Samuel L. Jackson Signs On As First Amazon Alexa Celebrity Voice

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Samuel L. Jackson at the premiere "Spider-Man Far From Home" (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Samuel L. Jackson and other celebrities will lend their voices to Amazon’s Alexa devices in a new feature that will be available as a 99-cent upgrade, the tech giant announced at a major product reveal in Seattle.

Other celebrities’ voices will be added next year. The company has recently amped up its affiliations with A-listers in its marketing efforts for Alexa, including Super Bowl ads featuring the likes of Harrison Ford, Cardi B and Anthony Hopkins.

Jackson “can tell you jokes, let you know if it’s raining, set timers and alarms, play music and more – all with a bit of his own personality,” according to the company’s official blog post. The company plans two versions of his voice — “explicit and non-explicit.”

As voice competition ramps up among Amazon, Google and Apple, the push for Alexa dominated the Amazon event. The company also announced updates to its Echo Show video-enabled devices, as well as a $59 version of the Echo Dot featuring a clock and designed for bedstands. Amazon also took the wraps off new Echo units such as Studio, Glow, Flex and Bose-powered wireless earbuds called (what else?) Echo Buds. The $200 Studio is the first high-end Echo model, featuring Dolby Atmos.

There are now 100 million devices equipped with Echo speakers, which Amazon first rolled out five years ago.

Continue on to Deadline to read the complete article.

Gabrielle Union: A Journey to Fulfillment

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Gabrielle Union appears at Ulta Beauty to promote her "Flawless" line on Michigan Avenue on September 28, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. TIMOTHY HIATT / CONTRIBUTOR / GETTY IMAGES

By Jovane Marie

Gabrielle Union found her way into the mainstream and straight to our hearts at the start of the new millennium with her breakout performance as the leader of the East Compton Clovers in Bring It On.

In the nearly two decades since then, the actress’ life has evolved to encompass a multitude of additional roles across a personal and professional spectrum—outspoken activist, best-selling author, fashion-forward designer, dedicated wife and, most importantly, doting mother.

Actress to Activist

Union’s influence emanates far beyond her on-screen portrayals. Proudly raised by her parents to have a world perspective, she supports a multitude of causes, from racial justice to ending violence against women, voting rights to eradicating poverty, and diversity to health initiatives.

Her tenacity in standing up and speaking her mind was cultivated through education and life experiences, both positive and negative. As a young black girl growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, Union admits she wanted nothing more than to completely assimilate, letting racially tinged jokes and perspectives roll off her shoulders to avoid being seen as “other.”

Exposure to African-American studies while attending UCLA had a huge influence on Union’s mindset, highlighting the importance of calling out injustice and oppression and opening her perspective to a treasure trove of change-makers.

“Learning about those brilliant Black activists and authors encouraged me to have pride in myself and in my voice,” she said. “I realized that assimilation can be a path to becoming invisible and complacent. I’d rather be ‘other.’”

With the strength of those lessons at her back, and following a sexual assault that threatened to marginalize her even further, she began speaking her mind fearlessly and unapologetically, raising awareness about the issues that mattered to her—a characteristic that has endured in her day-to-day life.

“My goal is to use my platform to provide a sense of connectedness

Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design
Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design

for those who suffer in silence,” said the activist, who was appointed to former President Obama’s National Advisory Committee for Violence Against Women in 2010. “It’s been a journey and an evolving consciousness—not an easy process, but definitely worthwhile.”

She’s a Boss

As she’s solidified her place in the film and television industry, the America’s Got Talent judge has lent her efforts to establishing and growing her commercial empire, calling upon her down-to-earth persona and relatable personal brand to connect with fans and consumers.

In 2004, she became a brand ambassador for Neutrogena, a successful partnership that lasted for more than a decade.

In 2012, she partnered with Napa Valley-based winery JaM Cellars to develop a full-bodied Chardonnay cheekily named Vanilla Puddin.

In 2014, she became the first celebrity ambassador—and creative advisor—for nail beauty company SensatioNail.

And in 2017, her entrepreneurial spirit erupted with both the launch of Flawless by Gabrielle Union—a hair care line created specifically with black women in mind—and the announcement of her partnership with major consumer fashion brand New York & Company, where she serves as the face of the brand’s 7th Avenue Design Studio and launched an acclaimed namesake collection.

The Flawless brand was born through Union’s experiences with trying to care for her natural hair while working in the industry. More often than not, she lamented, the stylists on set would have no idea how to manage her textured mane, leading to damage and dismay.

When the opportunity came along to create a line of products that catered specifically to her hair care needs, she jumped at the chance, working with a team, including former Macadamia Beauty CEO Vince Davis, to produce a range of catered shampoos, conditioners, repair masks, oil treatments, edge control, and more. A common thread throughout the brand’s offering is the use of a group of key ingredients proven to promote healthy hair, including argan, marula, macadamia, coconut, and avocado oils, as well as pea protein.

“My goal with our Flawless products is to help women with textured hair create ever-changing looks without compromising the health of their favorite accessory—their hair,” Union said of the collection, which is sold online, in JCPenney Salons and at ULTA. “I just want them to have great hair days. Period.”

Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design Studio materialized to the star’s admitted surprise—she never expected to be courted by the popular retail chain to serve as a brand ambassador. Operating as a sub-brand and inspired by her character on series Being Mary Jane, the line features chic dresses, modern suiting, and versatile separates that “embody the career woman who needs easy, effortless, styles that are polished and on trend.”

Kaavi James Collection; Caption: Kaavia James Union Wade and Gabrielle Union visit New York & Company Store in Burbank, CA, to launch Kaavi James Collection on May 09, 2019. PHOTO BY JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY
Kaavi James Collection; Caption: Kaavia James Union Wade and Gabrielle Union visit New York & Company Store in Burbank, CA, to launch Kaavi James Collection on May 09, 2019. PHOTO BY JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY

“Mary Jane’s style reflects power, leadership, and risk taking,” she explained. “She wears classic styles, but with a twist, which is why I think she’d definitely shop at New York & Company.”

Beyond her ambassadorship, which features Union modeling fashions on the company’s website, in print and digital advertisements, and on social media, the actress has ventured into a “whole new game” with the launch of her namesake collection, featuring a wide range of fashionable choices, all reminiscent of the style icon’s eclectic taste.

“I wanted to offer on-trend fashions at affordable prices that flatter all body types—that’s the bottom line,” said Union, who was given free rein to design whatever she chooses and prides herself on being fully hands-on with the creative process.

Two years into her venture, the designer recently pulled from a new source of inspiration to drive her latest launch—five-month-old daughter Kaavia James Union Wade. The adorable all-inclusive capsule collection, entitled Kaavi James by Gabrielle Union, features an array of stylish dresses, T-shirts, jumpers, and onesies (many of them unisex!) in sizes 0–24 months, all within a $15–$45 range. In addition to serving as fashion muse, Kaavia (whose parents recently trademarked her name for future projects) serves major face in the campaign’s advertisements, posing alongside her mom with her hilarious signature “Shady Baby” expression.

Family First

When it comes to priorities, the multi-hyphenate talent makes it clear—nothing is more important than her family. Just check her social media (which is plastered with their faces). She married NBA star Dwayne Wade in 2014, in the process becoming stepmother to his three boys, Zaire, Zion, and Xavier.

After struggling with infertility due to a form of endometriosis, the couple turned to surrogacy, welcoming Kaavia in November 2018.

The new mother has been open and honest about her fertility struggles, believing there is healing in the knowledge that many couples face similar challenges as they try to conceive.

Union’s life today may seem like a fairytale, but it has required blood, sweat, tears, self-love, introspection, and a dogged determination to succeed to transform her life from then to now.

A Pre-Destined Path

Union embarked on her acting journey in the mid-90s, performing in a guest role capacity or as a supporting character for a number of popular sitcoms, including Family Matters, Moesha, 7th Heaven, and Sister, Sister.

Interestingly enough, she hadn’t grown up with stars in her eyes, dreaming Hollywood dreams. The driving force behind her foray into the acting world, she admits, was money to help pay for college.

“You want to know when I became serious about being an actress?

Gabrielle Union interacts with fans during America’s Got Talent auditions. TRAE PATTON/NBC
Gabrielle Union interacts with fans during America’s Got Talent auditions. TRAE PATTON/NBC

When I made money! It really wasn’t for the love of it, in the beginning,” said the star, who graduated from UCLA with a BA in Sociology. “My plan back then was to eventually go to law school, but pretty quickly, I realized I could make a living doing this. So, I recalibrated—and never looked back.”

She hit a double whammy in 2000, appearing in Love & Basketball (as superficial high school mean girl Shawnee Easton) and co-starring with Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On (as captain of the East Compton Clovers, Isis), both of which were extremely popular and have since become cult classics.

Her role in Bring It On held a great significance for Union—she credits it as one of the biggest boosts of her career—as it not only addressed the real issue of appropriation but also served as a catalyst for her to be conscious of the roles and narratives she agreed to portray on screen.

“It’s interesting, because I had wanted a part in another cheerleading movie that came out around the same time, but they didn’t pursue Black women for any of the roles. I couldn’t even get an audition,” she revealed. “In this movie, the very premise was about cultural appropriation and how the hard work of African Americans has been repackaged with blond hair and blue eyes. The social justice of it appealed to me.”

The role directly led to her casting in the ground-breaking medical drama City of Angels, which held the distinction as network television’s first medical drama with a predominantly African-American cast. The show, which ran for two seasons on CBS, featured a who’s who of eventual Black Hollywood royalty, including Blair Underwood, Viola Davis, Maya Rudolph, and Vivica A. Fox.

It was her portrayal of successful TV news anchor Mary Jane Paul on

Union discusses television series on The Talk on the CBS Television Network. MONTY BRINTON/CBS ©2017 CBS BROADCASTING, INC.
Union discusses television series on The Talk on the CBS Television Network. MONTY BRINTON/CBS ©2017 CBS BROADCASTING, INC.

BET network’s Being Mary Jane, however, that truly solidified Union’s superstar status and staying power. The award-winning series, which ran from 2013 to spring 2019 over the course of four seasons, followed the personal and professional life happenings of the broadcast journalist as she searches for “the puzzle pieces that she, and society, insist are missing from her life as a single Black woman.”

The show was an absolute homerun for BET (debuting as its highest-rated show and quickly becoming the network’s signature series) and was praised across the board for its complex characters, captivating storylines, and willingness to tackle powerful issues. African-American women across the world hailed the series as they saw themselves and their families reflected on a weekly basis.

For Union, participation in the project was a labor of love and her greatest creative decision, offering an opportunity for her to take a role she cared about, while playing an imperfect, complicated, messy character.

“I didn’t want to play a perfect character that was a fully wholesome role model who had all the right answers,” she said. “I’d never been challenged like this—I could be required to show a bunch of different colors within one scene. In many ways, we shared similar struggles and triumphs, loves and losses, and especially the penchant for epic reads. This role was one of the most gratifying of my life.”

Producing for the Future

Building on years of experience in front of the camera, in 2014 Union added to her repertoire by stepping behind the camera to produce, starting with the Lifetime original film With This Ring. In the years since, she has served as an executive producer on a number of projects, including last year’s Breaking In (for which she was awarded Breakthrough Producer of the Year at the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards) and Spectrum Originals first major original series LA’s Finest (a Bad Boys spin-off co-starring Jessica Alba).

She also launched her own production company, I’ll Have Another (named as a nod to her best-selling book, We’re Going to Need More Wine), signing a first look deal with Sony Pictures TV last year to develop broadcast, cable, and digital projects.

It is a responsibility Union doesn’t take lightly, as she realizes that she is one of but a handful of Black women who head their own production companies.

“As I’ve taken on new projects, I’ve become more aware of the lack of diversity behind the camera,” she noted. “It’s been proven that real inclusion actually makes dollars and cents, and Hollywood is starting to change, but we still need to increase the diversity of directors, executive producers and studio heads.”

The Road Ahead

With her family by her side, her career expanding, her businesses and partnerships blossoming, and her voice for social justice reverberating, Union is living life unapologetically and striving daily to reach her full potential.

“I’m just trying to think limitlessly and not put a cap on my dreams,” she said. “When you’re open like that, the world will take you all sorts of places you could have never imagined.”

It’s obvious that for this multi-tasking mama, the best is yet to come.

Inside Tyler Perry Studios’ Grand Opening Gala with Oprah, Spike Lee, Tiffany Haddish, Beyoncé and More

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Tyler Perry pictured with celebrities at his studio opening gala

In a speech celebrating the opening of his brand new 330 acre studio in Atlanta, Ga., Tyler Perry challenged his guests to dream bigger, like he had, while turning the former Army base into his personal production play land.

But even the biggest dreamers — and the biggest names in entertainment — couldn’t be prepared for all the multi-hyphenate creator had in store at his recent grand opening gala.

“For people to drop what they’re doing in their very busy schedules to come and join me in this moment is beyond anything I could’ve imagined. It makes me happy. It makes me want to cry. It makes me grateful. It’s just I’m beyond,” Perry told Variety on the red carpet as the festivities kicked off. “I’m over the moon right now.”

The centerpiece of the evening featured Perry’s tribute to trailblazing black stars who inspired him — Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Will Smith, Halle Berry, Sidney Poitier, Whoopi Goldberg, Cicely Tyson and Harry Belafonte.

“It means I’m a part of history. This is an historic night in American cinema. It’s never been done before. So I’m honored and humbled that my brother asked me part of it,” Lee told Variety before being honored with soundstage No. 10.

The reveal of each soundstage and the star it honored was accompanied by a fireworks display and a round of massive applause from the A-list crowd. Perry also immortalized the late Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Della Reese, John Singleton and Diahann Carroll, who passed just before the ceremony on Friday.

Of celebrating Carroll’s legacy through the event, Perry said, “It’s sad news, is exactly what I thought at first, but then I looked at her 84 years on this planet. I looked at all that she was able to do. I looked at the bridges and the barriers that she broke just for me to be in this moment. So I’m celebrating it.”

Tiffany Haddish considers Perry a mentor after filming “Nobody’s Fool” on the lot. “Every time that I came in to work here at Tyler Perry studios, it was the biggest smile on my face. Cause I know the history of this place — It was a Confederate union military base,” Haddish recalled. “Trying to keep us enslaved. Now it’s owned by a black man.”

One attendee called the event “the black Met Gala” — but in actuality, the guest list gave the event the feel of the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys combined.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

Diahann Carroll, Pioneering Actress on ‘Julia’ and ‘Dynasty,’ Dies at 84

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Diahann Carroll pioneering actress poses in a white dress with gold background

She also landed an historic Tony Award, plus an Oscar nomination for her performance in ‘Claudine.’

Diahann Carroll, the captivating singer and actress who came from the Bronx to win a Tony Award, receive an Oscar nomination and make television history with her turns on Julia and Dynasty, died Friday. She was 84.

Carroll died at her home in Los Angeles after a long bout with cancer, her daughter, producer-journalist Suzanne Kay, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Carroll was known as a Las Vegas and nightclub performer and for her performances on Broadway and in the Hollywood musicals Carmen Jones and Porgy & Bess when she was approached by an NBC executive to star as Julia Baker, a widowed nurse raising a young son, on the comedy Julia.

She didn’t want to do it. “I really didn’t believe that this was a show that was going to work,” she said in a 1998 chat for the website The Interviews: An Oral History of Television. “I thought it was something that was going to leave someone’s consciousness in a very short period of time. I thought, ‘Let them go elsewhere.’ ”

However, when Carroll learned that Hal Kanter, the veteran screenwriter who created the show, thought she was too glamorous for the part, she was determined to change his mind. She altered her hairstyle and mastered the pilot script, quickly convincing him that she was the right woman.

Carroll thus became the first African American female to star in a non-stereotypical role in her own primetime network series. (Several actresses portrayed a maid on ABC’s Beulah in the early 1950s.)

Her character Baker, whose husband had died in Vietnam, worked for a doctor (Lloyd Nolan) at an aerospace company; she was educated and outspoken, and she dated men (including characters played by Fred Williamson, Paul Winfield and Don Marshall) who were successful, too.

“We were saying to the country, ‘We’re going to present a very upper middle-class black woman raising her child, and her major concentration is not going to be about suffering in the ghetto,'” Carroll noted.

“Many people were incensed about that. They felt that [African Americans] didn’t have that many opportunities on television or in film to present our plight as the underdog … they felt the [real-world] suffering was much too acute to be so trivial as to present a middle-class woman who is dealing with the business of being a nurse.

“But we were of the opinion that what we were doing was important, and we never left that point of view … even though some of that criticism of course was valid. We were of a mind that this was a different show. We were allowed to have this show.”

Julia, which premiered in September 1968, finished No. 7 in the ratings in the first of its three seasons, and Carroll received an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for her work.

While recuperating after starring on Broadway in Agnes of God, Carroll had found herself digging Dynasty — “Isn’t this the biggest hoot?” she said — and lobbied producer Aaron Spelling for a role on his series.

“They’ve done everything [on the show]. They’ve done incest, homosexuality, murder. I think they’re slowly inching their way toward interracial,” she recalled in a 1984 piece for People magazine. “I want to be wealthy and ruthless … I want to be the first black bitch on television.”

Continue on to The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

Rihanna Knows How to Throw a Party: One Successful Night at Her Diamond Ball Is Proof

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Pharrell Williams and Rihanna perform on stage during Rihanna's 5th Annual Diamond Ball Benefitting The Clara Lionel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street on September 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

It may be just another night in the life for Rihanna. But for the 600-odd guests at the Diamond Ball supporting her Clara Lionel Foundation, it was a verified starry evening featuring host Seth Meyers and performers including Pharrell Williams, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, G-Eazy, Megan Thee Stallion, A$AP Ferg, Fabolous, Yo Gotti, and even Rihanna herself, coming in for a first-ever live performance of the song “Lemon” — to the surprise and delight of everyone assembled. (Even at her extravagant Savage X Fenty fashion show earlier in the week, Rihanna declined to sing, preferring just to dance. And after a three-years-and-counting wait for her next album, the fans are hungry.)

The goal of the night: raising money for the Clara Lionel Foundation, her charitable organization named after her grandparents, which focuses on providing support to global girls’ education programs and humanitarian aid programs in her native Caribbean, with a heavy focus on climate change resiliency.

The method of fundraising: a hefty entrance price tag and a live auction. Guests bid on an all-expenses-paid trip to see Serena Williams compete in her next Grand Slam shot ($60,000); a limited-edition 60-lb. coffee table book of exclusive Rihanna photos and custom 2,000-lb. sculpted marble pedestal ($111,0000, to a Cardi B who outbid herself); and a trip to Barbados featuring dinner with the Prime Minister and a submarine trip, among other perks ($275,000, twice).

Live donations were matched by Twitter co-founder and former party attendee Jack Dorsey (racking up over half a million from the crowd in the room). Ultimately, they raised over $5 million in total.

Continue on to Time to read the complete article.

BET and Tyler Perry Studios Set Launch Date, Price For New Streaming Service BET+

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Tyler Perry on stage at the Golden Globes

The subscription video on demand BET+ service is now available for $9.99 a month, featuring exclusive new programming and existing movies, series and specials from leading African American creators including Tyler Perry, Will Packer, “Girl’s Trip” screenwriter Tracy Oliver and others. New series to premiere exclusively at the platform’s launch include Oliver’s nine-episode scripted drama “First Wives Club” and Will Packer’s ten-episode series “Bigger.” You can watch a teaser video for “First Wives Club” below.

Tyler Perry’s collected works across film, television and stage will also be available to stream on the platform at launch, with a yet-unnamed new original series coming to BET+ sometime in the next year.

“We are thrilled to offer a streaming experience of content curated for the underserved African American audience with BET+. African Americans have a higher SVOD adoption rate than any other consumer base on the market, which is why BET+ is a natural complement of BET’s linear network, which has been and continues to be the leading home of black culture for decades,” said BET Networks President Scott Mills.

Continue on to The Wrap to read the complete article.

When They See Us Star Jharrel Jerome Dedicates His First Emmy Win to the Exonerated Five

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Jharrel Jerome onstage holding hs emmy award

The 2019 Emmys has crowned its Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie and Jharrel Jerome accepted the esteemed honor on Sunday evening. He took the stage inside Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater and delivered a heartfelt acceptance speech.

And to make tonight’s win that much more exciting, this is the 21-year-old star’s first Emmy nomination and win.

“I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now chilling,” Jerome remarked. “Waiting for my mom’s cooking or something. But I’m here in front of my inspirations, here in front of people I’m so motivated by. The reason I’m here is because of actors like the people I was in the category with.”

The When They See Us star’s fellow nominees included Mahershala Ali (True Detective), Benicio Del Toro (Escape at Dannemora), Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal), Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verndon).

“Most importantly,” his acceptance speech continued, “This is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five… Thank you so much. It’s an honor. It’s a blessing.”

Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, formerly known as the Central Park 5, walked the carpet with Ava DuVernay, who told their story with the Netflix miniseries When They See Us.

When They See Us received 16 Emmy nominations in the limited series or movie category, and has already won for casting.

Continue on to Eonline to read the complete article.

Twitter Is Raving Over Angela Bassett’s Powerful Speech at the Black Girls Rock! Awards

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actress Angela Bassett speaks onstage wearing sequined outfit

Some are born icons, some eventually achieve icon status, and some have icons thrust upon them. Such was the case with Angela Bassett, who became the recipient of the Icon Award, the highest accolade at the 2019 Black Girls Rock! event.

After Academy Award–winning actress Regina King introduced Bassett to the audience, the actress delivered an empowering acceptance speech, in which she discussed the winding road to finding her life’s purpose and what it means to stand in the face of adversity as a black woman.

“My purpose as a black woman, as an actress, has always been to portray excellence on the screen, to be proud, unapologetic, and without regret,” said the Black Panther queen.

“It hasn’t always been easy. And there have been tough times, days when the phone didn’t ring, even after What’s Love Got to Do with It, as well as moments of uncertainty and of doubt,” Bassett said.

“But what women like my mother, Betty Jane, and my Aunt Golden taught me is that there will be times when you seemingly face insurmountable obstacles, but that’s when you dig deep into your soul for the courage and the fortitude … .”

She additionally thanked her family for “giving me the opportunity and the space to be a black girl who rocks.”

Later, she urged the audience to persistently remind the world of their worth and irreplaceability. “When you’re told you’re not good enough, you tell them, not only am I good enough, I’m more than enough,” she said. “When they say send her back home, you tell them, I am home. I am the foundation of what you call home. When they tell you that you’re angry or nasty, you tell them that they’re mistaken. This is me. This is me being resolute and standing firmly in my truth. And when they say you’re not beautiful, you tell them that you are the descendant of royalty.”

Continue on to Harper’s Bazaar to read the complete article.

Viola Davis To Play Michelle Obama In New Showtime Series

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Michelle Obamba and Viola Davis pictured side by side

It’s fair to say that the next potential next TV role for Viola Davis will come with a lot of pressure.

The actress has signed on to play former First Lady Michelle Obama in a series titled “First Ladies” which is in the works at Showtime.

The network has given the prospective one-hour drama a three-script commitment, with novelist Aaron Cooley on board to write and executive produce.

The series will peel back the curtain on the personal and political lives of First Ladies from throughout history, with season one focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Michelle Obama.

“First Ladies” will turn it lens on the East Wing of the White House, as opposed to the West, where many of history’s most impactful and world changing decisions have been hidden from view, made by America’s charismatic, complex and dynamic First Ladies.

The series hails from Showtime and Lionsgate Television.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

New, Black-owned radio station in Chicago becomes the “Game-Changer”

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Tracey V. Bell close up professional picture

Chicago makes history by ushering change as African-American female industry veteran Tracey V. Bell, President of The Integrated Brand Marketing Company (The IBM Company), seals the deal of a lifetime and has purchased 95.1 FM Clubsteppin™ Chicago from Windy City Broadcasting.

Commercializing the brand name of Clubsteppin™ and recognized as “The Heartbeat of Soul,” 95.1 FM Clubsteppin™ Chicago becomes the only African-American-owned music station in Chicago with a strategy to change the game in the third largest media market in the country. While the parent company of Clubsteppin™ reveals that Steppin music will remain the nucleus of the format, it also shares that Steppin music transcends genres.

95.1 FM Clubsteppin™ Chicago will not only serve up the same great music its listeners have come to expect and enjoy, it will extend itself to ensure an optimal listening experience, intermingling Steppin music with Classic/Old School R & B. It will also remain committed to servicing African-American adults 35 plus years of age as its primary listener, the only music station in Chicago to do so.

Solidifying that commitment, in addition to Tom Joyner who will continue to start the day at 5:00 a.m., 95.1 FM Clubsteppin™ Chicago has teamed up with an A-List of Chicago’s veteran personalities, the Who’s Who in “Black” Chicago radio: Legendary DJ Sam Chatman, Ramonski Luv aka “The Al Kapone Of The Microphone,” Kris Hutchinson aka “First Lady,” who also dubs as Program Director, Gene “Airman” Phillips, Bonnie “Hey Baby” DeShong, Brian Frazier, Troi Tyler, Gachelle Coffey, Dana Divine, Hugo Hutchinson, AJ Parker and Ken Bedford and Luther Gage.

More still, 95.1 FM Clubsteppin™ Chicago, is bringing Smooth Jazz back to the airwaves in Chicago. Amidst one of its weekend specialty segments, “The Sunday Evening Winddown,” Gachelle “Smooth Touch” Coffey kicks off the segment and renowned recording artist Will Downing headlines at 9:00 p.m.

Committed to helping uplift the community, 95.1 FM Clubsteppin™ Chicago will work to become the people’s station and build a gateway for the exchange of information in support of small businesses. Building on that gateway, 95.1 FM Clubsteppin™ Chicago reaches 95 percent of African Americans on the South and West sides of Chicago and some areas of NW Indiana.

Continue on to the Chicago Crusader to read the complete article.

Garcelle Beauvais Becomes First Black Woman to Join ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’

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Garcelle Beauvais at Spiderman premiere

Garcelle Beauvais is about to make history as the first black woman to join the cast of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Sutton Stracke joins her as the second cast member added to season 10 following Lisa Vanderpump’s exit in the ninth season after feuding with costars.

“As the first African American Housewife in the ‘Beverly Hills’ franchise, I am honored and humbled by this awesome opportunity to exemplify the fact that Black Girl Magic lives and thrives in every ZIP code,” Beauvais said in a statement to Bravo’s The Daily Dish. “I’m excited to share the many ongoing daily surprises, laughs and joys of being a working mother in today’s crazy world. The hustle is R-E-A-L! No games, all heart and a little dash of fashion-filled sass is what you’ll get when you step into my sphere… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

Beauvais has come a long way from her early days as Fancy on “The Jamie Foxx Show.” Already established as an actress before joining “RHOBH,” she starred in a number of sitcoms and films including “Franklin & Bash,” “NYPD Blue,” and “Barbershop 2” featuring Ice Cube, Eve, and Michael Ealy.

Additionally, she’s slated to appear in the “Coming to America” sequel currently in production.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

40th College Television Awards Submission Period Begins Sept. 5

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College Television Awards logo

The Television Academy Foundation Awards Ceremony Celebrates Student-Produced Programs From Colleges Nationwide. The submission period for the Television Academy Foundation’s 40th College Television Awards is Sept. 5 through Oct. 3, 2019.

Each year hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students, representing colleges and universities nationwide, submit their media projects to television’s most prestigious student competition—the Television Academy Foundation’s College Television Awards.

The College Television Awards honors achievement in student-produced programs and will feature stars from today’s top television shows presenting awards to winners at the red-carpet awards ceremony.

Emulating the Emmy® Awards selection process, entries for the College Television Awards are judged by Television Academy members. Top honors and a $3,000 cash prize will be presented to winning teams in eight categories: drama, comedy, animation, nonfiction, promotional, news, sports and variety. The College Television Awards also includes two additional, donor-supported, categories: the Seymour Bricker Humanitarian Award and the Loreen Arbus Focus on Disability Scholarship.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the nominees will take part in a three-day television summit hosted by the Television Academy Foundation. The summit, designed to enhance professional development, will feature panel discussions, studio tours and networking opportunities with industry executives and Academy members.

The College Television Awards often serves as an entry point for a career in television for nominees and winners. Past alumni have worked as editors, writers, producers and other positions on programs including Ray Donovan, The Handmaid’s Tale, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, CBS This Morning, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Grey’s Anatomy, 60 Minutes, Empire and many more.

For additional information, visit TelevisionAcademy.com/CTA.

To read the complete article continue on to The Patch.

Oprah Winfrey And WW Announce Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life In Focus Tour

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Oprah tour poster

Global media leader Oprah Winfrey recently announced her first national arena tour in five years, Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus. Presented by Weight Watchers (WW) Reimagined – Oprah will bring a full day wellness event to nine U.S. cities beginning January 2020.

Joined by high profile guests, Oprah will help motivate audiences across the country to make 2020 the year of renewal and celebrate all we are meant to be.

“What I know for sure is we can all come together to support a stronger, healthier, more abundant life – focused on what makes us feel energized, connected and empowered,” said Oprah Winfrey. “As I travel the country, my hope for this experience is to motivate others to let 2020 be the year of transformation and triumph – beginning first and foremost with what makes us well. This is the year to move forward, let’s make it happen in 2020!”

On each stop, attendees will spend the day with Oprah as she shares the personal ups and downs of her wellness journey and guides them to develop their own 2020 action plan through motivating conversations, the latest in wellness research and insightful interactive workbook exercises. Every city will feature a different lineup of high-profile guests, electrifying experiences and invigorating talks as well as highlight inspiring individuals who took charge of their lives and created lasting change. Each tour stop will also feature a signature Oprah interview as she sits down for an intimate one-on-one conversation with some of the biggest celebrities, headline-makers and game-changers.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for WW to do what we do best: bring communities of people together with a shared goal of health and wellness,” said Mindy Grossman, President and CEO, WW. “As the leader in weight loss and the world’s partner in wellness, we look forward to giving people the tools, content and inspiration that can help them on their journey during this tour and beyond, through our engaging digital experience on our app or our face-to-face group Workshops.”

“For more than three decades, Oprah has used her unparalleled gift to empower audiences to live their healthiest and best lives,” said Amy Weinblum, Chief Business Development Officer, WW. “Creating energizing events and experiences with partners like Oprah and Live Nation is the next iteration of WW showing up to inspire community, making wellness accessible to all.”

The tour will be produced by Live Nation in conjunction with Women Nation, the newly formed division dedicated to women-led and women driven live events. The day-long event will kick off Saturday, January 4 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and make stops in St. Paul, Charlotte, Atlanta at the award-winning State Farm Arena, Brooklyn, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles before wrapping Saturday, March 7 in Denver, CO. Exclusive pre-sale access for the WW community begins Monday, September 9 at 10am local time. American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning Tuesday, September 10 at 10am local time through Thursday, September 12 at 10pm local time.

Remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, September 13 at 10am local time at ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit ww.com/oprah.

Over $1 million from tour proceeds will benefit WW Good, the philanthropic arm of WW that helps bring fresh, healthy food to underserved communities nationwide.

“It is an honor to partner with Oprah and WW in bringing this one-of-a-kind tour to life in 2020,” said Ali Harnell, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Women Nation at Live Nation. “We look forward to sharing Oprah’s captivating message with the country as she motivates audiences to be the best versions of themselves in the new year.”

OPRAH’S 2020 VISION: YOUR LIFE IN FOCUS TOUR DATES

DATE CITY VENUE
Sat Jan 04 Ft. Lauderdale, FL BB&T Center
Sat Jan 11 St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center
Sat Jan 18 Charlotte, NC Spectrum Center
Sat Jan 25 Atlanta, GA State Farm Arena
Sat Feb 08 Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center
Sat Feb 15 Dallas, TX American Airlines Center
Sat Feb 22 San Francisco, CA Chase Center
Sat Feb 29 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
Sat Mar 07 Denver, CO Pepsi Center

 

About WW

WW – Weight Watchers Reimagined – is a global wellness company and the world’s leading commercial weight management program. We inspire millions of people to adopt healthy habits for real life. Through our engaging digital experience and face-to-face group workshops, members follow our livable and sustainable program that encompasses healthy eating, physical activity, and a helpful mindset. With more than five decades of experience in building communities and our deep expertise in behavioral science, we aim to deliver wellness for all. To learn more about the WW approach to healthy living, please visit ww.com. For more information about our global business, visit our corporate website at corporate.ww.com.

About Live Nation Entertainment

Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) is the world’s leading live entertainment company comprised of global market leaders: Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts, and Live Nation Sponsorship. For additional information, please visit livenationentertainment.com.

About State Farm Arena

Home to the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club, State Farm Arena opens its doors in October 2018 following the 2nd largest renovation in NBA history. Inspired by the fans, State Farm Arena is a next-generation venue focused on experience, service and entertainment. With the NBA’s third-largest center-hung scoreboard and an immersive video experience, fan-friendly food pricing and premium restaurant options, Topgolf Swing Suites and celebrity-inspired spaces accessible to every fan, the downtown Atlanta arena stakes its claim as the city’s best sports and live entertainment venue. Consistently ranked among the top 10 concert and event venues in the world by Pollstar, State Farm Arena hosts approximately 170 events and nearly 2 million guests annually. For more information on State Farm Arena, log on to www.statefarmarena.com today or follow us on Twitter @StateFarmArena.

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