André Leon Talley, “One of the Last Great fashion Editors,” has died at 73

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André Leon Talley headshot

Posted on TMZ
A source with direct knowledge tells us Vogue’s former creative director and one-time editor-at-large passed away Tuesday at a hospital in White Plains, NY. It’s currently unclear exactly what he was battling in the hospital.

Talley was instrumental to Vogue’s vision and direction in the ’80s and ’90s, when he worked his way up the magazine ranks to eventually become the news director — which he helmed from ’83 to ’87 — and then ascended to Vogue’s creative director in ’88.

He held that post for a good 7 or so years, and before long … he was heading up all of Vogue as the EAL — with a slight break in between — until 2013, when he left the company. Even after his official departure, however, he continued to contribute to Vogue in varying capacities … including podcast appearances.

He will perhaps be best remembered as a trailblazer in the fashion world — not just for his stylish flair, but for his push to include more POC on the runway … specifically, Black models.

His work and career speak for themselves … and so has his consulting work elsewhere, including being a stylist for the Obamas at one point during Barack’s presidency, and even serving as a judge on ‘America’s Next Top Model’ … among many other notable achievements, like his ‘SATC’ cameo and frequent Wendy Williams chats.

Read the complete original article posted on TMZ.

Dr. Dre helps break ground on new Compton High School performing arts center

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Dr. Dre

By ABC 7

A performing arts center at Compton High School that’s being built with the help of music mogul Dr. Dre is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Compton native – who donated $10 million to the project – joined city and school leaders for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the first step in getting the center up and running.

The facility will include a 1,200-seat theater and will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.

“When I was approached about funding a performing arts center that would provide an arts and technological education to students and be accessible for the community at large, I was all in,” said Dr. Dre. “I wanted to give the young people of Compton something I never had.”

Dr. Dre – born Andre Young – grew up in Compton and first rose to fame as a member of NWA, whose debut album was titled “Straight Outta Compton.”

He later found success as a solo artist, producer and businessman.

The performing arts center will be the first new high school facility to be built in almost a decade in the greater Los Angeles area.

Compton High School is more than 100 years old.

“This is very historical for Compton,” said Compton Unified School District Board President Micah Ali.

Click here to read the full article on ABC 7.

Viola Davis on Hollywood: ‘You either have to be a Black version of a white ideal, or you have to be white’

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Viola Davis speaking to audience standing behind podium

By , The Guardian

Many of us had existential thoughts during lockdown, and assuaged them with new hobbies. We did thousand-piece puzzles. We crocheted and knitted. We learned new songs on our guitars, baked overzealously, and connected with our plantlife. For Viola Davis, knocking around in her $5m mansion in Toluca Lake, Los Angeles, it was writing, though the nature of it was less assuagement than staring into the coalface of an existential crisis. Who am I? What is my life supposed to mean? If this isn’t it – the Oscar winning, the formidable trail of accolades, the palatial bathrooms and saltwater pool – then what is?

“I lost my mind during the pandemic,” she tells me from her bedroom, dressed pre-photoshoot in a grey sweatshirt and loose woollen hat. “I just wandered around this house like Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” She laughs about it (she has a deep laugh and a deep, mighty voice inherited from her grandmother), but the memoir resulting from the time spent writing is anything but light. She has a story to tell, a gripping, emotive, at times spine-tingling story, with pathos and pain, triumph and redemption, setting a new benchmark for the celebrity confessional. Finding Me is a page-turner, written with narrative knowhow and stylistic competence.

Over a matter of months – interrupted by the filming of The First Lady, in which she plays Michelle Obama, and The Woman King, a historical drama set in the Kingdom of Dahomey (now southern Benin) in west Africa, both projects from her company JuVee Productions – she grappled on the page with the spectre of her poverty-stricken childhood and her subsequent thorny rise to the top, a place that turned out to be less comfortable than imagined.

“Whenever you’re still, whenever you’re quiet, whenever you put everything down, then everything in your life comes into full focus. It comes at you like a jackhammer,” she says of the big, Covid-induced pause. But it was not only the pandemic that led her to the blank screen. The crisis was already in process. “I think it’s been happening ever since my status started to rise,” she says. “When it first rises, it’s nothing but excitement, nothing but an understanding that this is a culmination of your hard work, your talent. You just feel like God has blessed you – I still feel that.

“And then it moves along: what no one tells you about being ‘on top’ is the minutiae of it, the cost of it, the pressure of it, the responsibility, and finally the disillusionment. You feel like you’ve found something you love to do and you’ve made it, your life’s all sewn up – and then you hit it, and it’s just a level of emptiness, of wondering what your life means, and then you crash and burn. I had to go back to the source and revisit my life, revisit my stories, to sort of catapult me into something so I could find home – find me. I’d been lost in it all.”

In 2016, with her Academy Award win for best supporting actress for her role in Fences, based on an August Wilson play, Viola Davis became the first African American to achieve the triple crown of an Oscar, Tony and Emmy for acting (the Tony was for a Broadway role in Wilson’s King Hedley II; the Emmy for the TV legal thriller How to Get Away With Murder). She is the most nominated Black woman in the history of the Academy Awards (she received nominations for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, another Wilson adaptation, as well as The Help and Doubt) and has been ranked in the top 10 of the New York Times’ list of the greatest actors of the 21st century. Her execution of her roles is both exacting and magnanimous, ever astute, possessing a haunting integrity that makes each character seem profoundly known, tangible and self-possessed.

The consummate humble artist, she deems fame and glory secondary to the work; she is modest about her trophies, and dismissive of efforts by her actor husband of almost 19 years, Julius Tennon, and their adopted daughter, Genesis, to splash them around the house. “If it were up to me all the awards would be in the garage,” she says. “I mean, it’s just not my style – it’s a bit too much. Listen, it’s not that I haven’t looked at the Oscar or whatever and thought: wow, that’s pretty awesome. I’m very grateful, but, you know, you can’t live there. Soon as you get it, you walk off the stage, you’re an Oscar winner, but then it’s like, and now what? And then you gotta go on to the next job, and start all over again with that impostor syndrome.”

Click here to read the full article on The Guardian.

Ironheart is Reportedly Looking to Cast a ‘Black, Latina or Afro-Latina’ Trans Woman

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Ironheart animated cartoon cover, iron heart is holding iron man while wearing casual street clothes

By Rebecca Kaplan, Movie Web

Marvel Studios is reportedly looking to cast a smart, confident transgender female character in the Disney+ series Ironheart. According to POC Culture, Marvel sent out a casting call for the upcoming series for a “Black, Latina or Afro-Latina transgender” actress between 18 and 22 years old. If the studio follows through with casting a trans actor, the Ironheart actress would be the fourth trans actor to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and third trans woman. Ironheart stars Dominique Thorne (Judas and the Black Messiah) as Riri Williams, as well as Anthony Ramos and Lyric Ross in yet-to-be-announced roles. In the comics, the character is a super genius by five years old and enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by 15 years old. After her best friend and father are killed in a drive-by shooting, Riri wants to protect her hometown and the ones she loves, so she reverse engineers Tony Stark’s Iron Man design to create her own suit of armor—the most advanced of its kind since Stark’s Iron Man designs themselves!

“One of the characters that will be introduced in the upcoming Ironheart Disney+ series is going to be a Black, Latina or Afro-Latina transgender character,” said POC Culture’s Ron Seoul-Oh. The publication’s report continued on, adding, “the character is portrayed as she/her, [who] is around 18-22 years old.”

The casting call for the character also describes her as “smart” and “confident,” “with a mystical bent and unique sense of humor,” adding that she is “unapologetically nerdy about things that excite her…even if they might be terrifying to others.” Although this casting description doesn’t point to any specific character from Marvel Comics, fans are excited about the prospect of a POC trans woman joining the cast of Ironheart.

There are also rumors the show is looking to cast an older non-binary actor for a major role and Marvel and Disney are considering making Riri bisexual.

This Would Not Be the First Trans Character in the MCU

After The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Chapek’s failure to oppose Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the company needs to earn back goodwill and trust with its LGBTQIA+ audiences. Even if it seems like shouldn’t be remarkable to see a trans actor on-screen, it still is. Not backing out on its recent promise to have more diversity and inclusion in its content—for example, by casting a Black, Latina or Afro-Latina transgender character in Ironheart—is a first step toward Disney showing it’s a true ally to the queer community.

Although it’s worth celebrating more trans representation on-screen in Ironheart, casting a trans female character in the Disney+ series wouldn’t be a first for Marvel, especially now the Netflix shows seem to be back into the canon with Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) appearing in the MCU. For example, trans actress Aneesh Sheth (The Walking Dead) played Gillian, a trans woman and Jessica Jones’ (Krysten Ritter) assistant in Jessica Jones Season 3. Notably, Gillian’s trans identity isn’t a plot point.

“There’s no narrative around her identity, which I think is wonderful because trans people exist in the world, and it’s not always about their [trans] narrative,” Sheth told iNews.

Click here to read the full article on Movie Web.

Instagram adds credits to ensure more Black creators are cited for their work

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Black Creators Cameryn Boyd and Alexis Michelle Adjei came up with a way for Instagram to address "inequity in the creator ecosystem."

By Randi Richardson, NBC News

Instagram announced Monday that it will introduce a special tag for professional accounts and influencers that ensures they receive credit for their content, an attempt to address complaints that Black users are not credited for starting trends or are shut out from profiting from them.

The tag is available to business and creator accounts, and comes on the heels of nationwide discussions and content strikes by Black content creators who pushed out viral posts saying they do not receive credit for their work.

Alexis Michelle Adjei, a data analyst, and Cameryn Boyd, an engineer, envisioned and created the label with these disparities and Black creators in mind, particularly that creators make a living off producing social media content and that Black creators should share equally in that, too, they said.

Adjei said, “Black creators and addressing that inequity in the creator ecosystem” was top-of-mind when developing the new feature.

Twice as many white influencers are making upward of $100,000 a year as are Black ones who are making similar content to similarly sized audiences, according to a study published in December by MSL, a communications company, and The Influencer League, an educational organization. The report also found a 29 percent pay gap between white creators and all creators of color.

“We want to ensure that as Black creators’ content is being distributed as it already is, they are getting the proper attribution so that they have the opportunity to get all of those growth and monetization and career-starting opportunities like their contemporaries are,” said Boyd, a Spelman College graduate. “It’s really critical, as we’re moving towards this new age where creators are so important and creators are really able to use their craft to support themselves in their lives, that Black creators are getting the same opportunity, as they’re already creating the content.”

Adjei and Boyd joined Meta in August 2020 before landing on the idea the following February. They worked on it with colleague Alexandra Zaoui, building it out together and pitching it across different teams at Instagram’s parent company, Meta, until eventually getting their own team, which prepared the feature to launch this week under the pair’s leadership.

Adjei, a Stanford University graduate, said the need for a formal credit was apparent, and it just took the right set of eyes at Meta to see it.

“I think we were just so close to the need that we were able to see and we kind of had that same situation of like, why doesn’t this exist? And then we went the next step of like, let’s make it exist.”

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Celebrate Black Women in Film With These 20 Classics

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4 black women in film movie covers

By , The Cut

There is something nourishing about seeing your realities reflected back onscreen. Multidimensional stories that don’t force you to settle for bits and pieces of yourself in characters who don’t experience the world like you do. Films that carefully and tenderly explore the interior lives of Black women and girls — our happiness and sadness, our friendships and romances, our varied relationships to our mental health and our bodies, our undoings and rebirths and all the messiness that comes with being human in a deeply imperfect world. While these kinds of stories have long been told, they’re rare and often underappreciated in mainstream Hollywood because, well, Hollywood.

Fortunately, there are resources that make finding dynamic stories much easier: Black Women Directors, an ever-growing digital library founded by Danielle A. Scruggs, spotlights Black women and nonbinary filmmakers across the diaspora. Maya Cade’s Black Film Archive is a growing register of Black films from 1915-1979. Transgender Media Portal features Black filmmakers, as well as other artists of color, with stories that center trans and queer people in front and behind the camera. And film festivals like Black Femme Supremacy, founded by Nia Hampton, are great for finding new stories and connecting with other film lovers.

While this curated watch list doesn’t scratch the surface of what’s out there, these 20 films centering Black girls and women are a great starting point of stories for us and by us.

Jinn (2018)

Photo: Orion Pictures Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection

Guided by filmmaker-writer Nijla Mu’min, this tender coming-of-age story set in the Crenshaw community of Los Angeles follows 17-year-old Summer (Zoë Renee) as she experiences first love, a deepening relationship with Islam, and the ups and downs of a mother and daughter’s clashing self-discovery.

I Like It Like That (1994)

Director Darnell Martin and lead Lauren Vélez are a union that continue to shine on screen almost 28 years later. If you’ve got a soft spot for seeing New York City on film — the stoop hangouts, confrontations in the bodega, ruminations on the train — then this tale of a fly working mom struggling and persevering in the Bronx will feel like a hug.

The Watermelon Woman (1996)

Filmmaker Cheryl Dunye wrote and starred in this seminal mockumentary that’s now a must-watch part of the queer-cinema canon. The story centers a filmmaker and video store clerk, who is also a Black lesbian in ’90s Philadelphia, as she searches for information about a mystery queer Black woman from a silent film. Expect a delightful dose of nostalgia — hello, video-store connections!

Abundance (2021)

Amber J. Phillips is a filmmaker and art director whose hilarious sharp cultural commentary “imagines a world where Black womanhood is an abundant overwhelming experience of safety, pleasure, and joy.” Her latest project, which she wrote, produced, and stars in, is a 31-minute meditation on identity divided into three parts — fat, angry, queer. Abundance is directed by Kym Allen, with cinematography by Sade Ndya.

Baldwin Beauty (2020)

This 11-minute gem of a short film follows Farrah (Raven Goodwin), a new-to-Los-Angeles hairstylist who makes a house call and meets a lively group of friends pregaming before an outing. The film was written and directed by Thembi Banks and was a 2019 Sundance selection.

Jezebel (2019)

A young woman (Tiffany Tenille) enters the realm of cam modeling with encouragement from her big sister, who works as a phone-sex operator. The film is inspired by the lived experience of writer-director-co-star Numa Perrier (hay, Black & Sexy fans!), and explores stepping into one’s womanhood and the realities of survival for two sisters as they simultaneously process grief.

Miss Juneteenth (2020)

Writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples honors the Fort Worth, Texas, community she was born and raised in with Miss Juneteenth. The film follows Turquoise (Nicole Beharie), a single mother and past Miss Juneteenth pageant winner, as she pushes through hard times and trying to establish her independence while dreaming big for her teen daughter (Alexis Chikaeze).

Pure (2021)

17-year-old Celeste (Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew) grapples with her queerness and the traditions of her affluent community on the eve of her cotillion. Writer-director Natalie Jasmine Harris, who brings the authenticity of a third-generation debutante, is currently adapting the short film into a feature-length script.

The 40-Year-Old Version (2020)

Photo: Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

Finding your groove at any age can be tough. Add in being an artist who is sensitive about your shit in an industry full of white nonsense, grieving a parent, a younger Brooklyn boo, and casually being roasted by NYC teens from your drama class, and whew! Radha Blank’s black-and-white dramedy — which she also wrote, produced, directed, and starred in — is a delight. Bonus incentive to watch: We get to see Blank rap-ping!

A Luv Tale (1999)

In 1999, Sidra Smith wrote, produced, and directed a film centered around a photographer (Gina Ravera) and a work-consumed magazine editor (Michele Lamar Richards) who find themselves increasingly drawn to each other. It’s a fun and sensual portrayal of romantic love between Black women, friendship, and taking a leap of faith in the name of love. Expect to see familiar faces like Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Ajai Sanders, and Angela Means.

Happy Birthday, Marsha! (2018)

A shining aspect of artist Tourmaline’s creative output is her archival work of Marsha P. (“Pay it no mind”) Johnson and her experimental film portraiture of Black trans and queer elders. In this short, which was co-directed by Sasha Wortzel and stars Mya Taylor as Marsha, viewers get to go back in time hours before the pioneer sparked the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992)

Filmmaker Leslie Harris’s tale of a high-school junior, Chantel (Ariyan A. Johnson), from Brooklyn with big dreams is a classic. The headstrong teen’s life plan is set: Graduate early, keep on the path to becoming a doctor, and leave the projects — but as life often reminds us, things rarely play out exactly how we envisioned it.

Click here to read the full article on The Cut.

These Afro-Latina Beauty Influencers Know How to Celebrate the Wonders of Black Beauty

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Black Beauty Influencer smiling at the camera ina. yellow tank top and light blue jeans. Behind her is a calendar on the wall and some post its

By ASHLEY JIMENEZ, PopSugar

Afro-Latinas are very much a part of the Black diaspora, yet there’s still a major lack of representation. Growing up, I rarely saw Afro-Latinas in television series, movies, books, or advertising campaigns. Although I recall seeing Afro-Cuban singers like Celia Cruz and La Lupe in music, there was still a massive part of the media counting us out. Pop culture consciously spoke to Latinas who saw themselves reflected in celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Mariah Carey. Although these A-listers are glamorous, respectfully, they do not represent the diversity of Black beauty within our community. They cater to Euro-centric beauty standards such as fair skin, light eyes, and straight hair.

Hence Afro-Latinos within the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Honduras, Panama, and Colombia, to name a few, are curating their own spaces. And this is especially true of the hair, makeup, and skin-care industries, where influencers and entrepreneurs are forging a representation path for those who identify with these experiences. Here, we collected the perspectives of Afro-Latinas who turn to Black women for inspiration and are honoring the African diaspora and embracing their Black beauty through their brands and the content they share on social media. Because, as Lulu Cordero points outs, “Our hair, skin, hips, etc., are a part of Black beauty.”

Alexa Dolmo
When Alexa Dolma came to Houston from Honduras, she did not see any representation of herself among the masses. The influencer identifies as Garifuna, a mix of African and Indigenous ancestry, mainly from the Caribbean coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Belize. Over the years, Dolma tells POPSUGAR, she’s grown to be more vocal and confident about celebrating her Afro-Latina roots on her page and Garifuna Bosses, the platform she created to represent and highlight other Garifuna women. Dolma has featured Black women like Kalifa Marin and Eunice Suazo, the founders of Tru3 B3llas, a hair-care brand that offers detangler brushes, edge controls, and bonnets. “I felt the need to do this because, as a blogger, I always came across pages that highlighted other bloggers, and I never saw one who did the same thing for my people,” she explains.

As a proud Black Latina, Dolma says she saw herself in the rom-com “Nappily Ever After” featuring Sanaa Lathan. Based on Trisha R. Thomas’s novel of the same name, the film illustrates the relationship between Black women and beauty standards imposed on them by society. “This movie shows that our hair is beautiful whether bald or full of coils,” the beauty influencer says.

Lulu Cordero
Lulu Cordero, the CEO of Bomba Curls, wasn’t always proud of her natural hair. Like many, growing up she heard the word pajón when people referenced her hair, but when she stepped into womanhood, Cordero decided to let go of the relaxer and embrace her natural texture. Being an Afro-Latina from the Dominican Republic, she always knew the beauty benefits of natural ingredients, and that’s how she decided to formulate her line of curly-hair products featuring fundamental formulas such as cafecito, rosemary, and more.

“Our hair, skin, hips, etc., are a part of Black beauty. These are all gifts from our ancestors, and by celebrating said gifts, I honor them,” says Cordero, who remembers watching Dorothy Dandridge in “Carmen Jones” as a pivotal moment in celebrating Black beauty and representation. The 1950s American musical features an all-Black cast and tells the story of a parachute-factory worker and an Army corporal. “I’d never seen anything like it before. Before that, I’d only seen Latino media, which has a history of erasing us.” Seeing the iconic Black actor sport a sultry red lip and epitomize retro glam gave the beauty entrepreneur hope.

Sherly Tavarez
Like many Afro-Latinx women, Sherly Tavarez grew up hearing the phrase pelo malo, which means “bad hair.” After years of chemically treating her gorgeous curls, the fashion stylist decided to design apparel to debunk the notion of “bad hair” once and for all. The Dominican blogger created Hause of Curls and is now known for her shirts and accessories that read “Pelo Malo Where?” and her feed that features diverse women within the natural hair community.

“My first time appreciating the beauty of my Afro-Latinidad was when I watched the Netflix series ‘Celia,'” Tavarez says. “It taught me about my background, roots, what it was like to be an Afro-Latina back in the day, and how much we have had to fight to be seen.” She adds: “Back when I was straightening my hair all of the time and honestly being a slave to my hair, I didn’t feel like my true self. I felt like I was celebrating a version of myself that other people told me to be. I didn’t even know what my natural hair looked like until I stopped applying heat and relaxing my hair. Now I celebrate by sharing my journey to natural hair with others and by building this community we have at Hause of Curls.”

Click here to read the full article on PopSugar.

Sidney Poitier, Oscar-winning actor and Hollywood’s first Black movie star, dies at 94

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Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier, whose elegant bearing and principled onscreen characters made him Hollywood’s first Black movie star and the first Black man to win the best actor Oscar, has died. He was 94.

Clint Watson, press secretary for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, confirmed to CNN that Poitier died Thursday evening.

Poitier overcame an impoverished background in the Bahamas and a thick island accent to rise to the top of his profession at a time when prominent roles for Black actors were rare. He won the Oscar for 1963’s “Lilies of the Field,” in which he played an itinerant laborer who helps a group of White nuns build a chapel.

Many of his best-known films explored racial tensions as Americans were grappling with social changes wrought by the civil rights movement. In 1967 alone, he appeared as a Philadelphia detective fighting bigotry in small-town Mississippi in “In the Heat of the Night” and a doctor who wins over his White fiancée’s skeptical parents in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

Poitier’s movies struggled for distribution in the South, and his choice of roles was limited to what White-run studios would produce. Racial taboos, for example, precluded him from most romantic parts. But his dignified roles helped audiences of the 1950s and 1960s envision Black people not just as servants but as doctors, teachers and detectives.

At the same time, as the lone Black leading man in 1960s Hollywood, he came under tremendous scrutiny. He was too often hailed as a noble symbol of his race and endured criticism from some Black people who said he had betrayed them by taking sanitized roles and pandering to Whites.

Read the complete article posted on CNN.

Cape Town bells to ring daily to honor Desmond Tutu

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Bells at the cathedral where Archbishop Desmond Tutu led marches and campaigns against South Africa’s apartheid will ring on five consecutive days to mourn his death.

Thabo Makgoba, the archbishop of Cape Town, announced that the bells of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral will ring for 10 minutes at midday for five days to mark Tutu’s death.

Tutu, the first Black archbishop of South Africa and a leader in the anti-apartheid movement, died on Sunday in Cape Town at the age of 90. His death was due to complications from cancer, which he had been diagnosed with in 1997.

“We ask all who hear the bells to pause their busy schedules for a moment in tribute to Archbishop Tutu,” Makgoba said, according to The Associated Press.

Tutu will lie in state at St. George’s Cathedral where the public will be allowed to walk past his coffin, reflecting the “simplicity with which he asked to be buried,” the Anglican Church of Southern Africa said.

Tutu’s funeral Mass will take place on Jan. 1 at 10 a.m. local time. The funeral will be led by Bishop Michael Nuttall, who served as the dean of the Anglican Church during Tutu’s time and was often referred to as “Number Two to Tutu.”

On Sunday, Cape Town’s city hall as well as Table Mountain, which overlooks the city, were lit up in purple, the color of Tutu’s clerical robes, in honor of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Numerous churches and cities across South Africa are planning events to commemorate Tutu and his work. Cape Town will be holding an interfaith memorial service on Wednesday and several dioceses across the country will be holding ecumenical services.

Read the complete article posted on The Hill.

Why Beyoncé and Jay-Z Are on Track to Make History at 2022 Oscars

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jay-z on track to make history at the oscars with beyonce

By Gabrielle Chung, NBC

It may just be Oscar gold everything for Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

The powerhouse couple is one step closer to becoming Oscar nominees after they were both named in the shortlist for the best original song category at the upcoming 94th Academy Awards. The list of 15 contenders, which was announced on Dec. 21, recognized Beyoncé’s “Be Alive” from “King Richard” and “Guns Go Bang,” Jay-Z’s collaboration with Kid Cudi, from “The Harder They Fall.”

If Beyoncé and Jay-Z are nominated, it will be the first time in Oscars history that a married couple will face off against one another in the same category, according to Variety and Billboard.

Other stars who landed on this year’s shortlist include Billie Eilish and Finneas for “No Time to Die” from the latest James Bond film of the same name; Lin-Manuel Miranda for “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto”; and Ariana Grande for “Just Look Up,” her collab with Kid Cudi from the “Don’t Look Up” soundtrack.

Last year’s winner H.E.R. also made the shortlist, as well as songwriter Diane Warren, who has been nominated 12 times in the best original song category without a single win.

Voting for nominations will take place between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1, and fans will see if Beyoncé and Jay-Z will make history when nominees are announced on Feb. 8. Queen Bey was previously shortlisted for “Spirit” from “The Lion King,” but neither she nor Jay-Z has been nominated for an Academy Award.

The 2022 Oscars shortlists come hot on the heels of news that Beyoncé and her three children with Jay-Z — Blue Ivy, 9, and 4-year-old twins Sir and Rumi — will be featured in a new theme song for her mother Tina Knowles’ upcoming Facebook Watch series, “Talks With Mama Tina.”

“I loved filming this show and sitting down with so many amazing people because we got to have such honest heartfelt conversations and I got to make them my famous GUMBO!” Tina shared alongside a trailer of the show. “Thank you to my baby @beyonce and my beautiful grand babies for making this special theme song for the show. Are you guys ready to watch?”

Click here to read the full article on NBC.

Michael Jordan and His Son Jeffrey Jordan Launch Heir Inc., an Entertainment and Tech Venture Geared Around Athletes

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Heir-Inc-Jeffrey-Jordan-Daniel-George-Jeron-Smith

By Todd Spangler, Variety

Michael Jordan and his son Jeffrey Jordan are looking to drive the six-time NBA champ’s legacy into the world of NFTs and next-generation entertainment.

The Jordans have launched Heir Inc., a new holding company that plans to build a consumer-facing community platform for athletes to connect with fans — as well as other lines of business, including an entertainment studio and consumer products. (“Heir,” of course, is a play on the Air Jordan brand at Nike.)

The company was co-founded by Jeffrey Jordan (above left) along with marketing exec Daniel George (above middle), founder of agency Limitless Creative, and Jeron Smith (above right), former CEO/co-founder of Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media.

Heir Inc.’s first tech product, called “Heir” (heir.app), is envisioned as a Web3 personalized community platform for athletes. For the Heir product, the startup closed a $10.6 million seed funding round led by Thrive Capital, marking the venture-capital firm’s foray into NFTs (and its largest seed investment ever). Investments also came from Solana Ventures, the investment arm of public blockchain platform Solana, along with angel investors including tech entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit), New York Knicks EVP and senior basketball adviser William Wesley and Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball.

Here’s how the founders say the Heir platform will work: Athletes will sell a limited number of membership-based “seats” to fans, who will get access to digital assets and first-person NFT drops, using an exclusive Heir token built on Solana’s energy-efficient blockchain network. (NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are used to verify ownership of unique digital content.) Supporters will have the opportunity to purchase one-time digital assets or join an athlete’s “huddle” for exclusive drops, digital goods, immersive experiences, and other perks.

“The Heir platform reimagines the creator-fan experience, to empower athletes to engage with their fans,” Jeffrey Jordan told Variety.

For now, the founders are mum on which athletes may be on board for the initial launch of Heir, slated for 2022. “We’re being very deliberate with our early-adopter athletes,” Jordan said, adding that Heir is aiming for “tier one” NBA and WNBA players and the next generation of rising stars in the NCAA.

Will MJ be on the Heir platform? It’s unclear. According to Jeffrey, “My dad is a strategic adviser and partner. We meet with him regularly, and he provides guidance and insightful ideas… When he was playing, he didn’t have the same tools to connect with his fanbase or monetize that.”

Alongside the three founders, Heir Inc.’s executive team includes VP of operations Briana Richardson, formerly business manager at Robinhood and consultant with Bain & Co.

The focus for Heir is on young stars like Lonzo Ball who appeal to Gen Z and millennial fans, according to Smith. “Individuals his age have grown up with social platforms,” he said. “This is the first step for athletes building their meta-brands in the metaverse/Web3 world.”

Heir will generate revenue from consumers purchasing memberships in an athlete’s “huddle.” Athletes will get an 80% cut of primary sales of NFTs and Heir Inc. will keep 20%; on subsequent sales the split is 50-50.

The idea is keep the Heir memberships scarce: The number of seats in a given “huddle” will be capped at about 0.5%-1% of an athlete’s existing social following, according to George. Once you hit the cap, “the only way to get in is if somebody sells you their seat,” he said. “The value of the huddle seat appreciates over time.”

Digital content from athletes on Heir will encompass multiple formats, ranging from exclusive behind-the-scenes videos to what they’ve watched on Netflix. Athletes also will be able to host live Q&As with their huddle members and post polls and quizzes. Fans who are highly engaged on the platform will be rewarded by unlocking digital goods.

Click here to read the full article on Variety.

Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega Is Using Art to Uplift Brown and Black Women

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Afro-Latinx Artist Reyna Noriega

By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Pop Sugar

In 2017, Afro-Latinx visual artist Reyna Noriega began her career as a full-time creator. Little did she know that in just a few short years, she would have over 100,000 followers on Instagram, would be working with huge brands like Apple and Old Navy, and would design a cover for The New Yorker. Born and raised in Miami to a first-generation Cuban father and a Bahamian mother, Noriega, who is best-known for her bold, vibrant, graphic work, was destined to be an artist.

“My father is also an artist, and I became interested early on in just the magic of it all, being able to bring ideas to life on paper and communicate in a universal language,” Noriega told POPSUGAR in a recent interview. “I was always the ‘sensitive kid’ feeling a lot and thinking a lot, so art and writing were great outlets for me to get all of that under control and to be able to process my emotions.”

Now, Noriega’s art is being seen on a much wider scale and impacting thousands of people who follow her on social media or see her art on city walls and T-shirts. To get there, she had to put in a lot of work, including studying and learning on her own, despite the fact that she took art classes throughout high school and minored in art in college. Using the help of books and YouTube, Noriega honed her skills and eventually left her job as a teacher, with the full support of her parents.

“I was very fortunate that my family believed in me and my ability to make my passion a career and even help me make it happen! To this day, my mom is the person that helps me run my online shop, and they encourage me to strive higher,” Noriega told us.

By 2019, Noriega started doing brand work, after getting comfortable with her style and what she wanted to represent as an artist. It gradually became easier for her to align herself with brands that had the same mission. She is currently working on Amex’s “Always Welcome” design collective launch, which will provide businesses with signage for their storefronts and indicate their stance on inclusivity.

“Honestly, every time I get an email, I am honored and humbled that my name enters rooms I never thought would. From companies whose products I used to save up for at one point, like Apple, to legendary publications like The New Yorker, or having thousands and thousands of people wear a shirt I designed with Old Navy. It really is a dream come true,” she said.

Ultimately, it was Noriega embracing her culture and her commitment to advocating for Black and brown people through her art that got her there. She says her Afro-Caribbean culture is what brings “vibrancy and flavor” to her art. But we think it’s so much more than that. With just a single glance, it’s obvious that Noriega’s background informs her work. Her use of color, the way she showcases the female form, the various complexions and skin tones she celebrates in her work, and the stunning, tropics-inspired botanical scenes she often creates speak to exactly who she is and where she comes from.

“Art has always been a place I look to boost my mood, museums, galleries, [and] learning about art history. But unfortunately in those spaces, rarely did I ever feel I belong, because my story wasn’t told on those walls, and in the rare occasion it was, it only highlighted the struggles and traumas,” she said. “I wanted to create work that would lift moods and raise the self-efficacy of Black and brown women with positive representation and vibrant depictions of joy.”

Noriega describes the art she creates with a tremendous amount of care and respect. Her mission is to create art that represents and uplifts communities that are often left out of the conversation. “I focus on women because as a woman, I know all of the challenges and barriers we face,” she said. “Inequalities in pay, harmful messaging on body image, the ongoing fight for body autonomy . . . it can be really exhausting. Add on to that the challenges being a BIPOC, and it just magnifies. My art is meant to celebrate women, inspire joy, and a reclamation of peace and rest.”

Noriega recognizes how important it is to not only amplify voices like hers but also to use her gifts and resources to speak up for people who don’t have the same advantages that she does. Even as a Black Latina, she’s cognizant of the privileges she has and the responsibility associated with them. “For me personally, I often look at my identities as a privilege, which pushes me to amplify Black voices even more. I am all too aware of the advantages I have received being a Latina in Miami, and even being ethnically Caribbean, although my race is Black,” she said. “Being able to say where your lineage comes from is a privilege many Black Americans don’t have. I have been unfairly judged and treated and had some very hurtful comments said to me, but I must also be aware of how my skin tone provides privileges, how my heritage provides privileges, and how knowing more than one language is a privilege.” And in recognizing that, she’s able to leverage her position to empower others in really visible ways.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

Colin Powell, military leader and first Black US secretary of state, dies after complications from Covid-19

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Colin Powell, military leader and first Black US secretary of state

By Devan Cole, CNN

Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership in several Republican administrations helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, has died from complications from Covid-19, his family said on Facebook.

He was 84.

“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19,” the Powell family wrote on Facebook, noting he was fully vaccinated.
A source familiar with the matter said Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response. Even if fully vaccinated against Covid-19, those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk from the virus.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States. But his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush’s first secretary of state, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a “blot” on his record.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

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