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The passion and beauty of writing – Daytona Times



As a child, writing short stories and poetry saved my life. As an only child, that was my way of escaping some of the harsh realities I faced. It allowed me to be whoever or whatever I wanted.

In the first grade at Turie T. Small Elementary, I wrote my first official children’s book entitled “The Dirtiest Boy,” a funny short story about a young boy who just never seemed to wanna bathe – ultimately causing him to turn into a pile of dirt.

Found my passion

Although I was only 7 years old, my book was so well-received that I was featured in the Volusia County Young Authors Conference twice. For a little boy who grew up with no siblings or money, just imagine the amount of adoration and self-pride that gave me. I knew then and there that I knew what I wanted to be as an adult: a fulltime author and writer.

The ability to put your own thoughts on paper and keep an audience engaged is a talent no different from shooting three-pointers or scoring a touchdown. Some of the greatest leaders and voices started as writers.

Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin and many of our nation’s greatest freedom fighters truly understood the power of connecting through written media.

Malcolm X, one of my personal influences, produced the Nation Of Islam’s weekly newsletters because people trust print more than they trust television.

Being a writer with a positive voice is one of the most powerful positions you can take. It’s important to have Black-centered news media and writers who can share their experiences without being silenced. 

No respect

There seems to be a lack of respect for poetry writers nowadays that confuses me. I don’t understand the minimization of such an important talent. I’ve watched my grandma pour her heart out into writing and producing original works of poetry. She’s even had national magazines publish some of her work.

So I’ve always understood the power and beauty behind putting pen to paper. Even though poetry has been associated more frequently with women, some of the biggest and toughest names in music will and will always be poets at heart. Poetry is the most beautiful language of all, an underrated art form and a saving grace for young people still finding their way. 

If we pushed community programs focused on writing and literature, we’d have many more inspired children. Writing takes your mind to the deepest depths. With the way the rap industry has taken over pop culture, you’d expect more interest in writing, considering every rapper uses ghostwriters these days.

Pens over guns

There’d be a massive turnaround if more young Black men picked up a pen instead of a gun. Art and creative therapy is proven to help children focus and want to succeed. While many will argue that creative and liberal arts have no place in public education, I say the most basic three concepts of education are reading, writing and arithmetic. Without the ability to grasp and own human language, you will never know your true potential.

Most children growing up right now want to be famous by any means necessary. In the Black community, there are two hyped-up ways to make it out of the hood: sports (usually football, basketball or soccer) and music (rapping, singing or dancing). Chances of a Black kid from a poor neighborhood making it in those two avenues are slim to none.

That’s why it’s important to diversify the youth and immerse them in culture. We must teach them many styles of artistry and craftsmanship such as carpentry, agriculture and writing. Journalism and publishing are two of the most lucrative professions and it’s exciting to see the writing community advance using social media and technology.

Upcoming project

I’ve finally accomplished my passion project. This fall, my first officially published book, “One Step At A Time,” will be released globally everywhere and will be available in paperback, streaming and digital download.

It chronicles the powerful steps I took after being diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis and its effects on my mind and body. It’s a story for people who had to lose themselves to discover who they truly are.

Writing became my therapy and transformed my life. I hope my passion inspires you to do the same. 

Rell Black is an award-winning activist, blogger and the founder of Community Healing Project Inc. 


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The Second Act Of Beauty Mogul Bobbi Brown | NBC News Now



NBC News’ Stephanie Ruhle sat down with beauty mogul Bobbi Brown to discuss why she chose to leave the company that bears her name to start an entirely new brand.
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The Second Act Of Beauty Mogul Bobbi Brown | NBC News Now


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‘My Fair Lady’ in Syracuse offers power and beauty, star says



Laird Mackintosh regards the part of Professor Henry Higgins in the classic Lerner & Lowe musical “My Fair Lady” as one of “the Mount Everest roles in the repertory of a singing actor.”

And yet most people familiar with the 1964 movie featuring actor Rex Harrison in the part may remember the character sort of talking his way through a big chunk of the songs.

But that’s part of the challenge and the achievement of the role, said Mackintosh, the Canadian actor who steps into Higgins shoes in a new Broadway in Syracuse presentation of “My Fair Lady” at the downtown Landmark Theatre from Dec. 10 to 13. (Details below).

The “speak-singing” role was written for Harrison, who originated it on stage but was best known as a dramatic actor at the time. He uses the technique in such songs as “Why Can’t the English?” and “I’m An Ordinary Man.”

“Because it was written in that speak-sing, it’s written in a narrow range,” Mackintosh said during a break from rehearsal at the Landmark last week. “So it really doesn’t benefit you to sing the entire thing because you can get more range in some of the speaking notes than in the singing notes.

“So I do speak-sing a lot of it and it just comes out better that way.” he said. “It was intended to be done that way. And we found there’s more life in it if it’s performed that way.”

Still, he said, Higgins’ role is not all talk. He illustrates that during an interview with a few lines from the song “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.”

“There are some beautiful melodies he (Higgins) gets to sing and I do sing them,” he said.

This production of “My Fair Lady” is part of a national tour from New York City’s Lincoln Center Theater, and presented locally by Famous Artists through its Broadway in Syracuse series. The production started on Broadway in 2018.

Actor Laird Mackintosh plays Professor Henry Higgin in the Broadway in Syracuse production of “My Fair Lady” at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse Dec. 10-13, 2019.

Mackintosh made his Broadway debut playing Mr, Banks in Mary Poppins in 2011, and also performed in Broadway productions of “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Jekyll & Hyde.” The Syracuse performance is his first time in the Henry Higgins role, though he played supporting character Freddy Eynsford-Hill about 20 years ago in Canada.

He said he’s well prepared for a lead role in “My Fair Lady.”

When he was growing up in Calgary, Alberta, his father had just two musical theater recordings — one cast recording of “South Pacific” and another of “My Fair Lady,” with Harrison and Julie Andrews.

“I’ve really had the show memorized from the time I was 12 years old,” he said.

He notes that for much of the show Higgins is a pretty disagreeable character. The plot centers on a London professor who boasts (and bets) he can turn an ordinary flower girl (Eliza Doolittle) into a posh woman — in large part by teaching her to speak better English and behave like a “proper lady.”

It’s a take on the male-female relationship that could seem dated to some modern audiences.

But Mackintosh thinks the strength of the writing takes care of that. “My Fair Lady” was written by Alan Jay Lerner, with music by Frederick Lowe, and based on a 1913 play called “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw. The original Broadway musical version debuted in 1956.

“The character (Higgins) does say some pretty terrible things about Eliza,” Mackintosh said. “But if you remove any of that you take out the power of the argument and the power of the show.”

Mackintosh and the cast and crew have spent more than a week in Syracuse preparing for the show, much of it in the Landmark, which says has a beauty to match that of the show’s costumes, sets and musical score..

“It’s as good as it gets to be able to rehearse in that kind of space, to do shows in a theater like that,” he said. “I’m so grateful it’s here, that the city was able to preserve that theater. It’s a dream to perform here.”


What: “My Fair Lady,” the national touring production from New York City’s Lincoln Center Theater, presented locally by Famous Artists through its Broadway in Syracuse series.

Where: Landmark Theatre, 362 S. Salina St., Syracuse.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 11, 12 and 13.

Tickets and info

Don Cazentre writes for, and The Post-Standard. Reach him at, or follow him at, on Twitter or Facebook.

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