Chicago area entrepreneurs plant seeds in photography, fashion

Wake up at 5 a.m. Shower, eat a small breakfast (if there’s time), then drive to O’hare International Airport to start a 7:30 a.m. shift. Clock out at 2 p.m., drive home for shower number two then change clothes and head to Verizon Wireless. Work a few hours, clock out and go to class. Get home by 11 p.m. Sleep. Repeat.

For Brian Flynn, 32, this is a typical Monday. A part-time digital photography student at Harrington College of Design (where he also works in the equipment cage), Flynn juggles three part-time jobs, school and his true passion, capturing images.

Photo Credit: Brian Flynn, B Flynn Photography
Photo Credit: Brian Flynn, B Flynn Photography

“[The challenge is] having enough energy to keep up with doing everything that I do, said Flynn in a phone interview. “I’m probably a very crazy individual at this point because I do so much, and there’s simply not enough time in the day to accomplish everything.”

If he has the weekend off from his ramp services job at United Airlines, Flynn starts his Saturday around 9 a.m. with a photo shoot or editing in his shared studio space. In his last semester at Harrington, Flynn said he is ready to focus more on his company, B Flynn Photography. Still, he is nervous about putting himself out there as a full-time photographer.

“It’s a little scary because there are so many ups and downs between how often I have paying clients,” he said. “I still need to work, still need a steady paycheck.”

Laid off from Blue Cross Blue Shield last November, Kylisha Alsberry, aspiring fashion designer and creator of online boutique Haute Sheek, knows this fear all too well. Though given the option to stay at her company, she said she opted for a severance package and invested nearly $5,000 in her own business.

“When I finally decided to step out and call my own shots…there’s nothing like it,” Alsberry said. “I was meant to be a boss; I have to be a boss.”

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“Captain Phillips” Film Review

“Captain Phillips” – tense, suspenseful thriller

3 stars (out of 4)


If working opposite Hollywood star Tom Hanks is intimidating for an acting newbie, Barkhad Abdi certainly doesn’t let it show.

In his debut role as Somali pirate captain Muse (pronounced Moo-seh), Abdi portrays a man who is brutal, proud and relentless in his pursuit of American coin and the respect of his fellow marauders. He is unpredictable and desperate, yet Muse reveals tiny glimpses of his humanity beneath the violence.

In contrast, Hanks’ Captain Phillips is practical and commanding, demonstrated first by a conversation with wife Andrea – Catherine Keener in her only scene – and later by his firm interaction with his crew when their coffee break lasts a little too long. Phillips is so levelheaded, he succeeds in keeping his composure through life-threatening circumstances up until a beautifully acted moment, when the horror of what he’s been through finally sinks in.

Based on the true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama ship hijacking by Somali pirates, “Captain Phillips” is a film about two men from different worlds, both fighting for their lives. Muse, seemingly driven by greed and poverty, becomes Phillips’ captor. Hinting at the stark disparity between life in first world and third-world countries, Phillips (referred to as “Irish” by the pirates due to his Yankee-Irish background) says to Muse, “There’s got to be something other than being a fisherman or kidnapping people.”

“Maybe in America, Irish, maybe in America,” Muse replies.

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Singer-songwriter Kaye Fox

Singer-songwriter Kaye Fox.
Singer-songwriter Kaye Fox. (Official website

By Sadé Carpenter

At age 7, Kaye Fox already knew what she wanted to be when she grew up – a singer. What she didn’t know though, is she would end up singing background vocals for mainstream artists Nas, Common, Rick Ross and Kanye West.

Fox’s foray into music began at west side school St. Malachy. Overheard in music class, she was asked later to sing at Sunday mass.

“I had to stand on a stool to sing and the response was so, so overwhelmingly good,” said Fox. “I instantly felt like, ‘this is probably what I’m supposed to do.’”

Now 27, Fox is pursuing her passion. Born Kim Jefferson in Charleston, S.C., Fox’s family moved to Chicago when she was 4. She grew up listening to gospel, mimicking her favorite artists to teach herself how to sing.

Fox sang in her church choir as well as gospel and concert choirs at her high school, Proviso West in Hillside. She said she is grateful for being able to attend a school with a diverse performing arts program.

“That was key to giving me an expanded knowledge on music,” Fox said.

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Chicago actress embraces diversity, imperfection onstage

Chicago Actress Niccole Thurman. Photo courtesy of
Chicago actress Niccole Thurman. Photo courtesy of

By Sadé Carpenter

Second City alumna Tina Fey hosted the premiere episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL) last Saturday, now in its 39th season.  As she introduced the six new cast members, it was hard not to notice one detail – all of them are white, and only one is female.

Following the episode, media outlets raised questions about the show’s absence of color. In an interview with theGrio, Jay Pharoah, one of the two black cast members, shared his opinion that SNL should be more diverse, and could start by hiring a black woman.

Niccole Thurman, a biracial actress, singer and improviser based in Chicago, can relate. Featured in “What the Tour Guide Didn’t Tell You: A Chicago Review” at The Second City’s UP Comedy Club, Thurman says it is noticeable when a multiracial society isn’t reflected onstage.

“It can be challenging to be a woman in comedy, it can be challenging to be a minority in comedy,” she said. “My parents are black & white – why can’t we represent that onstage or onscreen?”

There should be more diversity in theater, Thurman says, but not solely in an attempt to fill a quota. Drawn to roles that allow her to highlight a person’s imperfections, she says she embraces her differences and believes they help her stand out when she auditions.

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