There was a time when the pain brought on by career and financial challenges became almost too much to bear for actress/comedian, Kim Coles. For the first time ever, in her one-woman show, Oh But Wait, There’s More, which makes its New York premiere this weekend, she opens up about her struggle with depression.

“Nobody knows I had a breakdown,” she reveals. “I was always someone who said yes and any obstacle I could figure out my way around it not thinking it was an obstacle. But there came  a point when being tenacious was not enough. I didn’t know how I was gonna get out of it [depression] but I realized sometimes you need to breakdown to break through.”

Now after her beloved role on the hit TV series, “Living Single” and being the first African-American woman to host a primetime game show (BET’s Pay It Off), Coles is ready to share her message of empowerment on the stage with lots of laughter along the way. “I want to get my message out which is love and laughter and create a space where it’s alright to say I’m not alright. I will continue spreading the message.”

Sharing one’s gifts is something that publicist to the stars, Elvira Guzman hopes to inspire with her book, Your Blueprint: An Interactive Guide To Finding Your Purpose In Life. “My book reminds the reader that every individual co-creates his or her life with God and the universe. If you believe you can or cannot do something, you are correct both times. You can co-create any life you want but you must believe that you can achieve it first,” she advises.

Famed cultural critic, journalist and filmmaker, Nelson George is clear about his purpose in life which is to entertain and educate through a new film and discussion series at NJPAC. Beginning Friday Feb. 1 through May 10, he will screen several important films (Jazz on a Summer’s Day, Krush Groove) that document American music from 1959 to 1985. Following screenings will be intimate discussions with celebrities such as Nona Hendryx, Melvin Van Peebles, George Clinton and more. “Some of these films haven’t been seen that much and part of this project is to make sure to experience them at larger than life capacity,” he says. “I also want to talk about what went on outside the frame and why they exist to give it a wider resonance.”

Woodie King, founder of The National Black Touring Circuit’s Black History Month Play Festival also understands the power of the arts to entertain and enlighten. Now in its eight year, King’s festival will once again examine American history from the slavery to civil rights through dramas on the lives of African American historical figures Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois and Adam Clayton Powell in theaters throughout New York City from February 8-24. While the series has been successful, King hopes going forward that he can receive more funding to expand programming. “I see the festival getting bigger and bigger. We are trying to get a sponsor to do a weeklong program and expand it. So we are reaching out to all these funders now because it is not an expensive festival.”

Speaking of affordable opportunities, this Friday MIST Harlem welcomes 95 Live: The New Jack Hustler Edition. Presented by The High End Agency, the event is the brainchild of Grammy Award winning producer and Harvard University Fellow, 9th Wonder. Joining the line-up of talent for the franchise’s debut in New York City is Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg and Statik Selektah. The conceptual dance event is an audio excursion through the 1980’s, 1990’s and early 2000’s with inspiration from the classic film, New Jack City and visuals curated by

From laughter and empowerment with Coles to dancing at MIST, there’s enough to keep a smile on your face this week.

The Harlem Arts Alliance is a not for profit arts service organization celebrating 10 years of service to a prestigious list of members such as the Apollo Theater, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Columbia University, Harlem Stage (Aaron Davis Hall) and over 850 more cultural/arts institutions and individuals. The weekly column, Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment scene in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC.