Gabrielle Union: A Journey to Fulfillment

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Gabrielle Union appears at Ulta Beauty to promote her "Flawless" line on Michigan Avenue on September 28, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. TIMOTHY HIATT / CONTRIBUTOR / GETTY IMAGES

By Jovane Marie

Gabrielle Union found her way into the mainstream and straight to our hearts at the start of the new millennium with her breakout performance as the leader of the East Compton Clovers in Bring It On.

In the nearly two decades since then, the actress’ life has evolved to encompass a multitude of additional roles across a personal and professional spectrum—outspoken activist, best-selling author, fashion-forward designer, dedicated wife and, most importantly, doting mother.

Actress to Activist

Union’s influence emanates far beyond her on-screen portrayals. Proudly raised by her parents to have a world perspective, she supports a multitude of causes, from racial justice to ending violence against women, voting rights to eradicating poverty, and diversity to health initiatives.

Her tenacity in standing up and speaking her mind was cultivated through education and life experiences, both positive and negative. As a young black girl growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, Union admits she wanted nothing more than to completely assimilate, letting racially tinged jokes and perspectives roll off her shoulders to avoid being seen as “other.”

Exposure to African-American studies while attending UCLA had a huge influence on Union’s mindset, highlighting the importance of calling out injustice and oppression and opening her perspective to a treasure trove of change-makers.

“Learning about those brilliant Black activists and authors encouraged me to have pride in myself and in my voice,” she said. “I realized that assimilation can be a path to becoming invisible and complacent. I’d rather be ‘other.’”

With the strength of those lessons at her back, and following a sexual assault that threatened to marginalize her even further, she began speaking her mind fearlessly and unapologetically, raising awareness about the issues that mattered to her—a characteristic that has endured in her day-to-day life.

“My goal is to use my platform to provide a sense of connectedness

Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design
Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design

for those who suffer in silence,” said the activist, who was appointed to former President Obama’s National Advisory Committee for Violence Against Women in 2010. “It’s been a journey and an evolving consciousness—not an easy process, but definitely worthwhile.”

She’s a Boss

As she’s solidified her place in the film and television industry, the America’s Got Talent judge has lent her efforts to establishing and growing her commercial empire, calling upon her down-to-earth persona and relatable personal brand to connect with fans and consumers.

In 2004, she became a brand ambassador for Neutrogena, a successful partnership that lasted for more than a decade.

In 2012, she partnered with Napa Valley-based winery JaM Cellars to develop a full-bodied Chardonnay cheekily named Vanilla Puddin.

In 2014, she became the first celebrity ambassador—and creative advisor—for nail beauty company SensatioNail.

And in 2017, her entrepreneurial spirit erupted with both the launch of Flawless by Gabrielle Union—a hair care line created specifically with black women in mind—and the announcement of her partnership with major consumer fashion brand New York & Company, where she serves as the face of the brand’s 7th Avenue Design Studio and launched an acclaimed namesake collection.

The Flawless brand was born through Union’s experiences with trying to care for her natural hair while working in the industry. More often than not, she lamented, the stylists on set would have no idea how to manage her textured mane, leading to damage and dismay.

When the opportunity came along to create a line of products that catered specifically to her hair care needs, she jumped at the chance, working with a team, including former Macadamia Beauty CEO Vince Davis, to produce a range of catered shampoos, conditioners, repair masks, oil treatments, edge control, and more. A common thread throughout the brand’s offering is the use of a group of key ingredients proven to promote healthy hair, including argan, marula, macadamia, coconut, and avocado oils, as well as pea protein.

“My goal with our Flawless products is to help women with textured hair create ever-changing looks without compromising the health of their favorite accessory—their hair,” Union said of the collection, which is sold online, in JCPenney Salons and at ULTA. “I just want them to have great hair days. Period.”

Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design Studio materialized to the star’s admitted surprise—she never expected to be courted by the popular retail chain to serve as a brand ambassador. Operating as a sub-brand and inspired by her character on series Being Mary Jane, the line features chic dresses, modern suiting, and versatile separates that “embody the career woman who needs easy, effortless, styles that are polished and on trend.”

Kaavi James Collection; Caption: Kaavia James Union Wade and Gabrielle Union visit New York & Company Store in Burbank, CA, to launch Kaavi James Collection on May 09, 2019. PHOTO BY JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY
Kaavi James Collection; Caption: Kaavia James Union Wade and Gabrielle Union visit New York & Company Store in Burbank, CA, to launch Kaavi James Collection on May 09, 2019. PHOTO BY JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY

“Mary Jane’s style reflects power, leadership, and risk taking,” she explained. “She wears classic styles, but with a twist, which is why I think she’d definitely shop at New York & Company.”

Beyond her ambassadorship, which features Union modeling fashions on the company’s website, in print and digital advertisements, and on social media, the actress has ventured into a “whole new game” with the launch of her namesake collection, featuring a wide range of fashionable choices, all reminiscent of the style icon’s eclectic taste.

“I wanted to offer on-trend fashions at affordable prices that flatter all body types—that’s the bottom line,” said Union, who was given free rein to design whatever she chooses and prides herself on being fully hands-on with the creative process.

Two years into her venture, the designer recently pulled from a new source of inspiration to drive her latest launch—five-month-old daughter Kaavia James Union Wade. The adorable all-inclusive capsule collection, entitled Kaavi James by Gabrielle Union, features an array of stylish dresses, T-shirts, jumpers, and onesies (many of them unisex!) in sizes 0–24 months, all within a $15–$45 range. In addition to serving as fashion muse, Kaavia (whose parents recently trademarked her name for future projects) serves major face in the campaign’s advertisements, posing alongside her mom with her hilarious signature “Shady Baby” expression.

Family First

When it comes to priorities, the multi-hyphenate talent makes it clear—nothing is more important than her family. Just check her social media (which is plastered with their faces). She married NBA star Dwayne Wade in 2014, in the process becoming stepmother to his three boys, Zaire, Zion, and Xavier.

After struggling with infertility due to a form of endometriosis, the couple turned to surrogacy, welcoming Kaavia in November 2018.

The new mother has been open and honest about her fertility struggles, believing there is healing in the knowledge that many couples face similar challenges as they try to conceive.

Union’s life today may seem like a fairytale, but it has required blood, sweat, tears, self-love, introspection, and a dogged determination to succeed to transform her life from then to now.

A Pre-Destined Path

Union embarked on her acting journey in the mid-90s, performing in a guest role capacity or as a supporting character for a number of popular sitcoms, including Family Matters, Moesha, 7th Heaven, and Sister, Sister.

Interestingly enough, she hadn’t grown up with stars in her eyes, dreaming Hollywood dreams. The driving force behind her foray into the acting world, she admits, was money to help pay for college.

“You want to know when I became serious about being an actress?

Gabrielle Union interacts with fans during America’s Got Talent auditions. TRAE PATTON/NBC
Gabrielle Union interacts with fans during America’s Got Talent auditions. TRAE PATTON/NBC

When I made money! It really wasn’t for the love of it, in the beginning,” said the star, who graduated from UCLA with a BA in Sociology. “My plan back then was to eventually go to law school, but pretty quickly, I realized I could make a living doing this. So, I recalibrated—and never looked back.”

She hit a double whammy in 2000, appearing in Love & Basketball (as superficial high school mean girl Shawnee Easton) and co-starring with Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On (as captain of the East Compton Clovers, Isis), both of which were extremely popular and have since become cult classics.

Her role in Bring It On held a great significance for Union—she credits it as one of the biggest boosts of her career—as it not only addressed the real issue of appropriation but also served as a catalyst for her to be conscious of the roles and narratives she agreed to portray on screen.

“It’s interesting, because I had wanted a part in another cheerleading movie that came out around the same time, but they didn’t pursue Black women for any of the roles. I couldn’t even get an audition,” she revealed. “In this movie, the very premise was about cultural appropriation and how the hard work of African Americans has been repackaged with blond hair and blue eyes. The social justice of it appealed to me.”

The role directly led to her casting in the ground-breaking medical drama City of Angels, which held the distinction as network television’s first medical drama with a predominantly African-American cast. The show, which ran for two seasons on CBS, featured a who’s who of eventual Black Hollywood royalty, including Blair Underwood, Viola Davis, Maya Rudolph, and Vivica A. Fox.

It was her portrayal of successful TV news anchor Mary Jane Paul on

Union discusses television series on The Talk on the CBS Television Network. MONTY BRINTON/CBS ©2017 CBS BROADCASTING, INC.
Union discusses television series on The Talk on the CBS Television Network. MONTY BRINTON/CBS ©2017 CBS BROADCASTING, INC.

BET network’s Being Mary Jane, however, that truly solidified Union’s superstar status and staying power. The award-winning series, which ran from 2013 to spring 2019 over the course of four seasons, followed the personal and professional life happenings of the broadcast journalist as she searches for “the puzzle pieces that she, and society, insist are missing from her life as a single Black woman.”

The show was an absolute homerun for BET (debuting as its highest-rated show and quickly becoming the network’s signature series) and was praised across the board for its complex characters, captivating storylines, and willingness to tackle powerful issues. African-American women across the world hailed the series as they saw themselves and their families reflected on a weekly basis.

For Union, participation in the project was a labor of love and her greatest creative decision, offering an opportunity for her to take a role she cared about, while playing an imperfect, complicated, messy character.

“I didn’t want to play a perfect character that was a fully wholesome role model who had all the right answers,” she said. “I’d never been challenged like this—I could be required to show a bunch of different colors within one scene. In many ways, we shared similar struggles and triumphs, loves and losses, and especially the penchant for epic reads. This role was one of the most gratifying of my life.”

Producing for the Future

Building on years of experience in front of the camera, in 2014 Union added to her repertoire by stepping behind the camera to produce, starting with the Lifetime original film With This Ring. In the years since, she has served as an executive producer on a number of projects, including last year’s Breaking In (for which she was awarded Breakthrough Producer of the Year at the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards) and Spectrum Originals first major original series LA’s Finest (a Bad Boys spin-off co-starring Jessica Alba).

She also launched her own production company, I’ll Have Another (named as a nod to her best-selling book, We’re Going to Need More Wine), signing a first look deal with Sony Pictures TV last year to develop broadcast, cable, and digital projects.

It is a responsibility Union doesn’t take lightly, as she realizes that she is one of but a handful of Black women who head their own production companies.

“As I’ve taken on new projects, I’ve become more aware of the lack of diversity behind the camera,” she noted. “It’s been proven that real inclusion actually makes dollars and cents, and Hollywood is starting to change, but we still need to increase the diversity of directors, executive producers and studio heads.”

The Road Ahead

With her family by her side, her career expanding, her businesses and partnerships blossoming, and her voice for social justice reverberating, Union is living life unapologetically and striving daily to reach her full potential.

“I’m just trying to think limitlessly and not put a cap on my dreams,” she said. “When you’re open like that, the world will take you all sorts of places you could have never imagined.”

It’s obvious that for this multi-tasking mama, the best is yet to come.

How TikTok is Helping Students Heal

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tik tok logo black background white text and a musical note symbol at top

Popular social media app TikTok has become a viral success in the past two years of its existence. A platform that encourages original content and creativity, TikTok has become the home to aspiring comedians, dancers and musicians, giving them a space and an audience to gain popularity and to build their careers. But the potential success of young aspiring artists doesn’t stop there, as TikTok has announced its newest project, The Summer Songwriting Academy, which launched on June 24.

Partnering with the After-School All Stars program and Syracuse University’s Bandier Program, TikTok’s newest program serves to provide a space for students of lower incomes and fewer resources to have all the tools they need to express themselves through music.  The Bandier Program’s curriculum of the classes will not only include tools to better shape the aspiring musicians but will also offer classes in the music industry, music theory, and technology.

Many of the students who participate in the After-School All Stars program come from areas that have been especially affected by the impacts of the COVID-19, the death of George Floyd, and the injustices that have been brought to the black community. This being the case, Carlos Santini, the Executive Vice President of the programs, believes that their newest partnership with TikTok will allow for students to have a proper way to heal and express themselves.

“Music has a rich history in speaking out against injustice and speaking up for the rights and freedoms of all people,” Santini stated. “Our collective voice will be heard in a bigger way because of this amazing collaboration.”

In correspondence with the program, TikTok is also inviting some of their most popular musical influencers to share their experiences via livestream over the next four weeks. Artists featured in these segments will include Melanie Martinez, Timbaland, Tiagz, Jack Harlow, Mikey Keenan and many others. Any musician wishing to share their experiences can do so through TikTok’s featured hashtag, #BehindTheSong, where creators can post their songs.

To learn more about the program and to participate in its events, viewers can tap the TikTok Summer Songwriting Academy banner on the app’s homepage or visit After-School All Stars’ TikTok page, @afterschoolallstars.

World Leaders, Stars Raise $7 Billion at Event Aimed at Fighting Virus

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The Rock pictured smiling wearing a suit at a premiere event

The event included a Dwayne Johnson-hosted concert with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Chloe x Halle

A summit that included a star-studded virtual concert hosted by Dwayne Johnson has raised nearly $7 billion in cash and loan guarantees to assist the poor around the globe whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Global Citizen said its summit with world leaders had raised $1.5 billion to help COVID-19 efforts in poor countries, along with a promise of 250 million doses of a vaccine for those nations if one is successfully developed.

The group said it had secured $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to support fragile economies worldwide.

The event included a Johnson-hosted concert with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Chloe x Halle. Cyrus performed The Beatles’ “Help!” in an empty stadium and Hudson performed “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” from a boat in Chicago.

“The $6.9 billion that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the COVID-19 era, but there is more still to be done, as no one is safe until everyone is safe,” Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, said after the event Saturday.

“As we fight this virus, we also need to take care of the most vulnerable people and address the challenges they’re facing right now,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the event.

Speakers also included the leaders of New Zealand, El Salvador, Sweden, South Africa and Barbados.

Organizers said the show was not just a fundraiser, but aimed to draw awareness to the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on marginalized communities.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

Grammy Awards to rename controversial ‘urban’ category

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Tyler the Creator holding a grammy award

The organization behind the Grammys will cease using the term “urban” to describe music of black origin in its awards. The Recording Academy announced Wednesday that the best urban contemporary album prize will be renamed best progressive R&B album ahead of next year’s ceremony as part of the organization’s “commitment to evolve with the musical landscape.”

The rechristening — which is one of nine key changes to its awards and nominations process — is “intended to highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music,” the academy said.

Harvey Mason Jr., chairman and interim CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement that major rules and guidelines have been introduced for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards “to ensure the Grammy Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry.”

Tyler, The Creator is among prominent industry figures to have spoken out about the Grammys’ categories, saying “urban'” was racially insensitive and belittled the innovation of black music.

“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category,” the 29-year-old producer and vocalist told reporters after winning the best rap album at January’s ceremony.

“I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me,” he added.

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Queer Eye Season 5 – Now on NetFlix!

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Queer Eye Season 5 promo poster with the fab five in a wooden boat

The Emmy® Award-winning Queer Eye returned ready to transform the stylistically challenged into hip and happening savants at the hands of the Fab Five.

Now in its fifth season, Queer Eye’s fearless ambassadors head east to Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation, to bring their infectious brand of self-love, confidence and encouragement to a whole new roster of heroes.

Additionally, queer pop artist Vincint created a special song, “Be Me (for Queer Eye Season 5).” The track is featured in the trailer below and available to stream.

So grab some tissues as the all new “Fab Five” serve up hip tips, emotionally charged makeovers and heartfelt reveals that bring out all the feels.

#QueerEye

Watch the Trailer!

Watch the new season now on NetFlix.

The Original Broadway Showing of Hamilton is Coming to a TV Near You

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Lin Manuel Miranda on stage as Alexander Hamilton

By Natalie Rodgers

A fully taped production of the Broadway hit, Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is being released to Disney+ in its entirety on July 3, 2020, just in time for Independence Day.

Originally due to premiere as a theatrical release on October 21, 2021, the movie has been moved up to provide a sense of hope and comfort due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the cultural and historical impact that Hamilton has had since its Broadway debut in 2015, Disney plans to make the experience more captivating and to include as Disney quoted, “the best elements of live theater, film, and streaming.”

Creating this kind of atmosphere will not be a difficult task, due to how the filmmakers have already produced it. The production was filmed from various camera angles from the show’s original Richard Rodgers Theatre home and filmed across three different performances in in 2016.

The production will include all of the original Broadway cast members, including Leslie Odom Jr., Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Jonathan Groff, Daveed Diggs, upcoming In the Heights star Anthony Ramos, and of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton.

 

Photo: Getty Images 

LeBron James, Bad Bunny, Jonas Brothers to throw class of 2020 a virtual graduation

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LebRon James speaking in front of large audience

The LeBron James Family Foundation recently announced that it will celebrate seniors in a special event called “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020″ at 5 p.m. Pacific on May 16 with help from superstar guests.

The Los Angeles Lakers star has drafted Bad Bunny, Pharrell Williams, the Jonas Brothers, Chika, YBN Cordae, H.E.R., Ben Platt, Megan Rapinoe, Yara Shahidi, Lena Waithe and Malala Yousafzai for the hourlong special. It will air simultaneously on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the streaming platforms Complex Networks, Facebook app, Instagram, People TV, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube.

We learned early on in our work with students and families in Akron that education is so much more than academics. It’s about a shared experience, a journey we’re all on together — students, parents, educators, community members and everyone around them. With that not being possible right now, we’ve been working to find ways to help families get through this really difficult time,” James said in a release.

“These students have worked incredibly hard for this and there’s no way we can let that go unrecognized. While this won’t be the graduation experience they were supposed to get, we hope we can still give them something special because they deserve it,” the basketball great added.

The commercial-free, multimedia event — which will be curated by high school students and educators across the country with support from the American Federation of Teachers — will feature a collection of vignettes, commencement speeches and celebrity performances.

Students, families and teachers will be encouraged to submit photos and videos using #GraduateTogether for a chance to have them included in the telecast. Don’t know what to do with your senior portrait? Artist JR is inviting seniors to share them for the virtual yearbook celebrating the nation’s 2020 high school graduates. Local TV stations also will feature shout-outs to high school students in their communities.

Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.

BECOMING – OFFICIAL TRAILER

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MIchelle Obama book jacket cover

BECOMING is an intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama during a moment of profound change, not only for her personally but also for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House.

The film offers a rare and up-close look at her life, taking viewers behind the scenes as she embarks on a 34-city tour that highlights the power of community to bridge our divides and the spirit of connection that comes when we openly and honestly share our stories.

Film Release Date: May 6, 2020
Format: Original Documentary Feature

Directed by: Nadia Hallgren
Produced by: Katy Chevigny,
Marilyn Ness, & Lauren Cioffi
Co-Producer: Maureen A. Ryan
Executive Producers:
Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis

A NOTE FROM MICHELLE
I’m excited to let you know that on May 6, Netflix will release BECOMING, a documentary film directed by Nadia Hallgren that looks at my life and the experiences I had while touring following the release of my memoir. Those months I spent traveling—meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe—drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with.

In groups large and small, young and old, unique and united, we came together and shared stories, filling those spaces with our joys, worries, and dreams.

*BECOMING is the third release from Higher Ground Productions and Netflix*

To view the documentary now available on Netflix visit, netflix.com/Becoming.

#IAmBecoming

Watchmen: An HBO Limited Series

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Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, WATCHMEN, from executive producer Damon Lindelof embraces nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel, while attempting to break new ground of its own.  Regina King leads a cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart and more.

ownhbo.com/watchmen

#WatchmenHBO

JUST MERCY

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JUST MERCY is a powerful true story that follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his battle for justice as he defends a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence.

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#JustMercy

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@JustMercyFilm

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@JustMercyFilm

Netflix Premieres First Ever Documentary About Black Women CEOs

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multiple images of the stars of She Did That Netflix series

Black women CEOs and entrepreneurs are the stars of the newest Netflix documentary called She Did That. Filmmaker and blogger Renae L. Bluitt created the documentary to promote a more accurate representation in the media of Black female business owners.

She Did That is Bluitt’s first cinematic project, and as a digital content creator and PR consultant, she has been writing about the entrepreneurial pursuits of Black women on her blog, In Her Shoes, for nearly a decade. But now the topic is being brought to the world’s attention via the world’s most popular streaming service.

The film revolves around the lives of four Black women entrepreneurs, their journeys, and how they face issues such as the funding gap for Black women. Inspired by #BlackGirlMagic, Bluitt wanted to show how Black women turn challenges into opportunities and become an inspiration to the next generation.

“As the fastest group of entrepreneurs in this country, [Black women] are literally turning water into wine in spite of the many obstacles we face on our entrepreneurial journeys. This film was created to let the world know what it really takes to be a successful Black woman entrepreneur in this world. Platforms like social media only show us the results and the highlights, but “She Did That” pulls back the curtain to reveal how and why we do it,” Bluitt told Forbes.

She Did That highlights the perseverance and determination of Lisa Price, the founder of hair care brand Carol’s Daughter; Melissa Butler, the founder of beauty brand The Lip Bar; Tonya Rapley, the founder of My Fab Finance; and Luvvie Ajayi, a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and digital strategist.

For the project, Bluitt intentionally hired a camera crew of Black women as well as production staff, assistants, and researchers for filming locations. In addition, after almost 2 years of filming, the documentary premiered at a sold-out screening event at ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans. It has since been screened at several HBCUs and other cities in partnership with organizations that cater to Black women.

Bluitt said she is overwhelmed with the opportunity to partner with Netflix. Now with a wider audience, she hopes that the film willl touch more Black women’s lives.

“I want women to know that even the most successful women in business have experienced the challenges and obstacles they face while building their brands. We all make mistakes, learn from them, and stop to refuel or keep going even stronger. I want women to know they are not alone in their fears and the biggest takeaway is this – if the women in this film can do it, you can do it, too!”

Stream it now on Netflix by visiting netflix.com/title/81194454

Continue on to Black Business to read the complete article.

NAACP Announced the Winners of the 51st NAACP Image Awards Hosted by Anthony Anderson on Saturday, February 22nd

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Rihanna, dresed in a floy purple dress, accepts her award on stage at the NAACP Image Awards ceremony

Rihanna Received the President’s Award and U.S. Congressman and Civil Rights Leader John Lewis was Honored with the NAACP Chairman’s Award during the Live Ceremony.

The Star Studded Evening Featured Appearances from Angela Bassett, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jamie Foxx, Tiffany Haddish, Deon Cole, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott, Lena Waithe, Leslie Odom Jr., Lizzo, Lynn Whitfield, Marsai Martin, Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Sterling K. Brown, Tamron Hall, Tichina Arnold, Winston Duke, Yara Shahidi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Robin Thede, Brie Larson, Chloe Bailey and Harold Perrineau, with powerful Performances by Jill Scott and H.E.R. with Skip Marley.

The NAACP celebrated the stellar achievements of the 51st NAACP Image Awards winners during a special ceremony which was broadcasted live on BET Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 8 p.m./7 p.m. CT from the Pasadena Civic Center Auditorium. Winners of the night included Lizzo (Entertainer of the Year), Angela Bassett (Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series – “9-1-1”), Jamie Foxx (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – “Just Mercy”), Lupita Nyong’o (Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture – “Us”), Marsai Martin (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture – “Little”), Tracee Ellis Ross (Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series – “black-ish”) and “Just Mercy” (Outstanding Motion Picture).

During the ceremony, NAACP President and CEO, Derrick Johnson, presented global music and fashion icon, business entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Rihanna, with the President’s Award which is presented in recognition of a special achievement and distinguished public service.

Rihanna accepted the award saying “Thank you to the NAACP for all of your efforts to ensure equality for our communities. Thank you for celebrating our strength and tenacity. We’ve been denied opportunities since the beginning of time. Still, we prevail. so I’m honored. Imagine what we can do together. Thank you for this honor.”

U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis (D-GA), was recognized with the NAACP Chairman’s Award during the ceremony and sent in a special video accepting the award.

Jill Scott took to the stage with an electric performance of “Do You Remember” and “Is It The Way” and Skip Marley joined H.E.R for a medley of “Slide”, “Slow Down” and “Turn THe Lights Down Low”.

Additional guests in attendance included Brie Larson, Chloe Bailey, Deon Cole, Elaine Welteroth, Harold Perrineau, Janelle Monae, Lena Waithe, Leslie Odom Jr., Logan Browning, Lukka Sabbatt, Lynn Whitfield, Octavia Spencer, Robin Thede, Shahidi Wright Joseph, Sterling K. Brown, Tamron Hall, Tichina Arnold, Tiffany Haddish, Winston Dukes, Yara Shahidi, Yvette Nicole Brown.

See the full list of winners from the 51st NAACP Image Awards telecast below:

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

Angela Bassett – “9-1-1” (FOX)

MOTION PICTURE CATEGORIES

Outstanding Motion Picture

“Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

Michael B. Jordan – “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Lupita Nyong’o – “Us” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Jamie Foxx – “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Marsai Martin – “Little” (Universal Pictures)

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

Lizzo

Previously announced winners

TELEVISION CATEGORIES

Outstanding Comedy Series

“black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Deon Cole – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Marsai Martin – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Drama Series

“Greenleaf” (OWN)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

Omari Hardwick – “Power” (Starz)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Harold Perrineau – “Claws” (TNT)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Lynn Whitfield – “Greenleaf” (OWN)

Outstanding Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

When They See Us (Netflix)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

Jharrel Jerome – “When They See Us” (Netflix)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

Niecy Nash – “When They See Us” (Netflix)

Outstanding News/Information (Series or Special)

“Unsung” (TV One)

Outstanding Talk Series

“Red Table Talk” (Facebook Watch)

Outstanding Reality Program/Reality Competition Series/Game Show

“Rhythm + Flow” (Netflix)

Outstanding Variety (Series or Special)

“Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” (Netflix)

Outstanding Children’s Program

“Family Reunion” (Netflix)

Continue on to NAACP to read the complete announcement.

Michelle Obama Is On Her Way To Becoming An EGOT

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Michelle Obama dresses in all white giving a thumbs up sign

Our forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama is officially a member of the Grammy family, and on her way to the coveted EGOT status, meaning she’s earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award.

On Sunday, Obama won Best Spoken Word Album for the audio recording of her New York Times bestselling memoir, Becoming, which chronicles her life, from her childhood in Chicago to her days in the White House. Released in 2018, the book has held a place on the bestsellers list for 58 weeks.

The Best Spoken Word Album award goes to noteworthy audiobooks, storytelling and poetry recordings. Other nominees in the category included, National Poetry Slam winner Sekou Andrews and the Beastie Boys. Although Obama wasn’t there to collect her golden gramophone, jazz singer and fellow Grammy winner Esperanza Spaulding graciously accepted it on her behalf.

Snagging this honor from the recording academy puts Obama in good company with Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr. and her husband Barack Obama. The former president is a two-time Grammy winner for Dreams From My Father (2006) and The Audacity of Hope (2008).

Obama is the second first lady to add the Best Spoken Word trophy to her mantle. In 1997, Hillary Clinton received the award for the audiobook of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.

Although this is Obama’s first Grammy win, in 2012 she landed a nod for her audiobook American Grown. But she didn’t actually record the audio for that book.

Snagging this honor from the recording academy puts Obama in good company with Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr. and her husband Barack Obama. The former president is a two-time Grammy winner for Dreams From My Father (2006) and The Audacity of Hope (2008).

Obama is the second first lady to add the Best Spoken Word trophy to her mantle. In 1997, Hillary Clinton received the award for the audiobook of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.

Although this is Obama’s first Grammy win, in 2012 she landed a nod for her audiobook American Grown. But she didn’t actually record the audio for that book.

Fans must wait until the Oscars on Sunday, February 9 to see if Obama gets another step closer to the small group of celebrities enjoying rare EGOT air. There’s only 15 people who have the honor, and only two Black entertainers—Whoopi Goldberg and John Legend.

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article.

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  1. NOBLE’s 44th Annual Training Conference & Exhibit
    July 24, 2020 - July 29, 2020
  2. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
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  3. National Society of Black Engineers 46th Annual Convention
    August 19, 2020 - August 23, 2020
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    August 24, 2020 - August 27, 2020
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    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020