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ASPiRE Greenlights its First Original Weekly Talk Series, 'Exhale, Hosted by Angela Burt-Murray, Erin Jackson, Issa Raye, Rene Syler and Malinda Williams
4/29/2013 11:26:41 AM


Atlanta, GA — ASPiRE today announced the start of production in Los Angeles on its new original weekly talk series, “Exhale.” Designed to bring honest, entertaining and candid discussion on a wide range of topics, “Exhale” is hosted by five dynamic, successful African-American women: journalist and media maven Angela Burt-Murray; actress and comedian Erin Jackson; director, writer and actress Issa Rae; blogger, author and TV anchor Rene Syler; and actress Malinda Williams. The eight-episode series will premiere in June to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the ASPiRE network’s launch.

With a unique mix of bold comedy, sincerity and insight, Burt-Murray, Jackson, Raye, Syler and Williams will provide a fresh perspective on topics that are relevant and evergreen in the lives of African-American women. Shot on location, the five hosts from different generations, fields and backgrounds will get real about family, relationships, career, money, faith and other topics of interest to modern women. An intriguing range of special guests, from celebrities and authors to religious leaders and other experts, will join in the conversation and fun. ASPiRE and the hosts will use digital and social media to further connect, engage and continue dynamic, nimble dialogue with the audience. For more information, please go to, Twitter on @ExhaleTV, and Facebook at

“We are thrilled to add ‘Exhale’ to our lineup of original programming,” said ASPiRE General Manager Paul Butler. “This fresh, hip and candid new series will enlighten audiences with its broad range of topics relevant to the community. We hope that viewers will be inspired, informed and entertained by our funny and opinionated hosts sharing absolutely everything with each other.”

“'Exhale’ is a show that features five amazing hosts, who will open up and talk about everything that is on the minds of women today,” says Lynne Robinson, producer. “In each episode, they will share intimate, spirited and honest dialogue to make you laugh and sometimes make you cry. We are thrilled to bring these provocative, enlightening conversations with these dynamic women in a compelling new series to life on ASPiRE.”


Angela Burt-Murray (@AngelaBMurray) is the co-founder and editorial director of Cocoa Media Group, a new digital media company that launched and cocoafab-tv/ to feature entertainment, style and original web series for young women of color. Prior to launching CMG, she was the editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, the premier lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty magazine for African-American women, as well as Before Essence, Burt-Murray served as executive editor of Teen People and Honey magazines. She co-authored of the critically-acclaimed humor book, The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life (Dutton), and the novel, The Vow (HarperCollins/Amistad), which is turning into a movie by Lifetime Networks. She is also a weekly “Hot Topics” contributor to “The Steve Harvey Morning Show.” Plus, she regularly appears on CNN, “Entertainment Tonight,” “Good Morning America,” MSNBC, “NBC Nightly News” and “The Today Show,” to name a few. Burt-Murray is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the American Society of Magazine Editors. In addition, Burt-Murray is one of the chief architects of the annual 3-day “Essence Music Festival” in New Orleans. A graduate of Hampton University, she resides in New Jersey with her husband and their two children.

With a megawatt smile and a pocket full of dreams, comedian Erin Jackson (@EJthecomic, is poised to conquer the world of stand-up. Since first making a name for herself at colleges and east coast comedy clubs, Erin's warm, conversational style and relatable humor have helped to propel her onto the national stage. She has performed on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and Comedy Central’s "Live at Gotham," and was a semifinalist on season 6 of NBC’s "Last Comic Standing." Erin has also appeared on VH-1 and worked with both HBO and BET on live comedy and awards specials. She's been a panelist on pop-culture countdown shows such as "40 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of the 90's" and "Best Movie Kisses" and was featured most recently on TV Guide Network's "StandUp in Stilettos." Erin is currently touring the country as part of the "Pumps & Punchlines" theatre tour.

Recently spotlighted in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” List, director, writer and actress Issa Rae (@IssaRae) is the multitalented CEO and owner of digital media phenomena Issa Rae Productions, where her work lends a voice to a largely unheard demographic. The massive success of Issa’s ongoing webseries, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl (, where she stars as “J,” has placed her at the forefront of the digital web revolution. With unique flare and an infectious sense of humor, viral hit ABG has garnered over 14 million views, over 100,000 faithful subscribers on YouTube, and won the 2012 Shorty Award for Best Web Show. Inspired by her difficult 2009 in an unfamiliar New York City, ABG series was launched after a hugely successful 2011 campaign and finds humor in uncomfortable scenarios one may experience when dealing with others. A fan of the first season, artist and tastemaker Pharrell Williams aired its second season on his new Google Channel, “i am OTHER.” Recently, Issa has teamed with producer Shonda Rhimes/Shondaland to produce the sitcom “I Hate LA Dudes” for ABC. She is co-producing a new webseries, “The Choir,” for Alright TV with Tracey Edmonds. Past film credits include Dorm Diaries and the award-winning Fly Guys presents The F-word. An LA native, Issa received her B.A. from Stanford University. She also attended the New York Film Academy.

Rene Syler (@goodenufmother) knew she wanted a career in television. While that realization didn’t come until after finishing her degree in psychology, she forged ahead and landed local reporter/anchor jobs in Reno, Birmingham and Dallas. In 2002, she went national as one of the anchors of “The Early Show” on CBS. In her four years there, she interviewed former First Lady Laura Bush, Senator John McCain, Senator John Kerry, and delved into the lives of celebrities, including Russell Crowe, J. Lo, Denzel Washington, Beyoncé and Will Smith. Alas, she was not particularly adept at the cooking segments, which will come as no surprise to those who know her. In 2007, Rene’s first book Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting was published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment. From that, was born. Rene continues to be a sought-after commentator for “CNN Headline News,” “The Wendy Williams Show” and “The Today Show” and others. In 2009, she anchored BET’s Inauguration coverage, and garnered an NAACP image Award for Outstanding News/Information coverage. Rene is the daughter of two breast cancer survivors. Their diagnoses and her own pre-cancerous condition led to her preventive mastectomy in 2007, a controversial surgery that was profiled on “Oprah.” She is an ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and was awarded the prestigious Gracie Allen award for her television series on breast cancer. Rene lives in Westchester, NY with her husband, Buff Parham, children Casey and Cole and their yellow Lab Olivia.

Armed with a license in cosmetology and a few small acting roles, Malinda Williams (@MalinsWorld, left her home state of New Jersey and ambitiously set her sights on Hollywood. Originally intent on opening her own hair salon, Malinda’s beauty industry career quickly gave way to her undeniable acting talent. Twice nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series,” the determined young beauty made a name for herself, grabbing lead roles in films such as The Wood, High School High, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls and First Sunday. Her most recent projects include Percentage with Ving Rhames and Macy Gray; Russ Parr’s The Undershephard; GMC’s “A Cross to Bear,” and Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in New York, with Chris Rock, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Best known for her role as “Bird” on the hit television series “Soul Food,” this busy mom always finds time to mentor young women and work with non-profit organizations such as Black Girls Rock!, Take Wings and Chrysalis Foundations. Having been branded one of the “entertainment industry’s most well respected actresses,” Malinda has recently been hitting the speaking circuit, addressing a range of topics including, women’s interests and issues, living with asthma, and success & education, among others. An extremely passionate motivational speaker, Malinda’s words on leadership, self-esteem and self-motivation leave no doubts as to why success continually finds its way to her door.

“Exhale” is ASPiRE’s third original project following, “ABFF Independent” and “The Root 100.”

ASPiRE presents a Black Robin Media production, “Exhale.” Hosted by Angela Burt-Murray, Erin Jackson, Issa Raye, Rene Syler and Malinda Williams. Produced by Black Robin Media. Executive produced by Lynne Robinson. Supervising Producer is Allison Simmons. Director is Victoria Mahoney. Editor is Derek Allen. Director of Photography is Jonathan Barenboim.

Source via Black PR Newswire

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