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Laila Ali takes on DIY as the new host of “Home Made Simple” on OWN

Laila Ali OWN

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and Procter & Gamble announced today that Laila Ali, undefeated four-time boxing world champion, cookbook author, lifestyle brand creator, inspirational speaker and youngest daughter of Muhammad Ali, will join Daytime Emmy award-winning DIY series "Home Made Simple" as the new host for season seven. "Home Made Simple," which recently earned its fourth consecutive Daytime Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lifestyle Program, will return with an all-new hour-long format on Saturday, November 4 at 9 a.m. ET/PT. Home Made Simple's easy-to-follow DIY projects, delicious recipes and dramatic home makeovers are featured on P&G's popular website www.homemadesimple.com. "I am thrilled to join the OWN family as the new host of 'Home Made Simple,'" said Laila Ali. "Being able to merge my passion for cooking with my longtime love of interior design and the desire I have to help families, all on a network created by Oprah Winfrey, a woman I have always admired, is truly an honor." Creating homes that deserving families love to live in is at the core of "Home Made Simple."  The show pairs inspiring families, a team of professional designers, carpenters and special guest artists, who work together with the families to create simple solutions to everyday home challenges and design dilemmas.   Host Laila Ali will be working alongside families as they transform their living, work and play spaces, revealing the compelling and inspiring stories of the families behind the makeovers. Laila, who describes herself as a "home cook," will also teach the families delicious, easy recipes from her upcoming cookbook "Food For Life," which will be published in January 2018.

Why Xscape reunited is great for Black Feminism

Xscape

Last night, live on the BET Awards, Xscape gave us a trip down memory lane.  For those who remember the SoSoDef R&B group with all the hip-hop edge we southern girls needed; it was a flashback to an earlier time in our youth.  I'm sure I'm not alone when I say, I was out of my seat! Tiny, Tamika, Kandi, and Tocha gave their first live performance reunited in well over a decade  It was such a statement of girl power to see these grown ass women together again!  The new generation were able to see that Tiny & Kandi (obviously the most familiar of the group to them) were "bosses" well before T.I. or The Real Housewives.  On top of that, they showed that they can STILL hold their own. With the recent split between Tiny and T.I., I could feel the rest of the world pulling for her to show up and deliver.  That, she did.  It's sad, but even in 2017, when a woman goes through a divorce at any level, she is expected to fold under the trauma.  To see Tiny on that stage, looking as good as she did, and singing her little butt off... Girl, I was like, "Girl Power!!"  She was singing for divorced sisters all over the country in that moment.  Tiny is relevant without Tip!  She was someone before and she will be after.   Dear Children, Once upon a time, Tiny was more famous than TI. We were wondering why SHE was dating HIM. #Xscape #BETAwards — Echo (@EchoDoesRadio) June 26, 2017   The music industry was reminded of just how many hits this group had in the short medley:  Who Can I Run To, Understanding, Just Kickin' It.  I cannot wait to see them live at Essence Fest!!  So many statements were made last night with their appearance.  The group is probably unaware of it, but let me point out what it meant to me: The ladies of Xscape have always represented the strength, vulnerability, tough skin, and softness of being a woman.  We're tough, but we desire to be loved as well.  All we need is a little understanding (pun intended). Coming together again after turbulent times is always good.  Reuniting with your sisters and showing the world that TOGETHER we are a force, well... you get it. This Xscape is a GROWN ASS WOMAN group!  Yes, for those grown ass bodies on stage! I know some were nipped, tucked, and body magic'd the hell out, but there is no denying that those were adult bodies on that stage.  They were beautiful, thick, and lovely! And finally, these women who were once young girls from Atlanta, Georgia.  Have grown to be leaders in their own right.  With or without successful husbands on their arms; these ladies are the captains of their destiny.  They are in control and if they didn't know before last night, they have a legacy. Check out their performance on the BET Awards here and let me know what this reunion means to you:  

Sixth Season of Oprah Winfrey’s Master Class returns featuring Kevin Hart

Master Class

The sixth season of Oprah Winfrey's Master Class returns, June 10th at 10pm EST!  She has an amazing line up of inspiring celebrity stories.  I'm such a fan of this series as I am a strong believer that through our transparency, we contribute the best of our lives to others.  We all have dreams and aspirations to become great leaders, pioneers, and successes.  More often than not, the end of the journey is sensationalized, but the story of the obstacles they've overcome are left in the shadows.  It is in these stories in which others can learn valuable lessons on our individual journey.  Lessons of resilience, persistence, and faith. "Oprah's Master Class" featuring an unprecedented first-person insight into the brilliant minds of the entertainers and public figures we love, respect and admire, returns with a special sneak preview with world-famous actor/comedian Kevin Hart on Saturday, June 10 on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. One of the longest-running OWN series, "Oprah's Master Class" has featured in-depth interviews with over 50 masters. From award-winning musicians and box-office busting actors to groundbreaking leaders, this all-new season includes such luminaries as world-famous actor/comedian Kevin Hart, Original King of Comedy and television personality Steve Harvey, civil-rights hero Congressman John Lewis, hip-hop pioneer LL Cool J, R&B legend and the "Empress of Soul" Gladys Knight, NBA champion and Hall of Famer,  Shaquille O'Neal, film and TV mogul Tyler Perry, multi-platinum singer-songwriter Usher, and Emmy-winning actress Lynn Whitfield. I will definitely be tuned in to get a weekly dose of fresh inspiration and encouragement.  This journey is not always roses, but inspirational stories like those featured on Oprah's Master Class, are the sure fire jolt you need to keep pressing forward.  Will you be watching?

Cynthia Bailey Featured in “Freedom From Fibroids” Documentary

Esteemed female professionals recently convened for the official Premiere of the documentary Freedom from Fibroids, featuring Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey, Former TV Anchor and current Radio & TV host Monica Pearson, and John C. Lipman, MD, FSIR, Medical Director of the Atlanta Fibroid Center (http://AtlantaFibroidCenter.com). Guests enjoyed red carpet arrivals, an intimate reception with trumpeter Melvin M. Miller, catering by Akoma Events, special giveaways and a post-screening meet-and-greet with Cynthia Bailey. Atlanta Mayoral candidate Kwanza Hall and Atlanta City Council candidate Erika Y. Mitchell attended to support Fibroid Awareness as well. The Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Millard J. Collier kept the show lively with his dynamic style.  Peter Morrison, theatre manager and magician extraordinaire, provided production support for the event.  Cast members in attendance included Wayne & Gwen Tyler, Constance Barnett, Carmen McKever, Cie Cie, Wilson-McGhee, Robie West and Lauren Hawkins. Presented by the Atlanta Fibroid Center and narrated by Monica Pearson, the documentary explored the journey of Cynthia Bailey and other patients that suffered with fibroids and did not want surgery. Surgery was the only option given to these women until they found Dr. Lipman and the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedure. As a community awareness effort, Dr. Lipman created the documentary to educate women on the non-surgical treatment for fibroids. UFE treats the symptoms of fibroids, for example, heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and increased urinary frequency. UFE avoids all of the surgical risks and long recovery, and allows women to keep their uterus. Immediately following the screening, Dr. Lipman moderated a Q&A segment with the audience to further discuss fibroids and their treatment.

Video: Greenleaf cast talks about the importance of representation of black women on television

greenleaf representation

Representation matters.  I remember coming up, I had Claire Huxtable and Rudy (Cosby Show), Freddie and Kimberly Reese (A Different World), and Laura Wilson (Family Matters) as representations of young black women.  They looked like me, they dressed like me, and they were into the same things I was.  They had lives like mine and they were positive black women. Black women are diverse.  So, there is good and bad, sophisticated and ratchet in us all.  However, it seems that recently, mass media has only been broadcasting the negative portrayal of black women.  When I see these "reality" portrayals, I call foul.  That's not my reality.  My sisters love each other, lift each other up, everything opposite of what is portrayed. However, when you see the various characters recently played by black women on television, it gives me hope that there will be more than one story told about who black women can be.  Those diverse characters are seeing more and more roles as leading actresses in prime time shows such as Greenleaf on OWN.  This amazing show gives us a plot filled with diverse black women.  For each character, I truly feel I know someone just like that!  The characters are so realistic.  I fell in love with season one and this week, we prepare for season two. READ MORE ABOUT GREENLEAF HERE. I had the opportunity to speak with the cast of this amazing show and talk to the ladies about how representation really matters in the black community.  Hear what Kim Hawthorne and Deborah Joy Winans had to say on the subject:

NEW MUSIC: Missy Elliot drops “I’m Better” Music Video

If this is your first time to IHEARTHATGIRL.COM, then let me warn you...WE LOVE Missy Elliot!!!! Yes, she is such an inspiration to me.  I saw the emergence of this female artist.  I watched as her gift cultivated and evolved year by year into the legend she is today.  When she put the game down, flipped it, and reversed it.  It wasn't just a song lyric.  She was telling you her plan. 20 years later, Missy Elliot is still killing the music game.  It doesn't matter how many times music styles change, she will always be ahead of the game (oh, she told ya'll that too). "Ain't no shame ladies do yo' thang.  Just make sure you're ahead of the game." -  Missy Elliot, "Work It" She's always ahead, because she's always been ahead.  She never created music on trend, she set the trend.  And with this latest offering, "I'm Better", I see how she's even taken the current music style and evolved it in true Missy fashion. As a hardcore Missy fan, I will always be thankful for her artistry.  I love an artist that I can count on.  An artist who's style changes, but still remains true to who they are.  An artist that can be influenced by what goes on around them, but reflect it in THEIR own special way. Missy is also working on a documentary and we can not wait to see it!!  Check out the video below of her latest release, "I'm Better", and let me know your thoughts.  

Angela Bassett brings better skincare for dark-skinned women

Angela Bassett

Black don't crack.  We've heard the saying, said it, and believe it.  Most of the older black women and men that I know, hardly show any signs of aging.  And for those that do, they age so gracefully.  Angela Bassett is one of those women.  I swear this woman looks as if she froze time. As flawless as she looks, Angela Bassett has had issues with her skin.  She used treatments to deal with skin irritations and breakouts, but found that much was missing in the area of hyperpigmentation for black women.  The actress has teamed up with Dr. Barbara Sturm, her friend and a well-known skincare expert, to launch a skin-care line that addresses the specific needs of women with darker complexions.  Hyperpigmentation is characterized by a darkening of an area of skin caused by the overproduction of a pigment in the skin known as melanin. The skincare line, "Darker Skin Tones by Dr. Barbara Sturm", is now a reality.  Bassett said that she wants to bring more awareness to skin care and for people, “to see what is good for it and ingredients that are helpful — not invasive or irritating. I like them to be pleased when they look in the mirror, to feel good about themselves and the condition of their complexion.” The line is available exclusively at Harrods in store and online.

Rickey Smiley For Real Season 3 Screening ATL

Known for his comedic style, Mother Bernice, the hilarious Rickey Smiley Radio Morning Show, Joe Willie and the Deuteronomaires, and for playing the keyboard, one of America’s favorite Que Dawgs, Rickey Smiley and the cast of   Rickey Smiley For Real hosted a live viewing party at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta, Ga Tuesday November 15, 2016. The red carpet was lit with stars who came to support such as: Rapper Scrappy, singers Bobby Valentino, former Destiny’s Child member Latavia Roberson, from Love and Hip Hop-Atlanta Benzino, from Have and Have Nots (Zena)Portia Furgueson, from Braxton Family Values sisters Trina and Traci Braxton,  and the show’s Executive Producer Rodger Bobb just to name a few superstars. It was the cast of the show that everybody was excited to see! Gary With Da Tea, Ms. Juicey (she came to slay), The Smiley children D’Essence, Aaryn, Brandon, Craig!! Co-host HeadCrack, Spirit, and Shanta Paige all on the carpet. There were door prizes, Que Dawg line step from a fellow Omega Psi Phi Que Dawg in the audience. Also making an appearance mother of sangin powerhouse Keke Wyatt, Ms. Lorna Wyatt!! From Married to Medicine, Dr. Heavenly, Lisa Nicole Cloud, and so many others. However, it was the entrance of the man of the hour Rickey Smiley that sent everyone into a frenzy! Smiley came in showing his snapchat followers all of the love and support the he and castmates were receiving!! It was a great night full of love, support, and pure comedy!! Rickey Smiley For Real airs at 8/7C on Tuesdays on TV ONE! I Hear That Girl salutes Mr. Rickey Smiley and the cast of Rickey Smiley For Real! We hear That!!  Media is a gift God bestowed on me to do as my career and ministry. If I can help show the world positive media, then I’ve done my job. Follow me on Instagram @tamrontobiassho

Tracee Ellis Ross’ Historic Emmy Win…

Tracee Ellis Ross

Ok, THAT's what should have happened!  After 30 years, Tracee Ellis Ross became the first black actress to receive an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Dr. Rainbow "Bow" Johnson, the matriarch on black-ish.  I know, I know... it's 2016 and we're still dealing with "firsts".  It's a poor state of affairs that are best left addressed in another article. However, a fact that came to life upon her nomination, was the unsettling truth that she was a realization of the lack of diversity in Hollywood.  This same topic has come up time and time again, as recently as this past Oscar's, and yet, here we are again... The last nomination for a Black woman in this category belongs to Phylicia Rashad in 1986 nomination for her role as Clair Huxtable in The Cosby Show. Only five black actresses have ever been nominated in the category, including Diahann Carroll for Julia, Isabel Sanford for The Jeffersons, and Nell Carter for Gimme a Break!). In 1981, Isabel Sanford was the first Black actress to win the award for this category. “At this age, at this point in my career, to be a first-time nominee is extraordinary. To be nominated on behalf of a show that I am so proud of,” Ross told ABC. “I have not yet gotten married or had a baby, and this is pretty up there on the list.” Adding an even bigger boost to the major award show, Forbes reports that 18 out of 73, of the acting nominees in major categories are people of color. This is up from 21.9% last year. While Tracee is never one to shy away from her accomplishments, she always reminds us of the importance of staying humble throughout her career.  “My goal is not necessarily to be an inspiration. I think if anything, I want to continue to be inspired and to continue to grow as a person,” Ross told EBONY. “You can’t know what you don’t know.” What I know, is that Tracee deserved this, and she didn't get it.  Hollywood, needs to do better.  Really guys, do better.  

Tichina Arnold Wows at Triumph Awards 2016

Sunday, I Hear That Girl! covered the red carpet for the 2016 Triumph Awards.  Hosted by actress and philanthropist Tichina Arnold, the Triumph Awards recognizes distinguished individuals and corporations in civil rights, the arts, entertainment, education, business and sports. The show was taped in front of a live audience and will air Sunday, October 2 at 7PM and 9PM ET on TV One. Tichina was gorgeous on the red carpet and of course brought along her funny, girl next door, personality.  There were tons of other fashion forward celebs to grace the carpet as well.  We've got pics below.  Be sure to check out the show when it airs on TV One.  Here's a rundown of the honorees: Attorney Benjamin Crump was presented the “Chairman’s Award for Historic and Transformative Service” by Clifton Powell (Saints and Sinners); Larenz Tate (House of Lies) presented the “Triumphant Man of the Year” award to Jermaine Dupri; The “Triumphant Woman of the Year” went to FedEx executive Gina F. Adams, who was introduced by legendary singer Dionne Warwick; actor and recording artist Derek “Fonzworth Bentley” Watkins was on hand to present the “President’s Award for Service and Humanitarian Efforts” to Sean “Diddy” Combs (who was not in attendance); Tim Murphy of Mastercard accepted the honor of “Corporate Partner of the Year Award;” and the final award of the evening was the “Activism in the Arts Award” presented to Spike Lee by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Vietta Johnson, President of Spelman College Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell and actress Teyonah Parris. Performers included gospel artist Jekalyn Carr, V. Bozeman, Nick Cannon, BJ the Chicago Kid, the James Brown Academy of Music Pupils, Joe, Eric Benet, Juan and Deborah Joy Winans, and Fantasia. Tichina Arnold, JB Smoove, Carl Payne, Erica Ash and Teyonah Parris also joined forces to perform a “Spike Lee Joint Medley,” a hilarious musical tribute. Additional appearances by Marc Lamont Hill, Dondre Whitfield, Kandi Burruss, Terri J. Vaughn, Pooch Hall, Denise Boutte, Ebony Steele, Angel McCoughtry; the “Mothers of the Movement;” Gwen Carr (mother of Eric Garner), Lesley McSpadden (mother of Mike Brown) and Sybrina Fulton (mother of Trayvon Martin); and Georgia State House Representative Erica Thomas.

Solange on Angry Black Women

Solange Knowles didn't have a very pleasant experience when she attended a Kraftwerk concert on Friday night. Knowles went to the concert in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband, 11-year-old son and a friend of his. After standing up to dance to Kraftwerk's hit Machine, Knowles claims a group of white women told her to sit down. When she didn't, they threw a lime wedge at her back. The 30-year-old singer took to Twitter to express her rage about the whole experience, starting her series of tweets with "Let me tell you about why black girls/women are so angry". She had been enjoying a chance to "dance and enjoy a band I love." Statistically New Orleans has one of the largest African-American populations of US cities but Knowles said "we are four of about 20 black concert goers out 1500 here. Four out of maaaaybe 20 out of 1500." 4 older white women yell to me from behind, "Sit down now" . I tell them I'm dancing at a concert. They yell, "u need to sit down now"... — solange knowles (@solangeknowles) September 10, 2016 We are at an ELECTRONIC and DANCE music concert and you are telling...not asking me...to sit down. In front of my child. — solange knowles (@solangeknowles) September 10, 2016 The younger sister of Beyonce said she shared her experience "so that maybe someone will understand, why many of us don't feel safe in many white spaces ... we don't 'bring the drama' ... fix yourself." She became even angrier after people on Twitter questioned if it was really about race and more about the drama. Nobody goes to the Kraftwerk show with their kid "looking for "drama" But that's how u guys like to spin this. — solange knowles (@solangeknowles) September 10, 2016 Despite being subject to such a deplorable act, Knowles continued having a good time posting a video of herself and her husband dancing and captioned it "Bye haters."

Hidden Figures is the #BlackGirlMagic We’ve Been Waiting For

Hidden Figures

January 13, 2017, will be an awe inspiring day.  Personally, I will have a group of women joining me as we head to the theaters to see the film, Hidden Figures.  It is the anticipated retelling of the true story of the black women behind the NASA program's historic launch. Hidden Figures tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three black women who played crucial roles in one of NASA's finest hours: launching an American into orbit for the first time. As the film's first trailer shows, their story is not only important, it's long overdue. In the film, Johnson is portrayed by Taraji P. Henson; Vaughan is played by Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae makes her acting debut in her role as Jackson.  I'm super excited for this film.  Films like these are needed because they show the diverse make-up of black women.  We come from all walks of life, with various gifts and talents to share.  I'm going to see this film, will you?

Ain’t This a Bihh?!! Leslie Jones Goes Head To Head With Twitter Racists

Comedienne, Leslie Jones, should have been celebrating her amazing success story.  Jones' Ghostbusters opened at U.S. box offices with $46M and ended up coming in at the number 2 position. Instead of focusing on that, Jones was fighting the sea Twitter Racists who hurled slurs and epithets at her on social media.  For over 24 hours Leslie Jones took time away from what should have been one of the high points of her life to strike back against racism on Twitter.     When the abuse became too much, Leslie removed herself from the platform.       I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart.All this cause I did a movie.You can hate the movie but the shit I got today...wrong — Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016 This world has many demons that it must face, and RACISM is at the top of the list.  It burns me that this sister had to endure the hateful, lascivious oral lashings from so many in 2016.  And yet, we are still be asked to explain or defend #BLACKLIVESMATTER. GTFOH! I ask that if you have a twitter account, shower our sister @Lesdoggg in loving and supportive tweets.  Also, support her film, Ghostbusters.      

Kelis Starts New Venture With Pop-Up Restaurant

Singer Kelis Rogers, is steadily spreading her wings!  The singer has always been a foodie, hence the latest album title, "FOOD".  This time, she is venturing into the restaurant industry with Pop-Up restaurants in the UK.  When I heard about her new endeavor I was shocked, but was reminded that Kelis is a  Cordon Bleu- trained Chef. Pregnancy and divorce put a pause on her culinary endeavors after graduating in 2009.  Soon, she resubmerged herself into the food world and wrote a cookbook titled "My Life on a Plate: Recipes From Around the World," which was released last year. Now her kitchen skills are being tested on a much more public space: her own restaurant. Rogers will be collaborating with the cooking duo behind the London restaurant Le Bun to open a pop-up eatery that will run though July. Then, she'll be taking her menu on the road to a variety of U.K. based festivals. We're excited for her ever evolving greatness and wish her the best!  She's a beautiful example of how women can be and do so many amazing things when we grow stronger from our trials.

On The Scene: Rickey Smiley Foundation Celebrity Bowling Tournament

Last night, Rickey Smiley's, "Rickey Smiley Foundation," hosted a celebrity bowling tournament at Slingshot Entertainment in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta's top VIP's battled each other in a fun game of bowling led by Rickey Smiley and ED Lover. Special guests in attendance included: Karlie Redd (VH1 "Love & Hip Hop), Porsha Williams ("DISH NATION"), Da Brat ("DISH NATION"), Gary With the T ("DISH NATION"), Meelah Williams ("702"), Bonecrusher (rapper), Demetria McKinney ("Tyler Perry's House of Payne"), Cocoa Brown (OWN "For Better or Worse"), Diallo Thompson ("Barbershop 3"), Brandi Williams ("Blaque"), Bobby V (singer), Tameka Foster (VH1 "Atlanta Exes"), Mishon (singer/ABC "Lincoln Heights"), Sammie Bush (singer), Melissa Knowles ("HLN"), Lisa Wu (TV One "Hollywood DIVAS"), Monie Love (Reach Media "ED Lover Show"), Micah Stampley (singer), Y'Aanna Crawley (BET "Sunday Best"), Gwen Boyd Moss (WE tv "Selling It: in the ATL"), Gary Lavard (Youtube "About Him") and more! Guests enjoyed complimentary food and drinks; and were encouraged to donate to the foundation while in attendance. The bowling tournament was taped for TV One's hit doc-series "Rickey Smiley For Real." Rickey Smiley's docu-series "Rickey Smiley For Real," airs Tuesday nights at 8pm ET on TV One.   For more information on the "Rickey Smiley Foundation" visit: http://www.therickeysmileyfoundation.org.

Tracee Ellis-Ross Flawless in French Braids at White House Dinner

One of our Sister Loves, Tracee Ellis-Ross, is forever giving us life, be it as the host of Black Girls Rock, as Bo on the hit sitcom, 'Blackish', T-Murda on social media.  We love love love this woman and she recently gave us even more to gab about with her stylish look at the White House State Dinner. At this past weekend’s White House State Dinner, Tracee was breathtaking in a floor-length white gown. While she could have just opted for a curly updo, she paired it with two long loosely cornrowed braids on either side of her head that stole the night. Still obsessing over the braids I wore last night! You will be seeing them again! Thank u @YeneDamtew! #NordicVisit @VitaFede earrings Make up by me with my latest obsession @ColouredRaine #truffleraine lip A video posted by Tracee Ellis Ross (@traceeellisross) on May 14, 2016 at 12:14pm PDT I love french braids as well, its such a simple, sexy, cool hairstyle.  My niece is a beast with it, and I have yet to try the long french braids (I always do them tucked into a goddess crown).  This will definitely be one of my summer styles.  What do you think about this style?  Are you loving it as much as we are?

Denzel & Pauletta Washington Raise $17M for Smithsonian

courtesy of The Rickey Smiley Show Oscar winner Denzel Washington used his influence, likability & talent recently to raise millions in a fundraising event held at his LA home. The multi award-winning actor, filmmaker, and philanthropist co-hosted the event with his wife, Pauletta, which set out to raise funds in support of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). With some of the biggest names in Hollywood in attendance, the event raised an incredible $17 million toward the cause, which included a $10 million pledge from Shonda Rhimes. “There is such a historical significance to this project,’’ Washington told Variety. “It means so much for our community, our country and to future generations." According to the NMAAHC website, the museum "will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all." The total cost of the museum will amount to $540 million, and so far the US government has contributed half that amount. The remainder relies on private donations and events such as the one hosted by Denzel & Pauletta Washington. “In this climate where so much money is being raised for the Presidency and The White House, it is incredible to have the support we received,’’ said Pauletta Washington. “It’s good knowing that even with so much going on, people are committed to making sure that this museum is successful.’’ Big thanks to the Washington family! Your efforts will go on to help educate, honor and empower millions for years to come! The museum will open on September 24, 2016. Until then, you can check out their gallery, located on the second floor of the National Museum of American History, in Washington, DC. Read more

Kerry Washington & Viola Davis Creating Production Companies

courtesy of BYP So far, 2016 has been a wonderful year for Black woman seizing their own opportunities. Early this spring, Kelly Rowland announced that she plans on starting a makeup line for dark-skinned women. Shea Moisture is taking a stand against the racism in the beauty industry. Recently, it was announced that Kerry Washington and Viola Davis are launching independent production companies. Take a moment to embrace all this Black girl magic. Having two powerful Black actresses who are launching their own production companies is definite proof that Black women are taking control of their narratives. When we let shows that do not have Black characters or other characters of color interest at heart, it results in our characters being killed like in Sleepy Hollow or ignoring the importance of representing characters of color like what happened with The Mindy Project. The television and the film industry continue to be uninterested in diversity in their shows. Programs like The Brady Bunch, Full House, or Friends were not made with Black audiences in mind. For the producers, we were not an audience worth marketing toward. People of color were a forgotten and avoided viewers. Still as Black women are winning major acting and producing awards, people still rather whitewash their movies and television shows rather than allow diversity to thrive. I know that am tired of watching the blatant racism and mistreatment of characters of color in the media, and I am done waiting for other people to tell our stories. Maybe these new moves from Washington and Davis are signals that a change cometh. As a Black writer and viewer, I am overjoyed to learn that women who look like me and my friends are controlling our stories. From my writing classes, the television shows that I watch, and the movies that I see, I have learned that people both do not understand how to create diversity in their shows, and are not willing to listen or attempt to understand how to make their characters more realistic. Now, Davis and Washington are creating the opportunities that have been denied for decades, and we are all here for it.

Jennifer Hudson to Star in Hairspray Live!

Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG and Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson will headline the cast of NBC’s “Hairspray Live!,” the network’s next live Broadway musical holiday event following the phenomenal success of “The Wiz Live!” “We are beyond thrilled with this incredible talent of stars for ‘Hairspray Live!,’” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment.  "We’re also so grateful that the incomparable Jennifer Hudson will play Motormouth Maybelle and we know her rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ will literally stop the show.” Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “Hairspray Live!” takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on “The Corny Collins Show,” a local TV program. When, against all odds, Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters, including the resident dreamboat, Link; the ambitious mean girl, Amber; an African-American boy she meets in detention, Seaweed; and his mother, Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a local record store. Tracy’s mother is the indomitable Edna Turnblad, and she eventually encourages Tracy on her campaign to integrate the all-white “Corny Collins Show.” Harvey Fierstein, who is also writing the teleplay, will play Edna Turnblad, a role he created and won a Tony Award for in the stage version of “Hairspray.” The quintessential Edna, Fierstein portrayed the character for the show’s first two years of its seven-year run at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway. Hudson, who will play Motormouth Maybelle, is currently completing a triumphant run in the acclaimed revival of "The Color Purple" — performing the role of Shug Avery in her Broadway debut. She won an Oscar and Golden Globe in 2007 for her iconic performance as Effie White in the hit film “Dreamgirls.” Her sensational rendition of the song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” was greeted with instant acclaim by film critics and moviegoers alike and made Hudson the person to beat as best supporting actress for the Academy Awards. Hudson’s incredible vocal talents were first recognized with her appearance on the third season of “American Idol” in 2004, where she impressed both the show’s judges and a national TV audience. Soon after, she released her first album, “Jennifer Hudson,” which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 Chart and sold more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. through the first six weeks. The album was nominated for four Grammys and won for best R&B album. Hudson continued on the bigscreen following “Dreamgirls” and has since co-starred in such films as “Sex and the City,” “The Secret Life of Bees” and Spike Lee’s latest film, “Chi-Raq.” Her TV credits include NBC’s “Smash,” Fox’s “Empire” and HBO’s newest telepic, “Confirmation.” “Hairspray Live!” reunites Hudson with executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who worked with her previously on NBC’s “Smash” and the 85th and 87th Oscar telecasts, which they also produced. Television director Alex Rudzinski will join stage director Kenny Leon (“The Wiz Live!”). Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (the upcoming “A Few Good Men Live!”) serve as executive producers of “Hairspray Live!” Harvey

Ciara Is Spring Gorgeous on Essence Cover

Ciara looks so happy on the cover of ESSENCE's May issue.  We can't help but to share in her joy.  The recently engaged singer gushes about Russell Wilson, her son, and much more. “Marriage is something I look forward to. I believe in family, and the beauty of two people committing to spend their lives together. We talk about everything. To me, to both of us, that’s the foundation you need for love to flourish and reach its highest place. I want to live with as much lightness as possible, so I can stay focused on my love of God, and being the best mom, and the best person, I can be…”—Ciara, ESSENCE Magazine Single motherhood wasn’t on Ciara’s to-do list. As the singer shares in ESSENCE's May issue article, Secret Garden, when Baby Future came into her life, so did a new focus on what matters most: her son and her faith. And now that she’s found a new love, everything’s coming up roses. With a clear vision, a focus on family and a life firmly rooted in faith, singer Ciara promises that there are even more “goodies” in store for her, her fans and the future. ESSENCE’s May anniversary issue hits newsstands on Friday. For more on this story, click here.  

A New Perspective on the Paranormal

Yesterday, I was invited to a private media screening of the all-new series, "Ghost Brothers".  I'm a huge fan of the horror genre and the paranormal.  I'm geeky like that.  Yes, I'm the girl that rushed to literature class whenever we were covering Edgar Allen Poe.  I LOVE it! So you can imagine my delight upon hearing that there was finally going to be an African-American Paranormal team on national television?!  I was ecstatic for a couple of reasons.  One, as I already stated, I am a huge fan of the genre.  In all my time watching these shows, one thing was missing...US!  We react differently in ghostly situations.  We're funny when we're not even trying to be.  That's what I love about this series.  It shows a different perspective of paranormal investigations, but more importantly, it gives viewers a different perspective of black men.  I was especially impressed with how Marcus Harvey sported a "Never Sold Dope" t-shirt in the first episode.  That tee spoke volumes!! Destination America hosted an exclusive press screening at Graveyard Tavern (great food BTW) for their latest show "Ghost Brothers," a six-part docu-series featuring TV's first African-American paranormal investigation team. Cast members Juwan Mass, Dalen Spratt and Marcus Harvey were on hand for a brief Q&A and one-on-one interviews following the sneak peek of the first episode ("Magnolia Plantation"). "Ghost Brothers" follows three best friends- all raised in religious households - who take their healthy curiosity and passion for the paranormal to the next level. The trio tour a series of haunted houses throughout the U.S. to uncover the history and the truth behind the local tales. #GhostBrothers premieres Friday, April 15 at 10/9c on Destination America (@DestAmerica). I implore you to support these brothers and Destination America for showcasing the diversity within our community!  Let me know if you'll be watching!

Women’s Powerful Impact in Gospel Music Shine at Stellar Awards

With eight and six nominations respectively, Erica Campbell and Tasha Cobbs demonstrate the powerful impact of women in gospel music, recognized for Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, CD of the Year, Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year and Contemporary CD of the Year. Campbell also receives a nod for Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year while Cobb garners one for Praise and Worship CD of the Year. "I am pleased that God has blessed us with celebrating 31 years as the most respected awards brand in gospel music and in the faith-based community," says Don Jackson, founder and executive producer of the Stellar Awards. "We will honor those who have contributed to the growth and success of gospel music as a genre, as well as demonstrate why this art form remains critical to the legacy of American music." TV and radio personality Rickey Smiley (Dish Nation, Rickey Smiley For Real) and actress and TV personality Sherri Shepherd (Ride Along 2, The View) will return as co-hosts of the 31st Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards. Hailed as the "biggest night in gospel music," this year's Stellar Awards will be held at the Las Vegas Orleans Arena on Saturday, February 20, 2016. The telecast will premiere on TV One during the week of March 6.

I Hear That Girl!: Egypt Sherrod receives NAACP Award Nomination

With the current outrage at the lack of diversity of the Oscars, many African-American actors, actresses, and writers are looking forward to a platform in which they will be, always have been, acknowledged for their talents and effort.  This award platform is the 47th Annual NAACP Image Awards. Egypt Sherrod, HGTV host and author, has received an NAACP Image Award nomination for the release of her first book, "Keep Calm...It's Just Real Estate: Your No Stress Guide To Buying A Home."   Egypt can be seen every week as host of HGTV's highly-rated show, "Property Virgins." Recently, HGTV green-lit her original spin off show "Flipping Virgins." The show consists of three parts: she helps the investors find a property to flip, she then helps them renovate it - then, they sell it. Sherrod is also the founder of her own non-profit, the Egypt Cares Family Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the family structure as a whole: At Egypt Cares Family Foundation, Family IS the foundation. A stronger family leads to a stronger village and community for all. On Friday, February 26th, Egypt will serve as honorary host of the annual Chairish the Future gala and auction. All proceeds will benefit The Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta, whose mission is to recycle gently-used household furniture by giving it to individuals and families in the metro area who are moving out of homelessness and fleeing domestic violence as well as countless others facing hardships and struggling to make ends meet. We wish her the best of luck at the NAACP Image Awards which will air live on TV One, February 5th at 9pm ET.

Lupita Speaks Out on Oscars’ Lack Of Diversity

Lupita Nyong'o is the latest star to speak out about the stunning lack of diversity at this year's Oscars. In a thoughtful Instagram post, the actress -- an Academy Award winner herself -- addressed the issue and expressed her disappointment. "I am disappointed by the lack of inclusion in this year's Academy Award nominations," she wrote. "It has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture." The star continued by adding that she stands with her fellow peers, such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, who have already come forward to call for change. Along with her statement, Nyong'o added an equally thoughtful quote as her caption: "'Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.' - James Baldwin #manystoriesmanyvoices," she wrote.

Video: Taraji P. Henson Has Cookies at Golden Globes

courtesy of Rolling Out One for you and one for me! In a memorable move following her big win at the 2016 Golden Globes, Taraji P. Henson handed out some sweet treats on her way up to the stage, to accept her award for Best Actress in a Drama TV series, thanks to her sassy role as Cookie on FOX’s hit“Empire.” “Cookies for everyone tonight, my treat!” Henson began, after commanding, “Get off my train!” to a man helping her up the stairs. “Who knew that playing an ex-convict would take me all around the globe? … So the world loves real. Thank you,” she continued. During her speech, Henson revealed that fans had been lobbying for her to wrap, but “You’re going to have to wait for that,” she said. After doling out her thank yous, she concluded, “I’m taking this one for the entire Empire.” In case you missed it, Henson faced some stiff competition in her category for Best Actress in a Drama TV series, including “Outlander‘s” Caitriona Balfe, “How to Get Away With Murder‘s” Viola Davis, “Penny Dreadful‘s” Eva Greenand, and “House of Cards‘” Robin Wright. But in true Cookie fashion, she came out on top! Congrats Cookie! Show her some love in the comment section below!

Video: Lifetime releases extended trailer for Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’

courtesy of The Radio Revival Lifetime’s Original Movie, “Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart,” starring newcomer Lex Scott Davis (“The Exes”) as the seven-time Grammy® Award-winning R&B icon, premieres Saturday, January 23 at 8pm ET/PT. Toni Braxton executive produces the two-hour film, which is based on her popular memoir Unbreak My Heart. Immediately following the movie, Lifetime premieres the special, “Beyond The Headlines: Toni Braxton” at 10pm ET/PT. “Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart” also stars Debbi Morgan (“Power,” “All My Children”) as Braxton’s mother Evelyn; Gavin Houston (“Guiding Light”) as Babyface, Cortney Scott Wright as Traci Braxton, Skye P. Marshall (“Public Morals”) as Towanda Braxton, LaToya Franklyn (“Subways”) as Trina Braxton and Tiffany Hines (“Devious Maids”) as Tamar Braxton. The movie follows the singer’s journey from her discovery by mega producers L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, to her battle with Lupus. The movie also delves into how she made it through her public divorce all while navigating her son’s autism and family struggles. “Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart” chronicles the untold measures the wildly talented artist took to make herself and her family whole again, becoming a global inspiration. “Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart” is produced by Link Entertainment. Braxton, Craig Baumgarten (“Twist of Faith”), Erik Kritzer (“The Runaround”) and Marcus Grant serve as executive producers. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds produces.Vondie Curtis Hall (“Abducted: The Carlina White Story”) directs from a script written by Susan McMartin (“Mom,” “Two and a Half Men”). “Beyond The Headlines: Toni Braxton” features interviews with Toni and her family, L.A. Reid, Babyface, record producer David Foster and songwriter Diane Warren, to tell the story of her childhood, meteoric rise to fame, financial and health struggles and ultimate triumph over adversity. Check out the trailer below: https://youtu.be/Tx0kr6DFnkc

“PATTI!!!” Singer Releasing New Cakes…Will She Reach Out to Bloggers?

Ms. Patti is back at it and hoping for more sweet success in 2016!  She's announced that she will release two new cakes available at Wal-Mart this month. With the help of James Wright Chanel, Patti was able to sell out in stores nationwide!  The big question now is, will she have the same success?  Will she call on James Chanel Wright?  or will she reach out to a new influencer?  Read more below... Patti LaBelle is making it a sweet 2016. After the sold-out success of her seasonal sweet potato pie, the soulful songstress has made it available year-round, and added two cakes to her decadent dessert line at Walmart. “Who’s ready for #PattiCake? My new vanilla pound cake is making its way to stores!” LaBelle tweeted to her 227,000 followers Monday. The glazed goodness, which is formed in a bundt pan and iced in velvety vanilla glaze, is now in stores for $6.98. There’s also a three-layered yellow cake with caramel icing available on Jan. 18 for $13.94. The Grammy-winning singer and cookbook author’s career in food crescendo-ed in November when fan James Wright Chanel sang the praises of her sweet potato pie in a viral YouTube Video that received 4.5 million views. More than $1 million of the $3.98 pies were sold in one weekend. LaBelle hasn’t reached her sugar high just yet — more desserts are in the works at Walmart. Who’s ready for #PattiCake? My new vanilla pound cake is making its way to stores! https://t.co/GsvUT5VteC @Walmart pic.twitter.com/H2vmfhJqo5 — Patti LaBelle (@MsPattiPatti) January 4, 2016

Good God Almighty!! New Music From Brandy!

Brandy dropped a bomb last night!  Yes, her new tv series, Zoe Ever After debuted on BET to great responses and she gave her fans an extra treat with new music!  Fans have been salivating to hear new music from the "vocal bible" and she was ready to deliver!  This song is HOT!  It's called "Begging & Pleading" and she has us begging for MORE!  Check it out here and let me know what you guys think in the comments below!  

BEYONCÉ IS WORKING ON A SARAH BAARTMAN PROJECT; SOUTH AFRICAN CHIEF SAYS ‘SHE’S NOT WORTHY’

Beyoncé is a lot of things, worthy of portraying Sarah Baartman is not one of them. That’s if you ask Chief Jean Burgess of the Ghonaqua, the First Indigenous Peoples of South Africa. See there’s a rumor going around that the singer is plotting to win an Oscar and plans to write and star in her own movie based on Sarah Baartman to do it. While that seems like a far-fetched plan in our minds for the woman of many talents, whether it’s true or not Chief Burgess let his opinion of Bey be known. He told News 24 in South Africa when asked about the rumored project: “She lacks the basic human dignity to be worthy of writing Sarah’s story, let alone playing the part. “Ignoring the fact that the KhoiKhoi is alive and that Sarah’s story would have an impact on how we are portrayed, is a mistake of great magnitude.” “Why Sarah Baartman? Why not a story about an Indigenous American woman? I can only see arrogance in her attempt to tell a story that is not her’s to tell.” KhoiKhoi is the tribe which Baartman, known for being put on display in freak shows because of her large posterior, was born into in 1789 in the Gamtoos River Valley. For years people paid money to see Baartman, dubbed “Hottentot Venus,” in display in cages in London, and even after her death her brain and genitals were placed in jars in an exhibition at the Musée del’Homme (Museum of Man) in Paris until 1974. It wasn’t until 2002 that Baartman’s remains were returned to her birthplace at the request of former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. It’s for those reasons above that Burgess explained consultation, respect, and acknowledgment of the existence of the Peoples were fundamental to any narrative on Baartman. While Gamtkwa Khoisan Council member Kobus Reichert said he didn’t have a problem with the rumored movie or Beyoncé acting in it as long as the community in the Eastern Cape wasn’t ignored, he did note the project needed to be done respectfully and with the right “cultural understanding.” We’re hoping Bey decides not to touch this project at all — if she ever did to begin with...

BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards: Atlanta, GA Sunday, January 16, 2016

courtesy of The Radio Revival BMI will salute gospel siblings duos, BeBe & CeCe Winans and Mary Mary at its 17th Annual Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards being held at the Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta, GA. Hosted by gospel music legend, Yolanda Adams, the invitation-only event will host gospel music’s premier songwriters, recording artists and music industry executives, as well as the genre’s legends. BMI will also announce the Most Performed Gospel Song of the Year at the ceremony. Interviews from last years BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards: https://youtu.be/aLAjaoMX__w    

Chris Rock Stands Up For Black Women in Hollywood

Comedian Chris Rock sheds light on the entertainment industry’s hypocrisy when it comes to actors pay. “Black women have the hardest gig in show business,” he told the New Yorker. “You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman — if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.” Back in October, The Hunger Games star penned a letter about getting paid less than her male counterparts. “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.” Lawrence is in her mid 20s and has won a Oscar. In addition, she is the star of a very successful franchise that rakes in millions at the box office. While her complaints about women deserving the same pay as their male peers is legitimate, Black actresses have far less opportunities and make less money than white women. Rock points out that Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union and many other Black actresses have had to grind it out in supporting roles for decades in order to get a starring role on their current TV shows. As progressive as Hollywood claims to be, audiences have seen the truth—Black women are still not given the opportunity to be the face of a major franchise. A prime example is the recent mega-blockbuster, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The words from Viola Davis’ Emmy speech ring true. Hollywood has to be willing to create roles for Black actresses. To that end, Rock praises the work of actress and comedienne, Leslie Jones, in the New Yorker. “I mentioned her to several managers and agents over the years. Everybody passed. Lorne, because he’s the best at what he does, is the one who saw it. I don’t think he’d hired a cast member her age in a long time,” Rock said of Jones’ hiring at Saturday Night Live. If Lawrence were a Black woman, there’s no doubt that her path would’ve been more difficult, and audiences may not have even had the opportunity to witness her talent. Hence, the disparity of opportunities for Black women and white women remains, and must be addressed.

A Black Woman Has Been Cast to Play Hermione in New Harry Potter Play

Harry Potter fans got a treat Sunday when the cast was announced for the upcoming play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. A photo was released of who would play Harry, Hermione and Ron. We’re thrilled to confirm Jamie Parker, Noma Dumezweni & Paul Thornley will play Harry, Hermione & Ron #CursedChild pic.twitter.com/s1rsDbrXMO — Harry Potter Play (@HPPlayLDN) December 21, 2015 If you're not a follower of the Potter movies, you might not realize that Hermione Granger, who will be played by Swaziland-born actress Noma Dumezweni, was originally played by Emma Watson in the movies. Needless to say, some people felt some type of way about this. They can't make Hermione black.It would make this fictional story about a school for child wizards totally unrealistic. #HermioneIsBlack — Mitch (@mitchprax) December 21, 2015 But, of course, there were also those who thought it was the greatest thing to ever happen, and they were quick to shut down any naysayers. just think of all the kids who grew up with Harry Potter who saw only 3 black minor characters now will be seeing HERMIONE GRANGER as black! — nic (@communistcorn) December 20, 2015 I love how Hermione being black is somehow more implausible to some people than a universe where the entire postal system depends on owls — Snukes (@QueerDiscOx) December 20, 2015 Interesting that some people find a black Hermione Granger harder to believe in than, you know, magic spells... — Mr HoHoHoldfield (@MrLROldfield) December 20, 2015 DEAR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO ARGUE ABOUT A BLACK HERMIONE GRANGER, just don't. — Katherine Locke (@Bibliogato) December 20, 2015 Some wondered what Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling thought about the casting—and she's all for it: Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione 😘 https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 21, 2015 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is being called "the eighth story 19 years later." It's set 19 years after the seventh book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. According to a press release about the play, Cursed Child will focus on Harry as an "overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children."

College Credit for Studying Beyonce…Maybe Not?!

courtesy of Refinery29 Apparently, Rutgers University administrators are not a fan of Sasha Fierce. The New Jersey-based university has canceled a class on Black feminism called “Politicizing Beyoncé.” Women’s Studies professor Kevin Allred, who taught the class, was told that it would not be offered for the spring semester because the school is “rotating” its options. But he finds the cancellation confusing: “The class has been intensely popular — [it] always fills up and brings a lot of attention to the Women’s and Gender Studies department,” he told Refinery29 by email. He finds the decision not to offer it “illogical.” This class was not just an easy A and sessions spent surfing YouTube. “None of the readings have anything to do with Beyoncé — they're about politics, history, the lives of Black women, sexuality, etc. We put those readings into conversation with Beyoncé in the analysis,” Allred explained. "[Studying Black feminism] helps decenter the whiteness that is always default at the center of education, politics, activism, etc. We live in an intersectional world." The class, which was taught since 2010, was immensely popular. It studied intersections of race, gender, and sexuality by focusing on Beyoncé as an icon and an artist. The syllabus paired writings by notable Black feminists with Beyoncé videos, using the former to analyze the latter's layers of cultural, political, and historical context. From a cultural standpoint, canceling the class means that students looking for a change from the standard fare — philosophy according to white men — have one less option. “There are other courses on Black feminism at Rutgers and in the Women's and Gender Studies department, but it may be the only class at Rutgers overall with a Black woman's name in the title,” Allred said. The pop culture element also plays a significant role, engaging students through analysis of the media they consume every day. The inclusion of Beyoncé as a focal point keeps the material accessible and relatable, an advantage that other classes on the subject of Black feminism may not have. But for those who are already bemoaning their missed opportunities to examine the cultural meaning of the "Single Ladies" dance, all hope is not yet lost. Allred says he's moving the class to the American Studies department at Rutgers, where it will be available in Fall 2016. How soon does enrollment start?

Kennedy Center Honors Cicely Tyson’s 60 Year Acting Career

courtesy of Atlanta Black Star Cicely Tyson, along with singer/songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress Rita Moreno, and conductor Seiji Ozawa, were honored last night at the Kennedy Center for their creative careers. In addition to the award, the 90-year-old actress is starring in The Gin Game, which is currently on Broadway. The production reunites her with long time colleague and friend, James Earl Jones. The two have been working with one another for 50-plus years on the stage. One of the first times they worked together was during the 1961 off-Broadway play, The Blacks. For 60 years, Tyson has wowed American audiences with her beauty and talent. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, and a Golden Globe for her role as Rebecca Morgan in 1972’s Sounder. Tyson also has 12 Emmy nominations under her belt and a Tony for the Broadway play, The Trip to Bountiful in 2013. In all, she has nearly a hundred acting credits in film, TV, and stage. As of late, her career has seen new light and more opportunities on shows like How to Get Away with Murder and House of Cards. “I’m turning around,” Tyson said. “Maybe the reason why I’ve been given this second time around is that it will allow me to be an actress.”

Queen Latifah to Lead Cast in ‘Empire’ Spinoff

*Lee Daniels has chosen Queen Latifah to lead his long-rumored spinoff of “Empire.” The series, known tentatively as “The Untitled Lee Daniels Project,” will follow three women played by newcomers Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittany O’Grady – all with hopes of making it big. The drama will showcase the allure and heartache of the cut-throat music scene, while also exploring cultural themes from a new perspective.   Demorest will play Star, the tough 18-year-old who spent her childhood in and out of foster homes after the death of her mother, and who will do anything to become the star she was named to be. Latifah will play “Carlotta,” the owner of an Atlanta beauty salon with an amazing voice who becomes a surrogate mother to Star and the other girls — even though she doesn’t approve of their musical dreams. Rounding out the singing trio are Alexandra (Destiny), a wealthy 20-year-old who grew up on New York’s Upper East Side, but who, for years, has tried to put her privileged world behind her, so she can make real, authentic music; and Simone (O’Grady), Star’s younger sister who dreams of the day Star will return to rescue her from the abusive foster home in which she was placed five years before. Production on the pilot begins this month in Atlanta.   As previously reported, transgender actress Amiyah Scott will play “Cotton,” a friend of the girls who harbors dreams of becoming a star herself. “The Untitled Lee Daniels Project,” previously known as “Star,” is the first project to emerge from Daniels’ multi-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. He serves as writer, director and executive producer on “Star.” Tom Donaghy (“The Whole Truth”) is also a writer and executive producer on the pilot. Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2015/12/queen-latifah-leads-cast-of-newcomers-in-empire-spinoff/#fXZredfmWVPbJxom.99

Sisters of Comedy Is Proof That Black Women Need Entertainment That Truly Represents Us

Laughter has healing power. And with the violent climate plaguing not only our own country but the entire world, it’s obvious that we need healing right now. That’s where activist, writer and filmmaker Agunda Okeyo comes in. She understands that joy battles pain, and so she’s married her love of activism with dynamic black comediennes to create Sisters of Comedy. “We are in a very dark time as a nation, given the numerous church burnings, school closures, police shootings, sexual assault, domestic violence, mass incarceration and all manner of violence that black folks must contend with,” says Okeyo. “We have to find an outlet because self-care is important when we’re constantly consuming headline after news report after violent viral video.” Comedy is Okeyo’s outlet, and her show Sisters of Comedy is on a mission to heal the world, one laugh at a time. Okeyo invited The Root to the show at the legendary Carolines comedy club in New York City, and after laughing till we cried (no, really, there were tears), we chatted with her about the show and its impact on the comedy scene and our culture. “The mission of the showcase is to celebrate the diversity of black funny women in stand-up. In doing so, we liberate ourselves as artists, expose biases in the industry and also alert people to the diversity of talented, working black women in stand-up,” Okeyo told us as audience members buzzed around her and two members of her cast, Chloe Hilliard and Hadiyah Robinson. “I just loved it!” I heard a woman coo to Okeyo as she grabbed her hands. “It was perfect,” said the woman as she smiled at Okeyo one last time before walking away. It’s comments like these that the world should hear. While Okeyo is doing her part by shining light on black women in comedy, the industry doesn’t seem to mimic her sentiments. Working black women in stand-up, as Okeyo has said, are plenty, but they don’t always get the opportunities they deserve. A couple of years ago, before Saturday Night Live welcomed its first black female cast member since 2007, Sasheer Zamata (who joined in 2014), black cast member Kenan Thompson said that SNLnever found black women who were “ready” to be a part of their cast. If that’s what our own people think of black women in comedy, can you imagine what the powers that be think? Okeyo says, “Comedy is one the most powerful, transgressive and inspiring forms of public speaking. Laughter is revolutionary in transforming and translating the experience of being human.” Okeyo’s cast of comediennes does just that. From jokes about men catcalling us with names we could never live up to, like, “empress,” to asking the audience to help them get through swiping left and right on an app to go on dates, these women make light of the discrimination, sexualization and all other “-tions” we face. Okeyo says, “Comedy is about recognizing the power of free, smart speech that empowers both the performer and her audience.” This is comedy with a purpose. If one person leaves Okeyo’s show feeling

RACE- The Jessie Owens Story

The movie”RACE”, focused on the career of Jesse Owens who penetrated the sport of track and field and left his mark. It was overall a good movie. It had the same feel as the movie “42” (2013) which centered on the Jackie Robinson biography. Coincidently, both Jesse and Jackie both reigned in their specific sport in the same era. Furthermore, Jackie’s brother, Matthew MacKenzie “Mack” Robinson participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and won a silver medal, while Jesse participated in the Olympics the same year winning four gold medals! Makes you wonder if they both met each other. Anyway, most of the movie was centered on Jesse participating in the 1936 Summer Olympics. However, the film showed the struggle of being the best while African American at the time. We all know that segregation was alive and well at that time. But the movie captures much of what Jesse had to go through as an African American athlete who was both loved and hated at the same time. They loved him because of was arguably the fastest man in the world, however, they gave him difficulty because the color of his skin. Based on the movie, you can tell Jesse and his coach at Ohio State University had a close relationship. The relationship seems to be built off the coaches missed opportunity at participating in the Olympic himself, but sees an opportunity to help Jesse make his mark on the world in the 1936 Olympics. If you know anything about history, you’ll realize that this was the time where Hitler was rounding up Jews and shipping them off into concentration camps along with the pre-season of WWII. This part of history was inevitable and could not be left out of the film. Why? Well the 1936 Summer Olympics was held in Berlin! That’s right, in the midst of all the hell breaking out in the world and Germany. In fact, American politicians and businessmen had to pull major strings so Jews and Blacks could participate in the Olympics without any harm. So you already know that when Jesse was leaving all those white Germans in the dust on the track, those Nazi politicians were not happy. It was upsetting to see a “Negro” outrun and jump the supposed “superior race” at the time. Matter of fact, while in Berlin, Jesse bonded with a German who thought Germany’s racial problems were better than America’s. Jesse expressed that their problems were no different than what was happening to blacks back home. But I don’t want to spoil the whole film for you! However, the end of the movie catches a very important and sad fact. Though Jesse thought such achievements would help with acceptance of blacks, when he returned home, he realized that even as the “Great Jesses Owens” who represented the USA outstandingly in Berlin, they still would not recognize his unmatchable achievements (at the time) because of his skin color. Something to take away from the movie is Jesse’s ability to

Oprah & Shonda Rhimes Discuss Freedom in ‘Not Wanting to Marry’

BY NAJA RAYNE Shonda Rhimes and Oprah Winfrey have something in common – their reluctance to get married. "I was able to finally stand up and say, 'I don't want to get married.' At all," Rhimes, 45, told Winfery during an episode of SuperSoul Sunday. "I said that out loud. I said it to my family. I said it to my friends. I said it to anybody who asked. It's never been a dream of mine. " From there, the two prolific women continue to discuss the pressure put on women of a certain age to walk down the aisle. The Scandal creator explains to Winfrey that the expectation for women to get married is very similar to the expectation to have children. "It's a lot like the desire to want to have children in our society," she said. "You're supposed to want it, and if you don't want it, what's wrong with you?" While she makes the comparison, Rhimes also points out that she's always known she wanted children, but never felt that way about getting married. "I'm one of those people, since I was 5, I could tell you I was going to have kids. I could tell you I was going to have three. I could tell you they were going to be girls," she added. "But I have never wanted to get married. I never played bride. I was never interested. I don't know what it is; I never wanted to get married." Not so surprisingly, Winfrey, 61, shared the same sentiments as the mother-of-three. The media mogul explained that she felt like she always wanted someone to want to marry her, but when the opportunity presented itself, and longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham proposed, Winfrey realized she didn't necessarily want marriage. "The moment he asked me to marry him, I was like 'Oh, God! Now I actually have to get married?'" Oprah said about the wedding that she and Graham agreed to postpone, but never spoke about again. "But what I realized is, I don't want to be married. "Because I could not have the life that I created for myself. I couldn't do it." Rhimes agreed with Winfrey, adding that admitting their lack of desire for marriage out loud provides some sort of freedom from what she felt was "a dirty little secret." "It was really freeing to say it out loud," Rhimes said. Read more on Oprah.com.

5 Reasons We’re Loving Missy Elliott’s Return!

You guys know I am a HUGE fan of Missy Elliott!  When she started making appearances this year and the rumor mill began rumbling that she was working on new music, I was elated.  FINALLY!  Innovative, creative, fun, dance music is what she is known for and she did not disappoint!  Check out her new single, "WTF" (Where They From).  There are so many reasons I love this song, but let me give you 5 here:    This is an official dance track!  You cannot listen to this without moving your body.  Even if you can't dance...you will officially be a dancing machine with this one. Missy brings sexy, hip-hop glam to her video without having to show ANY skin!  Can we get an amen on that?  And the girl looks AMAZING!  So glad she is back! Hip-Hop's essence is fun and dance.  The marionettes take me out every time!  LOL.  You definitely get that here. This song sounds like NOTHING that is currently on the radio.  YES!  Can we say innovative?  Always.  Classic Missy. Missy made sure to give 2015 Hip-Hop fans, MISSY!  She brought the originality that is Missy to 2015.  She didn't have to assimilate to what is trending right now to make a hit.  This is Missy and it is a straight BANGER!! Check out the video for yourself below and let me know what you think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO_3Qgib6RQ

David Banner Stands Up For Black Women In New Song ‘Marry Me’: They ‘Don’t Feel Protected’

David Banner has had enough of black women being treated poorly by men. The ‘Play’ rapper defends and celebrates black women across the world in his new song, ‘Marry Me,’ promising to ‘protect’ and keep them ‘safe for eternity!’ Click to hear! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xduCVtXvIkE Crunk has grown up as David Banner, 41, one of the rappers who helped popularized the dirty south-style of rap has stepped up his game. Though he’s known for club hits like “Like a Pimp” and “Play,” David has changed his tune. His new song, “Marry Me,” is part of David’s efforts to stand up for black women, saying they’ve been mistreated for far too long! David released his new song on Oct. 23 and followed it up with a lyric video that clearly stated his mission with the new track. “I’ll wrap my soul around this ring girl / if I could / that’s what you mean to me / Give me your hand and your heart girl / I swear It’s safe for eternity,” David raps in between the smooth R&B chorus sung by Rudy Currence.  “This song is for [all] Black women,” David told XO NeCole, “but it’s especially for the dark-skinned black women. If you look at our culture, our women don’t feel protected. They don’t feel wanted.” It seems David is looking to set an example for other rappers or his fans to follow, and to start treating women right. “You look at most of who ‘so-called’ people of success cater to – nine times out of 10, it may not be a Black woman at all,” David added. “And if it is, it’s definitely not ones that look like our great grandmothers. And I said man, if nobody in the world says that they love them and that they respect them and that they want them, it’ll be me.” Well, David certainly showed respect for women, promising to cherish them and treat them like “a queen.” He also wants to prove that black men wanting to get married is not an “urban myth.” This song is a complete 180-degree turn around from his sexual hits “Like a Pimp,” “Play” and “Get Like Me.” But David said that those old days of trashing women as sexual objects are over. “It is very important for me to say that I’ve done enough degrading of our women myself,” he said. “So, in no way is this downgrading any other rappers or saying what any other black man should do, this is for me. I have some making up to do.”

Black Women Search for Love in New ‘Black Love’ Reality Show

courtesy of Essence A new reality show follows five Black women as they navigate through a tough dating pool in New York City. #BlackLove premieres on December 8 on FYI and features five dynamic career women who are also looking for success in love. Newly-single Married At First Sight star Monet Bell (in yellow)—who ended her marriage to Vaughn Copeland last year—is one of the five women featured on the show. She is joined by Laree “LA” Thomas (in white), a 35-year old travel consultant, Tennesha Wood (in blue), a 30-year old regional sales manager, Cynthia Branch (in black), a 38-year old licensed social worker and life coach, and Jahmil “Jae” Eady (in pink), a 26-year old web developer. On each episode, the women will attend workshops "on provocative themes related to love" and consult with relationships experts Damona Hoffman and Jack A. Daniels, ESSENCE has learned. The women each come with their own unique perspective: Branch is a divorced mom of two looking to get back on the dating scene, Eady dates both men and women, and some of the women are learning to navigate interracial relationships. Will you be tuning in to #BlackLove on December 8?

Syleena Johnson Continues to Make Moves With New Management Deal

Grammy Nominated singer, songwriter, actress and soon-to-be published author Syleena Johnson joins the Primary Wave talent management roster as she wraps her multi-city tour in support of her current chart-topping album, “Chapter 6: Couple’s Therapy” on Blackbyrd and eOne Music.  Johnson, had a hand in the creation of each song. “Chapter 6: Couple’s Therapy” is Syleena’s 8th studio album and with it’s peak position at #15 on the BILLBOARD R&B charts, it is a solid addition to her steady R&B discography that spans over a decade of hits.  Johnson’s forthcoming book, The Weight Is Over”, chronicles her journey to loving her body from the outside in and it is scheduled for release in 2016. " I am super excited to work with Primary wave on all levels. My sister and I are very fortunate and happy to be able to turn over the Syleena Johnson Brand to them and watch it flourish even further," says Johnson. By signing with Primary Wave, Syleena Johnson will join the talent management roster, which currently includes CeeLo Green, Melissa Etheridge, Eric Benét, Cypress Hill, Kenny Lattimore, Goodie Mob, Natalie Imbruglia, Isac Elliot, Calvin Richardson, among many others. Johnson launched her solo career with the release of, “Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness”, in 2001 on Jive records. The album received much praise and went all the way to the No. 1 position on Billboard's Heatseekers chart on the week of its release. “Chapter 2: The Voice,” was released November 2002 and included her first top 40 hit in the UK, "Tonight I'm Gonna Let Go" featuring Busta Rhymes and the Flipmode squad. In 2004 Johnson collaborated with Kanye West on “It All Falls Down.” The record was a top 10 hit worldwide and earned her a performance slot at the MTV VMA’s and 4 VMA Nominations that year. 2005 saw the return of Syleena Johnson with her album “Chapter 3: The Flesh.” The album featured production and appearances from some of the most respected talents in the industry, including hit-makers such as R. Kelly, KayGee, & Terence "Tramp Baby" Abney & the Platinum Brothers as well as Kanye West who produced the heavenly "Suddenly (Bulls-eye)”, which featured fellow Chicagoan Common. Further artists to make appearances on the album included Jermaine Dupri, Twista and Anthony Hamilton. “Chapter 4: Labor Pains” was released physically in 2008 and is Syleena's first release on her own record label 'Aneelys Records'. The two singles to be released from the album were "It Is True", produced by fellow Chicagoan 'Toxic', and “Shoo Fly,” both records were extremely well received by fans and critics alike. In 2011, Johnson released, “Chapter 5: Underrated” which features Toxic (Keyshia Cole, Monica, Twista) and a number of other high-profile producers and artists. Syleena Johnson is also a popular television personality. She’s one of the original cast members on the TV One hit reality series R&B Divas: Atlanta and recently wrapped up season 3 with co-stars Keke Wyatt, Angie Stone, Monifah Carter, LaTavia Roberson and former 702 lead singer Kameelah

Gocha Makes BOSS Moves on Finale & Shows Love Throughout the Community

On the season finale of "L.A. Hair," Gocha unveils her "Plan B" to the Kimble stylists. Click image for a preview of how it all goes down.  Not only is she making waves in the salon, she's doing what real bosses do and sharing her gift to help and motivate others throughout the Atlanta community.  I'm all for an sista that is pouring herself into the community.   October 6, 2015, the Atlanta Children's Shelter (ACS) hosted its 13th Annual Achievers' Celebration at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta to honor the remarkable success of their previously homeless families who persevered and maintained employment and permanent housing for at least one year with the help of ACS' programs.  Gocha Salon, along with the Paul Mitchell School of Atlanta provided makeovers to the honorees and program participants. Gocha also gifted the honorees with over $4,000 of free styling services for the rest of the year.  For information on the Atlanta Children's Shelter, visit http://www.acsatl.org/.   Saturday, Sept. 19, Gocha participated in Atlanta Children's Shelter's celebrity kickball game fundraiser.  The high-energy event took place  at Hammond Park.   The DECA Club students at Newton High School in Covington, GA enjoyed a dose of "real talk" from the successful celeb stylist and salon owner.  Gocha inspired the students with words of wisdom on business and hard work. Check out the trailer for the season finale of L.A. Hair below: Tune in to #LAHair TONIGHT at 10pm ET/PT on WE tv. //

The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira Slays in Vibrant Photoshoot

You guys know I LOVE 'The Walking Dead', right?!  And you should also know how much I adore Michonne...or should I say the character Michonne.  Danai Gurira, the actress that plays my beloved Michonne, stole my heart once more with her most recent photo shoot for DuJour magazine!  I'm in love with this blue ensemble!!  Ok, I will leave you all to gawk at the photos yourself.  Enjoy! courtesy of Huffington Post Danai Gurira is not only the sword-swinging, ass-kicking Michonne on "The Walking Dead" -- she's also a playwright. In an interview with DuJour magazine, the 37-year-old actress talks about her second off-Broadway screenplay "Eclipsed." Starring actresses Lupita Nyong'o, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah and Saycon Sengbloh, the play highlights five Liberian wives of a warlord and a Liberian peacemaker during the country's civil war trying to define their identities among the widespread violence. Gurira, who was born in America but raised in Zimbabwe, told the magazine that she was fascinated by an image she saw of women in the Liberia Civil War in 2003 and vowed to tell the story on stage one day.   View more pics here!

Taraji P. Henson Slays on Essence’s November “Life Goals” Cover

Taraji P. Henson’s firecracker role as “Cookie Lyon” on Empire has brought her a legion of new fans. As she moves through her newfound fame, the Emmy-nominated actress reflects on her stop-and-go moments in Hollywood, how she takes it all in stride, and why her current TV reign is right on time. ESSENCE’s November #LifeGoals Guide issue hits newsstands on Friday, 10/16. “Even though people are just now finding me as Cookie, thank God for Netflix because people are so moved by my performance they’re like, ‘Where has she been?’ I’ve always said I want to do the type of work that people study…” –Taraji P. Henson

Melanie Fiona’s “I Tried” Video Touches on Domestic Violence/Police Brutality

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Melanie Fiona is using the release of the video to her latest single, “I Tried,” to help forward the discussion about domestic violence and police brutality. "It is important for me to channel the ideas and concepts I am passionate about into my music and my art. As an artist with a social platform, I feel it is my responsibility to do so,” she said in a statement to Complex. “The video for ‘I Tried’ is a tribute to the fight in which we all witness and experience both internally and externally in the world daily.” Fiona is shown performing in a glass box with various news headlines --including those about the Charleston church shooting and questions surrounding Sandra Bland’s death -- interspersed throughout the video. “The conversation of important issues should not end when we turn the TV off,” Fiona added in the statement. “I hope this visual sparks emotion, thought, dialogue, reflection, and ultimately, positive change.” Fiona also posted the following message -- "I Tried" -- to her 660,000 Twitter followers: "For those who have fallen victim to the darkness, we will rise to a new dawn". 🙏🏽 Here is "I Tried". http://t.co/VK7riZ4t7B 💜 #NewMusic — Melanie Fiona ✌ (@MelanieFiona) October 9, 2015   "I Tried" is the second single off of Fiona's upcoming album, “Awake,” which is set for an early 2016 release. Check out the video above.

Tweet Releases New Video “Won’t Hurt Me”

The Southern Hummingbird is back after a long hiatus from the music scene with her latest single, "Won't Hurt Me".  The song dropped a few weeks ago, and now Tweet has followed up the well received single with the video.  Check it out here:   Get More: Tweet, Won't Hurt Me, Music, More Music Videos

Janet Jackson is truly UNBREAKABLE

I'm still on an extreme high from attending the “Janet Jackson” concert over the weekend.  I witnessed a true legend at her best. This lady still got it y'all.  I mean at 50 yrs. young, she entertained a crowd of goers from all walks of life, like never before. I mean everyone from the young and old, to black and white and everything in between.  It was like anything I've ever seen. There were not any wardrobe changes or intermissions. Janet sung for one hour and eighty minutes straight. Before the concert we were entertained by the DJ, who was spinning nothing but Janet's music. That's when I undoubtable realized that this artist has truly blessed us with an abundance of great hits over her long career. You know you're considered the ultimate star when the DJ can spin your music from an extremely large catalog all night long.   The night was clear not a cloud in the sky for this epic event. Janet hit the stage a little after 8 pm. Not bad to say, since she didn't have an opening act. Ms. Jackson hit the stage with a smoking hot single from her new album entitled “Burnitup!” featuring none other than producer and singer rapper extraordinaire “Missy Elliot”. I'm really digging this track. This up tempo track provides a nice backdrop to the end of a long hot summer. Jackson also entertained us with other tracks from the long awaited album as well as lots of old favorites. But, the best performances of the night would have to go to the song “Alright” and “Scream” as a tribute to her late brother Michael Jackson. Janet has always given us a complete dance party. When I tell you guys this lady danced her ass off. She did just that. It was amazing to see her still be able to execute those complex dance steps with that overall Jackson precision that her family is known all over the world for. Let's give it to this family they've set the tone for having the most creative dance moves in musical history. That's what I so loved about this concert the way she kept the entire show interactive and engaging throughout the entire show. That's what I call true showmanship. She has truly learned from the best that is “Michael Jackson”.  I know he was smiling down on her as he watched his little sister captivate audiences from all walks of life. So, I hope all my true Janet Jackson fans will either get the opportunity to check out her concert for yourselves or either pick up her latest project.  In Stores October 2nd. And let me know which song is your favorite off the album.   Leslie Thomas is a Music Blogger and lover of music follow me on Twitter @LBoogie252005.

Hip-Hop Female Duo, Porsha & Mercedes Flip Double Standard with “Dealership”

Last week during our "Love & Relationships" Periscope broadcast, we discussed the double standard, asking viewers if sex was just for men.  The women in the scope were quick to tell our male guests, that women enjoy sex just as much.  They didn't deny that there is a double standard that society has placed on women and they even admitted that some women perpetuate the double standard by how they judge women who are sexually liberated.  The lively conversation was spurred after viewing the new debut video, "Dealership", by hip-hop female duo, Porsha & Mercedes. As a hip-hop female duo, Porsha & Mercedes use their music to empower women to be comfortable in their own skin.  Monday, September 28th, Porsha & Mercedes released their new single and music video “The Dealership”, which is off of their upcoming EP also entitled “The Dealership”. The concept behind the song and music video is Porsha & Mercedes has a dealership full of all types of men where women can browse and purchase for their own personal pleasure. This perspective is one rarely seen or talked about in mainstream media.  I believe it to be one that deserves discussion.  View the video for yourself and let me know what YOU think in the comments. Definition of The Dealership (noun): A place where one can go to inspect, test drive and purchase the man of their choice. Watch “The Dealership” here *explicit lyrics* : https://youtu.be/fjLP4lmfBGU  

Tisha Campbell Wears Rapists’ Apology in “Steel Here”

Tisha Campbell is back...or should I say, she's STEEL HERE?!  Either way, we're happy she is!  This beauty has been doing her thing, consistently, for almost 30 years!  Can you believe this diva is 46?  Black surely don't crack she looks confident, strong, and fearless in her new music video!  Yes!  Tisha Campbell is back and not just '...sangin' in the background!' She is sharing her voice with the world in her music video, "Steel Here". This video is made even more powerful by the fact that she wears the words from an apology letter by her rapist on her body in the video. This song is so powerful, these lyrics spoke to me: "Up and down like a roller-coaster I've seen them come and go and I've been rich and poor man But I'm still resilient I'm always gonna be here 'Cause I'm supposed to be here Then do it, I'm owning my existence It's a system of survival 'Cause I'm my only rival"

Uzo Aduba Picks Up Emmy Number Two!

Uzo Aduba won her second straight Emmy for her work as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black at tonight's awards. (She won last year as a guest actress; she was upgraded to a supporting actress this year.) Her victory will be hard to forget: she delivered an incredible acceptance speech, one colored by jubilance, gratefulness, and raw emotion. Aduba thanked her fellow cast members and crew, the show's corporate parents at Netflix, her personal team, and her family. She was racing to get through all of the names on her list, but it didn't sound like she was worried about playing off; instead, it was as if she was trying to get off the stage before being completely overcome. When she spoke to her sister watching from the crowd and thanked her for her friendship, it was a moment that resonated with anyone who's ever felt overwhelming love and pride in a sibling. If Aduba keeps giving speeches like this, viewers will be happy if she dominates this category for years to come.

Regina King Wins An Emmy & the World Sees #BlackSistersLove

As if Taraji P. Henson could be any better, we can now add Most Supportive Friend to her list of superlatives. Exhibit A? Tonight's Emmy Awards.The Empire actress had the pleasure of presenting the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie award to her close friend Regina King and she just couldn't help but let her bias show. As soon as she announced King's win, for her role as Aliyah Shadeed in American Crime, Henson let out a huge scream alongside fellow presenter Terrence Howard.The fun continued as King took the stage, as she got a huge Taraji hug worthy of all the jealousy, as well as another scream. We feel you, Taraji, we feel you.  It was great seeing two black women, in the same industry, supporting and celebrating one another.  You know that this is a regular occurrence, but mainstream media fails to portray this perspective causing many to believe that all black women do is curse, fight, and despise each other.   Tonight, the world saw #blacksisterslove each other and it was GREAT! Of course once the award was passed over Henson let her friend do all the talking, and Regina launched into an impassioned and emotional acceptance speech. "That Taraji and Terrence presented me with this is pretty special," she began. "But I should have brought one of those comedy people had!"She then launched into her list of thank you's, giving shoutouts to her family, friends and coworkers. But she saved the best for last, naturally. "My amazing mother and grandmother who have taught me the power and the blessing of being a woman," she gushed. "This is just absolutely amazing. My son, Ian, the fact that I get to share this night with you, the best date in the house. You make being a mother my greatest accomplishment. Cheers." Cheers indeed, Regina.

Viola Davis Makes History As Black Actresses Dominate

In a historic win tonight, the law professor in firmly in charge of the TV class. For her role in ABC’s freshman How To Get Away With Murder, Viola Davis has become the first African-American to win the Emmy for Outstanding lead actress in a drama. Having already won a SAG Award for her performance as defense lawyer and university law prof Annalise Keating on the Shonda Rhimes EP’d series created by Peter Nowalk, Davis had previously been nominated for a Golden Globe for the role. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone is opportunity,” said an emotional Davis as she thanked Shonda Rhimes, Oscar winner Halle Berry plus fellow nominee Taraji P. Henson. Tonight’s telecast already saw wins by Orange Is The New Black‘s Udo Aduba and American Crime‘s Regina King. In a category that also saw Henson a racial barrier-breaking contender for her Empire role, the win for the two-time Oscar nominated Davis comes just days before HTGAWM begins its second season on ABC on Thursday nights along with fellow Shondaland shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.  Among the other nominees in the category in the 67th Emmys were multiple past winner Claire Danes of Homeland and two-time before nominee Robin Wright of House of Cards. Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss and Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany, who won the Critic’s Choice award in 2013 and finally got an Emmy nomination this year, were also in the category.

Ms.Lauryn Hill Stuns & ONE Musicfest Day Proclaimed

Over the weekend, thousands of people flocked to Atlanta to witness the 6th annual ONE Musicfest that took place at Aaron's Amphitheater in Lakewood on September 12, 2015. Gracing the stage were the talented Ms.Lauryn Hill, The Roots, A$AP Rocky, Wale, Janelle Monae & Wondaland, Raekwon, Ghostface, The Internet, Raury, SZA, Scarface, 8Ball & MJG, Big KRIT and Bun B. In honor of ONE Musicfest's impressive economical impact on Atlanta, Atlanta's Councilman member Andre Dickens, presented an official documentation proclaiming September 12th as "ONE Musicfest Day". One Musicfest was the only place to see this roster of incredible acts join together for One purpose  - which was to witness a wide variety of sounds, from rock to hip-hop, electro, reggae, funk, disco, house, alternative and soul while having your musical senses stimulated. ONE Musicfest's main focus was to create a roster of performers that would be enjoyable for multiple generations. "There is a lack of representation for soul, progressive hip-hop, alternative and rock, represented under one roof, in the format of music festivals in Atlanta", states J Carter, ONE Musicfest Producer.  "We have noticed that while there are many pockets of individuals that share taste in the same music, rarely do you see them share in this together. ONE Musicfest was created with the idea of 'music as the universal language'. Over time we aim to grow this fest into a phenomenon and bring together different sectors of individuals through a unique music platform." Founded by Jason Carter, ONE Musicfest has been one of Southeast's largest home-grown, musical arts festival to date including over 10,000 plus attendees. Carter has brought Atlanta music lovers the best and the brightest urban alternative acts performing in a welcoming, hospitable setting, creating an atmosphere where everyone can enjoy and discover music. ONE Musicfest is known for its interactive block party experience, where guests enjoyed nationally and internationally renown DJs, a food-truck village, vending from local businesses, VIP tents and more.

Celebrities Come Out to Honor at the Triumph Awards

Last night, the 2015 Triumph Awards presented by Reverend Al Sharpton, National Action Network (NAN) and TV One, was filmed in Atlanta at 200 Peachtree. Hosted by actressTichina Arnold, the ceremony - now in its 6th year - recognized the impact its honorees have made on our society. Recording artist and philanthropist Tyrese Gibson was presented the Entertainer of the Year honor by Martin Luther King III and received a special message from friend and fellow entertainer Ludacris. With a body of work as a civil rights leader, activist and minister spanning over six decades, Rev. Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery received the Chairman's Award for Historic & Transformative Service. Emmy® winning comedienne, actress and producer Wanda Sykesreceived the Activism in the Arts honor for her years of service to youth homelessness and engagement within the LGBT community. Chief Diversity Officer and Global Director of Education and External Relations for Intel, Rosalind Hudnell was presented the honor of Corporate Executive of the Year in support of her distinguished leadership within the corporate sector. The night's final honor, the President's Award for Service and Humanitarian Efforts, was presented to John Legend for his work as a vocal champion for social justice. Presenters included Afemo Omilami, Danielle Nicolet, Darrin Henson, Donnie Simpson,Nicole Beharie, Soledad O'Brien, Syleena Johnson, Richard Lawson, Patrik-Ian Polk andTerri J. Vaughn. Musical performances included Tyrese, Tasha Cobbs, Estelle, Jazmine Sullivan, Ledisi,Chante Moore, Stokley Williams and the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta. Award winning hip-hop artist, T.I. delivered an original spoken word piece titled "United We Stand." Musical Director and house band for the night was The Robert Glasper Experiment. The 2015 Triumph Awards will air on Saturday, October 3 at 8PM/ET on TV One. Check out pics from the event below:

ALL NEW BACK-TO-BACK EPISODES OF TYLER PERRY’S ‘FOR BETTER OR WORSE’ TONIGHT

Tune in to OWN tonight at 9:00PM & 9:30PM ET/PT for new episodes of Tyler Perry's "For Better or Worse." Last season ended with a young girl arriving and claiming that Marcus is her father; additionally the series has been focusing on the contentious divorce between Richard and Keisha. When the new episodes begin, Marcus and Angela attempt to learn more about the seventeen year old girl, Pam, who is claiming to be Marcus' daughter, and throughout the first few episodes, they learn some shocking information about her and a potential dangerous situation that she's in.

The Moment Shonda Rhimes Realized She Never Wanted To Get Married

Shonda Rhimes will never walk down the aisle -- and she is more than happy with her decision not to. In a Sept. 8 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the screenwriter, director and producer discussed her upcoming memoir Year Of Yes and some of the topics she covers in it. Rhimes told EW that she realized she didn't want to get married when she was writing a story line for Cristina Yang on "Grey's Anatomy." ”I was seriously dating somebody and I was like, I don’t want to do this," ”I was seriously dating somebody and I was like, I don’t want to do this," she told EW of her feelings on marriage. “I guess I had been secretly feeling that way and writing it for Cristina [on "Grey’s Anatomy"]." Rhimes said she felt like an outlier: "We’re all so conditioned to want it, I felt like there must be something wrong with me. But the minute I said it out loud to my family, it was fantastic." "Now if somebody says, ‘Are you looking for that?’ I say, ‘Nope, looking for a boyfriend, not a husband,'" she told EW. "And there’s a freedom to that. There’s no pressure if you’re not looking for it.” You do you, Shonda.

Vanessa Williams Returns To Miss America Pageant

Three decades after she gave up the crown amid a nude photo scandal, Vanessa Williams is returning to the Miss America pageant. The Miss America Organization, Dick Clark Productions and the ABC television network announced Tuesday they are bringing back the award-winning actress and singer to serve as head judge for the 2016 competition. It begins Tuesday and culminates in the crowning of the next Miss America on Sunday. Williams, the first African-American Miss America, won the title in 1984 but resigned after Penthouse magazine published sexually explicit photographs of her taken several years earlier. She went on to have a successful career in film, television, music and Broadway. Sam Haskell, executive chairman and CEO of the Miss America Organization, said his friendship with Williams pre-dated the turmoil caused by the release of the photos. "I have been friends with Vanessa for 32 years," he told The Associated Press. "When the photos were published, there were people urging her to fight, but close supporters knew if she lost that fight that she would be completely removed from the history books. Instead of pursuing what would surely have been a long and stressful legal battle, Vanessa decided to resign and focus on her career. Vanessa and her family were hurt during the aftermath of the resignation, and that saddened me." Haskell has been trying for a decade to bring Williams back to the Miss America stage, but this was the first year the logistics could be arranged. "Vanessa's career speaks for itself, with all the success that she has had," Haskell said. "When I became chairman of Miss America, one of the first calls I made was to Vanessa, to try to find a way to get her to come back. Her return as a huge success is a way for us all to move forward and put the past behind us. It's truly an honor to welcome her back to the Miss America Pageant." Since her 1988 debut album, "The Right Stuff," Williams has sold more than 7 million records worldwide and has scored No. 1 and Top 10 hits on various Billboard album and singles charts, including pop, dance, R&B, adult contemporary, holiday, Latin, Gospel and jazz. Her work has been honored by 4 Emmy nominations; 17 Grammy nominations (of which 11 were for her individually); a Tony nomination, 3 Screen Actors Guild award nominations; 7 NAACP Image Awards; and a Golden Globe, Grammy and an Oscar for Best Original Song for her platinum single "Colors of the Wind," from the Disney film "Pocahontas." She also starred on the TV shows "Ugly Betty" and "Desperate Housewives." Williams co-starred with Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. in Broadway's "The Trip To Bountiful" in 2013. She returned to the Great White Way the next year in the musical "After Midnight." She joins pageant hosts Chris Harrison and Brooke Burke-Charvet, music curator Nick Jonas and celebrity judges Brett Eldredge, Taya Kyle, Danica McKellar, Kevin O'Leary, Amy Purdy and Zendaya.

We Luv It: Amandla Stenberg is Bringing BadAss Black Women to Comics!

Amandla Stenberg says we need more badass girls -- and she’s helping to make that happen. The 16-year-old actress, who is widely-recognized for her activism around social and cultural issues -- is, yet again, speaking up and speaking out for women of color who often go under- and misrepresented. This time, Stenberg is using her talent to create an exciting new comic centered around the experiences of a young black warrior woman named Niobe Ayutami. The comic, titled "NIOBE: She is Life," follows the protagonist on her adventures to help save the world. Along the way, Niobe, who is half elf and half human warrior, is also on a journey of self-discovery to find out exactly who she is and all the powerful things she can do. In fact, Stenberg says Niobe's journey is very similar to her own. "I was drawn to give voice to Niobe and co-write her story because her journey is my journey. I connect to her mixed racial background and quest to discover her innate powers and strengths, to learn who she truly is," Stenberg said in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post. The similarities don't stop there -- Niobe is busy breaking barriers just as Stenberg is doing in reality. Together, the two are a powerful duo who proudly represent women of color through all dimensions. “She is on a path to a destiny that will test her faith and her will, something we can all relate to.  But there's never been a character quite like her -- one who shatters the traditional ideal of what a hero is. We need more badass girls!" Stenberg said.  Comics often have few characters of color and even fewer creators of color, which is partly why Stenberg -- as well as countless others in the comic book world  -- is working to bridge that gap and bring these stories to life. The actress teamed up with Stranger Comics, a multi-platform publishing company, to do just that with Niobe. Sebastian A. Jones, CEO of Stranger Comics, said his partnership with Stenberg seemed like a natural fit from the moment they met. “I first met Amandla with her awesome mother Karen at Mixed Remixed -- an event that celebrates all cultures. It did not take long for me to know she was the person I needed to develop the most beloved character in a franchise I have been brewing for more than two decades -- a hero that has the weight of the world on her winged shoulders, a woman who will bind nations,” Jones said. For him, Niobie's qualities were similar to those he said he sees in Stenberg: “I am talking about Niobe Ayutami. I am talking about Amandla Stenberg." Niobe Ayutami is our hope... Niobe is Amandla."Ashley A. Woods In the past, Jones has made it a point to create projects that target underserved audiences. He has previously worked with actresses Garcelle Beauvais and Halle Berry on children’s books including “I Am Mixed” and the “I Am" book series. “We are everywhere. But there are few companies willing to let us tell our

African-American Female Team Produce Indie Horror Film ‘The Dark Rite’

When most people think about the combination of Black folks and horror films they think of the stereotypical “first to die” trope (one that is too true), and then depending on your generation, ‘Candyman,’ ‘Blacula,’ or even the TV series ‘True Blood.’ Though a shift is occurring through the continual work of the ladies on the Graveyard Shift Sisters website, initial thoughts certainly do not bend to Black people actually working to make horror films. But then you’d be wrong there too. ‘The Dark Rite’ is a supernatural thriller by director Richard LeMay (‘Naked As We Came’) about a family of witches who descend upon a small town.  In the vein of ‘Rosemary's Baby,’ the film begins as a thriller, and slowly moves into a world of inescapable horror.   Dark in tone but not a “Black” film (the only Black characters involved are actor Justiin Davis (‘Boardwalk Empire’) as the 4th lead, with Chester Jones III (‘Hey Diddle Diddle,’ ‘Parallels’) and Margaret Laurena Kemp (‘Children of God’) in smaller roles) the film is however produced by a Black female team. Assembled to make “The Dark Rite’ happen, not by race but by skill, were three talented women – producer Trevite A. Willis, co-producer Nicole Sylvester, and line producer Stephanie Dawson - who have all made their mark on the industry and are steadily climbing further. Trevite A. Willis has produced award-winning short and feature films including the Bahamian drama ‘Children of God,’ which aired on Showtime and had theatrical releases in the USA, United Kingdom and The Netherlands. She previously produced the romantic comedy, “What a Man Wouldn’t Do for a Woman”, and the Black gay coming-of-age, “Blueprint”, a film festival favorite. Willis also produced the DGA Best Student Film – African American Award winning “Uncle Killa,” which was selected as an HBO finalist at the American Black Film Festival, and picked up by HBO. Nicole Sylvester, a Detroit-native, made a name for herself as a coordinator for independent and studio productions such as  ‘8 Mile,’ ‘Hard Ball,’ ‘*61,’ and at Jeff Daniels' company Purple Rose Films where she was Distribution Coordinator for the feature ‘Super Sucker.’ She soon began producing and directing her own films -  shorts ‘The Stop’ and ‘Minor Blues,’ and her feature film directorial debut ‘Layla’s Girl,’ a heartwarming film co-starring Richard Gant (‘Men of A Certain Age’)’ about one woman’s journey toward peace and healing after the death of her estranged mother. ‘Layla’s Girl,’ played at several film festivals. Nicole also produced Pete Chatmon’s web series ‘Queen Hussy,’ a raunchy mock reality show comedy based in 1974, and she is currently developing the feature ‘Maya and Her…Lover?’ which focuses on a woman who finds herself pushed beyond her limits when she begins an affair with a much younger man. Stephanie Dawson worked in the IT world before transitioning into video and film production. She started EclectionMedia in 2006 to create short form videos for private clients and under that banner produced several short films including ‘Not Another Heist Movie’ (2009), ’A Little Bit of

Survivor’s Remorse Season 2 Premiere Screening

STARZ® and XFINITY® hosted a red carpet premiere for the second season of the hit show “Survivor’s Remorse” at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station in Atlanta. Cast in attendance included Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps, RonReaco Lee, Erica Ash, Teyonah Parris and Allen Maldonado along with show creator Mike O’Malleyand executive producers Victor Levin, Hilton Smith and associate producer Dianne Ashford. Special guests included Jacob Latimore (who appeared in Season 1 of “Survivor’s Remorse”), HGTV host Egypt Sherrod, “Real Housewives of Atlanta” personalities Claudia Jordan and Demetria McKinney, HLN anchors Melissa Knowles and Yasmin Vossoughian,visual artist Fahamu Pecou and HLN sports correspondent Brian McFayden. Attendees were treated to a sneak peek screening of episodes 1 and 2 followed by a Q&A with the cast moderated by McFayden. Check out a sneak peek of Season 2 and pics from the screening below: https://youtu.be/n6qtLS0cw3s    

Tamar, Tina Knowles & More Get Real about Love, Faith & Careers at MegaFest

MegaFest, the nation's largest inspirational family festival, will bring some of entertainment's most well-known names to Dallas for Girl Talk, one of its signature sessions during Woman Thou Art Loosed. Girl Talk will be hosted by Serita A. Jakes and Sarah Jakes Roberts, wife and daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes respectively, along with a panel of nine women who will tackle issues such as love, marriage, divorce, faith, finance, business and careers. The session is open to all MegaFest ticket holders and is set for Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center. "Girl Talk is one of the sessions that I am looking forward to shepherding at this year's MegaFest," Serita Jakes said. "There's nothing like girlfriends coming together 'behind closed doors' for a real world conversation on hard hitting issues that unite women of all ages and from all walks of life." The nine women featured on the Girl Talk panel include: Lisa Bevere empowers women by combining the practical and profound truth of God's Word in award-winning curriculums and best-selling books, including "Lioness Arising," "Fight Like a Girl" and "Nurture." Bevere co-founded Messenger International, an organization that seeks to teach, reach and rescue, with her husband, John Bevere;   Tamar Braxton started her music career with the sibling group the Braxtons, featuring sisters Traci, Trina, Towanda and Toni. Since then, she has released several solo albums and tracks, and reunited with her sisters for the WEtv "Braxton Family Values." She is also a co-host of "The Real" a nationally syndicated talk variety show;   Caitlin Crosby, a singer/songwriter, actress, and founder and CEO of The Giving Keys, started her music career with Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds in high school. Started on one of Crosby's tours, The Giving Keys employs those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry from repurposed keys. The jewelry line is carried at national retailers, including Nordstrom and Anthropologie, and has been featured on "The Today Show" and "ABC World News with Diane Sawyer," among others; Angela Davis, a five time All-American, ran track professionally for Nike and was an Olympic Trials semi-finalist. A member of the world championship team, Davis has been coaching and training private clients for the past 15 years, teaching them drive and determination. Davis also travels with her husband, Jerome Davis, giving speed clinics and leading motivational forums. Davis has also been part of Oprah Winfrey'sacclaimed "Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend Tour;" Marjorie Harvey, the wife of comedian, talk show/radio host and authorSteve Harvey, is a mother of seven and soon-to-be grandmother of three. She and her husband started the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation (SMHF) with the goal of establishing national and international programs committed to fostering excellence in the lives of children and their families. Harvey began a women's empowerment initiative under SMHF called "Girls Who Rule The World," which encourages positive self-image, responsible personal conduct and respect for self and others; Tina Knowles Lawson, mother to Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, has spent her life in the music and fashion industries, starting as a

PBS Uncovers the Story of Legendary African American Tennis Pioneer Althea Gibson

People often cite Arthur Ashe as the first African American to win Wimbledon (1975).  He was indeed the first African American male to win the men's singles title, but it was, in fact, Althea Gibson, who was the first African American to cross the color line playing and winning at Wimbledon (1957 and 1958) and at the U.S. Nationals (1957 and 1958 – precursor of the U.S. Open). This fall, THIRTEEN's American Masters presents Althea, premiering nationwide Friday, September 4, 2015 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings) during the U.S. Open.  The 90-minute documentary reveals the highs and lows of this remarkable athlete whose life and achievements transcend sports and have entered the annals of African American history. From her roots as a sharecropper's daughter in the cotton fields of South Carolina, to her emergence as the unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s, her story is a complex tale of race, class and gender. In recounting Gibson's story, the filmmakers were meticulous in finding period imagery, including over 450 vintage photographs.  Producer and director Rex Miller weaves this archival visual material and interviews with those who knew Gibson, such as former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Wimbledon champions Dick Savitt and Billie Jean King (who also serves as one of the film's executive producers), Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, widow of Arthur Ashe, and more. Gibson was born in Silver, South Carolina on August 25, 1927. At the age of three, her father moved the family north migrating to Harlem in 1930. Gibson was a tomboy who grew up loving sports, but disliked school so much that she started skipping classes at the age of 12 and, by 18, had dropped out of high school.  She played basketball, but "…paddle tennis started it all," says Gibson, in a clip from a 1984 interview. She learned to play that sport on the streets, but it was bandleader Buddy Walker, who was also the neighborhood play street director, who introduced her to tennis and The Cosmopolitan Club, a private black tennis club. At the club, she met Fred Johnson, the one-armed coach, who taught her how to play. Under the auspices of the American Tennis Association (ATA), an organization of African American players, she began to develop as a tennis player.  It was during this time that she met boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, who would become a friend and mentor. Though a talented tennis player, Gibson was a street kid who lacked the genteel manner associated with the sport. It was under the tutelage of Dr.Hubert Eaton of Wilmington, NC and Dr. Robert W. Johnson of Lynchburg, VA, two African American physicians who loved tennis and helped young African Americans who wanted to play, that she flourished. She honed her skill, while receiving lessons in etiquette and the social graces, traveled and played in the segregated south, and even earned her high school degree.  Her success in tennis earned her an athletic scholarship (basketball and tennis) to Florida A&M, where she received a BA in 1955 at

Gocha Salon Grand Opening

Saturday, celeb hairstylist Gocha Hawkins celebrated the official grand opening of her new Midtown Atlanta salon during Bronner Bros Hair Show weekend. Hawkins opened her spacious, pink and silver salon up to over 200+ fans, friends and fellow WE tv “L.A. Hair” castmates who sipped cocktails by The Perfect Bartender and indulged in hors d’oeuvres catered by Scales 925. Special guests included John Paul Mitchell Systems founder and Patron Tequila owner John Paul DeJoria and John Paul Mitchell Systems Global Artistic Director Robert Cromeans, who congratulated Gocha on her salon opening and thanked her for being a longtime supporter of Paul Mitchell hair products. Additional guests included Phaedra Parks and Carmon Cambrice of “Real Housewives of Atlanta;” “Married to Medicine” cast members Dr. Heavenly, Lisa Nicole Cloud, Quad Webb-Lunceford and Toya Bush Harris; “Cutting It: In the ATL” castMaja Sly, Dedra Allen, Beautii Joseph, and LaKenya Morris; Erica Dixon (“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta”); Toya Wright, Latavia Roberson, and “L.A. Hair” cast members Kim Kimble, Jonathan Antin, China Upshaw, Terry Hunt, Anthony Pazos, Dontay Savoy and Naja Rickette. The cast of “L.A. Hair” sat down with hair blogger and BOSSIP editor Alexis Felder for a brief Q&A followed by more photo opps, laughs, drinks and selfies. At the end of the party, Gocha thanked the guests for attending and reminded them that Gocha Salon is open six days a week (on Sundays!) and is available as rental space for events. For more information, visit www.gochasalon.com. “L.A. Hair” airs Thursdays at 10/9c on WE tv:http://www.wetv.com/shows/la-hair

The Revolution Will NOT Be Televised: Today Show Cuts Janelle Monae’s Message

Janelle Monáe, Wondaland Records boss lady, gave an outstanding performance on NBC’s The TODAY Show Friday (Aug. 14). She turned the crowd up with her versatile catalogue ranging from her first single “Tightrope” to her latest track “Yoga.” However, the show’s anchor wasn’t feeling her set list when Monáe added a message about police brutality at the end of her performance of “Hell You Talmbout”–an empowering track that speaks to the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. “Yes Lord! God bless America! God bless all the lost lives to police brutality. We want White America to know that we stand tall today,” she said. “We want Black America to know we stand tall today. We will not be silenced…” In this case, the always poised “Q.U.E.E.N” singer was silenced, as the camera cut away from her and the anchor tried to talk over her. dang @TODAYshow, just couldn’t let her finish, huh? love ya @JanelleMonae!#BlackLivesMatter cc: @deray @Nettaaaaaaaa pic.twitter.com/QeGhY5lQGJ — marla york. (@theseMYtweetz) August 14, 2015 During this past week, Janelle has been traveling the tri-state area in support of the Wondaland collective’s new EP, “The Eephus,” appearing on shows like the Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club and Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning Show and even peacefully protesting in Times Square. During both visits–The Breakfast Club in particular–Monáe freely spoke out on race relations and became teary eyed while speaking. In regards to the newly released “Hell You Talmbout” she said: “This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters,” she said. “We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves… Won’t you say their names?” Watch her full performance below.

Media Mogul Cathy Hughes Knows What It’s Like To Be Hungry

courtesy of Woman's Day Cathy Hughes, 68, is the founder and chairperson of Radio One, the largest African-American–owned and operated broadcast company in America. The Washington, DC, company has 55 stations in 16 U.S. markets. But earlier in her life, Cathy knew what it was like to feel hungry. "My three siblings and I grew up in Omaha's projects; our father was in college and our mother was a housewife, so we didn't have much money. We weren't literally starving, but we never had enough to feel satisfied. I remember coming home from my job at 9 p.m. one night when I was 14 (I lied about my age to get hired). The dinner my mom had set aside for me had been eaten by my brothers. They'd left the napkin puffed up on top of the plate to cover their tracks.  I became pregnant at 16, and moved in with my soon-to-be husband's family. My son, Alfred, was born in 1965, and my husband and I split up soon after. I put myself through college in Nebraska, and eventually took a job as a sales manager at Howard University's radio station. In 1979, my second husband and I bought our own station and turned it into Washington, DC's first black perspective talk radio station. But three years later, we split up and I lost the house. Money was tight, and I worked constantly to keep the business alive. For 18 months, I slept on the radio station floor and cooked soup on a hot plate. Now that I'm financially comfortable, I keep my pantry so stocked, you'd think I had 10 grandkids, not just one. I donate extras to homeless shelters and to seniors who often have to choose between food and medicine. No one should have to make that choice. At Radio One, we've fed thousands of people through donation drives and Thanksgiving turkey giveaways. It's an incredible feeling to know that my child—and his child—have always had enough to eat. The cycle of hunger has been broken." September is Hunger Action Month! If you want to take action, volunteer at your local Feeding America food bank, host a donation drive, or make a donation at FeedingAmerica.org/WomansDay. ​Feeding America helps some 46.5 million people a year, including 12 million kids and 7 millions seniors.

Megan Good & Morris Chestnut Added to FOX’s Wednesday Night Line-Up

FOX is brewing a star-studded line-up for a Wednesday night takeover of new dramas, new mysteries, and new thrills this Fall. Alongside "Empire", one of the most popular primetime series in the network's history, FOX will introduce Miami-based investigative series,  "Rosewood" starring Morris Chestnut and the futuristic crime drama, "Minority Report" featuring Megan Good. FOX Premiere Schedule September 23rd 8:00PM - "Rosewood" 9:00PM - "Empire" 10:00PM - "Minority Report" Rosewood: Meet the Beethoven of private pathologists...From executive producer Todd Harthan ("Psych," "Dominion"), ROSEWOOD is the story of DR. BEAUMONT ROSEWOOD, JR. (Morris Chestnut, "Nurse Jackie," "The Best Man" franchise), the most brilliant private pathologist in Miami. Using his wildly sophisticated autopsy lab, he performs for-hire autopsies to uncover clues that the Miami PD can't see. His new partner-in-crime is Detective VILLA (Jaina Lee Ortiz, "The After"), a Miami PD detective with attitude and demons to spare. While she's impressed by Rosewood's incredible abilities, his constant optimism is more annoying than it is infectious. But somehow, week-to-week, this unlikely tag team will solve many crimes together. Joining Rosewood in his practice are his sister and "toxicology queen," PIPPY (Gabrielle Dennis, "The Game"); and DNA specialist TARA MILLY IZIKOFF aka TMI (Anna Konkle, "Man Seeking Woman," "Betas"), who is Pippy's fiancée. Plagued with his own set of medical ailments, Rosewood sees that every moment of life should be embraced and lived to the fullest. And those moments of victims' lives that will never be are what drive him the most. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhhYJXV508A Minority Report: The future is coming. Based on the international blockbuster film by executive producer Steven Spielberg and the first of his films to be adapted for television, MINORITY REPORT follows the unlikely partnership between a man haunted by the future and a cop haunted by her past, as they race to stop the worst crimes of the year 2065 before they happen. Set in Washington, D.C., it is 10 years after the demise of Precrime, a law enforcement agency tasked with identifying and eliminating criminals...before their crimes were committed. To carry out this brand of justice, the agency used three precogs - "precognitives" Dash, Arthur and Agatha - who were able to see the future. Now, in 2065, crime-solving is different, and justice leans more on sophisticated and trusted technology than on the instincts of the precogs. Precog DASH (Stark Sands, "Inside Llewyn Davis") - driven by his terrifying, but fragmented visions - now has returned in secret to help a brash, but shrewd police detective, LARA VEGA (Meagan Good, "Think Like A Man" franchise, "Californication"), attempt to stop the murders that he predicts. As they navigate this future America, they will search for Dash's missing twin brother, ARTHUR, and elude others who will stop at nothing to exploit their precog abilities. Also complicating matters is Dash and Arthur's ingenious, but reclusive, foster sister, AGATHA (Laura Regan, "Mad Men," "Unbreakable"), who just wants Dash to return home. A drama of crime and conspiracy, this is a timeless story of connection: two lost souls, Dash and Vega, who find friendship, purpose

Sooo…Apparently, BET Punk’d Me!

So, apparently, I got punk'd.  BET Uncut is not returning to the television airwaves (thank God).  However, I meant every single word that was said in my blog rant.  Even with the revival of a light-hearted prank show, I still have many questions for the programming team at BET.  There are many other television shows that your loyal viewers would like to see revived.  Especially, some form of news.  But, I must say BET, you got me good!  Had my blood pressure all up and ready to protest in the streets if need be.  Read about BET's ultimate prank here, courtesy of The Washington Post: We saw the #ArchThatBackChallenge and thought what better time to let ya'll know #BETUncut is coming back than NOW!pic.twitter.com/XLAlkNFxYr — BET (@BET) August 6, 2015 Leave it to BET to usher in the resurrection of the celebrity practical joke show “Punk’d” by making its audience its biggest mark. That’s right, if you were one of many either celebrating or scratching your heads upon last week’s announcement that BET would be reviving “BET Uncut,” which was basically BET’s after-hours music video equivalent ofSkinemax, well, congratulations. You’ve been punked. BET doesn't care about black people *Kanye West voice* #BETUncutpic.twitter.com/tYVnwcrhSz — Tha One & Only ® (@RGreen_94) August 12, 2015 Once a staple of the MTV lineup from 2003 to 2007, “Punk’d” was the show that made Ashton Kutcher a household name and trucker hats a years-long regrettable trend. It what made us laugh with glee as poor Justin Timberlake wondered why the Internal Revenue Service was repossessing his entire life. Andrew Bachelor, a guest host of “Punk’d” on BET. (Elton Anderson) BET chose to mark its debut with host DeStorm Power and special guest host Andrew Bachelor by telling viewers that “Uncut” would begin airing Tuesday at 11 p.m. That probably should have set off some alarms, because “Uncut’s” previous witching hour start time of 3 a.m. was what fed its mystique. BET even teased “Uncut’s” return during its lead-in, “Nellyville,” with clips from Nelly’s controversial “Tip Drill” video. Sure enough, Tuesday, the familiar opening of “Uncut” appeared, before it was rudely — some would say thankfully — interrupted by Bachelor and Power. It began with a disclaimer from BET superimposed over the image of three scantily clad women with their backs to the camera. This program is for mature audiences only. It contains material which some viewers may find objectionable or inappropriate for viewing by children under the age of 17. Viewer discretion is advised. A few scenes from “Tip Drill” began, interspersed with static interference, before the camera cut to Bachelor and Power sitting in a couple of director’s chairs. “So ya’ll thought you were going to see ‘BET Uncut?'” Bachelor asked. He and Power pointed at the camera and laughed. “Got ’em!” “Well, we’re here to tell you that you just got punked,” Power finished. But, in what may have proven to be the biggest “Punk’d” moment of all, the show that proceeded wasn’t one of new clips, but old ones from when MTV brought the show and Kutcher back in 2012. The first clip Power and Bachelor introduced was one of

Shonda Rhimes’ Thursday for ABC

Thank God it's Shonda Rhimes. ABC is banking on the mega-producer and Shondaland's twisty female-led dramas — "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder" — to carry Thursday's prime-time block of programming. Joined by the leading ladies of her "TGIT" lineup, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington and Ellen Pompeo, executive producer Betsy Beers and "HTGAWM" co-creator Pete Nowalk during the Television Critics Assn. panel in Beverly Hills, Rhimes on Tuesday remained tight-lipped about the shows' upcoming story lines but did tease to Meredith's rebirth on the next season of "Grey's Anatomy" after the death of her husband (Patrick Dempsey) and noted that "Scandal" and its Season 4 cliffhangers would pick up right where they left off. The shows return and air back to back on Sept. 24. Rhimes' long-running medical soap "Grey's Anatomy" is going into its 12th season, despite its exodus of numerous original lead characters. Season 11 saw the departure of Dempsey, whose Dr. McDreamy met his end in a car crash. Rhimes said that move was the only way they could preserve Meredith and Derek's love story and she is excited about the show's "lighter tone" moving forward. "We ended last season in which we said the sun is going to rise again," Rhimes said. "We do have this world in which Meredith is single and she is living this life that she hadn't thought she was going to be living again. She's living in a house with her sisters, and she's surrounded by women who are dating and having a whole life, and she's not into any of that and starting to wonder if there's a there a second life here or are the best years of your life behind you." The writer and producer said she's excited about the medical growth of the character as a leader and the evolution of that woman. Pompeo said that it's an important human story to tell. "So many people lose their spouses in a myriad of different ways and a lot people feel like they can't get up again," the actress said. "To tell that story about how life does go on after what you think is impossible is something that so many people can relate to." The "Grey's Anatomy" star said that it's a story worth telling if it can provide even one person comfort. Washington political drama "Scandal" enters its fifth season by hitting the ground running. "Gladiators" will have to stock up on their wine and popcorn and settle in to see what becomes of several of the Season 4 finale's cliffhangers. With the successful arrest of Papa Pope in the finale, Olivia (Washington) finally — and passionately — reunites with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), the president of the United States, on the White House terrace after he gives the first lady the boot. "We are picking up almost pretty much where we left off, which is a pretty harrowing place, where the world had been fairly blown apart for everybody," Rhimes said. Cyrus (Jeff Perry) is fired as the president's chief of staff, the president's wife,

Let Black Love Live!

Rumors that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's marriage is on the rocks have been swirling for years, and on Monday, RadarOnline came out with what seems like the millionth report claiming the couple is headed toward divorce. And what do you know: It's not true. Just ask Will Smith. The 46-year-old actor was pretty emphatic about it when he took to Facebook to dispel reports: Under normal circumstances, I don't usually respond to foolishness. (Because it's contagious) But, so many people have... Posted by Will Smith on  Monday, August 3, 2015 Jada quickly followed up Will's statement on Twitter. My king has spoken. — Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) August 3, 2015 The couple, who married in 1997 and are parents to Jaden, 17, and Willow, 14, have long been plagued by rumors of divorce, cheating and that they have an open marriage.  And because their marriage is under constant scrutiny, Pinkett Smith recently opened up to American Airlines' inflight magazine American Way, revealing that at this point, the couple almost expects the rumors.  "Every year there’s a new [rumor]. And I’m like, 'Here we go. Get ready. Are ya holdin’ on tight?'" she told the magazine, adding that though her and Will's relationship isn't perfect, she doesn't understand why people assume the couple would simply give up on their marriage. "And relationships go through shifts because in life, things shift," she said. "So people are automatically like, ‘What’s going on? They must be getting a divorce.’ Well, no. But when people feel those shifts and there’s a mystery, they have to fill it with something."  

Michelle Obama wants Beyonce’s Job!

In a short interview with rapper Wale (below), First Lady Michelle Obama said if she could have any other job besides her own, she’d be Beyonce. “If you had the opportunity to have a different occupation, what would it be?” Wale asks in the quick sit-down interview — posted to Instagram following Mrs. Obama’s Beating the Odds summit last week in Washington. “I would be Beyoncé,” the First Lady responds. “I've got the hands.”  Check out the InstaInterview below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr4-vdmcsTA

Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige Join ‘The Wiz’ Cast

Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige are leading NBC’s reboot of The Wiz. Musical fans still have a few months before they have the chance to watch "The Wiz Live!" — the song-and-dance adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" — but they're already getting an idea of what's to come thanks to some big casting news. On Tuesday, NBC revealed that Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige will take on a couple of major roles. Latifah, who received rave reviews for her musical maneuvers in 2002's big-screen version of "Chicago," will take on the part of the seemingly powerful Wiz. Blige will play the story's ultimate baddie, the Wicked Witch of the West, aka Evillene. "Wiz" executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have worked with Latifah several times before (in "Chicago," 2007's "Hairspray" and in the 2012 television production of "Steel Magnolias). "We are so happy reuniting with Latifah," they said in a press release. "We've been friends for a long time and we've had quite a lot of success together. To see her play the iconic role of the Wiz and make it her own is going to be one of the joys of producing this event." The production duo are also no strangers when it comes to small-screen musicals, as they also worked together on NBC's 2013 production of "The Sound of Music Live!" As for Blige, director Kenny Leon said, "I can't wait to watch Mary bring the badness that is Evillene." Of course, the television event won't be the first time the stage musical has come to the screen. In 1978, Richard Pryor played the Wiz and Mabel King took on the role of the Wicked Witch in a film that also starred Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Nipsey Russell.  It was recently revealed that Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in first Broadway production of the tale, will take on the role of Auntie Em. The Wiz is a classic Black America Musical spin on The Wizard of Oz and I know the addition of these two powerhouses will make for an AMAZING production!  I can't wait!  Will YOU be watching December 3rd?

Raven-Symone Says Caitlyn Jenner’s Moving ‘Too Fast, Too Soon’

Caitlyn Jenner has become a noticeable activist for the LGBTQ community that many people love and support. But the former Olympian’s efforts aren’t sitting well with Raven-Symone, who revealed her concerns about Jenner and her new docuseries “I Am Cait’ on “the View” on Monday (July 27), Us Weekly reports. “I think it’s wonderful, and yes, it needs a light being shined on it,” the 29-year-old co-host noted of the LGBTQ community. “When I came out, I didn’t go and go hardcore and be like, ‘I’m going to save the world for LGBT…’ You’ve got to learn it. You’ve got to learn it first, and she’s not, really.” https://youtu.be/okzMug3xWeA Symone’s fellow “The View” co-host Rosie Perez weighed in on the situation as she mentioned the possibility that Jenner waited for the right moment and platform to explore and shape the conversation. “Well, I think you can be strategic before you come out as well,” Symone replied. “Before [I came out], I was definitely repping the community, even when I wasn’t saying this is what I was. And I’m not faulting [Caitlyn], because yes, we need [her]. It’s too fast, too soon.” In addition to commenting on Jenner and her show, Symone stated that she personally does not claim to be an activist for the LGBTQ community. “I can’t be,” she said. “I learned from the real gay rights activists. I can only do what I can.” As for Jenner, she spent her Monday posting a new entry on her WhoSay series about the issue of suicide, which is a sensitive LGBT topic. “One tremendous problem, especially for trans youth, is the suicide rate,” she wrote on the post, which was called “A Tremendous Problem Facing the Trans Community.” “A recent study of nearly 100 transgender youth, ages 12 to 24, found that 51 percent reported thinking about suicide, while 30 percent had attempted it at least once in their lives… The latest you might have heard about last night on my show — Kyler Prescott, a 14-year-old trans boy who not only dealt with trans issues, but also suffered from severe depression. Sadly, he wasn’t able to make it between the combination of the two.” Jenner’s comments on Prescott come after the season premiere of “I Am Cait,” which found the reality TV fixture meeting with the late teen’s parents and friends to discuss the startling rates of suicide amongst transgender youth. Speaking with Jenner, Kyler’s mother, Katharine Prescott, stated that her vocal support wasn’t enough to save Kyler through the beginning stages of his transition. “She loved and supported her trans child in so many ways, including getting Kyler’s name and gender marker legally changed,” Jenner wrote, noting Kyler’s transition from female to male. “Sadly, he died by suicide two months ago…. But this is the reality for far too many in the transgender community.” Katharine Prescott contributed to the blog post as she shared that her son struggled with complete or lack of acceptance from others. For parents in similar situations, she provided words of encouragement with the following comment

Season Five of “Lexus Verses and Flow” Premieres JULY 30 On TV ONE

TV One’s show-stopping series Lexus Verses And Flow  sets the tone this summer with its fifth season premiere on Thursday, July 30 at 10p.m. EDT. Actor Laz Alonso (The Mysteries of Laura) returns to host the NAACP Image Award-nominated variety show that blends electrifying musical performances from chart-topping music stars alongside more than 28 talented poets offering soul-stirring spoken word pieces. This season will showcase performances by legendary and emerging artists alike including Avery Sunshine, Charlie Wilson, Chrisette Michele, Jazmine Sullivan, Jussie Smolett of Fox’s Empire, Leela James, Melanie Fiona, Raekwon the Chef featuring Assassin, Sevyn Streeter and B.o.B. This season’s poets will deliver original pieces covering a wide spectrum of topics ranging from discovering a first crush, to an almost unnatural love of bacon, to surveys of the social climate in the nation surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.   Prepare to be captivated by this season’s lineup, premiering every Thursday at 10p.m. EDT: All New Season Verses & Flow, Thursday 10/9c from TV One, LLC on Vimeo. July 30: Charlie Wilson with spoken word artists The Poet Puff Girls, Hieu Minh Nguyen and Rob Gibsun August 6: Leela James and Chrisette Michele with spoken word artists Thomas “Tom Cat” Hill & Malachi Byrd, Denice Frohman and Pages Matam August 13: Estelle with spoken word artists The Saint, Marquesha Babers and Carvens Lissaint with Joshua Bennett August 20:  Melanie Fiona and Raekwon featuring Assassin with spoken word artists Tre G, Will Cat, and SaeLah August 27: Avery Sunshine with spoken word artists Nikki Blak Jesse, Parent and Rob Gibsun returns September 3: Jazmine Sullivan with spoken word artists Morgan “Momo” Butler & Malachi Byrd, Amin “Drew” Law and Ed Mabrey September 10: Sevyn Streeter and B.o.B with spoken word artists Megan Falley & Olivia Gatwood, Ethan Walker Smith and Prentice Powell September 17: Jussie Smollett with spoken word artists Jamila Lyiscott, Tyson Swanson and Michael ‘Chief’ Peterson, Prentice Powell and Black Ice join forces   The fifth season of Lexus Verses and Flow also brings the return of the Lexus Verses and Flow Scholarship. Presented in partnership with 10 of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, two students per institution will each be awarded a $5,000 scholarship in recognition of their community leadership and academic excellence. The deadline for scholarship entries is Sept. 4. For more information visit http://www.luxuryawaits.com/versesandflow/season-5/lexus-hbcu-scholarship/  

Missy Elliott appears on “Nobody Bigger” Remix!!

Gospel group 21:03 released the remix to their single, "Nobody Bigger", yesterday and we're loving it!  The song is remixed over Missy's "Work It" track and it features the one and only Missy Elliott lending a verse, along with J Moss, Canton Jones, and a host of others this is sure to be a summer Gospel anthem! It's always good to hear Missy Elliott, she's such a refreshing entertainer.  Check it out and let me know what you think! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN92PfkSZ1g&feature=youtu.be

Ava DuVernay: “Follow the White Guys”

courtesy of Huffington Post As the film industry continues to grapple with a glaring gender disparity when it comes to women in production, director Ava DuVernay has offered a suggestion on breaking the Hollywood mold. During her keynote address at this year’s annual BlogHer conference in New York City on Saturday, the “Selma” director shared this advice to women and people of color looking to excel in Hollywood: “Follow the white guys.” “You gotta follow the white guys. Truly. They’ve got this thing wired. Too often, we live within their games, so why would you not study what works?” she said during the panel moderated by Women and Hollywood founder, Melissa Silverstein. DuVernay assured audiences that women holding and aspiring to leadership roles should continue to forge their own paths and maintain their originality -- while picking up on those cues that lead to success rather than replicating the trajectories and behaviors of those in charge. “Take away the bad stuff -- because there’s a lot -- and use the savvy interesting stuff and figure out how they can apply. It’s a good one for the ladies,” she said. The 42-year-old filmmaker went on to tell the crowd of female bloggers and media professionals how women and people of color have been accustomed to asking permission instead of pursuing the things they want. "Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want,” she said. “We've been really indoctrinated with this culture of permission. I think it’s true for women, and I think it’s true for people of color. It’s historic, and it’s unfortunate and has somehow become part of our DNA. But that time has passed.” DuVernay's most recent comments follow her appearance on AOL’s MAKERS series, where she spoke on the new opportunities for women to break into the film industry. “There are new ways to do things," she said during the episode. "New ways to shoot, new ways to monetize, new ways to distribute, new audiences to find, new ways to communicate with them that don’t require some old man telling you ‘you can do it.’ So now that’s the case, and we know it’s the case, we need to begin.” Watch more of Ava DuVernay’s BlogHer conference keynote speech in the clip above and below. (Hat tip: The Hollywood Reporter)

One more reason we love Oprah Winfrey!!

It's no secret that we love Oprah Winfrey here at I Hear That Girl!, and after seeing the Jamie Foxx interview with Steve Harvey, we've got just one more reason why we love her so.  The most important factor of success is to be willing to share the knowledge and wisdom you've gained.  Oprah is so giving of her knowledge, check out what Jamie Foxx had to say... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0CMkgQslqY

Lisa Leslie, Michelle Williams, Holly Robinson Peete & More Celebrate at Pre-Espy’s Event!

It's all about partying with a purpose! Celebs/Athletes came out to support the 4th annual 'Champions for Choice,' pre-ESPY Awards dinner presented by the American Federation for Children. WNBA Hall of Fame star Lisa Leslie and NBA veteran Jalen Rose hosted the event, which honored actress, TV host, and philanthropist Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL quarterback, Rodney Peete. The annual Pre-ESPY's celebration to support school choice was held on the rooftop of the Luxe Hotel and featured a live performance by Grammy Award winner Michelle Williams (Destiny's Child). "My commitment is to children across the nation and I am happy to be a part of making a difference and education is key to keeping the doors of opportunity opened," said host Lisa Leslie. In attendance, at this years event were: Oscar Award-Winning actor Lou Gosset Jr, Hall of FamerLisa Leslie, Actress Holly Robinson Peete, former NFL player Rodney Peete, Marcellus Wiley, TV Personalities Hank and Kendra Baskett, Gloria Govan & Tiffany Cambridge, Actress Elise Neal, V Bozeman from (Empire), TV host Shaun Robinson, NBA legend John Salley, Norm Nixon, Dawn Richard, Shanice Wilson, Garcelle Beauvais and actor Robert Christopher Riley, to name a few.

Da Brat Joins The Rickey Smiley Morning Show

If you’ve been wondering what Da Brat has been up to these days, wait no longer. According to AJC.com, the rapper will be joining the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, making her the third female-cohost in just over a year. Da Brat, government name: Shawntee Harris, replaces “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member Claudia Jordan, who recently announced that she was leaving the show. Before Claudia, there was Ebony Steele who’d been with the show for seven years before she was released from her duties without explanation. Smiley’s morning show airs in 60 markets nationwide. Another former housewife, Porsha Williams, will stay on the show as the female representative on the TV Show “Dish Nation.” Da Brat, 41, an Atlanta resident, participated in the fifth season of “Celebrity Fit Club” on VH1, as well as an episode of “Styled by June.” She’s also been a regular on the show for the past year, doing free style battle with fellow cast members Headkrack and Gary With Da Tea.

Viola Davis is star and executive producer of new film ‘Lila and Eve’

Maybe if a black woman wants a leading role, she has to create it herself. Viola Davis spent 27 years shining in mostly supporting parts before her Oscar-nominated turn in “The Help” and her lead in ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder” proved she deserves to be front and center. So Davis founded JuVee Productions with her husband, Julius Tennon, in 2012 to develop the diverse, female-driven projects that have been so hard to find. “I believe that my potential, my talent, is limitless -- as limitless as Julianne Moore or Meryl Streep or Cate Blanchett -- if I have the narrative, the direction, the other actors,” says Davis, 49, who costars with Jennifer Lopez in her company’s first feature film “Lila & Eve” opening Friday. The movie follows two grieving mothers who become vigilantes after losing their children to street violence. It showcases both women and minorities, which is the exception to the rule. Hollywood is still not diversifying as fast as its audience. Even though 46% of moviegoers in 2013 were minorities, only 16.7% of movies released that year starred people of color in lead roles, according to the UCLA 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report. And women lagged 2-to-1 as film leads. So Davis took a cue from “How to Get Away With Murder” creator and television writer/producer goddess Shonda Rhimes, and took charge of her career. “The only way I was going to get the narratives and find things that I would be at the forefront of was if I drove it,” explains Davis, who is also an executive producer on her new film. “They don’t write much for No. 10 or No. 14 on the call sheet -- which I’ve been a lot,” she says of her bit parts. “I had to just squeeze out every bit of life in those one or two scenes, so that I could show my talent.” Those days are over. Now Davis is lining up major projects for herself, including the still-untitled Harriet Tubman HBO movie and the family court drama series “Custody” in development, which stars Davis, Ellen Burstyn, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Hayden Panettiere. She is also filming the DC Comics’ anti-hero epic “Suicide Squad,” where she plays villainous leader Amanda Waller. And she continues scoring accolades for her Screen Actors Guild Award-winning portrayal of fearless professor Annalise Keating on “How to Get Away with Murder,” which returns for a second season this fall. Her “Lila & Eve” director, Charles Stone III, supports the push to get more diverse movies made. “When I first read the script, I immediately got excited by the potential opportunity of seeing a woman (and a woman of color,) not just take matters into her own hands by seeking revenge, but also realize the moral implications of her actions and find the courage to make things right,” he says “It was a no-brainer that Viola was the actor to make Lila come to life,” he adds. “Viola is the consummate student of the craft -- dedicated solely to the character and her journey of transformation. For

Exclusive Video: Kim Burrell Mic Toss ft. India Arie, Lalah Hathaway, Chrisette Michele, Anita Wilson & more

courtesy of The Radio Revival During the 21st Annual Essence Festival, gospel and R&B stars gathered together to pay honor and tribute to the incomparable artist, vocalist, songwriter and arranger Kim Burrell.  After a soul stirring performance by Jonathan McReynolds, Kim Burrell took the mic and began an impromptu mic toss with stars like India Arie, Chrisette Michelle, Anita Wilson, Jason Nelson, Isaac Carree, The Walls Group and Lalah Hathaway…who gave us a treat of self-harmonizing!  You have to see and hear it for yourself!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O__RwKluLfo

Anita Wilson Shares 7 Upbeat Gospel Songs to Supercharge Your Workout

courtesy of Essence Want to get your praise on while you sweat? Grammy-nominated gospel singer Anita Wilson recently shared her favorite danceable gospel jams with ESSENCE. Wilson, who first burst on the scene with Donald Lawrence & Co., doesn’t want to seem narcissistic, but says she has several groove-inducing praise songs that keep her motivated to work out when she’s really not in the mood. “I love anything that keeps me going on the treadmill when I don’t feel like doing it,” Wilson shared after her ESSENCE Festival performance. Her latest album, Vintage Worship, includes a few of her favorites like So Gone and You Love Me. Wilson isn’t just into her own music, however. The Stellar Award nominee also loves to rock out to Erica Campbell and Deitrick Haddon, too. Ready to break a sweat? Check out 7 of Anita Wilson’s favorite go-to gospel joints that’ll power up your next workout. Anita Wilson - "Jesus Will" <ess_youtube< Anita Wilson - "It's Done" <ess_youtube< Deitrick Haddon – "Watch Me Praise Him" <ess_youtube< Deitrick Haddon’s LXW – "Great God" <ess_youtube< Ricky Dillard – "Celebrate the King" <ess_youtube< Erica Campbell – "A Little More Jesus" <ess_youtube< Erica Campbell – "I Luh God" <ess_youtube<

Ava DuVernay Won’t Be Directing ‘Black Panther’ Movie

courtesy of Essence The first Black female superhero movie director moment is going to have to be put on hold, folks. It turns out those rumors of Ava DuVernay directing Marvel’s Black Panther movie were not totally factual—she considered it, but passed. The Selma director tells ESSENCE she did meet with execs about bringing the story of Marvel’s first superhero of color to life, but they had different ideas of how to move forward. “I guess I'll declare my independence from this rumor on 4th of July weekend and Essence weekend!” DuVernay said on her way to accept a McDonald’s 365 Award during the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans. “I'm not signing on to direct Black Panther,” she added. “I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me.” The Black Panther movie is currently in the works, with Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up) slated to play the role of T’Challa, the ruler of the fictional nation of Wakanda and the first Black superhero to appear in a mainstream comic book franchise in the 60s. “I loved meeting Chadwick and writers and all the Marvel execs,” said DuVernay. “In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn't see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.” The civil right pilot she recently shot for CBS, tentatively titled For Justice, didn’t get picked up. “We turned it in the week of the Baltimore uprising, and we had an uprising in our piece when we filmed it,” she said. “I think they thought it was a little close to real life. But I had an absolute ball making it.” DuVernay, a 2013 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood honoree, is currently filming a love story set against Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. As for the Black Panther movie, she says she’s in full support of the project. “I love the character of Black Panther, the nation of Wakanda and all that that could be visually. I wish them well and will be first in line to see it."  Read more on Essence.com.

Misty Copeland is the First Black Female Principal at ABT

Misty Copeland, the Missouri-born ballerina who's become a forceful voice for diversity in ballet and achieved a celebrity that far transcends that rarified world, was named principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre on Tuesday — the first African-American woman to reach that status in the company's 75-year history. Copeland, 32, fought tears as she spoke about her promotion, which she said was a lifetime dream — but such a difficult one to attain that she never really thought it would happen. "This is it," she said. "This has been my dream since I was 13, to be a principal dancer and reach these heights." "But it hasn't been overnight," she added at a hastily arranged news conference — a rarity for a ballet promotion. "It's been 14 years of extremely hard work ... I'm just so extremely honored to be an African-American and to be in this position." And, Copeland said, she hoped her ascension to the very top ranks of ballet would inspire other young dancers of color — "all the little girls" — to stick with their own dreams. "So many young dancers of color stop dancing at an early age because they just don't think there will be a career path for them," she said. "I hope that will change." She spoke of her own doubts when she joined the ABT corps at age 19 and saw no one "who looked like me." "I had moments of doubting myself and wanting to quit, because I didn't know if there would be a future for an African-American woman" at that level," she said. "At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through." The company announced the promotion six days after Copeland made her New York debut as Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake," one of the most important roles in a ballerina's repertoire. The emotional performance ended with Copeland being feted onstage by trailblazing black ballerinas of earlier generations, and with a sea of fans cheering and taking cellphone videos. Copeland has become increasingly famous over the past several years, achieving a pop culture status exceedingly rare for a ballet dancer. "We haven't had a ballet dancer who has broken through to popular culture like this since Mikhail Baryshnikov," said Wendy Perron, an author and the former editor of Dance Magazine. "And she's going to bring more attention from that world to ballet." In the past year, Copeland has appeared on the cover of Time magazine as one of the most influential figures of 2015, and written both a children's book, "Firebird," and a best-selling memoir, "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina," which has been optioned for a movie. She also was the subject of a documentary at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. In recent years she's also performed in a music video with Prince, and been featured in a hugely popular online ad for Under Armour sportswear that shows her leaping and spinning in a studio, while a narrator recounts some of the negative feedback she received as a youngster, when she was told she had the

Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae talk black hair, hip-hop at BET Experience

In an industry rife with rules and expectations, Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu purposefully stand out. Self-described as “wonder twins,” the two artists make socially conscious and sonically unique music across genres. Saturday, Monae and Badu talked with Reggie Ossé of “The Combat Jack Show” as part of the Genius Talks series hosted by BET at the L.A. Convention Center during the network’s weekend of activities leading up to its Sunday awards show. The weekend, with events that included a Kevin Hart comedy show Thursday, a fashion show Saturday and a number of free performances from up-and-coming musicians throughout, is known as the BET Experience. Monae and Badu spoke about their efforts to make music in spite of the restrictions the industry and world try to place on them. “There are so many rules to everything we do,” said Badu, her feet resting on an electronic skateboard she rode onto the stage. “There’s no room for creativity in art because there's always this structure we have to follow. Art doesn’t work that way. Inspiration doesn’t work that way. I just don’t know the rules. I don’t want to know them.” “What we like to say at Wondaland is that we do things according to our soul clock,” said Monae, piggybacking off of Badu’s comments. “You have to do things according to your inner compass and that’s what I go by.” Monae and Badu are known for their integration of genres and styles into their discography. In sharing their favorite tracks (Badu loves Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message”; Monae called Tupac Shakur the man she thought she would marry), they asserted the emotional resonance of hip-hop and rap (“talking songs” as Badu called them) sometimes can’t be harnessed with pure melody. “I use hip-hop as a form of expression,” said Monae, who raps on her hit with Badu, “Q.U.E.E.N.” “I don’t consider myself a rapper or a hip-hop disciple, but whenever I’m trying to communicate, I can sing it or sometimes when you rap it or speak it, it has a totally different aggression or meaning to it. Sometimes if it’s too melodic, they’re not going to feel or understand the power. With hip-hop you can be as real as you want to.” For Badu, hip-hop is a way of life, she said, one bigger than religion. “I say that because people all over the world bow their heads to different names of the creator, but everybody nods their head in unison to the snare and the kick,” she said. “It brings us all together. It’s like a pseudo religion or a tribe.” Badu and Monae not only stand out from the pack with their music, but also in their hairstyles, which Ossé called “unapologetically black.” Both women are known for rocking natural styles, an act Badu said is inherently political. “I think everything we do in America as black women or as black people is a political statement,” she said. “We’re making a political statement when we’re wearing an afro or locks. We’re being who we are, especially

Beyonce’ as a Superhero? Disney & Marvel hope so!

*It’s being reported that Beyoncé is in talks with Disney and Marvel to join Marvel’s “Avengers,” which would cause the box office to combust if true. We’re not fanatics of the superhero universe, but dress up Queen Bey as a sexy goddess who saves the day and Marvel can have all our money. The Daily Star reported that the singer/actress is being considered for four possible characters, but Marvel Studios doesn’t have the rights to two of them. The characters, Boom-Boom (the alter-ego of Tabitha Smith, a secret agent with the ability to create lethal plasma bombs with her mind) and Blink (a superhero who can teleport herself and others anywhere) are possible roles – but both characters are linked to the “X-Men,” which Fox Studios has the rights to and Marvel is not able to use on the big screen. The paper also reported Bey could play Tigra (a cat-like crime-fighter with superhuman strength, speed and agility) or take over the role of Hawkeye (previously played by Jeremy Renner). According to the report, the producers want to add Bey in hopes of attracting millions of new fans to the franchise. An unnamed Disney exec said:  “We would love to have Beyoncé on board, almost certainly as a newcomer to the screen from Marvel’s existing catalogue of comic book characters.” This casting rumor remains just that – a rumor, until Bey’s camp confirms. Meanwhile, Beyonce will headline Jay Z and Budweiser’s Made in America music festival in Philadelphia this September. The rest of the lineup includes the Weekend, J. Cole, Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, Big Sean, Santigold, Future, Banks, Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, DJ Mustard and Nick Jonas, among many others. Tickets for the two-day festival go on sale June 29. The Made in America Festival kicks off at Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia September 5 and 6. Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2015/06/will-beyonce-add-superhero-to-her-credits/#dTJLeQVpOq6IisK4.99

Why Rihanna’s New Fashion Line ‘$CHOOL KILLS’ Is a Brilliant Statement

Rihanna’s made it pretty clear that she has no interest in being anyone’s role model. Last year, she told USA Today, “I can’t really say I’m a role model. I’m not perfect. I’m not trying to sell that.” The year before, she replied to a Daily Mail article shaming her gun tattoos, long nails, and bad girl image with a statement that included, “’Role Model’ is not a position or title that I have ever campaigned for, so chill wit dat!” Yesterday, news broke that Rihanna's company has filed a patent application for '$CHOOL KILLS' to make ‘leather products’ and 'clothing products.  Many are calling this a totally irresponsible message to be sending to her fans.  I have to disagree.  I think this is a brilliant statement...let me tell you why. Over the past three years, my partner and I have been pushing a program in schools entitled, "X=POSURE".  This program's purpose is to open the eyes of students to ALL of the opportunities that are available to them .  It's an eye-opening experience for many of the students to help them see more of what they can do in the world instead of just a linear thinking.  In my book, 'I Hear That Girl:  Life Advice for Every Sista, ' I discuss the importance of thinking "outside of the box".  Our school systems are nothing more than a manufacturing plant.  We set ourselves up to think one way only.  Graduate, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids.  Is that the only path to success and enjoyment of life there is? This is why I believe Rihanna's statement of '$CHOOL KILLS' is brilliant!  If you think she's shaming education, you're wrong!  If you think she's against going to school, you're wrong!  What she's saying here is that the limitations and formatting of schools are indirectly killing your ability to live a truly free life.  It halts the creative process because it fights so hard against it.  "Stay within the lines" is actually taught to our kids!!  Can you see how stifling that can be to a creative person?  We need to have this dialogue in our schools so we can change the "manufactured" style of teaching into a more "free thinking" production. RiRi, I hear what you're saying, society will not dictate my way of thinking.  Maybe I'm thinking too deep, but maybe everyone that has an issue with her fashion line's name, aren't thinking freely.  I'm just saying...

New documentary on Nina Simone, ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’

courtesy of New York Daily News An astonishing new documentary on the singer Nina Simone opens with a scene of the star staring into space. She’s onstage, at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976, about to begin a pivotal comeback performance. The thunderous applause that greeted her when she walked on stage has died down. And then... nothing. The singer looks around judgmentally, fidgets and broods, letting an uncomfortably long silence linger before announcing that she’ll never play a jazz festival again, vowing to move “to a higher plane.” It’s a squirm-inducing moment, which makes you wonder: Who is this difficult and intense woman? Over the next 110 minutes of Liz Garbus’ film, “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” we discover a lot about who Nina Simone was — a troubled, angry, scary soul who also happened to be one of the greatest musicians and singers of the last century. “What Happened,” which opens in theaters Wednesday, then hits Netflix Friday, draws on archival interviews with the star, her family and colleagues, along with priceless performance footage of the singer, who died in 2003 at age 70. Together, it tells a tale that’s at once rousing and disturbing. Born Eunice Waymon in the segregated North Carolina of 1933, the woman who became Nina Simone was a child prodigy pianist. At 12, she performed her first recital. Two white women were in attendance — Nina’s mom served as their maid — and they took an interest. The women had the youngster practicing eight hours a day, with the goal of making her the first black woman to play Carnegie Hall. Yet she was rejected by the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, due to her race, she believed. To make money, she wound up playing pop, jazz and R&B in a dive bar in Atlantic City under the name Nina Simone so her family wouldn’t feel, and share, her shame. The owner of the bar insisted she both sing and style herself as a soul star, though classical music was her passion. However selfish the club owner’s motives, he inadvertently gave the world an incredible gift. Simone became one of the most distinct, engaged and ruthless singers of all time. With her deep pitch and formidable character, she had a masculine energy, shielding a great vulnerability. Her rich vibrato resonated with equal parts righteousness and hurt. A crushing version she cut of “I Loves You Porgy” became a Top 20 hit but she had trouble sustaining her popularity, for both internal and external reasons. She had a defiance that put people off. If that quality hurt her career, it could result in righteous art. One of her first self-penned numbers, “Mississippi Goddam” reacted with unflinching bravery to the violent racism of the South in the '60s.  As the decade heated up, however, Simone’s politics became more violent. “Are you ready to smash white things,” she asks an audience in the late ’60s. “Are you ready to kill?” Both her extremism, and her inner turmoil, gave her performances an alarming honesty. She was uncommonly present in her

Bobbi Kristina to be moved to Hospice Care

Reality star Bobbi Kristina Brown is now in hospice care. Her aunt Pat Houston broke the news in a statement reported by the Associated Press. “Despite the great medical care at numerous facilities, Bobbi Kristina Brown’s condition has continued to deteriorate,” the statement read. “As of today, she has been moved into hospice care.” Bobbi Kristina, the daughter of R&B icon Whitney Houston and singer Bobby Brown, was hospitalized in January after being found face-down in a bathtub in her Atlanta home — circumstances that paralleled the death of her mother, who died in a bathtub with cocaine in her system in 2012. Bobbi Kristina’s condition has been the subject of speculation and rumor for months. [Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown’s turbulent life and its many mysteries] Just last week, Bobby Brown’s representatives disputed reports that Bobbi Kristina’s health was deteriorating further, telling Entertainment Weekly she is “not going home to die,” and seeking to squelch “numerous false reports and sensationalism regarding Bobbi Kristina over the last two weeks.” Bobbi Kristina, 22, is perhaps best known for her appearances in the 2005 reality show “Being Bobby Brown.” She also sang with her mother on “Good Morning America” in 2009, and gave an emotional interview with Oprah Winfrey not long after her mother’s death. “I can hear her spirit talking to me and saying, ‘Keep moving baby,'” Bobbi Kristina told Winfrey of her mother. “… She’s always with me.” Bobbi Kristina’s alleged battles with drug addiction were often discussed — though her collapse and hospitalization were not confirmed by mainstream media sources to be caused by drug use. “Of course I worry about her,” her grandmother Cissy Houston said in 2013. “It doesn’t mean that she is going to follow her [mother’s] same path. She could but anybody could. I don’t want to jinx her. I’m trying to make sure she doesn’t.” In April, Cissy Houston said Bobbi Kristina was given a grim prognosis. “According to the doctors she has global and irreversible brain damage,” she said. Even as Bobbi Kristina — who was placed in a medically induced coma after she was found and has not spoken since — may be dying, a $10 million lawsuit has been filed against her partner. As the Associated Press reported, Nick Gordon — at one point rumored to be Bobbi Kristina’s husband — was sued in Georgia’s Fulton County Superior Court by Bedilia Hargrove, a court-appointed representative for Bobby Kristina. The allegations are ugly: physical and emotional abuse, including “dragging Bobbi Kristina upstairs by her hair … and knocking out her teeth just hours before she was discovered face down and unresponsive,” as Us Magazine, which reviewed the complaint, explained. Gordon also allegedly took $11,000 from Bobbi Kristina after she was hospitalized. “I filed this lawsuit to pursue justice on behalf of Bobbi Kristina Brown,” Hargrove said in a statement. “No human being, male or female, should endure what Bobbi Kristina endured.” Gordon, 25, entered rehab after Bobbi Kristina’s hospitalization, and is feuding with the Browns and the Houstons over her care.

Taraji P. Henson As Precious??!

"Empire" star Taraji P. Henson is showing a whole lot of skin for her steamy new W magazine photoshoot, at one point, rocking a completely open shirt. Braless, of course.  In the candid cover interview, the 44-year-old actress talks about landing the role of Cookie Lyon in director Lee Daniels' "Empire," revealing that she had first auditioned for another famous Daniels role -- the role of Precious in his critically acclaimed 2009 film of the same name. The part of Precious -- an overweight, HIV-positive teenager who's pregnant by her father for the second time -- eventually went to Gabourey Sidibe. ... Say what?! "Lee wanted me for the thin, pretty teacher in 'Precious,'" she reveals. "And I was like, 'Well, I want to play Precious -- because that's the role in this piece.' Lee thought I was nuts. I was like, 'Look, they turned Charlize Theron into a monster! I could be this girl!' When I think about that now, it was such a Cookie move." RELATED STORY:  Taraji Speaks About Cookie on Fear, Politics, and Ambition But it's important to note that Cookie isn't Taraji's only high-profile role. She memorably played Brad Pitt's adopted mother, Queenie, in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," for which she got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for. "I lost, but it was the best time of my life," she recalls. "Brad and Angelina rushed up to me and said, 'Are you okay?' I was like, 'Yes! Can I get some more wine?!' They were more concerned about my name not being called than I was." Taraji says she didn't get offered more feature film roles after the 2008 David Fincher hit like one would expect, but clearly, her "Empire" role turned out to be even more incredible for her career. "Not only would I never be offered a character like Cookie in a movie, but she doesn't exist," she explains about the Fox hit. "Cookie is bold and crazy, and she loves the struggle. She started from nothing, and now she’s at the top. In that way, we're alike: Cookie is the American Dream. ... To me, Cookie is living, breathing, walking truth." The former "Person of Interest" star says she doesn't "get involved" when she hears criticism that her outspoken character is a bad representation of black women. "Maybe Cookie makes you uncomfortable because she reminds you of yourself," she muses. "People miss the bigger picture when they start judging."

Black Enterprise Presents The 2015 African American Festival To Feature Empowerment Sessions With Celebrity Guests

Black Enterprise will present the 2015 African American Festival with major sponsors PepsiCo, Prudential and Toyota on Saturday, June 20 through Sunday, June 21, at the Camden Yards Sports & Entertainment Complex in Baltimore, Maryland, with a powerhouse lineup of musical performers. The annual free festival is a celebration of life, music, and culture. It includes stellar performances, empowerment seminars, and fun for the entire family. As the largest cultural festival on the East Coast, the festival has welcomed more than 200,000 attendees annually. Attendees will experience wellness, beauty, and technology while enjoying the sultry sounds of national recording artists and emerging talent. Performers include Grammy Award winners Will Downing, Faith Evans, andStephanie Mills; legendary musician Sheila E; R&B crooner Eric Roberson; hip-hop icon Doug E. Fresh; Empire breakout stars Bryshere Gray, aka Yazz the Greatest or "Hakeem" and V. Bozeman; top-selling R&B female group SWV; Stellar Award winner Tamela Mann; actress and singer Demetria McKinney and R&B boy band 4EY the Future. This year's hosts are Real Husbands of Hollywood Producer Chris Spencer, singer and R&B Divas' Brave Williams, and actor and singer David Mann. Special invited guests include:Sister 2 Sister magazine Publisher Jamie Foster Brown, author Zane, modelBeverly Johnson, music veteran Kevin Liles, and festival DJs, DJ Beauty and the Beatz and DJ Tanz. During the two-day festival, attendees are encouraged to visit the Black Enterprise Empowerment Zone, which will be located in the center of "Sponsor Way" walkway.  Attendees can expect two full days of activities in the Empowerment Zone that will keep you entertained and ready for the main stage performances later in the day. Saturday, June 20 1:00 – 1:45 p.m. 2nd Annual Black Enterprise Perfect Pitch Competition 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. Where is the Love? Real Talk about Dating, Sex and Relationships moderated by Relationship Coach and Host of Our World with Black Enterprise, Paul C Brunson 3:00 – 3:45 p.m. Breaking Free from Financial Slavery hosted by Prudential 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. A One-on-One Conversation with Torrey Smith, hosted by Pepsi and moderated by Kwame Jackson of "The Apprentice", Torrey will discuss his football career, the Baltimore community and giving back to the community with the Torrey Smith Foundation Sunday, June 21 12:30 − 1:15 p.m. Real Men Cook with Chef Huda 1:30 – 2:15 p.m. BE Modern Man Panel: Extraordinary is Our Normal, hosted by Black Enterprise 2:30 − 3:15 p.m. Ladies that Lead with Beverly Johnson, Jewel Tankard, Tai Beauchamp and Sidra Smith, hosted by Prudential 4:00 – 4:45 p.m. This is FINANCIAL JEOPARDY! Test your Financial IQ hosted by Black Enterprise   Festival attendees can also visit the Pepsi Pavilion throughout the two-day festival to take part in their DJ Scratch Academy to learn how to DJ, Sneaker cleaning station, on-site T-shirt printing, photo booth and ping pong and connect four games. Attendees of the 2015 African American Festival will also have the opportunity to tap into all the latest Black Enterprise and Festival developments taking place in and around AAF courtesy of the new dedicated BE Events app. Available for free on Android, iOS and other smartphones (attendees with Windows and BlackBerry devices can go here), the app allows visitors

Ms.Lauryn Hill,The Roots, Janelle Monae & Wondaland and MORE to Perform At The 2015 ONE Musicfest

Today ONE Musicfest, in partnership with Live Nation, announce the 2015 music lineup for one of the most anticipated festivals to take place in the Southeast. Reaching its sixth year of bringing together the best of urban alternative legends and contemporaries for a unique experience through music and visual, One Musicfest is pulling out all the stops with this year's roster of performances.  Organizers have meticulously curated talent to include: Ms.Lauryn Hill, The Roots, A$AP Rocky (currently having the number one hip hop album in the country), Wale, Janelle Monae & Wondaland, Raekwon, Ghostface, The Internet, Raury, SZA, Scarface, 8Ball & MJG, Big KRIT and many more to be announced. The festival will take place at Aaron's Amphitheater at Lakewood on Saturday, September 12, 2015. One Musicfest will take place on multiple stages and will serve as the ultimate mashup of innovative urban alternative acts with over eleven hours of non-stop music. The festival will feature over 25 of the hottest global DJs whose music crosses over to all spectrums, local vendors, games, and interactive activities. One Musicfest is the only place to see this roster of incredible acts join together for One purpose  - which is to witness a wide variety of sounds, from rock to hip-hop, electro, reggae, funk, disco, house, alternative and soul while having your musical senses stimulated. Founded by Jason Carter, ONE Musicfest has been one of Southeast's largest home-grown, musical arts festival to date including over 10,000 plus attendees. Carter has brought Atlanta music lovers the best and the brightest urban alternative acts performing in a welcoming, hospitable setting, creating an atmosphere where everyone can enjoy and discover music. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit www.OneMusicFest.com or get social by following ONE Musicfest on Twitter/Instagram @ONEMusicfest with the hashtag of #OMF2015.

Mann & Wife is a Hit, Delivers Nearly Six Million Viewers in Season One!

The first season of the Bounce TV original series Mann & Wife starring David and Tamela Mann was a smash hit, delivering more than 5.7 million viewers and 3.7 million homes across all plays in its first season on the air. The series premiere of Mann & Wife bowed on April 7 and quickly became the network's most-watched original series ever.  The following week, Mann & Wifejoined Empire in the rare company of television series that increased ratings from week one to week two when the second episode increased viewership over the series premiere episode to become Bounce TV's most-watched original to date. Bounce TV - the only emerging broadcast network producing original scripted series - has renewed Mann & Wife for a second season, which will debut in the spring of 2016. Real-life husband and wife team David Mann (House of Payne, Meet The Browns) and Tamela Mann (Madea's Big Happy Family, Sparkle) star and serve as executive producers of Mann & Wife. The half-hour situation comedy follows the newlywed, second-chance sweethearts as they laugh and love their way through the ups and downs of life as a blended family, each with two children from previous marriages.  Mann & Wife features a vibrant supporting cast: Vivica A. Fox, portraying Daniel's ex-wife; Tony Rock, playing Daniel's new partner on the police force and JoMarie Payton as Lorraine, Daniel's overbearing mother. Series co-creator Roger Bobb (The Rickey Smiley Show, House of Payne) serves as executive producer and director. Bounce TV is the nation's first-ever and fastest-growing broadcast television network designed for African-American audiences.  It airs on the digital signals of local television stations with corresponding cable carriage and features a programming mix of original and off-network series, theatrical motion pictures, documentaries, specials, live sports and more. The rapidly-expanding Bounce TV is the number two most-watched African-American network on television.

Celebs Come Out to Honor 2015 Heroes in the Struggle

Danny Glover (Color Purple, Lethal Weapon), Brian J. White (Scandal), Shaun Robinson (Access Hollywood), Naomi Campbell (Empire) and other Black celebrities from film, stage, television and music will come together on Thursday, June 18th for the 2015 Heroes in the Struggle Gala reception and awards presentation at the Directors Guild of America to honor Jussie Smollett, star of FOX's hit TV show Empire, Vanessa Mills, Executive Director of Empower U Inc. in Miami, Florida, Gregorio Millett, Vice President and Director of Public Policy for amfAR, and Janssen Therapeutics, a leading virology company focusing on HIV and Hepatitis C. The evening will include a special tribute to Jussie Smollett by fellow Empire cast members Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Gabourey Sidibe, and producer, director Lee Daniels.     "We are honoring three remarkable individuals and an exceptional corporation who have made heroic contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS," said Phill Wilson, President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. This year's event will focus on Family and Black Lives Matter.       "We seem to have an epidemic of unarmed young Black men and boys being killed by police," says Wilson.  "The bar for killing a Black male in America has gotten tragically low.  Our righteous indignation over the complete disregard for Black lives cannot begin when we are dead in the streets.  Black Lives have to matter when we notice the achievement gap between Black boys and other racial ethnic groups that start as early as the sixth grade.  Black Lives have to matter when the unemployment rate for Black teenage boys in Chicago is over 50%.  Black lives have to matter when nearly half of the new HIV cases in America are Black.  30% of Black gay and bisexual men in America are already infected with HIV and 60% of them don't know it.  AIDS in America today is a Black disease.  You can't believe Black lives matter and not be concerned about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in America.  The Black AIDS Institute exists because Black Lives matter!" The star studded event will be hosted by Brian J. White, who just completed a season on Scandal withKerry Washington.  Other presenters scheduled to appear are Jurnee Smollett-Bell (The Great Debaters), Elvis Nolasco (ABC's American Crime), Nelson Ellis (True Blood), TV and film directorAnthony Hemmingway (The Newsroom, Shameless), Shanola Hampton (Showtime's Shameless), andTracie Thoms (Annie, Veep).  Musical guests include Angie Fisher, Mervyn Warren, and B. Slade. Others scheduled to attend include Vanessa Williams, Anna Maria Horsford, Rockmond Dunbar, Lamman Rucker, and Tasha Smith. This year's Gala will be followed by an after party sponsored by Merck featuring The Charlene Moore Project in a tribute to Sylvester, with Lynn Fiddmont and Kim Yarbrough, hosted by Jackée. A limited number of tickets are still available for the event. To order tickets go to BlackAIDS.org orwww.HITS2015.EventBrite.com.  Tickets start at $75.00.    

Ava Duvernay Blasts Man For Touching Her Hair

courtesy of Huffington Post Here we go again.  What is it with white folks wanting to touch black folks' hair??? Just last week an "old man" took it upon himself to touch "Mad Men" actress Teyonah Parris' hair without permission and now film director Ava Duvernay has her own hairy situation to share. Duvernay, who is the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award , found herself at the end of one man's prying hands over the weekend when he touched her long, lovely locks without asking. Of course this is not a huge violation of personal space, but it's also a hot topic when it comes to touching black women's hair. In short, don't do it. The "Selma" director shared her ordeal over Twitter. Here's what she said went down: Missed train dealing w/ a man who touched my hair + when I asked what in all the hells he thought he was doing replied "Is this racial?" — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) June 13, 2015 Other women came over. Guy is screaming at all of us. Station police involved. It was a whole thing. As I see my train blink off the board. — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) June 13, 2015 Now he's having charges pressed by another lady for harassment. Moral: DON'T TOUCH anyone uninvited. ESPECIALLY not this black woman's hair. — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) June 13, 2015 Gosh. Thanx for all the good wishes. I'm more than fine. Way, way worse is happening in the world. I'm just pissed about this train! Dammit! — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) June 13, 2015 We repeat: Do not touch someone else's hair without permission. Please and thank you.

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