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Born in South Carolina, Viola Davis grew up in Rhode Island, where she began acting—first in high school, and then at Rhode Island College. After attending the Juilliard School of Performing Arts, Davis soon made her Broadway debut in 1996. She won her first Tony Award in 2001, and was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for Doubt. In 2011, Davis starred in the hit dramatic film The Help. She has also appeared in Ender's Game (2013) and Get on Up (2014). In 2014, Davis returned to television in the mystery series How to Get Away with Murder, and the following year became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on the show.
Award-winning writer/director/producer Shonda Rhimes created the hit TV shows Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, and penned several film screenplays.
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Date of Birth / Zodiac Sign: 01/13/1970, Capricorn
Profession: Executive producer; writer
Shonda Rhimes Fast Facts:
Is the youngest of six children.
Director of the Black Underground Theatre and Arts Association while an undergrad at Dartmouth.
Worked in advertising before enrolling in film school.
Received the prestigious Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship while earning her MFA at USC.Before creating the hit show Grey's Anatomy, wrote the screenplays for films like Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Crossroads and The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement
Won the first of many NAACP Image Awards in 2007.
Was inspired by professional crisis manager Judy Smith to create the ABC series Scandal; Smith serves as an executive producer.
Shonda Rhimes Relationships:
Harper - Daughter
Emerson Pearl - Daughter
Shonda Rhimes Awards:
2007 Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series - Nominee
2006 Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series - NomineeEmmy:
2006 Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series - Nominee
College:Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, United States (BA English Literature, 1991); University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States (MFA, 1994)
TERRI WILLIAMS -
Born Terrie Williams on May 12, 1954, in Mt. Vernon, NY; daughter of Charles and Maria; children: adopted son, Rocky. Education: Brandeis University, B.A., (cum laude) 1975; Columbia University, M.A. 1977. Memberships: Brandeis University Alumni Association; National Corporate Advisory Board.
New York Hospital, medical social worker, 1977-80; Black Filmmaker Foundation, program administrator, 1980-81; Black Owned Communication Alliance, executive director, 1981-82; World Institute of Black Communications Inc, executive director, 1982; Essence Communcations, vice president, and director of corporate communications, 1982-87; Terrie Williams Agency, president and CEO, 1988-.
Terrie Williams is co-founder, president, and CEO of one of the most successful public relations firms in the country. With no formal training, Williams opened the Terrie Williams Agency, which she has built into one of the largest minority-owned public relations firm in the country. In addition, Williams has also authored a bestseller, The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed In Today's Fast-Paced Business World, written with Joe Cooney in 1994. Former New York City mayor David Dinkins said of Williams, as quoted on the dust jacket of Personal Touch: "Perhaps it is Terrie'ss formal training as a social worker and her ability to understand people and to respond to their needs that has helped lead to her enormous success."
Courtesy Of ask.com
Michelle Obama - is a lawyer, wife of U.S. President Barack Obama and the 44th first lady. They have two daughters, Malia (born 1998) and Natasha, known as Sasha (2001).
ZOE SALDANA - Rarely do beauty and talent combine in a form so complimentary to each other than in the case of actress Zoe Saldana. Whether gracefully gliding across the stage in dance, pounding the boards in a play, or lighting up the screen in such popular films as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the multi-faceted Saldana seems capable of achieving anything she puts her mind to. The New Jersey native was raised in Queens until the age of ten, when her family relocated to the Dominican Republic. The move proved a fateful blessing when young Saldana discovered her love of dance and enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy shortly thereafter, where she would study ballet, jazz, and modern Latin dance. Following her sophomore year in high school, Saldana and her family returned to the U.S. It was while completing her primary studies stateside that Saldana became involved with the Faces theater troupe, whose aim was to make a positive impact on teenage audiences by performing improvisational skits on such issues as substance abuse and sexuality. Involvement with another troupe, the New York Youth Theater, provided more traditional stage experience through such productions as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, and it was while performing with that troupe that a talent agent recognized great potential in the burgeoning actress. In 1999, Saldana received what seemed to be the ideal first film role when she was cast as a talented but snippy dancer vying for a spot at the fictional American Ballet Company in the dance drama Center Stage. Other film roles followed, including Get Over It, Snipes, and a featured part in the Britney Spears teen drama Crossroads, which offered Saldana's first major theatrical release. Widely panned by critics but performing moderately at the box office thanks to legions of Spears fans, Crossroads proved just the fuel needed to get Saldana's struggling feature career running. The following year, she was back on the big screen in Drumline, which found her once again utilizing her dance skills as a college dance major and love interest of the talented but conflicted protagonist. Though her subsequent role as the sole female pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean offered little screen time, her performance as the only woman able to cast a spell over Johnny Depp's charismatic Jack Sparrow offered one of the film's most memorable comic scenes. Back on the indie circuit, Saldana headlined the 2003 rock musical Temptation as a talented singer facing hard times. A brief turn as a by-the-books customs officer in Steven Spielberg's The Terminal found the charming Saldana slowly warming to an immigrant stuck in bureaucratic limbo (played by Tom Hanks).She was the female lead in Guess Who in 2005 and continued to work steadily. However, in 2009 she broke through in a big way when she was cast as Uhura in J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, and later that year she was the female lead in James Cameron's mega-smash Avatar. She followed that up with the action film The Losers in 2010, and was front and center in another action spectacle, Columbiana, the year after that. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
LISA RAY - LisaRaye McCoy is best known for her roles on black situation comedy "All of Us" and VH1's "Single Ladies." Born on Sept. 23, 1966, in Chicago, Illinois, LisaRaye was attending Eastern Illinois University when a roommate convinced her to try acting. She moved to Los Angeles and landed minor roles in shows such as "Martin" and "In The House."
LisaRaye appeared in Tupac Shakur's final music video, which caught rapper/actor Ice Cube's attention. He subsequently cast her in 1998's "The Player's Club" as a troubled stripper. She went on to make a memorable appearance in "The Wood" (1999) and hosted "Source: All Access," a popular series about hip-hop culture.
Her 2002 prison film "Civil Brand" won awards at the American Black Film Festival and The Urbanworld Film Festival. In 2003 she was cast as Neesee James in the UPN/CW sitcom "All Of Us." In 2011 she landed the role of Keisha in "Single Ladies." She also starred in the reality show "The Real McCoy."
LisaRaye is the creator of the fashion lines Luxe and Romance and PZI jeans. She is the ex-wife of Michael Misick, a former premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and has a daughter named Kai.
Ursula M. Burns (born September 20, 1958) was raised by a single mother in the Baruch Houses, a New York city housing project. Burns serves as Chairman and CEO of Xerox. She is the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. She is also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company. In 2009, Forbes rated her the 14th most powerful woman in the world.
With sales approaching $23 billion, Xerox (NYSE: XRX) is the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management.
When Burns joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern, the company was the leader in the global photocopying market. As she later assumed roles in product development and planning, the company was securing its leadership position in digital document technologies. From 1992 through 2000, Burns, at a pivotal point in the company’s history, led several business teams including the company’s color business and office network printing business.
In 2000, Burns was named senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Services, heading up manufacturing and supply chain operations. Alongside then-CEO Anne Mulcahy, Burns worked to restructure Xerox through its turnaround to emerge as a leader in color technology and document services. A key factor in the company’s turnaround was its research and development of new products and technologies, and at the time Burns was responsible for leading Xerox's global research as well as product development, marketing and delivery. In April 2007, Burns was named president of Xerox, expanding her leadership to also include the company's IT organization, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate marketing and global accounts. At that time, she was also elected a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
Burns was named chief executive officer in July 2009 and shortly after, made the largest acquisition in Xerox history, the $6.4 billion purchase of Affiliated Computer Services, catapulting the company’s presence in the $500 billion business services market and extending the company’s reach into diverse areas of business process and IT outsourcing.
On May 20, 2010, Burns became chairman of the company, leading the 140,000 people of Xerox who serve clients in more than 160 countries. Building on Xerox’s legacy of innovation, they’re enabling workplaces – from small businesses to large global enterprises -- to simplify the way work gets done so they can focus more on what matters most: their real business.
Burns earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.
In addition to the Xerox board, she is a board director of the American Express Corporation and Exxon Mobil Corporation. Burns also provides leadership counsel to community, educational and non-profit organizations including FIRST - (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), National Academy Foundation, MIT, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others. She is a founding board director of Change the Equation, which focuses on improving the U.S.’s education system in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In March 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Burns vice chair of the President’s Export Council.
Tessanne Chin was born September 23, 1985 is a Reggae fusion recording artist, who won Season 5 of the American singing competition The Voice. She has opened for famous acts such as Patti Labelle, Peabo Bryson, and Gladys Knight, and toured for 3 years with Jimmy Cliff. She is the younger sister of singer Tami Chynn.
Tessanne was introduced to music at a very early age by her parents. Her mother was the trumpeter and singer in her band called the "Carnations" and her father was the band's drummer. The family has a recording studio in their home in Jamaica.
Tessanne started performing when she was 6 years old with Cathy Levy's "Little People and Teen Players Club", one of Jamaica's top performing arts schools. Most of her vocal coaching came from her mother and also from noted vocal coach Lecie Wright. Tessanne learned firsthand about cultural diversity when she moved to England at age 12. She coped with the move by devoting a lot of time to writing songs.
She has performed at several live shows, including The Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2006, the Deck cafe, The Port Royal Music Festival, ABC Slim Traxx and her very own show "Arabian Night". Her mixed style is influenced by singers such as Skunk, Pat Benatar, Diana King, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Barbara Streisand, Bob Marley, and Mahalia Jackson.
Tessanne married Michael Cuffe in 2011. The two had been best friends for four years prior to marriage.
COURTNEY WASHINGTON - DESIGNER
Courtney Washington - Designer
The son of a dressmaker, Jamaican- born Courtney Washington has always had a natural instinct for fashion. Growing up, he would watch his mother sew and from as early as age 9 would make dresses for his sisters and cousins just by looking at them.
At 17, he opened his own business in Kingston, and spent the next 10 years making custom designs for high profile clients. In 1994, he left Jamaica to New York to become formally trained in fashion, first at Pratt College of Art and Design, then at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
In 1998, he opened his first boutique Forte Green on Fulton Street, Brooklyn’s financial district and a year later started wholesailng to big department stores such as Nordstroms, Dillards and boutiques in North America and Europe.
Linda G. Alvarado - First Hispanic MLB Franchise Owner
Linda G. Alvarado, 60, president and chief executive officer of Alvarado Construction, Inc., a Denver-based commercial general contractor, construction management and development firm. Alvarado Construction has successfully developed and constructed numerous multi-million dollar commercial, government, transportation, office, communications, energy, retail, heavy engineering, utility, and technology projects throughout the United States and Latin America. Ms. Alvarado is also co-owner of the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball Club and President of Palo Alto, Inc. which owns and operates YUM! Brands restaurants in multiple states. Pitney Bowes director since 1992. (Also a director of 3M Company. Formerly a director of Lennox International Inc., The Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc.)
Kerry Washington was born on January 31, 1977, in the Bronx. Acting since the age of 15, Washington became well-known for her portrayal of Ray Charles’ wife, Della Bea Robinson, in the 2004 critically-acclaimed film, Ray. She is currently starring in the hit television show Scandal on ABC.
After receiving a theater degree from George Washington University in 1998, she appeared in the movie Save the Last Dance playing the older sister to Sean Patrick Thomas' character. Since then, Washington has starred in a slew of theatrical hits like The Human Stain, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Last King of Scotland and Why Did I Get Married.
Washington inked a deal as a spokesperson for L'Oreal, starring in commercials along with actresses Scarlett Johansson and Eva Longoria Parker. At the end of 2009, she made her Broadway debut in Race, which features Emmy winners James Spader, David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas.
ANGELA BASSETT -
Born in 1958 in Harlem, New York City, Actress Angela Bassett had to work hard to break through stereotypical roles assigned to black women on screen. She is now best known for portraying real life African American women, including Rosa Parks in The Rosa Parks Story, Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X and Tina Turner in What's Love Got To Do With It?
Captivating, gifted, and sensational, Angela Bassett's presence has been felt in theaters, stages, and television screens throughout the world. A native of New York City, Bassett and her sister D'nette grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida with their mother Betty. As a single mother and social worker, Betty stressed the importance of education for her children. With the assistance of an academic scholarship, Bassett matriculated into Yale University. In 1980, she received her B.A. in African-American studies from Yale University. In 1983, she earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Yale School of Drama. It was at Yale that Bassett met her husband, Courtney B. Vance, a 1986 graduate of the Drama School.
Soon after graduating from Yale, Bassett appeared in her first film Doubletake (1988) (TV). However, she is more recognized for her role in the F/X (1986) series. It was not until 1993 that she earned widespread recognition for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993). Bassett's performance garnered a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Bassett currently resides with her husband in California.
Legendary, Harlem-born Audrey Smaltz who has been named three times to the International Best Dressed List, is the CEO of the Ground Crew, the fashion industry's first backstage management company. Her clients include Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Oscar De La Renta, Gucci, J. Crew, Adrienne Vittadini, Carolyn Roehm, Vera Wang, BET Network, Nordstrom, Victoria's Secret and many others.
Her company is coordinating a fashion show's backstage operations. She makes sure that the models are dressed, their hair is done and their makeup flawless. She came up with the idea for the Ground Crew while working as a fashion editor for Ebony Magazine. She noticed that designers' family members were dressing models and handling backstage matters. But in her heart, she knew that these relatives would prefer being out watching the fashion shows.
It took her a long time to sell the idea of backstage coordination to designers. She kept, however, sending out letters and making phone calls. Her break came when Bergdoft Goodman, the prestigious New York City department store hired her. As luck would have it, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal came to write about the Ground Crew. Smaltz donned the writer in a signature "Ground Crew" T-shirt and put her to work. The rest is history. The subsequent story put her on the map and everyone wanted to know about the Ground Crew.
Today, the company that mostly hires African-Americans is run out of Smaltz's penthouse apartment off Fifth Avenue in New York. Sometimes she employs three to four teams as well as seamstresses, tailor and pressers to handle the demands of her clients.
Does patience and persistence pay off when starting a business? Yes. Smaltz can now look back and see that her business idea handsomely paid off. "I'm doing exactly what I please and what I love doing," she says.
Courtesy of The Black Career Zone
Princess Jenkins is the President of The Brownstone, Harlem's Contemporary Women's Clothing Boutique, which has been featured on Good Day New York, Good Morning America, Living It Up With Patti LaBelle and a host of other TV and Cable shows. She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she is currently a professor in their CEO Program. She also hold a BA in Communications. Ms. Jenkins is an award winning business owner and is the recipient of many accolades including; Small Business Administrators Champion of the Year, Elliot Spitzer Small Business Award, the Crains Magazine 8th Annual Business of the Year Award, the Harlem Chamber Small Business Award and the Stern School of Business-Business Plan Writing Award. She is the only African-American feature in the preeminent entrepreneurship exhibit at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street. For more information visit www.Thebrownstonewoman.com
Michael Lee-Chin, OJ (born 1951) is a Jamaican-born Canadian business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is the founder and Chairman of Portland Holdings Inc., a privately held investment company which owns a collection of diversified operating companies in sectors that include media, tourism, health care telecommunications and financial services. Amongst other positions, he is currently Executive Chairman of AIC Limited (a Canadian mutual fund), and the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica. In the latest Forbes Billionaires List, he was placed at number 701, with assets worth around $1.0 billion. (Though Lee-Chin's wealth has been as high as $2.5 billion in the past.) Canadian Business has named him as one of the richest people in Canada. He is also a philanthropist. In 2003, he made headlines when he donated $30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Michael Lee-Chin also provided a $10 million gift to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The gift established the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. The Lee-Chin Institute's purpose is to help current and future business leaders integrate corporate citizenship into business strategy and practices. Lee-Chin also currently sits as chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University.
Maya Angelou is an American author and poet. She has published six autobiographies, five books of essays, numerous books of poetry, and is credited with a long list of plays, movies, and television shows