Armani: Things are good. Thanks for reaching out to me.
Da-Professor: No problem. So you're about to drop your second novel "Harlem Boyz" this fall. Are you excited?
Armani: Yes I am very excited to release my second novel. A lot has happened between releasing "Scandalicious" and releasing "Harlem Boyz" so the fact that I can release another book makes me very happy. I'm more than excited. I'm over the moon!
Da-Professor: What can readers expect from "Harlem Boyz?"
Armani: Folks can expect an honest story about the lives of four black male best friends who happen to be gay. It gives you a real glimpse at the lives of these men as they experience life along with their careers, family lives, love lives, and the bond they have as friends.
Da-Professor: Interesting. How did you get involved in writing?
Armani: Writing found me when I was ten. I was in a drama class down at Newark Community school of the Arts and the teacher was a college professor. A man by the name of Professor Stewart. He told us we were going to write plays. I was terrified. I didn't know anything about writing. But when I went home, an idea hit me about a woman who was on drugs who found out she was pregnant and wanted to deliver a healthy baby so she went to rehab. I always seemed to write about things that were much older than me. My mother still has the original draft I wrote in her photo album.
Da-Professor: Which authors inspire you?
Armani: I have been inspired by a lot of authors but I have to say every time I read a book by my favorite author Carl Weber, I get super inspired to write. I love his work.
Da-Professor: I have to admit you was right when you told me them book was hot. I read it on the train on my way home and I'm glad I got home in one safe piece (if you get my drift lol) What was the inspiration for the story?
Armani: Wow! Eight times? That's awesome. Thank you for that. I'm glad you enjoyed it that much. The inspiration came from my listening to a lot of NYC hip-hop radio jocks and the crazy calls they received from listeners. And a lot of things people suspected was happening in the entertainment industry. It was birthed out of a lot of "What if" situations and my imagination just ran wild with it.
Da-Professor: I love how you had all the characters being college educated, college graduates and professional. What inspired you to have the characters educated and not all ghetto?
Armani: I can't say it was a conscious decision to make them that way. It's just kind of how the story unfolded. I think my being in college at the time had a lot to do with it.
Da-Professor: One of the things I also loved was how you had Teddy's wife Tameka not being the typical basket-ball wife and having a college degree and career as working in real-estate. What prompted you to write her not being the average stay at home wife and having something to offer besides her looks and pussy?
Armani. I wanted to show that she really did hold him down off the court. Even though she was a stay at home wife, she wasn't stupid. She had a degree of her own, helped manage his finances, was his real estate partner, and kept a lot of things together for him. I think it was important that she be more than his beautiful wife, I wanted her to have some sense. In other words I didn't want her to be a bird.
Da-Professor: It was a great move. Athetles nowadays want a woman who's gonna bring more to the table more than their looks and pussy. Another aspect is Teddy's secret relationship with rapper L.Z. an Hispanic rapper. What prompted you to write Black and Hispanic story line?
Armani: LZ was Black and Hispanic. At the time I wrote the book, there was a Hispanic man I had a crush on. I worked for an after school program at the time and I forget the little boy's name but I certainly remember his father's face. One of my co-workers and I used to drool every time he came to pick up his son. (Laughing) When I created LZ, I saw that man's face.
Da-Professor: Your book had 2 twists that made the story hot and added mystery to the story. Teddy's wife Tameka having an affair with L.Z.'s girlfriend and Tamika catching Teddy making love to her brother Andre who comes on to him.What prompted you to write Tamika having a chick on the side, and will you write a future story line with Andre in it?
Armani: It added a little more spice to the story for Tamika to be having an affair of her own. And it really made it sizzle that she was to having an affair with another woman. And Andre definitely could show up in one of my future books starring in his own story. You never know. Stay tuned.
Da-Professor: One of the main aspects I loved about the book is how you had Teddy's parents, sister and her Jamacian fiancee support Teddy showing that there are many fathers who do support their gay sons. How important was it for you to show that not all fathers are homophobic?
Armani: I wanted to show that there are fathers out there who accept their gay sons. It can be real.
Da-Professor: Many readers have given you positive feedback on your book.
How does it feel to have support from both the GLBT and the Hetero communities?
Armani: It really means a lot to me that people from all different walks of life enjoy my work. That's so cool. Being human is really what unites us all.
Da-Professor: Cool. If you're book was to be made into movie, who would you like to play the
Armani: The only person I have mapped out in my mind is Jennia Fredrique as Tamika. Everyone else I would leave up to whoever handles the casting to find.
Da-Professor: In addition to writing, you're also involved in acting as well. Do you have any upcoming projects?
Armani: It's funny you ask that. In the last 12 months I've been cast in three different projects that I either walked away from or was released from. I also had some auditions where I would make it to the final round of auditions and I would be cut at the last minute. I didn't even think about it until time had passed that all of those things distracted me from my writing. I honestly couldn't do both things at once. My future as an actor at this point is still undecided but I am having fun writing and releasing books. So that is where my focus is.
Da-Professor: Do you have any plans to write movies or television sitcoms in the future?
Armani: I am definitely tempted to write movies and series but not at this very moment. After "Harlem Boyz" drops in fall 2013, I have its sequel and another book I am working on called "Jerzee Loverz" to finish. So in the words of Kelly Price, I'm booked. LOL!
Da-Professor: Many were shocked and pissed that Zimmerman got off for killing Trayvon Martin. How did it make you feel to know that he got off and how important is it for Black and Latin Gay males to know that they can be the victims of racial profiling despite their skin color and orientation?
Armani: The Trayvon Martin verdict broke my heart. My heart ached for him and his family. For the first two days after the verdict, I remember being furious. Incensed even. And I felt so powerless. You would have thought he was my little brother. I really hope this is a wake up call to the world that racism is still very alive. I think this goes beyond being gay. It has to do with the unfair targeting of black men and boys worldwide. We all have to watch our backs.
Da-Professor: You're from New Jersey? What is about guys from New Jersey that makes people wanna holla at them?
Armani: Our swag is addictive. What can I say? LOL!
Da-Professor: You're from the state that produced many talented acts like Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, Faith Evans, Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature, Derek Luke and Frank Sinatra. How does it feel to come from the state that produced these talented acts and how do you feel you're gonna add on to their legacy?
Armani: Don't forget Tisha Campbell and Lauryn Hill are from here too. It feels great honestly man. I feel like I come from very good stock. Whitney, Dionne, Queen Latifah, Naughty by Nature, and Faith Evans are all actually from the same hometown as me. East Orange, NJ is where its at!
Da-Professor: Many were shocked at Whitney's passing? How did her death affect you personally?
Armani: I was devastated by Whitney's passing. Being that she is from my hometown and I have been a fan since I was a small child, she felt like a family member as crazy as it sounds. It's funny though, my dad's side of the family went to New Hope Baptist Church in Newark with Cissy and Dionne before Whitney was born. My father sang in the youth choir together when they were kids. My grandmother directed the youth choir too. So my aunts actually when Cissy came to the church and became the minister of music. But yes, Whitney was my girl and I still play her music.
Da-Professor: Many fans are finally stopping blaming her ex-husband New Edition co-founder Bobby Brown for her drug usage. What did you think of their relationship and their duet "Something In Common?"
Armani: I think what Whitney and Bobby had was real love. It was sadly tainted by their drug use but I truly believe they loved each other. And "Something in common" is one of my favorites.
Da-Professor: We also lost singers Teena Marie and Donna Summer as well. How do you think their loss affected their fans and how do you think they made a great impact on music?
Armani: I had great respect and admiration for Teena Marie and Donna Summer. Both ladies had amazing voices and were trailblazers.
Da-Professor: During the past year, many Black singers, athletes and actresses including Frank Ocean, Akill Patterson, Jason Collins and Rayvone-Symone came out publicly. How do you feel seeing more Blacks in R&B and Hip-Hop and Sports coming out and how do you feel it will make an impact on Black youth and adults who are struggling with their sexuality?
Armani: I think it will start the conversation and make people more cmwillo think it is.
Da-Professor: How do you feel you're making an impact on the book and acting industry and with the GLBT community?
Armani: By just being who I am. I only know how to be me.
Da-Professor: Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
Armani: Living somewhere peacefully with the man I love who loves me back in a beautiful home. Happy, successful, and living my life like its golden.
Da-Professor: I also see that you're very business-minded. How important is it for people entering the industry to be business-minded?
Armani: What one first must realize is that this is a business before it's anything else. And if you don't stay on top of the business side, you will get taken advantage of.