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Interviews, Videos

(VIDEO) David Banner Talks Heal The Hood, Boys & Girls Club And Mississippi Rap

Lavell Crump, better known as David Banner, touched down in Jackson, Mississippi Friday morning for his annual Heal The Hood initiative. The 41-year-old rapper, actor and Grammy Award winning producer makes it a priority to visit his hometown to give back to the community that played an integral role in shaping him into the man that he is today.

I had an opportunity to work with Heal The Hood last year and it was truly an honor to be part of it again. This year marked the ninth year of the initiative and it was an overwhelming success.

Check out my interview with Banner below.


Interviews, Videos

R&B Artist Monica Brown Talks ‘Code Red’ On Huff Post Live + My Guest Appearance

Monica has been a player in the music game since the early 90s and she isn’t giving up her spot anytime soon.

The R&B songstress spoke with Huffington Post Live’s Alex Miranda yesterday about her upcoming album, Code Red, to be released on December 18. During the interview, she discussed her opinion of the music industry and how there is a lack of love and appreciation for the genre of rhythm and blues. She also dished on life as a mom and addressed the rumors surrounding a remake of “The Boy Is Mine,” an award-winning duet with Brandy.

The best part about the interview (and maybe I’m biased) is that I was able to make a guest appearance and ask a question of my own!


You can watch me below around the 16:58 mark. This certainly was a memorable career moment for me and a wonderful way to bring 2015 to a close.

Interviews, She's A Boss

She’s A Boss: Funmi “Queen” Franklin

Funmi Franklin, affectionately known as “Queen,” is a woman that while trying to find the words to describe her, I kept coming back to the word passionate. And I feel weird saying that.

Why? Because I’ve never met her personally yet somehow, I still feel the passion she has for her life’s calling through the few exchanges that we’ve shared. The 41-year-old “happily married” wife, mother and entrepreneur resides in Jackson, Mississippi where she is the beauty and brains behind HATHOR, LLC which is the umbrella company for her two brands – Thick And Proud Sisters (TAPS) and Sisters Increasing Positive Progression, Inc. (SIPPI).

Check out our chat about how she earned her nickname and how she runs multiple businesses and a household below.

JESSICA SIMIEN: Before we start, I have to know where you got the name Queen from. I often see people and hear people refer to you as that.

Funmi “Queen” Franklin: I’m so glad you asked that. I wrote a poem years ago called “I Am Queen.” A friend read it and he started addressing me as Queen. It felt good, so I adapted it. At the time I was meeting a lot of new people so the transition came with ease. Plus, it was easier than having to repeat the pronunciation of my birth name (which I love and cherish), Funmi.

JESSICA SIMIEN: Tell us about Hathor, LLC and TAPS.

FF: TAPS came to me in a dream, the entire idea, plan, everything. That’s how I know it’s ordained by the Creator. I’d been trying to gather women in a way that could restore the fellowship and sisterhood that I’d seen from my mother and her friends for years. I started a group called Sisters Increasing Positive Progression, Inc (SIPPI). At the time it was geared toward professional women. It was a safe place where women could come together and let their hair down to discuss things that didn’t relate to business or careers. We get too focused on that sometimes and we forget to live. But that became a challenge because most of the women were indeed professional and had time limitations. Meetings were difficult to accomplish.

I let it settle for a while but never stopped feeling the draw to bringing women together. So, I began to become uneasy with myself. I started to pray and ask the Creator to direct me. Specifically I asked Him to show me what He would have me to do as I knew this “thing” I was feeling was of Him. He shared with me in my dream that the most difficult challenge I’ve had in my life, aside from dealing with the death of my parents, was learning to love who I am. My size played a huge part in that because I was always teased for not being small. I was never a small kid. So, my family and friends made fun of me. Which lead to self hatred….which led to bad choices in life….which led to who I became. God said to me, in order to follow My charge on your life you must learn to love yourself because I want you to help other women do the same. I didn’t have to ask why or how. He gave me the everything all the way down to the name of the group – much like he had with SIPPI. I brought TAPS and SIPPI together under one umbrella and called it HATHOR, LLC named after the Egyptian goddess of all things feminine.

JESSICA SIMIEN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

FF: I think it’s in my blood. My father was the Principal of a private school, the Black and Proud School, during the 70s and 80s. He taught me to be own-minded. He taught me to be of the people and to be an advocate, even if just by example. From there, I dated people who were entrepreneurs. I suppose they were teaching me as well.

JESSICA SIMIEN: How do you balance working an everyday job, running your businesses and being a wife and mother?

FF: I’ve never really given any thought to it. TAPS doesn’t seem like work until the premiere event. It’s an honor to lead this organization. Being a wife
and mother is my soul’s joy so that doesn’t feel like anything that needs balance. Now, my everyday job does take some concentration but fortunately, I get to be around good people doing great things. So, in short, all of it feeds my soul and has a significant purpose so the effort to balance is demanding.

JESSICA SIMIEN: Your annual TAPS showcase is coming up soon. Can you tell readers about the showcase and how they can be involved?

unnamedFF: Each year we take in a different class of women. They have to attend self love and awareness workshops and participate in community events throughout the year. The showcase has become their new introduction to life. So they have the opportunity to strut down the runway and feel beautiful with all the attention on them – many for the first time in their life. It gives them the spark they need to deal with things they have stored away in their mental psyche for years – like hurt, pain, anguish, hatred, disappointment. They can forgive themselves and others and they can begin to live whole lives.

To be involved all the public has to do is come to the event. They can email us for ticket information. Our workshops are free so this event helps fund the workshops as well as the HATHOR Honors Awards that we do, so we welcome all donations and services.

JESSICA SIMIEN: What has been the greatest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

FF: Hard times are guaranteed. Most of the time, the hard times will break your spirit if you don’t have faith in something stronger, higher than you. It’s not that you won’t break down; but, that faith and that passion gives you the power to get back up.

JESSICA SIMIEN: What advice can you give young women who are looking to own their own businesses?

FF: Get a mentor, someone you trust that you can run your thoughts by that can offer guidance. Maybe they have done what you are trying to do or have some connections that will help you. And if this is a black business owner, join the Jackson Black Pages (it’s free) and be sure to attend the free monthly mixers so that you can network with other like-minded individuals who want to succeed and see others do the same.

JESSICA SIMIEN: Other than the model showcase, are you working on any other projects that you can tell us about?

FF: I serve on the Jackson Black Pages Steering Committee and we are preparing for the 2ndAnnual Jackson Black Business Expo on February 27, 2016.  So, once we get through November 5, all focus goes to the expo.  After that, my focus then shifts to the HATHOR Honors Awards.  It never stops and I thank The Creator for that.

The TAPS Model Showcase is Thursday, November 5 at the Russell C. Davis Planetarium in Jackson. For ticket information, email You can also follow Queen on Twitter and Instagram @sippiearthqueen and @taps601.

Interviews, Sex, Love & Relationships

Need A Bae? There’s An App For That

The weather is cooling, homecoming weekends are popping up all over the country and the most romantic holidays of the year are quickly approaching. If I’m not mistaken, cuffing season has officially commenced.

Are you going to sit on the bench all season or are you going to get some game time?


bae-app-jessica-simienOne of the challenges you could face is finding someone that you’re actually compatible with and genuinely attracted to… because you just can’t trust lonely on a (cold) Wednesday night feelings.

Cuddling up with whatever random you come across is not the move. But lucky for you, your bae could be just a download away.

Last week I had an opportunity to speak with Justin Gerrard, co-founder of BAE, a new dating app for black singles that launched in April from an all black team (which is extremely rare).

During our chat Justin and I talked about how the concept for the app came about, what users can expect and what I can do to find a bae outside of my hometown selection LOL.

Check out excerpts from our interview below or click here to listen to the full audio.

On what inspired Justin and the other founders to create the app:

About a year ago this time my co-founder and our CEO, my brother Brian, had an idea around an app. The reason was because we were sitting around a table with some entrepreneurial friends of ours, happened to all be African Americans and we were kinda talking about different ideas we had but you know as and when a bunch of guys get together, you ultimately start talking about dating and relationships. My brother relayed a story of one of his white friends who had recently joined Tinder and had about 50 matches within one week. Then he talked about another friend, who’s African American and had similar attractiveness to his white friend, but he only had about 3 matches in that same period of time.

There are two things that kinda stuck out. One, if someone’s getting 50 matches then they’re probably only talking to about 3 or 4 of those people, so for the remaining 45 or 46 it’s probably not a good experience for them. Additionally, why was the experience for his black friend so different from that of his white friend? So we started to dig into the data a little bit. OK Cupid did a study that showed that 82% of non-black men had a negative bias against black women in dating and black men and women typically have the lowest attractiveness ratings of all ethnic groups. Unfortunately African Americans have to send 10 times the number of messages just to receive a single response. While that was very shocking data, we realized there was a huge opportunity there.

Cities the app is currently available in:

We basically wanted to try to capture cities that are within a very densely populated area of the U.S. The interesting thing of our top ten markets, obviously it’s New York, D.C., Atlanta…but it’s also LA, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore…where there are a lot of people who look like us. Regardless of where you download the app you should be able to find some people in your general proximity right now based on the number of users we have now. At the same time, we wouldn’t be where we are without our community telling other people about the app. The best thing your readers can do is download the app, share their experience and tell their friends.

For people who are cautious about dating online:

You can use the profile settings to show what you want in your BAE profile. Just to make the experience really seamless for you, you need to use Facebook to log in. And that’s to prevent against cat fishing. Ninety-three percent of people who create Facebook profiles are typically showing their actual information. Whereas if it was just a regular email signup anyone can be on there and put whatever pictures they want on it. We’re working towards having other ways to sign up and log in but this is the best way we know of now to kind of prevent that cat fishing.

I actually have a bae in real life but for this interview, I downloaded the app to see what it was like and right off the bat, I love the terminology and phrases that it uses.

For example, if you’re not interested in a match that was found for you, you can swipe left for “nah.” HILARIOUS! It also asks if you’d like to turn your notifications on so that you won’t miss any messages from bae (as in your match). You can find matches up to 400 miles away from your location and you can also set your age and gender preferences. If you’re looking for an out of town bae, it’s not going to work unless you’re near that city. For example me being in Mississippi, I wouldn’t have a Houston match. I was surprised to see white guys in my matches…there was even one that was in his early 50s! So if you’re into interracial dating, there is a possibility that you can find that on BAE as well.

Download the app and give it a try! Share your experience with me in the comment section below and don’t forget to follow BAE on Instagram and Twitter @Bae_App.


(LIVE Interview) Men To Admire: Joseph Bonner

“Men To Admire” is a new series highlighting men from all over the country who are doing amazing things in business, in their lives and in their communities. First up on our list is Joseph Bonner of The Joseph Bonner Morning Show.

Tune in below at 10 AM Pacific/12 PM Central to watch our live interview. You can also RSVP and join in on the discussion by clicking here.