Click cover to order Conversations Magazine's Anniversary Issue 2019

Click cover to order Conversations Magazine's Anniversary Issue 2019
Feeding Your Love of Life!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Author Spotlight: Bestselling Author Stacey Covington-Lee

by Cyrus Webb

Bestselling author Stacey Covington-Lee is someone I am glad to not just call a repeat guest on Conversations LIVE but a friend as well. She has given the world some amazing books and characters that keep her readers coming back for more. 

In this profile for our anniversary issue we discuss her own journey and success. 

Stacey, it’s great to be able to have you as a part of Conversations Anniversary issue as we celebrate the past 16 years. You have had an amazing career of your own, garnering readers from around the world. What has it been like to look back at your own journey?
Cyrus, I’m honored to be a part of this Anniversary Issue. As I look back over my writing journey, I smile with a little bit of pride playing at the corners of my lips. I’m proud of the stories I’ve written and how they’ve touched people’s lives. However, I recognize that I still have a long way to go. I have more stories to tell, hopefully, more lives to touch, and a positive footprint to leave on the literary industry.

When did you realize that storytelling was something you were good at?
I thought that writing may have been an actual talent when I was about twelve years old. I penned my first short story and hoped someone would like it as much as I did. No such luck, no one else read it. Years later, my best friend, who knew of my love of writing, challenged me to write. On her dare I wrote my first novel, The Knife In My Back, and the response left me speechless. It was then that I knew I’d been blessed with a gift.

To realize your love for something is one thing. To pursue it is another. Was it an easy decision to go for it?
Not at all! When I started writing seriously, I had a full time job, a young son, and a husband. I was only able to write late night. It was exhausting. As the years rolled by, my son grew up, but I became the care taker for my mom, I’m still married, and still working part time. It’s a challenge to take on something as daunting as writing a book, especially with so little me time, but every accomplishment is worth the sacrifice.

For those that are just discovering you, Stacey, tell them about the book that began the journey for you?
The journey began with The Knife In My Back. It is a story of two young women that are thrown together by circumstance. Brook is a smart, but naive woman from an affluent family. Tamika, on the other hand, is a street wise woman from the wrong side of the tracks. Brook opens her home and heart to Tamika, only to have Tamika betray her at every turn. But when Tamika takes the one thing that means the most to Brook (hint, it’s not a man), Brook seeks revenge in a most unexpected way.   

When it came to following up your debut did you have any added pressure as to how it would be received?
I absolutely did. Remember, I was the girl that was shocked by how well received the first book was. I was petrified that the next book wouldn’t be received in the same manner. That fear caused me to put an enormous amount of pressure on myself. Thank God I’ve learned to write from the heart and let the chips fall where they may. I truly believe that readers can feel your heart in a story.

One thing that has definitely evolved over both of our careers is social media. What role has that played in your connecting with readers?
Social media has indeed been a blessing. As you know, it has allowed us to greatly expand our reach. Social media has allowed me to meet more book clubs, book bloggers, and avid readers than I ever would’ve been able to reach otherwise. 

Have you found the online experiences to be just as fulfilling as in-person events and book-signings?
While I love the online interaction, book chats, etc., there’s nothing quite like meeting avid reader face-to-face. Their enthusiasm, kindness, and appreciation for your hard work is like food for the creative soul.

Love and betrayal are two things that you write a lot about, but there is also the discovering of one’s own power. What has that been like for you to explore in your books?
During a dark time in my young life, I lived in and through a domestic violence situation. Through my writing, I’ve taken back the power that someone once tried to steal from me and now I also write about domestic violence. It’s my chance to show that the possibility for survival and happiness beyond the violence is possible. More importantly, my  book, Hate The Way He Loves Me, has touched others, given them hope, and the desire to seek the life they know they deserve. To say there is power in the pen, is a huge understatement.

A goal of every author is to have something they have written brought to life either on television or film. If you had a choice what book of yours would you like to see on the big screen?
While I think all of my book babies are deserving of the silver screen, I’d have to choose Hate The Way He Loves Me. It is the most impactful and sadly, a very relatable book for many, many people. Whether they are fighting to survive domestic violence or someone they love is, the story is ultimately one of triumph, one deserving of being seen by the masses. 

I know that outside of readers you get other authors who want to know advice for their own careers. What do you normally tell them about the importance of believing in themselves?
I always ask, If you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else? Every writer needs to know that their story is worthy of being read, their voice is worthy of being heard. The journey won’t be easy, but it will be so worth it. 

Thanks so much for the time, Stacey. How can our readers stay connected with you?
Cyrus, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this momentous occasion. Congratulations on all of your successes. I invite readers to follow me on IG @scovingtonlee, Twitter @covingtonlee, FB @ Author Stacey Covington-Lee, visit my website at www.staceycovingtonlee.com, and send inquires for events to inquires@staceycovingtonlee.com. 

16 Conversations We Want to Have



After interviewing over 8,820 guests on Conversations LIVE over the past 16 years host Cyrus Webb has been able to check quite a few names off his wish list of those he wants to chat with. As he celebrates 16 years of the award-winning broadcast, Webb shares 16 guests that are on his list to have on Conversations LIVE.


  1. Oprah Winfrey
  2. Sean "Diddy" Combs
  3. Stephen King
  4. Martha Stewart
  5. Denzel Washington
  6. Viola Davis
  7. James Patterson
  8. Celine Dion
  9. Simon Cowell
  10. Jeff Perry
  11. Jada Pinkett Smith
  12. Tom Hanks
  13. Taraji P. Henson
  14. Morgan Freeman
  15. DJ Khalid
  16. Serena Williams
Who would YOU like to see as a guest on the Conversations platform? Let us know in the comment section below online.

[To You, From Me] Doing It Afraid

Change can be scary. Starting something new can be a challenge. I know this all too well. When I started hosting Conversations LIVE radio show in July 2003 I had no idea where it would go or quite honestly if it would last. Up until that point I had started making a name for myself as a poet, artist and speaker, but would my relative success follow me to the airwaves? I really didn't know. The only thing I could say for sure is that I knew it was something I had to try. If I didn't then I would always have the regret. 

Now at the time of my writing this letter to you I have interviewed over 8,820 guests on the radio show, hundreds for my web-series (and now TV show) Cyrus Webb Presents and featured hundreds in the pages of Conversations Magazine since 2006. All because I took a risk and was willing to do it even though I was afraid and unsure of the outcome.

I get it. You might think it's easy for me to tell you to go for that dream, tackle that obstacle and keep going even though you get knocked down. The truth of the mater is that I CAN tell you to, because I have done it. I have experienced the highs, the lows but never EVER did I think about quitting. I knew I had been given something that was supposed to be shared, and I was and still remain committed to it.

This issue of Conversations Magazine no just profiles some of the biggest interviews of my 16 years hosting Conversations LIVE and the 13 years publishing Conversations Magazine. It represents you, the individuals who have been with me along the way and seen how year by year we have grown, evolved and stayed committed to bringing you the very best.

Enjoy this issue. Take to heart the encouragement. And no matter what comes your way stay committed to your own goals and dreams, even if at times they are scary. 

Happy reading!




Cyrus Webb

Actress/Producer Marsai Martin: Making A 'LITTLE' Difference In the World One Project At a Time

by Cyrus Webb

At the age of 14 Marsai Martin has achieved so many things that others just talk about---and she is showing no signs of slowing down. She's an award-winning actress and a history-making producer, but when we talked on Conversations LIVE the radio show it was clear she was at her core someone who loved what she does and is glad to share it with the world. And at the time she was only TEN.

Here's a part of that inspiring chat. 

MARSAI DISCUSSING BLACK-ISH:
It's a great project. This is my very first TV show, so it's very cool to be on it. It's awesome working with them my TV family. They're actually like my second family.

MARSAI ON THE JOURNEY TO ACTING:
I used to love copying some of my favorites actresses like Jennifer Hudson and Angelina Jolie. I just looked at them and said I wanna like them. I did commercials and stuff for a very long time. Now I look and say wow, I actually came this far to be doing this right now.

MARSAI ON WINNING NAACP IMAGE AWARD:
It felt great. It was really awesome when they said Black-ish. I was really nervous, because it was a big experience for me. The hard work payed off.

MARSAI ON HER PARENTS' SUPPORT:
My parents are wonderful. They work on my Twitter, Facebook and all that stuff. They really help me with my social media, and they're the reason how I got here. I just love them. 

MARSAI ON HER FANS:
I love my fans. They're awesome. It's great traveling all over the world to see all these wonderful people there supporting me.

MARSAI'S ADVICE FOR YOU:
If you have a dream you can conquer that dream. Believe in yourself. Keep doing what you're doing. Never give up on yourself.

BILLY RAY CYRUS: The Platinum-selling Dreamer that Became the Doer

by Cyrus Webb

Six year ago in 2013 I had the opportunity to interview someone I have admired and respected for some time: Platinum-selling recording artist and bestselling author Billy Ray Cyrus. Fast forward to 2019 and he continues to make headlines, this year because of the success of the single OLD TOWN ROAD with Lil' Nas X. When we talked back then, however, he was in the news for his powerful memoir called HILLBILLY HEART. Enjoy our chat about his life, music and lessons learned that he now freely shares. 

Billy Ray, thank you again for the time. When you went into writing your book HILLBILLY HEART did you know that you are going to be so open, not only about your own journey in life, but also the lessons that you've learned along the way? 
Well, you probably read in the opening pages There's a quote that says the truth will be your shield and your buckler. And I was just wanting to bring the truth and to say here's the story of my life. This is the way it happened. Each day I'm striving for purpose and asking what is my life about. Perhaps there's morals and meanings to some of the journey that I've taken and lessons to be learned. I thought if I could write it down and read it myself, maybe somewhere along the line it might find purpose in helping others, too.

I have to tell you as someone who remembers the success of your big hit ACHY, BREAKY HEART I did not know a lot of your backstory. I did not know that sports was your first thing that a lot of people got to know you for in the beginning. It was really interesting to see how this was really something that your family was able to rally around. What was it like for you to have something that you did to be not only seen as being as special, but also being able to share that with your father and grandfather.
I had different backgrounds and influences in my life to lean on. Both of them were a big part of my life as a kid. I think that helped to bring versatility into my life. There never was a middle ground for me. It was either to the left or to the right, cold or red hot. There was never anything that was right down the middle.

That being said, I think that became part of the foundation and the character of not only who and what I was as a young kid, but through my teenage years and adolescence and then it became the foundation of a lot of the stories that I write in the songs and the things that I talk about in the book. And as you turn the pages and read the chapters, you see that I'm always referencing and going back to the beginning and who I am, where I came from. All of that makes up my journey.It was just like baseball. Knowing that you just got to keep stepping up to the plate and you just got to keep swinging, regardless of what happens at the next at bat. You just keep getting back up and keep swinging.

You even talk about in the book the way that your dad had told you life isn't fair, but it really is about what you make it. And that brings us to what for me was a transformative chapter in the book, chapter either BUY A GUITAR AND START A BAND. We talk about on Conversations all the time about how our passion, where we truly are meant to do it, never really leaves us. It'll just seem as though it's right in front of us. For you, it came in those words to buy a guitar and start a band. Talk to us about that and how that changed your life. 
Well, it was definitely a crossroads for me. I thought for sure I was going to be the next Johnny Bench, the Catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. But you know, I'd always prayed that God would give me the wisdom and the vision to do the things I was supposed to do and be the person I was supposed to be. And I heard from within somewhere 'Buy a guitar and start a band. That's your purpose.'  It became not just a one-time thing. It was over and over and over every day, nonstop.

Another moment that meant a lot to you, Billy Ray, was a Neil Diamond concert that you attended growing up. I actually just want to read that passage. What you wrote in that chapter of the book was about that experience. Neil Diamond was talking to the audience there and this is what he said. 'If you just believe in the power of love, you can reach your dreams and be all that you can be if you just believe and have faith.' And then you wrote this: 'All that I was swept away into some new place I had never felt before. Not even in church. This was a church like no other, a church of music.' And then you go back to the voice and the voice told you, 'You can do it. You're going to do it. You're going to be a positive force in people's lives. God is going to use you to share his light and love.' 

And now here you are: a Platinum selling recording artist, someone that is known around the world. The amazing thing for me when I finished the book was it really seemed as though you are still that person. You're still the person who you started out being no matter where your career has taken you. What do you think has kept you grounded? 
My dad always said it's important to be aware of your current surroundings and where you are presently while looking forward to the future and where you want to go. He also told me most importantly never forget where you come from. I think that's one of the most important things in life is to never forget where you come from.

I dedicated my book to the dreamers, even though at times it might seem to be a curse to be a dreamer. But I was a dreamer. I thought if I could write a book that somehow would touch some other human beings somewhere that's in a journey that maybe they just can't quite figure it out, maybe they can learn about my mistakes. As I say in the book over and over, I made a lot more mistakes. There were also things that I did right. Every time you fail, you eliminate one way that won't work. That put you one way closer to the one way that will work. If somebody could look at my life and learn by some of the things I did right and most of all learn about some of the things I did wrong and not make those mistakes, then that's one step closer to me fulfilling my purpose.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Actor Michael Welch: Enjoying Work and Life Each and Every Day

by Cyrus Webb

It has been my pleasure to not just call actor Michael Welch a regular guest on Conversations LIVE but a friend as well. He has always been open with me on the air and off, so of course as I was preparing the anniversary issue of the magazine he had to be included.

2019 has been great year for both of us. In this interview we talked about the journey and how he got here---and appreciating all that has come along the way. 

Michael, thanks for the time. What has it been like for you to see the way that this year started off for you?
It's been really amazing, man. I've been plugging away at this for over 21 years. It's funny, at the end of last year I kind of got a feeling that this was gonna be a good year for me. I just had a sense that things were going to start picking up.

I got a good life. I'm settling in with my baby and my new life. I feel good creatively, and I've built up all these relationships. The key to all of this is persistence, more than anything else. It's been really incredible. I'm very grateful. 

What I love about your life and your journey and even what you just shared is because it is really the epitome of what I tell people all the time. It's really about putting in the work, keeping your head down, doing your best, and then things just show up for you because you kind of set that record. Do you think that is the key to why you had that feeling in 2018? 
Yeah! I think that has a lot to do with it. I remember Russell Crowe gave an interview many years ago where he basically said, listen, I don't think I'm any good at this. Which is what forces me to work so hard at it. And the interviewer was saying to him is that actually true. Russell goes well I know if I didn't put in that work, it wouldn't result in whatever it is you guys are seeing. The stories you always hear are the overnight success stories.

The reason you hear those stories is because they're the exception, not the rule. That's quite literally one in a million. So for the rest of us we got to work. There's just no other way around it.

You've been able to work with some amazing producers and directors. What does that experience mean to you, especially looking at this year and what you've been doing?
Yeah, it's it's been great. I've been lucky enough to be able to cultivate some really great relationships over the years. You know, it's funny. As a younger person, you just don't have the perspective to understand how important stuff like this is. I never really took stock in or inventory in that before. Know I know the importance of building those relationships, knowing who the casting directors are and staying in touch with producers. In retrospect I wish I had done more of that.

What would your advice be for those who are looking to you as an example?
People always ask me what's advice for young actors. I say to them leave a good feeling for people to have about you when you leave for the day. It's really all about relationships. I would say most of my jobs in the last couple years had to do with people that either had known or worked with or had seen my work or it's a connection of a connection. Always make the most of that time you have. It goes a long way.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Model/Actor Thai Edwards: Reaping the Reward From Doing the Work

by Cyrus Webb

There are few people I know who work as hard as Thai Edwards. He's a model, fitness expert and actor that has been able to make a name for himself doing work that he loves---and the world is taking notice. We first connected about 6 years ago. Both of us have grown in that time, and now that were celebrating our 16th anniversary of the radio show I wanted to sit down with him for another chat to talk about his career, the year that is 2019 and what it's been like to see all the hard work pay off.

You and I had a chance to sit down when we were in Los Angeles recently for an episode of Cyrus Webb Presents. It goes without saying you've had a very busy 2019. What has it been like for you to reflect on this year and all the great things that have happened for you?
You know what? It's funny you say that, because I've been in LA 12 years. I've just been working. Working with my head down. I really can't stop to appreciate all the things that have been happening. It was just recently when I took a step back and was like, 'Wait a minute. You really are doing this thing, and you're doing it in a really big way.' So, it's been a journey, man. It's been a journey. I'm blessed.

You definitely have been blessed, and you are an example for a lot of different reasons. One, I think the resilience that you've been able to have. The consistency is definitely important. But I think what I found out, and you and I had talked about already before, is that you have not always had an easy. You've gone through your challenges. You've gone through your dark spots. I guess an obvious question would be for people out there that are just now getting to know more about your story is what do you think kept you from giving up? 
It's the fear of failure that has been something that always frightened me. When you've been told that you weren't going to be anything or you know, everybody always counting you out, the thing that resonated with me the most is proving them wrong. Even in my darkest hour I've overcome so much in my life. How could I give up now? So I just keep pushing and that's pretty much what it is, man. I'm not comfortable with just being okay. I wanted to be better than okay, I deserve a good life. In spite of all that I've gone through and conquered. Now that I've met the finish line I might as well cross it. That's my mindset.

And I think along the way you've been able to build this amazing tribe around yourself. Of course people online have gotten to know you, and a big part of what you've been able to do is to inspire and motivate. How important is that for you to be able to be yourself, to have fun, but also to let people know what they can do with their lives, too?
Man, at the end of the day it's about touching people and impacting people. I mean, although I love what I do: making movies, being on television. Above all I love being able to influence someone or make somebody else's day. Everybody is going through something, and you just never know what someone may need from you. The thing that I appreciate most and what I've been concentrating most on as far as my brand is getting a foothold in this industry. At the end of the day you have to be yourself, and no one is one way all the time.

Part of the double edge sword that you'd been a part of is social media, Thai. That's how you and I have stayed connected. That's how this conversation actually happened. You talk about the importance of keeping it real. What do you think has kept you grounded along the way?
I just don't know how to be anything other than authentic. I'm from Chicago, the south side of town. That's just the hood. I just can't find myself being anything other than me. If people don't like you for who you are, those are the people that aren't supposed to be in your life. I think also the older I get, the more I don't care about fitting in. I mean I've always stood out, but even more so the older you get you really just start developing and knowing who you are as an individual. And you don't need a lot of approval.

I thank God that I had a hard life, because I'm able to connect with so many people who find it hard, those trying to get through whatever they're going through. I don't look like none of the things that I told you about me. I'm okay, and if I can do it, you can do it too. So that's pretty much how I go about doing things, man. That's my goal. If I can touch somebody, if I can make someone smile, if I can make someone feel a certain way, I've done my job. That's a wonderful feeling to me.

Another big highlight for you this year was sharing the screen with Shamar Moore on the show S.W.A.T.  He did a great video on March 7th on your Instagram. You've done a lot of projects before S.W.A.T., but what was that experience like for you?
It's beyond words. There are still some people who see what I'm doing and don't understand. When I was there with Shamar it became real to them. For me to be there with him it was proof of what I am doing. He gave me a bunch of support. We had a really good time. I would love to do it again if they bring my character back. If they do it's going to be trouble. (smile)

When people do recognize you, when people do see you and recognize what you bring to the table, is that a form of validation of the path that you've on?
Absolutely. I don't ever do this for the notoriety or to get credit. I do it because I love acting. I love the job. I love being outside of my normal self, but when I get recognized for it, yeah,it feels good.

An obvious question would be with the buzz that you're getting this year, with all the great things happening with you, what does success look like for you now?
Man, you know what? I am so open. I am so open to whatever God has for me. I hope to do more acting and modeling. I really do want to start switching my gears on doing a whole lot more public speaking. I will be working on my book, on my life story. It's just so many things that I want to do. Everything I'm doing is all for people. It's for the community. I just want to be able to completely use my platform to go into whatever endeavor possible.

Stay connected with Thai on Instagram at www.instagram.com/officialthaiedwards.