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Conversations Magazine Oct./Nov. 2016

Conversations Magazine Oct./Nov. 2016
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Friday, October 21, 2016

Jared Cohn: Wishing (and Acting) On a Dream

by Cyrus Webb

There are few people I have been introduced to that are as passionate about creating as Jared Cohn. He is a Writer, Producer, Director and Actor that is making a name for himself and doing the work (and telling the stories) that he is passionate about.

One of my favorite projects that he wrote, produced and starred in is called Wishing For A Dream. It tells the story that so many creative individuals can relate to: having a dream and what it takes to see that dream realized, both the good and the bad.

While I was in Los Angeles this year I had a chance to sit down with Jared to discuss his career and the film. Like our radio interview before it, our chat was inspiring and shows why he is a rising star in the industry.

"It's still like an ongoing struggle.  I'm still in character. It's very real... Making the film was kind of like a documentary---but not a documentary. When I write a script I try to invoke something that makes the viewer think. I wanted to make something personal, hopefully that would resonate with some people."

"If you go on the internet and you're looking for feedback, you have to have thick skin. I'm so grateful that there are people who are supportive. It's a tough business. It helps to know some of your work is received well."

"It's like a roller coaster: Some days you feel unstoppable, and other times you're like why am I doing this? It comes in moments. It's a crazy's a crazy industry, but I can't do anything else. I selected this path, because I am a fan of entertainment. That's what I wanted to make my life about."

"You have to have that sense of this is possible and believe in that. If you don't believe in yourself no one else is going to believe in you. You have to keep going."

"It's always about the next thing. If you're just focusing on what you're doing right now when it's done you're going to be idle. I like to have multiple things going on. I'm constantly writing, looking at other projects. I'm a creator. It's all about content. At the end of the day that's all that matters."

Stay connected with Jared and Trap Light Media on Twitter at as well as the film Wishing For A Dream on Facebook at . The film can be rented or purchased on

Rolonda Watts: Using Fiction to Dive Into the Truth of Life

by Cyrus Webb

Like many people around the world I have been a fan of Rolonda Watts for quite some time. What she has accomplished as a journalist and media personality has definitely set her apart from others, and this year she added the title of Author to her already impressive resume.

When I visited Los Angeles in February of this year my good friend Ann-Marie of Get Red PR arranged for me to sit down for a conversation with Ms. Watts to discuss her journey---and what a conversation it was.

Her novel Destiny Lingers is one of those books that reaches you wherever you might be and reminds us of what is still possible. "Destiny Lingers has been a life journey for me," Rolonda told me during the discussion. "I have to admit that it started off as a hobby. I would go to the beach with my friends. They brought a book to read. I brought a book to write...I had so much I wanted to say that I determined myself to turn it into a novel."

At the core of the book are questions about the main characters Destiny and Chase that we are readers can ask ourselves when it comes to our lives: What if two individuals who couldn't be together had a chance to meet again? What would you do with the second chance at your first love?

"I'm not Destiny," Rolonda tells me when I asked her what was it like to slip into the character's skin and tell this story. "When I writing the story it was painful for me. I'm a lot more ballsy a woman (than Destiny). It was so interesting having a relationship with her during this journey. Destiny is like a lot of girls, more methodic, more thinking. Destiny is more in her head...She's so available to love and doesn't know where to find it." She finds such love, however, in Chase.

The story mirrors life today for so many. There are those who raised a certain way, with certain beliefs. Will their children and their children continue with that way of thinking or choose another path? Discussing her generation and those who have come up since, Rolanda says this: "We have the choice to make that difference."

At the end of our time together discussing the book, Rolonda told her her "whole life" is Destiny Lingers. "The observances I've made about my life. It is the story of love and the story of our country. My novel is almost like an ode to America or an ode to love."

Destiny Lingers is available now online through or through You can stay connected with Rolonda on social media at or

Conversations' 25 Women Changing the World, 2016

For the third straight year Conversations Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Cyrus Webb is proud to recognize “25 Women Changing the World”, individuals who are excelling in various areas of the life and using their gifts to inspire others.
“This year’s roster is just as diverse as our previous lists,” says Webb, who decided in 2014 to begin recognizing women who had international platforms as well as those rising stars that were making a difference. This year's logo for the honor was created by 2015 honoree Talamieka Brice of Brice Media.
Conversations' “25 Women Changing the World” 2016: 
  1. Singer Stephanie Mills
  2. Author Dafna Michaelson Jenet
  3. Author Sarah Centrella
  4. Actress Viola Davis
  5. Author Kenyetta “Kenni” York
  6. Author Jewel Kats
  7. Filmmaker Sarah Deakins
  8. Author Ellen Hopkins
  9. Author Sonia Chess
  10. Singer Adele
  11. Poet/Author Joy Elan
  12. Author/Media Personality Abiola Abrams
  13. Author Diana Niyad
  14. Singer/Songwriter Deborah Hightower
  15. Author/Producer Omegia Keeys (see profile in April/May issue of Conversations Magazine)
  16. Author Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow 
  17. Author Holly Hurd
  18. Author Laura Dion-Jones
  19. Singer/Songwriter Julie Geller (see profile in April/May issue of Conversations Magazine)
  20. Author/Activist Linda Bello Ruiz
  21. Author/Writer/Producer Judy San Roman
  22. Author/Producer Iris Bolling (see profile in April/May issue of Conversations Magazine)
  23. Author Laticia Nicole
  24. DJ LakeGang
  25. Author Polly Campbell

Sunday, April 17, 2016

[From Me, To You] The Best Is Yet to Come

Webb seen here with actress Tracie Thoms & actor/writer Steve Harper
I have to tell you that I am truly, madly, deeply in love with life right now. It has nothing to do with a particular person but everything to do with the path I am on, walking in my purpose and pursuing my passion each and every day.

It's hard to believe that the magazine that began as an idea while sitting in my mom's living room back in April 2006 is now celebrating 10 years and over 13k subscribers in countries I have only heard about. Conversations Magazine has become so much more than I ever thought it would be, and if the truth is to be told I have become a person I never thought I would be.

The new issue is not just a reflection of those ten years of hundreds of interviews I've had the privilege of sharing but a reminder that you can wake up in love with life as well. All of us have a different journey, but I think this issue proves that regardless of your profession or where you live there is nothing you can't accomplish.

You will read about individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting through my travels around the country as well as those who have joined me on the radio show Conversations LIVE. It is my hope that this issue will challenge you to look at yourself and what you can do differently.

Later this year I will celebrate the 13th anniversary of Conversations LIVE the radio show and the 10th anniversary of Conversations Book Club. Each of these milestones are a result of my belief that his work I do is bigger than me. As you look at yourself and what you were meant to do, it is my hope that you will be inspired to keep pushing forward, never knowing what the next day could bring.

Happy reading!

Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief,
Conversations Magazine

Actor's Roundtable w/ Lauran de Winter, Jessica Lindsey Gilbert & Katt Balsan

(l-r: actors Lauran de Winter, Jessica Lindsey Gilbert and Katt Balsan)

by Cyrus Webb

We have all heard the saying that there is strength in numbers. When it comes to pursuing your goals and dreams that is so true, regardless what you are passionate about.

During my time in Los Angeles this year I had a chance to sit down with three actors who have not only been able to find success for themselves but have been able to encourage one another and show us all what is possible with hard work and faith. Lauran de Winter, Jessica Lindsey Gilbert and Katt Balsan sat down with me in what was their first interview together to discuss the importance of the work, how they stay true to themselves and why having others in your corner makes the journey even more rewarding.

Katt: It's been a fantastic journey. It's really about not giving up, and then meeting people along your journey with whom you can build your career.

Lauran: Anything you do in life you want to be with people who understand you. You want to surround yourself with good people that are like-minded with similar goals.

Jessica: I feel like sometime the industry can be very stressful, but there are so wonderful things about it a well. I love creating, getting to do something different in every role. It's also great to have really good support. In anything you want to do it helps to have people you really care about supporting you.

Katt: Since we all go through the same issues and obstacles, we have to have a strong faith. When you have a down moment you have others to help you through it. You can then be with them during their down moments. We all go through the exact same things.

Lauran:  Friends and family and doing things for the right reason keep me grounded. I have a strong faith. I know it's not about me.

Katt: (talking about the platform they have) We have the power to change things, especially if you're a public person. You get to have a voice, to serve your purpose. That's what it's all about to show others what they can do in their lives.

No matter what we find joy in this conversation with Lauran, Jessica and Katt remind us all that life is about the things you are able to do to help others and less about what others can do for us. We're all in this thing together. Stay connected with them through the following means:

Katt Balsan:

Jessica Lindsey Gilbert:  www.twitter.ocm/jlingilbert

Lauran de Winter:

Ruben Studdard: Fulfilling His Destiny Through Music

by Cyrus Webb

Four years ago when I announced that Platinum-selling recording artist/American Idol winner Ruben Studdard was going to be my guest on Conversations LIVE it was immediately seen as one of my biggest interviews of the year---and it was. The soulful crooner was recently a part of the big finale of American Idol, the show that made him a household name.

I was extremely excited about the opportunity to talk with Ruben on the air and to feature him in the pages of the magazine. I had followed his career since the American Idol win, and I was convinced that his was a life full of experiences and lessons that my listeners and me could all learn from.

I was not disappointed. His new single CAN'T NOBODY LOVE YOU released in early April 2016 is garnering great attention and once again Ruben has been all over television and radio promoting the music and sharing his story with the world. In this conversation you will hear from the man himself as he discusses the road to stardom, what keeps him grounded and ultimately what it means for him to be a great artist.

"I just wanted to sing. After you try so much, you really just want to be heard. When I finally made it on American Idol I wanted people to hear me and enjoy me. To be an inspiration is really a blessing. I most definitely can attest to what perseverance can do for you."

"My responsibility lies with my relationship with God. I wanted to make sure that I made music with integrity. The music I make is something that I could sit in a room with my grandmother and listen to with no regrets."

"It was awesome. You never really get to see or feel what is going on outside of the show. When I got home for the first time and to have people waiting on me at the airport was a shock. We as artists would be nothing  without them."

"It was pressure in the beginning because I never considered myself in that category. I have always put Luther on a pedestal. It was kinda heavy because it's a lot of expectation. Some expect you to produce that kind of high quality music. I now believe it's more about what you make them feel rather than my actually singing like him. That's a compliment."

"Your first album you don't have as much say-so as you might feel like you should. You have to go with the flow. Clive Davis helped to manuever me through my first album. The older I get and the more creative control I have I am able to do more of my own thing and have a lot more say-so. This allows me to show people who I am. I just want to be myself and sing."

"I felt in the beginning it was important to separate the two. When you listen to all the greats, though, the further they get in their career they become more transparent. That resonates with their fans. Being so private isn't as important as you think it is. It's good to keep your business to yourself, but the only way you can sing songs that really matter to people is if you've actually gone through stuff.

"I can't act like my life is perfect. It's unfair to believe that people never go through things. For me this (the single JUNE 28TH and the album LETTERS FROM BIRMINGHAM) was my way of saying I'm human. I go through stuff, and I'm able to move on."

"For me now success is longevity. A lot of times people feel that every time out is not going to be just the highs. You have to sustain yourself through the highs and lows if you want to make it in this business or in any business."

Ruben told me that he wanted to take the listeners on a journey with the new album, and I believe he does just that. The new single CAN'T NOBODY LOVE YOU is available now at your favorite outlet. You can stay in contact with Ruben on Facebook at and Twitter as well as on his website

Leeza Gibbons: Allowing FIERCE OPTIMISM to Guide Her to Success

by Cyrus Webb

Over the years one of the greatest blessings I have received in my life is receiving the gift of today. It allows me to remember that although yesterday wasn't perfect my life is not over as long as I have breath in my body. Though it poses a great opportunity, what a waste it would be to use it repeating the mistakes and choices that we have already made.

One of the books that I read in 2013 that really brought this point home was TAKE 2 by pop-culture icon Leeza Gibbons. Known for her contagious optimism and skills as a media personality, the book takes you into the makings of the woman she is today and allows the reader to see how where they are right now doesn't have to determine where they go. Since then she has gone on to be a winner of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice and has recently released her new book FIERCE OPTIMISM.

It was my pleasure to have a conversation with Leeza in 2014 that I shared in the pages of Conversations Magazine not just about the book but her own lessons learned along her incredible journey. "I think in life we get exactly what we are willing to put up with," she told me. "If you don't respect yourself, then you can't expect anyone else to honor who you want to be in the world. We teach people how to treat us. You have to value who you are."

To this point she says in Take 2, "Surviving and even thriving through change depends on your ability to search out the good and work with what you have. How well you do that depends on how you view shifts in your life. (p.23)"

This reminds us that anything worth having is going to require some work on our part. "Whether you are trying to recreate your life or invent a new product you have to drop the dread and you have to banish the blame," says Leeza. In the book she refers to it as a form of rebooting. "That's the biggest option we have," she told me. "It comes down to thinking." She gave examples of individuals who were all great at their professions. "The one thing they all have in common is they know how to think. When you change the way you think everything else in your life will adapt."

What Leeza shared reminded me of what she wrote in Take 2 in the chapter Ask Yourself: Are You Worth It? The section was called "Who Do You Think You Are?, and she began it with this profound statement: "How we see ourselves is exactly who we'll become." This has a great deal to do with the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.

"You do have to have a real sense of who you are and a real foundation," Leeza said to me. "You have to run your own race and don't worry about what others are doing." She then shared something that I hadn't thought about before, having a mission statement for your life. "Take some time to really write down what you want and who you are," she urged. "We do it in business, and we should do the same for ourselves." Our mission statement should include how you interact with the world and how you want the world to see you. By doing this Leeza says we will then know who you are and where your lines in the sand are."

It's obvious that someone like Leeza is setting an example for men and women alike when it comes to the course she is on. I asked her what it was like to know that she was an inspiration to others. "I think that when we are of service then we really do feel productive and proud," she answered. It was then that she shared that she went back and forth about writing Take 2 and if she really had something to say that others would be able to glean from. "I finally got to the place where I said how I am received is not my work. My work is to embrace it and put it out there." It is that realization that has not just made the book a reality but put its message out in the world for others to take in.

Writing Take 2 wasn't about saying everything for her was perfect. It was more about showing a path and focusing on a way to a better way of looking at life. "Where we put our intention and attention is where things go," Leeza says. "Where focus goes energy flows." This is important to keep in mind even when we make mistakes. "If you never fail then you're not taking enough risks in your life. All successes are built on failures." Leeza says we cheat ourselves by not starting anything simply because of the fear of failure. For her it is better to try and fail and then build on that failure moving forward.

A great deal of what has helped Leeza in moving forward is the realization that she is not the source of all the answers. In the chapter Let Your Spirit Soar she discusses prayer and it's role in her life. "Anytime I need to feel connection and to recognize that there a greater power at play in my life, I pray. Often I ask for strength and wisdom and to have an open mind to recognize God's messages to me. I think so often we pray for something, but we don't like the response, so we deny it. I pray that I will accept the reply and recognize that no is an answer, too. (p.174)"

"Perspective is a beautiful thing," Leeza said as we wrapped up our time together. "It's about learning to be in gracious acceptance. Real strength comes from knowing your limits.  Be quiet and allow answers to come in." This definitely requires a bit of faith on our part. "We can only know so much," she says. "People who are happy don't see the top of the staircase, but they keep climbing anyway."

As Leeza relays in the book "This is your moment... Don't wait for some far-off time when the alarm will ring and you'll suddenly know to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight." All of us can begin walking towards that spotlight right now. It all begins with the choice to do so.

In 2015 as the decision for Celebrity Apprentice winner came down between Geraldo Rivera and Leeza, Geraldo said that Leeza played it safe. Her response? She said she played it smart. One of the surprising moments of the finale was when Donald Trump admitted that he never thought Leeza would make it to the end. It was then that she delivered one of the best lines of the night: 'Never underestimate a woman with passion.' Before announcing her as the winner, even Trump had to acknowledge that Leeza had led with "kindness," proving once again that bringing the best of yourself is still the best way to live. It is lessons like this that she shares in the new book FIERCE OPTIMISM.

TAKE 2 and FIERCE OPTIMISM are available right now in print,electronic form and as a audiobook on Amazon. You can stay in touch with Leeza at her website and through social media at and