Women Sports Film Festival

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This past week I was lucky enough to host the inaugural Women Sports Film Festival in Oakland at The New Parkway theater. It was an incredibly fun vibe and I had the pleasure of introducing and moderating the post-screening Q&A sessions for 2 of the films.

The festival’s mission is this:

Using the power of documentary film we celebrate female athletes and the filmmakers who bring their stories to the screen.

Kudos to the women who put this event together and I can only see much more success in their future, now that they’ve tapped into a genre and market that’s shine is long overdue.

The opening night documentary was “TRex: Her Fight for Gold,” the story of Flint, Michigan’s Claressa Shields and her journey to an Olympic Gold medal in London 2012. She is now seeking to defend her gold in Rio. It will premiere on PBS, Tuesday, August 2, 2016 s part of the Independent Lens series by ITVS.

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The other documentary screening I hosted was “Althea,” about tennis champion Althea Gibson. She was the first African-American to play at Wimbledon and Forest Hills. Both of these documentaries are well worth the watch!

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Now, I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

We Gonna Be Championship

It’s a great day for the BAY AREA!!! Congratulations to my hometown Golden State Warriors on a well-deserved 2014-2015 NBA Championship!! I wish I could be there for all the celebrations, but I assure you my spirit certainly is…and I’ll be heading home soon!! DUB NATION, STAND UP AND ENJOY this long awaited victory!!

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Hometown Team

I was home for the holidays and among the various family and friends outings that we embarked on…it was pretty exciting to attend a Golden State Warriors game with my family, siblings and their “others,” along with my Mom. There’s nothing like being able to support the hometown team, who after years of struggle and not being ranked among the best in the league – are finally back in the hunt! So here are a couple photos we took to mark the occasion!

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Positive Images for Inner City Youth

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A good friend of mine, Dr. Jaseon Outlaw, is on a mission…to actively change the way inner city youth are often times portrayed in the (mainstream) media, and instead highlight, present and focus on the positive images in the community! I commend his effort and action to create an organization designed to lift, enlighten and create change for the benefit of inner city youth…in his hometown of Oakland, CA!

Positive Images for Inner City Youth is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes.  Seeking 501(c)(3) non-profit organization status,  Positive Images seeks to promote and expose inner city youth to realistic and positive images of those representative of the community.  This is a direct response to the mainstream media’s decision to focus on inner city violence and the psychological implications that reality television has on defining the identities of inner city youth.

The vision for Positive Images is to expand the realm of career and lifestyle choices for inner city youth, by providing a barrage of positive imagery in the areas of career, education, arts, healthy living, and family.

Since “Positive Images” is a brand new endeavor, they need your help to grow the organization and spread the message of positive images! So, if you can, please strongly consider donating a few dollars to the organization http://positiveimagesoakland.org/

And — If you have not already mentored a young person in your community, please do so…

 

Raiderette LOW PAY Lawsuit – MY THOUGHTS!!!

Yes, I was an Oakland Raiderette…and am still a proud alumni! So news of a lawsuit by a current – on her way out former Raiderette from the most recent season has hit the media, and I couldn’t resist giving my 2 cents, okay it’s more like a lot of SENSE!! And this all comes on the heels of a new petition on behalf of ALL NFL Cheerleaders (completely unrelated) to get MORE PAY!

Check these links for background:

Busted Coverage – Cheerleader Sues Raiders for Withholding Pay & Not Paying Minimum Wage **this article contains a copy of the actual lawsuit paperwork filed**
ESPN – Cheerleader Files Suit Against Raiders
Pay Petition – for all NFL Teams Cheerleaders

But seriously, this is sparking so much debate among Raiderette Alumni and people in general, that I just had to put my thoughts down and share…so here goes…

YES…being a PRO TEAM Dancer/Cheerleader is a low paying job…I’ve been on 3 teams in the NBA and NFL. Do I believe the compensation should be more, yes, that would be nice to be paid for my time and talent, but here’s the reality (from my dancing days):

  • Cheerleaders (Raiders) are paid a per game stipend, practice is not paid and certain community/charity events may also be non paid. There are other paid appearance opportunities and you are always told the pay, location and summary of all events before you sign up. Other pro teams do receive a minimum wage for practice. You also receive tickets for the game as part of the compensation.
  • Team members sign a contract acknowledging and agreeing to the terms of pay, attendance, expectations (hair, makeup, nails, citizenship, etc…), duties, hours, and it is often a requirement for those selected to hold some type of job or be a student outside of the team.
  • Members are required to maintain and meet fitness/appearance requirements, all of which are discussed and agreed to…gym membership and stylist discounts are also given by sponsors. And while some of the ladies may take that as required weekly manicures or regular haircuts and color, those are optional expenses the ladies incur at their own discretion…again they AGREED to this.
  • Travel to appearances may sometimes be out of area, but if you sign up to drive 90 miles, I’m saying, don’t complain about it.
  • Fines are incurred when you are late for practice, games, events or if you forget required equipment, attire, etc… I have no issue with this, money is the best motivator to get people to stay on top of their game.

So my thing is, at auditions… candidates are WELL AWARE of what it takes to make the team and what the job entails, if selected among the HUNDREDS, sometimes THOUSANDS of hopefuls. I think the general public assumes it is a full time job and doesn’t realize the reality of what goes on behind the glamour – hours of practice, appearances and prep, but truth be told, after all the hard work, hours of sweat, all the tears shed, dedication and miles driven, what you take home doesn’t even cover gas costs! However, the majority (if not all) of the ladies in the pro ranks aren’t doing it “for the money.” What this job offers are priceless memories and friendships, unique experiences and once in a lifetime opportunities. As a pro team cheerleader I was able to network and meet countless top level executives from a wide range of industries, work alongside community leaders and influencers, travel and represent teams in the most elite sports leagues and given the platform to be part of game day entertainment in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans!

Honestly, this gets me worked up because I am protective of the “sisterhood.” I do see the point of being paid more and it would be well-deserved, but the reality is that being a Raiderette or part of any pro team is a privilege and honor, that is priceless!! IF this suit is successful, I think a few things could happen. It may be possible that teams do away with cheerleaders altogether or make it a volunteer job with NO stipend. However, since the cheerleaders are vital to branding and bring in millions of dollars for the team, maybe they shrink the squads down to only a dozen or less, to make them full-time staff.  But, let’s be honest, the hundreds of women that try out would do it for free, and these days the spots are so coveted that they enlist the coaching of people like me, through Going Pro Entertainment, to give them advice and pointers on how to make a team!

It will be interesting to see what happens. I worked full time outside of my position as a pro team cheerleader/dancer, with each team I was lucky enough to be a member of…and I would do it all over again for the same “low” pay.

Dubs All Day

I spent part of the 2nd day of 2014 at the HEAT vs. Warriors game at American Airlines Arena.

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It’s only once a year (NBA season) when my hometown, Bay Area, Golden State Warriors make it to South Florida, and after many years of struggles and heartache for fans, the team is finally competing (and beating) the competition! Plus, I have to make sure to show some “California Love” …so, it was exciting to see the team in action in Miami and to represent & support a team I grew up watching!

DUBS ALL DAY! I also got to sport a custom shirt design by Tony.psd in the Warriors Blue and Yellow – in fact there were lots of Golden State fans in the crowd Thursday night… so that was fun to see too!!

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And — post game my friend Maite and I were invited to check out “HYDE” – the ‘exclusive” court side club, which was nice because I hadn’t been down there yet when it was “club” time… and coincidentally I ran into my friend Jenn, who was visiting Miami from the Bay! Good times!

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Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station was a big winner at this year’s Sundance Festival and the movie is based on the real life story of Oscar Grant — whose life tragically ended at the hands of a BART police officer. His shooting death made headlines in the Bay Area and beyond…and now it’s headed for the big screen. The film’s first theatrical trailer has just been released and I personally can’t wait to see it… Fruitvale Station is also produced by the multi-talented Forest Whitaker. Uhm, did I mention my Raiderette sister Lucena also plays the role of “Rose” in the film. Press play to watch the trailer below…