Feature:Johnica Reed Hawkins

I’ve lived, worked and studied across six continents.

Work / As a writer, I work to archive Black culture through stories.

Latest Project / On assignment for Time, Inc., I traveled to Cuba to explore the African history, traditions and religious customs that form the backbone of the island’s identity. My work appears in the August 2016 issue of ESSENCE Magazine.

Next Up / Houston, Raleigh-Durham, Paris, London, Antarctica.






Feature: Thembi Banks



 Thembi Banks, a writer, producer, director has been a storyteller all her life. Banks, won Best Screenplay for her film Only Light at the L.A. Indie Film Festival. She also produced and wrote Doors (2015) along with Mandala (2015). This talented, ambitious writer attended USC School of Cinematic Arts and has more screenplays to come.





Nikki Woods’ Keys to Success: Build Your Brand and Become a Legacy


BlackEnterprise.com recently had the pleasure of meeting media personality, entrepreneur, and current Senior Producer for The Tom Joyner Morning Show – Nikki Woods(@NikkiWoods).

The Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) is the #1 syndicated urban morning show in the nation, reaching over 8 million people daily. Beginning her career almost twenty years ago in television, and later transitioning to radio, Nikki is also an on-air contributor to the TJMS. Her previous endeavors led to TV and radio shows in Boston, Connecticut, St. Louis, Chicago, and Dallas, where her current position is at the TJMS.

[Related: 7 Facts You Should Know About Venus Williams Off The Court Business Smarts]

Nikki has managed to give 100% to the TJMS, as well as a 100% to her own team at Nikki Woods Media. Balance between the two is a result of recognizing the value-add both teams give each other. Nikki Woods Media was birthed 7 years ago, when businesses truly began to develop platforms on social media. Nikki Woods Media is a tool which assists people with creating their own platform to build their brand, their business, and reach their goals.

Nikki shared some strategies that helped to formulate her success:

Success Requires a Certain Level of Persistence
You will experience being told ‘no.’ Instead of taking it as a ‘no,’ consider it a ‘not now’ and remain persistent if it’s something you really want. In her career, Nikki has benefited from remaining determined, not giving up and pursuing her goals. Although she experienced fear, (Nikki believes there’s always that little clinch in your stomach when someone entrusts you to do something) she kept going. Instead of being afraid of failing, operate in a space of faith and continue to push forward!

Always Be a Student
Resist getting to the point where you think you know everything. Don’t become comfortable where you are, but be willing to elevate your level of excellence. You’re only as strong as your support system, so surround yourself with people that support you and will challenge you to succeed. Be open to learn and glean from the resources around you. Mentors in Nikki’s life included her father Elroy Smith, who gave her the first position she had; Bonnie Deshong, both a competitor and a mentor; along with others such as Tom Joyner from the TJMS.

Preparation and Flexibility
Some say, “Always be prepared.” Others say, “Just go with the flow!” Nikki says both. She believes you should definitely work and prepare, but sometimes done is better than perfect. Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in preparing that you neglect to even start. Nikki maintains a consistent and constant level of learning so she is prepared at every moment, but she’s not preparing to the point that she’s not producing. Entrepreneurs must possess the ability to be prepared yet flexible, expecting the unexpected. By being tested and challenged, Nikki has mastered those skills and grown because of it. There were times she realized she couldn’t stay on her current course – she had to shift.

Business Should Be About Building a Legacy
Nikki’s company philosophy is that writing a book is the most efficient way to grow your brand, your business, and build your speaking platform. This is the fastest way to be seen as an expert, which is why she is currently working on her second collaboration book project. The first book, titled Shift, features twenty women sharing stores of strength, courage, and succeeding against the odds. Nikki is building a legacy by building her brand and investing in the success of others like you.

Nikki Woods empowers others to create more by telling their own stories.  Learn how you can become a best- selling author on her website wannabeanauthor.com.





Niya Brown-Matthews Reveals ‘The Boss In You’ Tips for Young Women

Niya Brown Matthews

When Niya Brown-Matthews grew frustrated with watching the negative images of women fighting on television; particularly reality shows, she sprung into action within three months, writing The Boss in You, a motivational guide to becoming the CEO of yourself.

Brown-Matthews, a two-time breast cancer survivor, is married to former NFL star Eric Matthews, and she makes it very clear that she’s more than a ball players wife. As a writer, motivational speaker, and founder of Capital Property Management, she helps investors (buying or selling) make decisions on their portfolios; whether it’s buying or selling properties.

She’s also the founder of Too Fabulous for Cancer, an organization that hosts events throughout the year to raise money for cancer patients to receive makeovers, new wardrobes, and photo shoots. And she’s a mother to a 16-year old-daughter. “I tell my daughter all the time, having babies with a celebrity is not a life goal. Young women should strive for greatness, by using their brain, skills, and passion to get ahead. I just want women and girls to bring that boss out of you—to bring out that self-confidence.”

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Brown-Matthews to learn how parents, caretakers, and young women can channel the ‘boss’ in them for success.

BlackEnterprise.com: What tips can you share with parents to instill self-confidence and fearlessness in young women to follow their purpose?

Brown-Matthews: It starts at home. My 16-year-old daughter clearly makes mistakes. But I have to make sure she understands that what goes into your eye gate, goes into your ear gate. I have to help steer her in the right direction. The circle of friends you keep all plays into who you turn into. So many girls have low self-esteem and self-doubt because they don’t come from the best homes or neighborhoods, but I always say, ‘Don’t’ let your current circumstances deter you from being great.’

My purpose is to spread the power of confidence for young women, because they are destined for greatness, and [to] inspire people to find the boss in them and get out of their own way.

Please share some empowering words  for young women.

  • It’s harder to heal from past hurt when you are surrounded by people who put you down. Change your circle to change your life.
  • Getting defensive when people judge you is a waste of your time and energy. Shift your focus on your mission.
  • Don’t do better because of who you think is watching. Do better because excellence is in you.
  • Stop worrying about someone taking your spot. God already has it reserved. Do the work to get there and fill it.

What has been your biggest challenge, and how has your life’s journey prepared you for your role as a motivational speaker?

I beat breast cancer twice and I m a black woman in business—which comes with its own unique challenges. Men don’t always look at me as being equal, but through dedication, education, and my qualifications, those challenges eventually fade away.

In looking at where you were about 10 years ago and where you are now, what are you most surprised to learn about yourself?

I realize now that I had the tools to succeed within me from the very beginning. We all battle with things, but sometimes we get in our own way.





Feature: Issa Rae

Issa Rae 2

With her unique flare and infectious sense of humor, Issa Rae content has garnered over 25 million views and close to 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. In addition to making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list twice and winning the 2012 Shorty Award for Best Web Show for her hit series ” The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”, Issa Rae has worked on web content for Pharrell Williams , Tracey Edmonds  and numerous others. She developed a TV series with Shonda Rhimes for ABC and is currently developing a half hour comedy, “Insecure” for HBO. Rae is also the New York Times Best Selling author of “Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” released by Atria/Simon & Schuster in 2015.



Feature: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Gina Prince-ByTheWood

Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed the widely acclaimed feature film LOVE & BASKETBALL, which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Prince-Bythewood won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and a Humanitas Prize for her work on the film. Her other feature directing credits include the HBO film Disappearing Acts. The most recent film she directed is BEYOND THE LIGHTS, a love story staring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, which was released in 2014.

Prince-Bythewood obtained her first feature film producer credit in 2003 on BIKER BOYZ, a Dreamworks film which was co-written and directed by her husband, Reggie Rock Bythewood.

Prince-Bythewood studied at UCLA Film School, where she received the Gene Reynolds Scholarship for Directing and the Ray Stark Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduate. Upon her graduation, she was immediately hired as a writer on the television series A Different World. She continued to write and produce for network television on series such as Felicity, South Central, Courthouse and Sweet Justice before making the transition to directing.

Her television directorial debut was the CBS Schoolbreak Special What About Your Friends, which won Prince-Bythewood an NACCP Image Award for Best Children’s Special and two Emmy nominations for writing and directing. She has also directed episodes of the hit television comedies Everybody Hates Chris and Girlfriends.

Prince-Bythewood currently resides in Southern California with her husband Reggie and their sons Cassius and Toussaint.