An annual staple to ESSENCE Festival weekend, the McDonald’s 365Black Awards are given annually to salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community. This year’s event was hosted by actor/television host Terrence ‘J’ Jenkins and actress Tika Sumpter and was held in conjunction with ESSENCE Festival™ presented by Coca-Cola®.
Notable community leaders, celebrities and entertainers were out in full force at this year’s McDonald’s 365Black Awards, held during ESSENCE Festival weekend at the New Orleans Theater in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
They were joined by a full house of spectators who converged to salute this year’s recipients of the distinguished award, including civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton; film producer Will Packer; music executive Kevin Liles; inspirational leader Iyanla Vanzant; former NFL athlete Dhani Jones; and McDonald’s owner/operator Henry Coaxum. Additionally, artist Skyler Grey and entrepreneur Gabrielle Jordan Williams were recognized alongside this lineup with the first-ever McDonald’s 365Black Community Choice Youth Award.
“We commend all of this year’s honorees for their diligent service and dedication to bettering our communities,” said Rob Jackson, McDonald’s U.S. marketing director. “We are proud to continue this tradition of recognition and are grateful for the contributions of all 365Black Awards honorees, both past and present.”
I caught up with Terrance Jenkins, Will Packer, Kevin Liles and more on the McDonald’s Golden Carpet. Check out our special correspondent and what the honorees had to say about ESSENCE Festival, The McDonald’s 365 Black Awards and more below…
R&B recording artist and New Orleans’ own Ledisi opened the show and got the crowd in the mood for the soulful sounds of Pastor Kim Burrell, Tank, Leela James, Jazmine Sullivan, Kierra Sheard and Mali Music. Singer/actress Michelle Williams, veteran radio personality Tom Joyner, news correspondent Soledad O’Brien, film director Warrington Hudlin, actress Naturi Naughton and news correspondent Nischelle Turner were among celebrities on hand to present the illustrious awards.
Watch the McDonald’s 365 Black Awards broadcast August 10 at 10 p.m. EDT/9 p.m on BET®. The awards ceremony will also air on CENTRIC on August 17 at 11 p.m. EDT/10 p.m. CDT. You can also follow @McDScene on Twitter for commentary on the awards and join the conversation using #365BlackAwards.
photos by Chris Mitchell / CME 3000 / DivasandDorks
Verizon Wireless Impacts And Empowers Essence Festival With Lance Gross And Regina Hall #VZWEssenceFestJuly 7th, 2014 by Christen Rochon
Did you miss out on one of the biggest 4th of July experiences this weekend? Each year, people from across the globe descend upon in New Orleans to see some of the biggest names in the music, empowerment and entertainment at one of the biggest and longest running festivals in the United States. ESSENCE Festival 2014 has barely come to a end but the impactful performances, influences and celebrity moments will be remembered forever!
Now in its 20th year, the event has grown to be more than a series of concerts and performances. It is an opportunity for the thousands who attend to connect with each other and their passions. The ESSENCE Festival also provides an opportunity for Verizon to connect with the community and power the passion of festival attendees. Hundreds of thousands came to New Orleans, Lousiana for the 20th Annual Essence Festival sponsored by Verizon Wireless and got the opportunity to meet and greet celebrities such as R&B songstress Jazmine Sullivan, R&B crooner Kem, Actress Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Lance Gross and many more!
In addition to a star-studded celebrity experience, Verizon Wireless also showcased the power of Verizon’s network with the community by showing how individuals can transform their lives through technology & more. Representatives from Verizon’s HR team were at the ESSENCE Festival hiring talented and driven individuals who share their values of leveraging technology to create a better world. Verizon empowered girls between the ages of 12 and 17 years old to help address teen dating violence. They hosted the loveisrespect hackathon competition in New Orleans, an event that teaches software design and promotes healthy relationships in partnership with Black Girls Code and Break the Cycle.
I got the chance to sit down with Verizon Wireless celebrity partners Lance Gross and Regina Hall to discuss their favorite Essence Festival moments, must have apps and more at the historic Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans. Discover what makes their partnership with Verizon Wireless special and more #VZWEssenceFest moments below.
Photos via Chris Mitchell / CME 3000
For more on how ESSENCE Festival celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary with Verizon Wireless, visit VerizonWireless.com.
Your next business trip or vacation will only be as great as your next hotel stay. A hotel room with alleyway scents and views, bad plumbing or noisy neighbors can potentially ruin an entire travel experience. One of the most asked questions I’ve received is “How to score upgraded hotel stays?” I’ve discovered what travel insiders have known for years, upgrading your next hotel stay is a lot simpler than most people think. From rooms with spectacular views to complementary meals, beverages and more – uncover four insider secrets to upgrade your next hotel stay recently shared on Essence.com today.
Upgrade Your Hotel Room
There are many ways to request complimentary room upgrade, but you’ve got to be smart, stealth and polite about it. Typically, guests checking in later in the day have a better chance at scoring an available room upgrade. One of the best ways to score a complementary upgrade is to greet the front desk agent with a smile and tip up front. By simply walking up with a smile, id, credit card in hand and greeting the front desk agent with a $20 tip you open up a world of upgrade possibilities. Make sure you’re assertive and let the agent know “This is for you. Whatever you can do for me, I’d appreciate a room upgrade, late checkout, wine, whatever…” and watch the hotel experience upgrades come rolling in.
Upgrade Your In-Room Ambiance
Celebrities like Beyoncé, Mariah and Madonna upgrade their hotel room ambiance with signature essences like flowers or candles all the time. Nothing makes a hotel stay feel more like home than adding unique touches that appeal to the senses to ensure a more relaxing stay. That’s where a pre-planed hotel travel kit with lavender bath salts & pillow mists become essential when packing for your next trip. Packing satin pillowcases, scented candles & a Bluetooth speaker for your favorite music are also great additions to include in your hotel travel kit. For less than $20, you can create and pack your essential hotel room kit filled with your favorite scents, sounds and even sweet treats that will make your next hotel stay a great visit.
Looking for more insider secrets? Check out my full article on Essence.com HERE.
Summer music festival season is in full swing! Your favorite artist tour schedules have been announced and after a horrid winter, you’re ready to make this the best outdoor summer ever! I’ve kicked off my summer festival experience in a way unlike I have ever done before camping out a few weeks ago at Firefly Music Festival, but nothing compares to the excitement and anticipation for the 20th Anniversary of the Essence Music Festival (currently known as Essence Fest 2014).
GUESS WHO’S HEADED BACK TO THE BIG EASY?”
Thanks to the official Essence Fest 2014 sponsors McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Verizon Wireless and Ford, I’ve been invited to get an inside look and exclusive experience of this historical summer event and I’ll be taking you along for the ride! Stay tuned to DivasandDorks.com, DivasDriveInHeels.com for exclusive celebrity interviews, concert performances and more ALL WEEKEND LONG!
From insider beauty secrets for summer from beauty guru Sam Fine, to talking powerful networking with Verizon and Morris Chesnut (I’ll even get some time with the electric lady herself, Janelle Monae to talk Cover Girl status & opening for his purple majesty – Prince!) For all things Essence Fest related, follow the fun online via #EssenceFest and click back here often for updated photos, videos and posts all weekend long!
Firefly Music Festival With Nokia Mix Radio… A Different Kind Of Band Camp Experience #ListenWithLumiaJune 27th, 2014 by Christen Rochon
Hanging out with Nokia Mix Radio at the Firefly Music Festival was a weekend filled with first time experiences that I’ll never forget. Not only was it my first time hanging out at the Firefly Music Festival, but it was also my first time camping inside a tent for four nights and experiencing the awe that is a live Outkast performance on stage. Imagine a campground on the outskirts of Dover, Delaware woodlands filled with over 106 DJs, bands and world-reknown musical acts. Yeah its camping + musicians, but a weekend at Firefly Music Festival with Nokia is not your average band camp – check out my epic Firefly Music Festival experience below.
Camping was upgraded thanks to the great accommodations by Solid Ground Shelters. During our 3-day/4-night stay, we got the full camping experience from making S’mores to playing corn hole and even an impromptu jam session with Firefly artist and NBC’s The Voice Alum Christian Porter.
Once inside of Firefly, there were two things on the agenda FOOD & MUSIC! During a break many of us got the chance to hang out and enjoy our very first pork parfait filled with collard greens, pork and mashed potatoes from one of the 1st food trucks in the country to accept Bitcoin, Sumpig Food Truck in Philadelphia.
The musicians at Firefly Music Festival weren’t your stuffy superstars either, they were cool down to earth guys and gals interested in a great weekend of music and fun! One of the coolest guys I met at Firefly Music Festival was band members from ‘Unlikely Candidates’.
We laughed, shared selfies and talked about how the Nokia Lumia is one of the best smartphones to capture the best Firefly Music Festival moments.
In addition to daytime fun and music, once the night fell the real firefly fun began. For the first time, I got the chance to see Outkast perform in all their glory and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
Outkast performed some of my favorite songs including “Elevators”, “B.O.B”, “Roses” “Whole World” and more! I literally danced out of my jewelry and my braided top bun became a braided mess. All in all, if you ever get the chance to check out a live Outkast show, run – don’t walk and get a first row seat for a first class Outkast experience.
My Firefly Music Festival Experience was an unforgettable time from start to finish and it wouldn’t have been made possible without the great folks at Nokia! #ListenWithLumia
Tune Into Summer
Summer concert season is in full swing and whether you plan on investing in thousand-dollar tickets to see Jay Z and Beyonce or taking part of the overflow of Outkast summer festival concerts there are tons of ways to capture and share your summer concert memories all year long.
Are you an instant concert Instagrammer? Do you share your concert summer Vines almost immediately? Discover some of the latest summer concert trends and see how you measure to other music lovers like you below.
Tune Into Summer Concerts
Tune Into Summer Concerts
via Verizon Wireless
There’s something to say about a reformed tom-boy-turned-diva who’s found herself once again enjoying the adventurous life of biking, hiking and more. By no means have I become the all-knowing healthy lifestyle guru, but I have taken a huge leap towards living healthier, enjoying fitness and making everyday a modern adventure. So it’s only fitting that I got a kick out of attending the Gotham Gets In Gear event last week in New York City. The Gotham Gets In Gear media event featured a variety of healthy lifestyle, modern adventure, fitness, outdoor gear and technology brands and offered a unique perspective into many brands we already know and love.
Brands like Adidas, Bogs, Eagle Creek, Helly Hansen, Teva, Smith Optics, REI, Lululemon and Outdoor Tech highlighted the best in products for optimizing the adventurous diva in all of us.
For your particular and portable entertainment needs, Outdoor Tech has a variety of Bluetooth speakers and headphones to suit workouts or jamming on the go. Specializing in tech gear that keeps you connected without feeling tethered, the Orcas wireless ear buds, ultra hi-fi Tuis and Big Turtle Shell wireless boom box are definitely on my list of must-haves for the summer. This all-new rugged, shockproof and water resistant Big Turtle Shell provides the best wireless audio experience in any setting from the beach or campfire, to the pool-party, BBQ or your next tailgating event.
Another one of my favorite finds at the Gotham Gets In Gear includes the phenomenal travel kits by Eagle Creek. The Eagle Creek Pack-It systems come in a variety of 2 and three sets of folders and cubes perfect for stress-free packing every time. Since I’m always on the go, you can see why these Pack-It kits were so appealing below.
Lastly, outdoor fashion doesn’t mean you’re wearing bland camo gear all the time either. With brands like Lululemon, Teva, REI and Bogs offering weather-proof, fashionable alternatives – finding the perfect look for biking, camping, yoga and more is easier than you’d think. One of my favorite tops to go biking, workout or simply travel in has to be the Lululemon Swiftly Tech long sleeve shirt. This isn’t just any long-sleeved yoga shirt, there’s the Silverescent™ powered by X-STATIC® technology built in that inhibits the growth of odour-causing bacteria – which leaves one less smelly shirt in the laundry basket.
For more on the many brands at the Gotham Gets In Gear event, check out the photos below.
On Saturday, May 24th thousands of beauty lovers, fashionistas and YouTube fans flocked to Pier 36 in New York City for BeautyCon 2014. Participating in interactive presentations, games and plenty of shopping, fans joined their favorite content creators, celebrities and YouTube superstars to discuss the future of online media, network and more.
Known as a fashion and beauty summit for the internet’s most influential and everyone who’s obsessed with them – this one day event featured the who’s who of YouTube including P’Trique, Shameless Maya, Kandee Johnson and more!
Fans got up close and personal with their favorite YouTube stars all day long, plus learned from the best during informative panels and mentoring sessions sponsored by ELLE Magazine.
In addition to meet and greets, there was plenty of shopping, dancing and freebies galore! If you’ve ever been curious about what the life of a YouTuber or how to take your YouTube brand to the next level – BeautyCon NYC was the epicenter of all things beauty, digital and the intersection of YouTube startup success.
Want to see more BeautyCon experiences from YouTubers and fans alike? Follow the #BeautyConNYC hashtag on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more looks inside of all the action. For more on BeautyCon 2014 in New York and to vote on where BeautyCon will be traveling to next visit BeautyCon.com
Remember last month when I received a beauty-filled skin package and Ray Ban shades from RoC® Skincare And Duane Reade? It was a great introduction to the line up of RoC® Skincare products that you can find at your neighborhood Duane Reade. Last week, a host of beauty mavens and skin socialistas were treated to a personalized shopping experience and beauty event hosted by RoC® Skincare and Dr. Debra Jaliman.
During the event, attendees were treated to a wealth of skin knowledge and beauty tips for optimum eye care and skin health. Discover a few of my favorite skincare tips from the Duane Reade and RoC® Skincare event below.
RoC® Skincare & Dr. Debra Jaliman #Eyes4NYC Beauty Tips:
- Keep It Simple: During the morning and evening, simply add eye creams to your beauty cleansing routines.
- Never skimp on RETINOL and SUNSCREEN…it’ll do your skin good!
- Retinol improves the appearance of crows feet, wrinkles and fine lines – its a very important ingredient for skin health and elasticity.
- Blondes may have more fun, but they also show early signs of skin aging earlier than others. There’s no better time to start better skin care than now.
- Put your skincare products in the refrigerator to extend the life of the product.
- Make sure your skincare products includes Retinol and moisturizer to protect your sensitive skin (especially around the eyes!)
- Wash your face with a cotton round instead of your bare hands and fingers.
- Don’t use too much product… just a small dab goes a long way.
- Wear sunscreen everyday (even on rainy days!) The sun is always beaming damaging rays and you need to be protected all the time!
- Your skin automatically repairs itself when you sleep, so get those 8 hours in and do your skin some good!
Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Duane Reade. #Eyes4NYC #ad #cbias #SocialFabric. To find RoC® Skincare products at your closest Duane Reade, check out their store locator online. The team behind @DuaneReade on Twitter and Facebook are always helpful and for more information on the finding RoC® Skincare for your new beauty routine use the hashtag #Eyes4NYC and #cbias to see how others are using RoC® Skincare today.