one of the hardest jobs out there. We should always honor educators who chose to shape the minds of our youth but on this Teacher’s Appreciation Day, we take a look at some celebs who were teachers before they became stars.

Celebs Who Were Teachers Before They Were Stars

WENN

 

Craig Robinson

He has starred in some of the funniest comedies released in the last several years. Craig Robinson cut his teeth as a stand-up comedian and took classes in acting and improv but before he went out west to Hollywood, the Chicago native was a music teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School. Robinson’s second career took off after he became a regular on “The Office” as Darryl Philbin. Robinson is currently reprising his role as Nick for the follow up to 2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind the Making of “Lady Sings the Blues”

April 15th, 2014 - By Deron Dalton
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Lady Sings the Blues

The Back Story w/ Jay Weston

Lady Sings the Blues is one of the most critically acclaimed black films and biopics of all time — with five Academy-Award nominations. But have you ever wondered the back story of the successful film about Billie Holiday’s life and career? We got you!

Jay Weston is the man who started it all. Intrigued by Holiday’s life and telling her story,  he, at the time in 1959, was an aspiring movie producer and told Holiday’s agent, Joe Glaser, he wanted to make a film about her life after reading her autobiography. He payed her agent $5,000 a year to the have the option to make the film until 12 years later when the movie was finally made.

Below is a photo from Weston’s Huffington Post back story about the film. But in each slide we break down the story behind the scenes and what it took to make this musical biopic.

Jay Weston on set of the film with Diana Ross.

Jay Weston on set of the film with Diana Ross. Source: HuffPo

Happy 70th Birthday Miss Ross! Diana Ross’ Best Hair Moments Over The Years

March 26th, 2014 - By Loren Lee
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motown

Source: WENN

Legendary musical diva Diana Ross turns 70 years young today! Known for her head-turning beauty just as much as her beautiful voice, we’ve decided to pay homage to the talented and gorgeous Ms. Ross by recapping 15 of her hottest hair styles over the years. Whether the famous star has the help of waist length extensions, wigs, or a pretty floral accent, she manages to make each look her own.

Click through to view  images that prove why Ms. Ross is indeed The Boss.

Get Your Popcorn Ready: The 13 Best Biopics About Women

March 10th, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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Over the years Hollywood has paid homage to some of the most influential, and sometimes controversial, women of our time and in honor of Women’s History month, we take a look at some of the best movies about these important figures.

Biopics About Women

The Josephine Baker Story

Dancer/singer Josephine Baker was the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture film and become a world famous entertainer. Known for performing the banana dance, Baker would wear the fruit covering her bottom while remaining topless. She was also known for her contributions to the Civil Rights movement. Actress Lynn Whitfield stepped into the shoes of Baker for the 1991 HBO biopic The Josephine Baker Story. Unlike most biographical films, this one dug as deep into Baker’s personal life as her public one. Whitfield took home an Emmy and an NAACP award for her role in the film.

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