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Panelist  include actress and motivational speaker Kim Coles; Host of BET’s 106&Park Rocsi Diaz; Chair of Women Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) Valeisha Butterfield; Senior Vice President of Marketing at Atlantic Records Joi Brown-Pitts; and the President of Class & Sass Promotions a promotional company for Young Money records, Richelle Cross.

“We all know there are problems women have to face within the entertainment industry,” said Ke’Andrea Ayers, event coordinator. “We wanted to create an event that allows young women to not only be apart of the discussion but the solution as well.”

The panel discussed a wide variety of topics such as what made them choose this industry, how they got started and some of the downfalls of the business. Each woman got started in a different field, rather it be radio, stand up or as an intern.

They all agreed that it is imperative that women pay their dues in the male-dominated industry. Cross said it best stating, “Passion should be something that you would do for free.” Sometimes you have to complete unpaid internships before expecting to receive a position in the entertainment industry.

And in paying your dues, engaging in sexual activities with those who are in a higher position of you does not count. The panel made it clear that their are ways to advance without performing acts that go against your morals. Pitts concurred, “Sacrifices have to be made but you have to stand up for something.”

While the panel all agreed on some topics, others, such as the everlasting conversation about the negative images of black women in music videos, rallied a heated debate. Some women, such as Butterfield, Cross, and Diaz, didn’t necessarily defend rap artists but they suggested that people blame the disrespect on the women who allow themselves to be degraded instead of the rappers. They stressed that accountability starts at home and that the women in the videos are grown and chose to appear in such a disrespectful manner. Coles disagreed, mentioning, “It’s important that women stand up for their morals… Those images still get out.”

The panel was uplifiting, inspirational and informative due to the valuable advice given and heartfelt stories told. “It’s not always men exploiting women,” Cross said when reminiscing on her time onset of Nelly‘s “Tip Drill” video. “Sometimes it’s women exploiting themselves.” She continued, “Many people don’t know that this music video was supposed to only be featured on BET’s Uncut, a 3 a.m. television show.” Panelists also gave students advice on how to maintain their femininity and command respect. “Whatever you do, be able to look in the mirror and be proud of it. Own your femininity but you have to learn where to draw the line,” advised Rocsi Diaz. “Sex sells. The porn industry makes more money than the money spent at war.” Valeisha Butterfield added, “Be aware of the shortcuts and the fake-outs. It’s competitive even for free jobs. Pay your dues. Put in the hard work.”

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