THE WEEKND DONATES $1 MIL FOR 2 MILLION MEALS … To Help Ethiopians

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A headshot of the weeknd from a concert of his with the WFP logo next to him

By TMZ

The Weeknd is getting involved with the military conflict in Ethiopia — donating a million dollars, which will provide food for people who need it there.

The singer, who is of Ethiopian descent himself, partnered with World Food Program USA — a UN World Food Programme affiliate — to send over a million bucks toward relief efforts in the North African country … which has been mired with bloodshed and chaos for months. Specifically, Abel’s money will provide the equivalent of 2 million meals for citizens there who have been caught in the middle of the feuding factions … many of whom are running out of resources, like food.

TW says, “My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction.” He goes on to encourage others who can to donate as well.

If you haven’t heard, Ethiopia has been embroiled in a bitter battle with its own people since November — when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an attack on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — the ruling party in the northern part of the region.

Click here to read the full article on TMZ!

Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page ‘lands his next big role as actor is set to star and executive produce the reboot of the 1997 Val Kilmer film The Saint’

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New role: Bridgerton's Regé-Jean Page is set to star in reboot of the 1997 Val Kilmer film The Saint after reportedly landing a role in the project

By Sam Baker, Daily Mail

He rose to fame as one of the stars in Netflix’s hit period show Bridgerton. And according to reports, Regé-Jean Page has landed his next major role in the reimagination of the 1997 film The Saint, which originally featured Val Kilmer in the lead role. The 31-year-old Bridgerton star is set to both star in and executive produce the reboot of the film, according to Deadline.

Although no specific details about the plot have been released at this stage, the project is set to be part-based on Leslie Charteris’ 1920s book series, and the following TV series in the 1960s starring Sir Roger Moore.

The Saint focuses on a character named Simon Templar, who goes by the alias of The Saint, in a modern-day Robin Hood-style figure.

The character is known to leave a calling card at the scene of wherever he strikes, in the form of a stick man – which was used as the cover of the original books.

Deadline claim the reboot will be a fresh take on the classic character.

MailOnline has approached representatives of Regé-Jean for comment.

Earlier this year, the actor claimed he was ‘not at all’ nervous about leaving Bridgerton.

The actor announced his departure from the Netflix hit in April, much to the shock of viewers, but told Variety in May how his character was only meant to be in one season.

When asked if he was nervous about leaving the role of Simon Basset the Duke of Hastings behind, he said: ‘Not at all, because that’s what was meant.

‘Simon was this bomb of a one-season antagonist, to be reformed and to find his true self through Daphne.

‘I think one of the bravest things about the romance genre is allowing people a happy ending.’

Regé-Jean added that after his announcement was made public he made sure to keep his phone ‘across the room’ so he didn’t have to see their reaction immediately.

He also compared leaving the raunchy period drama to graduating from High School, saying he was ‘afraid of the unknown’ and not making good friends like he did on the Bridgerton set, but has since learned otherwise.

Click here to read the full article on Daily Mail.

Zendaya Responds to Space Jam 2 Lola Bunny Redesign Controversy

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Zendaya, shares her thoughts on the unexpected controversy surrounding the redesign of her character, Lola Bunny

BY Michelle Mehrtens, Screen Rant

Space Jam: A New Legacy star, Zendaya, shares her thoughts on the unexpected controversy surrounding the redesign of her character, Lola Bunny. The original 1996 comedy was a live-action/animated hybrid that starred basketball icon, Michael Jordan. In the film, he joins a basketball team led by the Looney Tunes in order to help them win a game against a group of nefarious aliens. It was a blockbuster hit, earning over $250 million worldwide and spawning a beloved following that has endured since its initial release. The highly anticipated upcoming sequel follows basketball champion, LeBron James, as he tries to save his son, Dom (Cedric Joe), from the Warner 3000 Server-Verse. To do this, he teams up with Looney Tunes favorites, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Lola Bunny, who has become a member of the Amazons.

During production of Space Jam 2, director Malcolm D. Lee decided to rework the character design of Lola Bunny after finalizing the ensemble cast. In prior interviews, he shared his surprise when he first watched Space Jam, explaining his unease when he witnessed the sexual objectification of Lola Bunny. As a result, Lee focused on adding greater depth to her character by emphasizing her skills as an athlete and leader. He also sought to remove any type of unnecessary sexualization when it came to her animation design. However, when EW released its first look cover of the Space Jam 2 cast a few months ago, many online commenters reacted negatively to the change in Lola Bunny’s appearance.

While speaking to EW, Zendaya responded to the online disputes regarding Lola Bunny’s redesign. Acknowledging her personal admiration of the character, she recognized the ways in which Lola has left her mark on the Space Jam universe. Read what Zendaya said below:

“I didn’t know that was going to happen either! I definitely know we love her, but I didn’t know it was going to be as much of a focus as it was. But I understand, because she’s a lovable character. She’s very important, so I get it.”

In his own interview with EW, Lee described his disbelief when he saw the online fervor about Lola Bunny. He added, “I had no idea that people would be that up in arms about a bunny not having boobs.” As Lee noted, it was important for him that Space Jam 2 highlighted Lola’s personal and professional evolution without reducing her to an object. He explained that he hoped young female viewers would admire Lola and her abilities as a basketball player. Moreover, the director reached out to Zendaya for the role because he respected her business acumen and confidence, which he believed were similar attributes embodied by Lola.

Click here to read the full article on Screen Rant.

Impacting the Next Generation

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By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

It would be hard in 2021 to not recognize the name or face of award-winning actor Michael B. Jordan. He is particularly known for his film portrayals of shooting victim Oscar Grant in the 2013 drama Fruitvale Station, boxer Adonis “Donnie” Creed in the Creed films (an offshoot of the classic Rocky franchise), as well as Erik Killmonger in 2018’s record-shattering Black Panther, all three of which were directed by Ryan Coogler. He also recently starred in (and helped produce) Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, an action thriller digitally released on Amazon’s Prime Video service in April. His upcoming film, A Journal for Jordan, is based on a memoir of the same name, directed by veteran actor Denzel Washington and co-produced by Jordan’s company, Outlier Society Productions. It’s expected to release this December. Jordan has also been recognized as a style icon, one of Time 100’s most influential people of 2020, and is People Magazine’s current ‘Sexiest Man Alive.’

A Model for the Movement
For this continuously rising star,

Actor Michael B. Jordan attends 'Prossima Fermata Fruitvale Station' photocall at hotel Bernini
ROME, ITALY – MARCH 06: Actor Michael B. Jordan attends ‘Prossima Fermata Fruitvale Station’ photocall at hotel Bernini. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
everything he does is about so much more than the fame and the accolades. “I love mentorship. The next generation, they’re the future. They’re the key to everything. They’re supposed to be better than us,” Jordan shared with Black EOE Journal. “So, trying to groom the next batch of talent of humans across the board, not just in the arts, but just across the board, I think is really important. The fellowship program, the Outliers Fellowship program, [is something] I am really excited about.”

The program is an internship and mentorship initiative that Jordan announced during Black History Month last year during the Obama Foundation’s MBK (My Brother’s Keeper) Rising! event. The Outlier Fellowship provides access, community and opportunity to underrepresented LA youth entering arts, media and entertainment.

However, Jordan and his Outlier Society are raising the stakes in their efforts towards a more diverse and inclusive industry. Along with the fellowship program, Outlier Society can also boast itself as one of the few media companies to adopt the inclusion rider. The inclusion rider is a contract attached (by a star or company) to a film or television contract stating that the project’s production team must take steps to recruit and hire both cast and crew members from historically underrepresented groups. For Jordan, though, this is less a boast than an obvious step in the right direction. “You just got to do it. You can’t overcomplicate it,” he said of what’s needed to see less disparity and more inclusion in media and entertainment, both in front of and behind the camera.

“As the producer, I chose…” he shared about one of his more recent projects, “There’s also a lot of vehicles for talent that may not have gotten all of the swings that I’ve gotten or opportunities in certain roles or certain genres. Being able to create around talent is something that I’ve always been interested in doing and am looking forward to doing more of in the future.”

Jordan’s impact has also been evident in his hometown of Newark, N.J. where he’s supported Audible’s charity, Newark Working Kitchens, an organization he’s proud to say served “over one million meals this past year…” He also launched the “Hoop Dreams Classic,” an HBCU College Basketball Showcase in Newark last year at the Prudential Center. Furthermore, he surprised students in his hometown at both at his alma mater, Newark Arts High School, last year and at Barringer High School. His Barringer High visit was part of the Coach Foundation’s involvement in The Future Project, which puts professional directors into high schools around the country to offer inspiration and guidance to students dreaming of careers in the arts.

Strategic and Intentional

Michael B. Jordan, Kendrick Sampson and others participate in the Hollywood talent agencies march to support Black Lives Matter protests
Michael B. Jordan, Kendrick Sampson and others participate in the Hollywood talent agencies march to support Black Lives Matter protests on June 06, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Michael B. Jordan is not afraid to stand for those things he believes to be right, even in the face of adversity. For years, he has been quite outspoken on the causes and issues he feels most strongly about, even getting political by joining protests, like his participation in the “Big 4” Hollywood talent agencies march to support Black Lives Matter in June 2020 as well as being a part of movements to encourage voting and support voting rights. “Everybody has their part they have to play…I’m very strategic. I plan. I think things through. I try not to emotionally react to certain things. You also got to know the business that you’re in and how to move on certain issues and how to actually get real movement. Timing is everything.”

Unfortunately, there are many who believe that celebrities and influencers should not participate in such activities or speak on issues outside of their industry. ‘We’re here to be entertained, not preached to,’ is a common sentiment that many netizens share. What is Jordan’s response to that?
“‘Shut up and entertain?’ That’s never going to be me,” he said, “I’m not the guy that talks just to talk or is loud for the sake of being loud. The things I do, and how I do it, all has a purpose, and I don’t need the credit for everything that I’m doing either, so I try to move and make impact the best way I know how. Sometimes that’s not always aesthetically pleasing to the masses, but bigger picture and behind closed doors, I try to make an impact the best way I know how for the long game, and not just for the quick fix until people become distracted again and try to move on to the next thing.”

Working with a Mission
There’s a clear trend in the types of films Jordan has chosen to

Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan and Andy Serkis winners of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for 'Black Panther
(L-R) Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan and Andy Serkis winners of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for ‘Black Panther,’ pose in the Winner’s Gallery during the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium. (Photo by Terence Patrick/Getty Images for Turner)
produce, direct and star in. From Fruitvale Station to Black Panther to 61st Street, the television series he is executive producing for AMC, slated to premier next year, about a promising young black athlete embroiled in the corrupt Chicago criminal justice system. There’s a criterion to the types of work he wants to do. “It usually has to say something. It has to mean something. I know every movie won’t be a Fruitvale Station or a Just Mercy,” he shared. “I like a lot of different types of movies and genres and I want my career, when you look back at it to be a reflection of that, eclectic and diverse.”

Eclectic and diverse are perfect descriptors of his repertoire from sci-fi fantasy, comic book franchises, action thrillers, dramas, romances and sports films to soap operas, biopics, crime TV and even voice overs in children’s shows.

According to Michael, he wants to do work he won’t regret. “I want to look back on it and be really proud…it’s got to make an impact no matter what it is, and [I want to] have fun doing it.” He has a strategy “of doing a bigger film and then do a smaller film and kind of have that balance of being able to do these intimate smaller films and still being able to do a movie that’s bigger, more commercial and sort of broader. If you look back at some of the work that I’ve done, it’s kind of played in both those spaces. As an actor, you play a part in a bigger machine. As a producer, you have a few more hats. As a director, you’re telling a story from your perspective and telling a story that you’re trying to say. As I’ve gotten older, [I’m] just being very selective with pushing my career forward.”

Focused on the Future

Actors Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan attend Warner Bros. Pictures Invites You to
Actors Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan attend Warner Bros. Pictures Invites You to “The Big Picture,” an Exclusive Presentation Highlighting the Summer of 2015 and Beyond at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners.(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon)

Jordan has much to look forward to in his personal and professional future. He is set to make his directorial debut next year, taking the helm for Creed III. Having had the opportunity to work with other great directors such as Denzel Washington, Ryan Coogler and Sylvester Stallone, who directed four out of the six original Rocky movies that the Creed franchise is based on, Jordan has been able to take what he’s learned and apply it to his own ingenuity and experience.

“Getting wisdom and gems from the generation before me is always a great thing,” said Jordan, “I think just watching Ryan [Coogler] from the beginning. Fruitvale Station was the first time I saw somebody who really looked like me close to my age that was directing a movie. Writing and directing, it was crazy. He kind of really showed me that it was possible. Now, watching him go through it, being so close to the process (the development process), seeing all the meetings he’s gone to, and all the steps to it. Also, observing Sly [Stallone] and how he did it. What was that formula like? What were the responsibilities of directing in that type of way? He’s also somebody who starred and directed himself, what was that process like? And for me, learning from every director I’ve work with and collaborated with. Imagining myself doing it: ‘In that situation, I would be doing what?’ OK, cool. That’s question I’ve got to answer. I’ve got to know about this; I’ve got to know about that. I’ve been doing that for a long time, and I finally got to the point now where I feel confident in what I’m about to do in the story I’m telling.”

And he’s already considering how to pay the knowledge, and the torch of success, forward. “I’ve been extremely blessed, so to be able to take my blessings, opportunities, situations that I’ve been able to learn from and grow from and be able to pass that forward to the next generation is something that’s always excited me. It’s always been the answer in a lot of ways.”

For Jordan, the future is about assessing the best ways to address the issues that face our society so that those who follow can live in a better world. “Trying to find, ‘What’s the solution; how do we get better; how do we grow as a people?’ and all those things,” he said about his focus, mindset, and approach to his work. “Our time on this Earth is short. To make it count, to learn as much as you can and pass those experiences on to make somebody else’s life a little bit easier — that’s the approach that I’ve been on.”

How Taraji P. Henson Honored Tina Turner, Diana Ross and More Black Women at 2021 BET Awards

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BET Awards host Taraji P. Hensen posed in front of the camera while wearing a blue dress

By Zach Seemayer‍, WKYC

After a high-energy opening performance featuring Kirk Franklin and Lil Baby, Henson took the stage in a stylish gold ensemble that was a clear tribute to Diana Ross. “It’s 2021, and we are celebrating the year of the Black woman,” Henson declared with a smile. “Celebrating Black women isn’t a fad or a trend it’s a forever mood.”

“There is more than enough room for all of us to thrive, because can’t nobody be me like me and can’t nobody be you like you,” she continued, before having roses handed out to a number of women in the room, including Zendaya, Jazmine Sullivan, Isa Rae and “Queen” Maxine Waters. She also used the opening to tease that she’d be coming out throughout the night dressed as “some of my favorite women” and hinted that she’d be honoring some female Black icons over the course of the show.

Henson didn’t disappoint with her fashion tributes, donning various ensembles throughout the show that honored and celebrated the styles and looks of some groundbreaking artists. She donned a burgundy velvet ensemble and dark shades while sitting behind a drum set to pay her respects to H.E.R. Later — while giving a lesson on the history of twerking — she donned a little black dress and short, curly ‘do as a tribute to Ester Jones — the Black entertainer who is credited for inspiring the legendary cartoon character Betty Boop.

Click here to read the full article on WKYC.

Little Mermaid Set Photos Reveal Halle Bailey In Ariel’s Iconic Burlap Look

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Disney's live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid show Halle Bailey recreate an iconic Ariel

BY ABIGAIL ONG-PIZARRO, SCREEN RANT

New set photos from Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid show Halle Bailey recreate an iconic Ariel scene from the 1989 animated classic. The upcoming movie is the latest live-action remake of a beloved Disney film following Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, and Mulan. In an exciting step forward for the company, Grown-ish star and singer Bailey was chosen to play the lead role of Ariel. Other The Little Mermaid cast members include Javier Bardem as King Triton and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula.

The Little Mermaid is currently in the middle of production in Sardinia, Italy after many months of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. Previous set images seem to confirm the live-action reboot will make several updates to the animated movie. While filming the shipwreck scene, Bailey was spotted wearing a full wetsuit instead of a sea-shell bikini top. The Little Mermaid actress also showed off a new hairdo for Ariel, trading in the character’s bright red and wavy look for braids. However, new photos from the filming location reveal Disney is also keen on keeping some of the character’s distinct looks as well.

New pictures from the set have surfaced, showing Bailey recreating a key scene in The Little Mermaid. Obtained by Just Jared, they reveal the 21-year-old actress wearing Ariel’s iconic makeshift burlap dress in the photos. Bailey’s hair also seems to be more clearly dyed in a reddish shade than what’s been noticeable in past photos. The images look to be from the scene when the mermaid princess finally gets her legs and surfaces from the water. She hides herself by making a dress out of scrap fabric she found on the shore. It’s also the moment when she meets Prince Eric for the first time. Check out the set photos below:

In the cartoon, Prince Eric whisks Ariel off to his castle after this first encounter. However, the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid seems to deviate from this narrative. Bailey was snapped hitching a ride on the back of a local villager’s wagon. One picture shows the actress peeking from a blanket to peer at the seaside townspeople.

These contrasts to the 1989 animated film prove Disney intends to give the new Little Mermaid a major update. Audiences can likely expect relevant social themes will be subtly injected into the remake to make it more contemporary. However, it’s hard to tell if these changes will pay off to make a blockbuster hit. The studio has tried changes with previous remakes like Mulan, which only drew the ire of Disney loyalists for its decision to omit the popular character Mushu, for example. The Little Mermaid certainly has big shoes to fill as the original movie was a huge success and went on to usher in the Disney renaissance of the ’90s. Hopefully, the live-action adaptation finds the perfect way to modernize the classic tale without losing the magic of its past.

Click here to read the full article on Screen Rant.

Will Smith To Go Full Wordsmith With New Memoir

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Will Smith smiling away from the camera

, Huffpost

While the Smith family typically leaves most things for the Red Table, Will Smith has apparently saved a few juicy stories for himself over the years. The two-time Academy Award nominee announced the release of his new memoir, “Will,” on Instagram Saturday, revealing that his first book is due to hit shelves Nov. 9. “I know this is weird but this is my book,” the actor, using a Pixar-style Instagram filter, shared in a video over the weekend, as he showed off the memoir’s vibrant cover. “It’s been a labor of love. I’ve been working on it for the past two years and it’s finally ready.”

While fans are likely already familiar with some of the actor’s backstory, the “brave and inspiring book” will dive deep into his rise from a Philadelphia teen to global superstar and chronicle the highs and lows of his trailblazing and decades-spanning career.

Smith first broke onto the scene as part of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince in the late ’80s, ultimately picking up a couple of Grammy Awards along the way.

After making his mark with the iconic sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Smith went on to conquer the big screen and fronted a string of box-office hits, including “Bad Boys,” “Men in Black,” “Hitch” and “Independence Day.”

“In ‘Will,’ one of the most dynamic and globally-recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, tracing his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, ‘Will’ tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had,” Penguin Press said in a press release.

Click here to read the full article on Huffpost.

Biden signs bill into law making Juneteenth a national holiday

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President Joe Biden speaks during an event to mark the passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris stands at left.

Originally posted on CNN

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law legislation establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday is the first federal holiday established since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983 and becomes at least the eleventh federal holiday recognized by the US federal government.

The US Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday that most federal employees will observe the holiday on Friday since Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Only a handful of states currently observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

The legislation, which was passed by Congress on Wednesday, gained momentum following Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last year. It was also spurred after Democrats won the White House and control of the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

The bill passed the House on Wednesday with a 415-14 vote after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation the day before.

The bill had bipartisan sponsors that included Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

Lee told reporters ahead of the final passage of the bill, “what I see here today is racial divide crumbling, being crushed this day under a momentous vote that brings together people who understand the value of freedom.”

Read the full article on CNN

Photo Credit: CNN

Pharrell joins Chanel to launch mentorship program for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs

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Pharrell standing in a vintage mickey mouse shirt smiling away from the camera

By 

Pharrell Williams is helping Black and Latinx entrepreneurs with his latest initiative. The two-part program — a collaboration between Chanel and his Black Ambition nonprofit organization — will specifically work toward providing emerging businessmen with “access to knowledge, insights and opportunities from industry-leading experts,” per The Hollywood Reporter.

In part one of the initiative, which is titled “Women Who Lead,” Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief, Samira Nasr, moderated a panel that saw Tracee Ellis Ross, Medley co-founder Edith Cooper, Good American CEO Emma Grede and Natalie Massenet, who is the co-founder and partner of Imaginary Ventures, discuss resilience and determination, the importance of clarity of vision and more.

The second part of the program is a series of mentorship workshops. Members will have access to Chanel’s network of experts, who will teach them about the process of launching and sustaining a brand among other things.

“Chanel’s support of Black Ambition is a cornerstone of Black Ambition’s mission and is vital to the success of the next generation of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs,” said Williams. He also noted the brand’s “commitment to investing in human potential and advancing greater representation in culture and society.”

”You may have a great business idea, but that doesn’t mean you know how to run a business,” he added in a statement to Vanity Fair.

“Even when you have a great business plan, you might not find the right operators. [The mentorship program] teaches you all of those things. Success really does have a lot of authors. Usually when you say, ‘Success has a lot of authors,’ it’s a dig at people who didn’t do something but are taking the credit. In this particular sense, when it comes to running a business, success does have a lot of authors — there are a lot of signatures needed to cosign to get a brand new idea off the ground.”

Click here to read the full article on Revolt.

George Floyd’s friends have turned their pain into action in the year since his murder

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George Floyd painted mural and speakers talking to news stations on a podium

By Christina Maxouris, CNN

The day after George Floyd’s funeral, Jonathan Veal drove from Houston and back to his Oklahoma City home still grappling with what had happened: his close friend — a brother, really — was killed by a Minneapolis police officer and the brutal video of his last moments had been viewed by millions.

The last time the two had spoken was just several months earlier, in January, when Floyd reached out to say happy birthday. They reminisced over their time playing basketball and football for Houston’s Jack Yates High School. Floyd told Veal about the new life he was setting up in Minneapolis, his efforts to become economically stable and provide for his family and shared that his faith had grown stronger.

At the end of the conversation, Floyd signed off: “With love from 88 to 42” — their old jersey numbers.Veal and Floyd had been a lot more than teammates. They had become family. Alongside their other good friends Vaughn

Dickerson, Jerald Moore and Herbert Mouton, they had spent most of every day together growing up and never lost touch. And now Floyd was gone. Knowing they shared his pain, Veal reached out to his three friends and they began communicating every day — texting, calling, supporting each other, sharing pictures.

“But then, we were like, ‘OK, what do we do?’ We could find a level of closure but also, we could keep the legacy of our friend,” Veal said. “So that’s how 88 C.H.U.M.P. came about.”
The four men say they created the 88 C.H.U.M.P. nonprofit organization — Floyd’s jersey number and an acronym which stands for ‘Communities Helping Underprivileged Minorities Progress’ — as a way to keep Floyd’s legacy alive and address some of the challenges that the community they grew up in, Houston’s Third Ward, has faced for decades. They’ve launched initiatives to tackle systemic inequities, police brutality and opportunities for the inner city youth, among other efforts.
“We understand this is going to be a daunting task,” Veal said. “But we’re committed to it because Floyd gave that much to us.”
But the four weren’t the only ones galvanized by their friend’s killing. Across Houston, others who say they were lucky to know Floyd, the neighborhood’s “gentle giant,” have taken on new efforts in the past year pushing for change in his honor.

‘Blood brothers’
Dickerson, who still lives in Houston, said he had been thinking about creating an organization like 88 C.H.U.M.P. for nearly two decades. He finally shared it with Veal, Moore and Mouton after Floyd’s killing.
“We refuse to let one of our blood brothers from a different mother go out like that,” Dickerson said. “I know he’d be doing it for us, without a doubt.”

Immediately, the four hit the ground running, focusing initially on the November 2020 elections by conducting voter education and registration drives, including events in partnership with the Houston Texans — and helping residents of Houston’s Third Ward community make it to the polls on Election Day.

They set up conversations between the Third Ward community and the local police department. Over the summer, Veal said, 88 C.H.U.M.P. facilitated several dialogues in partnership with Houston police and the group plan to start another round of those conversations this summer.

But perhaps one of their biggest focal points has been the youth.

“We’re trying to actively get more kids involved with after-school programs such as computer literacy, teaching them how to write essays, math, social studies, science,” Dickerson said. “This is what’s needed for these inner-city youths to keep them active. If they don’t have no parks to go to, no boys and girls clubs, no after-school activities, what do you expect, they’re going to get in trouble.”

The group told CNN they’re hoping to set up scholarships for local high school students in Floyd’s honor and create programs that would introduce young adults to professionals and opportunities across different fields.
“It’s just something that we feel like we have to do,” Mouton said. “We have to keep (Floyd’s) name alive and we have to push these initiatives in his honor.”

Finally, 88 C.H.U.M.P. plans to kick off a fundraiser this month for a new football field in the high school they used to play for, a field they say hasn’t changed much in the past three decades.
Ultimately, the organization exists to help level the playing field for underserved communities, Veal said. It’s a long road ahead, he says, but one they’re willing to walk.

“There’s going to be a lot of emotions that come along with that, good, bad, ugly,” he said. “It’s worth it. It’s going to be difficult work, but it’s going to be worthwhile work, rewarding work.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

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.

Billy Porter Breaks a 14-Year Silence: “This Is What HIV-Positive Looks Like Now”

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Billy Porter in a black and white photo posed to the side looking at his right hand

BY BILLY PORTER, AS TOLD TO LACEY ROSE, The Hollywood Reporter

Billy Porter takes a long deep breath. “I have to start in 2007,” he says, having settled in across the table. He’s here, at Little Owl in the West Village, to get something off his chest — something that’s been shrouded in secrecy so long, he can barely remember life before.

“In June of that year,” he continues, a ball of nerves, even if the performer in him refuses to let on, “I was diagnosed HIV-positive.” In the 14 years since, the Emmy-winning star of Pose has told next to no one, fearing marginalization and retaliation in an industry that hasn’t always been kind to him. Instead, the 51-year-old, who has cultivated a fervent fan base in recent years on the basis of his talent and authenticity, says he’s been using Pray Tell, his HIV-positive character on the FX series, as his proxy. “I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate,” he reveals, acknowledging that nobody involved with the show had any idea he was drawing from his own life.

Now, as the Peabody Award-winning series, a ball-scene drama set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, concludes its third and final season, Porter is preparing for what’s next. There’s a memoir, over which he’s agonized and blown deadlines, set for later this year; a Netflix documentary about his life, which will keep him in business with Pose co-creator Ryan Murphy; a 2021 take on Cinderella, in which he’ll play the fairy godmother; a directorial debut; a host of new music; and much, much more.

But the Broadway-trained actor, who is an Oscar shy of an EGOT, isn’t interested in entering the next phase of his life and career with the shame that’s trailed him for more than a decade. So, with Murphy by his side for support, and a cadre of documentary cameras hovering above, Porter tells his story. An edited version follows.

Having lived through the plague, my question was always, “Why was I spared? Why am I living?”

Well, I’m living so that I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that was here, and I stand on their shoulders. I can be who I am in this space, at this time, because of the legacy that they left for me. So it’s time to put my big boy pants on and talk.

Click here to read the full article on the Hollywood Reporter.

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.

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