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.

Issa Rae Appointed To Serve On Television Academy’s Executive Committee

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Upclose picture of actress Issa Rae, wearing yellow, at an event

By News One

“We are thrilled to be able to leverage the collective expertise of this talented group of Television innovators as we navigate this extraordinary time in the history of our industry,” said Frank Scherma, Chairman and CEO of the Television Academy.

Whether it’s through her television and film projects or her entrepreneurial moves, Issa Rae has continually used her platform to be a voice for underrepresented communities and now she will bring her knowledge and perspective to

(Image Credit – Issa Rae, News One)

the Television Academy. The academy recently announced that it has selected Rae to join its Executive Committee.

Rae’s well-deserved appointment comes at a time when the Television Academy is putting the focus on addressing the lack of diversity in the industry. Although there has been an increase in representation when it comes to actors, racial and gender diversity among television executives has remained stagnant. UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report revealed that 8 percent of CEO and studio chair jobs are held by people of color and 32 percent are held by women. The executive committee will include a collective of thought leaders dedicated to evoking change.

Amongst the new appointees who will serve on the committee alongside Rae are award-winning writer, producer, director and actress Gloria Calderón Kellett, ABC Entertainment Senior Vice President Robert Mills, Co-Head of Television at Amazon Studios Vernon Sanders, CEO and partner of Anonymous Content Dawn Olmstead and Chief content officer and head of worldwide video for Apple TV+ Zack Van Amburg. “We are thrilled to be able to leverage the collective expertise of this talented group of Television innovators as we navigate this extraordinary time in the history of our industry,” Frank Scherma, who serves as the Chairman and CEO of the Television Academy, said in a statement. “Their leadership provides invaluable insight that will allow the Academy to play an integral role in shaping the evolution of the medium.”

Read the full article at News One.

13 things you didn’t know about Shonda Rhimes

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Shonda Rhimes photoshoot wearing read

For as long as Twitter’s been around, every Thursday night, the timeline is flooded with tweets cursing Shonda Rhimes’ name, usually, for something devastating that’s happened on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Even though she hasn’t been the showrunner of “Grey’s” for a few years, she will forever be linked to the hugely successful, 17-season-long (and counting!) medical drama. But Rhimes has done plenty of other things in her career, including writing two films and a memoir.

Rhimes, who now lives in Los Angeles, is so dedicated to her home city that she gets Chicago deep-dish pizza flown in every Christmas Eve, she told Food & Wine in 2017. Her favorite comes from Illinois restaurant chain Aurelio’s, she told the publication.

She’s the youngest of six kids — two older brothers and three older sisters. While growing up in University Park, she shared a room with one of her sisters, Sandie, she wrote in her book, “Year of Yes.” Both of her parents were educators.
Rhimes earned her BA from Dartmouth College.

Much like her own creation Meredith Grey, Rhimes graduated from Dartmouth College. She even cameoed as herself in fellow Dartmouth grad Mindy Kaling’s show “The Mindy Project,” when she attended a Dartmouth alumni beer pong game. After Dartmouth, she earned her MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1994.

Read ten more interesting facts about Shonda Rhimes at Insider.

Black Americans And The Coronavirus Vaccine – Some Perspective

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Black Americans are disproportionately vulnerable to the coronavirus. According to the National Urban League, Black Americans are 3 times more likely than White Americans to get the coronavirus, and twice as likely to die from it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers in the table below show slightly different numbers, but they are just as concerning. From my lens, I have seen responses in different communities that reflect this disparate reality. For example, most Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) shuttered their fall    (Photo Credit – AP PHOTO/LYNNE SLADKY)                            sports, including football, while other institutions continued to play.

As vulnerable as our community is to the virus, there is also a strong thread of skepticism about the emerging vaccines. As a scientist, I have continually argued that science and technology would dig us out of this crisis. With the first round of vaccines being administered, I truly believe that “normalcy at the end of the virus tunnel is within sight.” I would take the vaccine if offered it, but a Pew Research Center poll taken in September (2020) tells a different story. While there is some skepticism irrespective of race, there are stark differences. Only 32% of Black adults responded that they would likely get a Covid-19 vaccine shot. This is about 20 percentage points lower than White and Hispanic adults. According to The Guardian, a study by the NAACP, Covid Collaborative, and UnidosUS found that only 14% of Black Americans think the vaccine will be safe.

Read the full article at Forbes.

Experts warn of low Covid vaccine trust among Black Americans

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Distrust over the Covid-19 vaccine runs high among Black Americans, but Black doctors are waging a battle to get the community informed — and vaccinated.

The patients who stream into her clinic in a low-income and predominantly Black section of Chicago’s South Side have been terrified by the coronavirus pandemic, said Dr. Brittani James, stressed out by its harmful effects on the community and frustrated by mixed messages from government officials.

 

(Image credit – Jordan Mitchell for NBC News)

But now, just as possible solution to the virus’s spread is onthe horizon, she is particularly worried about what she is hearing from her patients. Many of them fear that the vaccines aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 will be harmful to Black Americans.

Concerns about vaccines have left some Black people entirely unwilling to take a vaccine, while others have said that they want to wait and see how the first wave of vaccine distribution is handled.

When those concerns come up, “I look my patients in the eye and I say that I understand, I’ve read the studies myself, and my job is to protect you and I will not do you wrong,” said James, a family physician who is also an assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. “I don’t respond with writing them off as irrational and ignorant.”

Read the full article at NBC NEWS.

Why Tiffany Haddish Turned Down Hosting the Grammys Pre-Telecast

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Tiffany Haddish was asked to host the Grammys pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony, but the comedy superstar says she turned down the offer when the Recording Academy told her that she had to pay her own way.

Not only did they ask Haddish to host the three-hour live-streamed event without any compensation, but she tells Variety that they wouldn’t cover hair, makeup, or wardrobe for the three-hour event. “All of that would have to come out of my pocket,” she said, adding, “I don’t know if this might mean I might not get nominated ever again, but I think it’s disrespectful.”

Photo credit – Keith Major, Variety.

Haddish is nominated for her second Grammy this year for best comedy album for Netflix’s “Black Mitzvah” following her first nom last year for spoken word for “The Last Black Unicorn.” The 63rd Grammys will take place Jan. 31, 2021.

Contacted by Variety, a rep for the Recording Academy noted that the Premiere Ceremony is not a CBS program and is hosted by the Academy — a not-for-profit organization — and that all hosts, presenters, and performers have traditionally performed gratis, including this year. The rep also noted that the situation would have no impact on any future nominations for Haddish.

Read the full article at Variety.

Barack Obama Endorses Canadian Star To Play Him In Biopic

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STREETER LECKA/GETTY IMAGES

Former President Barack Obama just endorsed the rapper to play him in a biopic, as the “Hotline Bling” artist proclaimed he has wanted to do.


Asked in a Complex News interview posted Tuesday if he would give the thumbs-up to Drake portraying him in a movie about his life, Obama replied: “I will say this. Drake seems to be able to do anything he wants. That is a talented, talented brother. So if the time comes and he’s ready, you know … ”

“Does he have your stamp of approval?” host Speedy Morman interjected. “You know what, Drake has — more importantly, I think — my household’s stamp of approval. I suspect Malia and Sasha would be just fine with it.”

Perhaps Obama and Drake could seal the deal with a hug, like they did at the 2019 NBA Finals. The Toronto-born Drake told Paper in 2010 that portraying Obama would fulfill his goal of acting in a “real meaty project full of substance.”

Continue to the Huffpost to read the full article.

Blade

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Half human. Half vampire. Experience the sharper, darker, and slicker Blade now in 4K Ultra HD!

Click to see more!

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How We’re Surviving through the Pandemic

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A man working on his computer in an office while wearing a mask

By Connie Russell | C. L. Russell Group, LLC

L. Russell Group, LLC (CLRG) is a woman-owned small business full-service workforce training company. Specializing in workforce training, content development, performance assessment and quality assurance. CLRG, like many other small businesses, is learning to persevere in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here, the founder and CEO, Connie Russell, shares her inspiring story of how using creativity, connection, and a lot of driven faith to navigate her business survival in the face of adversity.

Initial Impact

Although the services we offered were adaptable for COVID-19, we still had a few challenges. Training is not a new industry, and it is very competitive. We discovered many businesses who were in other industries and trying to survive like CLRG also tapped into the training industry to save their company during this turmoil. We found ourselves not only a small company competing with other training businesses (large and small), we are now competing with businesses from other industries taking advantage of the training industry opportunities as well.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact

Undeniably, this has been the most difficult moment CLRG has faced since our five-year tenure. Our sales decreased more than 80 percent, and that was just the beginning. The severity of the Covid-19 crisis put our business, the community and many families in what some would consider uncharted territory. Even though our services initially included virtual training among other services, we were still majorly affected.

Many of our clients who valued the professional training services we provided for their employees, had to step back and reassess their organization’s essential needs during the pandemic. Unfortunately, professional training services were no longer an immediate essential service for many businesses. Many of our clients had to redirect their training funds to meet essential needs aligned with health, safety, and government regulations. Increasing our virtual and on-demand training services kept us optimistic—a high percentage of our sales came from instructor-led training. This required face-to-face training, and lack of social distancing. So, when employees began to quarantine at home, we immediately lost 100 percent of our instructor-led training services for the second quarter and counting.

Since health concerns and government pandemic policies directly impacted how people can gather for the unpredictable future, I knew CLRG had to quickly reassess our existing services as well as pivot our business model. It was time to seriously bootup.

CLRG shared a few tips that helped them pivot their business during the pandemic below.

Pandemic Pivoting

As our team brainstormed over innovative marketing tactics, we decided to focus on utilizing two (2) Cs of marketing: Customer Solutions and Convenience. The two Cs of marketing put the customer’s interests (the buyer, our clients) ahead of the marketer’s interests (the seller, CLRG).

 

  • Customer Solutions, Not Products: Understand your client’s needs as well as find solutions to their problems. Customers want to buy value or a solution to their problems. CLRG collaborated with other small businesses as well as community organizations to help identify essential needs. This allowed us to broaden our services not only from a business perspective but from a community professional trainer provider. CLRG also identified the trending industries affected by COVID-19 and aligned essential training services to meet those needs as well.

 

  • Outcome: Focusing on customer solutions allowed CLRG to expand in new industries such as the Health Industry. This industry was one of CLRG’s goals for our 2020 opportunity list! Connecting with the community allowed us the opportunity to offer complimentary virtual skills training courses to individuals who were unemployed during the pandemic or simply wanted to use this time to enhance their skills. We discovered possible ways to be a part of the solution, not just for businesses, but the community as well. This was a healing process for everyone.

 

  • Convenience, Not Place: Customers want products and services to be as convenient to purchase as possible. Design your products/services so the customer feels confident when utilizing your services. Customers do not want to embark on additional work to use your products/services. Putting yourself in the place of the customer when trying to decide how to design a more efficient service isn’t always the best route. You already know your products/services so it can be challenging to discover new innovative designs. Try ideation sessions with external stakeholders to discover innovative ways to serve your customers. CLRG wanted to ensure the experience during this sensitive time was beneficial to our customers. Since this was a very unpredictable time, CLRG designed a service that was convenient based on our client needs, with the option of flexibility.

 

  • Outcome: By initially inquiring with our clients about their ‘current’ needs, and not focusing on what we had to offer; CLRG was able to design services that were timely, convenient and flexible during the pandemic. When you demonstrate to clients that you are flexible when meeting their needs (especially during a pandemic), this is when true customer relationships are developed.

Remaining Optimistic into the Future

Ridiculous faith has become my mantra during this pandemic. I refused to believe the pandemic would be the reason CLRG closed its doors. I must admit, I have been truly blessed with an amazing team. As the saying goes, ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.’ We truly discovered what a real shoestring budget feels like, but it has also shown us our true colors of perseverance. There were times my team members would ask why I continued to go into the office. Although my verbal response was ‘because we’re still paying rent’ I was actually thinking of the words my mother would often say to me: ‘continue to move forward as if it is.’ We will continue to strive for excellence, seek innovative solutions and humbly serve. CLRG will continue to believe we have a purpose here and will continue to positively impact the workforce industry for businesses, the community, and families.

Lessons Learned

As a professional development training company, we found ourselves receiving just as much training as our customers during this pandemic. There were so many lessons learned thus far during the pandemic, and I’m sure more to come. But if I had to think of two it would be leadership and relationships. True leadership is demonstrated during trials. On many occasions, I found myself serving in several roles. But it was through this experience I was able to discover new ideas and see my business from different perspectives. When you’re always serving as the leader, sometimes you miss these opportunities to get your hands dirty…literally.

Relationships are key, period. During challenging times, it was very important to stay connected with our customers and associates. Simply sending a hello to let them know you’re thinking about them and hoping they’re doing well says a lot. It demonstrates your sensitivity to the situation at hand and acknowledges that you’re authentic about your relationship. Our customers appreciated this. We will continue to stay optimistic and believe a silver lining is on the way. Until then, we are preparing for the new norm.”

 Click here to view the source: CL Russell Group.

Rihanna Joins ‘Forbes’ List Of America’s Richest Self-Made Women

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Rihanna on professional women's magazine cover wonder woman of the year.

Forbes has unleashed its list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women and there are plenty of recognizable names.

According to the outlet, the entire ranking of trailblazers are worth a collective $90 billion and have “have started or helped expand companies that do everything from build rockets to create snowboards to make Covid-19 tests.” At the top of the ranking is roofing entrepreneur Diane Hendricks, co-founder of ABC Supply, one of the country’s largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding and windows. She tops the list for the third year in a row with her empire, which reportedly exceeds $8 billion.

Meanwhile, Rihanna makes her first appearance on the list at the No. 33 spot, courtesy of her cross-genre ventures. In addition to her Fenty Beauty line, the pop titan also has her Savage x Fenty lingerie line, as well as her music ventures, racking up an estimated $600 million for her earnings across the board in 2019.

Among the other celebrity appearances include Kris Jenner, who nabbed her first entry at the No. 92 spot with a net worth of $190 million. Oprah Winfrey returns to this year’s ranking at the No. 9 spot with a net worth of $2.9 billion, while Kim Kardashian took the No. 24 spot with her net worth of $780 million and little sister Kylie Jenner took the No. 29 position with a net worth of $700 million. Lady Gaga and Jenniffer Lopez both snagged the No. 97 spot with their net worth of $150 million.

Continue on to 1043myfm to read the complete article.

Today’s Influential Figures

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Ava DuVernay at a premiere

By Natalie Rodgers

These icons are aiming to make the world a better place. See what they’re up to now.

Ava DuVernay

Director and filmmaker Ava Duvernay is determined to change the narrative of how black people are represented in culture. Duvernay has expressed and showcased her passion that break the boundaries of representation and strives to educate audiences on racial injustice. The brilliant mind behind the critically acclaimed Selma and the 2018 adaptation of the racially diverse A Wrinkle in Time, Duvernay has been featuring more educational pieces as of late.

In 2019, Duvernay released her television series, When They See Us, which followed the story of the real-life Central Park Five. The retelling of this story was not only critically acclaimed but was also a major piece in educating the public about systemic racism against black people. Duvernay is also the director of 13th, a documentary showcasing the history of racial inequality through the United States’ prison system. Her work has recently grown further in popularity, being used as educational resources around the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sources: IMDB

PHOTO BY RICH FURY/VF20/GETTY IMAGES FOR VANITY FAIR

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Even before his famous Madea films, Tyler Perry has been a Hollywood powerhouse for years. Serving as the director, writer, producer and an actor on many of his own stage, film and television projects.

Perry has been nominated and awarded several honors of the years. However, Perry prides himself in pouring his life story and childhood background into his work in an attempt to make black stories more prominent in popular culture.

When he isn’t working on a set or within his own production company, Perry has been found to constantly give back to his community. Recently, Perry has become a spokesperson for The Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion, and Education Commission, an organization designed to spread awareness and put an end to human trafficking in Georgia.

Sources: Wikipedia and WTVM

Tarana Burke
Tarana Burke (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The New York Women’s Foundation)

Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke is an activist and the founder of the “Me Too” movement, which worked to spread awareness of the reality of sexual abuse. Though the trending hashtag became the most popular in 2017, “Me Too” has been a working tagline since 2006 and is still an ever-growing organization.

With the events of the Black Lives Matter movement, Burke has recently expressed her ambitions to spread awareness to create a space of healing and change for sexual assault survivors. In a similar fashion, Burke is also the current senior director of the Girls for Gender Equality, an organization working on prevention and healing techniques for sexual assault in schools and workplaces.

Source: Wikipedia and Vogue

Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Virgil Abloh is an architect, designer, artist, disc-jockey and the lead artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection. He is best known for his Nike collection Off-White and the commentary he puts into all of his artistic pieces.

Though many of his pieces share messages of individuality and the rebellion of societal norms, Abloh has also used his platform to support Planned Parenthood and educate his audience on immigration issues.

He has won countless awards for his work, including a spot in Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and has used his notoriety in working with the Fashion Scholarship Fund to raise money for his self-named scholarship that is specifically designated for Black students.

Source: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Yara Shahidi
Yara Shahidi (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Yara Shahidi

She may be most commonly known for her roles in ABC shows Black-ish and Grown-ish, but acting is just one of the aspects that makes Yara Shahidi stand out.

A passionate advocate for racial equality, voter registration and other culturally engaging topics, the 20-year-old star often takes to social media to educate her young audience of the importance of these societal issues.

She has publicly shown admiration and been in conversation with big-name activists, is the head of the “WeVoteNext” youth initiative, and is working to put more black stories on film with the help of her parents. On top of all of this, Shahidi is also a brand ambassador for Chanel, Bobbi Brown, and Coach, and is currently a full-time student at Harvard University.

Source: Time Magazine and Wall Street Journal

 

Why Black women face disproportionate rates of breast cancer

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Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awarness Month

By Maura Hohman

The day before she turned 30 and had planned to leave for a celebratory vacation, Sharonda Vincent felt a lump on her left breast while in the shower.

She scheduled a last-minute appointment with a doctor at Planned Parenthood, who told her to enjoy her trip because she doubted it was cancerous.

After Vincent returned home to Philadelphia, the mother of one decided to see her primary care provider, just in case. This led to a series of tests, including a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. In the summer of 2005, she was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.

“I was numb, hurt, confused, upset, questioning God,” she told TODAY. “It was a complete shock.”

Vincent, now 45, has been cancer-free for 15 years, thanks to the surgery, chemo and radiation she underwent that summer. She’s among the millions of Black women who’ve survived breast cancer, even though the odds are unjustly stacked against them.

Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Black women are also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage or at a younger age. Death rates for white women with breast cancer are improving more rapidly than for Black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research into the reason for these disparities is ongoing, but it’s likely “multifactorial,” Dr. Vivian Bea, chief of breast surgical oncology at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, told TODAY.

What’s more, Bea expects breast cancer outcomes for Black women to only get worse due to COVID-19. A recent survey, conducted by the cancer information platform SurvivorNet, found that 1 in 3 women has delayed getting a mammogram because of the coronavirus.

A doctor who looks like you

As a physician and Black woman, Bea believes that a main inhibitor for the Black community to seeking health care is the absence of doctors who can relate to their life experiences. Only 5 percent of U.S. doctors are Black, and even fewer are Black women, per 2018 data.

“When I take care of my Black patients … I can’t tell you how often I hear, ‘I trust you because you look like me,” she said. “I hear stories of, ‘I talked to this doctor, and I told them I had a mass, and they told me it was nothing,’ or ‘I had a pain, and they said it was in my head.’ Unfortunately (Black) women are sometimes not taken seriously.”

While Vincent doesn’t feel her care team approached her differently because of her race, she said she leaned heavily on the only Black medical professional she encountered during her treatment.

In Vincent’s initial appointments, she recalled, staff struggled to draw her blood, and she had to be pricked by multiple techs each time, especially uncomfortable given her fear of needles. So the Black medical assistant planned her future visits so the one tech who could draw Vincent’s blood on the first try was always available.

“She made it a point to really get close to me,” Vincent said. “It was almost like she rode this journey with me. She wanted to make sure I felt comfortable in the office. … It made a big difference.”

Suffering in silence

Shortly after Vincent was diagnosed, she found out her grandmother was going through radiation, the last leg of her own breast cancer treatment, but had never told anyone before.

“As close as we are, my grandmother didn’t want to make it too known, so when she learned of my diagnosis, she felt she needed to be that shoulder for me,” Vincent recalled. “We shared stories, and I actually used her surgeon.”

Vincent suspects that her grandmother’s approach is common among Black women. “People in Black families probably feel like, ‘We have so much other stuff to worry about, let’s not bog the family down with this news,'” she said.

Bea pointed out that she often hears Black women say, “I never had cancer in my family, so I’ll never get breast cancer,” but that’s “totally not true,” she stressed.

Tracy Tomer, diagnosed with stage 3A breast cancer in January, told TODAY that hearing from other Black women in her Brooklyn neighborhood that they had breast cancer was a revelation of sorts.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

This story originally ran on Today.com.

Anthony Anderson Pushes for Justice

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stice on June 3, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

By Brady Rhoades

Anthony Anderson, the kid from Compton, the Hollywood power player, is his ancestors’ wildest dreams. He knows it, he feels it, but it’s not just a dream, it’s a challenge as the biggest civil rights battle since the 1960s plays out.

So he’s emerged as a prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We are the boots on the ground that will make change. We are the blood of each other’s blood,” Anderson told demonstrators at a BLM rally earlier this year in downtown Los Angeles. “We must operate from an economic base. Recycle your Black dollars within our own community. That is one of the fastest ways for us to make change. Also, to make a change we have to get out and vote.”

He does it for George Floyd.

For Breonna Taylor.

For Jacob Blake.

For countless others.

He does it because he could have been another name on a long list that nobody wants to be on.

“Thirty years ago, as a sophomore at Howard University, I marched in a peaceful protest in opposition of the Ku Klux Klan marching in Washington, D.C., that same day,” he recalls. “The entire route was lined with every officer and U.S. marshal in the DMV area… In my rush to get to the end of the route to make sure my voice was heard, I marched past the police splinter unit and was now caught between at least 200 officers in full riot gear… As I’m walking away a white officer hits me from behind with his riot shield. I turn around not knowing what just happened and he’s standing there wielding his baton, yelling at me to leave. I screamed back, ‘I am leaving!’ He then, unprovoked, hits me across my left leg with his baton and after that all hell breaks loose. In all, nine officers took turns beating me before they threw me off a 6-foot concrete embankment backwards, blindly, as I’m being illegally struck in the head with the steel ring on the back end of the baton. I speak out not only for those who have experienced this brutality, but I also speak for myself.”

Anderson, who stars in the acclaimed TV comedy Black-ish and hosts

To Tell the Truth: Anderson and mother Doris Hancox on To Tell the Truth KELSEY MCNEAL VIA GETTY IMAGES
To Tell the Truth: Anderson and mother Doris Hancox on To Tell the Truth KELSEY MCNEAL VIA GETTY IMAGES

To Tell the Truth, has never held back when it comes to speaking out against systemic racism.

“This has got to end,” he said. “We need reform.”

Four years ago, Black-ish ran an episode about police abusing an unarmed Black teen. Three generations of the Johnson family grappled with how to discuss the issue. ABC has rerun the episode, titled “Hope,” as America copes with its original sin. You can still view it on Hulu.

Anderson spoke with Black EOE Journal while abiding by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order over the summer.

“You can only organize your closet so many times,” he joked, adding that he owns 300 pairs of shoes.

Truth is, he made use of his time at home—going vegan, growing his own fruits and vegetables and losing 17 pounds.

He hosted an interview with Angela Rye for BET’s COVID-19 Relief Effort, and appeared on The View to speak about staying active while at home.

He formed a thread with Cedric the Entertainer, George Lopez, Don Cheadle, D.L. Hughley and Chris Spencer.

“We do push-ups and sit-ups and plan throughout the day,” he said at the time. “We hold each other accountable.”

That’s a through-line with Anderson, 50, a husband and father of two.

Make. Things. Better.

(L-R) Brian Dobbins, Miles Brown, Anderson, Marcus Scribner, Deon Cole, and Marsai Martin accept the Outstanding Comedy Series award for Black-ish onstage at the 50th NAACP Image Awards in Hollywood, California. PHOTO BY EARL GIBSON III/GETTY IMAGES FOR NAACP
(L-R) Brian Dobbins, Miles Brown, Anderson, Marcus Scribner, Deon Cole, and Marsai Martin accept the Outstanding Comedy Series award for Black-ish onstage at the 50th NAACP Image Awards in Hollywood, California. PHOTO BY EARL GIBSON III/GETTY IMAGES FOR NAACP

He was raised in South-Central Los Angeles, and saw police brutality, gang shootings, crack cocaine and the criminal industrial complex wreck lives and communities.

“I knew that wasn’t how I wanted to live,” he said.

He recalls gazing up at 114 Street and Success Avenue in the City of Watts.

It was, literally, a sign.

At 9, after moving to Compton, he attended a play put on by a community theater group.

He was inspired. He didn’t know it, but he had taken his first step toward superstardom on the Big Screen and as a TV producer, actor, host and writer.

Fast-forward to Black-ish, which co-stars, among others, Laurence Fishburne and Tracee Ellis Ross (daughter of music icon Diana Ross). The show, which ABC has renewed for a seventh season, has won a Golden Globe and NAACP Image award for best comedy series, and Anderson has earned several honors for his role as Dre.

In August, he was awarded a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

But his entertainment career didn’t start off so lucratively.

“Some of the biggest hurdles I had were not getting into a room,” he said. “Who says this role has to be white? Why can’t it be African-American, why can’t it be Latino, why can’t it be Asian-American?”

In what Oprah would call an “aha” moment, it struck him. He was sitting across tables from people who couldn’t comprehend his questions, let alone come up with answers. It was nearly impossible to jump-start a conversation about equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.

“I have to build my own table and seat,” he said. “We don’t have to sit at other people’s tables. We can invite people to our table.”

Anderson learned how to overcome the systemic biases of the industry and society at large from mentors, such as the legendary Bill Duke.

“The thing Duke taught us about was ownership and real power.”

He was surrounded by crazy talent and work ethic as a student at Howard University in the 1980s. Sean Puffy Combs was there. Denzel Washington spoke to one of Anderson’s classes.

“I realized that I was in the right place at the right time,” he said.

As host of To Tell the Truth, an American staple that originally aired in 1956, Anderson keeps things loose and fun. Celebrity guests have included Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson and Jalen Rose.

His witty, pull-no-punches mother, Doris, has become a fan favorite as the scorekeeper.

“If you ask her, she’s the star,” Anderson said.

Anderson laying down in front of his star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame at the first-ever virtual ceremony at Historic Hollywood Museum
The Hollywood Walk of Fame honored Anderson with the first-ever virtual ceremony at Historic Hollywood Museum. @IMAGERYBYOSCAR

Anderson cherishes creating more opportunities to work with his mother. He’s working on a T-Mobile commercial campaign and a reality show featuring the two touring Europe and engaging in fish-out-of-water activities.

Imagine mom and son skiing in Sweden, or folk dancing in the British Isles…

In a trifecta of television achievements, Anderson also is a regular judge on Iron Chef America. His past television work includes a lead role in the TV series Hangtime, and starring in the Bernie Mac Show. He had several guest roles on NYPD Blue, Malcolm & Eddie, In the House and Ally McBeal.

He was the prime character in All About the Andersons, based on the true story of Anderson moving back home after graduating from college. A struggling actor, he spent most of his time eating, leading his father to padlock the refrigerator.

His film credits are impressive, as well.

He has starred in Liberty Heights, Kangaroo Jack, My Baby’s Daddy, Hustle & Flow, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London and King’s Ransom.

But it was Black-ish—which debuted in 2014—that made Anderson a cultural influencer by inviting Americans into an African-American family’s home in a groundbreaking way.

Anderson’s character, Dre Johnson, is husband to Rainbow (Ellis Ross), son to Pops (Fishburne) and a father of five living in a predominantly white neighborhood. Dre is an advertising executive; Rainbow’s a doctor.

Dre’s from Compton, and he’s determined to preserve his family’s ethnic identity, culture and history. He worries that his kids are soft, and a bit clueless about the realities of being Black.

He succeeds at his efforts… sometimes. Other times? Not so much. But the show—which educates non-Blacks on topics, such as police brutality, racial stereotypes and the importance of Juneteenth—is on a winning streak with viewers, mostly because of its uber-talented cast, creative storytelling and light touch.

The show features sobering scenes, as well. Following is a discussion between Dre, Pops and Dre’s son, Jack, from an episode in which Jack calls the cops on some Black neighbors who are playing their music too loud, though Dre is already at their house and the neighbors have agreed to simmer the volume.

Dre and his neighbors end up getting drawn on by police, and forced

Anderson and group with shovels digging at the city of Compton Dodgers Dreamfields groundbreaking at Gonzales Park in Compton, California.
Compton Councilwomen, Emma Sharif and Tana McCoy, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, Clayton Kershaw, Nichol Whiteman and Anderson break ground at the Los Angeles Dodgers foundation, Kershaw’s challenge, and the city of Compton host Dodgers Dreamfields groundbreaking at Gonzales Park in Compton, California. PHOTO BY JERRITT CLARK/GETTY IMAGES

to the sidewalk.

Jack: So, you’re mad at me for calling the cops?

Dre: Look, I should have made it clear to you that we are not just homeowners. We are Black homeowners and because we are Black homeowners, we have to look at things through kind of a dual lens. We need to think about every situation and how it should go normally and how it could go because we are Black.

Jack: Like being asked to sit on the curb while they checked your ID? They didn’t ask any of the white people to do that.

Pops: It’s different for us, baby boy.

That was true in the tragedies of Floyd, Taylor, Blake, and on and on. It was true in the long, hard, triumphant life of John Lewis, one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s finest disciples. It’s true on the streets and in corporate boardrooms.

Anderson is intimate with the dreams of his ancestors, and the challenges facing his children.

“It’s all about opportunities,” he said. “It’s up to us to create opportunities for ourselves but also others. We need to usher in the next generation, and mentor them.”

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