It’s still Simone Biles season, and the American gymnast is still kicking ass and taking names, which culminated in yet another historic career achievement at this year’s United States Gymnastics Championships on Sunday.
The U.S. Olympic team declared that Biles is the first woman to ever win five U.S. Gymnastics all-around titles (h/t Bleacher Report.)
The 21-year-old has wowed crowds ever since taking the stage at the 2013 U.S. Gymnastics Championships. As Bleacher Report notes, she has walked out with the gold in the all-around in each of her five appearances at the competition and has won 16 gold medals across every discipline.
The only time Biles has shown a hint of slowing down was when she took 2017 off from competition. However, the gymnastics superstar started training once more last October, with her eyes set for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
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Inside the rapper’s strategy to bring new life to the community where he grew up.
Not long ago, Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.–the rapper, actor, and fashion impresario who’s better known as T.I.–took a hard look at the once-vibrant neighborhood he grew up in. By the age of 14, he’d been arrested several times on drug charges. To flip the script for kids like him, in 2017 he founded Buy Back the Block, a real estate venture that reimagines his old neighborhood one building at a time. –As told to Sheila Marikar
I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s in the Center Hill section of Atlanta, just off Bankhead Highway. Back then, that part of town was considered the lower end of the middle class. After the crack era, the community stalled, and from 1994 to 2012, it became an extremely desolate area for business. There’s no major grocery store chain. There’s no fresh produce. There’s no CVS. There are liquor stores.
Now, with the BeltLine and Mercedes-Benz Stadium a stone’s throw away, there’s an incentive to redevelop. But I didn’t want it to be one of those situations where luxury condos go up, and people who are native are pushed out to the fringes because they can’t afford to live there. I wanted to provide development that would allow people from the area, who love the community, to be able to afford to stay.
I partnered with [Atlanta rapper] Killer Mike and other developers to purchase the Bankhead Seafood building. There is a corner where I have an assemblage of lots that I acquired with another partner. There’s another, bigger lot that I am acquiring on my own. I’ve gone in on six buildings and spent more than $2 million. I don’t have private equity financing or anything like that. It’s my personal finances and sweat equity.
The cornerstone of wealth is home ownership. It does something for the psyche of a person to know that all of the work they do comes back to this. A lot of the buildings I’ve bought, we’re turning into mixed-use housing. One of the smaller residential projects will hopefully be ready by the end of 2019. We’re aiming to complete a larger development–more than 100 units–around the same time. I’m working with a seasoned real estate agent, Krystal Peterson, to ensure prices are within the range of what people who live in the neighborhood can pay. I’m constantly out there, on the ground, talking to people. They are very pleased to see that I’m involved, that I’m taking steps to have ownership within the community–they know I’m a product of it. But they also wonder what’s going to happen.
Green spaces and gardens are incredibly important. We want a movie theater, bowling, laser tag–stuff I didn’t have. I’m trying to build a community where the people within it can be proud. If they’re proud, they’ll have more of a sense of wanting to maintain it. I’d love to see children walk and play and live in green spaces. I want to see senior citizens excited about the next generation. The only way to do that is to invest. Why wait for someone else to come into a community where I went to elementary school, where I rode my bike and played?
So many times, our answer to fixing things is “I’m gonna make some money and leave all these people behind.” There’s rarely an intent to get rich and make where you came from better for generations to come. It’s extremely ambitious, but I’ve worked myself to a place where I should be the one leading the charge. In my mind, that’s what it means to be king.
Rebuilding the Block
Following successes in the arts and as co-founder of fashion brand AKOO, T.I. has spent about $2.7 million since 2017 to buy six properties and plots of land in Center Hill, where he grew up. (One is a former Kmart where he’d bought toys.) “What [Under Armour founder] Kevin Plank and his Sagamore Development Company are doing to revitalize Baltimore has been a nice example,” T.I. says. He was also on Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s transition team, working on job creation and economic development issues.
W. Kamau Bell, most renowned as the Emmy-winning socio-political commentator on CNN’s United Shades of America, has been characterized in many ways.
TV host. Director. Radio personality. Author. Stand-up comedian. Provocateur. Game-changer.
You might be surprised by how he sees his professional life.
“I think of my work as Sesame Street,” said the 45-year-old, also known for his critically acclaimed podcasts, an FX series called Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, and his 2017 book, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6’4”, African-American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian.
“I’m a 21st century Mister Rogers,” he said.
Bell, as thoughtful as he is quick-witted, is interested in facilitating conversations, sans all the hollering and trolling going on in America, circa 2018.
Especially awkward conversations.
Humor is key. It disarms, de-escalates, he says.
“Laughter is power,” he said. “When somebody laughs, they’re giving up control.”
Shades is an adventure and a social experiment. Bell has featured, among others, the Gullah people of the South Carolina sea island, practitioners of the Sikh religion, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“It’s about the people who need to speak and haven’t been heard before,” Bell said.
It’s also about shining a light on groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, which Bell did in perhaps the most famous Shades episode. He said he feared for his life when he joined the Klansmen for a cross burning in a field in the backwoods of Arkansas, but again, humor helped him.
“If I can go there and them to laugh, they’re not thinking about killing me,” he said.
There was a bigger picture: Those inclined toward hate took offense at their perception that Bell was mocking the KKK. Other viewers found themselves uncomfortable at the sight of the hooded men, but something strange happened: Many laughed, maybe to keep from crying and maybe because racism—costumed in goofy hats and creepy masks—is absurd.
In Bell’s Private School Negro, a comedy special that first aired on Netflix in June this year, Bell riffs about important and not-so-important things: parenting in the Trump era, woke children’s TV, his fear of going off the grid.
Always, it seems, he is winking at himself and chuckling at the absurdities in life.
Almost as telling is what he doesn’t do: lecture, preach, or scream, even when tackling the touchiest of topics.
Bell was raised in Alabama, Boston, and Chicago by his mother, an author and businesswoman, and father, who started as a bank teller and worked his way up to CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
His father’s motto was, “Nobody’s going to outwork me and I’m not going to take no for an answer.”
Bell graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, then started his career in standup. His talent was undeniable, and so was his work ethic.
He has starred in the hit podcasts: “Kamau Right Now!”; “Politically Re-Active”; and “Denzel Washington is The Greatest Actor of All Time Period.” He continues to host his San-Francisco-based radio show (“Kamau Right Now!”), and in summer 2018, he directed the A & E comedy special: “Culture Shock: Bring Back the Pain with Chris Rock.”
He won an Emmy for Shades, winning another in September for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program. He’s been nominated for NAACP awards, a GLAD award, a TCA award, and more.
An activist for most of his adult life, Bell is on the advisory board of Hollaback!, the National Advisory Council for Donors Choose, and is the ACLU Celebrity Ambassador for Racial Justice.
Bell doesn’t provoke awkward conversations for the fun of it, although he does seem to be having a good time. He’s after deeper, better thinking that tackles the complexity of human beings and doesn’t default to oversimplifications and stereotypes.
Why was everyone shocked by Kanye West’s support of the president—and ludicrous take on slavery—earlier this year?
“Every black person knows that guy,” Bell said. “We’re not a monolith. I know black Democrats, Republicans, socialists, anarchists, and those who don’t and won’t vote.”
Why are folks stunned by the current president and his support system?
Bell’s not, and neither are most African Americans, he said.
“When the right feels threatened, it just declares it is going to invent a time machine to take the country back so that America can be ‘great’ again,” Bell chuckled.
Behind Bell’s easy smile and blerd—black nerd—appearance is a man in the business of improving communities by improving communications in one of the most divisive times in America’s history.
Where there are impediments to social and economic equality and empowerment, especially for African Americans, Bell is there, not as a hammer but as an ambassador.
No name-calling, no trolling.
“If I yell, then you yell, that’s not a conversation,” he says.
It takes a ton of restraint and humor to not yell, because there is plenty to yell about, but it’s not Bell’s style. He’s not just a comedian; he’s a pragmatist. He’s also highly skilled at indirect attacks on social ills.
During the KKK episode of Shades, we see Bell talking with the imperial wizard of the international keystone knights of the KKK on a moonless night on a dirt road in the Deep South, and he’s having some fun with the ultra-serious, uber-uptight wizard: How about the KKK redesign its head-wear to include a mouth-hole? That way people could understand what the heck they’re saying. Muffled speech is as ruinous to communication as screaming at each other.
The wizard gives in.
“That might be a possibility,” he says.
“One step at a time,” Bell says, with a shrug and a smile.
Jordan’s partnership with Coach will include global advertising campaigns to promote its menswear, accessories, and fragrance lines, and the first images are expected to launch in the spring. The partnership will also include what Coach is calling, “special design projects,” with the brand’s creative director Stuart Vevers, as well as philanthropic endeavors with the Coach Foundation.
“Michael is cool and authentic, and he really embodies the Coach guy,” said Vevers. “I’ve had the chance to get to know Michael over the last couple of years. He always looks great in Coach, so it felt really natural to build our relationship.”
“I’m honored to be joining the Coach family and have so much respect for Stuart Vevers’ vision,” said Jordan. “I’m looking forward to jumping into the creative process and exploring fashion through a different lens.”
Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.
The 93-year-old actress was named this week as the recipient of an honorary Oscar, making her the first black woman to gain that distinction, according to Essenceand People.
Tyson has won a Tony, two Emmys and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, but an Academy Award had escaped the performer in a legendary career. She lost the only time she was nominated for best actress, in 1973 for the sharecropper drama “Sounder.”
But she has won plenty of acclaim elsewhere, such as for TV productions like “Roots” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”
Some of her notable big-screen credits include “The River Niger,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “The Help,” “Alex Cross” and “Last Flag Flying.”
Tyson began as a model and stage actress and got her big feature-film break in 1968’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”
Fifty years later, she is getting some overdue recognition by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The answer — for Bryant, 40, and many other retired sports stars — is investing.
In mid-August, the news that Bryant’s 2014 investment of $6 million in sports drink BodyArmor had morphed into $200 million after Cola-Cola purchased the company garnered lots of attention. In 2016, the five-time NBA champion partnered with Jeff Stibel, former CEO of Web.com, to form the venture capital fund Bryant Stibel. Other investments under Bryant Stibel include online education platform VIPKid and restaurant booking company Reserve.
Bryant’s return on investment is a boon to the ideology of athletes’ soaring interests in technology investments and beyond. But he’s not the only player who has taken the savvy approach to declaring his or her next passion.
More than 30 years ago, NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, now the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, started Magic Johnson Enterprises and invested in technology staffing company Jopwell. For decades he has maintained ownership in movie theaters, Burger King, TGI Fridays and other franchises, teams and startups.
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter invested in the video conference service Blue Jeans Network and the anti-bullying app StopIt. He also founded sports website The Players’ Tribune. NBA big man and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal sat down with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in June to discuss investing in Google. O’Neal has also invested in burger chain Five Guys, 24 Hour Fitness and Apple.
Here are nine superjocks who use their brainpower, access and finances to make their money work for them.
The new mother and tennis champion took interest in the meal delivery service Daily Harvest. During a 2017 episode of talk series Kneading Dough, she also expressed to Maverick Carter some interest in investment properties.
“I have the weirdest one, it’s property,” Serena Williams said. “For me, investments are really important in terms of who are the other investors: What does their portfolio look like? Have they been successful? If they’re a new company, are they a good product? Is it something you believe in? I never do something if I don’t really believe in the product.”
Venus Williams is an investor in Ellevest, a financial app that empowers women and provides tips on saving.
John Legend has made history as the youngest person ever to achieve that sweet, sweet coveted EGOT status.
That’s someone who has received the big four, the holy grail of performance accolades: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards.
Legend, 39, completed the acronym at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, as did Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, all for producing best variety special winner Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.
He’s also the first black man to land EGOT status, making history in more ways than one.
Legend also played the role of Jesus in NBC’s production of the 1970 concept album-turned-Broadway musical, so he’s also up for the Emmy for outstanding actor in a limited series or movie, which will be revealed at the big primetime Emmy Awards on Monday.
“Before tonight, only 12 people had won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony in competitive categories,” wrote Legend on Instagram.
“Sirs Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice and I joined that group when we won an Emmy for our production of their legendary show Jesus Christ Superstar. So happy to be part of this team. So honored they trusted me to play Jesus Christ. So amazed to be in such rarefied air.”
There are actually a total of 14 other EGOT recipients, including Audrey Hepburn, Scott Rudin, Mel Brooks. Two of these, Whoopi Goldberg and songwriter Robert Lopez, have won a daytime Emmy.
Continue onto Mashable to read the complete article.
Netflix is creating a new executive position that will focus on inclusion and diversity among employees of the streaming entertainment giant.
Vernā Myers has been appointed to the newly created role of vice president for inclusion strategy, Netflix announced Wednesday. The company said Myers will help devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide.
Prior to joining Netflix, Myers worked as a consultant at the Vernā Myers Co., where she advised corporations and organizations on issues including race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
Her appointment comes two months after Netflix fired its chief communications officer after he used a racial slur on at least two occasions in the workplace. Jonathan Friedland, who had served as Netflix’s top spokesperson for the past seven years, acknowledged that he had spoken in an “insensitive” way.
“Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy,” he wrote on Twitter in June.
Earlier this week, Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix named Rachel Whetstone — a veteran of Facebook, Uber and Google — to succeed Friedland as chief communications officer.
Diversity executives have become increasingly common at major corporations. Silicon Valley in particular has become the focus of media scrutiny for what some workers have described as a lack of gender and racial diversity at technology and internet companies.
Myers has previously consulted for Netflix, the company said. “Having worked closely with Vernā as a consultant on a range of organizational issues, we are thrilled that she has agreed to bring her talents to this new and important role,” said Jessica Neal, Netflix’s chief talent officer.
His Help From the Hart Charity Fund is partnering with the UNCF to award $600,000
Last week, actor and comedian Kevin Hart saluted LeBron James on the opening of his I Promise school for at-risk youth in James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio. Now, we have a reason to salute Hart.
In a partnership involving the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and Hart’s own Help From the Hart Charity Fund, 18 KIPP students will have an opportunity to earn a college degree.
Through this partnership, a $600,000 scholarship will be established to provide funding in order to support KIPP students from eight different cities who are attending 11 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“The Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship will not only support students but will also demonstrate support for HBCUs,” said UNCF CEO and president Michael L. Lomax. “Research shows that HBCUs matter, and that HBCU students are having a positive college experience, but they also have an unmet financial need. Together, Kevin and KIPP have made an investment that will have a significant impact. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”
Taraji P. Henson portrayed Johnson in 2016’s “Hidden Figures.”
West Virginia State University honored NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson’s 100th birthday with a statue and scholarship dedication over the weekend.
Hundreds of people ― including 75 of Johnson’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren ― attended the event honoring the woman who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” according to the West Virginia Gazette. The bronze statue of Johnson was unveiled Saturday, one day before she turned 100.
The scholarship in Johnson’s name was awarded to freshmen Jasiaha Daniels and Alexis Scudero, both of whom are studying in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
“What makes Katherine so extraordinary is she not only prevailed while segregation failed, Dr. Johnson has continued to persevere and thrive with the gracious poise and clarity that defies mere words of explanation, let alone definition,” said Dr. Yvonne Cagle, the keynote speaker at the ceremony and the space and life sciences directorate at the Johnson Space Center.
Johnson started attending WSVU when she was 14 because she wasn’t able to receive further education in Greenbrier County. She graduated from the university in 1937 with degrees in both mathematics and French, then went on to pursue graduate studies at the institution.
Johnson was a teacher for 15 years, then joined the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which later became NASA. She and three other women calculated rocket trajectories and orbits for some of the earliest American voyages into space, including helping astronaut John Glenn orbit the Earth three times.
The tennis superstar worked just four months out of the period Forbes tracked after taking time off to have her daughter, Olympia.Serena Williams is back on top — of the payroll.
Forbes Magazine released its annual list of highest-paid female athletes on Tuesday and Serena Williams took the top spot. Williams earned a whopping $18.1 million between June 2017 and June 2018, the magazine estimates.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Forbes reported that the tennis star only earned $62,000 in winnings during the 12-month period because she took time off to give birth to her daughter, Olympia. The tennis champ took a 14-month break to have her daughter starting in January 2017, which means she only worked for four months of the 12-month period Forbes analyzed.
Williams, 36, earned the rest of her million-dollar pay day through endorsement deals with Nike, Intel, Gatorade and Beats, along with her new fashion collection Serena. This is the third straight year Williams (who sits on the board of advisers to Oath, HuffPost’s parent company) has topped Forbes’ list of highest-paid female athletes.
Tennis player Caroline Wozniacki came in second on the list with total earnings of $13 million, $7 million of which came from prize money and $6 million from endorsements. The rest of the top five highest-paid athletes are all tennis players, including Sloane Stephens ($11.2 million), Garbine Muguruza ($11 million) and Maria Sharapova ($10.5 million). Serena Williams’ sister Venus Williams came in sixth on the list, earning $10.2 million.
The star of HBO’s ‘Ballers’ and Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ former Morehouse star running back and NFL player does things his way
John David Washington’s master plan was not football. Football was the escape. He fell in love with acting when he was 5 years old. He was watching his father pace as he was running through lines from Richard III for a Shakespeare in the Parkperformance. “When we were walking the streets,” said Washington, 34, “sometimes he would recite his lines. … I loved the language … loved those words.” And he loved the man who was bringing those words to life.
His father is celebrated actor DenzelWashington, and the elder Washington had collected his first Oscar win earlier that year for his performance as Pvt. Silas Trip in 1989’s Glory, the story of one of the first all-black military units of what became known as the U.S. Colored Troops of the Union Army — minus the officers, of course. “I knew then,” said Washington, “that I wanted to do it.” And in case you’re wondering? Washington still knows every line of Glory, his all-time favorite film.
Washington is the eldest of Denzel and Pauletta Washington’s four children. His parents met in 1977 while on the set of Denzel Washington’s first television role as Wilma Rudolph’s high school sweetheart in 1977’s Wilma. Pauletta Pearson portrayed champion sprinter Mae Faggs. The couple got married 35 years ago and are easily one of Hollywood’s most beloved pairings, well-known for their performances and for their outstanding humanitarian efforts.
“My mom was a tremendous artist as well before she got with my father,” said Washington, “and she [told] her stories … all the sacrifices she had to make. She used to sit down and just play piano. All the classical numbers … without even needing to read the score!”
But as much as he loved narratives, and music, Washington moved away from it. And instead of fine arts, he found football. Football was a move away from his famous lineage. No one would compare him to his father on the football field. Denzel Washington’s stint as a college athlete is rarely talked about — the Oscar-winning actor played two years for Fordham’s basketball team before deciding that he was a player and not, well, a player. But his son was a baller. At Morehouse. And good at it. And on the field, no one would be able to say he got there because of nepotism.
Plus, football was therapy. “I was able to express a lot of my frustrations,” he said. “My anxieties, my resentment [about] how I was treated or looked at, because of who I was related to. I hated the word nepotism. … I knew that if I did well on the field, they can’t say that my father did it. In a way, I just got into character, deep character, in football.”
He loved the sport. He did. But he loved what the sport gave him, more so than what he gave to it. “Because of my father’s ascension, and what was happening after Malcolm X, our life was changing. … People started treating us differently … and it could have gone a negative way … a whole other elitist brat way. I didn’t believe in that, because of my upbringing and my family. … They wouldn’t have that. ‘Where can I put this stuff?’ I put it in football,” he said. “And then I … started getting success on the field, and I saw how I was being treated. As an individual. And that I was like a drug. I needed hit after hit. I needed that validation of independence.”
Aretha Franklin, the self-taught piano prodigy, vocalist and songwriter who first conquered the charts in the late ’60s and never relinquished her throne, has died, multiple outlets report. She was 76.
The Queen of Soul had struggled with her health for years. A source told PEOPLE Monday that Franklin had taken a turn for the worse and that her death was “imminent.”
“She has been ill for a long time,” the longtime friend told PEOPLE. “She did not want people to know and she didn’t make it public.”
A musical phenomenon who crossed musical, racial and gender barriers, Franklin began her vocal career as a teenager, singing gospel hymns in her father’s Detroit church. From these humble beginnings she scaled to the very heights of stardom, scoring her first national chart topper in 1967 with a searing version of “Respect.”
Since then, the artist has notched 77 Hot 100 chart entries, and earned an astounding 18 Grammys out of 44 nominations. In 1987, two decades after her first No. 1, Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and was later named the Greatest Singer of All Time by Rolling Stone.
A source close to the singer spoke to the Associated Press on Monday to confirm that Franklin was “seriously ill,” although they did not provide any additional details as to the severity or the cause of the singer’s illness.
Showbiz 411 reporter Roger Friedman was first to report the singer was “gravely ill,” sharing that Franklin’s family were “asking for prayers and privacy.”
“I am so saddened to report that the Queen of Soul and my good friend, Aretha Franklin is gravely ill,” wrote Local 4 Detroit news anchor Evrod Cassimy on Twitter Sunday. “I spoke with her family members this evening. She is asking for your prayers at this time. I’ll have more details as I’m allowed to release.”
In February of 2017, the Queen of Soul told a Detroit TV station that she was retiring from music that year. “I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it,” she said, though Franklin admitted she would perform at “some select things.”