*”There were 18 black firefighters at the time and I wanted to be a firefighter and they didn’t allow women to be firefighters. So I went into the military and when I got out I persuade it,” said Captain d’Lisa Davis of the Los Angeles Fire Department about her career choice and experiences as a black woman firefighter, while at the recent Ford’s Freedom Sisters honors held in Beverly Hills.

The Freedom’s Sisters is a traveling exhibit highlighting women across the U.S. who is exemplifying dedication to social causes and humanitarian efforts in their local community. When the Ford’s Freedom Sisters’ exhibit arrived in the Los Angeles area, as part of Ford’s sponsorship of the NAACP Image Awards, 20 women from Southern California were chosen, firefighter Captain Davis was one of the women. Also given the Freedom Sisters award that day were California State Assembly Karen Bass; actress and activist for Autism Holly Robinson Peete (HollyRod Foundation); Deputy City Mayor Miriam Scott Long; singer/actress Rev. Della Reese; news anchor Pat Harvey (KCAL – 9); former L.A. Country Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke; actress/activist Sheryl Lee Ralph for her work with HIV/AIDS awareness (D.I.V.A. Foundation); community activist “Sweet Alice” Harris; executive Denise Pines (Travis Smiley Group); Publisher Natalie Cole (Our Weekly); sculptor and painter Artis Lane; community activist Lillian Mobley; Cynthia Davis (Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science); community activist LaWanda Hawkins (Justice for Murdered Children); auto advocate Glenda Gill (Rainbow Push); community leader Charisse Bremond-Weaver (Brotherhood Crusade); child care advocate Holly J. Mitchell; youth advocate Angela B. Winston (Challengers Boys & Girls Club), and  actress Loretta Devine.

“I say your name and ‘pow’! She just asked me who did I come here to see and I just said Loretta Devine. We’re kindred’s…we’re kindred souls! I say her name and she shows up,” said the host for the evening, Academy Award winning actress Taraji P. Henson about Loretta Devine – who I was interviewing at the time.

“You know she played my baby,” Devine said about Henson. When I asked this original “Dreamgirls” (along with Sheryl Lee Ralph and Jennifer Holliday) about winning the Freedom Sisters’ award Loretta said, “I am very excited. It’s my first time being a part of the event. Being that I am an actress, it’s wonderful!”

Actress/singer Ellia English (“Curb Your Enthusiasm” and author of “I am that I am”) performed an original selection titled “Freedom Sisters.” Keynote speaker at the event was former NAACP Chairman and Civil Rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams. Myrlie is also honored as a living legend in the national Freedom Sisters exhibit; she was introduced by actress Camille Winbush (“The Secret Life of a Teenager” and “The Bernie Mac Show”). Other celebrities who came in support of the event and its honorees included actress Angela Bassette (“ER” and “How Stella Got Her Groove On”) and husband Courtney B. Vance (“Law and Order: Criminal Intent”  and “Flash Forward”), and NeNe Leakes (“Atlanta Housewives”).

To learn more about Ford’s work in the community log onto www.community.ford.com and for more on the exhibit log onto www.cincymuseum.org or www.sites.si.edu.



R&B/Pop artist Tionne becomes the face of Billionaire Mafia Clothing Line

Vegas based Billionaire Mafia Clothing Line has signed on R&B/Pop singer Tionne as their spokes-model.

“Through a gentleman who was impressed with my music and my look,” said Tionne when asked how he was chosen. “He was casting for models (for the Billionaire Mafia Clothing Line) and said I would be great. So far I have modeled in their fall catalog and I just came back from their Magic Show where I was celebrity guest along with platinum selling New Boyz… and Young Dro from T.I.’s squad.”

Combining only the finest materials Billionaire Mafia Clothing Line redefines couture by producing highly exclusive luxury goods. The brand consists of a fierce, high-end collection of handmade apparel, infused with Hip-Hop and a Rock and Roll edge. The collection includes apparel in both men and women’s sizes. Men’s clothing includes t-shirts and hoodies, and women’s wear includes tops, jackets, dresses, swimsuits, lingerie and more. They offer accessories ranging from trucker hats and jewelry to complete any ensemble. Unlike most other design companies, Billionaire Mafia Clothing Line maintains their own house team that creates the clothing by hand, making the collection one-of-a-kind.

Tionne is a native of Watts and has demonstrated that he can rise from poverty with hard work and perseverance. His grandmother is Gospel singer BJ Stanton. Gearing up for the release of his debut CD Tionne is currently promoting the first single “Unfreeze,” produced by Jason “Jedi-1” Edmonds. The single is already climbing the charts and being added to radio playlists across the country

Recently stations KRCK-FM in Palm Springs, CA; KGGI-FM in Riverside/Inland Impire, CA; WBBM-FM in Chicago, Ill, and WNOV-FM in Milwaukee have picked up the single.

For more on Tionne’s new single and upcoming album log onto his MySpace at www.myspace.com/officiallytionne and for more on the Billionaire Mafia Clothing Line log onto www.billionairemafia.com.