She’s a powerful media executive and Hollywood jet-setter who transformed daytime television, launched literary careers, and convened difficult conversations about race and gender.
But Oprah Winfrey also is an African American activist whose contributions to American culture rank alongside those of Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells, according to a new exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Opening Friday and running through June 2019, “Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture” features video clips, interview segments, movie costumes, and personal photographs and journals to explore what has influenced Winfrey and how her work has shaped America.
“What’s interesting is the same way America thought about Walter Cronkite — you could trust Walter Cronkite and his opinion — they trust Oprah,” said museum director Lonnie G. Bunch III. “An African American woman becomes the person America turns to.”
Winfrey donated $21 million to the $540 million museum, making her its largest individual benefactor (its theater is named in her honor). But her role as benefactor did not influence the exhibition, Bunch said.
“We made sure there was a bright line, that this was done by the museum and museum scholars,” he said. “The fundraising was not through Oprah’s people.”
Curators Rhea L. Combs and Kathleen Kendrick worked with Winfrey and her staff on arranging loans for the exhibition and on fact-checking and background information.
“In terms of content and narrative and the way the story is told, it’s the museum’s product,” Kendrick said. “The way we approached it was the way we approach all of our exhibitions.”
The show balances Winfrey’s humble personal story with her achievements.
“We’re providing a context for understanding not only who she is, but how she became a global figure, and how she is connected to broader stories and themes,” Kendrick said.
The first section of the show, which is in the Special Exhibitions gallery, explores Winfrey’s childhood and early career and how the cultural shifts of the 1950s and ’60s informed her worldview.
“Civil rights, the women’s movement, the media and television landscape, she’s at this distinct intersection of all of these dynamic moments,” Combs said. “She becomes someone at the forefront of dealing with ideas, of discussing hot-button topics like racism and sexual orientation.”
Miss Teen USA 2019, Kaliegh Garris, was crowned Sunday. The high school senior from Connecticut plans to attend college and pursue a degree in nursing. Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, who won her competition in September, hailed from New York.
“There were a few naysayers saying, ‘You look better with straight hair,’ or ‘You should put in extensions and straighten your natural hair,’” Garris told Refinery 29, later adding, “I feel more confident and comfortable with my natural hair.”
King’s company, Royal Ties (King, Royal ― her mind!!), has partnered with the streaming service for the multi-year deal, which typically gives the company the right of first refusal for unwritten projects. Her sister, Reina King, will be head of production for the new company.
Regina King, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” recently took home an Emmy for her role in Netflix’s limited series “Seven Seconds.”
“Regina King is a multi-faceted talent both behind and in front of the camera. She’s been a trailblazer for years, with boundless creativity and impeccable taste in projects, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she will bring her formidable talents to Netflix,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, said in a statement.
King said in the release that she’s “beyond thrilled to join the Netflix family.”
“They are at the top of their game and as an artist, I am so excited to come play in this wonderful sandbox they have created for storytellers,” the actress said.
Fans have been showing love on Twitter, calling King “admirable” and her Netflix deal “well deserved.”
Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis, co-heads of Higher Ground Productions, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company in partnership with Netflix, today announced the company’s initial slate of upcoming projects.
The content encompasses a wide range of fiction and non-fiction signature productions for all audiences including scripted, unscripted and documentary series, as well as full-length features and documentaries.
President and Mrs. Obama launched Higher Ground last spring to create content that embodies the core values of celebrating the human spirit through struggles and triumph; facing adversity through resilience, determination, and hope; lifting up newvoices and stories to bring about change; and transcending divides to bring us together. The projects selected are a reflection of these values and a commitment to quality storytelling. Higher Ground expects to make additional project announcements in the coming months.
“We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects,” President Obama said. “Touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights, and much more, we believe each of these productions won’t just entertain, but will educate, connect, and inspire us all.”
“We love this slate because it spans so many different interests and experiences, yet it’s all woven together with stories that are relevant to our daily lives,” Mrs. Obama said. “We think there’s something here for everyone—moms and dads, curious kids, and anyone simply looking for an engaging, uplifting watch at the end of a busy day. We can’t wait to see these projects come to life — and the conversations they’ll generate.”
“President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and the Higher Ground team are building a company focused on storytelling that exemplifies their core values,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix. “The breadth of their initial slate across series, film, documentary and family programming shows their commitment to diverse creators and unique voices that will resonate with our members around the world.”
Projects currently in different stages of development, to be released over the next several years:
AMERICAN FACTORY was acquired by Netflix in association with Higher Ground Productions out of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Directing Award: U.S. Documentary. From Participant Media, the film is directed by Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy Award®-winners Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant,” “A Lion in the House,” “Seeing Red”). The acclaimed film takes a deep dive into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant and hires two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America. The producers are Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, and Julie Parker Benello.
BLOOM is an upstairs/downstairs drama series set in the world of fashion in post-WWII New York City that depicts barriers faced by women and by people of color in an era marked by hurdles but also tremendous progress. BLOOM is written and executive produced by Academy Award-winner® Callie Khouri (“Nashville,” “Thelma and Louise,” the upcoming Aretha Franklin movie at MGM), from an idea developed by Khouri, writer-director Clement Virgo (“The Book Of Negroes,” “The Wire,” “Empire”) and novelist and producer Juliana Maio (“City of the Sun”). Higher Ground Productions, Khouri, Virgo and Maio will executive produce the series.
Higher Ground is producing a feature film adaptation of author David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, for which he won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History. The New York Times called the book “an ambitious and empathetic biography of a major American life.”
Adapted from The New York Times’ ongoing obituary column Overlooked, telling the stories of remarkable people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper, Higher Ground is developing OVERLOOKED as a scripted anthology series with producers Liza Chasin of 3dot Productions and Joy Gorman Wettels of Anonymous Content.
For family programming, LISTEN TO YOUR VEGETABLES & EAT YOUR PARENTS will be a half-hour preschool series from creators Jeremy Konner (“Drunk History”) and Erika Thormahlen. The show will take young children and their families around the globe on an adventure that tells us the story of our food.
From Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of The Big Short and Moneyball, and based on his book The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, FIFTH RISK, a non-fiction series, will aim to portray the importance of unheralded work done by everyday heroes guiding our government and safeguarding our nation.
CRIP CAMP is a feature-length documentary film in production that is supported by the Sundance Institute and acquired earlier this year by Higher Ground and Netflix. Just down the road from Woodstock, in the early 1970s, a parallel revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers that would transform young lives, and America forever by helping to set in motion the disability rights movement. The film is directed by former camper Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham. Producers include Newnham, LeBrecht and Sara Bolder, with executive producer Howard Gertler.
About Higher Ground Productions
A storytelling partnership between President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Netflix, Higher Ground Productions is home to a wide range of scripted, unscripted and documentary- style series, as well as feature-length narrative and documentary films. Higher Ground shines a light on timely and timeless subjects by empowering new and diverse voices to create content that speaks to our world today.
Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with over 148 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.
Aretha Franklin also known as the ‘Queen of Soul’ is now a Pulitzer Prize winner. Franklin received the special awards for her “indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.’
The award was first issued in 1930 and Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman to receive the award. Prior winners include Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, and John Coltrane. Sadly, Aretha Franklin passed away in August at the age of 76 due to pancreatic cancer.
Her famous legacy of music spans nearly 50 years. She achieved milestones as the first woman in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and having a song in the Billboard Top 100 73 times.
It has been more than 30 years since Riverdale star Robin Givens walked away from an abusive marriage, the traumatic union dissolving in a highly publicized fashion. While it’s a chapter she doesn’t feel the need to dwell on, she has used the experience, along with her platform, to assist and empower fellow survivors of domestic violence and raise awareness for the cause.
Her advocacy has included service as a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, working in support of the YWCA USA (a leading provider of domestic violence and sexual assault programs and services) and DV Leap, which fights to advance legal protections for victims of domestic violence. Givens also serves as a keynote speaker, donates supplies, and makes personal visits to shelters.
It’s an admittedly hard thing to do, and Givens acknowledges that after decades of dogged involvement, she has eased up on revisiting the past to focus on the future.
“I’ve been fully involved for almost 20 years, and it’s not an easy thing to do, because I have to travel back in time,” she says. “When I went through that moment in my life, I was younger than my oldest son—I was a baby! I don’t want to walk around with the weight or badge of that—no one does. I’m ready to live, thrive, and be all that God intended me to be.”
Her eyes may be set toward the future, but her hands remain behind to uplift those battling their way through a storyline she knows too well. It is, she accepts, a part of her purpose.
“We all wrestle with our purpose,” she says. “But why go through something if you can’t use the experience to help someone else? It can be hard, sure. But I try to do what I can, as much as I can, whenever I can.”
Her message to those who are facing or living in the aftermath of abuse is clear, concise, and urgent: “You are not alone, and it is not your fault. You have to leave to be safe. And when you get out, and you’re tired of living just to survive, turn your focus to thriving. Now is your time.”
The Power of the Post
After a recent appearance on the Wendy Williams Show, Givens was asked if she could imagine going through her tumultuous marriage during the age of social media—wouldn’t it have been crazy?
Her first thought? That time in her life couldn’t have gotten much crazier. Her second? That actually, a social media presence might’ve proved to be a useful tool in showing her she wasn’t alone and convincing her to leave earlier.
“I look at the impact that social media has had on the #MeToo movement, and I think the domestic violence issue is closely aligned in that it involves an abuse of power, and there really is something to social media when it comes to speaking your truth,” she said. “I say it’s wonderful in that you can stand up for yourself—if someone says something about you that isn’t true, you can just hop on Twitter or wherever and say your peace. Your voice has a platform, and there’s extreme power in that.”
Givens is far from labeling the societal mainstay as an absolute positive, though, admitting that society’s fascination with the image of perfection has definite setbacks. As a mother, she laments, thinking about the pressure young people in general and her sons in particular must feel to look a certain way and portray a perfect life.
“It’s a tricky thing, and I’ve played it from multiple perspectives—from being out of the spotlight and not caring in the least about followers or posting to being told I need to boost my engagements and post multiple times a day. It’s really hard to wrap my head around,” she says. “When it comes down to it, there’s an upside and a downside to social media—that’s where balance comes in, and we have to do our best to navigate the waters.”
It’s a balance Givens is learning to measure with increasing precision as she spends more and more time in the digital space promoting her current show, Riverdale, and hosting upcoming projects.
True to form, Givens never planned on landing a role on the hit show Riverdale as the town’s mayor. It’s an opportunity that found her in Houston cheering on her youngest son at a tennis tournament, of all places.
She’d spent the last few months easing back into acting after being challenged by her publisher to make herself her own project.
“It was actually pretty funny. My children were older and preparing to leave the nest, and telling me, ‘you’re always around mom, go do something,’ and I’d respond, ‘you’re what I do—what do you mean?’ So, when I received the call from my agent asking me to come out to audition, I didn’t think twice. I flew out, read, and by the end of the day, I had a job.”
Based on the Archie comic strip, Riverdale follows the life of teenager Archie Andrews and his high school exploits in the seemingly idyllic town. If you’re expecting the cookie-cutter storylines of comic strips past, though, you’re out of luck.
“I grew up in the age of Archie and the Pussycats and the whole gang, and I loved them, but in no way is this the Archie I grew up with,” she said. “The creators were brilliant in bringing everything current and dealing with issues that our youth are facing today.”
The best part of the remake by far—and what Givens is most proud of—is the diversity of the cast and the ease with which it’s accomplished.
“The thing I love most is that when you look at the show, you have black people and white people and gay people—so many people are covered, and it’s done effortlessly. It just looks like the world is supposed to look and moves the way the world is supposed to move.”
Riverdale isn’t the only role on her radar. As Givens continues to answer passion’s call, the upcoming projects are starting to stack up.
She stars on ABC’s newly premiered series The Fix, a legal drama co-written and executive produced by Marcia Clark (lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case) that centers on a famous prosecutor searching for redemption and justice after losing a case and freeing a killer years earlier.
Givens is also set to lead an ensemble cast in OWN’s upcoming family drama Ambitions, produced by prolific producer Will Packer and set to premiere later this year.
What’s next on the list? Without a doubt, Givens has her heart set on two future goals: authoring another book and finding her way back to Broadway. Those plans aren’t written in ink, though—she knows they’ll manifest when they’re meant to—and not a moment before.
“It’s not necessarily part of a plan—those are just things I feel it’s important to do for me,” she says. “I’m at a point in my life where I realize that my happiness and passion for life is more important than having what people deem to be a ‘successful’ career; I’m just going with the flow and working on being the best, healthiest, and most well-rounded person I can be.”
God, truth, authenticity, and yoga. It’s a tried-and-true combination that has seen Givens through her highest peaks and deepest trials.
She’ll be the first to admit that had just one circumstance changed along her journey, life would’ve looked completely different. If her mother had anything to do with it, we’d have never known Givens as the femme fatale Imabelle in Rage in Harlem, the unapologetically feminist Jacquelyn Boyers in Boomerang, or the militant Kiswana Browne in The Women of Brewster Place—we’d be calling her Dr. Givens instead. But, despite the rollercoaster of ups and downs, she acknowledges her path has molded her into a woman she is proud of today.
“I’m very much a work in progress, and it’s hard to say I’m happy for all the difficulty I’ve experienced in my life, but it’s a big part of who I am now,” she says.
“I truly believe there is opportunity in adversity,” Givens continues. “When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm or some unimaginable circumstance, those are the moments to push and stretch to become all we were intended to be.”
Beloved rapper, businessman and philanthropist Nipsey Hussle was fatally shot Sunday outside of his Marathon clothing store in Los Angeles’ Hyde Park neighborhood. He was 33.
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed via Twitter the shooting. “At approximately 3:20 pm there was a shooting reported in the area of Slauson Ave and Crenshaw Blvd. 3 victims were transported to a local hospital where one was pronounced dead.”
With more than a decade of experience in the rap game, he dropped his debut album, Victory Lap, to rave reviews in February 2018. Garnering critical acclaim, the 16-track project earned a No. 4 spot on Billboard’s 200 albums chart and a Grammy nod for Best Rap Album.
In 2013, he introduced the Proud2Pay model for his Crenshaw project. An ode to his neighborhood, Hussle made the mixtape free to download and sold limited hard copies for $100 each. According to MTV News, JAY-Z was so impressed with the rapper’s business acumen that he purchased 100 copies of the project.
In Feb. 2017, he launched the 4,700 square-foot co-working space and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics center, Vector 90, with real estate developer David Gross, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“I just want to give back in an effective way,” he said. “I remember being young and really having the best intentions and not being met on my efforts. You’re, like, ‘I’m going to really lock into my goals and my passion and my talents’ but you see no industry support. You see no structures or infrastructure built and you get a little frustrated.”
He was also involved with the creation of Destination Crenshaw, a 1.3 mile- long outdoor art and culture experience honoring Black Los Angeles.
Leading the trend of African American fashion firsts at the Academy Awards was Billy Porter. The star of the new FX series Pose, has made a name for himself as a carpet stunner this season.
At this year’s Academy Awards Porter wore a custom Christian Siriano creation of a black velvet Couture dress masterpiece.
African American fashion at this year’s Academy Awards was a win all the way to the Oscars podium.
Best Supporting Actress winner, Regina King channeled classic Hollywood glamor in her Oscar de la Renta gown.
Mahershala Ali walked the red carpet as a nominee and left an Oscar Winner! The best supporting actor worked with his longtime stylist Van Van Alonso, ahead of the award show for a standout look.
Oscar winner Spike Lee stood out in a purple Ozwald Boateng suit. The “BlacKkKlansman” director dawned a pair of custom gold Air Jordans. He mentioned his outfit was a tribute to African American fashion icon Prince.
Velvet was the fabric of choice for many actors this awards season. It came in all shades ranging from blood red, pale pink, and several other bold colors in between.
The Music Business Association (Music Biz) will present three-time GRAMMY Award-winning artist Darius Rucker with its Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award during the Music Biz 2019 Awards & Hall of Fame Dinner on Tuesday, May 7.
Rucker is being celebrated for his lifelong philanthropic efforts that include exemplary and heartfelt work on behalf of children at the JW Marriott Nashville Hotel at 7:30 PM.
“Through his tireless efforts to support the youth community of Charleston, not to mention the millions of dollars he has helped raise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Darius has beautifully honored the legacy of our Humanitarian Award’s namesake, Harry Chapin,” said Music Biz President James Donio. “We truly feel that Harry would be proud to see how Darius has used his platform and resources to benefit those among us in need. We are delighted to recognize him for all he has contributed.”
For years, Rucker has been a continuous supporter of the MUSC Children’s Hospital in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Since 2010, his annual Darius & Friends benefit concert and golf tournament has raised millions of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Through the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, Rucker and his bandmates have raised funds for over 200 charitable causes that support public education and junior golf programs in South Carolina.
At the annual Darius & Friends benefit concert and golf tournament, Rucker performs and plays alongside some of his famous friends in order to raise money for children who are battling cancer. Previous years have seen participation from stars such as Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, and Kenny Rogers.
The annual “Monday After the Masters” (MAM) golf tournament brings together golf pros, celebrities, and their friends to raise money for the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation and the South Carolina Junior Golf Foundation, among others. One of the top-rated junior golf organizations in the country, the mission of the SC Junior Golf Foundation is to teach kids honor, sportsmanship, and character through the game of golf.
Every fall, the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation hosts Hootie’s Homegrown Roundup, an event designed to assist underprivileged children in the Charleston County School District. Through the Roundup, kids receive free annual eye exams, dental exams, new shoes, haircuts, and a backpack full of school supplies to help them prepare for the school year.
Rucker first rose to stardom as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Hootie & the Blowfish, the GRAMMY Award-winning band behind chart-topping hits such as “Hold My Hand” and “Let Her Cry.” The band’s debut album, Cracked Rear View, went platinum 21 times, and the band has charted 16 singles to date. The group is set to return to full-time touring in 2019 as they embark on the 44-city Group Therapy Tour, which will be accompanied by the release of their first studio album since 2005.
During that time, Rucker embarked on a wildly successful solo Country music career that has sparked five albums and nine number one singles on Country radio. His cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” released in 2013 on his third solo Country album, True Believers, earned Rucker his third GRAMMY Award. In 2018, Rucker won the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award from the Academy of Country Music, celebrating his devotion to improving lives through the power of music.
Since its inception in 1981, the Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award has celebrated the legacy of Folk-Rock singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, whose philanthropic work to end world hunger earned him the Congressional Gold Medal. In 1977, Chapin helped create the Presidential Commission on World Hunger. He also co-founded the charitable organization World Hunger Year to which he donated all of the proceeds from merchandise sales at his concerts. The writer of the #1 hit “Cat’s in the Cradle,” top 40 singles “Taxi,” “W*O*L*D,” and “Sequel,” Chapin scored a gold album with 1974’s Verities & Balderdash. Previous recipients of the Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award have included Martina McBride, Dee Snider, Melissa Etheridge, Annie Lennox, Jackson Browne, Norman Lear, and Bonnie Raitt, as well as Rock The Vote, Hands Across America and the T.J. Martell Foundation.
Music Biz 2019 will return to Nashville May 5-8 at the elegant JW Marriott in the heart of downtown Nashville. The music industry’s premier event, Music Biz offers a platform for the commerce, content, and creative sectors to network, get on the cutting edge of the latest trends, and meet with trading partners. Announced thus far, Bebe Rexha and Kane Brown will receive Breakthrough Artist Awards, Sony Music Nashville Chairman and CEO Randy Goodman will receive the Presidential Award for Outstanding Executive Achievement, Record Archive owners Richard Storms and Alayna Alderman will accept the Independent Spirit Award, and The Orchard Co-Founder Richard Gottehrer will receive the Outstanding Achievement Award. The Awards & Hall of Fame Dinner event is sponsored by BuzzAngle Music, City National Bank, Cracker Barrel, Jammber, and TiVo. Attendees can also look forward to keynote presentations from influential industry trailblazers including Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier, and CEO of Def Jam Recordings Paul Rosenberg.
More program and awards announcements will be made in the coming weeks. For the most up-to-date conference information, visit musicbiz2019.com.
Darius Rucker first attained multi-Platinum status in the music industry as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of GRAMMY Award-winning Hootie & the Blowfish. Since releasing his first country album in 2008, he has celebrated four summits to the top the Billboard Country albums chart and earned a whole new legion of fans. In 2014, Rucker won his third career GRAMMY Award for Best Solo Country Performance for his 4x Platinum-selling cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” the No. 1 single off his album True Believers.
Rucker’s first two Country albums, Learn To Live and Charleston, SC 1966, produced five No. 1 singles including “Come Back Song,” “This,” “Alright,” “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” Southern Style, his fourth studio Country album, features his seventh No. 1 single, “Homegrown Honey.”
Rucker’s latest album on Capitol Records Nashville, When Was The Last Time, features “If I Told You” and “For the First Time,” his eighth and ninth No. 1s on Country radio, as well as his latest single “Straight To Hell,” a reimagining of the Drivin’ N Cryin’ classic featuring Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley.
Rucker recently wrapped the co-headlining Summer Plays On Tour with Lady Antebellum as well as a sold-out headlining U.K. run and will hit the road with his Hootie & the Blowfish bandmates for the Group Therapy Tour in 2019 as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of mega-hit Cracked Rear View as well as a forthcoming new album. For more information, visit www.dariusrucker.com and follow on social media @DariusRucker.
About the Music Business Association
The Music Business Association (Music Biz) is a membership organization that advances and promotes music commerce – a community committed to the full spectrum of monetization models in the industry. It provides common ground by offering thought leadership, resources, and unparalleled networking opportunities, all geared to the specific needs of its membership. Music Biz brings a unique perspective and valuable insight into the trends and changes that innovation brings. Today, we put our collective experience to work across all delivery models: physical, digital, mobile, and more. Music Biz and its members are committed to building the future of music commerce – together.
In a statement via its Twitter page, the brand says:
“Prada announces artist and activist, Theaster Gates, and film director and producer Ava DuVernay, will co-chair the Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large.”
“In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with longtime collaborators Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates on this important initiative,” said Miuccia Prada.
OG supermodel Tyra Banks recently announced that later this year she will be expanding her modeling brand with a new project called ModelLand — and it’s not at all what you think. Unless you thought it was a theme park, in that case, you were right on the money!
“I’ve always been insanely inspired by attractions like Disneyland and Universal Studios and have wanted to bring that spirit of adventure and storytelling to the world of modeling,” Tyra shared with Variety. “But not the exclusive modeling industry. I’m talking about modeling for the masses.”
The 45-year-old recently announced on Instagram that she has been working on a fantasy version of the modeling world for the past 10 years and that she’s extremely excited to share it with the world.
“My dream for you will soon be a reality. #ModelLand. A place where everyone can be a model,” she posted on Instagram. “A place where all beauty is celebrated. I can’t wait for you to Step Into Your Light. Head over to Model-Land.com to sign up for more information. Link in bio. #ModelLand @modelland.”
The first-of-its-kind experiential attraction is set to be open late 2019 housed in Macerich’s Santa Monica Place, the iconic multi-level 21,000 sq. ft. open-air shopping, dining and entertainment destination just blocks from the beach in Santa Monica.
Not sure if the NFL has ever had a minority head coach from Brownsville, Brooklyn, but New England Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores will fit that mold when he assumes the head coaching position with the Miami Dolphins.
Flores is a living example that the American Dream is still very much alive.
Once highly-touted defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions after the Patriots lost to Philadelphia in the Super Bowl, Flores was awarded the defensive play-calling responsibilities in addition to his job as linebackers coach. He had huge shoes to fill.
On Sunday, Flores, the son of immigrant parents from Honduras, had the kind of slam dunk final interview that a hunch could never satisfy.
“You don’t get to be defensive signal caller under Bill Belichick unless you know your stuff,” NFL sideline announcer Tracy Wolfson said in a flattering appraisal of Flores’ efforts during the Patriots’ 41-28 thrashing of the LA Chargers in Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff game.
The Patriots defense stifled the No. 6 scoring offense in the league behind a variety of blitz packages and defensive alignments. Now Flores and the Patriots will look to suppress the Chiefs offense, who finished No. 1 in the league in 2018.
Dolphins owner Steve Ross and general manager Chris Grier have seen enough. They intend to offer their vacant head coaching position to Brooklyn native.
Despite the owners’ whitewashing of the NFL head coaching ranks, the Dolphins seem to be on a progressive plane of their own. Miami would be the only NFL team to have a black/Hispanic coach, black general manager and assistant GM. Grier will remain the GM next season and Miami just hired former Buffalo Bills scout Marvin Allen to assist him.
Fifty years ago, over fourteen games in May, Jackie Robinson erased any doubt that he belonged in the majors, clearing the path for other black players.
In the middle of the cool, drizzly afternoon of Sunday, May 25, 1947, as the Brooklyn Dodgers led the Philadelphia Phillies 4–3 in the eighth inning, Jackie Robinson ground his spikes into the rain-softened dirt of the batter’s box at Ebbets Field, turned to face Phillies reliever Tommy Hughes and waited for Hughes’s 3-and-1 cripple.
Forty days had passed since Robinson donned a Dodgers uniform and became the first black man in this century to play in the majors, going 0 for 3 in his debut at Ebbets on April 15. In recent games the 28-year-old rookie had begun to evince signs of settling down and playing the crisp, commanding brand of ball that Branch Rickey, the Dodgers’ president, had predicted of him. “You haven’t seen the real Robinson yet,” Rickey had been telling writers all spring. “Just wait.”
Through his first 30 big league games, played in six National League cities, the rookie had alternately struggled and soared, at times performing brilliantly at first base (a position new to him that year) but often pressing at the plate. Of course, Robinson had also been the target of racial epithets and flying cleats, of hate letters and death threats, of pitchers throwing at his head and legs, and catchers spitting on his shoes. In the midst of all this bristling animus, there was a circuslike quality to Dodgers games, with Robinson on display like a freak; with large crowds, including many blacks, lustily cheering even his dinkiest pop-ups; and with the daily papers singling him out as the “black meteor,” the “sepia speedster,” the “stellar Negro,” the “muscular Negro,” the “lithe Negro” and “dusky Robbie.”
“More eyes were on Jackie than on any rookie who ever played,” recalls Rex Barney, a Brooklyn reliever that year. It was a wonder, as he endured the mounting pressure of his first weeks in the bigs, that Robinson could perform at all. Yet perform he did, putting together a 14-game hitting streak in the first 2 1/2 weeks of May. By May 25, with the first extended road trip behind him and the novelty of his presence on the wane, Robinson was sensing what he later called a “new confidence” in his game. As he took the field that day against the Phillies—who, led by their Southern-born manager, Ben Chapman, had lacerated him with taunts of “nigger” and “black boy” from the dugout during their first series in April—Robinson had begun to feel, as he would put it, “some of the old power returning.”
In the fourth inning, with the Dodgers down 2–0 and their shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, on first, Robinson lashed a single to right center off Phillies starter Dick Mauney. Moments later Reese and Robinson raced home when Dodgers centerfielder Pistol Pete Reiser crashed a double off the left-centerfield wall. Two innings after that, with Reese again on first and Hughes now pitching, Robinson reached for a fastball and lined a single to left. Reese later scored when Hughes balked him home from third.
Having been at the center of the rallies that gave Brooklyn that tenuous one-run lead in the eighth, Robinson now dug in against Hughes and worked the count to 3 and 1. Hughes delivered a fastball high in the strike zone, fat as a melon, and Robinson turned all his 195 pounds into it, striking the ball harder than he had struck one all spring. Dick Young, the Dodgers’ beat reporter for the New York Daily News, mixed jazz with golf in search of a simile to describe the blast, rhapsodizing that the ball left home plate “like something out of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet. It started on a low line, took off suddenly like a golf drive and zoomed far back into the lower leftfield deck.”
The Dodgers won 5–3, and contemporary accounts viewed the game as Robinson’s breakthrough in that young season, fulfilling Rickey’s prophesy that when the real Robinson at last arrived, he would be worth all the waiting. No one on that afternoon in May appeared more relieved than Burt Shotton, the Dodgers’ manager. “He has finally become relaxed and is playing the kind of ball that earned him his major league chance,” Shotton said. “Until today we just couldn’t get him to take a normal cut at the cripples they were getting him out on. Time after time we gave him signals to hit the 3-and-1 pitch, but very often he didn’t even swing. Guess he had too much on his mind.”
Despite all he had on his mind, despite all he had endured during the early days of that long season, it had grown clear by mid-May that Robinson, even a struggling Robinson, was in the Brooklyn lineup to stay. “The guy just had too much talent,” says Reese, “and too much guts.” Indeed, Robinson had won over teammates and opponents alike during his 14-game hitting streak, which was all the more impressive because it was a direct response to a horrible slump that would have finished lesser men in his situation.