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Conversations Magazine Dec./Jan. Issue

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Grammy Nominated Johnny Gill releases a GAME CHANGER with New Album

by Cyrus Webb

Timeless. That is just one way to describe Grammy nominated recording artist Johnny Gill.

Many have gotten to know him for his hit singles like "My, My, My","Rub You the Right Way" and "Where Do We Go from Here" (with Stacy Lattisaw) as well as his involvement with the popular groups New Edition and LSG, however, there seems to be no substitute for the man himself.

Well, with the new project GAME CHANGER released this year the wait for Johnny Gill fans is over. Giving music lovers his heart in each and every track, he is letting it be known that he's not done yet---and there is much more to come.

Singles like BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and GAME CHANGER conjure up all of the reasons why Johnny Gill fans can't get enough of his voice and the message he sings about, and it is that loyalty that keeps him moving forward. In our conversation I had a chance to ask about his journey in music, the lessons and what he has to say to his fans.

"I have been blessed with a gift from God that is magical. You can't design it," Johnny said to me. "I think about my career and how my music has touched people. It is beyond a miracle and a blessing. To have people to connect with you is a gift."

Like many other soulful singers before him Johnny Gill began singing in the church and blossomed from there. He believes the main reason he is still able to do what he loves is because he understands the importance of staying consistent. "I stay true to me and my music," he says. "If you look at my body of work you'll see that I'm open to trying new things. At the end of the day my biggest goal is to always stay focused and be careful that I don't lose who I am. I set out to make great music, songs I can identify with and connect with and do it justice." Remaining true has given him the confidence to say that in spite of it all, he has put his heart and soul into each and every project. "I have something to hold my head up about and be proud," he says. That comes from walking in his musical truth. 

His beginnings were not so full of pride. Johnny relayed to me how when he first started in the business at the age of 15 he was not always the best of himself. "There was no blueprint about how you are supposed to be and act," he told me. "All the things you have to learn growing up in this business---the ups and downs that come with it---now make me blessed that I have my fans there for support." He understands that it is all a process, a machine that brings it all to life. The process that gets his music to the masses is something he feels more connected with, and he knows it's important not to take any of it lightly. 

To his fans, Johnny says this: "Thank you. Know that I don't take you or my success for granted. I couldn't have done this without you. "

Johnny Gill's GAME CHANGER is available on Amazon here. Stay in contact with him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/realjohnnygill. His website is  www.johnnygill.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Conversations Magazine's Entertainer of the Year 2014: Viola Davis

by Cyrus Webb

It was about 14 years ago that I first recognized the phenomena force that is Viola Davis. I was watching the show City of Angels, and she brought the character Nurse Peeler to life. Fast forward a couple of years and she played a major role on one of my favorite shows Law & Order: Criminal Intent making us love and loathe the woman who was Terry Randolph.

We would get to see more of Davis on the show Law & Order: SVU as the tough as nails attorney Donna Emmett, in many ways foreshadowing what she has brilliantly done with the character Annalise Keating in the Shonda Rhimes' produced hit HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. Couple her success on television and movies (like Doubt, The Help and this year's Get On Up) with what she is doing with her company JuVee Productions, and there is no wonder why Conversations Magazine is proud to recognize Viola Davis as our first-ever Entertainer of the Year!

Ms. Davis is the epitome of what hard work, passion and consistency will get you in life. She also shows men and women that you can not just benefit from the doors open to you but you can create opportunities for yourself and others to thrive.

The other thing that she highlights that is a great reminder is the importance of forging real relationships with people. She has done this with fellow actors and actresses as well as those who are writers, producers and directors. As soon as I saw her as Annalise in HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER I couldn't stop smiling. This was the role that was not just tailor-made for her artistic gift but her passion for great storylines.

Regardless of what profession you are in, we can all learn a thing or two from Ms. Davis. When you give your all and trust in your God-given abilities your talent will always make room for you.

Stay connected with Viola online at www.twitter.com/violadavis and her company Juvee Productions at www.juveeproductions.com.

*  Photo by Jeff Vespa (Getty Images)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chef Daniel Green's Chicken Orange and Pomegranate Salad

Chicken Orange and Pomegranate Salad
Serves 4

4 large oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
5 tbsp of olive oil juice from ¼ lemon
a handful of coriander, chopped
7 ½ ounces pomegranate seeds
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
freshly ground black pepper

Place the orange slices in a large mixing bowl.  Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, plus the lemon juice, coriander and pomegranate seeds.  Toss well to combine and set aside to marinate while you cook the chicken.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a non-stick grill pan and sear the chicken over high heat for about 3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.  Turn off the heat and set aside to rest for a few minutes.

To serve, divide the salad between 4 serving plates, top with the warm chicken slices and finish with a few grinds of black pepper.

Stay connected with Chef Daniel Green on www.danielgreen.tv. Get his new book The Paleo Diet on Amazon here.


Chef Daniel Green's Honey Glazed Salmon with Ginger

*Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
4 10 oz skinless salmon fillets

for the glaze
2 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
1 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

for the cabbage
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small cabbage, sliced into thin strips
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp sesame seeds, plus extra to garnish
freshly ground black pepper
4 spring onions, chopped

Heat a large, non-stick pan over high heat and add the salmon- If you have a good-quality, non-stick pan, there should be enough oils in the salmon to cook it without the need to add any extra oil.  Cook the salmon for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.  Place the honey, mustard, lemon and ginger together in a bowl and stir to combine.  Set aside.

When your salmon is just about cooked, spoon the glaze over the top, then take off the heat.  The glaze will carmelise in the hot pan and turn the salmon sticky and brown.

To cook the cabbage, heat half the olive oil in a wok over a medium heat.  Add the cabbage and stir fry for 3-4 minutes, then add the remaining oil and cook for another 5 minutes, tossing all the time (if you need more moisture, add a drop or two of water).  Add the garlic and sesame seeds and cook for a further minute.

Turn the cabbage out onto a plate, season with black pepper and top with the glazed salmon.  Scatter the spring onion over the top and serve with a few extra sesame seeds.

Stay connected with Chef Daniel Green on www.danielgreen.tv. Get his new book The Paleo Diet on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Conversations Magazine Prepares Release of Two Amazing Issues on Fri. Nov. 14th

Conversations Media Group is excited to announce that 2 amazing issues of Conversations Magazine will be released simultaneously on Fri. November 14th.

"It's rare that we release two of our publications on the same day," says Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief of Conversations Magazine and the President of Conversations Media Group. "This month, however, we are excited to release our regular monthly issue and our bi-monthly Model Citizens issues of the publication."

The Nov./Dec. issue of Conversations Magazine is its 'Acting on Faith' issue, featuring interviews with actors Edvin Ortega, Charlene Amoia and Cocoa Brown as well as conversations with the men of Tyler Perry's If Loving You Is Wrong: Denzel Wells, Octavio Pizano, Eltony Williams and Dawan Owens.

The bi-monthly issue of Conversations Model Citizens Magazine features actress/entrepreneur Kristina Anapau, model/entertainer Mr. Handsom, actress/model Cola Fox as well as America's Next Top Model's Will Jardell and Denzel Wells,

November also marks the first time in Conversations' 8 year history that one individual (Denzel Wells) has been featured on the cover of two issues in one year. "What Denzel has accomplished in his short time as an actor is really an example for individuals of all ages," Webb says. "The stories shared in the two issues are different but definitely compliment each other and the way that he is really making his mark in a variety of arenas."

Both magazines go on sale Mon. November 10th at www.conversationsmag.com and www.conversationsmcmag.com.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Top Reasons Why Scandal's Secret Service Agent Tom (played by Brian Letscher) Owned Season 3

by Cyrus Webb

Gladiators around the world have been rejoicing around the world since the return of Shonda Rhimes' hit show Scandal on ABC, wanting to know where the characters they have grown to love (and in some cases loathe) will do next. Week after week since season 4 began there has been one jaw-dropping event after another. A lot of what has been so "twisty crazy good" this season, however, was set up for us in season 3.

In Season 1 we had Amanda Tanner. Season 2 the core of the drama centered around the mole Billy Chambers. For Season 3 the standout for me was one man that I (and I believe millions of others) probably didn't see coming as the common denominator: Secret Service Agent Tom!

I interviewed actor Brian Letscher (who brings Tom's character to life) at the beginning of Season 3, and at the time who would have known that in so many storylines that evolved during the season that he would be in the mix in such a dramatic way. Because of this and the ways he has already been a key player in Season 4 I wanted to share with you....

TOP REASONS WHY TOM OWNED SCANDAL'S SEASON 3

  • In the first episode of Season 3 we learned that it was President Grant that used Tom to leak Olivia Pope's name to the press, thus triggering the dramatic ending to Season 2.
  • Tom was the constant go-to person for President Grant to stay in touch with (and even rendezvous) with Olivia.
  • In a dramatic turn of events we (along with the new head of B-613 Jake Ballard) learned that Tom is also a part of the shadowy organization entrusted with protecting of the Republic.
  • Duing the Presidential Debate Jake had Tom in waiting to take out Vice President Sally Langston if the need arose (Fortunately it wasn't needed.).
  • In probably the biggest turn of events during the season we discover that Tom was the one who administered the lethal dose to President Grant's son Jerry, setting in motion the return of Rowan (or Papa Pope) as head of B-613.
  • Finally as the Season comes to a close Gladiator Harrison Wright meets his end at the hands ( or bullet) of Tom under the orders of Rowan.

So what other big twists and turns can we expect in Scandal's latest season? I've never been good at guessing, so I won't start now. One thing we can be sure of, though: Shonda Rhimes has never disappointed us in the past, and I'm sure she's not about to start now.

Stay connected with Brian Letscher on Twitter at @BLetscher.

*     Photo courtesy of ABC/Shondaland

Dan Bucatinsky: Receiving the Reward For Living An Authentic Life

by Cyrus Webb

For Dan Bucatinsky living life authentically has paid off in a big way.

He's an Emmy award-winning actor (bringing to life James Novak on the hit ABC drama SCANDAL), writer and producer and author of the book Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?---and he has done it all on his own terms. This doesn't mean that everyday and every event he has experienced has been the best, but it does mean he has not allowed the challenges he has faced to stop him.

As I chatted with Dan on Conversations LIVE it was clear why so many were inspired by him. He's a man who is married to the love of his life, raising children and doing the kind of work that fulfilled him. And did I mention that just like the character James that he played on television that he himself is gay? Not that it matters a lot, though---and that was just one of the things we discussed during our conversation.

"We only can aspire to a time when a person's sexuality is beside the point," Dan said to me. "It's only one of many things that make a person a person. It doesn't have to be the defining thing about any individual. On Scandal I happened to be gay, I happened to be in a relationship (married to the Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene, played by Jeff Perry), but James was a complicated, ambitious and oftentimes imprudent individual. It's not about being gay or not. [His life] would have been complicated whether he was in a straight relationship or gay relationship. That's the amazing progress that was made by Shonda Rhimes (the show's creator) on a television show like that."

It is the show's writing and Dan's portrayal of James that has been an inspiration to so many. Just by living his life and doing what he loves has caused others to believe the same is possible for them. Dan told me that knowing he has had that affect on others is "so fulfilling", and what he hopes he is able to do through his platform in the public.

The third season of Scandal saw the demise of Dan's character James, but the show and he have definitely made their mark on the world. I asked him if he was surprised by the response to the show and the way it continues to gain momentum. "In this day and age there is so much competition coming out of our computers and DVRs that anything that stands out in the clutter is a surprise," he told me. "I remember when I read the pilot of Scandal I felt like Shonda had kind of reinvented the genre of the one-hour drama with that pilot. On the one hand it is always a surprise when anything cuts through, but knowing Shonda and how talented she is and how innovative she is I'm not surprised." Dan went on to say that he felt she had "changed our appetite for the speed and the complexity of storytelling, and other shows are trying to keep up."

Since his time on Scandal officially came to an end Dan has been keeping busy on other projects, and is showing no signs of slowing down. His advice for others when it comes to pursuing their dreams? "I feel like the most important thing is to not give up." He enjoys hiking, and using his experience when tackling a steep hill he shares this: "I know that if I stop I definitely will never get to the top. As hard as it seems at times we never really know what will happen unless we keep going. I ask myself 'What are the other options?' I could move a little slower. I could take a little break, but I definitely don't want to ever stop."

May we remember that when we are facing our own steep hills in life.

Stay connected with all things Dan at www.danbucatinsky.com.