*March is Women’s Month and author Crystal McCrary has penned a prolific book putting the spotlight on 30 beautiful women who make us proud as chronicled in her new tome, Inspiration: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World with Nathan Hale Williams (Abrams*) (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; U.S. $40.00/Can. $45.00; March 2011; ISBN: 978-1-58479-959-7 Hardcover with jacket | 240 pages 9 1/8″ x 11″ | 60 color photographs).
With gorgeous photographs by Lauri Lyons**, the author meticulously captures the essence of these individual dynamic movers and shakers; making Inspiration one of the most important and motivating collections ever about Black women published in the last 20 years.
Inspiration shares the personal stories and unique voices of these 30 extraordinary Black women. Whether in the White House or on the courts of Wimbledon, in Hollywood or on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, these women have influenced the social, cultural, and political landscape of this country, and even the world.
Luminaries such as First Lady Michelle Obama, Mary J. Blige, Laila Ali, Raven Symoné. Patti LaBelle, Venus Williams, Susan L. Taylor, and Judith Jamison speak about the challenges they’ve faced and the victories they’ve won throughout their careers.
These inspiring Black women pass their knowledge and lessons on to a new generation of women in intimate first-person essays and stunning color portraits. McCrary is the co-creator of BET’s show Leading Women and the author of the novels Gotham Diaries and Homecourt Advantage. She is a frequent morning show commentator and sits on the advisory board of Jumpstart.
Many of these women are expected to attend a very special book bash hosted by Holly Peterson, Erica Reid, Daryl Roth and Carol Sutton Lewis; including Nicole Avant, Majora Carter, Debra Martin Chase, Misty Copeland, Ruby Dee, Thelma Golden, Whoopi Goldberg, Iman, Gayle King, Patti Labelle, Soledad O’Brien, and many others.
Thus far, Inspiration has received advance critical praise from Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., Andre Leon Talley, Susan Fales-Hill, Vernon Jordan and Serena Williams who said, “Inspiration is like diving into a masterclass of this generation’s most extraordinary women!”
The women profiled in Inspiration are contemporary and timeless, bold and courageous, trailblazers and history makers. Their unique voices, images, and stories have shaped the psyche of a whole generation and ushered in a new era of sophisticated, successful Black women.
From the White House to the courts of Wimbledon, and from Hollywood to the stages of the Metropolitan Opera House — each of these women has influenced the social, cultural, and political landscape of this country and abroad.
Powerful images paired with insightful essays taken from first-person interviews reveal the challenges these celebrated women have faced in their lives and the successes they have achieved.
These prolific women are acclaimed activists, producers, publishers, fashion designers, dancers, singers, models, and actresses — and they are now passing their knowledge and lessons on to a new generation.
Award-winning film, TV producer and author, Crystal McCrary, began her career practicing entertainment law specializing in theatre production, publishing contracts and director’s agreements with the New York City firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison before leaving to pursue a full-time career in writing and producing. Since that time, she has written for several magazines, published two New York Times best-selling novels, and produced original programming for television and film.
McCrary published the New York Times Best-selling novels Homecourt Advantage (Harper Collins/Avon) and Gotham Diaries (Hyperion). She also executive produced the independent film Dirty Laundry (FOX Films), winning Best Feature Film at the American Black Film Festival.
For six seasons McCrary served as co-creator/executive producer for the NAACP Image Award nominated VIACOM documentary series Leading Women and Leading Men which profiled women and men of color who have impacted the country socially, politically and culturally including Dr. Maya Angelou, Iman, Mo’Nique, Patti LaBelle, Lisa Leslie, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Susan Taylor, Tracy Reese, Debra Martin Chase, Sanaa Lathan, Mara Brock Akil, Wynton Marsalis, Wylef Jean, Hill Harper and Terrance Howard to name a few.
Notably, she hosted, created and executive produced the three-part documentary series INSIDE: Black Culture profiling The Studio Museum in Harlem, Evidence: A Dance Company and Abyssinian Baptist Church.
In production, McCrary has a feature length documentary entitled Little Ballers which chronicles the lives and challenges of the New Heights AAU eleven-year olds basketball team and their journey to the national championship. She is also in pre-production with iDeal Partners Film Fund for the film version of her first novel Homecourt Advantage.
Dedicated to and outspoken on education, children’s rights and women’s issues, she has appeared on several national television shows including Good Morning America, The Today Show, the Tavis Smiley Show and as a regular cultural critic on CNN American Morning.
McCrary appeared as a guest co-host on ABC’s The View, interviewing then U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. She served as a legal analyst on numerous television shows including Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNBC as well as a co-host on the 2008 NAMIC vision award winning BET show, “My 2 Cents.” She has interviewed many luminaries including President Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
As an author, she has been featured in People Magazine, Black Enterprise, Town & Country, Newsweek, the New York Times, Mirabella, Vanity Fair, Ebony, Vogue, The New Yorker, Essence Magazine, O Magazine and USA Today. She was also named to Crain’s-New York Business Forty Under Forty.
McCrary sits on the advisory board of Jumpstart, a national organization dedicated to increasing early childhood literacy particularly in low-income neighborhoods across the country. Her interest in education initiatives was sparked during her time as a substitute elementary school teacher in Detroit, MI.
She is also on the advisory committee for Hyperion Books imprint VOICE focusing on women 35 and older, offering books that answer today’s women’s needs as well as the New 42nd Street board which offers theatre and education through the New Victory Theatre to low income children and teens in New York City.
McCrary is a cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (B.A., 1991). She then attended New York University School of Law (J.D., 1995). McCrary also studied International European Community Law in Paris, France. She resides in New York City with her eleven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.
And where does this stunningly beautiful lady get her illuminating inspiration from? Well, according to the glossy “must have” book, McCrary stated: “For my Inspirations and the Loves of my Life: My parents, Thelma and Magellan: you got all the important things right. My children, Cole and Ella: you give meaning and joy to it all. My sister Ruthie: you make sense of it all. My man, Raymond: you make it all worthwhile.” (Photo Credit: Lauri Lyons)
*Founded by Harry N. Abrams in 1949, ABRAMS was the first company in the United States to specialize in the creation and distribution of art and illustrated books. Now a subsidiary of La Martinière Groupe, the company publishes visually stunning illustrated books in the areas of art, photography, cooking, interior and garden design, craft, architecture, entertainment, fashion, sports, pop culture, as well as children’s books and general interest titles. The company’s imprints include Abrams, Abrams ComicArts, Abrams Image, Abrams Books for Young Readers, Amulet Books, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, and STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books. Abrams also distributes books for The Vendome Press, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate, Royal Academy of Arts, Booth-Clibborn Editions, Five Continents and others. www.abramsbooks.com.
**Ace photographer Lauri Lyons is a New York-based photographer who specialties in portraiture and photojournalism. She is the author of two books, Flag: An American Story and Flag International. She is the first Black female photographer to shoot the cover of Fortune magazine, and her work can be found in numerous international publications and exhibitions. She is a faculty member of the International Center of Photography and the Rhode Island School of Design. Visit her website at www.laurilyons.com.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.