You know her best from directing A Wrinkle In Time, Selma, and the documentary 13th, but uber talented director/producer/documentarian Ava DuVernay is moving into TV in a big way. Deadline reports that DuVernay just landed a $100 million television deal with Warner Brothers. Other high-profile creators like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy have made a splash with insane Netflix overall deals, but DuVernay chose to stick with Warner Bros., with whom she produced the critically acclaimed OWN series Queen Sugar in association with Warner TV.
So what is the multi-hyphenate creator planning to do with her crazy new deal? She’s currently working with Greg Berlanti on a Warner-produced series for CBS called Red Linethat follows the aftermath of the accidental killing of a black doctor by a white cop. She also has a forthcoming HBO series called Battle of Versailles about the 1973 Palace of Versailles fashion show, a D.C. Comics-based New Gods movie for Warner Brothers, a Prince documentary, and a docuseries about the Central Park Five (the latter two for Netflix). Phew. And all this was announced before she landed the Warner Brothers deal. We can’t even imagine what other good content is to come our way.
DuVernay told Deadline that she was thrilled about the partnership and said that “Warner Bros. is a terrific partner about matters of visibility and belonging for all kinds and cultures of people, which is our mission at Forward Movement. I couldn’t be happier to call Warner Bros. TV my production home.”
When Patricio Manuel steps through the ropes and into the boxing ring just after 6 p.m. Saturday, few in the crowd at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio will know what a long and torturous trek he made to get there.
They won’t know about the resistance overcome or the months of physical rehab endured. They won’t know how hard it was to get those chiseled biceps atop a super featherweight’s thin frame. They may not even know that, at 33, an age when undefeated champions Rocky Marciano and Andre Ward had already retired, Manuel will be making his pro debut.
And if they don’t know any of that, they surely won’t know that Patricio used to be Patricia — he was a she — and in the four-round bout against Hugo Aguilar, a journeyman boxer from Mexico, Manuel will make history as the first transgender male to fight professionally in the U.S.
“It feels like a long time coming,” said Manuel, who fought for the last time as a female in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. “But I’m still like, ‘Wow, we’re finally here. Finally at this point.’
“I just feel incredibly fortunate to be in this position. To be able to enjoy all the sacrifice, all the work, all the doubt that came through over the years to really be here in this moment.”
If you feel like you’ve read this story before, it may be because you have. Fifteen months ago, after losing his coach, getting kicked out of a gym and seeing his dream of fighting as a man stymied by bureaucracy — no one was quite sure how to license a transgender boxer — Manuel split two amateur bouts and was set to turn pro before suffering a broken bone and torn ligament in his rightthumb.
Eric Gomez also read that story and as president of Golden Boy, Oscar de la Hoya’s boxing promotion company, he was uniquely positioned to help.
“It really inspired me,” he said. “This is a story that is bigger than boxing. It’s a very tough sport. You compound that with what Pat went through. The inner struggles, the process of transition and to keep wanting to fight?
“Just that drive is impressive. It’s very different than any athlete I’ve met. And I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”
So Gomez — along with a number of politicians, including state assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Dean Grafilo, director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs — cut through the red tape to help get Manuel licensed. Golden Boy then arranged a bout, matching Manuel against the winless Aguilar (0-5) on an eight-fight card topped by a super featherweight world championship elimination bout matching Rene Alvarado of Nicaragua against Carlos Morales of Los Angeles.
“We haven’t talked about doing any more fights,” Gomez said. “His dream was to debut as a professional fighter. Everybody has a right to follow their dreams. Just to be part of this is special for me.”
Manuel, whose ancestry is Irish, Mexican and black, never really knew his father. But his mother, Loretta Butler, and grandmother Patricia Jean Butler were never far away, supporting Manuel through childhood in Gardena and a boxing career that included almost as many injuries as bouts.
And all the while, they sensed something was different about young Patricia, who was named for her grandmother. She preferred boys’ clothes to dresses, kept her hair short and played with action figures rather than Barbie dolls.
“Every Christmas I would be buying toys at Toys ‘R’ Us and everybody would say, ‘Boys at home, huh?’” Loretta Butler remembered.
So one winter Manuel’s grandmother got creative with her gift-giving, buying Patricia a boxing club membership. Although female fighters were rare, Manuel took to the sport and its hyper-masculine ambience quickly, moving to the Commerce Boxing Club and spending long hours working with Roberto Luna, who trained three Olympians.
Manuel was to be his fourth. But in the 2012 women’s Olympic Trials, Manuel had to withdraw after one bout — a one-sided lightweight loss to Florida’s Tiara Brown — because of a shoulder injury.
Even before the trials, Manuel had thought of transitioning to male, but the hope of representing the U.S. in the first Olympic boxing tournament for women held him back. After the trials, there was no reason to wait. On the trip home, Manuel told Butler that her daughter would soon become her son — then waited for the response.
It was one not of surprise but relief.
“Pat has always been a male,” his mother says. “It’s just Pat was not assigned properly at birth.”
As expected, the name is derived from both the book and the film, which stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced the legislation in September “to honor the historic women scientist and mathematicians who contributed to NASA’s mission.”
“Despite facing segregation and adversity, these women computers played an integral role in the development of aeronautical and aerospace research during turning points in our nation’s history, including World War II and the development of the Space Task Force,” Mendelsen said, according to NBC Washington.
The mission Mendelson is referencing is the Space Race competition, which took place between 1957 and 1975. During that time, different nations competed against each other to send astronauts into space. Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson were part of the team who helped Glenn become the first American to orbit Earth, but they were still overlooked, ignored, and demeaned as depicted in the film and book.
Now that the bill received preliminary approval this week, the act will have to be reviewed in the upcoming weeks and voted on for a second time. Upon acquiring the appropriate number of votes, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will sign the bill, ensuring the trio will always be remembered for their historic achievements.
Adrian Beltre’s baseball career began as a teenager, a skinny third baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers who made his debut in the summer of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.
Two decades later, Beltre’s major league career has ended – with a final stop coming, in Cooperstown.
Beltre, 39, announced his retirement Tuesday morning, concluding a 21-year career in which he amassed 477 home runs and 3,166 hits, establishing himself as the greatest third baseman of his era.
He’s the lone third baseman in major league history with at least 3,000 hits and 400 home runs.
In an announcement through the Texas Rangers, his team for the final eight years of his career, Beltre said his decision came after “careful consideration and many sleepless nights.”
His retirement leaves Rangers teammate Bartolo Colon, 45, as the last remaining player who began his career in the 1990s.
Beltre left an impact on all four franchises for which he played, producing the second-greatest home run season in Dodgers history with 48 in 2004, capping a seven-season run there in which he hit 147 home runs. He struggled offensively during five seasons in Seattle, but emerged as a two-time Gold Glove winner.
He spent just one season – 2010 – in Boston, but it was a year that charted a new course in his career: Beltre hit an American League-best 49 doubles, boosted his OPS to .919, made his first All-Star team and hit the free agent market a third time, entering his age 32 season.
Beltre’s decision – Los Angeles Angels or Texas Rangers? – would alter the fate of the AL West for years to come.
He opted for Texas, signing a five-year, $80 million deal, and neither club nor player were ever the same.
For the next six seasons, he’d finish in the top 15 in MVP voting, and the Rangers flourished – coming one out away from their first World Series championship in his first season, 2011. They made the playoffs in four of his first six seasons in Arlington – and the world got to know what a sublime and entertaining player he was.
Continue onto USA Today to read the complete article.
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.