Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And Where do You "Where To?": FREE Giveaway Winner & Your Tweets!

Forget about making the announcement tomorrow - we have a winner for the first ever
Wilson's "Where To" Guide Twitter contest!

Miss Lindseywon two exclusive tickets to see The Brown Betties' Harlem's Night Cabaretnext Tuesday, March 1st, 7:30pm at The Mint!

Ms. Lindsey won because she just had so many was clear she know how to eat, drink and be merry. Here are the places she selected:
: : Cafe Vida in Pacific Palisades....just get there early so you don't miss their full breakfast menu. So good!

: : @ in Santa Monica...lowkey after work/date spot. good small plates too!

: okay, last one. it just wouldn't be right if i didn't mention @ breakfast. french toast like none other!!

But really, everyone had great suggestions, from happy hours to lounges and outdoor activities. Below is what everyone had to say:

@: best Happy hour at El Toritos Happy Hour! 2-8 pm. 3dolla margaritas

@: you already know where we love to "where to" in LA ! -->

@ I'm going w/ The Room in Santa Monica. Good tomes @ that place & all the bouncers are from London. Gotta love it

@: favorite place to hang out in LA - dockweiler beach bonfires when the weather is warm!

Fav place? The Grove because you can shop, go to the movies, or just simply walk around and grab a bite to eat!

@: favorite place to hang out in LA - Farmers Market / The Grove /Melrose

@: it's lame, but they treat me so good.. RUSH Street, Culver City! =)

@: "Sloopy's" in Manhattan Beach, Ca:

@: favorite place in la Gold Class Cinema and Salt ultra Lounge

And, we even had one person who doesn't have Twitter, but still wanted to participate, Miss Porscha: As for where "I where to" I ABSOLUTELY LOVE " The Huntington Library" It is a beautiful library, art museum and most of all this place houses 127 acres of various unique botanical gardens!!

Thanks to everyone who participated. Look out for more contests in the future!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And Where do You "Where To"?: FREE Giveaway!

The Brown Betties and their sizzling Harlem’s Night Cabaret show
are baaack!

These talented, sensational ladies put on a brilliant cabaret experience full of tantalizing entertainment with memorable characters, comedic scenes and a relatable love story that you’ll think about it long after you’ve left the show.

They’re returning to Los Angeles next Tuesday, March 1st at The Mint, but better yet, I’m giving one lucky person two FREE tickets to the show with exclusive backstage passes after the performance.

So how do you get these tickets? I have to hear from you! Here’s what to do:
Tweet to @WilsonsGuide your favorite place to hang in LA and why it's your favorite spot.
2. The tweeter with the BEST most innovative, unique place to hang in LA, wins the exclusive tickets!

This is a 24-hour contest that goes all throughout today and tomorrow Wednesday, February 23rd until 5pm; the lucky winner will be announced on this blog on Thursday morning.

And in case you don’t know who the illustrious Brown Betties are, click here to learn more.

Can't wait to see where you hang!

For more information:
Brown Betties: Harlem’s Night Cabaret

Doors open @ 6:30pm, Show starts @ 7:30pm

The Mint

6010 Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

*Please note: Tickets are good for standing room only; table reservations are separate

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Where to be Merry: The 19th Annual Pan African Film Festival

February has been a sensationally action-packed month. Between dinela Restaurant Week, the GRAMMY Awards and the upcoming NBA All-Star weekend, I am ecstatically overjoyed to have this many excuses to put on a cute outfit and step out onto the town practically every single night of the week.

But there’s something even bigger and better that begins today – something that is personally one of the highlights my year – something that I look forward to each and every February.

That “something” is the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF).

Now in its 19th year, this 8-day festival (Tuesday, February 16th – Wednesday, February 23rd) features documentaries, shorts and feature films that celebrate experiences and stories from the African Diaspora. It’s a whirlwind of a week, with inspiring films, informative workshops, entertaining panels, an extravagant gala and even a hip-hop theater performance.

As someone who always roots for the underdog, I personally love PAFF because I can watch so much compelling, original content that doesn’t always make it into mainstream media outlets. To view underground hip-hop documentaries like The Art of 16 Bars (PAFF, 2006) or to have tears streaming down my cheek during comedic date movies like Speed Dating (PAFF 2010, pictured to the right) just really makes my day. The icing on the cake is that more often than not, filmmakers – directors, actors and producers – attend the screenings and will engage in impromptu Q&A sessions after the films. You truly never know who may be sitting in the seat next to you, asking for a handful of your popcorn.

So what can you expect to see this year? More than 100 diverse projects hailing from all over the world – from Africa and Europe, to all throughout North and South America. Check out the PAFF website to find out more about times and shows.

See you there!

For more information:
19th Annual Pan African Film Festival
Screening Location:
Culver Plaza Theatres
9919 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles 90232
(310) 337-4737

- Why go to PAFF? In the words of one wise lady and friend, Tulani: “PAFF means to me: Tradition, Culture, Expression, Awareness. As a young child, I attended PAFF with my mother. Back then I didn't fully understand the importance of such an organization. Now,
at 23 I GET IT! I enjoy embracing the African Diaspora by learning and supporting others. For I know in almost every featured film, there is some relation to ‘me,’ a mention of ‘you,’ a resemblance of ‘us.’"

- What short films to see? The riveting Grace, a short film about a mother and her heroin-addicted pregnant daughter. The film’s writer/director
Roni Nicole describes it as “a moving and beautiful portrait of unconditional love.”

Also check out Bathroom Vanities (pictured to the right), directed by Christopher Scott Cherot (Hav Plenty). Producer/Actor Dele Ogundiran says: "The film takes a don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover comedy about one woman’s unforgettable experience in a public restroom."

- What feature film to watch? Gang Girl: A Mother's Journey to Save Her Daughter (Pictured to the left). A daughter’s involvement in an LA gang propels one mother into a dramatic journey. Co-Producer Delena Turman states: “It is an extraordinary documentary created by Valerie Goodloe, an extraordinary professional photographer. The film is beautiful and truly for anyone. It tells a story that hasn't been told before yet affects everyone…”

- How much? Regular ticket prices range from $9-$11; special PAFF event tickets range from $15-$150; and festival passes are $55 and $300.

- And anything else? I’m telling you: you really can’t just see one movie – you have to see at least two or three. Take the afternoon or go on separate occasions to discover great new films that you’ll surely fall in love with.

*Photos courtesy of the Pan African Film Festival and participating films

Friday, February 11, 2011

And Where Do You "Where To?": Brian McKnight

This past Tuesday night, I attended a FREE, intimate concert at the Avalon Hollywood, hosted by Grammy-nominated R&B singer Brian McKnight. The occasion? McKnight filmed footage from the show to be included in his upcoming Just Me album and DVD release, slated to hit stores this April.

The concert itself was incredible. I had forgotten how many songs McKnight had made, until I found myself singing along to practically each and every one. I wasn’t the only one either; more than a thousand people packed the venue’s three levels, swaying and grooving to hits like “Love of My Life” and “Find Myself in You.”

I also conducted an exclusive, in-depth interview with McKnight. Read below, and also find out where in the San Fernando Valley McKnight likes to hang:

MW: The concert on Tuesday night was absolutely phenomenal. What prompted you to do a live concert DVD at this point in your career?
McKnight: With all the other concerts that I’ve done over the years, they’ve been all pretty much what you’d expect – your band and crew and video screens. When last year I decided to do this one-man show, I really didn’t know what to expect from people who were coming to see it. But because of the response to that particular show and because most people really have no idea who I am – they know the songs I write and they get an idea based on that – but that isn’t who I am. I think that Tuesday night, you got the chance to see the real me in addition to what I do and how I do it. So once I saw that, I was like, well maybe it was a good thing that I hadn’t done a live DVD yet because it probably would have been just like anything else anybody else does. This is something that I’ve never really seen before, and I thought it’d be something great captured on film.

MW: What was the selection process behind the songs that you decided to perform for the show?
McKnight: You know, that’s a hard question to answer because there are obviously songs that I have to play. Beyond that, I really chose songs to play that told my story. And I know that there were songs that maybe people wanted to hear and maybe I didn’t do, but it was probably somewhat like another song that I had to do that really made sense in the framework of the story itself. It made more sense to do this song because I wanted to showcase the way I write and why I write that way, and sometimes, some of the more popular songs don’t necessarily do that. They show me wanting commercial success [laughs], which I had with those songs.

MW: Are there any songs of yours that are your favorites to perform?
McKnight: I love them all. See, when you write them the way I do – all the songs I did the other night with the exception of “Crazy Love” I wrote – they all have their own unique story behind them, and they all have a different meaning for me. So for me there isn’t one that’s better than the other. I’ll leave that up to the people who listen to them. And like I said at the show, if you have one song of mine that you like, then I’m happy.

MW: So what are some songs that audiences go wild for? I remember everyone went crazy for “Anytime.”
McKnight: I put the three biggest hits at the end for that reason: “Anytime,” “Back at One” and “One Last Cry” are the biggest. But it’s always amazing to me the songs that people call out when I do the request period. That’s when I know those songs that may not be the most popular ones on the radio but are the ones that people actually listen to on the CD. Because we’ve become a single buying sort of audience where you don’t know the other songs on people’s records, my fans don’t know all of my songs. But, some of them know the songs better than I do, and I wrote them [laughs].

MW: I have to ask about Melita, the one lucky lady whom you pulled onto stage to serenade. How did she get selected?
McKnight: I know that people are always surprised about the woman who comes up. I want to give the woman who no one would expect to get that opportunity her chance. In my shows, I want to give that woman the opportunity to come onstage and have their moment with me. I love that idea that I can do that for someone. And again, you know most people I’ve seen who bring women out of the audience – it’s usually for them – it isn’t for the woman [laughs]. For me, it’s really about that person, because this is her moment, and it may be her only moment when it comes to certain things, so I want be able to give that to her.

MW: During the show you told a lot of stories about how you came from a very musical family – how your mother’s a classically trained pianist and your older brother Claude formed the music group Take 6. Did you always know you wanted to pursue music professionally?
McKnight: Not at all. When I was a kid, it was the furthest thing from my mind because I didn’t think it was possible. People you see on television, they’re from another planet. They’re not like those of us who are just from some small town playing at a local gig. It wasn’t until my brother actually was on the GRAMMYs and they had a record out and were getting all these accolades that I said “Oh wow.” So maybe it is possible. And then I looked at the prize until I got it.

MW: And now you’ve been in the industry 20 years. And, it’s apparent that you’re serious about your craft. But I have to admit – at the concert, I was really shocked at how funny you were. You had the crowd laughing every five minutes.
McKnight: [Laughs] I think that’s the thing that people are most surprised about because if you listen to my songs, you’d think that I’m this guy that sits around contemplating love and life all the time, and never smiles, and never has a good time, and am just always down. But that’s not me at all. I write about moments in time, and most of the time I’m goofing off completely. I really wanted people to see that side and I think that they’ve seen it when they come to my concerts because there’s always stories and things like that, but not to this magnitude that I do in this particular show. But here’s the other thing; I sing 90% of slow songs in this show. In order to keep the pace moving and not make you feel like you’re sitting through two hours of love songs, I have to figure out a way to bridge the gap between those songs. For me, that would make sense to be humorous and find the funny side of life.

MW: I definitely had tears rolling down my cheeks at some points. Also another part of the show that was really special was when you brought your two sons BJ and Niko onstage and performed with them. What’s that like when you’re with them?
McKnight: There’s not a whole lot that can beat that. The three of us – we’re so close and we work so well together. They have their own thing – they’re not trying to be me. They’ve figured out a way to create what they create their own way, and I think it’s wonderful. Any opportunity I have to perform with them, I take it. We’ve been doing that together now for three years. Their records are about to start coming out so it’s going to be less and less time that I’ll be able to do that with them. So now I’ll continue to have it as much as I can.

MW: After being in the music industry for so long, how do you think an artist like yourself can continue to maintain longevity in an industry that’s constantly changing?
McKnight: Well I’m lucky. I came along at a time when people still wanted quote-on-quote “artistry.” I think if I was trying now, it would be very difficult. But I think that I’ve never compromised on trying to do something different than what my audience has expected from me. So I just do that. I don’t worry about, you know, the commercial aspects of it anymore because it’s a dying thing for my side of the business. But I can still sell out 150 shows a year because I’ve never given my audience less than what they’ve expected from me. I think I’ve always given them more.

MW: You have an upcoming tour for the summer and also your Just Me album, so could you talk about what we can expect from you in the future?
McKnight: For me it’s always the immediate future. There’s this record – they were recording that. That’s part of the CD. There are four new songs on that CD as well. And then the DVD component of that will be released shortly thereafter. I hope that when people hear that stuff, they want to see how it came about as well. And then on top of that, the tour that goes along with that with my boys playing their stuff and my brother from Take 6 will come over. We’ll have sort of a McKnight family reunion onstage and just tell you even more of the stories that I told the other night. Beyond that, I don’t know. That’ll take me all the way to September. It’s some other things on the horizon that I’m not really willing to talk about right now. But, I’m good until about September, October.

MW: Can you give us a sneak peak, or is it all a secret?
McKnight: Not that it’s a secret. There are a couple of TV things that are on my plate that I’m vacillating back and forth about. There are a couple of other things that have nothing to do with music or television or entertainment at all. They are right there at the finish line but we haven’t crossed the line yet, so I don’t want to jinx that. So you know, just preparing for the future in other ways beyond my own career and what I’ve done.

MW: Nice. And then just at the end of the day, what is the legacy that you hope to leave behind through your music?
McKnight: You know what, if they write something on my tombstone, hopefully they write that hey, this guy wrote really good songs. That’s all I care about [laughs].

MW: And I have to ask you – where is your favorite place to go out in Los Angeles. Do you have a favorite restaurant or bar or club or lounge?
McKnight: Actually my favorite restaurant is right in Studio City. It’s called Il (I-L) Tiramisu. They’re a nice family-owned Italian restaurant that I love.

MW: Thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed the concert and I really enjoyed speaking with you as well.
McKnight: Thank you. No problem.

For more information:

**Photography by Michael Danger Productions**

Monday, February 7, 2011

And Where do you "Where To?": Phonte of The Foreign Exchange

With every calculated step, Grammy-nominated The Foreign Exchange redefines what it means to be versatile, influential artists. The unusual way in which the duo created its first studio album – with Phonte the vocalist in North Carolina and Nicolay the producer in The Netherlands never meeting once – proved that trivial matters like face-to-face interactions were irrelevant when it comes to making thought-provoking music.

And now, with nine years behind them, a Grammy nomination, a third studio album Authenticity released last October and wrapping up a European tour, Phonte and Nicolay are at it again, preparing to release the music video for their 2nd new single, “Authenticity.”

Over the weekend, I had the chance to drop by the FE “Authenticity” music video shoot. Housed in the vibrantly urbane Papillion Institute of Art in downtown Los Angeles, the set’s flashing lights, billowing clouds of smoke and exposed brick walls made the perfect backdrop for some steamy nightclub scenes.

I got a sneak peak into the music video’s deviously entertaining plot and I also had the chance to talk with Phonte to find out more about what “Authenticity” is all about, what he and Nicolay had been up to and – of course – where he likes to hang in L.A.:

Miss Wilson (MW): For someone who may not be familiar with your work with The Foreign Exchange, how would you best describe it?
PHONTE: Just really soulful music. Really soulful, with like a kind of electronic edge. That’s probably the best way I could describe it. But it’s based in soul – you know what I’m saying? – with more of an electronic 80's pop kind of edge to it in a lot of ways. That’s probably the best way I could describe it.

MW: You and Nicolay had worked together for a very long time and even completed an album together before ever meeting. So when and where was it that you two met, and what was it like meeting him for the first time?
PHONTE: The first time we actually met in person was in 2004 in Holland, in Amsterdam. We had a show – a Little Brother show – and I went over there and we met face-to-face for the first time. But that was after our album was done. It was cool. I had been working with him for like a year and a half, so by the time we met, it was just like, “alright.” It wasn’t as crazy as you’d think.

MW: "Authenticity" is the name of the song that you’re shooting the video for today. How did you come up with the title? What is it about?
PHONTE: "Authenticity" was actually one of the first songs I wrote for this album. And the song is kind of about… Well I don’t really like saying what the songs are about because I like people to judge their own meaning. But it’s just definitely about the search for truth and how a lot of people say they want the truth, but they really don’t want it.

MW: What was the creative process behind it?

PHONTE: Nic had sent the track to me and I sat around with it for a little while. And then the lyrics just came to me one day and I started writing to it, and that was it. It was a pretty simple process.

MW: Did it take a long time?
PHONTE: No. Once I actually sat down and focused on it, it didn’t really take a long, long time. Sometimes Nic will send me a beat and I’ll just ride around with it for weeks, for months before I even write, just to get a feel for it. But once I actually sit down and get a lock on, it comes pretty naturally.

MW: Could you tell us a little about the concept behind the music video?
PHONTE: The concept behind this video? It’s about secrets and a guy that is having to live with his secrets and eventually having to confront his secrets. And so that’s all I’ll say (laughs).

MW: You had been touring in Europe last month, so how was that?
PHONTE: Europe was a lot of fun. That was our first time really going there as The Foreign Exchange. It was a lot of fun. The crowds were really good. We sold out London twice. We sold out Paris. It was dope.

MW: Was there a particular song that fans seem to gravitate towards?
PHONTE: "Come Around" is always a good song. The first single off of Authenticity – "Maybe She’ll Dream of Me" – that went over good every night. "Take Off the Blues" was another fan favorite. Every night people loved that one.

MW: Do you personally have a favorite song off of Authenticity?
PHONTE: One of my favorites is probably "Laughing at your Plans," which was a joint I did with singer Chantae Cann out of Atlanta.

MW: That’s actually my favorite song as well!
PHONTE: Oh, well thank you, thank you! But yeah, "Laughing at your Plans" is probably definitely one of my favorites just because we stepped into a genre that we really don’t work in – country – and we did it our way. So that I thought was kind of a milestone for us.

MW: Since you just came off of a tour in Europe, do you have any plans to return to LA to perform?
PHONTE: Yeah, we’ll be back. Probably sometime in the summertime. We get love in LA – LA shows us a lot of love.

MW: Also, is there any place in particular that you like to go out in LA – any restaurant, nightclub or bar?
PHONTE: Worldwide Tacos on MLK [Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd.]. I fucks with Worldwide Tacos. That’s what I’m fuckin’ with.

MW: I haven’t been!
PHONTE: That shit is like that. Worldwide Tacos. Shout out to my man, Fred. Worldwide Tacos. That’s the spot.

MW: What would you recommend getting?
PHONTE: The raspberry chipotle shrimp. You need that. Or the barbeque chicken or the barbeque shrimp. But the raspberry chipotle? That’s what it is. That’s winning football.

MW: Thanks so much for your time - I really appreciate.PHONTE: My pleasure.

For More information:

2419 W. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008

And Where do you "Where To?": Director Matthew Cherry

While I was at The Foreign Exchange's "Authenticity" music video shoot at the Pappillion Institute of Art over the weekend, not only did I speak with Phonte, the vocalist of the duo, but I also had a chance to talk with the video’s director Matthew Cherry (pictured to the left). This former NFL player left the glamorous life of football, fame and fortunate to pursue his directing dreams in the entertainment industry.

After directing solid music videos for R&B and Neo-soul artists like Onitsha and Kindred, Cherry is now creating even bigger music and film projects through Transparent Filmworks, the production company he co-founded with business partner Scott Hebert.

Read on to learn more about Cherry, his take on The Foreign Exchange’s “Authenticity” music video, his future plans and of course, his favorite LA hangout destination:

MW: How exactly did you get into directing music videos?
CHERRY: Well I’ve worked as a PA [production assistant] on the TV shows Girlfriends and The Game, and I wanted to get into directing, just trying to figure out an in. And I love music. I always watched The Box, MTV and BET and stuff. I figured that doing music videos would be a good way to transition into doing narrative films and short films and feature films. But I didn’t want to do rap videos. I wanted to do R&B videos because most of these songs actually have a storyline, and I figured it would be easier for me to show my music video work to get a feature film if they have a storyline in it. This was back when MySpace was poppin’. I just reached out to different artists. Terry Dexter, Kindred – I’d send them all treatments and told them basically I would do it for free to try to get an in. Luckily, the first couple of people looked out and more work begets more work. You do one and you leverage that to get the next one. So it’s been kind of what’s been happening with this one.

MW: I understand you used to play football professionally, so how was making the transition from doing sports full-time, to being in the entertainment industry full-time professionally?
CHERRY: It’s very humbling. You go from people pampering you and making a lot of money to getting coffee and not even making $20,000 a year. It’s definitely a humbling experience, but it was cool.

MW: Can you talk a little about the concept behind the "Authenticity" music video today?
CHERRY: It’s really about a guy who’s living a double life. He’s doing the most. He kind of wants to leave his girl, but he wants to kind of confess to her what’s going on, but he knows that she wouldn’t be able to handle it. You hear the verse of the song: you don’t want the truth from me/you just want what you want. So we’re just showing that in a strong narrative way. Showing a guy that’s doing the most, dealing with three or four different women, and then comes back home to his wife. At the end of the day he thinks about being with her but it just doesn’t work out.

MW: Who came up with the concept – was it you or Phonte and Nicolay?
CHERRY: Me and Phonte, we collaborated on it. We both came together. He had an idea that he told me about. I liked it, so we expanded on it. I kind of added like this really cool introduction shot that’s real artsy and a couple of more things. But most of it was Phonte’s, and I just spiced it up.

MW: Is that the way you usually work when you’re working with different artists?
CHERRY: Everybody’s different, man. Some artists, they don’t care at all about the concept. They just want you to give them something hot. Some artists are very collaborative. Like Phonte is by far the most collaborative person I’ve dealt with.

MW: When will it be released?
CHERRY: I’m not sure. But it will probably be on VH1 or VH1 Soul or something like that.

MW: Who are some of your favorite artists?
CHERRY: Jill Scott. I need her. I need her and India.Arie and Musiq. That’s what I need.

MW: Nice. So where is your favorite place to frequent in Los Angeles, like a bar, restaurant or lounge?
CHERRY: I don’t know. Probably Starbucks because I be in there using the free WIFI (laughs).

MW: Do you have any memorable venues that you shot your music videos in LA?
CHERRY: Not necessarily. It’s really more so using friends. You just reach out to people and just kind of go like that.

MW: Anything else to add?
CHERRY: The Foreign Exchange, Phonte, it’s coming out. It’s gonna be hot. We’re gonna do bigger and better things in 2011, hopefully get these feature films going.

MW: Well good luck with everything for sure. That's it - thank you so much!
CHERRY: Thank you as well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And Where do you "Where To"?: Made Woman Edition

Recently, I had a chance to find out which two favorite places that two of my favorite people - Lindsey and Serena, creators of Made Woman Magazine - like to frequent.

Here's what they had to share!

The Lounge Spot
Serena and Lindsey say: "Whether you're meeting up with a colleague or just grabbing a drink with the girls, the rooftop of Thompson Hotel is the perfect backdrop. Ride the old-school elevator all the way up and take in the 360 degree view of the city. The background music, drinks and appetizers offer just the right atmosphere to chat, sip and reconnect. In the warmer months, the rooftop pool is a special treat."

The Brunch Spot

Serena and Lindsey advise: "It is oh, so important to have a brunch spot on deck for meetings, gatherings with friends or a mid-day reward. Our new favorite brunch spot is Barefoot on Third Street, located in mid-town LA. They offer a unique combination of breakfast and lunch classics. The food is delicious - light, but filling, and there's enough variety to satisfy even the pickiest of palates. Barefoot’s dishes can boast of rich flavors and colors yet somehow manage to be as comforting as Mom’s home cooking. The ambiance is perfect for people-watching or a great convo. Also, the wonderful service is a breath of fresh air in a city where snooty wait staff tends to be all too common."

For more information:
Thompson Hotel Beverly Hills
9360 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA

8722 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048

About Made Woman Magazine: Made Woman Magazine is an online magazine and networking platform for today's professional woman. More than a website, we offer a new take on sisterhood in the digital age and the opportunity to make real connections. Check us out at!!