These icons are aiming to make the world a better place. See what they’re up to now.
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.
PHOTO BY RICH FURY/VF20/GETTY IMAGES FOR VANITY FAIR
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 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 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.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
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.
“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+ ZackVan 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.”
Here are ways to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy, whether you want to commit to a day of service or learn about the history of the civil rights movement.
Martin Luther King’s Birthday, a federal holiday observed on the third Monday in January, is a time to reflect on the legacy of the influential civil rights leader. It is also a federal holiday dedicated to a day of service, when Americans are encouraged to heed Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words: “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”
This year, the holiday falls on Jan. 18. While coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns disrupted plans for many in-person celebrations and volunteering efforts, there are plenty of safe activities you can take part in. The website of AmeriCorps, the federal public-service organization, has a directory where you can search for volunteer opportunities, while President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inaugural committee suggests creating cards for Covid-19 patients, knitting blankets for the homeless or hosting an online fund-raiser for a nonprofit organization.
Here are other resources for ways to commemorate Dr. King this week, whether you’re looking to do some good or engage in thoughtful conversation.
Hunger Free America, a national research and advocacy organization, will have an “M.L.K. Serve-a-Thon” on Jan. 18 and 19. In a series of virtual workshops, its partner agencies will discuss how food insecurity intersects with other social issues. They will also lead volunteering projects that can be done from home, like phone banking and raising awareness on social media.
Hands on Atlanta, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes civic engagement efforts, lists in-person activities across Atlanta — Dr. King’s hometown — on its website. It also offers virtual suggestions, such as Civic Dinners, a community engagement platform where people can host or attend virtual conversations under topics like “bridging the racial divide” and “grief and gratitude.
L.A. Works creates community service projects in the greater Los Angeles area. On Jan. 18, its website will host family-friendly virtual exhibitions of the 1963 March on Washington — created through the video game Minecraft. It’s also hosting online workshops and volunteering events focusing on how race affects homelessness, food insecurity and criminal justice.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington is hosting a social justice-themed virtual concert by the jazz bassist and composer Christian McBride and students from the Juilliard School. Watch on Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. Eastern. Tickets are free, but registration is recommended.
The King Center in Atlanta wraps up its weeklong observance of the holiday on Jan. 18 with the Beloved Community Commemorative Service, featuring Bishop T.D. Jakes. Stream it at 10:30 a.m. Eastern on the center’s website or on Facebook Watch, or tune in on Fox 5 Atlanta.
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.
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.
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.
Better late than never! Months after the competition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Miss Mississippi USA Asya Branch has been crowned Miss USA 2020.
Branch, 22, was awarded the coveted title on Monday in a competition that aired live from Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. She was crowned by her predecessor, Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst.
Placing second runner-up was Miss Oklahoma USA Mariah Jane Davis, and just ahead of her was first runner-up, Miss Idaho USA Kim Layne.
Branch was the first African American to be named Miss Mississippi USA and comes from Booneville.
Prior to her win on Monday night, Branch shared her take on gun laws in her final statement.
“We should require people to pass training and safety classes” before attaining guns, she said.
This year’s winner was chosen by a selection committee that included Fox Nation host Abby Hornacek, entrepreneur Gloria Mayfield Banks, sports reporter and Miss USA 1999 Kimberly Pressler, businesswoman Susan Yara, Miss USA 2000 Lynnette Cole and Carolyn Aronson, CEO of It’s a 10 Haircare and Be A 10 Cosmetics.
The night’s festivities — which were originally slated for spring, but got postponed due to COVID-19 — were hosted by sports reporter and Miss Teen USA 2005 Allie LaForce and American Ninja Warrior co-host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, a former professional football player.
The competition also included a virtual performance by American Idol alum Haley Reinhart.
With the crown now sitting pretty atop her head, Branch will move to New York City to represent the Miss USA brand and various philanthropic organizations, just as Kryst did before her.
“Being Miss USA has afforded me the opportunity to be an advocate for issues that deserve attention, including criminal justice reform and racial inequality,” Kryst said in a statement. “I am proud to continue the legacy of national titleholders who speak up and encourage change, and I look forward to supporting the next Miss USA and Miss Teen USA in doing the same.”
Continue on to People to read the complete article.
We are celebrating milestones every day, and this issue of Black EOE Journal is full of them. Inclusion surrounds this issue, as it is at the forefront more than ever.
For example, our Best of the Best lists recognize the top HBCUs and Colleges & Universities for their commitment to inclusion. This issue is also filled with firsts: Senator Kamala Harris, the first black woman of Indian descent to formally accept a vice president nomination; Jeanette Epps, the first black woman astronaut to join the international space station crew; Michael V. Drake, the University of California’s first black president; and much, much more. These are only scratching the surface. Even better news: A new law has been passed requiring large corporations to diversify their boards.
Our cover story- actor, activist, and comedian Anthony Anderson- sees value in inclusion and continuously pushes for justice. A prominent figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, Anderson makes it his mission to advocate for a more inclusive future. “I have to build my own table and seat. We don’t have to sit at other peoplpe’s tables. We invite people to our table,” Anthony says.
You, too, can make a difference, and that is by voting during the upcoming presidential election. Have your voice heard, and advocate for change. Your vote can be what the world needs. So, get out there and vote! Every vote counts.
Last but not least, job opportunities are still present among the pandemic and we’ve presented them for you. Every issue of Black EOE Journal strives to give the best job opportunities and tips while navigating these unprecedented times.
While times are changing, one thing isn’t, and that is the importance of inclusion. So, follow in Anthony Anderson, Senator Harris, Jeanette Epps, and many more influential figures’ footsteps, and make your own change.
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.
On August 31, California lawmakers passed a new, unnamed piece of legislature that would increase diversity and inclusion rates in big California businesses.
Under this new law, large corporations would be required to have at least one board member on their team who comes from an underrepresented community. The legislature further clarifies the definition of underrepresented communities to include: Black and African American, Hispanic and Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, or LGBTQ+.
“Corporations have money, power, and influence,” Assemblyman and author of the law Chris Holden stated. “If we are going to address racial injustice and inequity in our society, it’s imperative that corporate boards reflect the diversity of our state.”
Holden hopes that the bill will make large representative changes resulting in racial justice, similar to the gender equality shown after the passing of the 2018 bill, requiring big-name corporations that have a certain number of women on their board.
While presenting the new legislature, lawmakers strived to prove the necessity for its existence by referring to various studies that showed a lack of diversity in big corporations and the state of California alike. One such study, done by the Deloitte and Alliance for Board Diversity in 2018, stated that out of the 1,222 new board members that were introduced to Fortune 100 companies, 940 of them identified as Caucasian, a whopping 77 percent. Another study, done by the Latino Corporate Directors Association in July 2020, stated that 87 percent of California business boards did not have Latino representation, despite making up almost 40 percent of the total population. Many large technology companies, such as Apple and Facebook, were also tested to have all-white executives in the top executive positions on the board.
“There is enough evidence to show there is discrimination,” Holden told lawmakers. “The numbers simply don’t lie.”
Besides the presence of discrimination, lawmakers also showed evidence of the economic impact that diversity can have on large corporations. Companies that present a larger understanding and representation of diversity have shown to increase in profit as their target audience begins to draw in more people from various backgrounds.
Under Holden’s law, diversity would be required to increase in the coming years in California businesses. Corporations with more than nine board members would need to have a minimum of three members that come from underrepresented communities and corporations with five to eight board members would be required to have at least two of these members. If signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the law would also penalize those violators with fines starting at $100,000.
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, 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.
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 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
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.”
Emmy Award Winning Writer/Actor Lena Waithe and Costume Designer on Beyonce’s Black Is King, Zerina Akers, kicked-off a new digital series called Create Change presented by Adobe.
In the debut episode, Lena and Zerina came together for a virtual yet intimate conversation around how COVID/quarantining has affected their creative process, Zerina’s work on Beyonce’s Black Is King, Lena’s mentorship in the future of black creators, and the importance of Black creators using their voice to inspire change. Lena says:
“As black artists, especially now, we have to do what feel rights for us and let the people do what they do. We can’t be concerned of how people will receive it because that’s not what it’s about. It’s about doing something that feels honest and real because sometimes everyone is not ready for that honest and realness.”
Additionally Lena and Zerina dive into black representation in the fashion industry and the reason why Zernia started Black Owned Everything, saying she wanted to shift the energy of calling out/canceling brands for not having diverse representation and put that energy into promoting black owned brands, which goes a lot further.
“Being able to contribute to things that will outlive me. I get to be that representation, that example that is possible.” – Zerina Akers on what excites her about being a black creator right now.
“We think of film and moments in TV as very iconic, but what they’re wearing is almost as important as what the show is about…the role of the person putting them in cloths is saying just as much as the writer, just as much as the director” – Lena Waithe on how important fashion is to creating stories.
“It’s feasible. Often times many of us, as we’re building our business a few years in, have a price. It seems like that’s the reward at the end of the rainbow. Often times, that’s a way for them to take it away. These huge corporations come in and buy your brand, they want you out…they bought you out of continuing that story if ownership.” – Zerina Akers on how far away we are from a major black fashion house.
Create Change, brings diverse creators together from a spectrum of disciplines to share how they’re using creativity to feel empowered, inspired, and make an impact through their work. Future episodes of Create Change will feature a variety of creators, from photographers and filmmakers to stylists and chefs—including Yara Shahidi (actress, model and activist) Destinee Ross-Sutton(art curator) and Cleo Wade (poet and author)—so that everyone can be inspired, learn and share in their creativity.