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HIGHLY Recommended: Good Deeds A Great Movie!

So the talented Mr. Perry doesn’t keep his fans waiting for long as he is known to push out at least two movies a year, a host of television shows and his beloved stage plays which have brought him to his current reverence. So, what is it about this particular project that makes me want to give Tyler Perry an achievement award? Possibly the fact that the story line for Good Deeds is absolutely compelling. Tyler has a way of introducing each of his characters in relatively dramatic scenes while allowing you to decide if you will root for the character throughout the movie or despise them the entire time. Side Note: At no point could I relate Tyler’s character (Wesley Deeds) to the overly eccentric Madea in some of his other films.

Although each character in the movie delivered outstanding performances including Brian White, Gabrielle Union, Thandie Newton, Jamie Kennedy, Rebecca Romijn and Mr. Tyler himself, I almost jumped for joy when the incomparable Phylicia Rashad graced the screen. She is undoubtedly one of my favorite actresses of all time and to see her in such an awesome role made me think back to her days as the stern, yet loving Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show.

My favorite scene from the movie is when Lindsey (Thandie Newton) meets Wesley’s (Tyler Perry) mother played by Ms. Rashad during a celebration at the family’s corporate offices. Wesley and his family are well-to-do business owners and Lindsey just so happens to work for them as a janitor. Well, as you might imagine, Wesley is too good for Lindsey – according to his overbearing mother, and tension starts to fly quickly. What doesn’t help the situation much is Wesley’s jealous and irresponsible brother played by Brian White. The scene gets real ugly and you become unsure if you want to cry or cheer by the time things settle down. Because Tyler was able to jerk my emotions like a five speed car on a steep hill, I must say that this is one movie that I would have to give 4 HIGH Fives out of 5. I would have given it 5 HIGH Fives but I am still not sure if I liked the ending as much as I did the rest of the film. Either way, I highly recommend you see this one before it leaves theaters!

 N. Renee for The HIGH UP. Follow us on Twitter @AspireOnline!

HIGH Style: Spring’s Electric Hues

Spring has just been bursting with all kinds of trends, from peplum to tribal prints to bold florals! But I think the best (and most colorful) trend for the upcoming season is the explosion of electric neon colors. Think back to the Day Glo highlighters from the 80s and early 90s. The bright, fluorescent colors mirror the fashion statement that will be made this season. However, to avoid looking like a walking hip hop video from that unforgettable time period, I would strongly suggest pairing the bright colors with a neutral such as white, black, or beige.

Also, the key to pulling off this look is by wearing bold colors but in simple and classic silhouettes. If you’re feeling bold enough, you can even try color blocking with other neon hues. I still would suggest color blocking with neutral colors such as black. And don’t even think about over accessorizing: the color will be bold enough for you to stand out while wearing minimal accessories.

A neon hued dress is very fun and eye catching to wear for spring and summer. On top of that, a dress is always the best thing that you can wear. It’s a one stop shop! For the summertime, pair the dress with a white bag and some cool open toe platforms or my personal favorite – wedges, for a chic and easy look. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing a neon yellow top or hot pink dress but still want to try this trend, try punching up your look with some accessories such as a bright yellow belt, a clutch with touches of neon or even shoes with a pop of color.

Karissa J. Parker for The HIGH UP. Follow @CurlyRissa on Twitter for the latest in beauty, style and fashion trends!

HIGH Fashion: Kanye West & Giuseppe Zanotti’s Shoe Debut

Kanye West has always shown a high interest in fashion. So much so that he debuted a fashion line and is planning to hit the Parisian runways again with his Fall/Winter 2012 collection. However, Kanye is still not well known for his clothing line, yet. When he first debuted his clothing line, DW by Kanye West during the Paris 2011 fashion week, his designs did not impress. What is catching people’s attention are his $5800 beaded and crocheted heels that he collaborated with Italian designer, Giuseppe Zanotti. The stilettos, which feature calf leather and elaborate detailing with pearls and beading, will be sold exclusively at French retailer, Colette. West’s Fall/Winter collection will be seen at Paris Fashion Week on March 5. How about it, fashionistas? Do you think Kanye will score with this one?

Karissa J. Parker for The HIGH UP. Follow @CurlyRissa on Twitter for the latest in beauty, style and fashion updates!

HIGH Style: He’s Back!

Well known for his quirky panda bear and teddy bear sneakers, Jeremy Scott is back once again for the Spring 2012 Jeremy ScottxAdidas Collection.  These Adidas are just as quirky as they are bold and fabulous with their crazy animal prints, extra large fonts, and of course, stuffed animals. The bold print on the leopard shoes below will look amazing once mixed with a playful combination of other bold prints to display a very fashion forward look for young women who like a little “spice” in their wardrobe. The white “big tongues” can be worn with shorts or jeans paired with a simple tee or tank. The Jeremy Scott adidas will definitely be the hottest shoes to wear this spring and summer!

Bradley Maddox for The HIGH UP.

HIGH Fashion: Marni For H&M

There was Missoni for Target, Versace for H&M, Jason Wu for Target and now H&M’s latest designer collaboration: Marni for H&M. This latest venture into affordable designer fashion for the masses is set to launch in H&M stores March 8th. The line features signature Marni prints, bold accessories, and something the other lines didn’t feature: menswear. Marni is not as well known as Versace or some of the other designer labels, which means you may have more opportunity to acquire some of the items before they are sold out. I must say, for me personally, the line doesn’t necessarily “wow” me but Marni doesn’t appeal to my personal fashion aesthetic, either. The lookbook is already available here so go ahead and check it out for yourself. So, fashionistas (including the fellas), what say you? Will you be at H&M on March 8th?

Karissa J. Parker for The HIGH UP. Follow @CurlyRissa on Twitter for the latest in beauty, style and fashion updates!

HIGH Event: Healthcare Foundation Awards $157,000 To The Center For Black Women’s Wellness

Ann Booth-Barbarin, Treasurer at the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Jemea Dorsey, CEO of the Center for Black Women's Wellness; Tanya Hairston-Whitner, Chair of the Center for Black Women's Wellness Board at the AstraZeneca check presentation. Photo:

FEBRUARY 23, 2012 (Atlanta, GA) – The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation program, Connections for Cardiovascular Health, held a press conference on Tuesday morning to award a grant of more than $157,698 to the Center for Black Women’s Wellness (CBWW) in Atlanta to create the Healthy Women 4 Healthy Families program.

Healthy Women 4 Healthy Families strives to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and its associated risks among underserved, low-income African-American women who have borderline high levels of cholesterol, have a family history of early heart disease, or who are overweight or obese. The program increases their access to innovative and culturally effective interventions related to nutrition, weight and stress management, thereby improving health outcomes.

Among the Atlanta city officials to attend the press conference to congratulate Jemea Dorsey, CEO of CBWW, were Kathy Ashe, State Representative District #56; Margaret Kaiser, State Representative District #59; Pat Gardner, State Representative District #57 and Councilmember Cleta Winslow.

CBWW serves uninsured women throughout metro Atlanta, with keen interest in nine neighborhoods immediately south of downtown Atlanta, which have poor health outcomes. The proposed program will include culturally appropriate interventions including nutrition, fitness and stress management to address these issues.

HIGH Event: Fashion Uncorked 2012 A Sexy, Sassy Success!

Cotrice Addison (Project Accessory), Donna Davidson (President of Easter Seals North GA), Sidratu Maju (Fashion Uncorked 2012 Winner), Monica Pearson (WSB-TV), Norma Center (Development Coordinator for Easter Seals North Georgia). Photo: Aldridge Murrell Photography

On Saturday, February 11th 2012, Easter Seals held its second annual design competition, Fashion Uncorked, at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center located 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. Fashion Uncorked is a design competition very similar to Project Runway, in which the designers were to come up with designs inspired by T. Howard Jewelry Collection. It was a stylish affair to remember! This beautiful and chic event benefits Easter Seals, an organization that assists individuals with special needs and disabilities to navigate through life and become more independent. According to the Easter Seals website, services and support are provided through a network of more than 550 sites in the U.S. and through Ability First Australia.

Fashion Uncorked 2012 designer Lakedra “Raquel” Reed and her models. Photo: Kun-Chan Chang Photography

Fashion Uncorked kicked off at 7 pm. Attendees were directed to a parking lot about two minutes away from the facility where shuttles were waiting to take event goers to the event while dropping them off right in front of the entrance. This was quite a plus for another reason other than not having to walk far – the temperature was a frosty 28 degrees!

Holly Firfer (right) wearing ADHC Designs by Fashion Uncorked 2011 winner Angelica Cuervo (left). Photo: Carla Pierre Photography

Upon walking inside, excited guests checked in at the front desk. From there, guests spotted several displays advertising the different sponsors such as Mary Kay, Chocolate Ink, James L. Young Photography, Nairobi Professional, and Girligirl. There was also a crepe maker on hand preparing tasty crepes for a small fee. Barefoot Wines was on hand for the wine tasting, featuring a variety of wines, including the crowd favorite, a pink sparkly citrus Moscato. While guests were mingling, they were also noshing on sushi, bite size cakes, and a delicious concoction of dressing topped with asparagus.

Theresa Howard’s (creator of T. Howard Jewelry) handmade jewelry was used as inspiration for each of the designers pieces. Photo: Carla Pierre Photography

Monica Pearson, Atlanta’s favorite news anchor from WSB-TV, hosted the fashion show and Jenine Cotrice Addison was the co-hostess. The fashion show was scheduled to begin at 8:15 PM but before it started, Monica Pearson announced the untimely passing of the incomparable Whitney Houston followed by a short prayer. After that, it was time for the show!

Photo: Baby Shopaholic

The finalists for Fashion Uncorked had to create four looks for the event. The first look featured child models, which the designers not only had to create outfits for the children, but for their stuffed animals as well! The kids were so cute! This very well may have even been the crowd favorite based on the various reactions I saw! After that, the designers had to create daywear and eveningwear looks. It appeared that even though everyone may have had their favorite picks, everyone seemed to fall in love with the white pin striped jumpsuit.

Fashion Uncorked 2012 desinger Annie Flynn and her models. Photo: Kun-Chan Chang Photography

After all of the looks were shown, the judges had the designers and models leave the stage while they deliberated, a move that has been seen on countless shows such as Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. It should be noted that among those on the judging panel, Holly Firfer, a former CNN anchor, was a judge as well as Rafael Cox, a contestant on the current cast of Project Runway. Jessica Black, Miss United States 2010 was also a judge, as well as Courtney A. Hammonds, JaVaun Gorman (an instructor at the Art Institute of Atlanta), Marcus Jackson (CEO and owner of CALIBER Entertainment) and Dr. Melissa Manuel (the head of the department of Fashion and Retail Management at AIA). After the deliberation period, the judges brought the designers and models back to critique their collections as well as the individual looks.

Fashion Uncorked 2012 Judges: Marcus Jackson (Caliber Enterprises), Renee Knorr (19th Hole Magazine), Rafael Cox (Project Runway), Holly Firfer (CNN/Star 94), Jessica Black (Miss United States 2010), Dr. Melissa Manuel (Art Institute), Cotrice Addison (Project Accessory), JaVaun Gorman (Art Institute), Courtney Hammonds (Art Institute) Holly Firfer (Not Pictured) Photo: Carla Pierre Photography

After much deliberation and excited anticipation from the onlookers, Sidratu Maju was announced winner of the competition. The prize package included a spread in Sheen Magazine and a trip to LA fashion week! Sidratu hails from Sierra Leone and her collection featured beautiful and colorful African inspired looks.

Sidratu Maju was announced the Fashion Uncorked 2012 winner and presented with gifts. Photo: Carla Pierre Photography

Fashion Uncorked 2012 had an amazing turnout as it just so happened to be SOLD OUT! Everyone there appeared to have a fabulous time. The event was structured, well planned, and ran smoothly. Easter Seals and Fashion Uncorked are destined to continue to grow. And next year, the event will be even more monumental. Until then, stay fashionable!

Karissa J. Parker for The HIGH UP. Follow @CurlyRissa for the latest in fashion, style and beauty updates!

HIGH Event: A Valentine’s Day Serenade At Tribal Cafe In L.A.

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays people claim to not care much about, and although I’d like to agree with them, I can’t help but wonder why. The way I see it, Valentine’s Day is just another excuse to celebrate. Whether you are dining with your loved one, or drinking with your best friend, everyone has plans to be someone’s Valentine. I spent my Valentine’s Day enjoying a frothy cup of chai, and the musical talent of Billy Kay. Tribal Café, located in down town Los Angeles, hosted a night of love songs for all the lovers and coffee addicts in the area.

The vibe in the café was mellow, while couples smooched on the couch and the locals ordered “the usual.” Billy’s all acoustic set serenaded us with classics like “I’ll never fall in love again” by Elvis Costello and paid tribute to Whitney Houston with “I Will Always Love You.” Although Billy was the headliner, the mic was open to other musicians and poets who felt the need to share the love.

Smiles were brought to the guest’s faces when free roses complimented their coffee and filled the room with a lovely scent. As Billy handed out roses, Josh, the owner of the cafe, made my chai with a little “extra love”. Josh opened the café 6 years ago and has made an impressive menu full of coffee, sweets, and healthy shakes. Although coffee, sweets and shakes are quite appealing, my obsession with tea filled my belly with warmth on this particular visit to the cafe. Billy finished the night with a few tunes from The Beatles, and some love from the audience. As people sang along, I thought of what John Lennon always said, “All You Need is Love.”

Britt Hutchinson for The HIGH UP. Follow @L0cksy for the best entertainment and event coverage straight from Los Angeles!

HIGHLY Recommended: Safe House Is An Adrenaline Rush!

Aspire Online Media was invited by Liquid Soul Media and Konsole Kingz to the pre-screening of Universal Picture’s Safe House on Wednesday February 8th at Regal Theater 24 in Atlanta. As you all may know, the movie, directed by Daniel Espinosa, stars Denzel Washington as Tobin Frost and Ryan Reynolds as Matt Weston. First of all, let me just say that Denzel is one of my favorite actors and I have been a fan of Mr. Reynolds ever since he co-starred with Sandra Bullock in The Proposal. Both the actor’s characters in this action thriller are beyond believable to the point where I actually felt each of their inner turmoil while living the treacherous lives of CIA agents in present day South Africa.

During several scenes I literally thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. From the plodding opening scene to the edge-of-your-seat climax, it is quite the adrenaline rush given the multiple shoot outs and high-speed chases for the better part of the film. My favorite scene is where Denzel’s character has a “lesson in life” moment with Ryan Reynolds character in one of the safe houses. It provides an emotional backdrop that foreshadows what Ryan Reynolds character will soon experience throughout the various twists and turns in the movie. There were also several quotes by Denzel’s character that I absolutely loved – one of them being from this particular scene.

Overall, I would have to give this movie “5” HIGH FIVES out of five simply because it held my attention the ENTIRE time. I truly respect good acting and appreciate an even better plot. I had extremely HIGH expectations of the film and as you can see from this review, it surely did not disappoint. Go see it!!

N. Renee for Aspire Online Media and The HIGH UP. Follow Atlanta’s multimedia hub on Twitter @AspireOnline!

HIGH Fashion: I Got My Jason Wu!

My Jason Wu Dress!

Last Sunday, women woke early in the morning to shop online or head to a nearby Target store in an attempt to purchase items from the Jason Wu for Target line. I will be the first to tell you, if you were not one of the first ones in the store when it opened, you could hang it up in terms of obtaining ANYTHING. Target has announced that they will periodically have items on the website for sale but will not ship more items to brick and mortar stores. Or, if you really must have an item, you can search eBay but consider yourself warned. People are reselling Jason Wu for Target pieces for much higher prices than they were originally sold for. It’s funny to me how the collection is sold out online and in the stores, but at the time of this article, there are 10,077 Jason Wu for Target items actually for sell.

Now, about a week ago, I wrote a post in which I stated that I was going to attempt to purchase one of the Jason Wu dresses, in particular, the navy a-line dress with red and tan stripes. So, upon waking on Sunday morning (after staying up late refreshing my browser on Target’s website), I checked the site and noticed EVERYTHING was sold out so I trekked to Target on Cobb Parkway outside of Atlanta. Upon arriving 10 minutes before the store opened, there was a crowd of about 20 women. When the doors opened, we quickly hightailed it to the clothes and all I heard were hangers clicking together and clothes shuffling! Within 5 minutes, all of the popular sizes and items were gone and all of us were in dressing rooms trying on our designer finds.

The highlight – I was able to get what I came for (SCORE!) and it seemed that everyone who came in that particular crowd did too! I did see some latecomers who looked simultaneously disappointed and ready to pounce on everyone who had a Jason Wu item. The early bird gets the worm, right?

I’m very pleased with the dress. Its very “Audrey Hepburn-esque” and American girl in Paris because of the fitted bodice and the full skirt. The fit was a bit off for me in the shoulders but nothing a tailor can’t fix. The navy frock is versatile as it can be worn in cooler weather with tights and a blazer, or in warmer weather with a variety of shoes such as sandals, open toe heels, pumps, or wedges and a thin belt. Thank you, Jason Wu! 🙂

Karissa J. Parker for The HIGH UP. Follow @CurlyRissa on Twitter for the latest in beauty, style and fashion trends!