Joan Rivers rip

Legendary comedienne Joan Rivers passed away on the 4th September 2014 at the age of 81. She was reportedly taken off life support after a routine operation on her throat went wrong and caused her to stop breathing. She then went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to Mt. Sinai hospital in New York, where she spent her final days among family and friends.

Joan was a talented trailblazer who was one of the first women to break into mainstream comedy. She went on to become a extremely multi-faceted from doing stand-up to being a red carpet diva. An author of  12 best-selling books to promoting her own clothing and jewellery line on QVC. She also became co-host of The Fashion Police on the E! channel with her daughter Melissa Rivers.

Joan was extremely controversial in her delivery yet had a way of laughing at herself through her comedy. Whether you loved her or hated her are a few things everyone ought to know about Joan Rivers – RIP.


Joan Rivers childhood 1933Joan Rivers Was Not Her Given Name: Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky





Joan Rivers and Johnny CarsonGuess Who Was Responsible for Giving Joan Her Big Break? She received her first big moment in the spotlight by being a guest host on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show”


Joan Rivers plastic surgeryShe Was An Open Book, No Topic Was Off-Limits Even Plastic Surgery. Joan began her plastic surgery early at the age of 31!



Joan Rivers success quotes

She Had a Big Social Circle. We all know Joan Rivers was a people person, not afraid to engage with anyone or speak her mind, no matter how controversial the topic and the potential backlash. You have got to love her courageousness!

She Was a Huge Animal Lover. Joan Rivers dogsMost of the dogs she added to her family were all rescues.




joan rivers china platesShe was a collector of china. She told everyone if you were a guest in her home, you’d never eat off the same pattern twice! I would love to see that collection.



anthropologySome may be surprised to know Joan’s alternative career path. Joan stated in a 2011 interview, that if she weren’t in show business, she would be an anthropologist. Polar opposite to her lively show biz career!

joan rivers edgar rosenburgYou may not know that Mrs. Rivers was married several times, and one courtship is quite shocking. She married a British TV producer, Edgar Rosenberg — after only four-day courtship. Sadly, he committed suicide in 1984.

joan rivers melissa riversAlthough very close as mother and daughter as well as co-hosts, Joan became estranged from Melissa after the suicide of Rosenburg. His passing caused a rift between the pair and they didn’t speak for almost a year. When Joan passed she and Melissa – her only child – had been working together side by side for many years.

joan rivers depressionDespite her growing success, Joan suffered mood swings and would get very low. After the death of her husband Edgar Rosenburg, she went into depression and also contemplated suicide. She then developed bulimia.

Joan Rivers QVCBefore becoming the “Fashion Police”  Joan had a real career in fashion. She created her own collections for QVC for over 25 years and made over $1 billion in sales.

Joan rivers miss piggyEarlier this year Joan got pied on the face by Miss Piggy from The Muppets! The two developed “beef” whilst working together on QVC and during a pre-oscars birthday bash, Joan was seen angrily leaving the event covered in cake.

Joan rivers baby north west feudNobody could escape her caustic tongue! Joan was known for having many celebrity feuds from singer Rhianna to actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Earlier this year she upset the Kardashian clan but having a dig at Kimye’s sprog, baby North West. Joan said, “That baby is ugly…. I’ve never seen a six-month-old so desperately in need of a waxing!” OUCH.

joan rivers houseShe left a legacy of over $150 million. This includes a$35 million NYC apartment, that she left to her only child, Melissa Rivers and her $40 million per year, QVC fortune.

joan rivers donald trumpAside from the sharp tongue Joan was a great philanthropist with a real heart. She supported 13 charities and 16 great causes in her life. She also raised money for charity by appearing in several tv shows, including The Apprentice USA. She gave a formidable performance by raising over half a million dollars.

It’s only fitting to end this post by watching Joan Rivers at her best. Here’s a clip from “Live at The Apollo” filmed right here in the UK. ENJOY, it really is LOL comedy.


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“WONDER WOMEN” – An evening of extraordinary talent for IWM

In the month of March​ ​TV and Radio Broadcaster,  Leah Charles-King hosted a successful Wonder Women inspirational evening at the swanky Primo Bar in Westminster Park Plaza hotel in honour of International Women’s Month.

The ​evening ​secured a ​fantastic line up of inspiring women who ​happily rallied around Leah in ​support​ of​ the even, starting with Claudine Reid MBE. Claudine was voted as one of Britain’s Top 100 Most Entrepreneurial Women by Real Business Magazine. Her track record is truly inspiring as a C.E.O, Coach, Mentor, Trainer, Radio & TV Presenter, Author & Social Entrepreneur, Wife & Mother, Claudine somehow managed to make time to speak at the event. Giving a motivating and inspirational speech about women in business.

Claudine was able to grab everyone’s attention with her words of wisdom, leaving the audience fired-up​ to ​take their careers to a whole new level.

Nairobi Thompson followed with a stunningly beautiful and ​powerful ​spoken word​ ​which​ kept the room ​hanging on her every word. Nairobi is a performance artist with a distinctive style and tone​ and ​writes and shares poetry that inspires, challenges and empathises​ with women and men alike.

After 2 inspirational speakers, it was time to get some speed networking underway. Jackie Groundsell, successful business woman, had the audience on their feet for 30 second networking session. ​A​ll participants had half a minute to ​deliver their pitch ​and make strong connections. This was networking like no other, and it was a ​great ​success.


To close what was already a successful evening, comedienne Melanie Gayle  showed the audience her uncanny impersonation of Missy Elliot and Jennifer Hudson. Melanie, a Beffta winner for best comedian in 2015, had the crowd in hysterics with her brilliant anecdotes and hilarious singing voice. There was no better way to end the perfect evening than with a room full of laughter.

​”Wonder Women – an evening of extraordinary talent” – which was sponsored by The Red Carpet Academy ​- definitely lived up to its name​. I​t was truly an evening of women inspiring other women​!​ ​Ending ​with ​some aspirational​​ words​, ​its founder Leah Charles-King, ​said ​’We need to empower each other more and help each other break that glass ceiling’. These words ​strongly ​struck ​a​ chord with the audience and it was safe to say that every ​woman present​ left ​with ​​a new sense of zeal whilst booming with ​a refreshed ​confidence and armed with a number of new ​business​ contacts and firm friends.

I’ve been nominated for an award!


We’ve been so busy at The Red Carpet Academy HQ that we totally forgot to publicly jump on our tables and sofas in celebration of our founder, Leah Charles-King being nominated for yet another award!

This Saturday 26th March is the annual “Divas of Colour” Awards, and Leah is nominated for “Best TV and Radio Presenter”.


Leah says…

“It’s always exciting yet very humbling to be recognised for any achievement in my chosen industry. I’m honoured to have been nominated for an award at such a fantastic event. The competition is stiff and to be honest everyone deserves the accolade for all the hard work they put in. Thanks to Divas of Colour for their support and I’m looking forward to donning my glad-rags and attending the event this Saturday!”

Leah Charles-King
Leah Charles-King

The Red Carpet Academy will be exhibiting at the Divas of Colour trade show during 12-5pm and then Leah will be attending the awards ceremony in the evening. We hope she wins!!


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After bringing a new face to Cuban media and journalism Yoani Sánchez has been awarded several journalism awards over the years, some of which have caused controversy within Cuban media, to now surpassing that with her greatest achievement to date, the launch of a new Cuban news outlet 14YMedio.

Born September 4th 1975 (aged 39) in Havana Cuba, Yoani was subjected to hardship from an early age. She attended primary school during a time that the Soviet Union was providing considerable aid to Cuba, however due to the collapse within the Soviet Union years later education experienced a detrimental hit to its finances, which left Yoani in a period of despair.

After her time in university Yoani acquired disgust for high culture and Philology (her chosen field of study), which subsequently led to her leaving Cuba for Switzerland where she acquired an interest in computer science. Upon Yoani’s return to Cuba with her newly acquired capabilities in computer technology, she went on to develop a web Blog called Generación Y in 2008.

Generación Y was a blog aimed to help her deal with the frustrations she felt with the situations occurring within Cuba. The Blog became a huge hit, which is one of the main reasons of her success to date; however the success came at a cost. Generación Y was available in 17 languages and was highly popular with some of the world’s most influential people. Obama in 2009 wrote that “her blog provides an unique insight to the reality in which is daily life in Cuba, and found it empowering to fellow Cuban’s to express themselves freely through the use of technology”. However, the blog was targeted by Cuban state security due to her ability to freely express Cuban situations which journalists were forbidden from. This eventually led to here blog being blocked by the Cuban government, which only lead to the ever-increasing popularity of her page.

In 2009 the page became available again and she continued to proceed with her posts. From her consistent hard work, determination and honesty, her blog has won her prestigious awards such as the Ortega and Gasset Journalism Award in Spain however; she was forbidden to travel to the ceremony, only under speculation that it was by the Cuban government. This didn’t stop her from continuing her work.

Later in her career Yoani and her husband were arrested in 2012 in an alleged attempt to prevent her to write about a controversial trial about a politician Angle Carromero, who was believed to of crashed a rental car killing a Cuban political activist.

After the release of her arrest despite all hardship Yoani again proceeded with her work, which brought the first independent digital media outlet in Cuba, 14YMedio. This, like all previous work by Yoani was subject to controversy from the start. 14YMedio focused on a variety of topics such as politics, culture and society, however within three hours after 14Ymedio published its first edition on the Internet, it was hacked. Internet technicians later on tested to reveal it was the Cuban Government that in fact hacked the page in an attempt to rid Yoani from the media light. The action from the Cuban Government provoked reactions from the international arena, which subsequently led to the re-opening of 14YMedio and has continued worldwide growth.

Yoani’s determination enhanced the power she had in the eye of Cuban civilisation, and clearly expressed the fear the Cuban government had for her and her ability to freely express. Yoani shows that no matter how big or how small, freedom to express  yourself is something everyone should have.  Yoani’s activism is to express the hardship that is circulating throughout Cuba. She is a strong, influential woman that emphasises empowerment and freedom. This is why I believe Yoani Sánchez should be included in my “How Women Change the World” series. 

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How Women Changed the World: CILLA BLACK

One of the most successful loved and multi-talented women in showbiz, Cilla Black was a pioneer for women in media. From her early teens she always had a drive to make something of herself and she sure made it clear that she was determined not to be a girl best suited for office work, and how right she was.

Her career began when she was working part-time as a cloakroom attendant Cavern Club in Liverpool. The same club The Beatles would play at. After making her debut at the now famous Cavern Club, Cilla went on to release 15 studio albums, 37 singles and became the best-selling UK female artist of the 1960’s. On top of hosting some of the most well-known British television shows which included “Surprise Surprise”  and “Blind Date”, I think it’s safe to say she is an icon of our times, and although these words get thrown around far to often she really is a national treasure.

When I first started as a TV presenter 15 years ago Cilla was my first inspiration. I used to say tongue in cheek that I wanted to be “the black Cilla black”. She was a natural entertainer, who charmed the nation week after week on her TV shows. Cilla was no ordinary woman, she worked exceptionally hard over a 60 year career and also had a genuine passion about performing, which is what made her so special.

Born Priscilla White, Ms Black was also known for her famous catch phrases. A majority of them coming from her hugely successful show Blind Date, reaching audiences of over 18.2 million viewers on weekly on ITV in the 80s. “Lorra lorra laughs” and “What’
s your name and where d’ya come from?” are two of her most famous catch phrases which kept the audience glued to their sofas for 18 years.

Over the decades Cilla presented and acted in countless television programs such as The Moment of Truth, Benidorm and performed at the The Royal Variety in 2001, which arguably is one of the most memorable Royal Variety performances ever. She also got offered to appear on X-Factor as judge in 2006 by Simon Cowell, however Cilla declined as she said she would find it too hard to put down the less talented contestants. On top of X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing were grasping to get their hands on her too as a contestant. However she declined by saying no ‘oldie’ had won Strictly and she didn’t want to participate by entering  something she didn’t win.

Although wanted by Simon Cowell and loved by a majority of the world, there was an exception to some including artist Gillian Wearing. Gillian designed on G2’s cover paper a picture that read ‘F**CK CILLA BLACK.’ The feature’s purpose was to instigate a boycott on Cilla’s brand of ‘nice television’ to a abrupt end. However although having an effect on her family, Cilla wasn’t bothered by the article and had a pretty cool-headed reaction by responding that she “wanted to buy a copy and hang it on her wall.” All in all Cilla was an outstanding woman. Appearing in an interview on ‘Loose Women’ she said she’d rather see young, attractive people when she switched on her TV rather than herself. She received a special award at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2014 for marking her 50 years in showbiz which she truly deserved. Although she has sadly passed away at the age of just 72, throughout her life she has made a remarkable impact. Women of all ages can regard her legacy as an inspirational and formidable woman who has had such a huge impingement on the world of showbiz.

This is why I believe Cilla Black OBE should definitely have a place in my “How Women Changed the World” Hall of Fame.


Mia Farrow

It is such a shame that for so much of her life Mia Farrow gained publicity for negative aspects of her personal life when her accomplishments spans across five decades and she is continuously involved in campaigns to improve the lives of impoverished people.

Mia Farrow Tours Eastern Chad As Violence Continues

Born Maria De Lourdes Villies Farrow in Los Angeles in 1945, she later became known professionally as Mia Farrow. She is a world-renowned multi-award winning actress and a humanitarian activist. After a short-lived marriage to Frank Sinatra and a long term relationship with director Woody Allen, she is a mother of 14 children, 11 of whom she adopted. They range in age from 20 to 44, 2 of whom unfortunately pass away. She first gained recognition for an off-Broadway production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, then gained status by starring as Alison MacKenzie in the popular soap opera Peyton Place. Since then she has starred in more than 40 high-profile films, including Rosemary’s Baby, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA and won a Golden Globe. With an acting career that has spanned across many generations; from 1964 until most recently in 2014, where she appeared on Broadway, Mia Farrow is very successful and respected in her field.

Mia Farrow In 'Miami Rhapsody'

There was a shift in focus from her acting career to activism, and in september 2000 was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador where she used the platform to promote rights for children in countries where it was not deemed a priority. She raised money for women and children whose lives had been impacted by violence in countries like Nigeria, Chad, Angola and Haiti to name a few. In 2007, she co-founded the ‘Olympic Dream for Darfur’ campaign which highlighted China’s support of the Sudan government, particularly with reference to the mass killings, with the end goal of forcing them to change their policy in the build-up to the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing. During the Olympics, she streamed a video from a refugee camp in Sudan to visualise the involvement of China. Since then, she has been involved in more than 20 activist campaigns, including testifying in the trial of Liberian President Charles Taylor in 2010. Farrow has received numerous awards for her work, including The Presidential Medal of Honour. Her hands-on and relentless approach to activism has led her to success and change in areas which need it.

Mia Farrow Visits Sudan

Mia Farrow has a long-standing career, both as an actress and activist. Her selfless dedication to the causes in which she supports makes her a huge inspiration to the capital-driven society in which we live in. Her relentless dedication to fight for communities in need is why I believe Ms Farrow should be included in my “How Women Change the World” series.

US actress and UNICEF ambassador Mia Far

What Everyone Ought To Know About…. THE OSCARS 2015

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

For many, the Academy Awards is the most anticipated award show across the globe. People wait anxiously to see the names of their favourite actors, directors and composers on the nominee list. So when the 2015 list was released, these anxious fans noticed a lack of adequate representation of people of colour, and there was particular attention on the incredible film ‘Selma‘. Although the movie was not completely ignored as it received nominations for ‘Best original song’ and ‘Best picture’, the director Ava Duvernay, and British actor David Oyelowo – who convincingly depicted civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. – were disregarded, leaving people around the world confused and a tad disconcerted to say the least. In their 87-year history, the Oscars have consistently shown this pattern of lacking diversity, so should the fact ‘Selma’ was majorly overlooked should this have been such a shock?

British actor, David Oyelowo with Ava Duvenay, Director of Oscar nominated 'Selma"
British actor, David Oyelowo with Ava Duvenay, Director of Oscar nominated ‘Selma”

At the Santa Barbara Film Festival, Oyelowo acknowledged his disappointment of the Oscar snub, whilst recognising that following the trend in the industry, as a black man, his powerful role in the movie was less likely to be as celebrated than if he had played a more submissive role. He used previous Oscar winning actor, Denzel Washington (read here the Sony Pictures leak saying why he should not be considered for lead roles in Hollywood) to further illustrate his point. Denzel received an Oscar for Best Actor in 2001 for his portrayal of a corrupt policeman in ‘Training Day’, however in his previous authoritative role as Malcolm X in 1993, he did not.

Denzel Washington as Malcolm X
Denzel Washington as Malcolm X

The somewhat limited industry recognition of the movie ‘Selma’ has once again highlighted the lack of representation of people of colour – particularly women – in the film industry.  Mr Oyelowo and Ms Duvenay are not the only ones who have been snubbed by the Academy Awards committee. For example, in 2010 Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an academy award for ‘Best director’ for her movie “The Hurt Locker”. No other female director had been awarded the accolade until then, and was met by much celebration within the industry and critics alike. Since the release of ‘Selma’ and the great work done by it’s director Ava Duvenay, does this mean there may be another long wait until we see a black female director win the prize?

Halle Berry acceptance speech at The Oscars for her leading role in "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge"
Halle Berry acceptance speech at The Oscars for her leading role in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”

American actress and woman of colour, Halle Berry (click here for her somewhat “entertaining” acceptance speech) was the first woman of colour in 82 years to win the ‘Best actress’ trophy in 2002 for her leading role as one of my favourite all time actresses, Dorothy Dandridge. (Watch the full movie here).

Not only this but have you noticed there has never been an Asian or Hispanic winner of the most coveted trophies for best female actress at The Oscars?

The Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences voters are 77% male
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters are 77% male

It has been suggested that this disparity exists because The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is predominantly made up of 94% caucasian elite American voters,  77% of whom are male. There is a laborious process to become a member of the committee too. The process of winning a prize is not a transparent one, and is heavily regarded as a close secret.

Comedian and Actor Chris Rock was the host of The Oscars in 2005
Comedian and Actor Chris Rock was the host of The Oscars in 2005

In 2014, Chris Rock (who hosted the 77th awards show in 2005) wrote a public letter about the problems in Hollywood, where he compared the Academy Awards to the NBA, stating it is not necessarily bad because just as the NBA is a “black industry”, the Academy Awards are a “white industry”. He further went on to explain there is a real issue with this because millions of people in over 200 countries worldwide tune in to watch the Oscars. Mr Rock believes the message the world receive of the representation of the show is that some voices are more powerful and important than others.

John Legend and Common won
John Legend and Common won ‘Best Original Song” for the movie ‘Selma’ at the 2015 Academy Awards

Even though we celebrate John Legend and Common’s win for best original song – along with an inspirational and powerful acceptance speech – we also celebrate Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu for being awarded the ‘Best Original Screenplay’, ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Picture’ accolades for his film ‘Birdman’.  The representation of ethnic minorities is inadequate and we need to see a more diverse Academy in the future. Not only that but I believe more incredibly talented women of ethnic minorities or others ethnic groups should no longer be overlooked by The Academy in such a blatant way.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu won 3 awards at the 2015 Academy Awards
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu won 3 awards at the 2015 Academy Awards

images-9I hope in the near future these disparages will be addressed. Until then, many from ethnic minority groups and particularly women around the world will be paying close attention until then.




Malala Yousafzai is an activist for female education from Swat in Pakistan. At only 16 years old, she is one of the most inspiring young role models in modern society. She first caught our attention with a reflective diary about her experience of the Taliban enforcing a ban on female education.

Born and raised in Swat, Pakistan, where she lived with her parents and younger brothers. Malala, meaning ‘grief stricken’ was derived from Malalai of Maiwand, a poet from Afghanistan.


Growing up, Malala was always different from her peers. She had a keen interest in politics, which was unique for someone so young and she would stay up late talking about current affairs with her father after putting her younger brothers to bed. She had a dream of becoming a doctor, but her father thought she should be a politician.


Her path in activism began in September 2008, where she spoke about at the local press club against the Taliban taking away female rights to education. At the time, the BBC Urdu website were looking for interesting ways of covering the rule of the Taliban in Swat. They came up with the idea of getting a young schoolgirl to write anonymously, but it was too high a risk and understandably no one was up for the challenge. Malala’s father suggested her for the role and she was only 11 years old at the time. The Taliban militants were taking over and banned music, TV and girls education.


Under the pseudonym Gul Makai, Malala began to write emotional accounts of the horrors that occurred in Swat which took readers on a journey from the first battles in Swat to the absence of many girls from local schools which eventually shut down. This sparked her career as a female activist, as she began to do public appearances and interviews, finally revealing her identity in 2009. This gave Malala international popularity. Retired bishop and social activist, Desmond Tutu nominated her for the International Children’s Peace Award and she was the first to win Pakistan’s National Youth Peace prize. She made it clear that she did not belong to any particular political party but had plans to start her own that promoted education for women.


Malala has overcome many challenges and comes back fighting each time. As her international popularity increased so did the threat to her safety. She received numerous death threats both online and at her home, until eventually a member of the Taliban shot her on her way home from school, which put her in a coma. This sparked an international outpouring of support and anger towards the Taliban, and 2 million people signed the right to education campaign’s petition, which forced the Pakistani government to pass the Right to Education Bill.


Malala continues to promote education, particularly for young girls. She has been invited to speak at events worldwide. On her 16th birthday, she spoke at the UN to advocate for young people to have access to education globally. The UN renamed the event “Malala Day”. On 10 October 2014, she became the youngest Nobel Prize winner.


At 17 years old, Malala has written a memoir, spoken worldwide advocating for rights for education and received over 30 awards from different countries. She is an inspiration for women of all ages. If everyone had Malala’s courage, the world would be a very different place.


This is why I believe Malala Yousafzai must surely be honoured in my “How Women Changed The World” series.


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