2013 WWE Divas feature diversity, skills, achievements

The cast of the WWE Total Divas reality show (l-r) Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, Natalya, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, and JoJo Offerman

The cast of the WWE “Total Divas” reality show (l-r) Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, Natalya, Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, and JoJo Offerman

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The last pay-per-view event of the year for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) coincided with the season finale of the first year show “Total Divas,” a reality show featuring several of the female talent working at WWE. As millions watched the personal developments of the divas, the “Divas Champion *AJ Lee,” defended her title at the year ending WWE pay-per-view event “Tables, Ladder, and Chairs,” capping an exhilarating year for WWE’s top diva, while expanding the fan base for all the divas.

Current WWE Divas champion AJ Lee.

Current WWE Divas champion AJ Lee.

Lee has had a phenomenal year and has become a fan favorite while earning and retaining the WWE Divas Championship. She was also the general manager of WWE Raw for a short period this year. She has demonstrated the screen presence and charisma the WWE looks for in its talent to help with cross-branding pursuits. Other WWE Divas like *Kaitlyn and *Layla have been WWE Divas Champions over the past couple of years. However, Lee has stood out with her ability to connect with fans on the microphone as well as in the ring. The ability to connect with the crowd is always the toughest challenge for WWE superstars and Lee has become the best WWE diva in that category this year.

(L-R) Layla, Kaitlyn, and Alicia Fox are former WWE Divas Champions on the current WWE roster.

(L-R) Layla, Kaitlyn, and Alicia Fox are former WWE Divas Champions on the current WWE roster.

The WWE Divas were featured prominently on television this year too. The *Bella twins (Brie and Nikki), joined Naomi and Cameron (the Funkadactyls)  on the “Steve Harvey Show.” The twins also appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The twins led the WWE Divas in appearances in non-WWE shows, which has helped to increase the popularity of all the women of the WWE.

“Wresting is a great workout,” The twins and Funkadactyls said as they demonstrated various exercises and dance moves on the Steve Harvey Show, delighting the mostly female audience. “Oh this is good,” Harvey said, clapping his hands in appreciation while the divas took over the stage.

Stacy Keibler (l) and Torrie Wilson while working at WWE.

Stacy Keibler (l) and Torrie Wilson while working at WWE.

The shift to in-ring performance as an emphasis for the divas has resulted in fewer women resembling the former WWE divas like *Sable, Stacy Keibler, and Torrie Wilson who were known more for their beauty than their wrestling ability. While there have always been WWE divas who were known for their wrestling ability, the WWE fans gravitated to the most attractive WWE women, regardless of wrestling ability.  Many of those former WWE divas still maintain public interest , which speaks to their appeal and the wide reach of the WWE audience.

Trish Stratus (l) and Mickie James (r) were popular WWE Divas and Women's Champions in WWE in the past.

Trish Stratus (l) and Mickie James (r) were popular WWE Divas and Women’s Champions in WWE in the past.

The current crop of divas has earmarks of other former WWE divas like *Trish Stratus, *Lita, and *Mickie James, who were lauded for both their beauty and wrestling ability. These woman have gained a different type of exposure than the previous generation of divas as many of the current women at WWE are mainly in-ring performers. The women of the WWE have been able to combine their trademark beauty with the rough and tumble ability necessary to excel in and out of the ring.

The “Total Divas” show has given the *Bella twins, *Natalya, *JoJo Offerman, *Eva Marie, and *Naomi and *Cameron (the Funkadactyls) more exposure on the crowded WWE roster. The “Total Divas” show also included frequent appearances by two of the most popular WWE superstars, *Daniel Bryan, and Jon Cena.

Nikki Bella (l) and Brie Bella (r) have made numerous television appearances this year.

Nikki Bella (l) and Brie Bella (r) have made numerous television appearances this year.

The WWE continues to find a way to promote its many products across multiple platforms and with the divas showcasing their diversity and skills, the potential for greater achievements will continue to grow. .–OnPointPress.net–

* Denotes WWE stage name

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.

Insight, inspiration and fun abound at Circle of Sisters Expo

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Motivational Speaker Iyanla Vanzant elicited the strongest reaction at Circle of Sisters Expo.

By Carmen Glover

The line to enter New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center for the WBLS-sponsored Circle of Sisters Expo on Saturday, October 19, wrapped into a giant circle as eager attendees peered around, impatient to enter the convention hall. But once the line began to move and people started entering the coveted area, the energy, excitement and anticipation were palpable. The event did not disappoint, from vendors promoting products to celebrities and WBLS personalities mingling with fans, Circle of Sisters was off to a promising start.

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Newark Mayor and Senator-elect Cory Booker discussed his plans.

WBLS News Director Ann Tripp gave insight into current news stories while she waited for the panelists to get settled. Then the parade to the podium began and included Norman Seabrook, president of the Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association, Inc (COBA), Ken Thompson, Democratic nominee for Brooklyn’s District Attorney office, WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Livingston and Newark Mayor/Senator-elect Cory Booker. “

Journalist Ed Gordon interviews Activist Al Sharpton

Journalist Ed Gordon interviews Activist Al Sharpton

Booker was engaging as he shared lessons he learned from his father as well as his plans to “make change” when he goes to Washington as New Jersey’s Senator. “I’m looking forward to going to the Senate to talk about our issues that don’t usually get discussed there,’ he said passionately, while observing that “The power of the people is always greater than the people in power.” He left the stage to sustained applause. Afterward, Reverend Al Sharpton discussed his new book with award-winning journalist Ed Gordon while Gospel singer Yolanda Adams talked about healthy living.

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(l-R) Journalists T.J Holmes and Lenny Green share the stage with Singer Eric Benet to discuss relationships.

Among the topics tackled were “It’s your money: Learn how to spend and save it,” “Now It’s time to own your own home,” “The state of Black America,” “Black Men Revealed,” “Book signing and chat with Rev, Al. Sharpton and the Honorable David N. Dinkins. But the highlights of the day were delivered by Iyanla Vanzant, Steve Harvey, and the panelists for “The State of Black America,” and “Black Men Revealed.”

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Journalists Roland Martin and Keli Goff discuss the State of Black America with Dr Michael Eric Dyson.

The panel on “The State of Black America,” moderated by Gordon, featured Georgetown University Sociology Professor Michael Eric Dyson, TV One’s “Washington Watch” host Roland Martin, Journalist Keli Goff and Seabrook, who seemed out of touch when he bashed the relevance of social media. Dyson stressed the importance of leveraging political clout and community strength to “do for ourselves instead of asking folks to do for us.” Goff appealed to the attendees to support the movie “12 Years a Slave,” describing it as the “most accurate depiction of slavery” that she has ever seen because it “shows the psychological impact of slavery.”

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The audience cheers as Iyanla leaves the stage.

Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, who has appeared in “The Wire” and “Taking of Pelham 123,” nearly incited a riot with his brazen thoughts about relationships while joining singer Eric Benet, journalist T. J. Holmes and radio personality Lenny Green on the “Black Men Revealed,’ panel, which was moderated in dramatic style by singer/reality star Tamar Braxton. “ A woman has to try to get my attention and she will know I’m interested if I speak to her for more than five minutes on the telephone,” Akinnagbe said boldly.

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Singer/Reality Star Tamar Braxton moderates relationship panel.

When a female from the crowd took him to task he asked her if she were single then said “I’m not surprised,” when she said yes. At that point, pandemonium erupted and women of all ages ran to the front of the room, dying to wring his neck. Braxton rolled her eyes, glared at him and made it clear she had no use for his thoughts. Holmes sat next to him to offer support, while Benet and Green kept silent. When the topic of cheating came up, Benet said he “knew something about that,” but largely kept quiet.

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WBLS VP/Gm Deon Livingston addresses the gathering.

The sponsors of the Circle of Sisters Expo addressed the audience. Norman Seabrook spoke to the crowd about the importance of COBA and the corrections department. Meanwhile, WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Livingston thanked the attendees for coming out in such large numbers to support the expo.

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WBLS personality Deja Vu talks to the audience.

But the excitement built to a crescendo as the crowd waited for Vanzant. She came out in style, dancing to Beyonce’s “Love on top,” while the crowd erupted in cheers. Vanzant had the audience eating out of her hands from her opening prayer, to her request that each person holds the hands of the one next to them, to her profound words of wisdom.  She urged the attendees to “Get it clean in 2014,” by cleaning up their minds, hearts, life, spirit, mouths, energy and credit. “Whatever you tell yourself about who and what you are it will happen,’ she said, warning about the power of thoughts to manifest into reality. “Clean up your minds by committing to forgiveness,” she said, “we have to stop expecting people to clean up our lives for us.” She left the stage to deafening applause and shouts.

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Comedian/Talk Show Host Steve Harvey performs a comedy routine before hosting a live edition of Family Feud.

By the time Harvey took the stage to treat the audience to a taste of his comedy routine in preparation for a live version of “Family Feud” the crowd was hyped and passionate. The Circle of Sisters was filled with fun, education and supportive interactions. Vendors, including the Network Journal magazine which had promotions maverick Julia Shaw at the helm of its booth, were creative in attracting patrons, while the panelists and presenters were entertaining. Surprise appearances were made by Cynthia Bailey and her husband, Peter of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” while Drea Kelly (ex-wife of singer R. Kelly) elicited gasps of admiration from men and women alike when she strutted by in a form-fitting dress that showcased her remarkable figure.

One area that could be improved is inadequate the number of ladies’ rooms, which created such long lines that some attendees, including this writer, commandeered one of the male bathrooms and posted other females at the door to keep the men out.—OnPointPress.net


Disney Dreamers Academy accepting applications through October 31

E! News host Terrence J (c) is flanked by Husain and Zahra Abd' Allah, who participated in the Disney Dreamers Academy in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

E! News host Terrence J (c) is flanked by Husain and Zahra Abd’ Allah, who participated in the Disney Dreamers Academy in 2013 and 2012, respectively. (All photos by Disney/Julie Hirshenson).

By Carmen Glover

For the past six years, Walt Disney World has partnered with entertainer Steve Harvey and Essence magazine to present the Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA). The DDA provides 100 U.S. high school students, aged 13-19, with a weekend getaway at Walt Disney World. During the weekend, participants are paired with mentors and provided with immersion seminars geared towards careers. The career and mentoring events are interspersed with activities which allow the students to enjoy the sights and sounds of the theme parks.  Applications are currently being accepted for the competitive program and interested students are encouraged to take advantage of the free, event-filled, enlightening weekend event by submitting their applications before the deadline of October 31.

Terrence J and his mother, Lisa Gonzalez, talk about his book.

Terrence J and his mother, Lisa Gonzalez, talk about his book and his fond memories as a mentor with the Disney Dreamers Academy.

Representatives from the Disney Dreamers Academy, including Director of Walt Disney World Public Relations Carole Munroe and  Public Relations Manager Maria Cecilia Toro, were on hand at Trattoria Dell’ Arte in Manhattan on Wednesday, October 2, to talk about the program and the ways in which it changes the lives of the students who have been participants. E! News co-host and actor Terrence J was a featured speaker at the Manhattan event . He talked about his recent book, “The Wealth of My Mother’s Wisdom,” while sharing the stage with his mother, Lisa Gonzalez,. Terrence J answered questions about his life as well as his involvement with the Disney Dreamers Academy as a mentor and speaker. “The deadline is October 31 so if you know anyone that’s young tell them to apply,” he said. “It’s a genuine program. You will see Steve Harvey with a group of men teaching them to tie a tie.”

Members of the media listen as Terrence J and his mother discuss his book.

Members of the media listen as Terrence J and his mother discuss his book and the Disney Dreamers Academy program.

Terrence J also spoke about the degree of dedication that Disney has to the DDA. “Disney is very committed to the event,” he said. “After the event we meet and discuss what worked and what didn’t. They meet with the students to find out what their favorite parts were.“ Describing the joy that he derives from participating in the program,Terrance J said: “The Disney Dreamers Academy is so rewarding and fulfilling. This is the first organization I really sank my teeth into with mentoring. I feel that the program benefits me more than the students.”

Brother and sister Zahra and Husain Abd’Allah, 2012 and 2013 DDA alums, respectively, spoke eloquently about their participation in the program.  When asked what they have learned through their participation in the program, they brightened and talked animatedly, “I learned that you should never give up on your dreams because dreams are the things that make you who you are,” said Zahra, 18, a freshman at Laguardia Community College majoring in communication studies. “I learned that it’s not enough to learn everything. It’s enough to learn enough to help others,” said Husain, 15, who is taking a public speaking class at Hostos Community College. The siblings, who were both home-schooled and are spoken word artists, excelled in the DDA. Zahra was named Ms Curiosity during when she participated, while Husain wrote an original piece called “Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Dreamer” in honor of his DDA class.

Tanisha Sykes, personal finance editor at Essence, described one of the ways in which  the magazine contributes to the weekend’s activities. “At the Disney Dreamers Academy Essence provides a deep dive where we gave an immersion seminar on journalism,” she said. “What I have come to learn,” Sykes said, “is that a dream plus a plan equals success.” Essence, she said, “has been a part of this from the beginning and will continue to be a support.” Zahra said that during her participation in the program she attended a deep dive on health care with Dr Ian Smith as well as the Essence deep dive on journalism. As a result, she said she is considering becoming a journalist.  Husain said he met the founders of the Kinsey Collection during his participation in the journalism deep dive. “I learned to hold fast to my dreams,” he said of the deep dive experience. Keeping with the theme of dreams, Zahra said she learned that “dreams are the blueprint of who you are.”

Applications for the seventh class are being accepted through October 31, 2013 at www.disneysdreamersacademy.com. The next Academy will take place over the weekend of March 6-9, 2014. OnPointPress.net