Jones correspondent, Chasity Saunders, was recently invited uptown to famed chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem eatery, Red Rooster, to celebrate the release of CNN News Anchor Don Lemon’s memoir “Transparent.” The event was hosted by Belvedere Bloody Mary and Social Ambassador, Bevy Smith. Guests included OWN’s Gayle King and Alvin Ailey’s Artistic Director Judith Jamison, Black Enterprise Correspondent Tai Beauchamp and Essence magazine’s Emil Wilken to name a few. “Transparent,” hit shelves this past May. It’s a heart touching and dream inspiring read that took me only a few short days to complete. In the book Lemon acknowledges publicly that he is gay and discusses colorism in the black community, racism, homophobia and sexual abuse that he suffered as a child. Guests of the intimate and exclusive brunch celebrated the book’s release and dined on a delightful brunch accompanied by Belvedere Bloody Mary Bellini’s and also walked away with a copy of the book gifted and signed by Don himself. Lemon, an award-winning journalist with countless accolades under his belt—including an Edward R. Murrow Award for his D.C. sniper coverage and awards for his reporting on Hurricane Katrina and the AIDS epidemic in Africa—gave an exclusive interview. Dressed in a beautifully tailored Ralph Lauren suit, here’s what he had to say…
Chasity: Don, please tell Jones about your memoir “Transparent,” who do you hope to reach and what story have you attempted to tell?
Don: Great Question. It is the American story. It’s universal, and I really hope to reach everyone especially the older generations, an older reader and audience would be ideal so that we can start a conversation amongst generations.
Chasity: What conversation exactly do you hope to start with your new memoir?
Don: An honest conversation. I want people to speak about the hypocrisy of secrets and to open this discussion up to different generations thoughts and minds and start this dialogue.
Chasity: Bevy Smith hosted this brunch to celebrate your book sponsored by Belvedere Bloody Mary, how did you meet Bevy and how did this event come together?
Don: During the Inauguration, We rode on the train a few cars in front of now President Barack Obama, We both wore hats and admired each others fashion sense immensely, saying to one another you look fabulous, this was the initial contact, I later discovered through getting to know Bevy just how fabulous she was and the rest is just history.
Chasity: Can you tell us what your favorite Belvedere cocktail for this summer is?
Don: Well, for adults of course I recommend a classic, Belvedere Vodka and Tonic.
Chasity: I love that you’re cognizant of the fact that you’re a role model. As a role model what do you hope to accomplish, what messages are most important to you and why do you feel it’s important for public figures to give back and to be role models for todays youth?
Don: I feel like I’m a role model by default, I feel as though role models are held to a higher standard, also as a journalist I feel that I’m already a truth teller and that role models must be that as well as informers. People must also always remember that though we are role models and proud, we are still human.
Chasity: Tell me what music inspires you Don, If I were to plug in to your IPOD right now what are the first two tracks would I hear?
Don: You would hear a little Yma Sumac, one of my favorite opera singers and then The Ohio Players “I Want To Be Free.”
Chasity: What was the last interesting book that you read?
Don: “Go The Hell [sic] To Sleep,” by Adam Mansbach. It’s a hilarious children’s book that is more for the parents than the children and you’re sure to have a few great laughs! Chasity: I’ll be sure to check that out Don, Thanks. What summer fashion tips can you share with Jones for the man who knows better?
Don: I would tell him to invest in a few very nice Pocket Squares, at least one or two, Sear Sucker pieces which are classic for summer and at least one pair of men’s buck shoes as well as a pair of saddle shoes. This will get you started for classic summer fashion.
Chasity: Who are some of your favorite designers of the moment?
Don: Right now I’d have to say Ralph Lauren, which I’ve chosen to wear for the brunch.
Chasity: Where do you see your career going post “Transparent,” what is next for Don Lemon?
Don: I want to continue as a Journalist, I see more diversity in the roles that I now hold, I’d also like to do Bill Mayer and to become more of an Analyst, lending my expertise to new story’s on different platforms.
Chasity: Congratulations on your new book Don. Thank you so much for your time, and a very “TRANSPARENT” conversation!
Don: Thank You Chasity! When lunch had concluded, guests were thanked for attending and gift bags filled with fun treats and Belvedere Bloody Mary were gifted. So Chasity hung back and stole a few precious moment with the beautiful hostess of the day, Bevy Smith!
Chasity: Bevy, What a fantastic brunch! Congratulations on a very successful event!
Bevy: Thank you, Thank you!
Chasity: Don spoke a bit about you two meeting and had only the best things to say, how do you remember that monumental day?
Bevy: We rode on a reverse migration train on the day of President Barack Obama’s Inauguration and met in a very magical way. I actually fried chicken, enough to share with other passengers just like our people did during that time. I wore a Fabulous hat that day and so did Mr. Lemon, our eyes connected and from afar we nodded to compliment each other and shared a smile, and it was magic. Don’s been an amazing person from the very first day that we met.
Chasity: Speaking of fashion, you look absolutely stunning, who are you wearing?
Bevy: Today I’m wearing Tory Burch and Kenneth J. Layne, my shoes are Giuseppe.
Chasity: Gorgeous. What fashion tips can you give to women this summer on looking and feeling fabulous?
Bevy: First, heels are your friends girls! Elevate and elongate your torso. Also a wedge sandal is a great option for summer.
Chasity: I write a blog for Jones geared towards the fabulous, fashion forward curvy beauty “Ahead Of The Curve.” You’re a gorgeous curvy woman who definitely knows how to dress her curves. Please share a few of your favorite fashion trends for this season and tips for fellow curvy woman on how to embrace your favorite high fashion trends?
Bevy: Thank you! One of my favorite trends this season is definitely the Tribal trend. Very Judith Jamison, African Inspired. Personally I love this trend. Tips that I can give to other curvy diva’s is to simply embrace your curves and if for some reason you become hesitant on expressing your style through the clothes you choose to buy, express the trends through Jewelry. This always works. Lastly, all brown girls have an obligation to wear color! Embrace it! Chasity: How do you maintain and contour your curves?
Bevy: Love I’ve wanted a milkshake for 10 years! I make conscious choices when eating and I exercise regularly.
Chasity: Belvedere sponsored todays brunch, which summer cocktails are worth the extra cardio?
Bevy: I enjoy liquor however, I stir clear of the frozen drinks which have more calories. I love to indulge in Belvedere Black Raspberry or Pink Grapefruit Belvedere on ice with a twist of lime.
Chasity: What is your favorite Belvedere cocktail for the summer?
Bevy: Belvedere Bloody Mary Bellini, because you get the best of both world’s Bloody Mary Vodka and Champagne.
Chasity: Your very inspiring, fearless and always conquering new ground, where can we see you next?!
Bevy: I will be participating in the My Black Is Beautiful Pavilion at EMF, I will also be at the HBO Short Film Festival, African Black Film Festival, and later this year the National Association of Black Journalist.
Chasity: I love it! Thank you so much Bevy for this exclusive! We look forward to many more fabulous Bevy Smith events!