Sunday, 31 December 2017

Out With the Old and In With the New

Well 2017 has been an interesting year for me and I don't mind saying, I'm happy to see the back of it!

As you may know I started off the Year having an exciting time at Twitter UK in London, working on their Live Video Strategy. Later on in the year I developed some new products for my TV Production company and continued to increase my property education and asset management as well as building my power team to help me seek out and maximize new local opportunities in the West London area.

Having said that, I still felt things had not been happening quickly enough for me and so I had to take action to turn things round.

New lessons learnt included letting go of some old friends and finding some new ones. I’ve cast aside some old attitudes too which allowed me to focus more intensely on my new goals and new vision for myself and my future at my brand new office based at The Workary in West London.

With that in mind I plan on 2018 being very exciting, and full steam ahead.

There are lots of things on the horizon which I finally get to see bear fruit. There will be a brand new Website and I will be reaching out to you soon to see if you would like to stay in touch via email. If you do choose to do so you will find out about new courses, new meetups and new opportunities to invest in the London area.

As my friends, colleagues, mentors and greatest assets, I hope that you too will all choose to stay in touch and that you will share with me this time for reflection and goal setting for the year ahead.

I do hope that you all have a wonderful 2018, get some proper achievable goals in place, stay energized, determined, and surround yourself with some heavy hitting, prize-fighting dedicated people (like myself) who will breath nothing but positivity into your life (and business) and help you to achieve your dreams.

Wishing you the greatest success for 2018

Yours Sincerely

Michelle Brooks

P.S. If you would like to discuss investing in West London or just want to chew the fat over a coffee feel free to drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Strictly Final - Who's Your Winner?

Strictly …The Final- Who’s Your Winner!!

Ok so the dancing has started and we now have four unbelievable Finalists to enjoy.

So who will be your Strictly Come Dancing Winner 2017? We size up the competition thus far to see if we can predict who will lift this year’s glitterball Trophy.

Gemma Atkinson
Will it be the down to earth and fun loving Gemma Atkinson who braved 4 am starts and glaring tomboyishness to turn from a duck to a swan?

She delighted us with her American Smooth and has grown steadily week on week.

Has not had as many of those “Wow” moments that we would expect from a Strictly Winner but certainly has one of the most endearing relationships with her partner Alijaz.

Debbie McGee:
Could our Winner be the elegant Debbie“flexi”-McGee with her endless legs, fearless lifts, elegance and energy of someone half her age?

From Fiesty in the Argentine Tango to Dreamy in her American Smooth some say Debbie has invigorated and inspired up and down the country.  Entering the contest two years after the sad loss of her magician husband Paul Daniels she is one of the oldest Strictly Finalists at 59 and her winning could really be a Strictly breakthrough.

 Some of her Latin dances have been a little lumpy with her Jive to “Spice up your Life” seeing her end up in the bottom two at Blackpool. Also as an Ex-Professional ballet dancer with her own dance company some say she was bound to be good at dancing and the title should go to someone with more of a “journey.”

Joe McFadden
Holby Actor Joe McFadden has certainly provided that “Journey” and charmed the strictly audience being the only finalist so far to not end up in the bottom two.

His relationship with Katya Jones has meant we have been treated to some truly unique choreography and a gradual confidence and progress that has had him dubbed by Shirley Ballas “Detailed Joe” and the “Dark Horse” of the competition. His Samba to "Money Money" and the ending of his Semi Final Argentine Tango got the country talking and people are genuinely considering him as the one to beat.


His development has come quite late and he has had less exciting routines then some of the stars. Also how surprising really is his Strictly success when you consider he has previously performed in well known West End Musicals such as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Rent” ?

Alexandra Burke

With the rockiest “Journey” of the series Alexandra has gone up and down the leader board and been the chalk and cheese act of the series. Coming to the series fresh after the death of her Mother, Soul 2 Soul Singer Melissa Bell Alexandra been the biggest revelation. She has had the most 39s of the series and astounded the judges week after week. She has also provided the most conversation and controversy throughout the series and could walk away with the title but only if she is able to silence her numerous critics.

Stand out performances aplenty include her Jive to “Proud Mary”, “American Smooth to “Wouldn’t It Be Luvverly” and her fierce Argentine Tango to the Gotan Project which certainly brought fire to the Series.

Despite an amazing routine on Musicals week, Alexandra ended up in the bottom two for the second time meaning her followers seem less loyal.  Sadly with online trolls also questioning her sincerity, dramatic reactions and quick flowing tears it remains to be seen whether she can kick, flick and twirl her way to the top and again into the nations hearts.

Whatever tonight’s results the show dances promise to be a real treat and the competition will certainly be a tight one. I for one will certainly miss this cracking series and will be said to see it end.

People will always vote for their favourites and that may not have anything to do with the dancing. Still let’s hope we see the best performances all round and that this year we get a true winner who has entertained the whole series and is worthy of this amazing trophy.

Remember people, Keep Dancing!!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Alexandra the Queen (and Why I'm Backing her on Strictly this Weekend)

Alexandra the Queen (Why this Weekend I'm backing Alexandra!)
Back in 2010 I wrote Produced and Directed a show called “Brides and Prejudice” about Single Black Women and the perceptions of them in the media.  The show aired on a Black Entertainment Channel on Sky called OH TV, Sky 199 .

In the trailer a single Black woman is soul searching her reasons for not finding a man and heard to ask “Am I too romantic?, “ Am I too sexy?... “ Am I too… Independent?” The woman is shown "left on the shelf"  seemingly she is to blame for her plight as being un-loveable and unwanted.

It is a truth universally acknowledged...

“Brides and Prejudice” tackled the topic of diversity and relationships and aired in 2010. Back then we were used to not seeing many examples of black women on TV and it was no surprise that when we saw them they were usually boxed into stereotypes.

Jane Austen once wrote, "It is a truth universally acknowledge that a man of good fortune must surely be in want of a wife." However it is also a universally acknowledged truth that black women of good looks, good talent and in the public eye must be seen to be humble and know their place. It soon became clear to me that this old fashioned way of thinking had not entirely gone away and had reared it's ugly head on BBC TV.

Fastforward seven years on from that show and I’m watching the talented, vivacious and athletic X-Factor Winner, Alexandra Burke, killing it again with a fantastic Charleston routine with her partner Gorka Marquez on the BBC 1 primetime Juggernaut Strictly Come Dancing.

Alexandra Burke’s performance to "Supercalifragilistic" was exactly that. Fast footwork, kicks, flips, endless energy and even Judge Revel-Horwood had to admit, “Your swivels are even better than Gorker’s dahling”!  And yet there she was, for the second week running, down in the Dance Off!
As a black woman myself I have long been brought up with the knowledge that I had to be ten times as good as the next person to get ahead - in business, in school, in life. However to see someone as clearly talented and high profile as Alexandra in that same position in 2017 ironically in a “reality” TV show really made me think.

Wasn't this the same hideously uneven playing field again. Was she too sexy? Too emotional, too good too soon?

Previously Alexandra had slayed the opposition with her detailed and steamy Salsa and that fantastic and feel good Jive as early as week 4. Still online voices felt the need to draw attention to the fact that she cried when praised or given high scores as if she should be arrogant and "As if she doesn't know she's good? Why should she? She's never danced Ballroom or Latin before and never been on the show before.

When she started receiving 10s, that too was seen as a problem. "Couldn't she just make a mistake and get booted out?" One Twitter troll lamented!

So did Alexandra peak too soon,  or  is there a problem with people's expectations of women, in particular black women, in the Media? Should we all just play nice and quietly, not enjoy ourselves too much, or be too loud or too confident?

Alexandra's routines have been marked down on several occasions and she is doing more then many of her peers but maybe her journey on Strictly was always destined to beat the same path as so many other black contestants on reality TV?

For someone who has only recently lost her mother Alexandra Burke’s Jive performance is even more remarkable. How is she able to do that, I wonder? I suppose she can only be channeling her grief and energy into the dance in a bid to distract herself from the realities of her sad loss.
And yet some people in the media, online and even it seems on the set of Strictly itself seem keen to highlight Alexandra’s flaws as being "emotional" in an attempt to drag her down further and perhaps get more attention for themselves online.

"Why is she always crying?" they ask. "How can she possibly not believe how good she is?" "Her tears are fake." She's not wiping anything away."  These nasty comments say more about the people trolling the star then Burke herself and it seems that even the press with their bully boy tactics are wading in.

"Stories" resurface about comments she made seven years ago on TV and supposed  backstage feuds appear to paint her as the proverbial, "black bitch." The only problem being no one including her colleagues and dance partner want to back up those stories. The people leaking the "headline news" are nowhere to be seen, but sadly mud sticks.

Is becoming upset or having a “meltdown” when you’re in the bottom two again, really “news”? As a creative I don’t believe it is. Many creative people are hardworking, perfectionists and fiery! They want to do well and they care. Thank God for those people who do push boundaries and who DO NOT SETTLE! Thank God Alexandra cares enough to work hard and treat us to these great performances week after week.

When you add all Alexandra’s achievements to the fact that no one else on the show has had to endure this level of criticism if really makes me question how enlightened people really are towards race and talent in the entertainment industry. This Campaign of spite has been really remarkable for a wholesome show like “Strictly”.

Musical Advantage
Alexandra “haters” cite the fact that Alexandra Burke has “appeared in musicals” and yet they fail to mention that Sister Act and The Bodyguard did not feature Latin or Ballroom in either. In addition to this the actor Joe McFadden has previously appeared in Rent and Chitty Chitty Bang and we’re supposed to simply marvel at his unbelievable performance, skill and improvement.  Molly King lovely though she is, is from girl band The Saturdays and yet we never hear how much extra experience she has in her day job.  Instead we are fed the “she’s done three hundred hours of rehearsal” line. Personally, I believe all the dancers in the Semi-Final are committed and telling me how many hours you rehearsed one dance just makes me wonder how you will keep that up when required to do two or even three dances in the final! Debbie McGee at 59 is a fine example of fitness and flexibility and even though troll persist in reminding whoever will listen about her ballet training. But even that pales into insignificance when compared to what Alexandra has been exposed to.

People say “we just don’t warm to her,” and they “just can’t put their finger on why?” Well I have a few ideas why and I’d suggest it’s mainly down to a mixture of the stories circulated and their own limiting beliefs about what is natural and unnatural behaviour in women.

People state they want "someone likeable" to win. What makes someone likeable? Can't passion, dedication and talent be likeable? Or do we really want another Chris Hollinsworth (lovely but average) Strictly Winner?

Fake or Real?

Alexandra’s “haters” say she is “fake” for expressing emotion when she has only recently lost her mother and also when everything you have ever seen of Alexandra – including her win on X-Factor -shows her to be an emotional girl. It seems to me that black women are not supposed to show emotion. Unless of course it’s emotion deemed acceptable to certain members of the British public. We’re allowed to be comical and bubbly like the adorable Chizzy Akodulu but not so confident that we inspire envy amongst others and actually might want to win.

As both a feminist and a lover of dance, I am tired of seeing a talented woman, quick to pick up routines clearly incredibly passionate about dance being boxed in and vilified for it. There’s nothing wrong with caring, wearing your heart on your sleeve and being good at what you do.

Also when it comes to emotion why should she tone it down? Is it seriously all about “stiff upper lip”? And if so why? Black culture is not known for playing small and why should Alexandra have to change her behaviour? How does that serve the show or even Diversity which the BBC professes to care so much about? With Chizzy Akodulu, Aston Merrygold, and Oti Mabuse also out of the picture will Alexandra now be under pressure to hide her real emotions and if so is this not MORE fake then her just being her natural self?

The Strictly experience will be over in two weeks and all this drama will just be a memory. So called newspapers like “The Sun” and the “Daily Mail” who reported Alexandra’s “furious” arguments with her dance partner Gorka Markez (who recently went on record as saying how much “fun” they have together during rehearsals and how she “makes his life easy”) will be clamouring for interviews and then we'll see who's fake and who's real. I for one hopes she tells them where to go.

Having looked at Alexandra and Gorka’s performances thus far it’s clear to me that a Strictly final would not be worth watching without Alexandra and Gorka in it. They have brought fire and excitement to this year’s show and we they audience would be the poorer without it.

Yes Alexandra Burke is a great dancer and makes it LOOK effortless and natural but does that mean that it IS effortless or that she did not work hard to make it look so, and therefore should NOT win the show? Strictly cannot have an entire show of people who lack musicality and struggle to improve until Semi Final week. I for one wouldn’t still be watching if that were the case and the BBC wouldn’t have a series.  Reality TV needs a good mix for it to be watchable TV.

Having said that, Oti Mabuse choreographed and danced some amazing routines with her partner Danny Mac in Strictly 2016.  By rights they should have definitely walked off with the title and yet they were cruelly pipped at the post by a late bloomer.

So this Saturday, will you sit back and watch another travesty happen again? I know what I'll be doing. Standing up for the Queen!

Michelle Brooks is a Writer, Producer and Founder of Production Company @ShowpatrolUK She has featured in the TV Documentaries “Brides and Prejudice”, “Why Should I Get Married?” and Produced the TV Series “Black Women in the Media” which received 9.2 million views when it streamed online.