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karin stanford

Dr. Karin L. Stanford Talks Daughter Ajae Jackson’s Career Choice in a Harsh Business

*Recently EURweb’s Lee Bailey spoke with burgeoning pop artist AshleyAJae’ Jackson and her mother Dr. Karin L. Stanford, an educator at Cal State-Northridge. 15-year-old AJae is also the daughter of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

In our previous article, young Ashley talked about blazing a trail for herself that was independent of that which was set upon by her parents. However, speaking to Lee Bailey as well, her mother, while very supportive of her undertaking, had to be convinced that this is the proper path for her child.

ashley & karin

Ashley ‘Ajae’ Jackson and her mother, Dr. Karin Stanford

“Why couldn’t she just become an academic? Why are you doing this to my life? I want her to be happy, I really do,” Dr. Stanford bemoaned to Lee Bailey. “But I came kicking and screaming. You know, with kids they see that people in the industry get a lot of positive attention.”

AJae’s first single is titled “Just Do Me” and she’s currently hard at work trying to find a place in the game. But her mother tells Bailey that she was diligent in explaining the nature of the music business to AJae. As many of our readers can attest, it can be a dirty business.

“I’m an academic so I don’t know much about the entertainment industry, but it just seems to me to be as hustle. You just move from one job to the next. I tell her that even with Brad Pitt after he finishes one job he’s unemployed.”

RELATED STORY: Upcoming Pop Artist AJae Wants To Be Her Own Woman

“I tell her that I want her to maybe get some internships next summer. Work in a production office or something like that. That way, if things don’t work out in one area there’s always something else that you can do.  You can offer your talent in front of the camera, but be able to offer more in other areas.”

Despite her mother’s consternation and concern, young AJae has been steadfast in her belief that this is her lot in life and has been doing so for quite some time. Ms. Stanford says Jesse Jackson has expressed his concern over her career path as well.

“She’s very strong headed. How she would bring me along, and him to and I’m not sure he’s there yet, is she would say something like ‘Hey Mom, there’s a play at school today’ and she would be the lead. Or ‘Hey Mom, there’s something going on in the park’ and I’ll show up and she’s the keynote speaker or singer. I put her in a film class and she was doing all the acting. I put her in the class to learn to work the camera. She still doesn’t know how to work the cameras. That’s when I said ‘Okay, I’ll go along with this.’ I wanted her to see how hard it is to be an entertainer. It’s all day and all night. It’s really hard.”

jesse ashley &mijac

Jesse Jackson, Ashley ‘Ajae’ Jackson & Michael Jackson

AJae aka Ashley Jackson is a very talented young woman whose pop sound is very different from much that appears on the radio these days. Karin L. Stanford told our Lee Bailey that she does not want AJae to be targeted and lambasted because of the nature of the one-time relationship between her mother and Jesse Jackson. It is indeed a hard row to hoe, as the old folks used to say.

“I just don’t want her to be labelled.  I don’t want her to be labelled she’s a kid and she’s doing her work in the entertainment industry. I don’t want our experiences to mar her future. I think that, you meet people who want to exploit her father’s legacy. They use her to get to him. I’ve had people come into our lives who weren’t genuine, who were selling stories to the tabloids. Most of them not true. I don’t trust people like I did before he was born. I don’t know what the future bodes for her. Especially since the industry she wants to be involved in is one in which people do exploit others.”

Despite all the perils of fame that Prof. Stanford has worked to ardently to impart upon AJae, she tells EURweb that her daughter’s resolve remains unshaken. The nature of her upbringing is unique among her circle of friends and fellow students and has likely helped foment her worldview. One that incorporates aspects from both her parents but is an independent source of light and matter unto its own.

“She said ‘Mom, I’m never going to be a professor. I’ll never, ever be a professor’. But teaching is still an option for her. She grew up on a college campus. Her Dad and I are really involved in social movements and civil rights and politics, he does his thing in his world. But I am very much engaged with issues on campus. She went to a school where all of the homes were intact. So, she was something of an outlier in that respect. Then, when he comes to town, she takes off for two or three days to spend time with him. Then, his lifestyle is very different than ours. So, when she’s with him everything is first class. When she comes home she has to do the laundry, do the dishes, she has to clean up. So, it’s a very different lifestyle. So, she has to go back and forth between those two worlds. There’s a major class difference between here and there.”

Ashley-Jackson-single just do me

As stated previously, Ajae’s first single is titled “Just Do Me” and is currently available on iTunes. Additionally, she’s gearing up to drop some songs as soon as possible. In the interim, she’s still a student and a daughter. However, her indomitable will and self-awareness is already apparent. Positive attributes to be sure. Though any parent would be right to show concern, from our vantage point it appears as if AJae “Ashley” Jackson is already well on her way to success in whatever career path she chooses.


Upcoming Pop Artist AJae Wants To Be Her Own Woman, but She’s Jesse Jackson’s Daughter

Scroll down to experience Ajae’s new video for her song, “Just Do Me

ashley ajae jackson

*They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but in the case of upcoming pop artist Ashley Jackson aka “Ajae,” that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The daughter of prominent civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and esteemed collegiate dean and author Karin L. Stanford Ph.D., Ajae has been preparing herself for a life in front of the masses for quite some time.

But there will be no marches, speeches or sit-ins. At least not of the type we’re used to. The 15-year-old protégé has been pursuing a life in music ever since she could remember and her time in the limelight is quickly approaching.

“I’ve been singing for a long time and I’ve had to try and convince my parents that this is what I’ve wanted to do for a while,” Ajae told EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “For the past two or three years I’ve been working with a production company on getting a project together. It came from one song and turned into several. I have a team and I’ve been working with management. Right now we’re working with a team and trying to get together a project.”

Jesse Jackson's Daughter (Ajae) Wants to be Her Own Woman

Though a major record deal and all the bells and whistle indicative of a pop star are on the horizon, Ajae says she and her team are gearing up now to prepare the listening public to the coming tsunami of talent that she is destined to catalyze.

“I just kind of wanted to let people know what I’m doing because I felt like they needed to know at some point,” she explained. “Right now, I think we’re just going to be releasing some music and letting people know that this is what I’m trying to do.  Then we’re going to put more music out and see what’s going to happen and more visuals, of course. I mean. I take it very seriously. It’s like a fun project but I do want people to hear my music and see what I’m about.”

Ashley Jackson’s pedigree is without question and her familial legacy is one that many Americans would be proud to be a part of. However, this young wunderkind has plans to make a name for herself on her on accord. That’s literal and figurative as well.

“Professionally, I go by AJae because it’s my initials. People have been calling me that for years and it just kind of stuck,” she explained. “I go by that because I kind of want to separate that part of my life from my regular life.  Like, all of my friends don’t call me AJae because I think that would be kind of weird. I performed at a location once and all these little girls were calling me AJae. I feel like if my friends are calling me AJae it kind of puts me out of the zone.  I have friends that I’ve met in the industry and they call me AJae. But none of my friends and family call me that.  To them, I’m just Ashley. Kind of like a separation of lifestyles.”


Musically, AJae’s style is a distinctively American amalgamation of music and influences that we’re all familiar with.

“I love R&B and I’m hoping to incorporate more hip-hop in my upcoming songs. I also rap, which a lot of people don’t know. I hope to do that in my upcoming music as well. It’s kind of like a mix between R&B, Pop and rap. That’s where my style is headed.”

“My main influence is Beyonce. Honestly, I love everything about that woman,” she continued. “She’s been my influence, not only because of her music, but she’s such a good business woman and a feminist. I’ve always defended that about her. Other influences are Janelle Monae and Alicia Keys. I like people who kind of have a message about their music but they still kind of bring you in. I also think Nicki Minaj is hilarious.  I just like the character and nobody is rapping like she is right now. I think she does so well because of her character and also she has the talent to go along with it. I think that’s interesting. Of course, her lyrics at times are a little alarming.”

Though this young woman undoubtedly has the talent to make a living as a pop artist she will repeatedly be mentioned in the same breath as her parents. Young AJae explains how she convinced her parents that this was the life she wanted and not a passing fad.

“My parents have their own background working for them. Like, academics and politics, which I still embrace because of my upbringing. But that’s not exactly where I’m headed. I still want to respect their legacy and what they taught me. But I still have to do what I love, which is creativity and music. Like respecting their legacy, but simultaneously respect my dreams and what I want to do.”

Ashley-Jackson-single just do me

“My Mom always knew that I wanted to do music. But, I think, initially she didn’t take it as seriously as I already have. It wasn’t a big conflict, but I had to take the time and energy to prove to her that this is what I wanted to do because she wasn’t just going to put me out there wholeheartedly when she wasn’t sure that I was officially in it. Once I proved that to her then we were fine.  Of course she still wants me to follow in her footsteps. I’m just going to do that through educating people in my music.”

Ashley Jackson’s first single is titled “Just Do Me” and is a message to her fans regarding her life path, and to her family as well.

Speaking of family, we’ll have more from the young Ms. Jackson in part II of our story as well as get some insight from her mother, Dr. Karin Stanford Ph.D. Stay tuned and check out Ashley’s video below for “Just Do Me”:


(Jesse Jackson’s Daughter (Ajae) Wants to be Her Own Woman)

All Aboard For Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma’ (Video)

All Aboard For Ava DuVernay's Selma

*The slow build toward the debut of director Ava DuVernay‘s first big  budget film, “Selma,” is beginning to quicken as major media outlets and independents alike are starting to pick up on the fact that this is shaping up to be a pretty kick ass movie.

We haven’t heard anyone say this is an ensemble film, but with a cast that includes David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Common, Giovonni Ribisi Andre Holland, Wendell Pierce and many others, Selma appears to have a high-quality cast from top to bottom. Recently, the first trailers for “Selma,” which is slated for limited release in December, were released.

Additionally, Duvernay and Oyelowo have been making their rounds to get the word out about “Selma,” which is executive produced by Oprah Winfrey in conjunction with Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company.

Check out the trailer below fora first glimpse of the film and take a look at’s video gleaned from the 18th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival and stay tuned for more installments of this candid conversation.


(All Aboard For Ava DuVernay’s Selma)

‘Beyond the Lights’ Director and Star Discuss New Film

Nate Parker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Nate Parker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

*After seeing the new Gina Prince-Bythewood film Beyond the Lights as it was screened at the 18th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival early in September it is clear to us that the storyline is as original as it is necessary in these times of accelerated pop stardom and the undisclosed hardships that haunt many who chose a life in the spotlight.

The film stars (Belle) and Nate Parker (Secret Life of Bees, Red Tail). Gugu’s character is named Noni Jean, a burgeoning pop star who is on the cusp of super stardom. Parker stars as Kaz, a young Los Angeles police officer who is on the verge of actualizing his dreams of becoming more as well.

Beyond the Lights was written in 2007. It was a story that was in my head and it was a real fight to get this film made,” Bythewood told audience members. “But when you’re passionate about a story it fuels the fight. And, again, this was a fight. But we’re very passionate about excited about the film. They say your challenge is in your choices and I had two tremendous lead actors in this film in Nate Parker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.”

As mentioned earlier, Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the lead as Noni Jean. By all visual appearances, Jean’s life is about to make a change for the better. As the film opens, we find that Noni has just won a Grammy Award for a song recorded with rap artist Kid Culprit (played by Machine Gun Kelly) and her album is about to drop as well. However, she’s depressed and suicidal at the thought of living her life under the unblinking eye of public scrutiny.

“When I first read the script I thought that Gina had done such a terrific job in showing kind of the underbelly of the music industry,” said Mbatha-Raw. “Yes, we have that sort of manufactured pop star imagery that we’re used to, but it also shows the psychological effects of fame. For me (it also shows) the idea of mental health and how, if you don’t have a sense of self-worth, it really doesn’t really matter if people are lauding you with all these accolades. For me, I felt like it was a worthwhile story. It was uplifting. The love story was beautiful and fun, and there was an intimacy and a realness to it that I thought was really refreshing.”

Beyond the Lights, originally titled Blackbird after the Nina Simone song of the same name, features an ensemble cast supporting Parker and Mbatha-Raw. Each lead character deals with issues that have been thrust upon them by their parental figures and must overcome them through the course of the film to attain self-actualization.  Minnie Driver’s performance as Macy Jean, mother of Noni, is outstanding as is Danny Glover’s performance as Captain David Nicol.  Beyond the Lights opens in theaters nationwide on November 14 and we’ll be penning an extensive review as the release date draws near. In the meantime, checkout the trailer for Beyond the Lights below.


(Beyond the Lights Director and Star Discuss New Film)

EUR on the Scene: The Best of the Urbanworld Film Festival (Watch)

The Best Of The Urbanworld Film Festival - Urbanworld Film Festival Wrap Up Report

Boris Kodjoe, William Levy, Zane (author/creator of ‘Addicted’) and Tyson Beckford

*From September 17 through the 21 the Urbanworld Film Festival rolled through New York City with some of the highest-quality creative offerings by people whose backgrounds ran the gamut of the American sociological experiment and those wonderful differences were on full display on a nightly basis.

In its 18th year, the Urbanworld Film Festival’s considerably clout continues to expand exponentially as works from such directors as Ava Duvernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Billie Woodruff garnered standing ovations and uproarious adulation from those who were lucky enough to catch a glimpse at their upcoming works.

On Thursday, September 18, director Gina Prince-Bythewood, husband Reggie “Rock” Bythewood took place in a Q&A session moderated by director Malcolm Lee following a screening for the upcoming film Beyond the Lights, starring Nate Parker, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Minnie Driver.  Beyond the Lights is so relevant in this age of hyper-sexualized young pop stars and strikes to the heart of many other issues as well including; self-respect and mental health among young women of color in America and across the globe.

On Friday, September 19, critically-acclaimed novelist Zane screened clips from her steamy cinematic offering Addicted-which is based on her novel “Addict.” Directed by Billie Woodruff, Addicted is rife with beautiful people locked in a struggle against their better instincts. It stars Boris Kodjoe, Sharon Leal, Tyson Beckford, William Levy and Emayatzy Corinealdi. During the uproarious Q&A session the screening of several of the film’s steamier scenes, Kodjoe, Beckford and Levy jokingly took one another to task over whose sex appeal permeated through the audience’s female fan base the most. Zane herself was as naughty as the male cast members in giving naughty little anecdotes regarding her own appetites. Laughter and levity were the primary themes of the evening.

On Saturday, September 20, director Ava Duvernay and actor David Oyewole were on hand to discuss the highly-anticipated film Selma in a Q&A session with Urbanworld Executive Producer Gabrielle Glore. Though director Ava Duvernay dominated the room with her infectious positive energy, David Oyewole cried tears of joy as audience members showered him with applauds after watching two powerful scenes from Selma. Some are calling Oyewole’s appearance Oscar worthy solely on the strength of that clip. He became MLK in diction, dimensions and conviction.

Addicted will be released in October, Beyond the Lights is scheduled to hit theaters in November, while Ava Duvernay’s Selma is slated to hit theaters on December 25th.  

Check out the video recap of the Addicted Q&A session below.

On Sunday, the UWFF announced the best of the best. After all, this is the largest competitive festival of its kind in the nation. Below are this year’s talented winners.

*Best Screenplay – NOOR written by Nijla Baseema Mu’min

*Best Feature Documentary – Lucky directed by Laura Checkoway

*Best Narrative Short – Pitahaya directed by Albert Espinosa

*Best Narrative Feature (U.S. Cinema) – Lake Los Angeles directed by Mike Ott

*Best Narrative Feature (World Cinema) – Los Angeles directed by Damian John Harper

*Audience Award Winner Best Feature – In The Morning directed by Nefertite Nguvu

*Audience Award Winner Best Short – Sketch directed by Stephen T. Barton


(The Best Of The Urbanworld Film Festival – Urbanworld Film Festival Wrap Up Report)

Sheri-Sher Discusses How First Female Rap Group Was Born (VIDEO)

215973_10200114426122429_1112792554_nHistory is a funny thing.   They say we need to study it or else we’re all doomed to repeat it.  It is in that vein that EURweb presents to you video of a conversation Ricardo A. Hazell of The Shadow League recently had with pioneering hip-hop artist turned author Sheri Abernathy, also known as Sheri-Sher of the Mercedes Ladies.

To many in the current generation, women in hip-hop only go back as far as Salt-N-Pepa.  Some are so young that they think Lauryn Hill was the Holy Mother of Rap.  But there were those that paved the way for them all but enjoyed none of the fruits of their labors.  We can go deeper into the 80s with Roxanne Shante and before her it was Lady Dee and even further back we find MC Sha-Rock.

The aforementioned Sha-Rock was rocking the parks of the City as a singular rhyme regular and as a member of the Funky Four Plus One, but the Mercedes Ladies have a place in history as the first all-female hip-hop group ever.

Sheri-Sher is a founding member.  She and Hazell spoke about her book Mercedes Ladies, which is based on real-life events but the names have been changed, as well as her own personal trials and tribulations prior to her career, the hard road traveled during it, and the unique insights that she has for other young ladies who are willing to pick up the cold baton that she and her band mates created history with through their own sweat and tears.

Recently she and her group members were inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame at a ceremony that took place at Studio 48 in NYC.   Mercedes Ladies can be purchased at Amazon.

Check out the video as she drops words of wisdom regarding how it all got started back in 1976.