Thursday, May 29, 2008

BGG Chats with Actor/Author Hill Harper

When I first heard that actor/author Hill Harper was coming out with, "Letters to a Young Sister: Define Your Destiny," an uplifting, encouraging and inspirational book for young African-American women, I knew that I had to interview him for BGG! In case you guys didn't already know, Hill is an excellent actor who has played in dozens of movies and TV shows, most recently, CBS's CSI: New York.

He became a published author in 2006 with the release of his first book, "Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny," which received rave reviews. His new book which has a foreward written by one of our favorite BGs, Gabrielle Union, is the perfect gift for your sister, niece, cousin, mentee, or maybe even for yourself. It would really make a a great gift for that special graduate in your life!

Check out our Q&A:

BGG: Did you ever think that you’d write a book for young women such as, “Letters to a Young Sister?

Hill Harper: Certainly I thought about the fact that women come to my talks and book signings, but that wasn’t what I was thinking necessarily. I actually was thinking that the next thing was going to be a (book) for everybody – men and women. But it became very clear to me the issues our young women are facing and some of the questions that I got from them, made me think that I should really do this book and I’m very happy that I did.

BGG: How did you go about asking the women like Michelle Obama, Eve, Ciara, Angela Bassett and others to be a part of your book? Were you pretty confident that they would be happy to be a part of your journey?

Hill Harper: Well I wasn’t necessarily super confident, but I have relationships with all of those women and I know them all to a certain degree. I figured they know who I am and what I’m about. Also, the first book helps. So when they see your level of quality and dedication behind it, they’re like, “Oh yeah, I can be a part of this.” I was blown away by the response. To have people like Ruby Dee, Michelle Obama, Gabrielle, Ciara, Alfre Woodard…and to have guys like Tavis (Smiley) and Blair Underwood…it’s just wonderful.

BGG: What did you learn about young women from writing this book?

Hill Harper: Wow, you know what? I learned a lot about differences between men and women. Maybe I had a sense of it before, but I never realized it particularly in young men and young women. It was very interesting and it became very clear to me that young women are much more complex than young men.

What I mean by that is that a lot of the young men that I met (during his first book tour) they were kind of black and white. Meaning, either they were doing well in most areas of their lives or not doing well AT ALL in most areas of their lives. With young women I have found that some of them were doing well in one area of their lives, but really bad in others. Their self-esteem could be good, but they could be doing horribly in school. Or she could be doing great in school, but have real issues with friendships or issues with boys. So there’s a level of complexity that young women have that young men don’t have. With guys you can get them revved up and they’re ready to go, but with women it’s like, “Well…let me think…” That’s why this book is longer, has more contributors and is basically more in-depth.

BGG: I know you speak a lot about the strength of the Black women in your life while you were growing up, do you think that we as a community lack positive role models?

Hill Harper: YES!! We lack them in a big way! That’s the reason why I wrote the book. We need mentors and we need role models. We definitely need people to step up.

BGG: What do you hope young women gain from reading this book?

Hill Harper: First and foremost, the most important thing is to deal with self-esteem and self-worth issues. If you don’t deal with these issues first, all of the secondary ones such as education, financial literacy, teen pregnancy prevention and others will fall on deaf ears. So I want young women to think of themselves as F.I.N.E as I put it in the book as being, “Fantastic,” “Interesting,” “Necessary” and “Exceptional.” If they think of themselves as that and let that resonate into their subconscious, they’ll be able to look in the mirror and say, “Yes, I am fine!” and when they look in there, they’ll believe it. That’s the first step in the reprogramming; then we can talk about all of the other things in the book, from dating, to boys, to depression and other areas.

BGG: What do you think is the main reason why many young ethnic women suffer from low self-esteem?

Hill Harper: It’s mainly because they’re bombarded everyday by this culture of knocking down their self-worth. It’s no wonder that their subconscious gets affected when you turn on the music and all you hear is the “b” word or the “h” word. Or when you see a music video or video game and the only women who are considered “attractive” dress and act a certain way and you say, "that’s not me" and think, “Am I not attractive?”

Then you have guys who come at you a certain way because they’ve been misinformed of what a real positive relationship with a woman is because he ends up viewing young women as only one thing – a sexual conquest. That’s why I wrote this book to help counteract a lot of that. It’s a platonic love on paper from a male. There’s no sexual agenda…you’re beautiful because you’re beautiful, you’re wonderful because you’re wonderful. It’s a hug on paper.

BGG: Do you ever aspire to open a youth center of some sort since you have such a deep and powerful connection with young people?

Hill Harper: Actually, I have a foundation called Manifest Your Destiny. Our mission is online mentoring, but we also use scholarships. I’m also a part of the Big Brother, Big Sister program and I actually do work as a spokesperson for that. We have a wait list of kids who have signed up to be mentored, but we can’t fill because there haven’t been enough people who have signed up to become mentors. There should be a wait list of people who want to be a Big Brother or a Big Sister – not the other way around. It’s a shame. So many of our young people are being raised by single mothers. Where are the men? What are we doing? How are we going to step up? So it’s incumbent upon me that what’s the purpose of having any level of celebrity or having any type of money if you’re not going to use it to do some type of good or to effect some type of change?

BGG: What did you find to be the most challenging topic to speak about to young women in the book?

Hill Harper: Dating and sex and all of those things. I say that because I had a really strong point of view about us (men) and how we treat our women. I think those chapters were some of the most valuable. I just really wanted to get it right. There are other things that I didn’t have as much insight into that are facing young sisters, that’s where the surrogate sisters come in. I had them come in and write about body issues, health…

BGG: I know that in the book you joke about all of the texting, blogging, IMing lingo that young people do, out of curiosity, do you frequently read blogs or find yourself sending abbreviated text messages?

Hill Harper: I don’t do it as much. Sometimes I’ll go on, but if someone sends one to me, I’ll read it. Like when a certain website said that I was dating Gabrielle (Union), someone sent it to me, which was totally FALSE! The good thing about blogs is that it allows others to check each other, which I think is good. But at the same time, if it’s just going to be all about gossip or hating on people, then it’s not good. I actually have a chapter in the book that talks about gossip and it’s real. Some of the stuff out there is completely made up!

BGG: What’s next for you? We know that we can find you on CSI: New York, but are there any new projects you’re working on?

Hill Harper: I’ll be on my book tour. Check out for dates/cities. Come out and see me! I’m going to be on hiatus from CSI: New York until August. I’ll be going on an HBCU tour in September through the fall talking to students about financial literacy. Then I have a movie coming out with Ciara called, Mama, I Want to Sing, where I play her manager and she’s an aspiring singer. That comes out in October or November. The goal is to have a book for young African-American to come out as a best-seller! You can pre-order your book at Barnes & Noble and

The book will officially be released on June 3rd. If you're in the NYC area, he will be conducting a book signing on Tuesday, June 3rd at 7:00 PM:

Hue Man Books
2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(212) 665-7400

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Now that summer is almost here, our days of having fun in the sun are on the rise. But before you head outdoors, be sure to lather on sunscreen.

Picnics in the park and lounging on the beach are fun, but can cause major skin damage if you’re not protected with sunscreen. Contrary to what many BGs think, we are susceptible to skin cancer due to sun exposure just like our fairer counterparts.

So while you’re packing your totes with magazines, snacks and cool drinks, be sure to toss in an extra bottle of sunscreen too. The best accessory this summer is healthy skin!

Here are a few sunscreen tips from renowned African-American dermatologist, Dr. Susan Taylor:

• All women with brown skin should use sunscreen daily
• Always apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you’re exposed to the sun to allow your skin to absorb the product and create a protective shield.
• Use sunscreen generously on all exposed skin—face, neck and hands. Apply at least a shot-glass full (about one ounce).
• Sunscreen in foundation wears off after only a couple of hours so it’s best to apply sunscreen separately, under makeup, or in moisturizers that say SPF 15 on the label.

Do you use sunscreen?

Check out some of these products:

Sephora Sun Safety Kit available at for $25

Burt's Bees Natural Suncare Chemical-free Sunscreen SPF 15 available at for $12.99

Carol's Daughter Gelee de Soleil SPF 15 Tanning Oil available at for $14

Murad Oil-free Sunblock SPF 30 available at for $30

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 85 available at for $10.99

Ole Henriksen Herbal Day Creme SPF 15 available at for $35

Bliss "The Big Sunscreen" SPF 30 available at for $30

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


You may think your legs are too thin or too big to wear shorts, but the truth is that there is a pair out there that will work perfectly for your body type. I wasn’t always a fan of shorts, but that all changed last year when I tried on a pair that surprisingly flattered my figure.

This summer shorts can be worn night or day, casual or dressy. They can be paired with sneakers, sandals, wedges or even pumps (if done properly). Also, you don’t have to have legs like Tina Turner to successfully pull off this summer staple, but you do need confidence!

Do you wear shorts during the warmer months?

Check out some of these short styles:

Martin Button Pocket Shorts available at for $34.30

Lucky Brand "Lounger" Cuffed Shorts available at for $68

Charlotte Ronson Sailor Shorts available at for $154

Ralph Lauren "Normandy" Shorts available at for $59.50

J. Crew Chino 3" Shorts available at for $39.50

White Cuffed Shorts available at for $34

Covet Bamboo High-Rise Shorts available at for $98

Gap Belted Shorts available at for $39.50

G By Guess Maggie Bermuda Shorts available at for $33.38

Striped Metallic Shorts available at for $17.80

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Love Your Smile!

Nothing brightens up one’s look like a beautiful smile! Showing your pearly whites instantly make you look younger and happy. In order to keep our mouths healthy, it’s recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) that we visit our dentist regularly to have our gums examined and teeth professionally cleaned.

It’s imperative that we maintain good oral hygiene for not only superficial reasons, but also visiting your dentist can help prevent you from developing gum disease, tooth decay and even the loss of teeth.

What do you use to help keep your grin looking great? Have you ever tried tooth whitening? If so, did you like the results?

Check out some of these products to keep your mouth fresh and healthy!

Colgate Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste available at for $3.59

Reach Dental Floss Mint Waxed available at for $1.79

Colgate Peroxyl Anti-Septic Oral Cleanser available at for $6.19

Philips Sonic Care Flex Care Tooth UV Sanitizer available at for $148.58

5 Senses Tooth Paste Kit available for $25

Night Effects Night Time Whitening System available at for $14.99

Listerine Tooth Defense Anti-Cavity Fluoride Rinse available at for $4.79

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Straight Up!

We BGs have the ability to be very versatile when it comes to our hair. Our various textures gives us the option to rock an Afro, curly, straight or wavy style. Like I’ve written before, I tend to wear my hair straight via a relaxer. When it’s time to go home to Chicago to get my hair done, my stylist uses the FHI flat iron.

The first time she used it, I didn’t believe the hype that it could cut down the styling process tremendously by eliminating the step of blow-drying. Yes, she actually flat ironed my wet hair! I know some of you are thinking, “How can flat ironing wet hair be a good thing?” Well, the Ceramic Tourmaline locks in moisture and leaves hair shiny without damage. I must say, my hair was super bouncy and full of body after using the iron. What will they think of next?

Have you tried any of the FHI flat irons? If so, were you satisfied with the results? If you haven't tried it, would you? Please share!

FHI 1" Flat Iron Platform Special Edition available at for $119

It comes in pink too! FHI 1" Flat Iron Platform available at for $119

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Show Your Stripes!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a fan of striped clothing. No, I’m not talking about the behind-bars type, but the classic, nautical kind of course!

There’s just something that’s elegant, yet fresh and sporty about the symmetric pattern. Whether, thin, wide, vertical or horizontal, stripes can give tops, dresses, bikinis and even shoes instant style!

Do you like the striped look?

Check out some of these!

L.A.M.B Mod Stripe Scoop Dress available at for $285

Splendid Ombre Rugby Stripe Dress available at for $133

Ralph Lauren "Regatta" Stripe Bikini available at from $41-$69

Metallic Stripe Knit Top available at for $9.88

BCBG Rayon Jersey Top available at for $80

PJ Salvage Striped Racerback Tank available at for $30

Diesel Nautical Cotton Halter Beach Dress available at for $207.20

Tory Burch "Nosietta" Diagonal Stripe Dress available at for $195

Black Halo Trapunto Print Slip Dress available at for $445 (obviously for the BGs who like to splurge! LOL)

L.A.M.B "Dominic" Platform Sandal available at for $224

This is one of my favorite striped tops! I got it from for $5!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

BGG Attends the 2008 Makeup Show

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend The Makeup Show 2008 held at the Metropolitan Pavilion here in NYC. As a lover of all things beautiful, I couldn't resist taking a peek at all of the latest cosmetics. I thought that it would be a smorgasbord of makeup goodies to try and buy, but I was so wrong!

Although there were over 50 makeup company representatives at the trade show, it was not what I was expecting. There were no sample-size promotional items available to the press for review, mini-makeovers were scarce and the seminars did not start on time. The only plus was that the vendors offered significant discounts to attendees, which mostly consisted of professional makeup artists. All in all, it was a pretty lackluster event.

One highlight was seeing the lovely BG, Keisha Nash-Whittaker of Kissable Couture and coming across a fairly new line founded by a BG based in Chicago, called Big Girl Cosmetics!

Have you tried any new makeup products lately? If so, please share!

Here are few products from Big Girl Cosmetics:

Ginger & Almond Body Butter available at for $15

Brush Set available at for $40

Mosaic Bronzer available at for $40

Big Girl Cosmetics Diva Gloss available at for $12

Aqua Creme available at for $10

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Bold & the Beautiful!

I know that a lot of you weren’t too fond of Ashanti’s brightly colored lip-gloss, but maybe there are some more adventurous readers who would actually like to give the fuchsia, reds and hot pinks a try! I’m not sure if I’m one of them (although they are great for mixing), but for those of you who like to make your puckers stand out, this post is for you!

Check out these traffic-stopping shades of gloss and lipsticks that will definitely get you noticed!

Would you wear boldly hued gloss or lipstick on your pout?

Jane Iredale the Skincare Makeup Pure Gloss in Cosmo available at for $19

Kissable Couture Lip-gloss in Red Rose available at for $22

MAC Plushglass in Plus Luxe available at for $17.50

Sephora Plumping Lip-gloss in Red available at for $10

Vincent Longo Baby Balm Lipstick SPF12 in Love Berry available at for $23

Lorac Mocktail High Shine Lip-gloss in Lava Flow available at for $18

Pop Beauty Lip Lust in Naughty Strawberry Red available at for $13

MAC Heatherette Lipglass in Style Minx - SOLD OUT ONLINE, but available in stores nationwide for $14

CoverGirl TruShine Hot Pink Lipstick available at for $6.29

Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster Gloss in Brighten Cherry available at for $25

Liparazzi Light-up Lip Gloss in Shimmer Toffee available at for $32.72