Courtney was born and raised in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, but always wanted to move to sunny L.A. She turned that dream into a reality when she was accepted to UCLA, where she obtained an undergraduate degree in economics. Courtney’s passion for fashion and modeling started very early on. After various shopping sprees with her mom, they would outfit her new clothes and partake in an impromptu photoshoot in their backyard. Courtney’s other interests include volleyball (which she competed in for seven years), yoga, karaoke, tennis, trying new foods and going to concerts.
ESSENCE MARCH+APRIL TRIPLE COVERS FEATURE STAR-STUDDED CAST OF THE HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED COMING 2 AMERICA – INCLUDING EDDIE MURPHY, ARSENIO HALL, JERMAINE FOWLER, KIKI LAYNE AND BELLA MURPHY
Prepare the royal jet! Coming 2 America is finally arriving, with Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Halland an all-star cast of returning and new faces—including Jermaine Fowler, KiKi Layne and Bella Murphy. It’s been more than three decades since the beloved original Coming to America hit theaters and became a true cult classic that has spanned multiple generations and demographics. Now, in the ESSENCEMarch/April issue triple cover article, The Fresh Princes of Zamunda, Regina R. Robertson talks to the cast about why this was the right time to do the sequel, their fave moments and what the film means to the culture:
EDDIE MURPHY ON WHAT THE FILM MEANS TO THE CULTURE: “Coming to America is one of my films that has really worked its way into the culture. People get dressed up as the characters for Halloween, and they still walk around saying catchphrases like ‘Sexual Chocolate.’ So many people grew up with Coming to America and have a lot invested in it, so I didn’t want to taint that…Once the ideas started coming together, it took about four or five years to get the script all the way right. Once we got it right, I knew it was time…”
ARSENIO HALL ON DOING THE SEQUEL: “A lot of people have posted about Coming to America and said things like, ‘Please don’t mess with my movie’ or ‘I don’t want no sequel!’ We’ve been pitched all kinds of ideas, but I remember reading the script in Eddie’s backyard and it was all making sense. That’s when I knew that this was going to be the sequel…”
KIKI LAYNE ON PLAYING MEEKA:“Meeka is loyal to her family. I’m interested in showcasing strong Black women— and being a part of this film was an opportunity to play in such a classic world and also to work with straight-up legends, all the way around…”
BELLA MURPHY ON PLAYING OMMA AND WORKING WITH HER DAD:“Omma is super-smart, a little bit of a badass, and she’s super-cool. Being able to do my first film with my dad is really special…I’m over the moon…”
JERMAINE ON PLAYING LAVELLE—AND WATCHING HIS DREAM COME TRUE: “In some ways, Lavelle reminds me a lot of myself when I was growing up and trying to figure out life. As a fan of the original film, I was honored to be a part of this whole world—but when they told me how Lavelle becomes part of the story, I just laughed my ass off and thought, All right, let’s do it…”
SHARI HEADLEY ON WHAT AUDIENCES WILL LOVE: “I’m as excited as the audience and have no doubt that this will be a film that people will love. I’ll venture to say they’ll love it even more than the first one…”
WESLEY SNIPES ON JOINING THE FILM: “I was like, ‘Whatever the role is, I want to be in it.’ Later, I was told that I was going to be a General—but really, I could have played a zebra and been just fine…”
For more on this issue, visit ESSENCE.com or pick up the March/April issue on newsstands next week.
360 Magazine had the opportunity to collaborate with Jonte’ Moaning and Brian Thomas for an editorial fashion shoot that encompasses the new age of fashion. The incredibly talented duo worked together to produce a photoshoot that displays high fashion and uniqueness. The creative director of the shoot was Franklin Peña and the production was done by Brian Rubiano.
This shoot features two exquisite looks which Moaning carries off flawlessly. The chained shirt, paired with leather shorts and unique, gladiator boots creates a modern-day, stylish armor. The second look features a silver overcoat with red and black dripping detail falling from the jacket’s shoulders. When paired with this statement red and grey hat, the look comes together effortlessly.
Jonte’ Moaning has been a pioneer for the entertainment industry worldwide. He has influenced major pop artists with his unique discography. His work can recently be seen in the Black is King film which was directed, written and executively produced by Beyoncé. Jonte’ has been of major importance for the LGTBQ+ community and has broken down barriers for men to explore their gender expression.
Jonte’ is best known for taking part in curating the iconic “Sasha Fierce” persona of Beyoncé. Although, he has also worked closely with a number of other notable artists such as Janet Jackson, Cassie, Tamar Braxton, Blackpink and many more.
Jonte’ released his first solo single, “Bitch You Betta” in 2008 and has continued to release music from there. The artist has stated that he was inspired to work on his solo career while he was working alongside performing artists and felt that he “could do it better.”
As a performer, Jonte’ is known for his androgynous look and trademark high heels which challenge classic gender norms. He has worked into the elite status and continues to produce music that embodies all he represents. His music, along with his style makes waves within the entertainment industry and this editorial shoot is no different.
You can read more about Jonte’s successful career on his website, HelloJonte.com.
The photographer for the shoot, Brian Thomas, is an astound choreographer and photographer who is best known for working with legend Michael Jackson. Throughout his career, he has gained a great deal of experience and works closely with a variety of performing artists. Thomas also owns Spinkick Pictures in New York City, which produces extraordinary films.
Thomas has had major success in the directing industry and some of his credits include “Amy’s Victory Dance,” an award-winning documentary as well as, “Follow, Lead, Love” and “P.S. Love Robby,” two documentaries currently in production. He also directed the short film, “Dark Matter” which features dancer Desmond Richardson.
Thomas has also won the GLAM award for various music videos including “Higher Love,” which stares Carishma. He has also worked as the Associate Director for the Cirque du Soleil Flash mob Time Square performance.
Thomas has also choreographed for companies such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, New York City Knicks Dancers, Brooklynettes, Optimum triple play, Are We There Yet, and numerous other TV and live stage events.
Thomas explained that his mission is to promote empathy through his work with Visual Art. He wants to further conversations about Equality, Representation, and Diversity which he certainly does with his films.
The creative direction of the shoot was executed by Franklin Peña, a professional dancer and fashion model from New York City. He has always been heavily involved in the entertainment industry and in 2016 decided to make the move from the Bronx to Los Angeles. There, he appeared on E Network’s reality show, What Happens at The Abbey. This series takes a glance inside of The Abbey in West Hollywood, which is known as the “Best Gay Bar in the World.” The show follows the workers of the bar as they interact with celebrities and navigate love and drama.
Pena was also tapped by 360 Magazine as a red carpet correspondent in 2017. He continues to grow his success working with a variety of other creatives in the industry.
This shoot was produced by Brian Rubiano. As a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines, Brian Rubiano has gained success as an actor and producer. He also started “Humanize It,” his own Film Production and Brand Strategy consultation company.
Rubiano has worked closely with Brian Thomas on many similar films for Spinkick Pictures. Rubiano worked as the Post-Production Producer for both the Award-Winning feature documentary “Amy’s Victory Dance” and the short film “Dark Matter,” both of which Thomas also worked on.
Rubiano has a goal to use his platform, skills & knowledge in order to help artists and the creative community to expand their brand’s purpose. He aspires to be a vessel to the voiceless, marginalized & underrepresented by using film production as his medium.
You can keep up with Moaning, Thomas, Peña and Rubiano on their Instagrams.
Roger Moenks is a leading celebrity and fashion photographer who has published several books highlighting inspirational beauty including The Class of Click (featuring Click Agency’s most notable models), Inheriting Beauty, and I Am Eco-Warrior: Portraits From The Front Lines Of The Sustainability Revolution. However, The NuAuthentic is his first book portraying the transgender community through individual personal expression, creative freedom, and the ability to embrace one’s identity and proclaim it with a spectacular boldness.
The NuAuthentic is a 196-page visual exploration and portrayal of 100 of the most intriguingly beautiful genderfluid and transgender individuals in New York City. The book by photographer Roger Moenks with curator Shelly Brown sets out to underscore the triumphs, struggles and powerful beauty of its non-conformist subjects who are “free to be” through self-expression, self-acceptance and love. Life may have been much simpler when people were divided into two genders, male and female, but today’s new reality reveals that a full-spectrum of beauty may be found through the freedom to express oneself in non-traditional ways and through a rainbow of colors.
“Today gender is actually an ever-expanding continuum comprised of authentic warriors who dared to be who they want to be and claim their right to express themselves freely, making them all the more beautiful and intriguing subjects to photograph,” says Roger Moenks. “The exciting thing about today’s social landscape is that you can’t assume anyone is either a ‘he’ or a ‘she,’ nor can you presume they are just one of those two possibilities. It’s up to them to tell you how they identify, and you just might be surprised by what they say.”
“Gender is optional, expression is everything,” adds Shelly Brown. “Diversity and differences are to be celebrated and supported. My role as curator for The NuAauthentic was a labor of love since I recently lost my 28-year old trans sister who struggled in life and found solace and love in the transgender community which gave her the freedom and acceptance to reveal her beautiful soul. The book is a testament to those trailblazers who took abuse from their families, schools, communities, and stayed true to their individual beauty. We salute you with love, acceptance and respect.”
Transgender and genderfluid people have always come to the nightlife, a world of inclusion where one is accepted and applauded for the very features that may have gotten them bullied in the high school cafeteria and ostracized in everyday life.
Susanne Bartsch known as “Queen of the Night” for her iconic club nights, special events and show productions representative of New York City nightlife graces the cover of The NuAuthentic. She was instrumental in promoting the drag queen and House Ball scenes and also gave rise to the careers of such notables as RuPaul and Marc Jacobs. She continues to create an Avant Garde club landscape in which people are art and use their looks to make bold fashion statements and continues to provide the space and freedom for people to express themselves.
Rob Smith, CEO and founder of The Phluid Project, the world’s first gender-free retail store and global movement, is also portrayed in the book. The concept of non-gender clothing designed by Phluid and independent artists were carried by Phluid and featured throughout the book.
MILA JAM is a model, actress and pop recording “artivist” who had always celebrated diversity and the different gender expressions. According to MILA JAM, “The NuAuthentic is a snapshot in time that commemorates the trans movement as another slice of life to be celebrated. As we find strikingly beautiful differences in plant and animal species, we can also find exquisite differences in how we view humanity.”
The NuAuthentic speaks to Bradley Miller, who is also portrayed in the book, because it is representative of “who I am.” “The trans community has to face pain and adversity to be who we are, but it also shows the world that we can be loved and beautiful.”
Trans people are continually targeted with bigotry and hatred. And so, trans and gender nonconforming people are left to fight the battles of everyday life, which they do with flair, activism, and chutzpah. The NuAuthentic captures them in all their gutsy glory and will retail for $75.00 on Amazon.com beginning December 10th. Proceeds from The NuAuthentic will be 100% donated to LGBTQ youth programs.
About Photographer Roger Moenks
German-born Roger Moenks is a celebrity and fashion photographer who has called New York City home for almost 20 years. Best known for his portraiture, he has previously published three books: The First Class of CLICK; Moving Still; and Inheriting Beauty, featuring 90 women from around the world at the forefront of society and industry—a group that includes such high-profile figures as Roberta Armani, Delphine Arnault, Kiera Chaplin, Francesca Versace, and many more. In cooperation with Montblanc and UNICEF, Moenks also created images of 12 leading actresses for a Sotheby’s auction, the proceeds of which raised a quarter of a million dollars for the charity. Moenks’ work has appeared in such magazines as L’Officiel, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Interview, Visionaire, and Flaunt. He has directed music videos for Blank & Jones, commercials for Van Cleef & Arpels and Moët & Chandon, and created the documentary Shooting Milk, featuring survivors of the Andy Warhol era and including never-before-seen footage of the artist himself. In the past several years Moenks has dedicated much of his time to socially conscious causes. His last book “I Am Eco Warrior” features 53 innovator environmentalist around the world trying to save our planet featuring Jane Goodall, Ted Turner, Richard Branson, Stella McCartney and many more.
For additional information on Roger Moenks go HERE.
360 MAGAZINE was lucky enough to sit down with Jarry Lee, a model, actress, musician and influencer from the UK. Lee has over 700,000 followers on Instagram, 30,000 TikTok followers and more than 700,000 Spotify streams.
Authority Magazine named her one of 2020’s “Inspirational Women in Hollywood” while StarCentral Magazine called Lee a “rising star to watch in 2020.” You can click right here to see everywhere she has been featured.
360: How did you find a creative outlet in journalism?
Jarry Lee: I’ve always loved writing (everything from poetry to screenplays), and it was my childhood dream to write professionally. I feel lucky that I was able to do so as a paid, full-time job and that I was able to pitch and take on stories I was personally interested in. Writing is a cathartic process for me.
360: What was the biggest hurdle transitioning from writing for BuzzFeed to being in front of the camera?
Jarry Lee: I didn’t have much prior experience beyond taking some acting classes in the past in school and performing in a playwriting festival in prep school that I wrote for, so I did dozens of test shoots with photographers to practice and learn my best angles and posing. Speaking on camera felt natural, but I had to learn how to pose more naturally.
360: How has your experience in telling stories as a journalist and analyzing stories as the Deputy Books Editor helped you to tell the stories of others as an actress and model?
Jarry Lee: It has definitely helped me with more easily imagining the inner lives and motivations of my characters. Every time I interviewed sources for an in-depth piece, I felt that I gained insight into how other people’s minds worked. When I was writing a feature about Instagram in 2017, for example, I interviewed over 30 individuals and a few businesses, and their stories were really fascinating and completely changed my understanding of how people interact with social media.
360: How has being an influencer and online personality changed through the pandemic?
Jarry Lee: There are almost no in-person events, so in that aspect it’s become less interactive, but there are also more people online since everyone’s bored indoors. I’ve adapted to become a lot more self-sufficient — I rarely work with outside photographers anymore and instead have learned to shoot myself. Earlier this year I bought professional lighting and photography equipment, and recently even purchased a green screen! I’ve really enjoyed honing my video production and editing skills this year. Maybe that’s one small silver lining to the pandemic.
360: What is your favorite platform for creating content and why?
Jarry Lee: I love Instagram for being so curated and aesthetic-focused, but Twitter is my favorite platform for sharing thoughts and seeing others’ (as well as for really silly memes). I originally joined Twitter in 2009, way before I joined Instagram (in 2013).
360: How does your time as a model help you as an actress?
Jarry Lee: I think acting helps more with modeling than vice versa, but becoming more comfortable on-camera as a model has definitely helped me act more naturally, as well. Both require drawing your inner emotions out, onto your facial expressions and how you hold yourself generally.
360: How do you use your platform and large reach to influence ideas and actions of your audience?
Jarry Lee: Three topics I try to bring more awareness to via my platform are: Asian representation in entertainment, bisexual/LGBTQ+ representation and anxiety/mental health. All three are still not spoken about enough, so I think it’s important to share my experiences with my audience. I still frequently receive messages about how I came out as bisexual on the Netflix show “Dating Around,” for example, and it has really resonated with some of my followers when I’ve shared my past experiences with panic attacks and anxiety. I try to show the behind-the-scenes of my entertainment career, in part because there were very few Asian public figures in the entertainment industry when I was growing up. I hope that my non-traditional career path inspires others to take a risk and pursue their passions.
Harry Styles made history Friday as the first male to grace the cover of US Vogue. Styles defies gender stereotypes in the fashion magazine, which has become a point of controversy on social media in the days following its reveal.
On the cover of the December issue, Styles is photographed in a field wearing a pale blue, lace Gucci dress. He is featured wearing different skirts a number of times throughout the spread.
“Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with,” Styles says in the cover story. “What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play. I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing.”
While most fans took to social media to praise the artist for his redefinition of gender norms in the shoot, some public figures shared their distaste for the photoshoot and Styles’ stereotypically feminine attire.
Coservative author and political activist Candace Owensquote-tweeted Vogue’s post promoting the cover story, saying “There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.”
Styles’ supporters quickly called out Candace, posting TikTok videos of her wearing a pantsuit, citing her hypocrisy. Actress and filmmaker Olivia Wilde responded to Owens’ tweet with a simple, “You’re pathetic.” Styles is set to star in Wilde’s upcoming film Don’t Worry Darling.
Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro had a similar reaction to that of Owens, saying “Outward indicators of masculinity and femininity exist in nearly every human culture. Boys are taught to be more masculine in nearly every human culture because the role of men is not always the same as the role of women. The Left knows this, of course. The POINT of style doing this photo shoot is to feminize masculinity.”
One of the most recent celebrities to jump to Harry’s defense has been internet personality Logan Paul. On the latest episode of his podcast “Impaulsive,” Paul showed his respect for Styles in his effort to challenge social norms. When his co-hosts questioned his stance on the issue and the “manliness” of the dress, Paul said “What is manly to you? What does it mean? Is manly like being comfortable in your own skin and being comfortable with who you are, regardless of what people think about what you’re wearing?”
On social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok, it is evident that more users praise Styles than criticize him for his bold statement in the cover. Many argue that fashion choices do not define a person’s identity. Despite his detractors, Styles remains one of the biggest names in pop culture and it doesn’t look like his widespread admiration is going anywhere with his first solo single “Sign of the Times” just re-entering the Top 100 US chart on iTunes.
Get Wild This Green Season with Natural Habitat Adventures
From taking in lush, tropical landscapes to viewing new animal births during the Great Migration, discover where the grass grows greener around the globe.
Rainy season brings out a special bounty of nature encounters from flourishing flora to new fauna. Ecotourism leader Natural Habitat Adventures proves it’s easy to be green with trips to see some of the most incredible wildlife spring into action around the world. From experiencing sea turtles nesting and spotting whales along Costa Rica’s south Pacific coast to taking in breathtaking views of huge herds making a great circuit across the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania, see where the grass grows greener this season with Natural Habitat Adventures:
In July and August, “green season” is a time of new birth and plentiful transitions among Costa Rica’s lush rainforests, mist-veiled mountains, wild beaches and active volcanoes, containing some of the greatest biodiversity on Earth. Enjoy peak turtle season in Tortuguero, when Pacific green sea turtles settle into their annual nesting pattern. On the new green season departure, Nat Hab makes an extended boat expedition in search of whales, particularly humpbacks, and dolphins during time exploring around Isla del Caño. In Monteverde’s cloud forest, resplendent quetzals and three-wattled bellbirds feed on abundant ripe avocados at this time of year, creating some of the best opportunities to encounter these threatened species in the wild. Nature is especially lively during the green season—the extra moisture tends to animate more birds and mammals in the canopy, as well as frogs, interesting insects and nocturnal wildlife.
Botswana’s prolific wildlife is legendary, so it’s no wonder that it is a top destination for photography-focused African safaris. There’s nothing like seeing it during the “green season,” when intermittent rains bring dramatic skies, new grass and new animal life. Join accomplished photographers and naturalist guides on an adventure designed to reveal Botswana’s abundant wildlife and staggeringly diverse ecosystems, from the fossilized salt pans of the Kalahari Desert to the emerald marshes and sprawling channels of the Okavango Delta. Photograph wildlife in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve as it bursts to life during brief summer rains: where lush grasses lure throngs of wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok and other prey, while the region’s legendary black-maned lion, cheetah and other predators follow in close pursuit.
On Africa’s Great Plains, each year, boundless herds of wildebeest and zebra traverse the Serengeti in search of new grass that sprouts with seasonal rains, and to birth their young. Lion and cheetah lie in wait, finely tuned hunting machines ready to stalk and take down the weakest members of the herds. In the center of the world’s greatest ancient migration route, wildlife lovers will join a small-group safari led by expert expedition leaders to witness a primal spectacle as the drama of predator and prey unfolds before them. Enjoy unparalleled seclusion, comfort and vintage safari atmosphere at Natural Habitat’s remote private camp, immersed in the wonder of one of the world’s truly epic wildlife events.
### About Natural Habitat Adventures
Natural Habitat Adventures has been a leader in responsible adventure travel and ecotourism since 1985. From polar bear tours in Churchill to small-group Galapagos cruises, from Alaska grizzly bear adventures to African safaris, our journeys, led by professional naturalist guides, reveal the planet’s most extraordinary nature destinations. As the world’s first 100-percent carbon-neutral travel company—and the conservation travel partner of World Wildlife Fund—we offer eco-conscious expeditions from Antarctica to Zambia with a multitude of adventures in between. For more information, visit nathab.com.