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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Actor Chris Greene: Seeing the Results of 'Acting' on Faith

by Cyrus Webb

2015 has been good for actor Chris Greene. He has been able to find his voice in front of the camera and bring the best of himself to a variety of characters in television shows like Sleepy Hollow, Satisfaction, Complications and most recently in what's being called the most powerful episode of Being Mary Jane yet.

"I've been very fortunate," Greene says when reflecting on his work. "It is a struggle just like any other career, but at the end of the day it's been a great outlet for me. Something about acting---getting to imitate everyday life---is the most gratifying thing. Being able to bring what I have been able to observe has been fantastic. It's the greatest job in the world."

When did he first realize acting was something he wanted to do? Greene says the seed was planted early. "My father collected movies. The movie that got me excited about acting was Independence Day (with Will Smith). To see how his presence was on the screen made me say I want to affect people like that. From that point it was like let me look into acting and see what it was all about." Green said it all came together for him at the age of 19 when he was an extra on set. "Once I got on an actual set I was like this is what I want to do with the rest of my life." And that seed has been flourishing ever since.

When it comes to seeing the response to his work from fans, Greene says it's "a little odd, but not in a bad way.. It takes a little getting used to but, it's also very flattering to know that people are influenced by what you are doing. Your goal as an actor is to set out and tell a certain story and portray a certain being, When the people get it, it's gratifying." This has served the actor/director well when it comes to being a part of a variety of projects. "Part of this business is that you get cast off of how you look," he says. "I think as an actor my goal is to accept your type and go in and show people I'm not just this guy.I'm an actor. I feel like I can play everything to the best of my ability. It's good to be well-rounded because life is well-rounded."

Considering some of the productions he has been a part of and the success of shows like Complications some might expect Greene to be more "Hollywood" than he is. He credits his ability to take it all in stride to his family and friends. "My focus has been to keep that small circle around me that was there in the beginning," he explains. "It keeps you from wanting to mimic anyone else." His being a father, it seems, is the greatest role he has snagged over the years---and it has affected him the most. "My daughter has saved my life in every sense," he says. "I was told when you have a child it is going to change you. She is everything. She has become my motivation. She's allowed me to look at stuff differently."

That might also explain why his idea of what success is has evolved over the years. "Starting out it was more about being famous. Now for me it is about inspiring other people and having them enjoy my art and my passion. That, in turn, helps me enjoy the job even more." Greene says it means a lot to him to know that he affected someone in a positive way and can leave behind something for future generations (including his daughter) to be inspired by.

It is clear that Chris Greene has gotten to where he is because he hasn't been afraid to take chances. It is something else that like his love of movies he got from his father. He says that his dad told him you don't want to be on your deathbed and talk about the things you wanted to do instead of the things you had done. This has helped him to keep a balanced view of fear in mind. "My outlook on fear is totally different," he says. "I've found that for me fear is more of a motivator. When I get scared it makes me want to do it more just to not feel that way. I know that if I don't take the step to get past the fear I'm going to always go to the edge and not look over. Eventually you have to at least look over. For me fear can be motivating or crippling, and I don't want to be crippled by the possibility of what if."

Talking about being apart of the hit show on BET Being Mary Jane he says this: "The cast and crew were very welcoming and engaging to me as the new kid, especially on an episode as powerful as this where everyone had to be so focused coming into it. You could feel the energy when we ready to shoot, and our Director made sure to keep that energy flowing".

Greene says he tries to encourage others to surround themselves with individuals that will push you and encourage you to use your own passion. If you can do that, he says, fear will be more of an obstacle you go over instead of a roadblock.

Keep up with what's to come for Chris Greene online on Twitter at, Facebook or Instagram:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Actress and Recording Artist Antonique Smith: Pushing Herself Into Her Dreams

Recording artist/actress Antonique Smith is on a high like you wouldn't believe---and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

Her first single HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE was nominated for a Grammy this year, and people around the world are talking about her emergence on the musical scene. Before HOLD UP many knew Antonique as a star on Broadway and as an actress who played Faith Evans on the hit movie NOTORIOUS, but music has always been a part of who she is.

I asked Antonique what the ride of the single and her journey has been like. "I’m so grateful," she told me. "I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was a little girl. I'm so grateful that everybody is supporting and embracing it.”

Though she has always believed in herself, Antonique told me that the competitive nature of the industry wore her down a bit. "Through the years after seeing how difficult the industry is I lost some of the belief I had in myself because of the rejection and the Nos." She then added: "The majority of what you get are the Nos. The tiny Yeses you get are what people normally see." She says it's been a long road but her family, friends and fans have all made it worthwhile.

With the challenges of the industry I was curious as to where the tenacity she has comes from. “I believe that my gift was an answer to a prayer of 7 year old Antonique," she told me. "I think that God gave me something to share with the world. That is what keeps me going. This is the only thing I have wanted to do.”

Talking about the live performance, she says "That's my favorite thing. I love looking into people's eyes and feeling what they are feeling. To have that connection with people is priceless."

And this is only the beginning for her. “I’m going to keep going until I can’t go any more," she says. "I continue to push."

You can get the single HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE and the new single HIGHER on Amazon and other online retailers. Stay connected with Antonique Smith on Twitter at and on Facebook at

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#HAHN's Philip Boyd talks career, dedication, Tyler Perry & more

by Cyrus Webb

Ever since he was 5 years old Philip Boyd knew he wanted to entertain. Now as an actor,writer and director he is able to do just that, and the world is able to come along for the ride.

For 20 years he has been working hard, honing his craft and seeing it all come together over time in the television shows and movies he's been able to be a part of. Recently, though, millions around the world were introduced to his character Oscar on the hit show written, directed and produced by Tyler Perry called THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS.

Though he stays constantly on the go, Boyd says about his career: "I look back on it and say I have been able to live my dream and do things I wanted to do in my life." What a great thing to reflect on! When it comes to acting he says "Being able to create anything in life is what it's all about. Being an actor and being able to be different characters is very fulfilling for me."

At a young age he knew he wanted to "be a lot of different things" in his life. He says that influenced him to "create different personalities and characters", and set the stage for where he is today.

The career as a working actor is not something that Boyd takes lightly. "It creates a level of responsibility that you have to own," he says. "When you're creating characters you want to give the fans what they want." That sense of responsibility is also part of the gratitude that he has. "Anytime I get a phone call that I've booked a job it makes you want to work harder and be better than you were before. I'm still climbing up the ladder. It's about constantly working, constantly creating and trying to be better and make it to the next level."

Being a part of the successful series The Haves and the Have Nots is definitely part of that next level. "Tyler Perry is a very special person," Boyd says. "He is a great storyteller. He has an energy about him that is infectious. The people that are surrounded by him make it their own personal journey to be better. I feel honored and blessed to be a part of this show and to be around the amount of talent that is on it."

For fans of the show part of the fun has been trying to figure out who the character Oscar is and what he really has in mind when it comes to Candace (played by Tika Sumpter). Though he couldn't reveal much, Boyd says "I kinda had an idea of where the character was going throughout the show. I wanted to be mysterious from the very beginning... As the show goes on I think you'll find that Oscar is really a good guy."

Outside of The Haves and the Have Nots, Boyd says he just wants to be able to use his life and path as an example for others. "If I can inspire one person in the world to chase their dream, then I feel as though my job is done.." He also adds that when it comes to the future "One of the greatest things about being an actor is that you really don't know what's next. It might change from day to day. It's really exciting,"

At the end of the day he says he just wants to be the best Philip Boyd that he can be, wherever that might take him, and fans of his work are invited to stay along for the ride.

Tweet along with Philip at @PhilipKBoyd. For more information about his upcoming projects visit his website

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Actor Tyler Lepley: Working Hard at Success Everyday

by Cyrus Webb

He may have only been in the industry for a few years, but already actor Tyler Lepley is making his mark on television and the hearts of fans everywhere. As Benny Young on the hit drama The Haves and the Have Nots, we have seen him realize a dream of being a business owner and the nightmare of being accused of a crime you didn't commit. Through it all Tyler allows us to not just see a character but a part of himself as well.

I asked him about the experience and the response to the show. "The first thing that comes to mind is when I stepped on set," Tyler told me. "I've only been acting for about a year and a half, and it was like nothing I have ever seen before. Everyone checked their egos at the door when we were running lines and as we filmed the show that bond was solidified. The whole thing has been a blessing. It's one thing to be able to put something together and another to get the love from the fans." Those with The Haves and the Have Nots are getting both.

Tyler told me that the character Benny has been easy to relate to, but so have other characters as well. "I've seen people who don't have a lot find peace and happiness, and I've seen people who have money who are very unhappy." He says these are issues that are going on in life everyday.

This experience has an actor began in an unlikely way. "I had failed NFL dreams," Tyler says. He was naturally gifted at football but that wasn't enough. It came so easy to him that he admits he failed to work at it. "Sometimes your gift is your curse." After football Tyler went into personal training which led him to  modeling and acting. What was different this time? "I thought about the football dream and why I didn't succeed," he told me "The truth was I didn't work at it. I wasn't going to make that mistake again." As he began booking the first things in his new career he made sure to work very hard, even though it was something he was gifted at. "Everything happens for a reason," he says. "It's up to us to figure out that reason."

One of the things viewers of The Haves and the Have Nots have gotten to enjoy is Tyler's character Benny's interaction with his sister Candace (played by Tika Sumpter). "It's crazy to watch her be that snake and then come home and see that she does love someone," he told me. "Sometime the things about someone who is rebellious is it's a way to protect themselves. "A lot of it is a wall," he says. "It's a shield." At the end of the day, though, with Candace and Benny it's all going to go back to love. "When you see characters act like that you're able to dive into that creation. It's a big privilege."

When I began watching the show their were two things that struck me about the character Benny: the power of the dream and the issue of faith. "Benny wanted to be able to have that towing service," Tyler explained. He could relate to the feeling behind that. "It's such a realistic dream. Growing up I wanted to be someone who could provide for his family. I have to there for my family. It's one thing to chase a dream and another to realize what a dream takes." The journey is not always easy. "When you are going towards a dream sometimes you have to go through the dark to get to the light." Tyler says it is fun to play that dream and to remember that sometimes hard times have to come in order to realize your dream.

The next thing we discussed was Benny and faith. It's obvious from the very first episode of Season One that he doesn't share the excitement his mother Hannah (played by Crystal Fox)  has when it comes to God. Tyler explains it this way: "I'm a God-fearing person, but it took for me to get a little older in order to realize what that means. A lot of times when things aren't going well for you it's easy to look up at the sky and curse and ask God why me. When you're going through those trails and tribulations you get to understand what is on the over side of that darkness. For Benny the chips seem to be stacked against him. He's trying to find that path. It's hard for him to find that faith with everything going on. I can say that Benny now is Tyler Lepley four or five years ago."

With the first season coming to a close and the audience continuing to grow I was curious as to how Tyler was able to stay true to himself in the face of success:  "First of all it's all about staying grounded," he answered. "That means keeping my relationship with the Lord and the friends around me. You should always keep in mind that what got you to this point is what you should stick to. I'm not just soaking up the limelight. I'm still growing and auditioning. I have to remember who Tyler Lepley was before all of this. I know that just as quickly as it was given to me it can be taken away."

Stay in touch with Tyler Lepley on Twitter at Tweet using the hashtag #HAHN.

Actress Renee Lawless: Enjoying the Success That Comes From Loving What You Do

by Cyrus Webb

She may have become known to many through her work on stage, but since 2013 actress Renee Lawless has solidified herself as one of the unforgettable stars of the runaway hit The Haves and the Have Nots.

In the first 10 minutes of the first episode we saw her character Katheryn Cryer as the strong matriarch of her family, however, the show has also revealed another side of the woman whose cutting retorts and strength masks a world of hurt and pain. Now three seasons in millions have made the show must-see television and Renee couldn't be happier.

I asked about her thoughts of the first episode. Her answer? "This is going to be a hit, and I'm a part of it." Renee went on to tell me that they expected high numbers on the first one and as we have continued to grow that's what has really been more overwhelming. The drama is groundbreaking as the Oprah Winfrey Network's first scripted drama and the first of three projects created by Tyler Perry that appear on the channel. The importance of the moment is not lost. "Not too many people get to be at the start of something great," Renee said to me.

Renee Lawless' place in the spotlight is something that has been in the works for quite some time. "Even as a young child I was singing the loudest in church plays," she told me. "I always dreamed of being a movie star." When she began in theater, it just felt right to her. "This is my home," she said of the experience. "This is where I want to be." She knew in high school that no matter where she went that performing would be a part of her life. "I've been on stage many years, but my ultimate goal was always TV and eventually film." The Haves and the Have Nots has made that dream come true. She said that to not only have achieved her ultimate goal of being a series regular and a star of a series is an experience she is loving.

It was really intriguing to talk with Renee about how she has brought Katheryn to life. "I knew all these layers before you all did," she told me. "With any new television drama everyone is brought in in the middle. It's up to the characters to bring you in. The one thing that I love about Katheryn is that she's a very multi-layered person, it's like peeling back layers of an onion. She's like a hollow oak tree: outside she's a strong pillar of strength but on the inside she's rotting and hollow. What her husband and children and life have given her has made her a very lonely person. It's basically what it means to have and to have not."

Renee then gave an example that I think resonates with everyone. "Even though she's worth 50 million dollars she's a woman who's over a certain age, who doesn't like getting old, who is dealing with cancer and problems with her kids. Not many can relate to being worth 50 million dollars, but 50 million people can relate to what she's going through. She in many ways is one of the most relatable characters because she has all of these layers. She's just like me."

Though things are going well for Renee and she is doing what she loves, it hasn't happened without a real commitment to her craft. "I worked very hard and long and got many more rejections than I've had successes," she told me. "I do this because I love it, not for the award or the paycheck that it affords me." Speaking of the world that actors live in she adds: "Our career is very unsure. If you're just doing it for the fame and glory you're not going to go very far or last." Her next words are great reminders for all of us with a dream. "You have to love what you do in order to truly be successful at it."

May those words resonate with us as we identify our passion in life and vow to pursue it.

Renee's website is and you can follow her online at

Monday, May 25, 2015

Author Glenda L. Hunter: The Journey From Victim to Survivor

by Cyrus Webb

She's an author, poet and speaker---but most importantly a survivor. .

Glenda L. Hunter, a resident of Clinton, Mississippi, is one of those individuals who has been able to use her life to not only help other people but show what it means to celebrate the gift that life is. This, however, has not been an easy road for her. At a young age she had her innocence taken away from the very man who should have been there to protect her: her father. As a result of the abuse she suffered, Glenda developed alters or multiple personalities that would become a part of her life not just through childhood but adulthood as well. With courage and conviction she has shared her story in two books: AN UNSPEAKABLE SECRET and MOMMY TWINKLE EYES. Her goal? To let others know what is possible for them, regardless of their circumstances.

We met each other initially in 2011 through a mutual friend, and it has been my pleasure to see the amazing results of Glenda sharing her story with the world. I was privileged enough to be her first radio interview and to host her first book-signing. When I was thinking about  those who I had met that celebrated the gift of life and would be great examples for all of us I knew that she would have to be apart of this issue.

In describing how the abuse began, Glenda says this in her book AN UNSPEAKABLE SECRET: "Fear was always gripping my body because I was never sure what was going to happen. When he became mad, he was like a monster out of control... Dad was quick to tell me how bad I was. No longer was I his special girl.. Somehow I had become an awful person who couldn't do anything right. I wasn't sure what had changed to make me this kind of a person."

That can be painful to read, let alone believe of yourself. Glenda explained how she has been able to now break her silence and share her story. "I felt like other people probably struggled with the same thing that I had struggled with," she told me. "I had looked for books to help me get better and that's why I wrote mine so I could get my story out there and help others."

A large part of the healing she has experienced today has come from seeking help. Glenda told me that she didn't begin to really understand that she wasn't alone in what she had experienced and felt until therapy. "It was then that I realized a number of people have suffered from that (meaning abuse)." Coupled with dealing with the abuse, however, was the Multiple Personality Disorder. Not finding anyone who was talking about it the way she had experienced gave Glenda courage to move forward with sharing her own experiences. "I found the courage because I wanted someone to write a book from their point of view to say this is what it's like to be multiple. I'm putting it out there for people to say here's the story, and I hope it will be beneficial to you."

That is exactly what it is doing. "It has helped people to open up to me," Glenda shares. "Some have never shared with anyone before. The fact is that (the abuse) affects them in their lives many years after." The communication about it is helping others to understand what the person has gone through and is going through.

Faith is such an important factor to Glenda Hunter's survival as well. When you are abused and mistreated it is easy to feel as though you don't matter. She experienced those very feelings about herself.

That is not the person she is today.

"Getting through the therapy and working through the issues has helped," she says. "When you are degraded in numerous ways you carry that with you until you can work through that to say 'I am worth something'." She has also come to a revelation about herself and all of us. "God has made us all very special," she says. "He has made us all unique. We all have a place and a purpose. I want other to know that they have worth outside of what has happened to them."

Glenda's third book WHO ME? WORTHWHILE? YES, YOU! shares how we can begin to look at ourselves and our circumstances differently. She admits it's not easy and might take time, but it is definitely possible and worth it. "You might ask 'How can God love me with all of this in my background?' The wonderful thing is that He does. He loves you as equally as He does anyone else."

In WHO ME she goes on to say this: "I have always felt like I was not good enough for anything. Therefore, everything I tried I did in fear. I was afraid that if people really found out who I was they certainly would not like me. Everything I worked for would be over. Being fearful can cause you to always be looking over your shoulder wondering what was going to happen next. You become afraid that something bad was waiting down the line for you, therefore, you chose to stand still. When fear controls you, you do not move far or at all. Let God help you get over the fears that cause you to shudder whenever you think of facing the world. The world can be scary enough place without carrying added, unnecessary fear. What will you do with your fear? I have chosen. Let God handle those kinds of fears in my life. It is not always easy but worth the effort."

In sharing a part of herself, Glenda Hunter is giving us all something to reflect on when we look at our lives. What does she want everyone who has suffered in silence with the abuse to know? "I want them to know they are worthwhile," she says. "Even though you have had to hold that secret in or been a victim you don't have to stay a victim. You can be a victor. I want them to look within themselves and say I do love who I am. I am important."

Glenda's three adult books AN UNSPEAKABLE SECRET, MOMMY TWINKLE EYES and WHO ME? WORTHWHILE? YES, YOU! as well as her children's book IT FINALLY HAPPENED and book of poetry OUT OF THE DEPTHS are all available on and Barnes and Noble online. .

You can stay in contact with Glenda on Facebook here. Her website is

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tani of Ink Bottoms: Turning A Dream Into a Stylish Reality

by Cyrus Webb
Tani had every reason to give up on her dream. She a mother of three, works full-time and had people tell her it would never work, but three years later she is still high-stepping in her vision and seeing the work put into INK BOTTOMS pay off.

"I couldn't have imagined it in a million years," she told me as we discussed the journey that began for her in 2012. Thanks to social media and word of mouth she is building a brand that is not just proving that hard work pays off but that allows women to look good in a stylish yet affordable way.

"I've been a shoe lover since I was a little girl," Tani explained. "I wanted an affordable shoe that would allow me to not just step out in style but wouldn't cost a fortune. When I couldn't find what I wanted, I decided to created it myself."

That was the birth of INK BOTTOMS: a shoe that looked good but was affordable for all. For Tani it's not just a pair of shoes. "Fashion to me is art," she says. "I'm in it because this is what I love to do." She says he best expresses her feelings and emotions through fashion.

Though things are going well now that doesn't mean there won't moments where fear tried to creep in and stop her. "At one point I said I can't do this," she confessed. "I said to myself 'Who am I?'" Regardless of the doubt and even the naysayers Tani says she found the strength and the courage to push forward. "I decided not to let anyone stop me."

And shoes for women is just the beginning. Already Tani is working on more of the brand including a line for men. "You can't let anyone stop you from pursuing your dream," she says. "If you surround yourself with negativity everything will crumble, including your business. You have to be strong, stand tall and believe in yourself."

Stay connected with everything Ink Bottoms at