After winning the award for Best Dance/Electronic Music Album, Beyoncé now holds the all-time record for most GRAMMY wins. While George Solti had previously held that incredible honor, Queen Bey has now overtaken the classical conductor thanks in part to her powerful 2022 record, RENAISSANCE. With 32 GRAMMY awards now in her trophy case — and the potential to add even more still to come this evening — the mega-star produced yet Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
another unequaled GRAMMYs moment. The record-tying award came early in the ceremony — so early in fact that Beyoncé had yet to arrive. The GRAMMY for Best R&B Song was instead accepted on her behalf, the legendary Nile Rodgers sharing his story of “CUFF IT” and offering words of thanks. In fact, prior to this year’s ceremony even beginning, Beyoncé had already marked another record: tying her own husband, Jay-Z, as the most nominated artists in GRAMMY history.
When time came for the record-setting GRAMMY win, Beyoncé herself was present, arriving to the stage to a standing ovation and an immeasurable wash of applause. After thanking God and her family, she was sure to highlight a group that made a special impact on this record.
“I’d like to thank the queer community,” she smiled, crediting the early voices in the dance and electronic realm as well as her uncle Jonny, who inspired RENAISSANCE. In host Trevor Noah’s eyes, the conversation about who is considered the GOAT to be over, Beyoncé’s legacy is far from finished.
Read the complete article and more about the GRAMMY’s here.
The philanthropic couple will receive the public service honor at the ceremony on Feb. 25.
Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade will receive the President’s Award at the 54th NAACP Image Awards, the NAACP and BET recently announced.
The honor, recognizing notable achievement and valued public service, will be handed out at the ceremony airing live on Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. ET on BET.
Previous honorees include Muhammad Ali, Colin Powell, Soledad O’Brien, Condoleezza Rice, LeBron James, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
“We’re thrilled to present this award to Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade who together have consistently utilized their platforms to advance social justice and raise awareness to the inequalities existing in our country,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. “We’re proud to recognize the couple’s tireless humanitarian work as they continue to advocate for equality and acceptance for all.”
“Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade are exemplary in their purpose-driven leadership and use of their collective platforms for good,” said Scott Mills, President & CEO, BET. “This year’s recipients of the NAACP President’s Award are not just a timely signifier of the issues that matter most to the community; they are a testament to what is possible when one commits themselves to advancement in those areas. It is a great honor for BET to join the NAACP to amplify these issues and celebrate the leaders doing the work to drive change in our community.”
As a couple, through their Wade Family Foundation, ex-NBA star Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union-Wade have been at the forefront of providing relief to marginalized communities in need, helping to advance racial justice and LGBTQ equality. The activist couple has been particularly visible on matters of LGBTQ support helping raise money for the nonprofit GLSEN, which is dedicated to ending bullying and discrimination in schools.
On an individual level, Gabrielle Union-Wade has provided support and backed various causes including the Van Ness Recovery House, Leap for Ladies, Out Nebraska, Deborah’s Place, Harvest House, and Baltimore Safe Haven. In addition to financial contributions, Gabrielle is focused on using her platform as a public figure to bring awareness to the work these organizations and others are doing to support underrepresented communities.
Celebrated Organizations Join Forces for New Initiative Supporting Young Black Members of the Music Community in Nashville, TN
LOS ANGELES (February 21, 2023) – The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) proudly announced today a new partnership to launch, sustain and support “OnRamp,” a guaranteed income program for 20 young, Black members of the music community, including artists and industry professionals, in Nashville, Tennessee. The OnRamp program, focused on improving inclusivity and equity within Music City, aims to empower the next generation of leaders in the early stages of their careers by granting access to professional development opportunities, community mentorship, and other opportunities to increase personal growth, industry exposure, exclusive Academy membership panels and tentpole live events, and visibility with Academy Board members and industry leaders. Additionally, through the program, each participant will receive a $1,000 monthly stipend for one year.
OnRamp applications will be available starting in late Spring with the program starting in June, in celebration of Black Music Month and to commemorate the Black Music Action Coalition’s third anniversary. Interested candidates can visit acmcountry.com/onramp today to sign up for email notifications when applications are rolled out.
“It speaks volumes for the Black Music Action Coalition and the Academy of Country Music to join forces to launch a guaranteed income program in Nashville for emerging Black artists and young professionals. I applaud Damon Whiteside, the ACM Board and the Level Up team for sharing our vision and becoming true partners with BMAC on a direct impact solution that will begin to address long standing racial inequalities that exist in this country,” said Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, co-founder/co-chair Black Music Action Coalition.
“The Academy has a rich history of fostering diversity and inclusion in the Country Music industry both on stage and behind-the-scenes, and we see this partnership as a particularly impactful way to continue our committed work to making the statement ‘Country Music is for Everyone’ a true reality,” said ACM CEO Damon Whiteside. “We’re excited to work with BMAC on this pivotal and transformative work for our Nashville community by increasing opportunities for young professionals from diverse backgrounds in our industry.”
“When the Academy created the LEVel Up rising leaders program, we asked them to find the most meaningful and impactful ways to welcome people into country music, regardless of who or where they are,” said Board Chair Chuck Aly. “The Academy is proud to support OnRamp and we call on our industry friends and partners to join us in advancing this endeavor and working toward a broader, more successful and more diverse country music business.”
“I’ve seen firsthand over the past year the commitment and passion of the ACM LEVel Up rising leaders cohort, and I commend the Academy and BMAC for coming together on this exciting new program,” said ACM DEI Task Force Chair and ACM Board Member Shannon Sanders. “It’s my pleasure to stand alongside other industry leaders to support this important program, especially during Black History Month. The Academy continues to play a pivotal role in ushering in a new era in Country Music by truly supporting and lifting up those underrepresented in the industry.”
This inaugural program will initially be funded by the Black Music Action Coalition, the Academy of Country Music, and industry partners, and powered by social impact agency BreatheWithMe. The organizations are encouraging corporations and companies operating in Nashville and beyond to make a financial contribution to OnRamp as a means of powering their future equity and inclusion programs. OnRamp is one of many guaranteed income programs BMAC will be announcing throughout the year.
Playing an active role in guiding the OnRamp program and bringing it to life will be the members of the ACM LEVel Up: Lift Every Voice program’s 2022 cohort. ACM LEVel Up is a widely-heralded, Nashville-based professional development and enrichment program for rising leaders in Country Music, funded entirely by the Academy of Country Music at no cost to participants. The two-year curriculum is designed to empower participants to play a pivotal role in expanding the horizons of Country Music into new audiences that transcend demographics and geography. In December 2022, the Academy announced the program’s 2023 cohort, representing an entirely new and unduplicated list of organizations from the 2022 inaugural class.
Last June, Black Music Action Coalition released a report, Three Chords & The ACTUAL Truth, which documented opportunities for improvement in Black representation and participation in the Country Music space. The report called for Music Row, the city of Nashville and its companies, organizations and individuals committed to change and equity to partner with BMAC in a transformational program for Black artists in Nashville. The Academy of Country Music is amongst the first industry leaders to recognize and help facilitate necessary changes within the music community.
The Academy of Country Music has always proudly stood, throughout its almost 60-year history, as a progressive, welcoming organization for all, including an active, community-leading commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion stretching across all facets of the industry. In its mission statement, the Academy’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative affirms a relentless commitment to creating a more inclusive environment for underrepresented groups, encompassing but not limited to, Black, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, LatinX and Women in the Country Music industry, from the boardroom to the stage.
For more information regarding the Black Music Action Coalition, please visit bmacoalition.org. For more information on the Academy of Country Music, please visit acmcountry.com. Further details about the ACM’s LEVel Up: Lift Every Voice program is available at acmcountry.com/levelup.
About Black Music Action Coalition
The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) endeavors to uphold and actualize the mission of Black Lives Matter in the music industry and reach racial justice not just across labels, publishers, agencies, distributors, and DSP’s but throughout society at large. BMAC works together with leaders from various business leaders to hold their companies accountable and implement a system of checks and balances to ensure change takes root. The group fosters and shepherds various educational, mental health, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, policing, social justice, and political causes that directly impact Black communities.
About the Academy of Country Music
Founded in Southern California in 1964 as a regional trade organization, the ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC(ACM) has grown in the almost-60 years since into a leading association for the Country Music industry. Now headquartered in Nashville, TN and boasting record-high membership of more than 4,900 nationwide, the Academy serves as a powerhouse advocate for Country fans, artists, and all facets of the business, as well as a supporter of philanthropic work through charitable partner ACM LIFTING LIVES, dedicated to improving lives through the power of music and providing aid in times of need, with a focus on health initiatives. 2023 looks to be another monumental year for the Academy with the ACM Awards, the first major awards show to livestream exclusively, returning to Texas on May 11 and streaming live for a global audience on Prime Video. For more information, log onto ACMcountry.com or ACMLiftingLives.org.
“Oh my God! I wrote this book to honor the 6-year-old Viola, to honor her life, her joy, her trauma, everything,” Davis began in her acceptance speech. “And it has just been such a journey. I just EGOT!”
She continued to thank “everybody who was a part of my story, and the best chapter yet, my loves [husband Julius Tennon and 12-year-old daughter Genesis]. You are my life and my joy, the best chapter in my book. Thank you!”
Fellow EGOT winner Jennifer Hudson celebrated the accomplishment on Twitter, sharing a video of Davis’ speech. “Hold the line!!!!!!! Viola Davis just became EGOT #18!!! Omg @violadavis U are absolutely everything! Congratulations to a living LEGEND. Time to celebrate!!!” she wrote.
The Woman King star’s journey to EGOT status began in 2001 when she won best featured actress in a play at the 55th Tony Awards for her performance as Tonya in Broadway’s King Hedley II. She was previously nominated in the same category for Seven Guitars in 1996.
In 2010, she won best leading actress in a play for her role of Rose Maxson in Fences, which also earned her first Academy Award in 2017 for Best Supporting Actress in the play’s feature adaptation.
Read the complete article originally posted on People.
Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Bianca Kea was acutely aware that outside of her family, there were no other Afro-Latinxs that looked like her. No one she could relate to or look up to. But that all changed when she moved to New York City.
“Moving to New York City was such an eye-opening experience,” she recalls. “And it was the first time somebody actually identified me as Afro-Latina — I had never heard the term before, and I was able to learn about my heritage, my history as an Afro-Mexicana.” Her experience — the realization and recognition of being Afro-Latina, of being both Black and Mexican, and not feeling like she had to choose one or the other — led to her launching Yo Soy AfroLatina, an online platform and lifestyle brand that celebrates “Afro-Latinidad in the Americas and validates our hermanas’ experience.” It was born out of not seeing herself represented and wanting to create something that would not only make an impact on the culture, but also cultivate a community. “We all have different experiences — we’re not a monolith — and it’s important for people to understand what it means to be at the intersection of two beautiful cultures,” Kea says. “I hope we’re able to break down stereotypes, empower people, and allow them to be Afro-Latina. Just be yourself.”
That’s why Refinery29 is partnering with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple to produce Valiente Y Fuerte — a video campaign designed to amplify the voices of Latinx creatives like Kea who inspire us every day. Watch the video above for more information about Yo Soy AfroLatina — and how Kea is turning her passion into a legacy.
Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.
Chance the Rapper is not holding back when it comes speaking about the benefits of prioritizing mental health.
In a new interview with Taraji P. Henson and her best friend Tracie Jade on Facebook Watch’s Peace of Mind with Taraji, the rapper opened up about dealing with the “dark days” of his mental health and how it inspired him to fight for better mental health services in Black communities.
“I think Black men are naturally guarded,” he said when asked about the pressure many Black men face to “man up” and not show their emotions. “You kind of have to be [because] your weakness is preyed upon. So, I think it’s a defense mechanism. You go to a funeral, like, you kind of don’t want to cry. You know what I mean? You don’t want to subject yourself to the feeling of like, that weakness, of like, you know, it just takes a lot to be cathartic, to cry, to empty yourself.”
“I saw my friend killed in front of me when I was 19,” he continued. “I’ve seen people I didn’t know get killed too, and you become kind of like numb to it. Somebody else died last week. But it stays with you, you know what I mean? And you don’t realize until later [that] it could have lasting effects.”
It was these types of discoveries that led him to donate $1 million in 2019 to mental health services in his hometown of Chicago through SocialWorks, his nonprofit organization.
“A couple of years ago, I, for the first time experienced a friend, somebody that I knew from growing up, that was having a mental health crisis,” he said. “His family and his friends had exhausted their efforts over years and years of trying to help. I didn’t really know that much about this stuff. There’s probably a ton of situations where people, you know, we just wrote them off as like, ‘crazy,’ or like, ‘they was tweaking.’ But they were actually going through a chronic mental health disorder.”
After realizing “the kind of care” his friend needed “wasn’t available in the city” for those who can’t afford it, he decided to team up with local advocates to help build the change.
“We basically found every possible mental health initiative within the city of Chicago, and then within Cook County, and then eventually through the entire state of Illinois,” he explained. “[We] created this app that allows people to get in contact, whether it’s an in-person meeting or tele-health, with a mental health service provider, and get the help that they need, instantly from their phone. And it’s free.”
While Chance acknowledges it’s great that celebrities are starting to drive the message that “health is beyond just our physical state,” he argues that equal access to mental health services isn’t going to happen until those in power, particularly “our lawmakers and the billion-dollar companies,” rise to meet the community’s need.
“We’re talented people, but we’re not the people that make the big decisions,” he said. “We’re not the people that write the biggest checks. Those kind of things have to happen.”
Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Life.
Angela Bassett won the Golden Globe award Tuesday for her performance as Queen Ramonda in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” making the 64-year-old the first actor ever to win a major individual acting award for a movie based on Marvel Comics.
The evening marked Bassett’s second win (and second nomination) at the Globes; she took home the trophy for best actress in a musical or comedy for 1993’s Tina Turner biopic “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”
“I got to find my words. I’m so nervous. My heart is just beating,” Bassett began, taking the stage to accept the award. “The late Tony Morrison said that your life is already a miracle of chance just waiting for you to order its destiny. But in order for that destiny to manifest, I think that it requires courage to have faith. It requires patience, as we just heard. And it requires a true sense of yourself. It’s not easy because the past is circuitous and it has many unexpected detours, but, by the grace of God, I stand here. I stand here grateful.”
Bassett took the space to thank her husband, fellow actor Courtney B. Vance, her family and her Marvel collaborators, “Wakanda Forever” director Ryan Coogler, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Kevin Feige and Louis D’Esposito. Bassett also acknowledged the death of “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in 2020. Boseman’s death casts a shadow over the plot of “Wakanda Forever.”
“We embarked on this journey together with love. We mourned, we loved, we healed. We were surrounded each and every day by the light and the spirit of Chadwick Boseman,” Bassett said. “We have joy in knowing that with this historic ‘Black Panther’ series, it is a part of his legacy that he helped to lead us. We showed the world what Black unity, leadership and love looks like, behind and in front of the camera. To the Marvel fans, thank you for embracing these characters and showing us so much love.”
Backstage, Bassett was characteristically composed as she was asked if she had any hesitation about attending the show given the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s recent controversary over the lack of Black members in the press organization.
“The HFPA has made strides,” Bassett said. “They know what needs to be done.”
Prior to Bassett’s win for “Wakanda Forever,” only four actors, and no women, had even been nominated for a Golden Globe for acting in a superhero movie: Nominees Ryan Reynolds for 2016’s “Deadpool” (actor in musical/comedy) and Jack Nicholson for 1989’s “Batman” (actor in musical/comedy), as well as winners Joaquin Phoenix for 2019’s “Joker” (actor in drama) and Heath Ledger for 2008’s “The Dark Knight” (supporting actor). Phoenix and Ledger, who both played variations on the DC Comics villain the Joker, were the major winners in their respective years across awards season, taking home the SAG Awards and the Oscars as well (Ledger’s wins were posthumous).
This isn’t the first time Bassett has earned a top award for playing Queen Ramonda, however: She was also part of the group of actors from 2018’s “Black Panther” who won best ensemble at the SAG Awards.
Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell knows how it feels to be the only Black dancer in the dressing room.
“Everyone was friendly, but it was a lonely feeling that nobody looked like me,” says the former star of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, recalling her first dance job 30 years ago, with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
“So when it came to styling my hair, I couldn’t rely on anyone to help advise me. There were so many little things like that.”
Throughout the concert-dance world, dancers of color have often shared that sense of isolation and difference. But in recent months, some significant appointments offer hope of change. In March, Fisher-Harrell began leading the company where she once felt so alone. As the new artistic director of Hubbard Street, a widely respected contemporary troupe founded by Broadway dancer Lou Conte, she is one of very few Black women heading traditionally White-led dance organizations.
Fisher-Harrell, who most recently had been teaching at Towson University and the Baltimore School for the Arts, made changes quickly at Hubbard Street. She hired four dancers of color, bringing the total at the 14-member company to six dancers.
Three more Black women have recently assumed dance leadership roles, in front-office moves that are rare in the dance world. Each has led a distinguished performance career in premiere companies on international stages followed by years as dance educators.
Endalyn Taylor is the new dean of the dance school at the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. A former leading ballerina of Dance Theatre of Harlem, an original cast member of “The Lion King” and “Aida” on Broadway, and a dance professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Taylor succeeds former American Ballet Theatre principal Susan Jaffe.
Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post.
Prime Universal Network, a division of Prime Local TV Network, Inc., has signed a distribution agreement with international manufacturer, Hisense, and their content platform VIDAA. They will place Prime Universal Network’s positive content TV App onto 140 million currently purchased televisions and an additional 30+ million new televisions annually.
Prime Universal Network’s content platform called – The Positive People Platform, came into existence in 2018 after Rodney and Holly Harris began their search for positive and uplifting human interest stories being showcased on a consistent basis.
The Positive People Platform offers only positive content produced by the couple and other content producers, with a variety of short stories, sports, documentaries, and events. Their platform showcases the positive and unique experiences of ordinary people.
Mission – To change the negative narrative and misunderstanding that positive content means boring. Positive can be and is exciting, interesting, and informative. Our world already has enough negative content.
History – How did they get started in media? Born in the Akron/Canton region of Ohio, they began covering their hometown hero, LeBron James, when he played with both Cleveland/Miami NBA teams. They also covered most of his NBA Finals games.
For as long as Twitter’s been around, every Thursday night, the timeline is flooded with tweets cursing Shonda Rhimes’ name, usually, for something devastating that’s happened on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Even though she hasn’t been the showrunner of “Grey’s” for a few years, she will forever be linked to the hugely successful, 17-season-long (and counting!) medical drama. But Rhimes has done plenty of other things in her career, including writing two films and a memoir.
Rhimes, who now lives in Los Angeles, is so dedicated to her home city that she gets Chicago deep-dish pizza flown in every Christmas Eve, she told Food & Wine in 2017. Her favorite comes from Illinois restaurant chain Aurelio’s, she told the publication.
She’s the youngest of six kids — two older brothers and three older sisters. While growing up in University Park, she shared a room with one of her sisters, Sandie, she wrote in her book, “Year of Yes.” Both of her parents were educators.
Rhimes earned her BA from Dartmouth College.
Much like her own creation Meredith Grey, Rhimes graduated from Dartmouth College. She even cameoed as herself in fellow Dartmouth grad Mindy Kaling’s show “The Mindy Project,” when she attended a Dartmouth alumni beer pong game. After Dartmouth, she earned her MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1994.
Read ten more interesting facts about Shonda Rhimes at Insider.
Zendaya made history in 2020 when she became the youngest woman — and only the second Black woman (after Viola Davis) — to win in the lead drama actress category at the age of 24. Now, with the 2022 Emmy nods out, Zendaya, has made history yet again as the youngest producer to be nominated for an award after Euphoria’s Outstanding Drama Series nod. Zendaya serves as both a star and executive producer on the series.
The general drama series nod comes as she received three other nominations for her role as Rue Bennett in the HBO drama. She was, once again, nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series and also received two nods for Outstanding Original Music for both “Elliot’s Song” with Dominic Fike, and”I’m Tired” with Labrinth.
In the Lead Actress category, she faces off against Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, Ozark‘s Laura Linney, Yellowjackets’ Melanie Lynskey, and Morning Show‘s Reese Witherspoon.
Meanwhile, Euphoria is nominated for the Outstanding Drama Series category against Better Call Saul, Ozark, Severance, Squid Game, Stranger Things, Succession, and Yellowjackets. (Squid Game is the first non-English-language series to be nominated for the prize.)
The list of “firsts” doesn’t end there for the Oakland-born star. With her nominations, she’s also the first Black woman (and only second Black person) to receive both songwriting and acting nods in the same year.
More history could be made next year by Zendaya as she revealed in a recent interview with Vogue Italia that not only does she want to direct, but she “probably” will direct a future episode of Euphoria. “I was supposed to direct Episode 6 [of Season 2], but then I had to act in it,” she said in the interview. “I didn’t have enough time, so, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to this time around. I wanted to have enough time to do it the right way, so next season probably.”
Click here to read the full article on the Rolling Stone.
You’d have to go pretty far and wide to meet someone who doesn’t know the name Cedric the Entertainer.
Born Cedric Antonio Kyles, the multihyphenate comedian, producer, entrepreneur, host and actor has been a recognizable face in entertainment for almost 30 years. Many recall Cedric from his time as a former host of BET’s ComicView and Def Comedy Jam in the 90s. Others will remember him for his co-starring role in the hit sitcom on WB The Steve Harvey Show, next to fellow comedian and friend Steve Harvey.
However, most fans hear his name and immediately think of the sensation that was The Original Kings of Comedy tour and video in 2000 where he performed beside fellow legends Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and the late Bernie Mac.
No matter how you know his name, face or signature laugh, Cedric the Entertainer is always guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of his audience. He has hosted talk shows, led game shows and even recorded comedic interludes on rap albums: one triple platinum (Jay Z’s The Blueprint), one quadruple platinum (Ye’s Late Registration) and one certified diamond album (Nelly’s Country Grammar). For over 20 years, he has appeared in numerous movies (such as the Barbershop, Madagascar and Ice Age franchises) and television shows, including his current hit The Neighborhood, recently renewed for its fifth season and produced by Cedric’s production company, A Bird and a Bear Ent., which he manages with his longtime partner Eric Roan.
What’s kept him going all these years?
The constant inspiration from fellow artists. “Now, I’m just motivated continually to do great work,” Cedric shared with Black EOE Journal. “We had so many new creators that came on the scene and are doing great things to where I feel like, now, there’s heavy competition all around and great, and you just want to be a part of the conversation.” He’s talking about writers adding culture and depth to the conversation like Ava Duvernay, Lena Waithe and Kenya Barris. He also referenced fellow comedian creators like Kevin Hart. “You just want to keep leveling up,” he said. “That’s why I stay busy and stay at it and stay motivated. I’m actually just excited that the energy is…moving forward and not slowing down…”
And Cedric hasn’t slowed down either.
Building an Empire
From lead comedian at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner to Broadway to host of this past year’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, he is always finding ways to bring joy through his work.
Along with The Neighborhood, his company also produces two shows on the Bounce TV network that are about relevant issues and stories, particularly in the Black community: Johnson, a show that follows the lives of four Black men in their 30s navigating the trials of everyday life. They are childhood friends and happen to have the same last name… Johnson. The other program is a dramedy called Finding Happy about a Black woman working in the Atlanta radio industry, played by comedian and actor B. Simone, who, with the help of some friends, decides on her 36th birthday to make a decision to change her stagnant life and find her own happiness.
According to Cedric, “I guess as far as what has changed [over the years], I feel like so many creators are gaining more and more control of their brands and their ideas that they want to see and do and that becomes even more motivating… the fact that your creativity doesn’t have to be limited to a group of producers, creators or networks that have no idea what you’re about and what your people want to see. Now there’s just a wide array of opportunities.” He also commented on the emergence of new streaming networks and platforms, both large-scale like Netflix, and smaller ones such as those started by social media influencers and content creators from underrepresented backgrounds.
“The networks have to up their game because the streamers are so hot,” he shared. “It opens up the playing field for diversity all across the board. When you think about it, across the cultural diaspora that we have in this country, it just gives great opportunity to see shows and people from different cultures which really allows all of us to grow…and, of course, it’s forced the major institutional networks to have to change up because they’re now getting left behind. So now that gives an opportunity for so many other people to create.”
Along with his creativity on the screen and stage, Cedric the Entertainer is also an ardent businessman. He released his own line of hats a few years ago in his signature style called Who Ced?. “I loved hats from very early on in my career. I had a couple of images when I started to do comedy, and one of them was of my grandfather wearing his fedora. I thought it was cool to do when I was on stage, so I started rocking them and eventually I wanted to expand my brand.” The line was intended to be an inexpensive, everyday wear accessory. However, they’ve recently undergone a rebrand and will soon be launching a new line called Egg & Butter, which will feature hats that are more upscale and Italian-made. Visit eggandbutter.com to sign up for the mailing list for news of the official launch date. He also debuted another business in January of this year, a 100 point, three-time gold medal-winning, two-time Best in Class red blend wine he named after his mother. According to Cedric, “I partnered with Smith and Devereux winery in Napa [Valley]. It’s called Zetta.
My mother’s name was Rosetta. It’s a Napa Valley blend red, beautiful wine. You can go to smithdevereux.com and get a case, get a bottle. It launched on her birthday, January 4.” 10 percent of all profits are donated to the RedRoseReads Foundation to support literacy programs throughout the U.S.
But that’s not all he’s working on. “I’m sure I’ve got a hundred other businesses. I stay busy. I’ve got a very cool thing called Fan Room (fanroomlive.com) that I do which is kind of like an online green room situation where celebrities meet their fans in a virtual environment, and they sit and talk, and they chill with them in the Fan Room. It’s pretty cool. That’s been growing. We started that over the pandemic.”
Always Giving Back
What may surprise many isn’t that Cedric the Entertainer gives back. It’s how many ways and through how many organizations. For example, there’s the Cedric “The Entertainer” Charitable Foundation scholarship that he started in 1996 for high school students in partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).
“My mother was an educator, a reading specialist,” he said. “She passed a few years ago, but she instilled in my sister and myself this idea of philanthropy, to be able to help give back to help those less fortunate. I started that with an educational program mainly for kids who grew up in single parent households who needed a little help to go to college… partnered with UNCF…partnered with my alma mater Southeast Missouri State University as well as any HBCUs. We’ve been doing that since ‘96, helping kids go to college. We deemed that very important.”
But that’s not all.
“From there, when my mom got ill, [my sister and I] really got involved in women’s health issues. We started a women’s health pavilion in St. Louis, Mo. at St. Mary’s Hospital in her name, the Rosetta Boyce Kyles Women’s Pavilion that deals with all kinds of women’s health issues from athletics for young students to cancer to the heart to just getting people rides to the hospital. That initiative has been something we’ve done for about six years. Of course, I’ve worked with the American Diabetes [Association] because my dad deals with diabetes. So, we did the neuropathy campaign, really trying to get especially Black males to go get checked out; something we don’t do in our culture. We always try to man it out and tough it out and don’t realize these are things we can actually fix and prevent if we got a heads up soon enough.”
Long May He Reign
Cedric the Entertainer’s good work is never done, and we’re thankful for that.
His commitment to making a difference in the world through charity and philanthropy is admirable, but one can’t forget his work with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to help mentor a new generation of voices in media and entertainment.
“My work with the Academy is all about improving the minority participation in this industry, especially coming in at the internship level and giving people the opportunity to be here, to be working and be involved with these shows.”
Cedric has been an outspoken supporter of diversity and inclusion in American society as well as a champion of racial and social equity. “It’s very important. You need a group of people that’s truly and completely about advocacy…We do need people who are all about the advocacy; they’ve got to stay and make people accountable, to show that we’re necessary and worthy of all the stuff we’re asking for.”
But what’s next for The Entertainer?
Anything. Maybe even music?
“I’m a person who likes to write songs. I write little songs and jingles quite a bit.
I haven’t really introduced my music, so I guess people will come to find that out soon,” he told Black EOE Journal. “I haven’t really ever [shown that]. I do them for jokes, but I haven’t really shown some of the sincere stuff that I do.” Well, we’re excited to see what the future holds. Hearing about any new projects Cedric has up his sleeves will surely be sweet music to our ears.
As noted, WWE NXT held another live event last night in Orlando, Florida, headlined by Bron Breakker successfully defending his NXT Championship against Tony D’Angelo. Elsewhere on the card, the leader of Toxic Attraction, Mandy Rose, defeated Ivy Nile to retain her NXT Women’s Title, and The Creed Brothers defeated Joe Gacy and a member of the DYAD to retain their Tag Team Titles.
But one of the biggest stories coming out of the show isn’t about the in-ring action at all. Fresh WWE NXT talent Ava Raine, the real-life daughter of The Rock that signed with WWE in February 2020, cut her first promo at last night’s event. She was presented as a heel to the audience as she talked down to Cora Jade and the rest of the NXT women’s locker room.
Raine also revealed what her nickname will be going forward and it’s possibly a nod to a recent horror film. Raine, a fan of cinema influenced by the supernatural, apparent by the many references to “The Craft” (1996) on her social media, was referring to herself as “The Final Girl” during her in-ring promo. The film, “The Final Girls” was a horror/comedy film released in 2015 that first debuted at the SXSW Film Festival before receiving a wider release in the United States later that Fall. The premise of the movie sees the protagonist, Max, along with her group of friends, getting trapped inside a B-horror film where they must use the tropes they’ve learned from watching horror movies to survive. There’s no certainty this film influenced the new description Raine is giving herself in NXT, but the connection is possible.
“The Final Girl” is also a common trope in horror cinema as a whole. She is recognized as the last girl or woman surviving in the film as the story becomes centrally focused on her.
As seen in the photos below, Raine was trending after she dropped the promo last night, signifying that we might be approaching a televised debut for the 20-year-old. She has been teasing her debut for several weeks until last night when she finally revealed her persona to a live crowd.
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