L-R, Sharlene Emmanuel, Shundra Allison, Andrea “Andee” Peaton and Demarcus Holden
BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – On the Beat St. Pete, LLC (OTBSP), an online media and entertainment company, brought its popular radio and social media event “He Say/She Say” to Rush Hour Chicken and Waffle for a live show.
The night was punctuated by raucous laughter, humorous argument and sometimes heated debate, which proved there’s much to discuss between African-American men and women in 2018.
In fact, it brought to light some major hot topics that will, as founder Sharlene Emmanuel acknowledged, be fodder for further discussion.
“I was taking notes; that conversation had so many points and those are the points that we have to tackle,” commented the health advocate-turned-media creative.
The first question of the evening–“If there were more men, would relationships last longer?”–set the tone immediately, with women by-and-large saying “yes” and men responding with a big “no.”
Emmanuel, 52, stated, “Of course…it’s a numbers game. Women would not put up with the crap we do if there were more men; men would have to shape up.”
Her comment was met by rousing jeers from the men in the house; many claimed numbers had nothing to do with the issues that cause relationships to deteriorate.
Another question inspiring fierce debate was “Should you tell your parents your business?” While most women vehemently responded “no,” Larry Bryant, 35, disagreed. “My mama is my best friend; she comes to me about problems with my stepfather.”
Yet another question broached whether it was OK for a man to post hearts on a Facebook photo of a woman other than their significant other. Kelvin Stewart of the Silver Lake Boys answered hilariously, “What man uses emojis on a regular basis? If you are, I’m going to be looking at you funny.”
As the evening continued, the questions became racier and the emotions more volatile. An especially uncomfortable and divisive conversation came up regarding the depiction of African-American women in shows such as “Housewives of Atlanta” and “Basketball Wives” – with many women in the room incredulous and upset by comments such as: “But that’s just how y’all ladies act!” coming from some men in the room.
But in the end, everyone involved agreed it had been a great event and another one has already been planned in the same location for Friday, April 13 at 7 p.m.
Founded by Emmanuel in early 2017, OTBSP initially made its presence known primarily on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and through videos on their YouTube Channel.
After Friday night’s event, all four members took time out to share about what brought them to the OTBSP project and their appreciation for those who gathered at their kick-off live “He Say/She Say” event.
“The whole idea was to highlight the positive things that were going on in our community,” said Emmanuel, describing the project’s evolution.
After a couple of months of shooting content videos, taking photos, getting soundbites and interviews, they would create a video and post it. Not long after, they were approached by local radio station Black Power 96.3 to do a radio show.
They took their show to the radio station twice a week to share relevant, local news and interviews with people from the community. The point was to draw attention to uplifting events in south St. Pete that would otherwise be ignored by mainstream news.
“We created the segment “He Say/She Say” to generate conversation between men and women, things that we’re on the opposite sides of or agree on.”
The crew would read a letter from the listening public and get a man’s and a woman’s point of view. People could call into the station and also respond on Facebook.
When the radio show ended, the team took their events to Facebook Live and the recent show at Rush Hour Chicken and Waffle was the next logical step.
“It’s always good to get opinions from both sides; it was a hilarious event,” shared Shundra Allison. The team’s resident beauty and fashion expert, who exudes a sense of inner calm and grace along with her stylish beauty, seems to be the quiet “sage” of the group.
Allison, who went to high school with Emmanuel, said she was drawn to the OTBSP project by the “good group of people” gathered around her. “Just the fact that we’re able to get positive information out to the community” was reason enough for her to join up with the crew.
Andrea “Andee” Peaten, founder of Island Life Entertainment, initially started to assist Emmanuel with the marketing elements.
“She came to me and asked if I would help her with flyer designs. I’m a graphic designer, so I said ‘yes’.”
But one thing led to another and when they moved from social media events to the radio show within a few months, her role morphed into one of the on-air personalities.
They each came up with an idea for the radio show and “He Say/She Say” was the brainchild of Peaten. Once the show got so popular, they decided to take it on the road.
“It’s heartwarming, the acceptance we’ve gotten from the community,” said Peaten. “We have a sense of family whether we’re family or not here in St. Petersburg.”
People began to reach out and wanted to be a part of their venture. Peaten said Emmanuel always felt St. Pete was that jewel that no one knew about. With many people in the mindset that everything happens in Tampa or Sarasota, Emmanuel wanted to showcase St. Pete’s talent.
As the sole guy on the team, Demarcus Holden good-naturedly and proudly represents the male point of view.
“I am Mr. He Said; I bring the male perspective. I’m not always right, but neither are they,” said Holden. “But we’re all mature adults. The number one thing is communication. Everything can be worked out with good communication.”
Holden appreciates the positivity of his team and is especially committed to inspiring the children of the community and empowering them with the knowledge that no matter where they start, they can make a difference in their community.
OTBSP also has a weekly live show on Thursdays at The Well for Life, 833 22nd St. S, where people can take part in the show.