Monday, September 7, 2009

Roxanne Shanté set to appear on BET Tuesday; a few suggested questions for her interviewer

Roxanne Shanté, whose story of getting Warner Music to pay for her education, including a Ph.D. from Cornell, was debunked in Slate last week, is scheduled to appear on the BET program "106 & Park" Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. E.D.T. and P.D.T. My August 28 interviews with Shanté were brief (less than 30 minutes total), and there are many questions I did not have the chance to ask. Here are a few I would ask Shanté if I had the chance to interview her again. BET, these are yours for the asking:
  • Ms. Shanté, you previously claimed to have earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Cornell. Yet you told Slate that you did not earn a Ph.D., but instead earned an M.A. Why did you falsely claim to have earned a Ph.D.?
  • According to Cornell, you did not attend the university at all, let alone earn a degree. Do you have any proof that you attended and earned an M.A.? A copy of your diploma? A copy of your masters' thesis? Who were your professors? Any faculty members or fellow graduate students who would be willing to talk about your alleged attendance there? What years do you contend you attended and earned a degree?
  • The web site for Cornell's psychology program says that it "does not have an M.A. program." How do you explain this, given your claim that you earned an M.A. there?
  • You told Slate that you graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 1995. However, according to Marymount Manhattan records, Lolita S. Gooden (your real name) attended "02/06/1995 to 05/23/1995" but left before ever earning a degree. (And Marymount Manhattan has no record of "Roxanne Shanté" ever attending.) A spokesman for the college confirmed to Slate, "She was only here for the three months in 1995. She did not graduate from Marymount Manhattan." Do you still maintain that you graduated from Marymount Manhattan?
  • If you still maintain that you graduated from Marymount Manhattan, do you have any proof of that? A diploma, a transcript, or any other documents? Any faculty members, administrators, or classmates who can confirm your version of events?
  • You gave Slate several explanations for the alleged failure of Marymount Manhattan records to accurately note your attendance and graduation, including a "Domestic Violence situation," use of an "alias," and a "computer error" stemming from "a mistake on an application [where you] put [your] old name." What other name or names did you use while attending Marymount Manhattan?
  • Did you attend any colleges or universities other than Marymount Manhattan and Cornell?
  • Numerous press accounts, as well as your speakers bureau's page advertising your services, describe you as a psychologist. Are you, in fact, a psychologist? Are you licensed to practice psychology (or any related field) in any jurisdiction? Do you see patients/clients for a fee? What is the address of your office?
  • You say that you had a recording contract with Warner Music. Do you have a copy of that contract? Who were the Warner employees you dealt with?
  • Did Warner Music (or any of its subsidiary labels) ever release any albums or singles by you? Which ones?
  • In an interview for a 2004 documentary, you speak of receiving letters from Warner, inquiring about the progress of your education. Do you have copies of these letters?
  • Did Warner Music ever pay you an advance or royalties? Do you have any record of such?
  • What were the circumstances that led to the August 23 New York Daily News article? Do you know why the Daily News did the article at this time? Did you have any previous dealings with Walter Dawkins, the freelancer who wrote the article?
  • Do you believe there is anything inaccurate in the Daily News article? How do you feel about the Daily News running an extensive correction that disputed many of your claims?
  • You were quoted in the Daily News as saying, "Everybody was cheating with the contracts, stealing and telling lies." Who is the "everybody" that you were referring to? If any of your record labels were cheating you, did you ever take legal action? If not, why not?
  • Lastly, do you have any documents at all to support your claims that: 1) you attended and received a degree from Cornell; 2) you graduated and received a degree from Marymount Manhattan College; 3) you had a contract with Warner Music that obligated Warner to pay for your education; and 4) you are a psychologist?
UPDATE: I TiVo'd the show and scanned through the entire two hours, which happened to be a special on the importance of education. No sign of Shanté.


  1. I would suggest that the interviewer proceed from the point that Shante's story is false and ask the more personal question about how and why she chose to concoct such an elaborate lie. And has there been personal or professional fall out since the Slate piece ran. I still want to know if Roxanne Shante is a shameless con artist or delusional.

  2. Not shocked she didn't show. Disappointed, but not shocked. If it was a special about the importance of education, I don't really see what she could have brought to it with the recent findings. Probably a good move not to include her.


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