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.

Regina King ties record for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer

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Regina King accepting Emmy while holding the emmy in hand

“Watchmen’s” Regina King made history at the 72nd Emmy Awards Sunday.

King’s win for lead actress in a limited series or movie for her portrayal of Angela Abar (a.k.a. Sister Night) in the HBO superhero drama is her fourth career Emmy. This ties the record held by Alfre Woodard for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer.

Created by David Lindelof, “Watchmen” is based on the acclaimed comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons but is not a direct adaptation. It is more like a sequel that follows new characters such as King’s Sister Night.

This “allowed me to tap into all those things I think are just wonderful about being a Black woman,” King previously told The Times. “[T]he blueprint that was the inspiration for Angela was probably every Black woman that ever was.”

In addition to being recognized for her performance in “Watchmen,” King has previously won the lead actress in a limited series or movie Emmy in 2018 for “Seven Seconds.” In 2015 and 2016 she won in the supporting actress in a limited series or movie category for her performances in “American Crime” (playing different characters each time). King has five career Emmy nominations so far.

Woodard, who has earned 17 Primetime Emmy nods, won in 1984, 1987, 1997 and 2003. These recognitions were in the supporting actress in a drama series category for “Hill Street Blues,” guest performer in a drama series (before there were gender-specific categories) for “L.A. Law,” lead actress in a miniseries or special for “Miss Evers’ Boys” and guest actress in a drama series for “The Practice.”

The other Black actors with four Emmy wins each are Chris Rock and Bill Cosby, but their awards include non-performance categories. Rock has won three Emmys in writing categories (1997, 1999 and 2009) in addition to his variety, music or comedy special win in 1997 for “Chris Rock: Bring The Pain.” Cosby, who is currently serving time after being convicted of sexual assault in 2018, won three consecutive lead drama series actor Emmys for “I Spy” (1966-1968) and in the variety or musical program category in 1969 for “The Bill Cosby Special.”

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

Zendaya Makes History with Her Emmy Win

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Zendaya poses with head looking over shoulders smiling

“She’s younger than Baby Yoda and she already has an Emmy,” Jimmy Kimmel said after a visibly shaken Zendaya, 24, became the youngest Emmy winner for best lead actress in a drama for her role as Rue on HBO’s “Euphoria.”

The breathless actress, who was surrounded by a semicircle of teary-eyed supporters and wearing a crystal bandeau top with a billowing black-and-white polka-dot skirt, clearly had not prepared an acceptance speech.

“This is pretty crazy,” Zendaya said as she clasped her hands over her statuette, as though hardly daring to believe it was real.

The Disney-actress-turned-drama-star beat out the decades-older counterparts Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, Sandra Oh and Laura Linney to claim the crown — not to mention the incumbent winner, Jodie Comer, who set the record last year when she won for “Killing Eve” at age 26.

“Thank you to all of the other incredible women in this category,” Zendaya said. “I admire you so much.”

“Euphoria,” a drama series created by Sam Levinson about high-school students who navigate love, sex, drugs and identity conundrums, premiered on HBO in June 2019. It received six nominations this year, though Zendaya’s was the only one for acting. HBO announced last year that the series had been renewed for a second season.

The actress said she was inspired by others her age who were working to make a difference in the world. “I just want to say that there is hope in the young people out there,” she said. “And I just want to say to all our peers out there doing the work in the streets: I see you, I admire you, I thank you.”

Continue on to the New York Times to read the complete article.

‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman dies of cancer at 43

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Chadwick Bozeman holding oscar

Actor Chadwick Boseman, well-known for his role of The Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Jackie Robinson in biopic-, 42, has passed away after a four-year-long battle with colon cancer.

Boseman was 43 years old and passed away surrounded by his wife and family.

Though Boseman acted in several smaller roles since the early 2000’s, his acting career really took off in 2013 with the release of 42, playing the lead role of Jackie Robinson. From there, Boseman went on to star in several other historical pictures such as Thurgood Marshall in the movie Marshall and James Brown in the film Get on Up. In 2016, Boseman appeared as King T’Challa aka The Black Panther in the film, Captain America: Civil War and would continue to play the character for four Marvel films.

Being a huge influence to black people, especially children, through his role as The Black Panther, Boseman was also known for going to visit children in the hospital and keeping in touch with children from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Though Boseman had been fighting colon cancer since 2016, very few people knew of his diagnosis. In fact, many of his friends, co-stars, and executives were unaware of his condition. Through his battle with cancer, Boseman filmed at least four movies, including the four Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Fans, friends, political figures and organizations alike took to social media on the weekend of Boseman’s death to pay their respects and talk of the influence he had on their lives and the lives of others.

“He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen,” Black Panther co-star, Danai Gurira wrote in an Instagram post to Chadwick, “He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life.”

“From his groundbreaking work in Black Panther to his portrayal of Thurgood Marshall,” Vice Presidential nominee, Kamala Harris tweeted, Chadwick Boseman helped paint a new picture of what’s possible.”

But from his influence to his talent and beyond, the legacy he left was best described by Director Ryan Coogler who said, “Whether it was through his art or through his kindness to others, Boseman’s impact on the world was great. He was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display.”

Emmys 2020: Record Number of Black Actors Score Nominations

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collage of 2020 emmy nominees

The Television Academy nominated a record number of Black actors for Emmys recently, with 34.3% of the acting nominees being Black.

There were 102 acting nominees this year across lead, supporting and guest categories for drama, comedy and limited series/TV movie. Thirty-five of those slots went to Black actors (notably, Maya Rudolph actually accounts for two of those slots, being nominated against herself in the guest comedy actress category for her work on both “The Good Place” and “Saturday Night Live”).

Other nominees in top acting categories include Billy Porter, Sterling K. Brown, Zendaya, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King, Jeremy Pope, Octavia Spencer and Kerry Washington.

This is a notable increase from last year, when Black actors made up 19.8% of the nominee pool, as well as an increase from 2018, when there were 27.7% Black actors nominated — the previous highest percentage in the Academy’s history.

“2020 isn’t just about the global health crisis. This year we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium for change. That is the power and responsibility of television — not only delivering a multitude of services or a little escapism, but also amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told. Because television, by its very nature, connects us all,” said Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO, Television Academy, at the start of the nominations announcement.

But the fight for inclusion is far from over, as these numbers have ticked up but are still far from parity. And although the acting categories are still split by gender, which forces parity, the writing and directing categories are not.

The writing categories fared better than directing, but only marginally, when it came to parity. Not including the variety series writing category which lists entire staffs on the ballots, the select writers scoring noms in the drama, comedy, limited series/TV movie/dramatic special, variety special and documentary or nonfiction program consisted of 40 people, 13 of which were women. This is 32.5% women nominees (67.5% men). The limited series/TV movie/dramatic special category is what really made the difference, with six of nine nominees here being women, including “Unorthodox’s” Anna Winger and “Normal People’s” Sally Rooney and Alice Birch.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

Who Said Woman Was Not Meant to Fly?

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Bronwyn Morgan pictured smiling sitting at a table

By Laurie Dowling, National Utilities Diversity Council

What do you get when a serial innovator merges her vocation and her avocation? You get Bronwyn Morgan, founder of Xeo Air, an outsourced AI-based drone services and data analytics company, and Airversity Drone Academy & Consulting.

Founded in 2019, Xeo Air is the next step in a management and entrepreneurial journey that has taken Bronwyn from strategic visioning at Fortune 100 companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, to media, academia and now aerospace futuring.

For those of us whose knowledge of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV – drones) has mostly been garnered from adventure movies, it may come as a surprise that in the next two years the commercial drone industry in the US is expected to reach $100 billion. In the four years since the Federal Aviation Administration granted more operations exemptions and flight regulations for professional drone services, they have increasingly become a part of business and civilian life, even if we aren’t always aware of them. They do and will perform functions ranging from mapping and data collection to delivery, crop fertilizing and facility disinfecting.

Xeo Air focuses on business to business solutions with inspection and mapping services with high definition video, thermography, LIDAR and infrared, for industries including civil infrastructure, oil and gas, wind, solar, utilities, construction, telecommunications, disaster response and government. Xeo Air is a young startup with an administrative team of four and 20 FAA part 107 certified pilots, and Bronwyn and her backers see it poised for growth as companies continue to embrace this game-changing geospatial data collection tool that saves businesses time and money so they can make decisions more quickly.

Additionally, to serve the growing need in public safety and corporations that need in-house capacity in unmanned aerial vehicles, a year ago, Bronwyn created a training company – Airversity Drone Academy and Consulting – which fields a team of FAA 107 certified instructors (pilots) based around the US who provide FAA exam prep and flight training.

A few questions for Bronwyn:

Are there a lot of drone companies owned by women?

I am part of a small but growing segment of the industry owned by women. Less than 10 percent of drone companies are owned by women, but the numbers are increasing, and there are more women in senior positions in larger companies as well.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced with your company so far?

Scaling up. It takes resources and time to grow your client base and to source talent, and you must sharpen your business model as the environment changes in this young industry. We also have limitations based on regulations and equipment innovation, but that is changing rapidly.

Have you had to educate potential customers on drone services because of misperceptions?

Absolutely. What most people know of drones is primarily their military usage. Our UAVs are very different and our business is different. We have to educate our potential clients about how drones can help their businesses and how we can help them make decisions faster, safer and at a lower price point than traditional services. And when you put it together with machine learning and artificial intelligence, the data becomes more actualized. There are so many uses for our services. Example: We’re able to get up and down a tower for routine inspection within an hour and capture significant data critical to immediate maintenance requirements. We can also assess damage to critical infrastructure after disasters, which can mean life and death in emergency response. Additionally, our capabilities can provide streaming information that allows customers to see real time the status of any asset. The use cases are endless.

What do you think is your competitive advantage?

We’re building an end-to-end product. We can collect data; keep you informed digitally through the processes and analyze the information for immediate use. We’re able to take care of customers end to end. And we can do it securely, with a high level of customer service. We treat our clients’ business as if it were our own.

What is in your future?

I’m working on solutions with flying passenger vehicles, to be announced soon. This is the future of aeronautics. It’s a dream job. When I was in high school, I wanted to fly fighter planes, which they didn’t allow women to do. I think my job is better!

We agree. In fact, please forgive the pun, but we think Bronwyn is soaring.

For more information on Xeo Air click here.

For more information on Airversity, click here.

For more information on NUDC and its free programs to advance diversity, click here.

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.

Job Interviews are Going Virtual, Here’s What You Need to Know

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Man giving virtual job interview online

As businesses prepare to open their doors again, the hiring process has begun. Nearly forty million Americans lost their jobs from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that many of those people will be searching for work and participating in job interviews.

But, as we are still adhering to some social distancing rules, many of these interviews are likely to occur via video call.

Interviewing virtually is an unfamiliar territory, but having a successful, meaningful virtual interview is definitely possible.

Here are the best tips for having the most successful interview on a virtual platform.

  • Presentation
  • As you would for an in-person interview, you want to look presentable. While this means wearing an interview-appropriate outfit, you want to make sure that your background and camera angle are also presentable. Make sure your background is clean, containing as little distractions as possible, and that your computer’s camera is catching the best angle of yourself. This will allow the interviewer to see the best version of yourself while bringing their full attention to what you are saying and not to what else is happening in your environment.

  • Make Eye Contact
  • As you would in a physical job interview, you want to make eye contact with the interviewer. It can be difficult not to look at your own reflection in the video call and worry about how you look to the other party, but remember to look into the computer’s camera to show the interviewer that you are paying attention to what they are saying and are really listening.

  • Remember the Lag
  • Unfortunately, video calls are known to lag and glitch. Neither party is at fault, but be aware of these inconveniences. Talking over the interviewer, accidentally interrupting, audio cutouts, and temporary freezes are bound to happen, so speak slowly and talk only when necessary to avoid these possible interview mishaps.

  • Use Your Resources
  • Virtual interviews allow for better access to virtual resources. Keeping interview notes on your screen and using screen share to give examples of your work will help you to remember your best selling points and show your interviewer what you are capable of.

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 

LA Pride Festival Cancels In-Person Celebration, Will Go Digital

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LA-pride-2019

On its 50th anniversary, the iconic Los Angeles Pride Festival and Parade, which normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to West Hollywood in June, will be going digital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers recently announced that the festival will instead be held virtually on several digital platforms over a period of months and spanning into 2021.

Back in mid-March, Christopher Street West – the nonprofit group in charge of putting on the festival, announced that it would be postponed. However, it was confirmed that the festival has been canceled the in-person celebrations, and will instead return in 2021.

“Due to the evolving effects surrounding COVID-19, CSW has made the responsible decision to forgo in-person LA Pride celebrations for the remainder of the year,” the group said in a statement. “The organization will instead re-imagine how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary through new and exciting initiatives hosted on its digital platforms, with the hope of returning to a physical celebration in 2021. More details will be announced soon on how Los Angeles will celebrate its 50th Anniversary through exciting digital initiatives.”

The three-day festival is one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the nation.

CSW said it would roll out its digital initiatives in the coming months.

Continue on to CBS Los Angeles to read the complete article.

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.

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  1. NFBPA: A Construct for Change Forum 2020
    October 8, 2020 - October 13, 2020
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Upcoming Events

  1. NFBPA: A Construct for Change Forum 2020
    October 8, 2020 - October 13, 2020
  2. HBCU Career Development Marketplace
    November 10, 2020 - November 12, 2020