Posts tagged with "black women"

Alex Bogdan illustration for 360 MAGAZINE of Jazmine Sullivan.

ESSENCE × Jazmine Sullivan

ESSENCE’s July/August 2021 issue features GRAMMY nominated singer Jazmine Sullivan and EMMY award-winning actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II on its two covers dedicated to the “ESSENCE Festival of Culture” and “Summer Screen Kings” respectively.

In the piece, Jazmine’s Tale, the singer and ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola headliner (which will stream across two weekends June 25-27 and July 2-4 on ESSENCE’s website and on ESSENCE Studios) slays in bold colors and white-hot looks from Stella McCartney, Fendi, Cong Tri, Aliette, Alix NYC and more. She opens up to Insecure co-creator/writer/producer Issa Rae about the importance of holding space for Black women, therapy and the freedom of sharing her own journey. She talks to Rae about:

  • ON HAVING A MASTER PLAN…OR NOT: “I wish I could say I had a master plan, but I really didn’t. I was just doing what felt natural, and luckily I had gotten with a record company and with people who allowed me to do that. But for me, I just wanted to express myself in the most natural way, and that means me writing my stories. So many of the songs at that time came from a lot of the childish stuff I was going through. For example, busting windows out of an ex’s car and literally going straight from doing it to not being able to sleep. I was restless, because I was still in the moment. And so I just started writing about it. I let my girlfriends hear it, and they were like, ‘Girl, do your thing—whatever this leads to.’ And it led to my world opening up in such a different way…”
  • ON TELLING BLACK WOMEN’S STORIES: “Before now, I had really just been concerned about expressing myself and getting my story out there—and people have connected to that. But for this project, it was important for me to share the stories of the women I love and hold dear to my heart. I feel like they are just as banging and dynamic as me. And I want to give space and opportunity to women, period…”
  • ON MAKING SPACE FOR OTHER BLACK WOMEN: “I feel like we get caught up in thinking there’s ‘only one’ of us. There can only be one R&B superstar; there can only be one rap girl at a time. That’s not true. God was not stingy when He was giving out gifts. And you’re not the only person. There are many other women, especially Black women, who can do what you do. And let’s all create spaces for each other to get out there and do that…”
  • ON FINDING THE RIGHT THERAPIST: “The first five minutes I was holding back tears, because I was like, ‘Wow, this is the first time I’m actually speaking about my feelings. And it’s not in a song. It doesn’t require notes. I don’t need to impress anybody with what it is that I’m actually doing. This is the first time.’ So I was holding back tears even doing that. But after that first five minutes, I was surprised by how much I was enjoying speaking to somebody, and somebody listening to me, and I didn’t have to perform to do it. But finding the right therapist is a process—because I went to therapy one time, years ago, and I hated the experience, and I feel like it stopped me from going for a long time. And then I found this new lady, and it’s a totally different experience. So you have to find the right person for you, that you actually want to open up to. But once you do that, a weight lifts off of you—just from speaking, just from telling your story. And that’s what Heaux Tales was. It’s like, ‘Tell it, girl. Tell it. Set yourself free.’”

In the piece, Summer Screen Kings, it’s obvious that leading man Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is here to stay. Given the space he has carved out for himself in Hollywood, the meaning of his name (which, roughly translated from Arabic, means “Graced by God”) seems particularly prescient. At 35 and a towering 6 feet 3 inches tall, Yahya’s imprint in Hollywood continues expanding. Weeks away from the release of his first leading role in Candyman (in theaters August 27), Yahya will also star in The Matrix 4, the newest installment in the Matrix franchise, as well as his third action flick, Ambulance, next year. As he heats up the issue in designers including Fendi, Hermes, Gucci and more, he talks to ESSENCE Senior Entertainment Editor Brande Victorian about what really drew him to acting, his definition of sexy and whether a rom-com is next on his list of achievements:

  • ON WHAT IT REALLY MEANS TO BE SEXY: “I don’t think sexy tries. Ease is sexy. It’s nice to have a little bit of mystery, and if I’m being perfectly honest, it’s not for me to say whether I’m attractive or not. It’s for me to have self-confidence. Confidence is sexy…”
  • ON HOW HIS CURIOSITY DREW HIM TO ACTING: “I wasn’t itching to be a star or anything like that. I wasn’t thinking about movies or television. I just started following my curiosity…I got here by staying curious, by staying humble, and also knowing that there’s so much more that I want to do…I think I’ve done a lot on other people’s terms. I’ve been able to step into projects that were already written before my name was attached, and I’m so thankful that I was able to step in and support those projects. But now I’m at a place where I’m looking to come into rooms with my own ideas, and develop those ideas and tell my own stories. I think that’s the next chapter…”
  • ON WHETHER A ROM-COM IS IN HIS FUTURE: “We need more romance…We have adventure. We have action. We’ve got a lot of stories about trauma, because trauma is very present in our world right now. But we also need love. We need more straight-up, old-school romance. I don’t mind putting my hand up and stepping into that place to say, ‘I’ll be your man, girl.’ I don’t mind that at all…”
  • ACTRESS/DIRECTOR REGINA KING ON YAHYA’S DEDICATION TO THE WOMEN IN HIS LIFE: “That man talks about his sisters and his mother with so much love and so much appreciation…I think that was one of the reasons why we connected so well. It doesn’t always work that way with actors, that you feel safe enough to be so forthcoming with your personal life, but we did that literally day one. His love for the women in his life, he leads with that…”

ESSENCE’s “Summer Screen Kings” package also features hot actors Don Cheadle (Space Jam: A New Legacy), Omar Sy (Lupin), Aaron Pierre (OLD) and Mekai Curtis (Raising Kanan). For more on this issue, which hits newsstands on June 29, visit ESSENCE For more information on the virtual ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola, visit ESSENCE’s Festival website

All Photos: Brad Ogbonna

Film Premiere illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Twenty Pearls Premiere

COMCAST ANNOUNCES EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE OF
TWENTY PEARLS – A DOCUMENTARY EXAMINING THE STORIED HISTORY OF ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY, INCORPORATED – ON ITS NEWLY LAUNCHED BLACK EXPERIENCE ON XFINITY CHANNEL

Comcast NBCUniversal is excited to announce the exclusive premiere of the documentary film “Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated”, arriving Friday, March 26 on its newly launched Black Experience on Xfinity Channel, available on X1, Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app.

From award-winning filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper, produced by Coffee Bluff Pictures, and narrated by Phylicia Rashād, Twenty Pearls closely examines the founding and legacy of the first Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, which is now regarded as one of the most significant and influential Black organizations in historyThe documentary tells a powerful story of sisterhood. In 1908, nine Black women enrolled at Howard University made one decision that would change the course of history. These college students created Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. For over 113 years, the sorority has influenced many of the most famous watershed moments in history.

Through narration, interviews, and rarely seen archival materials, the audience will see the sorority’s impact on World War II, NASA, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) culminating in the historic election of America’s first Black and South Asian woman Vice President. Twenty Pearls features interviews with members of the sorority including Vice President Kamala HarrisMiss Universe Ireland 2019 Fionnghuala O’ReillySmithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Fierst, great-granddaughter of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, International President and CEO of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Dr. Glenda Glover and many more.

 
Watch the Twenty Pearls trailer hereTrailer
 

“This is an extraordinary time to look back at our past to serve our future,” added filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper. “A future where Black women are centered. Helming this documentary love letter to the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the generations of women that followed in their footsteps, and to all Black women everywhere is an honor. This is an important history for all of us to know and understand.”

“We’re thrilled to work with award-winning filmmaker, Deborah Riley Draper, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to bring this exclusive premiere to the Black Experience on Xfinity channel, furthering our company-wide mission of investing in and showcasing authentic Black stories and culture,” said Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Video & Entertainment, Xfinity Consumer Services. “We launched this channel to help facilitate the discovery of stories like Twenty Pearls while providing a platform for emerging Black content creators.”

“Telling our own story is essential to preserving our history and uplifting the culture,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover. “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s remarkable 113-year journey which began on the campus of Howard University is punctuated by stories of history makers, ceiling breakers, public servants, and ordinary women who have changed the course of American history.  Through this beautifully written and narrated odyssey, this film highlights in undeniable ways the vision, courage, tenacity, determination, and power of Black women while putting to bed the age-old questions about the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Divine Nine sororities and fraternities.”

Black Experience on Xfinity is a first-of-its-kind destination of Black entertainment, movies, TV shows, news, and more. It features high-quality content from many of Xfinity’s existing network partners, at no additional cost, while investing millions of dollars in fostering and showcasing emerging Black content creators. The channel is the only one of its kind endorsed by the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the world’s largest group of Black film critics that gives annual awards for excellence in film and television. Available at home on Xfinity X1 and Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app, the Black Experience on Xfinity will entertain, educate and uplift, featuring Black actors, writers, producers and directors. At home, Xfinity subscribers can visit channel 1622 or simply say “Black Experience” into the Voice Remote to instantly enjoy the ultimate in Black storytelling.

Visit Xfinity to learn more about the Black Experience on Xfinity and other Black programming available on X1, Flex, and the Xfinity Stream app. Visit Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated to learn more about Twenty Pearls, which premieres on March 26 on Xfinity and is free for subscribers, and will be available nationwide, on-demand, starting on March 30, 2021.

Rhianna Illustration for 360 Magazine

RIHANNA x ESSENCE

ESSENCE, the leading media, technology and commerce company serving Black women, kicks off 2021 with a stunning January + February cover art exclusive. Legendary artist Lorna Simpson collaborates with global fashion and beauty founder Robyn Rihanna Fenty, who recently launched Fenty Skin globally in stores in the U.S. and the U.K.

Their goal was to reinterpret the narrative of modern-day beauty in the gorgeous photographic cover collage, Of Earth & Sky, and in images comprising a 12-page portfolio feature inside the January + February issue. Over the past 15 years of her acclaimed three-decade career, Simpson has created collages that recontextualize images of Black women from vintage pages ofEbony and Jet magazines. Like all of Simpson’s celebrated works, these original pieces are more than what meets the eye.

Simpson channels Rihanna as her muse throughout the spectacular artistic rendering—reimagining the artist in a way that has neverbeenseen before. Rihanna looks ethereal in designer pieces including from her signature Savage X Fenty line as well as Prada, Givenchy, Hood by Air, Thelma West, Rick Owens and more.

“…I needed to create images of Rihanna to place within the environments of source materials from my archive,” said Simpson. “For the project to have the same kind of dramatic visual intensity as my collage work to date, I had to consider the atmosphere and lighting of specific source materials before arriving to set. Knowing Rihanna’s charisma and commanding presence, my effort was then to be as present and prepared as possible to capture her exquisite performance for the camera…”

The package also features the piece, Anthems of Possibility, written by Simpson’s daughter, writer and actor Zora Simpson Casebere. She weighs in on how Rihanna helped shape her womanhood at an early age and how serving as a stand-in model on set for her mother was a full-circle moment. 

“…At 13, I was deeply grateful that at a formative time in my life, it was Rihanna’s voice and art that became my portals to so many questions about sexuality, sexual exploration and sexual autonomy,” expressed Casebere. “Now, on set, I assisted my mother as a model as she explored how she might later place Rihanna within the visual contexts she’d selected from vintage Ebony magazines, old Associated Press photographs and 19th-century lithographs of mineral specimens.”

“When Rihanna arrived at the set—my first time seeing her in real life—I was mesmerized. She was the very definition of grace, charisma and influence,” continued Casebere. “Wearing a magnificent Maximilian black headdress, she requested the song ‘Thick’ by DJ Chose, then met the camera with power and possibility—power in how she moved her body through space, and possibility in how she dismantled and moved beyond institutional boundaries…”

The gorgeous issue will also pay homage to Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris’ historic win with reflections by five influential Black women: Donna Brazile, Leah Daughtry, Karen Finney, Star Jones and Minyon Moore. In addition, the issue features an interview with Barack Obama talking about his new book and journey as the nation’s first Black president. Plus, iconic actress Cicely Tysonshares an eye-opening excerpt from her new memoir.

For more on this issue, visit ESSENCE.com or pick up the January + February 2021 issue on newsstands next week. (Photographic Collages, Lorna Simpson)

ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS, INC. 

Essence Communications is the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and inspires a global audience of more than 31 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, experiential and online, ESSENCE encompasses its signature magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; as well as live events, including Black Women in Music, Black Women in Hollywood, Street Style and the ESSENCE Festival. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, consumer technology company merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.

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Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, GirlTrek

GirlTrek Finale

More than 100,000 Black women and allies have participated in GirlTrek’s #BlackHistoryBootCamp, a 21-day walking challenge that celebrates a different Black woman of historic significance each day and the podcast has been downloaded nearly 225,000 times. The finale is June 30th.

Revolutionary Black women such as Stagecoach Mary, Rosetta Tharpe, Mamie Till-Mobley, Dovey Johnson Roundtree, Ida B. Wells and Ella Baker have been among those featured by GirlTrek cofounders T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison who co-lead the #BlackHistoryBootCamp discussions. Thousands listen in live and walk in solidarity as the two not only honor these little-known champions of Black culture and womanhood with rich and lively conversation, but share reading resources, speeches and a specially-curated playlist of songs dedicated to each hero highlighted.

“For three weeks straight, you have studied Black women, walked in their footsteps, and danced in the daily celebration of their lives –all of this– in the midst of a world that says you don’t matter,” Dixon said.

The accompanying #BlackHistoryBootCamp podcast has been downloaded nearly 220,000 times across Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Buzzsprout platforms. The most listened to episode features Audre Lorde, a beloved inspiration to GirlTrek’s very mission to inspire Black women to lead healthier, happier lives through radical self-care that starts with daily walking.  

The #BlackHistoryBootCamp has been covered by outlets such as  NPR, Essence, and Parade.

Listen to the 21st and final #BlackHistoryBootCamp call on Tuesday, June 30th at noon EST. The call-in info is 1 (646) 876-9923, code: 734464325.

With nearly 800,000 members and counting, GirlTrek as profiled on CNN, is the largest health movement and nonprofit for Black women and girls in the country. GirlTrek encourages Black women to use radical self-care and walking as the first practical step to leading healthier, more fulfilled lives. GirlTrek is on a mission to inspire one million Black women to walk in the direction of their healthiest, most fulfilled lives by the end of 2020 and it all starts with taking the pledge at GirlTrek.org.

Follow GirlTrek: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

illustration, 360 MAGAZINE, Alejandra Villagra

Bernie Sanders × ESSENCE.com

In an exclusive op-ed for ESSENCE.com, Sen. Bernie Sanders explains why Black women will benefit from medicare for all. He talks to ESSENCE about:

  • AMERICA’S DYSFUNCTIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: “It is impossible for any rational person to deny that our current healthcare system is dysfunctional and cruel. As a nation, we spend more than twice as much on healthcare as the people of almost every major country on earth while achieving worse outcomes.  Even worse, Black Americans see only a fraction of those sub-par returns.  In America today, Black babies are more than twice as likely to die in infancy than babies born to white mothers, and Black women are three or four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white peers. To change those unacceptable outcomes, it’s important to recognize that maternal health disparities don’t start at pregnancy. They start before mothers are even born…”
  • HOW THE “MEDICARE FOR ALL” BILL WILL BENEFIT BLACK MOTHERS: “In my view, any plan that targets Black maternal health that doesn’t include unequivocal support for a universal healthcare system that is free at the point of delivery is not good enough. The “Medicare For All” Bill I’ve introduced will help prevent Black mothers from being discriminated against as they’re poised to give birth — left laboring in hallways because of their perceived inability to pay. It also means that large numbers of Black Americans who live in southern, Republican-controlled states like Mississippi will no longer have to suffer because local legislators rejected President Obama’s Medicaid expansion. Medicare For All will provide long-term home health care and community-based services for everyone…”
  • HOW AFRICAN-AMERICANS ARE DISADVANTAGED BY AN EMPLOYER-BASED INSURANCE SYSTEM: “In America today, Black employment rates remain disproportionately low due to well-documented employment discrimination, unequal public education, and other systemic biases. While 65 percent of white families receive insurance through their employer, only 46 percent of Black families do, which in part explains why the uninsured rate for Black Americans is 11 percent – over 50% higher than that of white Americans…”

For more on this piece, visit ESSENCE.com

Not Me App

Women of color experience harassment at greater rates than other women –studies show that 25% of all black women are harassed. Blacks also reported a 60% higher rate of discrimination compared to whites.
 
Ninety percent of employees who are the victims of harassment never file a formal complaint, now with the #NotMe App, safety is literally in everyone’s hands.
 
#NotMe is a free mobile misconduct solution that supports anyone who needs help. The open platform empowers anyone to safely report misconduct they’ve witnessed or experienced, in real time, right on their mobile device in as little as 3 minutes. Reporting can also be anonymous, eliminating fear of retaliation in the workplace.

Elizabeth Warren, presidential candidate, essence magazine, essence.com, 360 MAGAZINE

Robyn Crawford × Whitney Houston

In the latest episode of ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! podcast, hosts Cori Murray and Charli Penn talk to Whitney Houston’s confidante Robyn Crawford—who reveals a side of the iconic singer that only ESSENCE can share.

While at the height of a whirlwind tour promoting her book, A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston, Crawford shares her own truth with the Yes, Girl! team on life with Houston—weighing in on everything from their bond, the first time they met, their friendship after Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown came on the scene and more. She shares with ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! (time codes included):

  • ON WHAT WHITNEY WOULD WANT [12:09-12:35]: “…I asked myself that question, what would Whitney want? What would Whitney want? So my intent is to raise my friend’s legacy, honor our friendship because that’s what she deserves. That’s how I feel…”
  • ON BEING YOUNG, FEARLESS AND FREE WITH WHITNEY [15:06-15:36]: “…We were young, fearless, and ready, and I was a believer. It was happening. Everything she said was happening. She didn’t talk like, ‘I’m going to have a hit record and we’re going to…’ It was none of that. It was like, ‘I’m a singer. I sing. I’m going to get a recording contract, and stick with me and I’ll take you all around the world.’ And that’s exactly what happened…”
  • ON THE FIRST TIME THEY MET [17:20-17:50]: “…It all happened at that first meeting when I walked in and we met that day. It just clicked, something happened, and it was just a friendship that developed and it kept growing and growing. And it was deep because we were open, we were bare, we were naked. And when I mean naked, with our feelings and we didn’t think about what we were saying, we just said it…”
  • ON ROBYN’S BOND WITH WHITNEY [26:52 – 27:46]It was the bond, and the deepness, and the connection that we had. And it was beautiful. Those moments…I know I am very free when I express it in the book. And that’s because that’s what that moment felt like. Whitney used to always say, if you want a friend, you have to be one. If you love me, love me unconditionally. And that was something else for me to strive for, understanding what the word unconditional meant. And the love that I had for her was really deep. And that love she had for me was the same…”
  • ON HER FRIENDSHIP WITH WHITNEY AFTER SHE MARRIED BOBBY [35:42 – 38:04]: “…I did not know Bobby before the wedding. We never really got a chance to know each other. And, when they became a couple, I still really didn’t get to spend any quality time with both of them. But, while I will say about Bobby is she told me she loved him. And his behavior and the way I saw him treat her… let’s just say this about Bobby, Bobby’s behaviors played out in the press. And he and I were not squaring off in Everlast shorts and boxing gloves. That never happened. I was still in the same spot that Whitney always wanted me to be. Bobby never approached me personally and said anything to me about the rumors of our relationship. Not once. But I watched him make a mess of her trail. Bobby was funny. He had a way of shifting the attention to him anywhere, any place, at any time. That was Bobby’s talent….But I wasn’t competing for anything. I had her friendship. I was her friend. And he could have been a better friend too…”

Subscribe to ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! podcast today, available for streaming and download on Apple PodcastsSpotifyiHeartMedia and Google. For more details visit ESSENCE.com.

About Essence Communications Inc.

Essence Communications is the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and inspires a global audience of more than 20.2 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, experiential and online, ESSENCE encompasses its signature magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; as well as live events, including Black Women in Music, Black Women in Hollywood, Street Style and the ESSENCE Festival. Essence Communications is owned by Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned, technology-driven company focused on merging content, community and commerce to meet the evolving cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.