Becoming a Model – Taking Care of Your Appearance

cu face
Well, now that you have been introduced to the different genres of modelling (please see previous links to posts) – and if you are still prepared to give it your all – the next key aspect to focus on is appearance.

There is a very well versed quote, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’. It is arguable as to whom this quote can be attributed to, whether Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain, but the fact remains that whoever qualifies, they certainly raised an excellent point.

In the same way that we might attend a regular job interview, we would naturally be expected to prepare for that interview as best we can. There is positively no exception where modelling is concerned. Admittedly, there are times when we might be expected to attend our first casting call of the day, having been told specifically to dress casually or to look sporty. This might be immediately followed by a mad dash across to the other side of town, where a client might require you to look smart, sophisticated or business-like – with heels… or a suit!

This is where our versatility skills would come into play and so also would a certain degree of canniness. But we shall leave the subject of versatility for a later episode in the ‘Becoming a Model’ series.

Let’s get back to first impressions. We are aiming to make an impact and hopefully, a lasting impression on the client, so we have to do everything we can to stand out from the crowd at the cattle call, in order to get the job – modelling is, as with all lines of work, a competitive world. If we really want to make a success of our modelling career, it is important to take in and listen carefully to what the client’s brief is asking of us.


If a client is seeking his or her ideal male or female model to promote a hair product, it would be futile turning up with unwashed, scraped back hair, tucked under a hat or bandana, so that the client cannot make an accurate judgment as to whether the model would be ideal candidate to promote said hair product. Believe it or not, I have seen the odd model do just that, expecting the client to get an idea of the model’s abilities just by looking at their portfolio.

Well, I can tell you right now, that is not only a waste of the client and the model’s own time, energy and money: the agency might as well have just sent over images of that model via email, or forwarded a link to its website! The point of a model turning up in person is for the client to see just that – how the model appears in the flesh, as pictures – particularly edited ones – can hide a multitude of flaws. In a similar way, for a beauty product casting, the client would not want to see a model either caked in makeup or staggering in, unprofessionally, looking as though he or she has been up all night, partying until 6am that very morning.

(The same would go for turning up for a modelling job, but again, that comes under yet another episode in this series, that relates to maintaining good standards and a good name – for yourself and for your agency.)

There are a myriad ways to maintain your hair, skin and nails (yes, clients do ask to see your hands and nails, too, so keep them scrubbed, well manicured, clean and neat!) and it is really all just a case of finding which regime or technique suits you (and your wallet) best.


 Hair Care

A good approach upon joining an agency would be to investigate how to become a house model at a reputable hair salon. If you are unsure, ask your booker for advice. Many model agencies send their models to a few respectable hair salons they are in contact with to maintain their hair for their work, particularly if the model’s hair looks like it could be quite a good selling point and quite a few models do become house models for some of those salons. This would mean that in return for getting your locks primped, trimmed and pampered, you might have to take part in some of their hair shows or do some photo shoots to promote their salon. This is a win-win situation, because you get exposure and practice on the runway and photo shoot as well as acquire a new look and pictures for your portfolio, whilst the salon gets their chosen model to work with for a fraction of the price.

If you can’t find a salon with which to become a house model, aside from getting a basic trim at your local hairdresser or barber, there are plenty of effective over-the-counter products on the market, as well as natural home remedies to treat the condition of your hair and scalp.

Finding a good shampoo and conditioner for your hair type should be standard procedure, whether your hair is thick, fine and flyaway or has a tendency to frizz. You are the one who knows and understands your hair’s behaviour the best and your hairstylist – should you be fortunate enough to find one who can bring out the best in your hair, with deep conditioning treatments, colour and toning expertise – would also be able to advise you on effective ways to manage your style with minimal fuss.

On the other hand, some salons can charge an awful lot of money for a cut and colour and when you’re just starting out as a model, maintaining regular visits and upkeep can therefore become problematic. The solution to this would be to keep things as simple as possible. It’s certainly not the end of the world if things are a bit of a financial struggle; most of us have already been there. Keep your hair clean and well conditioned, with a regular weekly deep conditioning hair pack (guys too), which you can purchase from your local chemist or supermarket.


Walking through the supermarket’s personal care and hygiene section is akin to walking into Aladdin’s Cave of toiletries. Today, we are so spoiled for choice when it comes to products to help maintain and treat our hair. Find the product that is right for your hair type. It can be a case of trial and error, but in the end, when you find that product that is not too greasy for your flyaway hair, or that manages to tame your frizzy locks, it is worth the investment, especially if money is tight to begin with and you cannot make it to a salon. You never know when that all-important hair casting might pop up out of the blue, so always be prepared. As a popular teacher I know often says, ‘being prepared is half the battle’!

But by the same token, try not to get too carried away with the over use of one particular type of styling product for too long, or you might have really have a battle on your hands. Many hairdressers will tell you that over use of styling products can cause what they call ‘product residue build up’ and result in your hair looking dull or losing its shine.

If you have access to a local gym or sports centre, then after your work out, swim or exercise class, just dollop some of your favourite conditioner through your hair, cover it with a shower cap or towel and sit in the steam room for 15-20 minutes. Not only will your hair will thank you by producing optimum shine and a bouncy, healthy looking condition, but your skin will too, as you would have also just removed the city’s grime and given yourself a glowing facial, unblocking the pores that become clogged up by oily sebum and pollution, the excess of which can lead to blocked follicles and unwanted spots and blackheads.

steammale steam

For those of you that can’t make it to the steam room, there are quick and cheap home remedies to bring back the lustre and moisture to your hair – simple food products from your fridge will do the job just as efficiently. Raw eggs are wonderful for your hair and have been used as a treatment for many, many years. But whilst egg whites are great for treating oily hair, containing enzymes that consume any bacteria and excess oils, egg yolks are good for nourishing and moisturising dry, brittle and thirsty hair. Just apply a mixture to clean, damp hair and leave on for about 20 minutes. Use cool (not hot) water to rinse off and then give it a shampoo and light conditioning. Use the yolks once a month and the whites once a fortnight.

Simple plain yoghurt will bring back the hair’s natural shine that has been dulled from city pollution and excess hair styling products. Massage a healthy dollop (about half a cupful) of yoghurt into damp hair, leave on for 20 minutes and rinse off with cool water, then shampoo as normal. Repeating this once a fortnight can save you a lot of money on expensive hair treatments.

remediesFor an itchy, dry or flaky scalp, mix together 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water. Massage this solution into damp hair, leave on for 20 minutes, rinse out and shampoo. Do this every two weeks.

For dehydrated or sun-damaged hair, massage half a cup of honey into your hair, leave for 20 minutes and then rinse out with warm water. If the honey is too sticky for you, you can add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the mixture, to help it spread more easily.

Instead of paying a fortune on a keratin treatment to tame frizzy hair, purchase a more affordable version from your chemist or supermarket, or simply smear fresh avocado all over your hair, then rinse and shampoo as usual. The protein bonds that have been damaged by the sun and heat can also be restored with this inexpensive home remedy.

To get rid of product residue build up, every two weeks, mix a couple of tablespoons of simple baking soda (the very same product that sits in your kitchen cupboard and with which you can also clean your teeth!) with enough water to form a thick paste. Massage this into your damp hair, leave for 15 minutes, then rinse and shampoo.

Finally, it is always important to remember that the hairstyle and image that you choose to go with and take your new portfolio photographs with, must be one that you will be happy and comfortable with, as well as being a style that you will be sticking with for a while. There is nothing more confusing and frustrating for a client who wants to book you for a job specifically because of your long hair, only to find out that you have decided to go for an elfin crop instead! Think carefully about the style you choose. Make sure it is one that still has versatility and enough scope and movement to create a few different styles, because having versatility will be an important element that marks the difference between getting the job or not.


Skin Care

water splash faceman splashmix skin

In this industry, it would not be uncommon to come across the term, ‘your face is your fortune’. As long as we recognise this and do all we can to maintain our looks for as long as possible, there is no reason why a model cannot remain a working model for many decades to come.

It is equally important to maintain a healthy internal system as well as an outward one. When we are constantly told that we are what we eat, we really are. What we take inwards will consequently reflect outwards, and that does not just mean what we ingest by way of food and drink, it is also what we take and hold by way of feelings, emotions and tension. Sooner or later, signs of stress or poor diet will eventually manifest itself in our skin, eyes and nails as well as on the surface of our tongues.

How many times have you taken the subway or walked around the streets of the city during the day, come home, blown your nose and been shocked at what you find in the tissue? The city grime you see has become ingrained into our skin as well as pollution having been ingested via our lungs. Furthermore, free radicals and over exposure to the elements – particularly the sun and wind – also cause skin cell damage. How we counter those effects seems to require more and more time and effort and in extreme cases, going under the knife.

Today, general skin care is no longer just about the so-called holy trinity of regimes we would once religiously perform last thing before bed and first thing in the morning – cleanse, tone, moisturize, or as Clarins would have it, cleanse, tone, clarify, moisturize. It is about applying lotions, potions and scrubs, eliminating dead cells and free radicals, regenerating new growth, countering UVA, UVB rays and pollutants, raising SPFs, AHAs, retinol A… you would be forgiven for mistakenly thinking you are undertaking some sort of covert secret service operation!

The key here is not to get caught up by the excessive marketing techniques used by some advertisers. Now this may seem ironic, seeing as we are operating in the very business of looks, fashion, beauty and their respective products. Marketing rule number one is this: a beauty marketing company will find an inadequacy in us, or make us feel like we have one. Uneven skin tone, lines, wrinkles, spots, greasy skin, dry skin, pale skin, patchy skin, open pores, the list goes on. It will then produce a ‘solution’, claiming that this miracle product will solve all your problems – but if you listen very closely to their carefully selected words, you will hear phrases like, ‘this product will give you the appearance of glowing skin, even tones, visible blur, closed pores’, etc. Many will be careful never to claim that their creams can make your skin younger or give you a facelift, only the appearance as such. This is where it is important to know and understand the industry you are getting into.

waterdrink watermix drink

This is also where you need to get smart and make sure that you take care of yourself as much as you can by eating healthily, drinking plenty of water and doing the right things to maintain good, clear, healthy skin. Getting enough sleep – roughly 8-10 hours per night, dependant on whether you are a teenager, in which case, it’s closer to 10, but generally, even doctors will tell you that 8 hours is a good amount of hours in which to be fully rested and refreshed by morning. Drinking plenty of fresh water – 1.5 to 2 litres per day. Not all in one go, naturally… just as and when.

Starting your day (as soon as you have swished your mouth and cleaned your teeth and tongue) by drinking a cool, fresh glass of water on an empty stomach will help rehydrate you after 8 hours of fasting in your sleep and thus dehydrating yourself. Another great way to start your day is to drink a cup of tepid water mixed with the juice of half a lemon. This is ideal, as this solution alkalises your system, eliminating acidity, which ultimately is said to prevent cancer. Not only does this miracle solution do all of this, but it also cleanses your kidneys and liver, kick-starts your immune system into action mode for the day and eventually leaves you with beautifully flawless and glowing skin. (It is generally recommended after drinking water on an empty stomach to wait for half an hour to an hour before eating)

Along side keeping our skin clean, exfoliated and moisturised – and this does not mean just starting at the forehead and stopping at the chin – we need to pay special attention to moisturising what beauty experts refer to as the décolletage. This refers the neck and upper chest area – which also ages sooner, especially when perfumes (alcohol based) are perpetually sprayed on this point or if it is not taken proper care of by moisturising on a daily basis. Add to these areas your elbows and knees (which are usually the first body parts said to lose elasticity over time) and particularly hands and feet – parts that are frequently exposed to the camera, client’s inspection and also to the lovely audience sitting at eye level to the catwalk, as you walk it.

There are plenty of reasonably priced clay, moisturising, deep cleansing and even anti-ageing face packs and further natural products that are available from your local chemist, supermarket or health food store. Alternatively, you can make your own face packs from vegetable or fruit pulp (scraping just beneath the skin is best and is where the fruit contains the most nutrients).

Whilst you are making your morning smoothie or green smoothie for breakfast, what is stopping you from taking a couple of strawberries and literally squishing and smearing them all over your face? You think I’m kidding? My friend swore by this and I laughed when she told me all about it over the telephone, but I wasn’t laughing anymore when I next saw her in person. Her skin looked like she had just come back from an expensive spa break!

coconut oil

There are plenty of age-old skin treatment methods and remedies for smoother skin, exfoliation, cleansing and lifting and tightening the skin, by using simple food products such as oatmeal, honey, lemon juice and fruit and vegetable pulp. Don’t forget one of the most versatile products of all – coconut oil.  Pure coconut oil is not only delicious to add to cooking, it is wonderful for the condition of your hair, skin and for what is known as oil pulling.  Oil pulling is a technique used to pull and remove plaque and particles from our teeth, as well as whitening them.  It is done by swishing oil in the mouth for around 20 minutes and then spitting it out.  (If you are environmentally conscious, you might want to spit it into a tissue and flush it, rather than clogging up your drain).  There will be more on oil pulling in a later episode on health.

Fruit and vegetables contain vital enzymes that nourish the skin, as well as taking off dead surface layers to promote new growth or produce polished spa-looking skin, all for a miniscule fraction of the price of a weekend away.

In conclusion, how we look after ourselves determines what we eventually become. We can eat properly to nourish, not just fill ourselves; we can keep well hydrated. We should get plenty of sleep – at least 8 hours per night. Take regular exercise and keep moving frequently, undertaking powerwalks or activities such as yoga or swimming.   All of these activities and more utilise deep breathing techniques, promote energy by oxygenating our blood stream that ultimately feed our skin and cells. As you breathe in, you generate energy, or what is known in Yoga as prana. As you breathe out, you push out all the toxins. Yoga and meditation are also great ways to remain stress-free and therefore healthier, both inside and out. These are also topics that we will explore in more detail later in the series, so that you can find and develop a practice that fits into your day and suits you best.

With all of these simple and affordable techniques and regimes, we really cannot go far wrong. In return, our body will repay us by staying younger longer, because we are giving it a fighting chance to regenerate itself. That is what we are built to do. Regenerate. We just need to recognise this and be kinder to ourselves.


Written by Brucella Newman





Crystal Cups Yogawear and Kundalini Yoga – A Match Made in Heaven

crystal cups lifestyle wear

The first time I tried on the Crystal Cups Om Yoga top and Kali leggings, I found myself revelling over how soft they felt next to my skin. More to the point, I had no idea that this was how bamboo clothing would feel! Crystal Cups Yoga and Pilates wear comprise of 95% Bamboo and 5% Elastane.  When I tried the yogawear on, it felt extremely comfortable – so much so that I could liken it to a very comfy second skin. Everything both clung and supported in all the right places and really flattered and enhanced my shape, which gave me even more confidence that I’d finally chosen the right gear!

So I decided to test run my new Crystal Cups outfit during my Maya Fiennes Kundalini Yoga class and was pleasantly surprised at how they appeared to self regulate with my body temperature. Its natural thermo regulating technology kept me warm when I needed at the beginning of the class and cool when I became overheated as I became more physically active, after my warm up.

I chose the Om yoga top because I was drawn to its empire neckline style with the keyhole opening, which I found really attractive. The loose panelling gave me freedom to move just as I wanted and the top didn’t keep flapping up, become static (which can often be the case with some workout wear) or get caught on something whenever I bent over. It simply ‘swung’ back into position. I also liked the fact that I could adjust the sleeves up or down by preference, without compromising the look of the top.


My favourite aspect of the Crystal Cups Om Yoga top is the ingeniously placed discreet panel, especially designed for me to place my little crystals next to my heart chakra, as I did my Kundalini Yoga session. It brought some comfort knowing that my little crystals were safe and doing their work, whilst I worked on the rest of my chakras!

During a work out, some leggings have been known to do unspeakable things at the most inopportune moments, resulting in one having to hitch them back into place as discreetly as possible. But with the Kali leggings, I didn’t have any issues at all. They felt like a second skin, gave at the right points, whether I was in lotus, crab or downward facing dog and I never had to adjust them – not once.

I have been working out in various forms for many years and have never – until now – found workout gear that makes me feel as good as my actual workout! I love my Crystal Cups yogawear and would happily recommend them to anyone who is looking for the perfect combination of comfort and style, along with a unique and special place to keep their crystal securely, whilst enjoying the optimum Yoga experience.

chakra healing crystals

For me, the combination of practicing Kundalini Yoga and wearing Crystal Cups Yogawear couldn’t form a more perfect synergy.  In this day and age, it is vital to find an outlet to counter life’s daily stresses that can, if you allow them to, take over your life, eventually culminating in toxic build up, leading to health issues, stress and fatigue.  Working on unblocking your chakras through these practices helps your energy to flow freely, as it was always meant to, whilst improving your life in more ways than you can ever imagine.

Ladies, if you’re interested in the Crystal Cups concept and finding the perfect Yoga and Pilates wear for you, Crystal Cups Lifestyle will be appearing and exhibiting at the Om Yoga Show in Manchester (Manchester Central) on 10th and 11th May, 2014.  They will also be in London on 24th, 25th and 26th October 2014.  Check out

Crystal Cups Lifestyle also design lingerie, daywear and loungewear, with the same discreet crystal cups pocket theme running throughout their line, so you can keep your precious little crystal next to your heart all day and night long!

Check out all that Crystal Cups Lifestyle has to offer at: http://www.crystalcupslifestyle

Also, check out Maya’s Kundalini Yoga at her Maya Space website at:




By Brucella Newman



Frida Kahlo’s Private Photo Collection to go Public

frida vogue via 1938 via lynne hoppeFrida Kahlo, who was a most renowned Latin American artist of the 20th century and was famous for her self-portraits, was also an ardent photographer and collector of photographic imagery, as was her husband, celebrated Mexican mural artist, Diego Rivera.  Today, it was announced that a six-month scheme, financed by the Bank of America, is to be set up, in order to conserve 369 of her private collection of photographs to be made available for public viewing at the museum, La Casa Azul (The Blue House), that was once her home in Mexico City, until her death in 1954.

La Casa Azul, which carries a sign that reads: “Museo Frida Kahlo,” at its entrance, was transformed into a museum in 1958.  It currently houses an archive of around 6,500 images, many of which were taken by Kahlo and her husband, and that depict the essence of Bohemian life in the earlier part of the 20th century.  The restoration scheme by Bank of America Merrill Lynch is one of 25 projects that are to be assumed by the bank over the course of this year.

Museo Frida Kahlo

In and among the images can also be found a series of photographs of the French writer and poet, André Breton and Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Leon Trotsky.  In addition to the many photos that are in need of restoration are photographs taken by the renowned American modernist artist, Man Ray and French photographer and so-called father of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Photographs of American influential photographer, Edward Weston and Mexican photographers Manuel Alvarez Bravo (artistic photography) and his second wife, Lola Alvarez Bravo (photojournalism).  All were leading figures, pioneers or founders in their fields: always on the cutting edge, as was Kahlo.

Director of the Museo Frida Kahlo, Hilda Trujillo suggests that the photographs, which span over more than 70 years and date back as early as the 1880s, offer important historical evidence of both Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera’s lives, enabling us an understanding of Kahlo’s personality, socio-political views and personal relationships with her husband, friends and family as well as her frustrations due to her ill-fated streetcar accident, that prevented her from carrying an embryo to full term.  Trujillo said that each photograph represents a puzzle piece that fit a picture of Kahlo’s varied and complex life.

According to the Allen Blevins, director of global art and heritage programs at the Bank of America, Kahlo and Rivera were two of the most influential figures in 20th century and Mexican art, as well as being larger-than-life individuals, who, along with their friends, were also at the center of the most significant arts and political movements of their time.

Born to a Mexican Catholic mother and an atheist Hungarian Jewish father from Germany, Kahlo was a truly incredible and innovative woman who happened to endure a lot of physical and emotional pain sustained from a tragic 11449_frida_kahlo_in_a_hospital_bed_drawing_her_corset_with_help_of_a_mirror_1951_collection_galeria_lopez_quirog_juan_guzman_bus accident, from which a bar of metal had impaled her, entering through her spine and exiting via her reproductive organs.  As a result, she was unable to carry an embryo to full term and suffered three miscarriages – some elected for her safety – while she was married to Diego Rivera.   Since her tragic and horrific accident, which left her bed-bound and in then a wheel chair for months, Kahlo had been known to paint daring and sometimes rather grotesque images of herself, depicting her pain and frustration at the loss of her ability to have the little son she so badly wanted.  Kahlo said of these works:

“I paint self portraits because I am the person I know best.  I paint my own reality.  The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”

Last November, hundreds of Kahlo’s dresses from her eclectic wardrobe went on display in Mexico City.  Following her death in 1954, Kahlo’s wardrobe had been kept by her husband until they were discovered after his death in 1957.  From that point, the collection of dresses were locked away until they were once again rediscovered in 2004 and put on display in Mexico City.

The current restoration of Kahlo’s private collection of photographs is a selected project, that is part of a Bank of America sponsored scheme and is one out of 58 projects from 26 different countries that was launched in 2010.  On completion, the photographs will be available for viewing at the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City.

Written by: Brucella Newman


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Brucella Newman’s news articles and opinion editorials can be found at Guardian Express LV:

Eydie Gorme – Legendary Songstress and Sketch Artist Passes at 84


One of the last of the great American show songstresses of the big-band lounge era, legendary Eydie Gorme – age 84, passed away on Saturday in a Las Vegas hospital, after a brief illness.

The singer was one half of the successful singing duo, Steve and Eydie, in which she performed with her husband Steve Lawrence.  She was also remembered for her great success with the toe-tapping, Grammy-nominated hit, Blame it on the Bossa Nova, which she recorded in 1963 and was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

She was born in Edith Gormezano in the Bronx, New York City, to a Turkish mother and a tailor-by-trade Sicilian father, both Sephardic Jews.  Ms Gorme was the youngest of three and raised bilingually, to speak both English and Spanish.  After graduating from William Howard Taft High School in 1946,  she then went on to work as a Spanish interpreter for the UN.   However, whilst in school, Ms Gorme had been singing in a school band and now had the bug.  It was not long before she found herself performing with Tommy Tucker’s band in 1950, then moving on to Tex Beneke’s ensemble, before carving out a solo career for herself by 1952.

By 1953, she landed a regular spot on Steve Allen’s Tonight Show, where she met Steve Lawrence, whom she later married in 1957.  Ms Gorme and Lawrence continued to create successful duets and solos respectively. Gorme was also famed for her Spanish recordedsongs, in particular, a collection of standards called Amor, which she recorded with Trio los Panchos.   She also teamed up with her husband briefly, for the Steve Lawrence-Eydie Gorme Show, which consisted of a combination of musical and comedy sketches.  Also notable, was her pairing up for a series of comedy segments, duets and medleys, which she made with another favorite American legendary comedienne and songstress, Carol Burnett.

Gorme and Lawrence continued to make a series of recordings and television tributes together, consisting of well-known numbers by big band headliners, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Irving Berlin.  She worked steadily with her husband, until her retirement in 1990.  They filled seats from coast to coast, experiencing considerable popularity in Las Vegas, where Gorme and Lawrence finally settled until Ms Gorme eventually passed away.

Another amazing star is gone from our midst.  Legendary songstress and sketch artist Eydie Gorme, passes at age 84.  She is outlived by her son, David and her husband.

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Angelina Jolie is Warming Hearts Even as Maleficent

The star talks about her new film and how she got through her cancer scare with the loving support of her children and partner


Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie made a surprise appearance at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA, where she took to the stage to talk about her most recent role as Disney’s evil sorceress from its classic “Sleeping Beauty” – “Maleficent”.  The dark fairytale, which covers events before, during and after the tale of “The Sleeping Beauty”, also focuses on Maleficent during her teenage years, as a fairy, who is betrayed by the king of the humans.

Speaking to the audience about the retelling of the 1959 classic, the 38-year old mother of six shared her love of Disney and fondness of the villainess character.  “Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favourite.  I was terrified of her, but I was also drawn to her… I wanted to know more about her.  She had this elegance and grace, yet she was wonderfully, deliciously cruel.”  Jolie went on, “The strange thing was people with little kids would visit the set and I would think, ‘I’m a Disney character!’ [So] I’d go over to the children and say hi.  And they would scream and run off.”

The children’s terrified reaction on set to Jolie’s extraordinary appearance was justified, taking into account her extensive, dark sweeping robes, overly accentuated cheekbones and long, twisted horns emanating from her head.  So convincing was the star’s costume, that one little boy was even reported to have said, “Mommy, please, tell the mean witch to please stop talking to me.”

The only child on set not to have screamed at all was her four-year old daughter, Vivienne, who had a small role in the film as a young Princess Aurora.

Jolie appeared to be fighting fit and as beautiful as ever.  She was positively glowing, warming hearts and even receiving a standing ovation from the audience after her presentation.

It would be difficult to tell just by looking at Angelina Jolie today, just how much turmoil she has been through over the last few years – in particular the earlier part of this year, physically, mentally and emotionally.  In 2007, Jolie lost her mother, 56-year old French actress, Marcheline Bertrand to ovarian cancer.

In February of this year, Jolie’s doctors discovered that she too, carried the faulty BRCA1 gene, giving her an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.  Because she did not want her six young children to experience the same painful loss as she did, Jolie made the proactive and brave decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.  She completed the three-month long series of medical procedures by the end of April.  Facing much support, yet some criticism about her choice, Jolie decided to write about it in an editorial contribution to the New York Times.  Of her very difficult decision for elective surgery, Jolie wrote, “… It is one I am very happy that I made… I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”  She continued, “I do not feel any less of a woman… I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”  Jolie also wrote of her partner’s undying support during the process: “I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive… Brad was at the Pink Lotus Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries.  We managed to find moments to laugh together.  We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer.  And it has.”  Angelina and Brad’s six children, Maddox (eleven), Pax (eight), Zahara (seven), Shiloh (six) and four-year old twins, Knox and Vivienne, have all also been extremely supportive of their mother throughout her difficult time.

Angelina Jolie now seems happier than ever, thanks also to the endless love and support she has received from her immediate family.  It seems strange to conceive that the family was not yet together as a unit a decade ago; Brad was still with Jennifer Aniston.  But since ‘Brangelina’ came together after the making of ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’, it seemed the fans had divided into two camps: ‘Camp Jen’ (of which there were many in favour, myself included, at the time) and ‘Camp Angie’, all void of the realization that where destiny is concerned, what will be will be, regardless.  “I think Brad was ready to soar when he met Angie,” said Jean Black, a makeup artist who has worked with Pitt since 1990.  She went on, “…In Angie he saw a very adventurous person who was grabbing on to life and taking it to its nth degree.  It was intriguing because I felt Brad had that in him and wanted to unleash it.”

In an interview with Esquire magazine, Pitt said, “I always thought that if I wanted to do a family, I wanted to do it big… I wanted there to be chaos in the house.”   Tom Junod’s article even suggested that of the dynamic pairing, ‘He [Pitt] is the product of an intact Bible Belt household; Jolie the product of a broken L.A. one – and it is as if they’ve joined forces to produce the family that he remembered and she imagined.’

Now it seems that all we are waiting on is for the real life fairytale to become complete: announcing the date to be set for the Jolie-Pitt matrimonial union… and perhaps some confirmation in the rumours that ‘Brangelina’ is looking to further extend the Jolie-Pitt brood two-fold… including a possible adoption from Syria.  The pair already has three natural children and three adopted.

Angelina Jolie’s film, “Maleficent”, will open in theatres July 2, 2014.


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More of Brucella Newman’s articles can be found on the Guardian Express website at:

Nigella Lawson Divorced from Charles Saatchi Today

In just under 60 seconds, Domestic goddess and television chef Nigella Lawson ended her marriage to her multi-millionaire art collector husband of ten years, Charles Saatchi, at London’s High Court.


Following the disturbing pictures of a 70 year old Saatchi choking his wife outside their favourite restaurant just weeks ago, estranged wife Nigella, 53, became the respondent of Saatchi’s application for a ‘quickie divorce’ at London’s High Court, after citing her husband’s continuous unreasonable behaviour.  Following the Decree Nisi, granting their divorce, the pair will now have to wait until September for the final Decree Absolute.


The former couple, reported to be worth an estimated £150 million, once shared a £12 million home in London’s exclusive Chelsea and are reported to have agreed not to publicly disclose terms of their divorce settlement.  It is believed that Saatchi dealt directly with Nigella’s lawyer and first cousin, Baroness Fiona Shackleton, to try to maintain his multi-million-dollar art collection and to divide assets, without dispute, in line with their pre-nuptial agreement of 2003.  Following the pictures, the highly published food writer, journalist and celebrity television chef moved out of their marital home and is now renting an apartment with her son Bruno, 17 and daughter Cosima, 19.  Bruno and Cosima, who are the children from Nigella’s marriage to journalist John Diamond, who passed away from throat cancer in 2001, were said to be the subject of Ms Lawson and Mr Saatchi’s public argument a month ago.

Friends of Nigella have said that she had been willing to try to save their marriage, but was left ‘floored’ and ‘blindsided’ by his decision to announce his divorce proceedings against her so quickly and publicly.   Mr Saatchi had been seen at the restaurant with his hand around Ms Lawson’s throat, in a chokehold.  He was also reported to have tweaked and twisted her nose, even poking his finger up her nostril at one stage.  The police were called and Saatchi was cautioned for assault, but tried to brush it off as a ‘playful tiff’.


In a surprise twist, and to add to the public humiliation for Lawson, Saatchi, who accrued millions through various business deals, not to mention his advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, which he set up with is brother Maurice (now Lord Saatchi), seemed to have blamed Nigella for the termination of their marriage, making claims that he himself had made the decision to divorce her after she had refused to defend him in public.  He went on in a statement that he had ‘clearly become a disappointment’ to his wife over the past year, resulting in their drifting apart.

Saatchi, owner of the Saatchi Gallery, is said to have profited handsomely from his collection of art works by Damien Hurst, also collecting pieces from other unusual British artists, including Tracy Emin’s controversial ‘My Bed’ exhibition.  His collections are thought to be worth around £200 million.

Nigella is currently planning to fly out to Los Angeles, where she will be filming a new season of her television show The Taste, on the ABC Network.  Her children, who have been comforting their mother at her rented home, will also be spending their summer with her in LA.



More of Brucella Newman’s articles can be found on the Guardian Express website at:


Jackson and Mercury Duets Soon to be Released After 30 Years

Queen guitarist Brian May has confirmed Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury’s 1983 collaboration will be released this fall.


Three previously unheard duets recorded by the late, great pop/rock icons, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury at Jackson’s home studio in Encino California will finally see their official release in a few months’ time.

Mercury was said to have approached Jackson, already a huge Queen fan, about the possibility of working together on Jackson’s next album in 1983.   Jackson, who was no stranger to collaboration projects with other major artists, saw previous hits such as “State of Shock” with The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, reach Number 3 in the US Billboard Charts and Number 14 in the UK Singles Charts, also crossing genres whilst bringing together new audiences.  Other famed duets from Jackson include collaborations with greats such as Slash from Guns N Roses, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.  Even Mercury experienced a worldwide success for his duet Barcelona, with the legendary Montserrat Caballe, the track eventually being selected as the theme for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

However, the initial 6-hour recording session in Jackson’s home studio with Mercury, in which the three tracks were created, apparently did not go as smoothly as one might have hoped.  Queen manager, Jim “Miami” Beach, recalls that the pair had a falling out, after Jackson decided he wanted to have his llama with him in the studio during recording.  According to Beach, Mercury had telephoned him saying, “Miami, dear, can you get over here?  You’ve go to get me out of here.   I’m recording with a llama.”  Since their differences, however, they never seemed to be able to agree to another session.   But the Jackson family are disputing the reasons for the fall out, citing their fall out as due to failing to arrange further recording sessions.

In 2011, Brian May confirmed that the Jackson family estate had given permission for him to remaster the three tracks.  Finally, after a three-decade wait, May blogged about this process, in which May, fellow Queen band mate, Roger Taylor and multi-Grammy Award winning pop producer William Orbit were working on the trio of duets, saying, “As for unreleased material with Freddie singing, strangely enough I was working on some tapes this evening, with William Orbit.  There are a few items in progress.”  He also promised fans of “something for folks to hear in a couple of months’ time, hopefully”May went on to describe the entire process as “exciting, challenging, emotionally taxing.  But cool”.

Although the pop and rock legends are no longer with us, their legacies still appear to live on, breathing new life into their music catalogues, as well as generating a fresh buzz with all their fans, old and new.


More of Brucella Newman’s articles can be found on the Guardian Express website at:




Owned, as in Made a Fool Out of? Or Teen Ownership of the Street Slang Dyslexicon?

No, I’m not making reference to the book, The Bush Dyslexicon, where George Dubya was quoted as asking that eternal question “Is our children learning?”

What I’d really like to know is what is it about our teenagers that makes us just want to pluck out every last eyelash (both upper and lower lid)? Bind our faces over and over with Sellotape? Run, screaming from the house, without even caring that we’ve neglected to change our bedroom slippers?

Could it be:

  •  Their desperate need to announce their presence, or indeed arrival, to a captive audience (normally on a bus or train) by shrieking across an enclosed space (a distance of say, twelve inches) at each other so that when you disembark at your destination, you are certain to have developed tinnitus and high-pitched ringing not just in your bad ear, but your good ear as well?

Or is it:

  • Their incessant shuffling around with slumped shoulders and constant whingeing that everything is ‘so unfair’, when you’re (ever so patiently, with gritted teeth) trying your best to share the benefit of your experience by teaching them to food shop, cook, clean and stick their clothes in the washing machine every once in a while?
  • Maybe, after pulling out all the stops to cook a lovely family meal (made with love, I might add), that they baulk, roll their eyes and wail “Whyyy???” when you suggest that they need to pay their way around here and contribute by washing up afterwards?  (There’s nothing like a wailing banshee to spoil the mood and good intention that lies behind said lovely meal.)
  •  Perhaps it’s the getting them to sit still, get off FaceBook, BBM and X-Box simultaneously (who said teenagers can’t multi-task?), stop procrastinating and get on with their homework or revision that gets your goat; which is met, incidentally with their pitifully absurd response, “I’m going to be a super-star/rock musician/super model/millionaire by the time I’m twenty-one, anyway.”

Well, all of these, I can deal with.  Here’s how:

  •  On the bus, I could stick some headphones on to block out the noise.  Failing that I could deliberately sing out of tune, really loudly, or phone a friend and shout over the phone that I can’t hear them and could they speak up.  Or maybe I could just get off at the next stop.  I could always use the exercise anyway.
  •  My response to the second one would be this: “Listen, kiddo.  One day, if you carry on whingeing just as you are now, your wife will leave you.  In which case, you’d best know how to cook, clean and do your own laundry.”
  •  Me on point three: “Now look here, see?  This is not a restaurant/hotel.  You see that food on the stove?  You’re eating it.  You eat what we all eat. You eat off the same plates and with the same cutlery. Somebody else buys and cooks.  What are you waiting for? The dishwashing fairy? Get to the sink!”
  •  Four is simple.  I take away any distractions until self-discipline is learnt.  If it’s met with “You don’t want me to have anything!” It is countered with, “You clearly don’t want to have anything, including an education at this rate.  Which boss on this planet would be impressed or beguiled, when scanning your CV and asking what your strengths are, is met with your response that you can score highly on a soccer game on X-Box? And incidentally, the more you whinge about any confiscations, I add another week.  You really don’t want to go there with me.”

While we’re on the subject of X-Boxes, I could barely contain my glee when my teenage son’s finally conked out.  “You’re really pleased it’s broken, aren’t you?”  He looked at me accusingly.  Somehow, I managed to mix up my motor skills and whilst replying slowly, “Nooo…” I found myself simultaneously nodding, instead of shaking my head. (Doh)

Anyway, back to the issue of ownership.

The one thing that I have issues in dealing with and what really does make me want to cringe, not at them, but for them, is when they adopt what is known as Teen Street Slang.   It’s their language and theirs alone.  Anyone who is not a teenager is forbidden to use it.  If (Heaven help them) a grown up starts using it (*gasp*), woe betide.  You will be met with a burning hostile glare and be told in a low harsh growl: “Don’t. Ever. Speak. Like. That. Ever.  It’s embarrassing.”


Excuse me; did you just say you’re embarrassed?

There is nothing more embarrassing for a parent when his or her A* English-scoring offspring refers to their mates as ‘blud, ‘rude boi’, ‘manz’, ‘mandem’, ‘gyaldem’; or refer to a great experience as ‘nang’; muscular as ‘tonk’ (how onomatopoeic); a nice-looking person as ‘peng’, ‘piff’ or ‘chung’ … and I’m not yet entirely sure as a parent how to take being referred to as ‘rents’.  When they want to ‘big themselves up’ or ‘represent’, their final sentence is punctuated with an unexpected “Pow-pow!” (Similarly, they might substitute it with “Brap-brap!” with an extended rolling emphasis on the ‘r’, whilst shooting an imaginary pistol in the air.   If it doesn’t make you flinch, it will certainly leave you scratching your head in bewilderment.   “What did I ever do to this child?” I hear some of you wail.

All I can say is that it will pass.  If your sprog is not yet in secondary school, it will come to pass; but eventually, (*clasps hands together in prayer, whilst crossing fingers*) it will pass.  They have to go through these stages to fit in and find their place in the world.

This is part of our DNA make up – the need to fit in, no matter how much we might try to disguise it by vehemently denying that we are sheep or followers and claiming instead that we are individuals, our own person, swearing autonomy and self-government, we only have to look at each other’s social groups, to find that they all dress and talk the same as each other.  This follows whether you’re an Emo, a Skater (or should that be ‘Sk8ter’), a New-age Punk or a Hip-Hopster, into Grunge, Dub Step, a Geek (hey – geeks are chic!) or simply bookish. These are all social groups that have their own means of talking, behaving, style of attire or preference in music.  It was the same when I was growing up and the same goes for our predecessors.

So what’s all this about being ‘owned’?  To be owned simply means to be made a fool of, as in, “Oh shame, dat chief just got owned.”  There are some adults however, who do try to adopt this way of communicating with youngsters, which is unfortunate.  Not only does the adult run the risk of coming across as ‘dry’ (unfunny), but he or she will also look like a ‘wasteman’ (idiot, fool).  But if you do take the mickey out of their language, it’s going to be ‘peak’, as in there’s going to be trouble.

So an example of a conversation might go a little bit like this:

Teen 1: “Wah gwan, blud?  Why you so vex?”

Teen 2: “So I was just kotchin’ wid mandem from endz, when we see these peng gyaldem.”

Teen 1: “Oh, sick… you get their digits?”

Teen 2: “Nah, man, I was chirpsin’ wiv one of dem, but she was just givin’ air, like she was Naomi Campbell or somefink.”

Teen 1: “Peaak!”

Teen 2: “Innit, blud. Anyway blud, she weren’t even dat piff.”

Teen 1: “She dissed you, innit! What did she say?”

Teen 2: “ She said I was just some next man who should take my clappin’ dead-out swag and my dutty, butterz crepes and dash myself and tingz.”

Teen 1: “Is it?! Blud, you got violated!”

Teen 2: “Alie.”


Teen 1: “What’s happening, my friend? Why do you look so annoyed?”

Teen 2: “Well, I was just hanging out with my best friends from my neighbourhood, when we came across these rather good-looking girls.”

Teen 1: “Oh, great… did you get their phone numbers?”

Teen 2: “No, old chap, I was just trying to chat one of them up, but she was ignoring me, like she was Naomi Campbell or someone of that calibre.”

Teen 1: “What a heightened event!”

Teen 2: “It was indeed, my friend.  Besides, she really wasn’t even all that attractive.”

Teen 1: “She disrespected you, didn’t she! What did she say?”

Teen 2: “She said that I was just some random nobody who should take my worn out garments and my nasty, ugly trainers and launch myself into the garbage heap.”

Teen 1: “Did she?!  My friend, you have indeed been verbally assaulted!”

Teen2: “I would tend to agree.”

So there you have it.  Teen Street Slang.  Polished down to a fine art.  Owned by the teenagers, for the teenagers.

Look Out… Ruthless People About!

Technically, that should have read “Ruthless Sales Person”, but who’s checking?

Oh… alright then.

Okay, hands up if you’ve ever have you come across one of those ruthless sales persons, who simply won’t leave you alone and is a right royal pain in the neck?  Keep your hands up if he or she is suddenly struck with verbal diarrhoea (what a messy word to spell, whether you’re from the UK or US, but I digress) and is apparently deaf and void of any compassion or feeling too?

Beware the cold caller, for he or she will be heartlessly grilled as to exactly how he or she managed to acquire my personal contact details.

But I would have to say that the one that really gets my goat more than anything – and this one must have a truck-load of bad karma coming his or her way – is the ruthless telesales person who tries to play on my insecurities… tries to make me feel inadequate by telling me that he or she can help my child succeed in school only by buying into their ‘hard sell’ Personal Tuition.

Before any Personal Tutors take arms and hurl rocks at me, hold your weapons: I am a former Lecturer too.  And if you recall, I did say ‘hard sell’, not genuinely qualified teachers.  I am referring to the ones who give our honest livelihood a bad name.  A livelihood that we have studied and trained hard for and spent many hours perfecting our practice in the classroom.  The ones I refer to are the ones who actually have no qualifications – unless you can call taking a five-day crash course with one teacher observation thrown in, from an unqualified ‘Teacher Training School’, proper training – then that opens a whole new can of worms.


I am talking about the personal tuition academies who embellish on their ‘strengths’ by claiming to do such incredibly miraculous things as ‘ace your child through their GCSEs’ by identifying any ‘weaknesses’ in your child’s education (or your gullibility), seeking ‘opportunity’ by getting to the root of the issue quickly and eliminating ‘threats’ – mainly competing companies – but for them, hopefully also, your intelligence, when you realise this is all just a big fat con and promptly hang up.

Well, if this is starting to look like a SWOT Analysis, it’s no accident.  One company in particular, who shall remain nameless – not because I don’t want to be sued for libel, nor because in truth, I am a really kind and considerate person (which I’d like to think I am, but that’s beside the point), but for the simple fact that I really don’t want to advertise them – is taking unsuspecting parents for one heck of a ride in this way.

Not only does this company claim to perform miracles with little photocopied colour picture books, which ‘teachers’ use to make up their lesson plans, but the said teachers and telesales staff alike will follow a script over the telephone targeting the poor parents, offloading a lot of spiel about how ‘your child will really benefit fully only when they take all four subjects for a very reasonable price of just £470 per ten-week session’; that ‘should you fail to cancel your account after the six-week deadline, our ‘system’ will automatically enrol your child on to the next ten weeks (another £470)’ and – wait for it – that ‘most of the parents here have been so happy with our programme, that they have stayed on for twelve to twenty-four months’!  

Quick.  Get me a bucket.

No, it’s okay. I think I’ll be okay.

To rub more salt in the wound, this company tells its telesales people to tell parents that ‘90% of their teachers are Oxbridge (for those out of the UK, that means either/or Oxford or Cambridge) or ‘Russell Group’ (which is supposed to be the top 24 British public research universities) qualified, when in reality, the majority of telesales people there are all still doing their Bachelors in unrelated subjects.

I actually overheard one telesales person on the phone say to a parent, “… and which year did you say your child is in…? Nursery?”

The poor child is not even in school yet!

At the helm of this operation, sits a man, whose LinkedIn account I decided to check out.  Of all the groups he was a member of, 98% were related to finance and wealth management companies, whilst a mere 2% were mildly related to education.  That in itself speaks volumes.  But the biggest alarm bell of all was the fact that the man clearly came from an ethnic-specific part of the world, a part of the globe where nobody born there has either a western first or surname, yet both the first and surnames he operates under are western.  I wonder how many people around him have actually noticed this anomaly and are choosing to ignore it, or if they ever noticed at all.  The telesales people were told to tell the parents over the telephone that the company was founded a decade ago by a Cambridge-qualified English Professor, with the exact same surname.  There also happened to be a ‘teacher’ in their cohort with – you guessed it – the very same name.

As soon as the telesales person felt he or she might be losing the customer, he or she went for the ‘hard sell’, or passed the phone on to the line manager, to help the telesales person get closer to hit his or her £1000 pound daily target figure.

This is all being observed through a massive glass pane, by ‘Mister Said-Western-Name’, whose ‘Head Office’ tuns out to be no more than a drab two-room unit in a grubby old industrial estate.  The office environment is so old and dated, the dirty blue carpet squares are threadbare or covered with unsightly gaffer tape and the equipment is heaving under the strain from the volume of work it has to perform 24/7.  The photocopier is on its last legs, the computers take half an hour to fire up (if at all) and the clocking in/out wall terminal keeps repeating in a bitter, sarcastic tone, “Identification not recognised, please try again”.

So if all the sales people have to hit a target of £1000 a day, then where is all the money going?

Your guess is as good as mine.

But I’d like to leave you with a few final thoughts to consider, should you ever find yourself ear to ear, on the end of the telephone with such a telesales person:

  1. Think first whether you’d be better off asking your child’s school exactly which books they would recommend – books in line with National Standards, that follow the entire curriculum – not books that feed you tiny morsels of information, or instalments that look like they’re were created twenty years ago.  Also if you have to pay for every single little instalment, someone is seriously on the make.  You’ll find your school-recommended books will be far cheaper;
  2. Check if the academy is Ofsted inspected, or government-regulated by a main educational body in your country.  If they say they are Ofsted Registered, all is not as it seems.  (When I asked what that even meant, I was met with a really long pause).  This is not the fault of Ofsted, but if the company has to hide behind the name, then pay closer attention.
  3. Be wary when the company starts verbally putting down their competitors and says things like, “Our company is far more superior in quality than ‘XXXXX’, because they only offer little black and white photocopies of their booklets and they charge three times more for the books than we do”.
  4. Ask for stats, evidence – in writing about the company, or ask to talk to other parents whose children have taken the course. If they were genuine (and good, for that matter), they wouldn’t feel bad about having a forum on their website.
  5. Check they’re not reading from a script – ask a totally random question and see if they quickly divert you back to their line of reason (which is really their script).  Keep singling out points they make and ask them “What does that mean exactly?  I don’t understand, can you go into some more detail?  Can you repeat that, please?”  You can actually tell when someone is reading from a script.
  6. If they strongly recommend that you take all of their subjects, ask why you can’t just do one.  If they say it’s not possible, press them as to why.  Is your money not good enough?
  7. If they ask you why you think they should allow your child on to their (apparently) last place on the course, ask why they think you should pay them so much money, especially for only part of a complete programme your kid is already getting for free at school.
  8. Ask to come into the office, or meet in person.  If they say that they don’t conduct their sales meetings in the office, ask them why not, what are they hiding?
  9. Finally, check them out on the web and look for any news stories, forums or pages for any negative comments or feedback about this business.  If you sense that all is not right and you can feel it in your waters, then trust your instincts before parting unnecessarily with your hard earned cash.

Or you’ll find that you are funding an extremely ruthless and unscrupulous conman’s very lavish lifestyle.