Monday, 31 October 2016

THE TALLAWAH INTERVIEW: Dahlia Harris talks movie roles, creative challenges, and plans for a music career

RISE & SHINE: "As an actress, I aim for diversity," Harris says of her impressive body of work.

You can say this for Dahlia Harris: she is hard work personified. When she’s not brightening up morning TV as a co-host on Smile Jamaica, she’s producing hit plays like this season’s remount of Same Difference, lending her expertise as a creative/cultural consultant and PR whiz, nurturing young theatre talent, and landing her first lead movie role, in Lennie Little-White’s ensemble comedy-drama It’s A Family Affair, which opens in local cinemas this week. And that’s not all: she’ now making plans to embark on a singing career(!) and mounting another gospel play – a musical tribute to The Grace Thrillers. TALLAWAH recently caught up with the wonder woman (currently in her mid-40s) at the Phoenix Theatre to hear about what’s new and what’s next in the Dahlia-sphere. 

TALLAWAH: By now everybody has seen the trailer for It’s A Family Affair, in which you tackle your first cinematic lead role, playing a frustrated wife who strikes it rich! What was the overall experience of making this movie like for you?
Dahlia Harris: I think one of the things that worked for us was that we had a very good team. Every single person was committed to getting it done. We only had six days, but there was no complaining. Everybody just stepped up to the plate, and that’s how we got it done.

TALLAWAH: And comedy kingpin Ity Ellis plays your police-officer husband. On set, how were you all able to stay serious long enough to finish the shoot?
Dahlia Harris: (Laughs). Well, knowing that we had to remember the lines kept us serious. Working with Ity was a bag of laughs. Everything coming out of him is so funny, but as an actor he takes his work seriously.

TALLAWAH: Based on the feedback you’ve received since the recent premiere, what are people saying about It’s A Family Affair?

Dahlia Harris: It’s not yet open in the cinemas, so a lot of people haven’t seen it. But those who I spoke to, who came to the premiere, say they enjoyed it.

TALLAWAH: So Miss Movie Star, are more film roles in your future?
Dahlia Harris: I hope so! We all had to audition for this film, so for me it will depend on what the next film is about. But doing more film is something I’m looking forward to.

TALLAWAH: You’re known for your work in the theatre, television, public relations, the culture ministry, and now cinema. What is your true passion?
Dahlia Harris: If I said music would you believe me (Laughs). At different times I enjoy different things. I’m definitely passionate about my work in theatre. But, generally, it depends on what’s happening at that specific time.

TALLAWAH: Speaking of the theatre, over the years you’ve portrayed a fantastic array of strong Jamaican women on the stage. Which ones do you find that you reflect on the most?
Dahlia Harris: There are so many of them. But, career-wise, once I’m finished with a role I try not to bring that character back. I used to do a lot of comedic roles in my early years, then mostly dramatic roles. And doing It’s A Family Affair, there’s a lot of comedy in it. As an actress, I aim for diversity. 

TALLAWAH: DMH Productions has been doing amazingly well, churning out quality Jamaican theatre and succeeding where others have failed. As a theatre producer, how do you deal with the challenges?
Dahlia Harris: It’s not easy, and it’s particularly difficult when you don’t have your own space, which affects the frequency of your work. You basically have to work with what’s available. I said I’d do a gospel play and a regular play every year, but because of space I haven’t been able to do that. But my next gospel play is a musical tribute to The Grace Thrillers, because when I looked at their repertoire I realized that so many of their songs address a lot of the social issues the country is facing right now. 

TALLAWAH: That’s a clever idea. On reflection, Dahlia, what does success mean to you now? 
Dahlia Harris: Just being able to put on quality shows, establishing a certain standard and maintaining it. When an audience member comes up to me and says, ‘Dahlia, that was a great show; I enjoyed that.’ That’s success for me.

TALLAWAH: What’s next for you? What’s left to accomplish?
Dahlia Harris: I want to do some music. I’ve always wanted to do some recording, but I never had the time. I’ve been in discussions with Dennis Howard about doing some songs, so we’ll see what happens.

TALLAWAH: Introducing Dahlia the songstress! How intriguing! (Laughs). Given your vast success and been-there, done-that expertise, what advice do you always give to youngsters?
Dahlia Harris: Take your work seriously. If you don’t have the focus and the discipline, you can’t go anywhere. Take what you do seriously; approach it with an open mind and a willingness to grow. 

> It’s A Family Affair opens at Palace Cinemas nationwide this Wednesday, November 2.






A BEAUTIFUL MIND: Brian George hailed for his brilliance, generosity and work ethic at thanksgiving service

HARD TO SAY GOODBYE: Holness offering words of comfort to George's widow, Keneea, at Saturday's service. (Below) the late business titan with sons Matt and Chris in happier times.

“It was a wonderful experience knowing Brian George, who had such a joyous relationship with life,” shared Rev. Dr. Robert Thompson, as he delivered the homily at Saturday’s service of celebration and thanksgiving to mark the passing of a man who’s can-do spirit, work ethic and sheer stamina, generosity and fierce commitment to family and corporate social responsibility never failed to inspire those around him. 

During Saturday’s well-attended service, at the St. Andrew Parish Church in Half-Way-tree, where PM Andrew Holness, Dr. Peter Phillips and Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange sat up front, George was repeatedly hailed for the remarkable talents and qualities that seemed to guarantee his success.

His good friend Walter Scott, who delivered the remembrance, drew special attention to the fact that despite health challenges over the last two-and-a-half years, George was always working, fulfilling his duties as President and CEO of Supreme Ventures Limited, one of the largest publicly traded companies in Jamaica – under the chairmanship of his recruiter Paul Hoo, who read the First Lesson. “He had breathtaking agility. The speed and sharpness of his mind was Bolt-like, but he was neither pompous nor arrogant with his supremacy,’ said Scott, who also couldn’t help recalling occasions that highlighted his wit and humour.

Trini-born but Jamaican to the core, Brian George was an avid basketball player and a football running back at New Orleans’ Tulane University back in the day. His great passion for sports seems to have rubbed off on his beloved boys, sons Matthew, 32, and Christopher, 31, who represented his native Trinidad & Tobago in water polo at the Rio Olympics. “A father couldn’t be happier or prouder of his sons,” Scott said.

But best of all, he went on, George found the love of a good woman in Keneea Linton, the fashion-design whiz who nursed him back to health in the rough times and gave him the best seven years of his life via their “transformational” marriage.

For Chris and Matthew, who couldn’t hold back the tears as they took turns reading their tributes, Brian was “the perfect father”, the consummate social butterfly who “was always smiling” and whose “need to help others was unparalleled.” “My father belonged to all and he shared so much of himself with everybody,” Chris told the rapt congregation. “He had a depth of character that is rare in Jamaican men.” Said Matthew, “Jamaica gave him a strong foundation to begin the next chapter of his life here. But he was the perfect father – always present and just a phone call away.” 

Brian George, who also worked with the National Health Fund and the CHASE Fund, died last week at the Andrew’s Memorial Hospital of a massive heart attack. He was 59 years old. Saturday’s reflective mid-afternoon service for a life well-lived drew a classy, well-dressed mix of colleagues, well-wishers and government officials. Among the mourners in attendance: Dr. Omar Davies, Mark Golding, Lisa Hanna, Peter Bunting and P.J. Patterson. 

> GONE TOO SOON: News of Brian George’s death brings a wave of tributes






Saturday, 29 October 2016

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK: Moses heads to North Carolina + Shayne & Julene’s dynamic duo + UWI’s Tallawah Fest aims for more

STAGE PRESENCE: “Nonsense coming out of a pretty woman’s mouth ain’t nonsense at all; it’s poetry.” Those flirtatious words delivered with no shortage of élan by Julene Robinson, playing Camae, the sassy maid who cherishes her “press-and-curl” and likes her coffee “black and bitter” – opposite Shayne Powell as Dr. Martin Luther King – in The Mountaintop. Sharing a sexy, playful chemistry that evolves into something intense, Powell and Robinson were the alternates to Alwyn Scott and Shantol Jackson during the recent run, turning up the heat in a well-made show that ranks among the best productions to grace the Jamaican stage this year. (Kudos to director Patrick Brown!) While Robinson has the pull and passion of an Angela Bassett (who, coincidentally, originated Camae on Broadway, alongside Samuel L. Jackson), Powell’s strong MLK is a troubled preacherman committed to the civil rights struggle but has obviously hit a slippery slope in his personal life. Together, Robinson and Powell sizzle under the lights in a gut-punching two-hander that speaks volumes of writer Katori Hall’s creative imagination and the bright future careers awaiting this couple of talented, fast-rising thespians.

THAT TIME OF YEAR: Every year, local tertiary institutions send out their most talented performers to vie for prizes at the Tallawah Festival at the Philip Sherlock Centre, UWI Mona. Traditionally held in November, the festival provides the youngsters with a terrific platform for artistic and creative expression and audiences with quality entertainment, especially at Best of Tallawah’s crème-de-la-crème showcase. This year’s staging will be just as exhilarating. “It’s coming up and promises to be exciting,” chief organizer Michael Holgate tells us. “I know Dr. [Brian] Heap has done workshops and [lighting director] Nadia Roxburgh has also done workshops. So the quality should be at the usual level, even better this year.” But there’s always room for growth, Holgate makes clear, and the Philip Sherlock team is always looking to spice things up. “We have improved it, but I want it to become an international festival, where we have people from the region and other countries coming here to compete with our local talents,” Holgate explains. “We need a bigger space though. Some new buildings are to be built on campus with Chinese money, and we’ve been promised the Old Dramatic Theatre. And with that kind of larger space, we’ll be able to accommodate lots more people.”

GLOBAL ‘MISSION’: Jamaican theatregoers are not the only ones who’ll get to witness the visual spectacle and sturdy performances that helped make Father HoLung & Friends’ Moses remount such an award-winning triumph. At present, the cast and crew is gearing up to on a stellar show at North Carolina’s Halton Theatre. It’s a major fundraising effort for the Nelson Mandela Prize-winning Missionaries of the Poor, who have embarked on new charitable endeavours all the way in East Timor. “Those funds will go towards our brothers’ work with lepers in East Timor. The brothers will make sure that medication is available to them, that is the first step – then having clothes, food and shelter,” Father HoLung explains. “There we will build a monastery, and an apostolate of Jamaican brothers will sing, play musical instruments and dance, even while they work with these poorest of people.”






NOTHING TO FEAR: Big laughs, ‘epic’ drama make Madea’s 'Halloween' a real treat

SILENT NIGHT: Madea (right) and gal pal Bam keep watch in this scene from Perry's latest laugh-a-minute comedy.

In a previous life, Madea Simmonds was a very successful stripper. That’s just one of her many outrageous confessions in Tyler Perry’s latest big-screen comedy, Boo! A Madea Halloween, a laugh-out-loud riff on family dynamics and parenting, teenage angst and the world of college kids and frat parties – and the dreaded fear factor.

When it comes to his Madea flicks, Perry (who takes on multiple acting roles, in addition to his writer-director-producer credits), has never refrained from ratcheting up the hilarity and making smart, keen observations about the Black experience with his trademark wit, morality and preachiness. It’s all here, with the expected forgivable flaws – and enough Madea punchlines to keep you quoting long after you leave the cineplex.

It’s Halloween and Brian Simmonds (Perry) needs a ‘babysitter’ at his home to keep an eye on his young son and headstrong 17-year-old daughter Tiffany (Diamond White, one to watch) when he leaves for the night to tend to some business. He calls up aunt Madea (Perry) and not until he opts to pay her that she agrees to take the job, with her gossiping gal pals Bam (Cassi Davis) and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) tagging along. Her brother Joe (Brian’s dad, played by Perry) also winds up in the mix.

The adults are in for a warm time when the kids decide to roll out the tricks and pranks. Things later heat up when Tiffany and her BFF Aday sneak off to attend the party at the frathouse down the street, giving Madea no choice to go over there – and set it off if necessary. But it’s Halloween, so the freaks and ghouls are out in their numbers and, to say the least, Madea soon realizes that she isn’t as tough as fearless as she thought.

As with most Perry productions, it’s the high comedic quotient that’s worth the price of admission, and Boo does not disappoint. As Madea, Perry is an unstoppable force. There’s no telling what will pop out of her mouth next, but her timing always hits the mark. At the same time, there are valuable life lessons to be gleaned from the film as well, and sobering ideas for raising teenagers, especially if you, like Brian, don’t believe in corporal punishment.

Overall, Boo! A Madea Halloween offers a mixed bag of tricks, but the big laughs and ‘epic’ drama are a real treat. Tyrone’s Verdict: B






Friday, 28 October 2016

SOCIETY, SOCIETY: US Ambassador’s vision for Jamaica; farewell to Brian George…

The Way Forward
AMCHAM of Jamaica’s glitzy Business and Civic Leadership Awards for Excellence ceremony has come and gone, but days later folks are still talking about that rousing speech given by US Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis Moreno, who renewed his promise to bring at least US$1 billion of private investments to Jamaica before he completes his tour of duty. Glorious news. “This is a beautiful country, full of extraordinary people, gold-medal winners and multiplatinum recording artistes, a dynamic private sector and a dedicated and honorable civil service,” he told the room full of award recipients, nominees and well-wishers, inside the Jamaica Pegasus ballroom. The ambassador is obviously fond of his host country and sees a bright future ahead. If only we could find a way to eliminate the social ills by taking a collaborative approach. “Together we can defeat lotto scamming and bring down the homicide rate,” he says. “Together we can root out corruption and bring more investments that can turn Jamaica into the modern powerhouse of the region.”

Final Respects
And speaking of important men, the grief over the death of Supreme Ventures boss Brian George is still fresh, and the tributes have been countless. We are expecting to see dozens of corporate players, media practitioners, sportsmen and government officials paying their final respects at the thanksgiving service to celebrate his life and legacy at the St. Andrew Parish Church in Half-Way-Tree on Saturday. The service commences at 3pm.

The Lucky Ones
On a lighter note, she’s been off the radar for quite some time, but former Miss Jamaica World Danielle Crosskill has resurfaced – with a dazzling rock on her finger! As we hear, the glamour girl and longtime beau Adrien LeMaire have made it official. The newlyweds put in a rare public appearance last Tuesday night, joining the fashion jet-set supporting the 2016 launch of the Collections MODA at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston. “She’s really enjoying her life,” a source close to the couple tells TALLAWAH. “I think she’s met her match.”

> LOSER OF THE WEEK: The verdict in the X6 Murder Trial. Shocking.
> WINNER OF THE WEEK: The Fashion Directory @ Devon House. Spectacular.






Thursday, 27 October 2016

GOOD NEWS: Entries now open for Sagicor's Imagine Awards + Missionaries of the Poor receive Nelson Mandela Prize

CALLED TO SERVE: For the more than four decades that Missionaries of the Poor have been carrying out charitable work from Kingston to Timbuktu, their tireless efforts have been recognized with awards from organizations far and wide. In addition to the Gusi Peace Prize (the Far East equivalent of the Nobel Prize) and the Martin Luther King Award (from the US Embassy), the Father Richard HoLung-led army has received the keys to the city of Miami and a humanitarian award from Jamaica's Wisynco Group. Now comes their latest honour: the 2016 Nelson Mandela Award for Human Rights, presented by the Sunshine Awards out of Manhattan, New York. “We are grateful and thankful that such work is blessed and regarded by our fellow man,” Father HoLung has said in response. “But these awards don’t matter much to the brothers or myself. Pleasing the Lord is all that matters. If He is glorified, then we are happy. If others are drawn to Christ by these awards, we are very happy. Out of his life, the source of our every grace, come our motivation and purpose.”

IMAGINE, CREATE, WIN: With the mission of encouraging entrepreneurship and assisting young, promising Jamaicans realize their unlimited potential, the Sagicor Foundation has launched the inaugural Imagine Awards. It’s aimed at business people, aged 16-35 years, who have “a great business idea or an existing business idea that needs support.” To qualify for these awards, individuals are asked to submit a description of their idea, outlining a growth strategy, a well-articulated business plan and funding requirement. Entrepreneurs can enter individually or in teams of five persons or less. The deadline for entries is November 4, 2016. After the top 10 entries have been shortlisted for a panel presentation, the first place awardee will take home half-a-million dollars. The second-place finisher will receive $300,000, and the third place winner $150,000. To learn more about the Imagine Awards and to submit your entry, visit sagicorjamaica.com/foundation/Imagine-Awards or email SGJ_foundation@sagicor.com.






Wednesday, 26 October 2016

GLORY DAYS: Iconic artefacts abound at the Peter Tosh Museum and the Miss Lou Archives

PHENOMENAL WOMAN: “There are over 100 boxes,” a young male librarian informs us, as we embark on a tour of the newly assembled Miss Lou Archives at the National Library of Jamaica. A fitting tribute to the late great Louise Bennett-Coverley, a cultural icon who gave us so much, including a renewed sense of pride in our native dialect, the collection is a treasure trove of all things Miss Lou, spanning never-before-seen photos, original folk song lyrics and poetry verses written by her own hand, to cite just a few of the artefacts you encounter. In the ‘50s, Miss Lou recorded a 12-track album of Jamaican folk songs for Folkways Records and that is included as well. We like the gorgeously shot pictures depicting a youthful Louise, all decked out in traditional Jamaican costume and staring back at us – with big smile and attitude – from a series of 70s and 80s images that still look fresh. Most intriguing of all: a copy of the marriage certificate that sealed the deal between her and the absolute love of her life, Mas Eric, when they wed at the St. Martin’s Church on May 13, 1954.

TRUE ORIGINAL: His world-famous M-16 guitar, eye-catching costumes and countless memorabilia spanning his short but stellar career are just some of the highlights at the recently launched Peter Tosh Museum, a long-in-the-making collaborative enterprise between the Peter Tosh Museum and the Kingsley Cooper-led Pulse Investments Limited, which has given the museum a home at its Trafalgar Road-based premises in New Kingston. For Tosh devotees like reggae historian Roger Steffens, the museum is a long-overdue piece of tangible recognition for the work of the Grammy-winning icon, rebel and avant-garde musician who was sadly cut down in his prime. “It’s a wonderful accomplishment,” Steffens says. “It’s really thrilling because for a long time, Peter was kind of an enemy of the state. The idea that [he] is now being given his due, with this wonderful museum, is something that, frankly, I never expected to see in Jamaica. It shows how things are evolving in Jamaica to a much better place.” PM Andrew Holness considers the museum a triumph with national significance. “I want to congratulate Kingsley and the Tosh family for doing this,” Holness says. “It may be your own persona; endeavour, but you have given something of immeasurable value to the country.”






GRIT & GRACE: A Tribe Ting artfully blends word-sound power and refined soul energy

WARRIOR SPIRIT: Members of the show's youthful, energetic cast.

“The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Has Employed Her Son” by poetess Lorna Goodison makes a surprising but much-welcomed appearance in A Tribe Ting, the latest theatrical offering from Tribe Sankofa that combines monologues, drama, dub poetry and word-sound-power energy to create a rich tapestry of artistic expression that provokes thought and rousingly entertains.

Conceived and directed by Fabian Thomas, the two-act show assembles a troupe of energetic young performers whose robust voices, emotional intelligence and pleasant singing chops keep the show afloat, even when the potency of the material occasionally dips below par.

In the end, the core of the show’s appeal rests in the fusion of stirring original pieces with classic selections from the oeuvre of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Sunni Patterson and Peter Tosh (among others) to explore themes and issues ranging from grave injustices and intimate relationships to identity and what it means to truly be free.

In one scene, the actors dramatically pay tribute to the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, recalling such unforgettable watershed moments as the call-to-action ‘I Can’t Breathe’, while honoring the memories of Trayvon Martin, Mario Deane, Khajeel Mais, and the list goes on.

But variety is the spice of life, so we are also introduced to lovers finding their way back to each other, conflicted souls longing to be understood, frolicking “vampires” plotting their next move and young girls discovering the power of inner beauty. Throughout, the black-clad, expressive performers commit to the characters, pulling you ever deeper into the performance.

As the show’s title reminds us, family is paramount and it’s a truth that A Tribe Ting consistently underscores. Overall, the nine-member cast delivers a spare, minimalist work, but it is imbued with enormous vigour, thanks in no small part to the refined soul energy that their bare feet seem to pull up from the ground. Tyrone’s Verdict: B






GOSPEL SPOTLIGHT: High-energy praise party brings curtains down on Kingston Jerk & Gospel Festival

HERE TO WORSHIP: The lively concert featured performances by Downswell (above), D-Murphy and 'Kiki' Sheard.

By the time we got to Hope Gardens at minutes after seven last Monday, D-Murphy was well into his set on-stage, warming up the crowd for the night’s main attractions who were waiting in the wings to be called on by Nadine Blair, an emcee whose vim, vigour and humour made the atmosphere all the more inviting. 

Such was the scene we encountered when we arrived to join the praise party in full swing at the Kingston Jerk & Gospel Festival, an increasingly popular event that has now firmly etched its place on the local gospel calendar. Monday’s renewal, falling on National Heroes’ Day, drew a fair-sized crowd, but the overall package had entertainment, empowerment and inspiration galore.

D-Murphy’s high-energy performance made way for the likes of the reflective Joseph Emmanuel (“Reggae Worship”; “Inna Di Morning”; “Wait”) and Chozenn, who switched up the tempo with songs like “Jesus Party”, “More” and “God Love You Innuh,” the catchy anthem that first got him noticed by gospel lovers.

As expected, the light-blue-clad Kevin Downswell ignited the venue the moment he landed centrestage to open with renditions of “Good News” and “He Saved Me/I Got Jesus,” during which he gave his backup vocalists some well-deserved shine.

“It’s Already Done”, “Nobody Loves Me The Way You Do” and “No Matter the Circumstances” followed, as did “Goodbye World,” which never fails to incite electric jumpin-wavin’ excitement. Things got prayerful again with “If It’s Not You” before the powerful strains of “Stronger” brought his set to a memorable close. 

Then it was time to hear from the night’s international headliner Kierra ‘Kiki’ Sheard, the second-generation songstress (daughter of Karen Clarke Sheard) whose short-but-spicy set combined inspiring testimony with powerful singing. Rocking a breezy white top, jeans and gorgeous shiny hair, Kierra had her attentive audience swaying to her songs like “You are My Desire” and “Indescribable”, which incited a lively sing-a-long.

In between songs, she shared wised-up food-for-thought nuggets like, “Don’t let your mountain intimidate you; tell your mountain about your God.” Her take on praise-and-worship standards like “There Is None Like You” sequed nicely into more motivational pep talk – and the song we’d been waiting for all night, “God in Me”, her Grammy-nominated smash with Mary Mary that has always affirmed for us the power of a good gospel song to excite and enlighten.






Saturday, 22 October 2016

CHAT ’BOUT: Women at the crease, free health care, and future US-Jamaica relations

“For Jamaica and for the world, it’s a matter of having somebody in charge of the US you can reason with and who will see different points of view and will even understand that the US has some obligation to Jamaica as a big neighbour to a small neighbor.” – Political commentator Kevin O’Brien Chang sizing up the Trump/Clinton US Presidential race and the possible long-term implications for Jamaica 
** 

“Our current, poorly organized health care system will never be able to deliver quality health care. The continued misdiagnosis of “freeness” for “fairness” has caused both political parties to stay committed to free health care at the expense of reasonable, quality health care. As I noted before, some individuals will need free access, but nothing suggests that all individuals, including those who can afford health care, should equally receive free access.” – Former state minister Damion Crawford in a recent open letter to health minister Dr. Chris Tufton 
** 

“The customer is faced with the constant change in the utility landscape and, in some ways, that is good. But there is so much more that the customer can get at their end of the spectrum, and it is our job to help facilitate that reality. Jamaica is hosting this conference at an important time for us. As utilities regulators, we have our hands full in dealing with a number of issues pertaining to industry players and their role in nation-building.” – OUR Director-General Albert Gordon on their upcoming annual conference, set for Oct. 26-28, at Secrets Resort & Spa in St. James, under the theme “Regulations – Creating a Spectrum of Opportunities in the Caribbean” 
** 

“I definitely think our batting is one of the weakest points. If you look back at Trelawny, we fell down a few times down there, and even coming here [to Sabina Park], we batted first and just one time we got over 200 runs. So when you look at it, I think it’s kind of poor, seeing that you are playing at home. You actually want to dominate when you’re at home, and I don’t think we did that.” – West Indies women’s cricket captain Stafanie Taylor lamenting the uninspired performance that led to their loss to England earlier this week 
** 

“I think Clinton will follow similar policies like Obama. From the point of view of reaching out, particularly to small island states like Jamaica, we stand a good chance of getting better trade relationships with Hilary Clinton. She’s a lot more diplomatic than her opponent. She knows how to handle foreign policy, and the way she deals with Europe is going to be very important for us, especially in terms of oil prices.” – PSOJ Chief Executive Officer Dennis Chung waxing optimistic that Clinton’s ascension to the White House will be better for Jamaica






ON THE SCENE: Highlights from Salute to Rio-lympians, National Honours ceremony – and a Jamaican in Paris

MEN OF 'DISTINCTION': Oct. 17, St. Andrew. Following Monday’s National Honours & Awards ceremony at King’s House, PM Andrew Holness made a point of greeting all the honorees but, of course, he had special commendation for Rexton ‘Shabba Ranks’ Gordon, who flew in from his base in the United States to receive the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) from Sir Patrick Allen. (Photo: Twitter)

BRIGHT SMILES: Oct. 15, Kingston. Olympic relay gold medallist and multiple brand ambassador Javon ‘The Transporter’ Francis flashes his pearly whites as he accepts an award from PM Holness and sports minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange during Saturday’s Salute to Rio Ambassadors inside the National Indoor Sports Centre. The event brought together Team Jamaica’s athletes who did us proud at the Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil in August. (Photo: Sleek)

ALL OF US: Oct. 13, Kingston. Former culture minister Lisa Hanna (centre) and writer-director Michael Holgate join the cast and crew of Garvey: The Musical for a round of photos onstage at the Philip Sherlock Centre, UWI. The University Players’ song-and-dance production combined experimental storytelling and roots-rock-reggae grooves in highlighting key moments in the life of the late Marcus Mosiah Garvey(Photo: Lisa Hanna)

PUTTING ON A SHOW: Oct. 11, Kingston. Ahead of the sizzling concert which brought a fair-sized crowd to Hope Gardens on Monday to see and hear Kierra ‘Kiki’ Sheard and Kevin Downswell, the annual Kingston Jerk & Gospel Festival got a high-energy launch at the Audi showroom, where emcee Debbie Bissoon and event organizer/co-headliner Chozenn informed attendees of what to expect this year. (Photo: Infuzion.Inc)

MODEL BEHAVIOUR: Oct. 2, France. Reminding us of Charlize Theron’s sensational Dior campaign a few years back, Saint International bombshell Tami Williams strikes a pose at the Gold Obsession Party and L’Oreal Paris photocall, which formed part of the Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2017 collections. The leggy Jamaican star remains one of the most sought-after Black models on the planet who’s graced all the major runways and fashion glossies.(Photo: Zimbio.com)






SOCIETY, SOCIETY: Marigold Harding’s busy new life; how the stock exchange grows…

HOW DOES SHE DO IT? 
If you thought Marigold Harding retired as Custos of St. Andrew to walk off into the golden sunset with hubby, Ossie, think again! The lay magistrate and horticulture maven is actually busier than ever and fully enjoys having a full plate. “It is certainly not a honeymoon period. I’ve just transferred my energy from one area to the next,” she tells us, looking effortlessly regal as ever at King’s House on Monday. “Right now I’m working with the Down’s Syndrome Foundation and the Autism Foundation. I’m Vice-Chair of the National Parenting Committee. I’m on the board of the National Gallery and I serve on the Devon House committee.” And her international work in the field of horticulture continues to bring a smile to her face. “That’s a permanent part of my life,” she says. “[Horticulture] is my passion, so I’m always on that.”

MARLENE’S ‘STOCK’ GOES UP
Having topped Bloomberg’s 2015 list as the best performing stock exchange in the world, how are things at the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) these days? “The market has been quite good. There are a lot more companies coming to market, a lot of new products have been introduced, and many more young people are now interested in the market. So the market is growing,” the charming Marlene Street-Forrest told us, moments after being presented with the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) for outstanding leadership in the growth of the JSE. Can Jamaica top the Bloomberg list for a second straight year? Auntie Marlene laughs. “It’s difficult to replicate that kind of success two years in a row,” she admits, “but [the market] is on a trajectory to do very well in the future.” 

THE MEANING OF TEAM WORK
According to Dr. Denise Eldermire-Shearer, the Order of Jamaica insignia she received on Monday for her distinguished advocacy for senior citizens in the fields of health and welfare was not just for her but for all the collaborators who make the work possible. “It’s a tremendous honour, but it’s for a lot of people’s work, and I’m humbled to receive it on their behalf,” she told TALLAWAH. So what’s next? “We will continue the work and the research,” she says. “The research is critical.”

WHO WERE THE BEST DRESSED AT KING’S HOUSE? 
Among the women, Mrs. Harding (a vision in eye-popping blue) and OD recipient Lilieth Nelson (who brought rays of sunshine in vivid yellows) were in their head-turning element. But on the men’s side, those who side with Sir Patrick Allen (above) and those impeccably attired guards of honour will get no argument from us.






Thursday, 20 October 2016

CULTURE VULTURE: J’ca Food & Drink Fest returns + Fraser-Pryce recounts her ‘Journey’ + Bob Dylan awarded Nobel Lit Prize

LYRICAL GENIUS: The Nobel Prize for Literature hasn’t been awarded to an American since Toni Morrison (Beloved, The Bluest Eye) took home the world’s highest literary honour in 1993. But the 2016 winner isn’t just any American scribe. The prize has been awarded to “the other Bob”, rock musician and poet Bob Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions with the great American song tradition.” The 75-year-old Dylan, dubbed the most iconic poet-musician of his generation, is known for songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin,” which became anthems of the US anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s. Dylan, who won a Best Original Song Oscar in 1971 for “Things Have Changed” has impacted everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Ed Sheeran with his towering influence. News of his Nobel Prize achievement inspired a wave of strong reactions within literary circles and elsewhere. Salman Rushdie (Midnight’s Children) welcomed the news as a “great choice”, hailing Dylan as “the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.”

BON APETIT! The island’s rich culinary tradition got a jolt of flavour last year with the arrival of the Jamaica Food & Drink Festival, which returns to tantalize taste buds across the capital from Oct. 26-30, ahead of next month’s renewal of Kingston Restaurant Week. The festival’s can’t-miss feast of activities (“Drink-Nyam-Jam”) include Pork-a-Palooza (Oct. 26) at the Hope Botanical Gardens; Crisp (Oct. 27) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel; Vintage (Oct. 27) at Address Privé; Stix & Stones (Oct. 28) at The Ruins, Mona Visitors’ Lodge; Meat Street (Oct. 28 and 29) at Barbican Beach; Picanté (Oct. 29) at Kingston Polo Club and Brunch at the Gallery (Oct. 30) at the National Gallery of Jamaica. To get more info on the 2016 staging of this foodie fest, log on to jafoodanddrink.com.

CHAPTERS OF HER STORY: Usain Bolt has already published two bestsellers (9.58: My Story and Faster than Lightning) and Chris Gayle recently launched his first literary release, Six Machine, so it was only a matter of time before the world’s fastest woman followed suit and made her literary debut. Yes, Shelly-Ann ‘Pocket Rocket’ Fraser-Pryce is gearing up to release Pryceless Journey, a memoir that chronicles the struggles and triumphs that accompanied her meteoric rise in the ubercompetitive world of track-and-field, some of the valuable life lessons she’s learned along the way, and her advice for the up-and-comers following in her footsteps. Due to be published before year-end, Pryceless Journey emerged out of a series of sit-down interviews the sprint queen gave to author and Profile host Ian Boyne. It will be released by Pelican Publishers. Says Fraser-Pryce, “I want people to read this book and be inspired by the personal determination that led to my Olympic success and realize that you can accomplish your goals, no matter where you’re from.”






GOOD NEWS: Fi Wi Jamaica empowering vulnerable citizens + Is Spanish our future second language?

THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE: Could Spanish be officially declared a second language in Jamaica one day? At a recent forum put on by the University of the West Indies (UWI), in partnership with the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) – hosted by Ambassador Richard Bernal at UWI’s Mona-based regional headquarters – that was among the issues discussed at length, in addition to strategies for increasing fluency in Spanish and English throughout the region via enhanced projects. Ambassador José Tomas Ares (Dominican Republic), Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, expressed his support for the ideas put on the table, noting that with so many Spanish-speaking countries in close proximity to Jamaica, Spanish was “a natural choice as a second language.” GRULAC Chairman and Chilean Ambassador to Jamaica, Eduardo Bonilla, concurred, noting that there was already “considerable exchange between Jamaica and Spanish-speaking countries and increased activity would benefit both business and cultural relationships.”

GET UP, STAND UP: Given the myriad social ills Jamaicans have to grapple with daily, we can never have too many social-intervention groups fighting the good fight. Enter Fi Wi Jamaica, a USAID-funded initiative from the University of Technology (UTech) in collaboration with the Avasant Foundation. According to its leaders, Fi Wi Jamaica is a national social-intervention group seeking to expand a window of opportunity for the protection and promotion of the human rights of society’s most targeted, socially excluded and vulnerable members. The chief aim, they say, is to empower these individuals through social, cultural and economic interventions that strengthen advocacy for their respect, dignity and freedom. Get involved with their cause! Learn more about Fi Wi Jamaica, which recently introduced their #BigUpJamaica campaign, at facebook.com/FiWiJA.






Wednesday, 19 October 2016

50-SECOND MOVIE REVIEW: Eccentric kids, lush 3D brighten Burton’s darkly entertaining Miss Peregrine

TIME FLIES: Green (left) and Butterfield in a scene from Tim Burton's latest fantasy adventure.

For very young children, being born different can turn out to be either a blessing or a curse. More often than not, they need a guardian to shield them from the cold and cruel world. Lucky for the kids in the darkly entertaining fantasy film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, they have the titular heroine (the effervescent Eva Green), who is fiercely protective, watching over them with maternal warmth, rapid-fire speech and a strict adherence to time (and her tobacco pipe.)

As it turns out, time plays a pivotal role in the story, as the action takes place over the course of the same 24-hour period every day, thanks to what is called a time loop, which Miss Peregrine re-sets daily to safeguard them from ever-present danger and the kind of persecution that has followed ‘peculiars’ for centuries.

Asa Butterfield (Hugo) plays young Jake, who is like a godsend for Miss Peregrine and the children, coming from America to their UK-based island to continue the selfless work that his dearly departed grandfather started. But trouble comes in the terrifying shape of eye-gouging monsters (led by Samuel L. Jackson), who’ve made Miss Peregrine’s home their latest target. Jake strikes up a close friendship with Emma (Ella Purnell), a bird/girl who has to wear lead shoes or she’ll float away, and together they hatch a plan to defeat these unrelenting new foes.

Dame Judi Dench puts in a cameo appearance as a grandmotherly figure, who has to fill in for Miss Peregrine when certain tough, life-altering decisions have to be made.

Overall, the film, laced with director Tim Burton’s signature mix of eccentric characters finding their place in the world, whimsy and a spirit of adventure, also combines magical realism, lush 3D visuals and a bit of science fiction in transporting us to the fascinating otherworldly realm conjured up by screenwriter Jane Goldman. Tyrone’s Verdict: B