Iyanla Vanzant Inspires National Production Warning Students About the Impact of Social Media


Media Contact: Sarni Jaye, 1-757-932-5446, sarni@sarnij.com



An ambitious celebrity publicist unravels when an online rumor triggers offline consequences. Image is everything–until reality crashes the party.


HOUSTON-APRIL 21, 2014— What happens when the carefully constructed worlds people build up come crashing down? The dynamic stageplay The Black Social Network explores this very issue. The play is aprt satire, part soap opera, and part social commentary. It takes a view into the lives of publicist Eva James, who clings to the old ways of communication, and Jasmine, who clings to her self-proclaimed boyfriend. Eva is a powerful public relations professional with an ego as large as her Rolodex. She refuses to expand with the times and accept social media as a viable form of communication. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Jasmine whose entire life is dictated by social media.

Executive Producer and co-playwright Zondra Hughes is CEO of the Six Brown Chicks. The Six Brown Chicks appeared on Iyanla Vanzant’s top-rated Oprah Winfrey Network program, and the play is the result of a service project assigned by Vanzant. Writing is not new to Hughes. She is an award-winning editor and Huffington-Post blogger. Along with talk-show host Wendy Williams, Hughes co-authored “Ritz Harper Goes to Hollywood”, the final book in the NY Times bestselling series. “Our goal is to make college students behave responsibly on social media,” Hughes said. “It was imperative that The Black Social Network bring the message with authenticity.”

Actress Antwinette Ford plays social media addict Jasmine. She says the play shows how social media can either make or break you depending on what people say about you online. Ford was on post-surgery bed rest when she found out about the play but said, despite doctor’s orders, she knew she had to audition. “When I found out I was cast I was ecstatic jumping up and down on my bed. It hurt afterwards,” Ford laughed. “But I got the part!” The lead role of Eva James is played by real-life public relations and branding specialist, Sarni Jaye. Ironically, she connected to the producers through social media. “I had been a reader of the popular Six Brown Chicks blog and received an invitation to audition,” she explained. “Who knew that the role would merge two of my passions, acting and public relations?” “I’m the exact opposite of my character,” Jaye added. “Eva James will tear you down, while my purpose in life is to build clients up. The role is fun to play because she’s like Donald Trump-in-a skirt. She’s had to be a strong personality to succeed in her cut-throat world.”

Jaye delivers a powerhouse performance as the deliciously evil Eva James. Eva is a force to be reckoned with but meets her match in the character, Harold Finney. Harold, played by Chris Rapp, gives Eva a taste of her own medicine in one of the most highly charged scenes in the play. In his full-time job, Rapp is head of a sales department and said he sees the Eva James role everywhere. He said that many people are reluctant to change and adopt new ways of communicating. “Harold strikes me as someone older than Eva, but even though he’s older, he’s had to embrace these different platforms,” Rapp said. “So he’s like, ‘I had to do it why aren’t you?’” Deloris Madison is the director of the Houston show. Her company, Deloris Madison Productions, produces Christian family-based plays. Madison said this is her first time directing someone else’s work, but the process has been exciting and has opened her up to a new world of possibility.

The Black Social Network opened Off-Broadway at The Producers Club in New York during Social Media Week NYC. Through a grant from General Motors, the production will tour nationally, casting talented actors chosen from hundreds of submissions. The Houston show debuts on April 21, 2014 at Prairie View A&M University, New Science Building, 100 University Drive, Prairie View, Texas 77446. The cast features a host of dynamic actors including, Antwinette Ford, Sarni Jaye, Silky Blaq, Chris Rapp, Cornelia Laws, Vivian Banks, and Eve Wallace. The Black Social Network was written by Zondra Hughes, Liz Lampkin, Celeste T. Parker and Sylvia Snowden. “Deloris Madison and her cast bring it,” Hughes said. “Houston, get ready!”

To learn more about the Black Social Network visit www.theblacksocialnetworkplay.com. Join the conversation across social media platforms by using the hashtag #BlackSocialNetwork.

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