Thursday, May 5, 2011

LaToya Jackson, Role Model With Determination

Determination is the most important factor in making things happen for your life. When I was in high school, and wasn't picked for All County Chorus, I went to my guidance counselor and asked him to talk with my choir teacher, and got in to All-County three years in a row. As a publicist, I call journalists instead of just sending e-mails. If I'm booking my artists, I send e-mails every month to venues, asking them to book my artist. I make follow-up calls. When we get gigs, I start calling and e-mailing my friends, asking them to come to shows; sooner or later, some of them make it. I have checklists of people to contact. Persistence makes a difference in achieving results. Talent only works a little, but speaking up for yourself will set you apart from everyone else.

This is the story of LaToya Jackson and how she set a deserved precedence on TV's Celebrity Apprentice. She was asked back to the show after Donald Trump fired her the previous week. Why? Because she believed so much in her talent and abilities that she went back, and asked to be hired.

I know some regard her as "the untalented Jackson, standing in the shadow of Michael, Janet and the other Jacksons," just because she once posed in the buff for PLAYBOY. Even so, that particular issue of the magazine sold more than any others up to that point in history. LaToya is intriguing, eclectic, and bohemian, co-writing "Reggae Nights” with Amir-Salaam Bayyan (who has a big catalog of songs by name acts) for Jimmy Cliff, speaking out for gay rights, and has made albums, appeared on reality TV in the States and abroad. She even has a dessert named after her at West Hollywood's Millions of Milkshakes. She's adorable, soft-spoken, her music is sweet.

She's one hell of a role model to me--smart, creative, gentle, and diplomatic. I started noticing LaToya's quiet, but strong leadership abilities in this year's season. Twice, when she was a team leader, her team (ASAP) beat the men (BACKBONE). She has a very humane outlook, and able to tell which women were the manipulators, the followers, and who were good sports. If lawyer/TV personality/writer Star Jones wanted a team member eliminated, Star encouraged that person to be the team leader, "Well, it's time for your charity to make money." Then she'd encourage the rest of the team to argue with one another.

Because of ASAP's bad vibes, the team created flawed product. Sub par product is bad customer service, bad business.

On Easter, April 24, ASAP and BACKBONE's assignment was to design advertising pages for one of Donald Trump's hotels. Star was in charge, and wanted LaToya and Nene Leakes (one of the Desperate Housewives of Atlanta) to run some errands. LaToya was uneasy about working with Nene, who had come down hard on LaToya previously, arguing the "untalented Jackson" had gotten by all these years because of her family name; Nene called her "old." On that Easter Sunday, Star suggested a "Come to Jesus" meeting to clear the cobwebs of hate. The two developed an appreciation for one another as they completed their project.

LaToya, who studies people and is a bit analytical, zoned in on Star's weaknesses that episode. It included taking charge of everything, working too much to the point that her product was weak. ASAP's presentation had each woman stating singular words to describe the luxury of Donald's hotel. After the presentation, LaToya had her own word to describe it, "corny."

Donald had to fire someone from Team ASAP. Of course the women pointed to LaToya as a "weak player." LaToya's voice was extra weak that day as she had laryngitis. Softly she explained that Star's work was poor because she was just doing too much. Star became more irate. Despite Donald's awareness that LaToya's talents and team leadership was equal, if not "sometimes greater than her team members," he decided that the women's team would be more formidable if the members got along. "Your team doesn't seem to like you, and they like Star. LaToya, you're fired.”

All of Donald's people seemed disappointed in the decision to the point he was even justifying himself to them. Still showing dignity at the elevator down, LaToya ignored Star, and hugged Nene, nodded to the elevator attendant, and left. In the limo ride, LaToya stated, "Truthfully, I think Mr. Trump made a mistake. I am not a weak player, and it's not a good feeling to be fired when you know you have something to offer."

Then she tweeted, "Most of you R as surprised & shocked as I was 4 getting fired. But keep N mind, I'm Joe Jackson's daughter, I was raised to NEVER give up!"

Then Nene gave Star notice, "I got my eye on you. You orchestrated all this, and you're willing to cut off your head to win." I don't know if Star was giving Nene lip service or sincere when she responded, "This is something I can learn from."

The following week, Star suggested Nene be a team leader, which made Nene believe that Star was throwing her under the bus.

Nene did some good work, and also noticed that the men's team brought in ASAP's former team member Niki Taylor to model for their presentation. She let all the women know and to be aware that she was working for the other team, "Don't tell her what's going on."

Of course Team BACKBONE beat ASAP. Nene complained that Star was indeed not playing fairly, and taking charge when she should not have.

Right before the firing debate portion of the show, Donald said he's doing something for the first time ever in the show's 11-year history, bringing back a team member. Everyone turned their heads, expecting to see Niki. Nope. Instead, my heroine, the accomplished, determined, and self-assured LaToya Jackson strutted into the meeting. She sat down with the BACKBONE men. She smiled. So did the men. Nene smiled. Star closed her eyes; maybe she was praying, maybe seeing red.

Donald said, "LaToya came to my office, and made a strong case as to why she should be allowed back, and I respected that. Never give up. People say, 'How do you become successful, Mr. Trump?' Never ever quit. Never ever give up."