Shaquille O’Neal becomes founding partner, investor in new ad agency focused on diversity

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Shaquille O'Neil looking off to his right with his hand pointed forward speaking and wearing a suit and tie

The Wall Street Journal

Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal has become known since retiring from the game for his prolific work as a celebrity pitchman, working in front of the camera to help brands including Papa John’s and Frosted Flakes win customers.

In his latest venture, he’ll be working with marketers behind the scenes.

Image: Courtesy of Twitter

Mr. O’Neal is becoming a founding partner and investor in Majority, a new ad agency focused on serving up talent of diverse backgrounds. The agency arrives as Madison Avenue grapples with a history of inequity amid the nation’s renewed call for social justice, large agencies increasingly take measures to diversify their ranks, and some marketers press agencies to increase the diversity of the teams that work on their accounts.

“Most agencies still struggle to meet a 25% diversity target,” Mr. O’Neal said in a telephone interview. “We want to flip that diversity ratio to turn the minority into the majority.”

The agency plans to hire a diverse pool of talent defined by “black and brown people, women and LGBTQ,” said Omid Farhang, co-founder and chief executive of Majority.

“The goal for our company is to show how creative output changes when you flip that ratio,” Mr. Farhang said. “It’s as much about social equity as a shrewd business decision. Diversity is a competitive advantage. Diversity leads to different kinds of ideas that create different types of cultural discussions.”

The American Association of Advertising Agencies, or 4As, issued a report in September showing that Black and African-American employees make up just 5.8% of the agency business, and of that portion 68% held administrative or entry-level roles. The study, which looked at 165 agencies representing more than 40,000 employees, also found that 8.7% of the sample identified as Hispanic or Latino.

Mr. O’Neal won’t handle day-to-day agency tasks but will support the shop by joining meetings, networking and reaching out to brands and celebrity contacts as needed, he said.

“I’m just motivated to do this in a way to create new opportunities,” said Mr. O’Neal. “A lot of people talk about it. I’m tired of talking about it. I want to do something about it. I just want to make progress.”

Mr. O’Neal has worked with brands for decades, through both endorsement and investment deals. He owns many Papa John’s Pizza and Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchises.

He is also looking to purchase Reebok with Authentic Brands Group, where he is a partner, from Adidas AG to revive the brand, he said. In December, Adidas said it is exploring a sale of the U.S. fitness brand.

And last fall he helped form a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, to make acquisitions in the media and technology industries.

Read the original article at Fox Business.

J.P. Morgan Creates Scholarship Program for Black College Students

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Jp Morgan building with sign. JP morgan is creating scholarships for black college students.

By Jeff Berman, Think Advisor

In the latest J.P. Morgan diversity and equity initiative, the firm has teamed with the United Negro College Fund to create the J.P. Morgan Wealth Management HBCU Scholarship Program. The initiative is part of the $30 billion Path Forward commitment to advance racial equity that JPMorgan Chase announced Oct. 8. Building on that commitment, J.P. Morgan Wealth Management said in March it set a goal to hire 300 more Black and Latino advisors by 2025.

The new scholarship program invests in students at historically Black colleges and universities who are interested in careers in financial planning “early on and creates a path for their long-term career success, strengthening the pipeline of diverse talent” for JPMWM, the firm and UNCF said in a joint announcement Monday. The program will provide scholarships and mentorships to students attending one of 11 HBCUs across the U.S. and help them develop the skills they need to grow a career as a financial advisor, they said.

JPMWM will award 75 scholarships annually over the next five years. Students receiving the scholarships will have the opportunity to participate in two summer experiences: the Advancing Black Pathways Fellowship Program and the first-of-its-kind J.P. Morgan Wealth Management Service Center Internship. After completing the internship program, students will also be eligible for another scholarship to be applied to their senior year.

“We’re committed to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, and that begins by investing in students early on and creating a path for their long-term career success,” according to Christopher Thompson, head of Diverse Advisor Experiences at JPMWM. “We look forward to unlocking an enormous talent potential while boosting interest in a career as a financial advisor, which has excellent growth potential,” he said in a statement.

Click here to read the full article on Think Advisor.

Rihanna releases first Savage X Fenty Pride collection

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Rihanna attends a Fenty event in February 2020 in an orange turtle neck

By Melissa Minton, Page Six

Rihanna is starting off Pride Month with a bang. The pop star’s Savage X Fenty lingerie brand launched its first-ever Pride collection on Tuesday, along with an accompanying campaign. “Pride is all about appreciating your authentic self,” Rihanna, 33, said in a statement. “I am very excited about this collection and showing love and support to the LGBTQIA+ community, which includes so many of our customers, team members and fans.”

Just last September, Savage X Fenty — which is now valued at more than $1 billion — announced an expansion into styles for men. The brand’s star-studded Pride campaign features model couple Ahmad Kanu and Rahquise Bowen, artist Aya Brown, plus-size model and dancer Dexter Mayfield, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Gigi Goode, transgender influencer Jaslene Whiterose, Fenty Skin model Jazzelle Zanaughtti, Rihanna’s personal hairstylist Yusef Williams and more.

Available in sizes from 30A to 42H and XS to 3X, the collection includes smoking jackets, jock straps, crop tops, hosiery, boxer briefs and even a whip. Prices range from $16.95 to $69.95, with purchases from the line supporting LGBTQ+ organizations including GLAAD, the Audre Lorde Project, The Caribbean Equality Project, INC., Trans Latin@ Coalition and the Trans Wellness Center.

Click here to read the full article on Page Six.

Billboard Music Awards: Drake’s son joins him to accept artist of the decade

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Drake and his son standing on stage accepting his award at the billboard music awards

By Mark Savage, BBC

Drake’s son Adonis made a surprise appearance at Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, joining his father onstage as he won an artist of the decade prize. The rapper, 34, gripped his son’s shoulder throughout his speech, before hoisting him into the air and saying: “I want to dedicate this award to you.” The three year old burst into tears, and left the stage clinging to his father’s leg.

Meanwhile, The Weeknd was the night’s big winner, taking home 10 awards. Among his prizes were best artist; top Hot 100 album for After Hours; and top Hot 100 song for Blinding Lights. The star, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, more than doubled his career total of Billboard Music Awards, having previously received nine trophies.

Korean pop band BTS also picked up four prizes, winning best group for the second time in three years; and top social artist for the fifth consecutive year. The band is now just one year short of equalling Justin Bieber’s six-year hold on the social award from 2011- 2016.

Here are some of the other highlights and talking points from the show.

Machine Gun Kelly painted his tongue black

Best rock artist winner Machine Gun Kelly arrived at the ceremony with a rather unusual oral condition: A jet-black tongue. Had he gone overboard with the charcoal toothpaste? Developed a crippling liquorice habit? Been cursed by an evil dentist? Sadly not. A visit to his Instagram reveals that the musician had someone paint his tongue carefully with a cotton bud. On the red carpet, he made sure everyone noticed, sticking his tongue out for fans, sticking his tongue out for the cameras, and (hold your stomachs) touching tongues with his girlfriend, Megan Fox.

His reasons are still unclear. Is it a reference to The Rolling Stones Paint It Black? Or is he simply a big fan of giraffes? We may never know.

Pink admitted her childhood crush

Pink accepted the Icon Award from rock star Bon Jovi, and confessed she’d been obsessed with the star when she was eight – locking herself in her bedroom for a week after he got married.

“I’m very glad you found lasting love, Jon, but you broke my heart. I take this as an apology,” she laughed, indicating her trophy.

To celebrate her prize, the star performed a career-spanning medley of hits, including Who Know, Get The Party Started and Just Give Me A Reason.

But the highlight was a breathtaking aerial acrobatic routine, performed with her nine-year-old daughter Willow, set to their duet Cover Me In Sunshine.

Click here to read the full article on BBC.

The Underground Railroad Team Talks Aaron Pierre’s Distracting Beauty as Caesar — and That Episode 2 Shocker

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Underground railroad actor wearing vintage clothing from the time

By , TV Line

To be clear, The Underground Railroad is a serious and thought-provoking work of art. The 10-part limited series, which Oscar winner Barry Jenkins adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, is now streaming on Amazon Prime and is in many ways a visually rich conversation starter on American slavery and race relations. But part of that visual is Krypton‘s Aaron Pierre as Caesar — who, within five minutes of watching Episode 1, has the ability to make viewers focus on little else but him. Or, as one fan on Twitter phrased it, “he reminds me of Javier Bardem — a face that just wants to be looked at. Powerful looking dude.”

Thankfully, Pierre is a wonderful actor, and his ability to convey great depth with just a slow-boiling sidelong glance is in and of itself a reason to pay attention to him opposite star Thuso Mbedu, TVLine’s most recent Performer of the Week.

Speaking of which, Mbedu says she noticed the London native’s charms as much as viewers have and will — but only as herself. As Cora, who initially and quizzically tells Caesar she won’t run away with him to freedom, she can’t see his handsome face and broad shoulders or hear his seductive baritone voice.

“Caesar was friends with the group who called Cora names at every single turn,” Mbedu recalls. “He was part of that crew. So she’s not seeing him for the god that he is. She’s seeing all the ugly. But that’s Cora. As Thuso, I was like, ‘Hey, Aaron!’”

Jenkins agrees and says Cora’s other hurdles as an enslaved Black woman eclipse Caesar’s pretty blue eyes.

“Cora absolutely would question running away with Caesar because I think in that moment, Cora can’t see anything and she cannot see how beautiful he is,” Jenkins contends. “The only thing she can see is that the person who should want her the most, her mother, abandoned her at this plantation. That’s all she can see. Caesar’s job, as handsome as he is, is to very slowly and subtly remind her that ‘I see you. I need you. I want you. You are special.’ I think that’s the role he plays in her life.”

Click here to read the full article on TV Line.

Woman who got $50K scholarship in Drake’s ‘God’s Plan’ video earns masters degree

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James standing with her graduation cap and shawl in a white dress after winning the drake gods plan scholarship

By , The Grio

Destiny James, a young woman who received a $50K donation from Drake in 2018, is celebrating a full circle moment and the “God’s Plan” rapper is too.

This week, the 23-year-old Denmark, South Carolina native shared that she was graduating from a master’s program in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Mama, I mastered it. Daddy, I did it. 4 days until I am officially UNC Alum,” James wrote in her Instagram post. Drizzy congratulated her in the comments.

“LETS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DES,” the Toronto rapper wrote. Drake also posted a photo of him and James on his Instagram story, REVOLT reports.

James began her undergraduate studies in 2015. After appearing in the music video for Drake’s 2018 single “God’s Plan,” James used the $50K scholarship to complete her bachelor’s degree in public health from the University of Miami and she graduated from there in 2019. James never applied to the scholarship but her story made it to the right university administrators who ultimately positioned her to feature in Drake’s video, E! Entertainment reports.

Back in 2018, James shared her gratitude on social media, saying the rap artist’s donation was an epic surprise. “Drake told me that he has read great things about me and appreciates how hard I’ve worked through so many trials and decided to give me $50K for my tuition. @champagnepapi THANK YOU SO MUCH!!’ You don’t understand what this means to me!,” said James.

The “God’s Plan” music video, which was directed by Karena Evans and now has well over a billion views on YouTube, captures James’ reaction along with other recipients of the four-time Grammy award winner’s generosity. The University of Miami’s picturesque campus is juxtaposed with the everyday economic struggles shown in stores, schools, churches, and other parts of the city that Drake visits.

As theGrio previously reported, Drake brought both the party and the money to students at the University of Miami and Miami Senior High School. In addition to his donation to James, the rapper wrote a $25,000 check to the high school and also promised to “design new school uniforms,” according to the Miami Herald.

Click here to read the full article on The Grio.

Last Name Ever, First Name Greatest: Drake to Receive Artist of the Decade Award at 2021 Billboard Music Awards

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Drake poses in the press room during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada

By Shanelle Genai, The Root

Cue the “Toosie Slide!” On Tuesday it was announced that Drake will be receiving the Artist of the Decade Award at this year’s Billboard Music Awards.

Variety reports the award takes into account Billboard consumption data from 2009 through 2019, noting that during that time the Canadian rapper racked up a historic 27 awards—the most of any artist ever. Additionally, during his 10-year run, producers also pointed out that Drake had nine No. 1 albums, the most of any artist during the decade and 33 Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, the most by any artist ever. (GOAT shit, I know that’s right!)

This year’s BBMAs will also see Drake vying for eight more ‘“Ws,” including Top Artist, Top Male Artist, Top Billboard 200, Top 100 Artist, Top Streaming Song Artist, Top Rap Artist, and Top Streaming Song alongside fellow “Life is Good” rapper Future. I don’t know about you but as The Root’s resident Drake stan, I have to say—I’m glad to see the Certified Lover Boy getting this recognition.

But Shanelle, Drake always gets recognized. What are you saying?

OK, but not like this. This award is for Artist of the Decade, which means whether you wanted to or even knew it or not, you have been hearing Drake consistently in some form or fashion for the last 10 years. “Nonstop.”

I don’t think that’s technically what it me—

And if you haven’t heard Drake, then you’ve most definitely been privy to the influence he’s had on the culture. Whether it’s through his gif-worthy facial expressions and debatable dance moves or a caption on Instagram, Drake’s influence is unmatched. Period point blank. And I, for one, am always glad when people have to talk about it. He told us back in 2013 to see who’s still around a decade from now; seeing as how we’re just two years shy of 2023 and he’s still relevant—it’s safe to say that Drizzy Drake is here for a good time and a long time.

Click here to read the full article on The Root.

J. Cole Dropping ‘Applying Pressure: The Off-Season’ Documentary

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j cole performing in front of an all blue background while wearing a bob marley t shirt

, Billboard

J. Cole season is upon us. The rapper revealed on Sunday that his new movie, Applying Pressure: The Off-Season Documentary, will drop at 1 p.m. ET on Monday (May 10) on YouTube. At press time there were few details about the Scott Lazer-directed film that will accompany the MC’s upcoming album, The Off-Season.

“This is the moment that a lot of your favorite rappers hit a crossroads,” Cole says in the 26-second teaser clip, during which he hops on a midnight flight, toils in the studio and shoots hoops by himself. “Are you okay with getting comfortable? Did you leave no stone unturned creatively? And when I thought about that feeling, I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not cool with that.'”

The album, due out on Thursday (May 14) was “years in the making” according to a recent post from Cole about the follow-up to 2018’s KOD. The Off-Season is the first of three albums the rapper teased in a December 2020 Instagram post that caused speculation surrounding his retirement from the rap game. According to the post, the following albums will be titled It’s a Boy and The Fall-Off, a play on his first mixtape released in 2007, The Come Up.

Last week, he previewed the album via a new song, “i n t e r l u d e,” which he co-produced with T-Minus and T. Parker.

Click here to read the full article on Billboard.

PNC Announces $88 Billion Community Benefits Plan

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black businessman working from home during pandemic on laptop wearing a suit smiling

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC) recently announced a Community Benefits Plan to provide $88 billion in loans, investments, and other financial support to bolster economic opportunity for low- and moderate-income (LMI) individuals and communities, people and communities of color, and other underserved individuals and communities over a four-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

The Plan – developed in connection with the anticipated regulatory approval and closing of PNC’s pending acquisition of BBVA USA Bancshares, Inc., including its U.S. banking subsidiary, BBVA USA – covers the geographies currently served by PNC and the new geographies PNC will expand into through the BBVA USA acquisition.

The Plan incorporates, builds on and expands the pledges and plans previously announced by PNC and BBVA USA to help meet community needs, advance economic empowerment and address systemic racism.

Specifically, over the Plan period, PNC expects to:

  • Originate at least $47 billion in residential mortgage and home equity loans to LMI and minority borrowers and in LMI and majority-minority census tracts.
  • Originate at least $26.5 billion in loans to small businesses in LMI communities, majority-minority census tracts, businesses with less than $1 million in revenue and small farms.
  • Provide at least $14.5 billion in community development loans and investments across all markets, including at least $400 million for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that help meet the banking and financial service needs of traditionally underserved communities.
  • Increase to at least $500 million PNC’s charitable giving, including sponsorships and philanthropic grants. This includes the continuation of BBVA USA’s existing multi-year grant and charitable sponsorship commitments with nonprofit organizations, and a commitment to maintain or increase the current levels of philanthropic support provided to community groups in Birmingham in recognition of the history of the city as the headquarters city of BBVA USA and its predecessor bank.

“As a Main Street bank, we believe that our success will be proportional to the prosperity we help create for our stakeholders,” said PNC Chairman, President and CEO William S. Demchak. “This plan reflects that belief and builds on our longstanding commitment to provide economic opportunity for all individuals and communities we serve, as reflected in PNC Bank’s and BBVA USA’s overall ‘Outstanding’ Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) ratings in each of our organizations’ most recent evaluations.” PNC Bank has consistently earned an ‘Outstanding’ CRA rating in every performance evaluation issued since enactment of the CRA more than 40 years ago.

PNC’s Community Benefits Plan was developed by PNC, in consultation with BBVA USA, and was informed by numerous community listening sessions that PNC held with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) that included representatives from more than 150 NCRC member organizations from across the combined PNC and BBVA USA footprint. PNC also held listening sessions with the National Diversity Coalition, the Greenlining Coalition, the California Reinvestment Coalition, Faith and Community Empowerment, and members of their respective organizations.

“We appreciate the leadership and commitment of PNC Bank to collaborate with us and our members to develop the largest-to-date community benefits plan,” said NCRC CEO Jesse Van Tol. “This plan is a significant commitment by one of the largest banks in the nation to increase investments, services and loans for low- and moderate-income communities and neighborhoods of color. It’s rewarding and makes me hopeful when institutions and communities can come together like this to make a meaningful commitment that’s intended to have a lasting impact on lives, families and neighborhoods.”

PNC’s Regional President and Community Development Banking teams will serve as key points of engagement in their local communities for identifying impactful local community development initiatives and acting as liaisons with local organizations. PNC will extend this model to the new markets it enters through its pending acquisition of BBVA USA.

“As we consulted with numerous groups across the country, we learned the concerns that are top of mind to our communities: focusing on home ownership as a foundation of wealth creation for current and future generations; finding solutions to help the unbanked and underbanked who have suffered disproportionately during this pandemic; and supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing access to capital and credit on par with the access enjoyed by more affluent segments of our society,” said Richard Bynum, chief corporate responsibility officer for PNC. “We believe that our strategic focus on fostering economic empowerment, education and entrepreneurism in traditionally underserved populations and communities truly reflects the concerns of our communities and addresses each of these areas.”

“For over three decades, I have been fond of saying, ‘Banks are our neighborhoods’ best hope.’ The PNC plan directly responds to that hope,” said NCRC President and Founder John Taylor. “It will provide a much-needed influx of investment into critical programs that improve affordable housing, mortgage lending, small business development and economic development projects for low- and moderate-income people and neighborhoods coast-to-coast. This plan would have been impossible without the clear and unwavering commitment of PNC CEO Bill Demchak and other executive leadership at the bank, as well as the critical role our local community members played in our discussions with the bank.”

The Community Benefits Plan builds on PNC’s commitment to providing economic opportunity for all individuals and communities, including LMI and minority individuals and communities, as well as women, veterans and LGBTQ+ individuals and businesses. In addition, the Plan reflects PNC’s commitment to addressing systemic racism, promoting social justice and advancing diversity and inclusion, not just within PNC, but within the broader financial system and its communities.

In 2020 the PNC Board of Directors formed a Special Committee on Equity and Inclusion in order to provide oversight of these important issues. The Board’s Special Committee will also be responsible for oversight of PNC’s execution of the Plan.

PNC’s plan to better meet the needs of the unbanked and underbanked includes the addition of 20 new branches and 25 remote automated teller machines in LMI communities across PNC’s expanded footprint, and 10 mobile banking units primarily dedicated to servicing LMI communities. PNC also expects to increase its spending with diverse suppliers by at least 20% over the plan period.

PNC also plans to expand the reach of its innovative banking products and initiatives designed to meet the needs of LMI individuals, underserved communities and the elderly. This includes the company’s recent announcement of its groundbreaking Low Cash Mode℠ digital offering, which addresses the $17 billion that some studies estimate U.S. consumers pay each year in overdraft fees. Low Cash Mode℠ helps PNC’s Virtual Wallet® customers avoid overdraft fees and remain in the banking system through unprecedented account transparency and control to manage through low-cash moments or mis-timed payments. Low Cash Mode℠ launches nationwide in June and July. Pending regulatory approval and the anticipated close and conversion of BBVA USA customers to PNC’s systems later this year, it will be available to BBVA USA customers with Virtual Wallet accounts.

In addition, PNC will expand into its new BBVA USA geographies its SmartAccess and Foundation Checking accounts—two products that meet the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s Bank On national certification. Bank On’s 2021-2022 Standards require low cost, no overdraft, and full-functioning features. PNC is the only bank with two Bank On certified products.

“PNC is committed to continuing to reduce barriers to banking, increasing access to financial services and capital, and implementing financial solutions that position LMI and minority-owned businesses for effective growth, development, and sustainability,” Bynum said.

Under the Community Benefits Plan, PNC also will create a Community Advisory Council that will meet semi-annually to discuss the bank’s progress toward the goals and objectives of the plan, as well as emerging areas of community need. In addition, PNC will host an annual Community Leadership Symposium for members of the Council, key representatives of its member organizations and other invited guests to discuss broader developments affecting community development needs and how financial institutions, like PNC, can best help to meet those needs.

Finally, under the Plan, PNC will increase recruiting from historically Black colleges and universities while also exploring opportunities to increase its recruitment from higher education institutions primarily serving Latinx students.

PNC will use its best efforts to meet and, where possible, exceed the goals included in the Plan, assuming regulatory approval and consummation of the planned acquisition of BBVA USA.

In Nov. 2020, PNC and the Spanish financial group, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (NYSE and MAD: BBVA) announced a definitive agreement for PNC to acquire BBVA USA Bancshares, Inc., including its U.S. banking subsidiary, BBVA USA, headquartered in Houston, Texas, that operates 637 branches in Texas, Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Colorado and New Mexico. When combined with PNC’s existing footprint, the company will have a coast-to-coast franchise with a presence in 29 of the 30 largest markets in the U.S.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit www.pnc.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words such as “believe,” “plan,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “see,” “look,” “intend,” “outlook,” “project,” “forecast,” “estimate,” “goal,” “will,” “should” and other similar words and expressions, including, but not limited to, statements regarding the outlook for our future business and financial performance. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. We do not assume any duty and do not undertake to update forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are necessarily subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties, which change over time. There are important factors that could cause our actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements, including those under the Community Benefits Plan, to differ materially from the results, level of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements in this press release, including, but not limited to, future changes to our business strategy, performance of the U.S. economy, or changes to the laws and regulations affecting us, our customers and the U.S. economy (including, but not limited to, tax laws and regulations), risks and uncertainties related to the acquisition of BBVA USA Bancshares, Inc., including its U.S. banking subsidiary, BBVA USA, and the integration of the acquired business into PNC after closing, as well as the risks described in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020 and in our subsequent Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Thus, there can be no assurance that the Community Benefits Plan will achieve the results or outcome originally expected or anticipated by us. As a result, we caution against placing undue reliance on any forward-looking statements.

Meghan Markle adds children’s book author to her resume

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Meghan Markle smiling away from the camera wearing a tan sleeveless blazer

By Kerry Justich, Yahoo! Life

Meghan Markle is adding published author to her resume after writing a children’s book that’s set to be released on June 8.

The Duchess of Sussex’s secret project is titled The Bench, according to an announcement by Penguin Random House, and is about “the special bond between father and son — as seen through a mother’s eyes.” The story is inspired by the relationship between Markle’s husband Prince Harry and son Archie, who turns two years old on Thursday. The book is also illustrated by artist Christian Robinson.

“The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born,” Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, said in a statement. “That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens. My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.”

The book comes as a surprise after the couple signed a multi-year deal with Netflix to produce documentaries, feature films, scripted television series and children’s series last fall. But the move still makes sense for the soon-to-be mother-of-two who told Oprah that “the most important title I’ll ever have is mom.” Markle is even set to narrate the audiobook edition.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Life.

‘Ma Rainey’s’ hair and makeup team make history with Oscar win

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Viola Davis as Ma Rainey in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" standing in front of a microphone with her right arm in the air while she sings

MARK OLSEN, LA Times

The hair and makeup team behind “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, and Jamika Wilson — made history when they were nominated for the Oscar, with Neal and Wilson being the first Black people recognized in the category. Now they have made history again as that category’s winners.

The team transformed Viola Davis into 1920s blues singer Ma Rainey, who, in the Netflix adaptation of August Wilson’s celebrated play, is seen during the course of one day spent largely in a sweltering Chicago recording studio. There are precious few photographs of the real-life Ma Rainey, so the team had to extrapolate much of its work from additional research.

Creating a period-accurate horsehair wig and a makeup look that would run and smear just so as the story progressed, the team devised a look that was part glamour and part grit, moving from precisely pulled-together to deliriously disheveled

Neal created the wigs; Wilson, Davis’ longtime hairstylist, put them on the actress. As makeup artist Lopez-Rivera, who also has a long-running collaboration with Davis, said of the character’s makeup and overall look, including her sweat, in an interview with The Times, “It was applied precisely to look messy.”

In accepting the award, Neal spoke of her grandfather, who was a Tuskegee Airman, represented the U.S. in the first Pan-Am Games and graduated from Northwestern University yet was barred from a job as a teacher because he was Black.

“So I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, were denied but never gave up,” Neal said. “And I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future. Because I can picture Black trans women standing up here and Asian sisters and our Latina sisters and Indigenous women. And I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking, it will just be normal.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times.

Kimberly Godwin Named President of ABC News

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Headshot of Kimberly Godwin

The Walt Disney Co. has named Kimberly Godwin president of ABC News.

Godwin, a longtime producer and executive at CBS News, will become the first Black woman to lead a broadcast news division. She succeeds James Goldston, who stepped down as president of ABC News earlier this year.

Godwin will start at ABC in early May and report to Peter Rice, chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content.

A top deputy to CBS News president Susan Zirinsky, Godwin was most recently executive vp news at CBS, overseeing all newsgathering worldwide for the venerable broadcast news division. She also had oversight of newsrooms at all the CBS-owned and operated TV stations.

Godwin also stepped in as ep of the CBS Evening News, helping to launch the revamped newscast under anchor Norah O’Donnell. She also served as executive director for development and diversity at CBS News, and as a senior broadcast producer for the Evening News. Before joining CBS News in 2007, she spent more than 20 years working in local TV newsrooms across the country, including leadership roles at WCBS New York, KNBC Los Angeles and KXAS in Dallas.

“Kim is an instinctive and admired executive whose unique experiences, strengths and strategic vision made her the ideal choice to lead the outstanding team at ABC News and build on their incredible success,” said Rice in a statement announcing the hire. “Throughout Kim’s career in global news organizations and local newsrooms, she has distinguished herself as a fierce advocate for excellence, collaboration, inclusion and the vital role of accurate and transparent news reporting.”

“I have immense respect and admiration for ABC News,” added Godwin in a statement. “As the most trusted brand in news, they are to be commended for the extraordinary work and dedication of the journalists, producers, executives and their teams across the organization. I am honored to take on this stewardship and excited for what we will achieve together.”

Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter via ABC/ Heidi Gutman

Continue reading the full article at The Hollywood Reporter

Meet the Founder of a Thriving Black-Owned, Vegan-Friendly Beauty Brand

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Nynoka Grant facing the camera in a white shirt while holding up the packaging for one of her products

By Black News

Meet Nynoka Grant, founder and CEO of Akoyn Beauty, an Atlanta-based Black-owned company that manufactures vegan-friendly personal care specialty products that are especially for women. Their premium soaps, skin creams, and body butter are handmade from the finest all-natural ingredients. Now, more than ever, taking care of yourself and remaining stress-free is a priority.

Nynoka comments, “Women are indeed running the world, wielding political power but also facing unfair burdens during the global pandemic. Some women are working from home while homeschooling children. Others are essential workers. Women across the world are remaining indoors for safety reasons. Pandemic life is different, and everyone has adjusted. However, self-care is not optional.”
She continues, “This is not the time to abandon everyday beauty routines. Caring for your skin must be part of a twice-daily ritual, and the right all-over-body products can keep every inch of your skin nourished.”

Her company’s Hydrating Body Balm and Moisturizer help to improve and maintain skin tone and texture, naturally, without harsh ingredients. Aside from aesthetics, healthy skin signals overall health. Women must take time for themselves. Women are so bogged down with responsibilities, bath time may be the only private time, but caring for others requires that you make yourself a priority.

Nynoka says she wants every woman tasked with taking care of someone else to make themselves a priority. “You need to because they need you,” she says. “Our products are invigorating. Lift your spirits. Lavish your skin with much-needed attention. Refresh twice a day to experience softer, smoother skin, and enjoy the delicate signature fragrance you’ll be glad to call your own.”

Akoyn Beauty’s products are created for every skin complexion, skin tone, and skin type—dry skin and sensitive skin. Available in Elegant Lavender, Pink Cranberry, Tropical Fruit, and Minty Lime, these signature fragrances are designed and infused with essential oils to make women feel wonderful.

Click here to read the full article on Black News.

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