Javier Pedroza is a multi-talented host, producer, creative and visual director, founder of his own production company Under One Roof Productions, celebrity stylist, philanthropist, and Latinx Editor-at-Large for 360 MAGAZINE. His positive and innovative mindset have allowed Pedroza to rise to prominence in the entertainment industry. His impressive portfolio is comprised of editorials, fashion shows, movie premiers, life performances, showroom designs, pop-up shops, and window and merchandising displays. Pedroza is based in New York City, but he is surely taking on the world.
Due to Pedroza’s incredible styling abilities, he has worked with supermodels and Hollywood celebrities alike at major award shows and red carpet events. The stylist’s abilities have been seen at the Oscars, the Emmys, The Golden Globes, The Grammys, and the SAG Awards.
Pedroza’s innovative mindset and charismatic ebullience has also landed him interviews with stars, including Carmen DeLeon, Piso 21, LaJune, and Raul Peñaranda. Additionally, Javier was named the Relational Organizer Director for Dianne Morales’ mayoral campaign. Pedroza’s unique perspective grants him exceptional event design and execution of production abilities. His astute creative direction has led to the success of many events.
Favoring to work with non-profit organizations– such as Wendy Williams’ The Hunter Foundation Inaugural Gala at New York City’s prestigious Hammerstein Ballroom, AID for AIDS Hero Gala held at the American Museum of Natural History and Latino Commission on AIDS Cielo Gala at Cipriani Wall Street– Pedroza’s philanthropic productions help these organizations reach their full potential. The designer is especially passionate about his involvement with The Latino Commission on AIDS, of which he has supported for the past thirteen years and became Chair of the Cielo Gala in 2019.
Recently, Pedroza’s hard work and talent has resulted in him being signed to media brand, TAG Collective. He will be working with the Collective to secure brand deals, social media engagements, publicity outreach, and to expand his overall profile.
WEINBERG/NEWTON GALLERY PRESENTS MACARTHUR FELLOWS WENDY EWALD AND AMALIA MESA-BAINS IN TOWARD COMMON CAUSE, A COLLABORATION WITH THE SMART MUSEUM OF ART
Weinberg/Newton Gallery (688 N. Milwaukee Ave.), a non-commercial gallery dedicated to promoting social justice causes, announced a collaboration with the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago as an exhibiting gallery for a multi-venue exhibition taking place throughout 2021. Featuring the work of 29 MacArthur Fellows, Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 is centered on the idea of art as a catalyst for social change. Through speculation, reflection and action, Toward Common Cause explores our current socio-political moment, in which questions of inclusion, exclusion, ownership and rights of access are constantly challenged. Extending from the exhibition’s main venue at the Smart Museum, Weinberg/Newton will present work by MacArthur fellows Wendy Ewald and Amalia Mesa-Bains, whose projects focus on Latinx migration in Chicago. Weinberg/Newton’s participation in the exhibition will run from Sept. 24 through Dec. 18.
Wendy Ewald, a collaborative photographer known for weighing questions of identity and cultural differences, will feature a newly commissioned project that explores the personal challenges facing refugees and immigrants from Mexico. Together with teaching artists from the Smart Museum and Diane Dammeyer Initiative, Ewald conducted a series of photographic workshops with youth at Centro Romero, a community-based organization that serves the refugee immigrant population on the northeast side of Chicago. The students created photographs and writings that express their inner lives, dreams and concerns about contemporary immigration. Ewald will incorporate these works into the exhibition, along with a series of photographs and a film made in Chiapas, Mexico in 1991.
Amalia Mesa-Bains, a multi-media installation artist and cultural critic, weaves together intricate stories of her Mexican heritage and Chicana identity at the intersection of art, science and history. At Weinberg/Newton, Mesa-Bains will present Dos Mundos, a personal and historical meditation on migration to Chicago through the lens of her own family that makes visible the countless vital contributions the Mexican community has made to the building of Chicago. Dos Mundos is composed of maps, digital prints, shadow boxes, folding books and ofrendas to celebrate this history through imagery and stories collected by Mesa-Bains.
Additionally, The Circle of Ancestors, an ofrenda from Amalia Mesa-Bains, will be featured at another Toward Common Cause venue: the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA), in the exhibition Día de Muertos – A Time to Grieve & Remember. The installation at the NMMA honors the Cornejo family of Mesa-Bains’ mother, while her work at Weinberg/Newton Gallery presents the archival and public record of the larger Mexican community in Chicago.
Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 is presented in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program and connects more than two dozen exhibitions, programs and research partner organizations across Chicago, allowing artists to present new and re-contextualized work. The organizing principle of “the commons” is a concept defined in MacArthur Fellow Lewis Hyde’s Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership, as “a social regime for managing a common resource.” This comprehensive presentation considers the extent to which resources including air, land, water and culture can be held in common. Each venue will create a space to raise questions about inclusion, exclusion, ownership and rights of access. Toward Common Cause considers art’s pivotal role in society as a call to vigilance, a way to bear witness and a potential act of resistance.
About Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40
Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 is organized by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago in collaboration with exhibition, programmatic and research partners across Chicago. It is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Toward Common Cause is curated by Abigail Winograd, MacArthur Fellows Program Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition Curator, Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago. The full curatorial statement can be read HERE.
Additional support for individual projects has been provided by Allstate; the Terra Foundation for American Art; the National Endowment for the Arts; The Joyce Foundation; David Zwirner; Hauser & Wirth; a Mellon Collaborative Fellowship in Arts Practice and Scholarship at the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry; the Visiting Fellows Program at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society; and the Smart Museum’s SmartPartners. In-kind support is provided by S.O.U.R.C.E. Studio, F.J. Kerrigan Plumbing Co. and JCDecaux.
About Wendy Ewald Originally from Detroit, Wendy Ewald collaborated on photography projects for more than 50 years with children, families, women, workers and teachers. Engaging with communities internationally, she has been drawn into the lives of those with whom she works in the United States, Labrador, Colombia, India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Holland, Mexico and Tanzania. Ewald’s practice encourages individuals to utilize cameras to photograph their lives, families and communities and to create images of their fantasies and dreams. In addition, she asks her collaborators to alter their images by drawing or writing to engage questions concerning individual authorship, power and identity. Ewald describes her conceptual work as expanding the role of esthetic discourse in pedagogy, challenging the viewer to see beneath the surface of relationships. She Is the 2010 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship Award.
About Amalia Mesa-Bains Amalia Mesa-Bains is a multimedia artist who contemplates the meanings of multiculturalism and demographic shifts in today’s climate within the United States, while drawing from the experiences of her Mexican heritage. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, in which she focused her doctoral dissertation on the influence of contemporary culture and climate on the personal development of 10 Chicana artists. Her scholarly research established her role as a cultural critic, and her clinical work has pushed her to investigate the psychological effects of colonial artifacts. This work has been at the core of her approach to making art a cultural process, deconstructing these stereotypes about non-European heritage and establishing new dialogue about Chicana culture. Mesa-Bains is the 1992 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship Award.
About Weinberg/Newton Gallery Weinberg/Newton Gallery is a non-commercial gallery with a mission to collaborate with nonprofit organizations and artists to educate and engage the public on social justice issues. Through artwork and programming, the gallery provides a vital space for open discourse on critical contemporary issues facing our communities. Connecting artists with social justice organizations, we work to drive change and cultivate a culture of consciousness.
History of Weinberg/Newton Gallery In 2016, David Weinberg Photography became Weinberg/Newton Gallery. The change reflected the values of The Weinberg/Newton Gallery Family Foundation, which has been led jointly by David Weinberg and Jerry Newton since 2009.
Majority of Fans Support Removal of Baseball’s All-Star Game from Atlanta, Possible Removal of Super Bowl from Arizona Over Voting Laws
Support for Boycott of Beijing Olympic Games Over Human Rights Issues;Support for Athletes, Leagues, Unions Championing Social Change
By a 55-31 percent margin, a new Seton Hall Sports Poll has found that sports fans across the country support Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in the wake of Georgia’s new voting laws. Those who call themselves “avid fans” are even more supportive, agreeing with MLB by a 67-25 percent margin.
The general population was also in support of the move from MLB by a 49-31 percent margin, with 20 percent indicating “don’t know/no opinion.” The “don’t know/no opinion” choice was recited by 14 percent of sports fans and only eight percent of avid fans.
These were the findings of a Seton Hall Sports Poll conducted April 23-26 geographically spread across the United States using a national representative sample weighted according to gender, age, ethnicity, education, income and geography based on U.S. Census Bureau figures. The Poll had 1,563 adult respondents with a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percent.
Super Bowl Removed from Arizona?
Almost exactly the same level of support was shown for the possibility of moving the 2023 Super Bowl out of Arizona should that state follow Georgia with similar voting law changes. By 55-32 percent (13 percent don’t know/no opinion), sports fans would support moving the game, with avid fans in support of a move by 64-27 percent (9 percent don’t know/no opinion). Among the general public, there is also support for moving the game by 49-30 percent with 21 percent in the “don’t know/no opinion” category.
“When I had the profound pleasure of meeting with Nelson Mandela in 1993 as the Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, he encouraged us to use our positions in sport to become agents of change,” said Seton Hall Professor Charles Grantham, director of the Center for Sport Management within the Stillman School of Business. “It is perhaps a long time in coming, but there would seem to be more support than ever for that proposition amongst the leagues, the players and the fans as well as the general public. But so far, the moves are largely symbolic and will require the leagues to utilize their strong political lobby to effectuate legislative and policy change.”
An Olympic Boycott for Beijing Games?
Moving on to the global stage, respondents to the poll were also asked about a possible boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China, a country often cited for human rights violations. Asked if they would support a boycott of the games, 55 percent of the U.S. general population said yes, with only 23 percent saying no, and 22 percent saying they did not know or held no opinion. Among sports fans, support for a boycott rose to 57 percent vs. 27 percent opposed to a boycott, and among avid fans, 65 percent said yes to a boycott vs. 23 percent saying no. The don’t know/no opinion responses were 16 percent and 12 percent respectively for these self-described fans.
When Americans were asked if they would support an Olympic boycott if multiple countries joined in, the “yes” numbers (in favor) rose to 60 percent for the general population, 62 percent for sports fans and stayed even at 65 percent for avid fans.
Should Athletes Be Able to Participate Independently if Their Countries Boycott the Olympics?
On the question of whether athletes should be able to compete without representing their countries (if their countries were boycotting), the general population said yes by more than a 2 to 1 margin (49-23 percent), with 28 percent registering don’t know/no opinion. Among sports fans, the yes margin was even greater at 54-23 percent (with 23 percent don’t know/no opinion). Support for athletes competing individually rose again among avid fans to 63-23 percent with 14 percent saying don’t know/no opinion.
Should Leagues and Teams Use Their Influence To Affect Social Change?
Asked whether organizations (sports leagues and teams) should use their influence to affect social change, the general public supported such actions by a 48-36 percent margin with 16 percent answering don’t know/no opinion. The level of support for teams and leagues wielding their influence to affect social change rose to 52 percent for sports fans and 61 percent for avid fans.
Should Governments Use Sporting Events To Influence or Affect Social Change?
Asked whether governments should use sporting events to affect social change, the general public supported such actions by a 43-38 percent margin with 19 percent answering don’t know/no opinion. The level of support for governments wielding their influence to affect social change through sport rose to 48 percent for sports fans and 61 percent for avid fans.
Players and Players Associations?
Asked if athletes and/or players associations should use their influence to affect social change – 51 percent of the general population said yes, compared to only 35 percent no and 14 percent who said they did not know or had no opinion. Support for the players’ advocacy rose among sports fans to 55 percent with 34 percent opposing. Among those who describe themselves as “avid fans,” those in favor rose again to 65 percent with opposition declining to 28 percent (11 and seven percent, respectively, saying don’t know/no opinion).
“The question of moving major events in response to legislation or boycotting the Olympics gets to the heart of sports and society, and one influencing the other,” said Grantham. “If the leagues, teams and players continue to wield their economic and political power as agents of change, the potential for real and meaningful impact can be realized.”
Questions and charted breakdowns may be found below; an online version of this release may be found here.
ABOUT THE POLL
The Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted regularly since 2006, is performed by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business. This poll was conducted online by YouGov Plc. using a national representative sample weighted according to gender, age, ethnicity, education, income and geography, based on U.S. Census Bureau figures. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S residents. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been chosen for inclusion in iPoll by Cornell’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research and its findings have been published everywhere from USA Today, ESPN, The New York Times, Washington Post, AP, and Reuters to CNBC, NPR, Yahoo Finance, Fox News and many points in between.
During this time of national protest and unrest, many participants and volunteers within our organization have reached out to MAO to express their thoughts and feelings regarding the ongoing conversation around racial justice and MAO’s role in it. We have heard you and we are committed to further action.
As many of you know, a few years ago MAO formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) task force led by Miss America 1990 Debbye Turner Bell. A few weeks ago, the Miss America Organization put out the ask to Current Titleholders, Forever Miss Americas, Miss America State Titleholder Association, Executive Directors, and Volunteers to gauge their willingness to form a new committee with renewed focus. We are grateful that 68 women and men from across the country expressed interest in being a part of the forward movement of Miss America.
Given the current makeup of the Miss America Board of Directors and staff, we felt that it was appropriate to have an outside Selection Committee take on this important task. Below are the professionals who volunteered their time and energy to MAO:
Samantha M. Fennell
Samantha is the founder of HONE, a New York-based business development consultancy that helps purpose-driven organizations in three key areas: revenue growth, strategy, D&I sales talent, and strategic partnerships. Her clients include media enterprises, advertising agencies, B Corps, and e-commerce platforms who share her passion for driving societal transformation through corporate action and social change.
Samantha has held senior-level and management positions at both major media companies and start-up ventures. From a nearly decade-long stint at Condé Nast where she rose to become the first African American Advertising Director of Vogue, to growing an international advertising agency and building a digital division from the ground up, Samantha has achieved many “firsts” in her 20+ year career and continues to push boundaries.
Samantha launched an online publication this year- A Blessing of Unicorns- a repository of inclusive insights that seeks to dispel the myth of scarcity of outstanding BIPOC and change the world for the next generation.
Brian has over 14 years of experience in the advertising, marketing, and media industries. In his current role, Brian leads Publicis Media’s US Talent Inclusion practice across its six brands – Starcom, Zenith, Spark Foundry, Blue449, Digitas, and Performics. Brian leads internal inclusion programs including the Publicis Media Multicultural Talent Pipeline and the agency’s Inclusion Council. He also serves as a mentor and coach to the company’s business resource groups (BRGs) and drives awareness of professional development experiences.
He is a member of Publicis Groupe’s Talent Engagement & Inclusion Council, a board member for the American Association of Advertising Agencies Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, Do The WeRQ, and the T Howard Foundation. He is a recipient of the 2018 Leadership Excellence Award by the Tri-State National Diversity Council
Jason Bryan is an Associate Clinical Professor in Educational Leadership at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama for the past 4 years, and is now serving as the director of the Truman Peirce Institute with the College of Education at Auburn. Jason spent 17 years in public K-12 schools serving as a science teacher, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal.
Linda Karbo serves as Marketing Brand Manager for Residence Education and Housing Services (REHS) at Michigan State University where she is responsible for strategic marketing initiatives & brand oversight of both REHS and the MSU Union. She is proud to be part of the task force that has advanced the “Hate Has No Home Here” and “You Have a Home Here” initiatives at MSU, which pledge and promise to foster a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and safe environment for all within the Spartan community.
Prior to joining the REHS team, Linda served as Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Special Events for the MSU College of Arts and Letters for six years and the Assistant Director of Development for the MSU College of Music for three years.
Linda is passionate about relationship building, empathetic listening, mentoring, bridging connections, and the art of the written word. She always has her eye out for a quality life hack or budding trend, and sincerely appreciates good manners and a can-do attitude. Linda describes herself as a realist with a very real layer of imagination mixed in and believes that integrity with a side of empathy is key.
Jennifer Munger is a former elementary school principal and special education teacher. Jennifer’s experiences showed her the importance of every child having an effective teacher, especially students struggling academically and/or engaging in challenging behavior impacting their learning. She is currently an instructor in the area of special education at Dakota State University. Jennifer helps preservice teachers and strives to teach effectiveness by developing awareness and understanding of the students that will be entering their classrooms, leading them to better research-based instructional and behavioral tools and strategies.
Abby Charles is a Program Director at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), The public health institute for Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. At IPHI she provides leadership and coordination for the Community Health Worker Initiatives and provides oversight to a network of Community Health Workers and a portfolio of programs in which the Institute for Public Health Innovation addresses cross-jurisdictional policymaking and information sharing, program refinement, policy, research, training, implementation, evaluation, and technical assistance.
Abby is one of IPHI’s lead trainers and provides technical assistance to organizations regionally and nationally on health and racial equity, collaboration & partnership development, community health workers, health in all policies, women’s health, gender-based violence, and HIV.
Abby is an Adjunct Instructor of Clinical Research and Leadership at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She is also a graduate of the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Health in Global Health Promotion. She presently serves on the board of The Well Project, the Bishop Anstey High School Alumnae Association of Washington, DC and serves as a Commissioner on the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs for Washington, DC.
“Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities,” Octavia Spencer says in a new public service announcement with the Ruderman Family Foundation
Appearing in a newly released public service announcement, Spencer recounts Hollywood’s long history of inauthentic representation and exclusion of marginalized populations — from men playing women until 1660; to white actors playing Black, Asian, and Native American characters; to LGBTQ stories getting left out of film and television until the last two decades.
“All of these communities of people had to endure not only their stories being told inauthentically, but also seeing themselves portrayed inauthentically,” says Spencer in a message filmed for the Ruderman Family Foundation. “But nothing can replace lived experience and authentic representation. That’s why it’s imperative that we cast the appropriate actor for the appropriate role, and that means people with disabilities as well. Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities.”
She continues, “I am joining with the Ruderman Family Foundation to call on the entertainment industry to increase casting of people with disabilities. There is no reason that we should continue to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Together, we should and can do better.”
Spencer’s call amplifies the Foundation’s series of initiatives to foster greater inclusion in the entertainment industry.
Last December, the organization circulated an open letter calling on studio, production, and network executives to pledge to create more opportunities for people with disabilities, and to make more inclusive casting decisions. Among those who signed the pledge were Oscar winners George Clooney and Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar nominees Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston and Mark Ruffalo, Golden Globe winner Glenn Close, Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly, accomplished actress Eva Longoria, and acclaimed filmmaker Bobby Farrelly.
A separate Foundation-initiated pledge to commit to auditioning more actors with disabilities was signed by CBS, while the BBC pledged to implement more authentic and distinctive representation of people with disabilities on screen. The Foundation also released a white paper showing that half of U.S. households want accurate portrayals of characters with disabilities, and despite that only 22% of characters with disabilities are authentically portrayed on television.
“As an Oscar-winning actor, Octavia Spencer embodies Hollywood’s vast potential to serve as a powerful catalyst for positive social change if studio, production, and network executives commit to more inclusive and authentic representation,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We are gratified that Ms. Spencer has joined our call and we look forward to have other actors and actresses, filmmakers, producers and studios continue to create unprecedented momentum that brings about greater casting of people with disabilities.”
To view Octavia Spencer’s video message in full, please see here.
The Poor People’s Campaign will demand a moral policy agenda to heal America in a congressional briefing Thursday as it follows up on its digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington that drew millions of viewers.
The agenda is grounded in constitutional and moral values and offers concrete solutions to end the ongoing, concurrent crises of the five interlocking injustices: systemic racism, systemic poverty, militarism, ecological devastation and the false moral narrative of extreme religious nationalism.
“It’s time that we lift from the bottom, which requires us to address all five of the interlocking injustices,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “We cannot put more money in systemic racism, corporate interests and the war economy than we do in living wages, health care, public education and guaranteeing equal protection under the law. Poverty is lethal; systemic racism is lethal; COVID-19 is lethal. This agenda demands what must be now and after the election to heal the nation.”
Also invited to attend are the tri-chairs from the 45 states where the Poor People’s Campaign is organizing, along with the campaign’s national partners and faith partners.
Also on that day, the campaign’s coordinating committees from 45 states and over 200 organizational partners, labor unions and religious denominations came together around the moral policy agenda to heal America.
“Biblically, the Year of Jubilee was a time to release people from their debts, release all slaves and ensure that all people have what they need to thrive, not just barely survive,” said Rev. Liz Theoharis, director of Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “Our Justice Platform provides a way for this country to do the same with policies and budgets that lift people out of poverty and revive the economy with the promise of a brighter future for all.”
The sweeping platform offers a roadmap for lawmakers to take seriously the moral and constitutional principles upon which this country was founded: to establish justice, promote the general welfare, ensure domestic tranquility, secure the blessings of liberty and provide for the common defense.
In addition to Barber and Theoharis, the policy director for the Kairos Center and the Poor People’s Campaign, Shailly Gupta Barnes, will address the briefing. The briefing begins at 1 p.m. and lasts until 2:30 p.m. Thursday. It’s open only to the media and invited guests. Reporters can register here.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, is building a broad and deep moral fusion movement rooted in the leadership of poor people to unite our country from the bottom up. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our updated agenda, the Poor People’s Moral Justice Jubilee Policy Platform addresses these issues.
America can’t address the moral crisis of poverty without addressing healthcare. Some 140 million people in the U.S. – or more than 43 percent – live in poverty or are low-wealth” Rekindling a Prophetic Moral Vision for Justice, Social Change and Movement BuildingFollowPoor People’s Campaign: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
Isabella Laws, the General Manager of Tammy Hembrow’s Saski Collection, shares her insights, experiences, and aspirations related to working in the fashion industry, and particularly with the up-and-coming Saski brand.
How did you first get involved with the fashion industry?
I’ve actually been working in the fashion industry since my first job when I was 14 years old! I worked in retail for 10 years before Tammy hired me to work at Saski Collection. Ever since I was a kid I have been obsessed with fashion and knew it was where I was going to end up career-wise.
What makes the Saski brand unique as compared to other athleisure clothing brands?
Something that’s different about Saski Collection is that all of our collections are limited edition capsules. Whenever we launch a collection it’s only available for a limited period of time and then we move on to the next – Tammy’s constantly designing new pieces for Saski and we launch new collections almost every month.
It’s incredible that the exclusive Saski Collection sold out within 12 hours and it was only launched around 3 years ago. Which factors led to this success?
When Saski launched back in 2017 we did sell out almost immediately! I think the reason for our initial success was Tammy saw a gap in the market and designed pieces she loved that she couldn’t find anywhere else. She was wearing everything for months before the launch and the demand really built up.
What are some of the most pressing issues within the fashion industry, and how do you work to improve them through Saski?
Sustainability is a huge issue facing the fashion industry and is something that we’ve put a huge focus on at Saski Collection. One of the biggest issues is “fast fashion” – clothes that are made cheaply and in bulk to meet consumer demands. Saski prides itself on offering limited-edition capsule collections that are made ethically with our hand-picked ethical manufacturing partners. All our collections are made in limited quantities to ensure there is no wasted product. As well as this, all of Saski Collections’ packaging and post bags are biodegradable. Of course, there is always room for more and we hope to continue to work on improving our environmental footprint as we grow.
What have been some of the key challenges that come with management?
At Saski Collection we have a really close team. We’re all very collaborative and open with one another which makes for a very comfortable environment for everyone. However, a lot of the team are very close friends (including Tammy and I specifically) – and a challenge I’ve had to work through since becoming General Manager is making sure I can differentiate between work and friendship. In saying this, this is something that my team has been very good at, and we are all very transparent with each other which has resulted in us only growing stronger.
Who has/have been the most supportive person/people in your life that has/have allowed you to reach your achievements?
My dad (Brett), my partner (Morgan), and Tammy. My dad was a single parent, he brought me up all alone, drove me to and from school every day, put me through university, and has just overall been the driving force behind my entire life. I’m so lucky to have him.
I’ve been with my partner Morgan for almost 10 years and he has definitely been one of my biggest supporters since the day we met.
And, of course, Tammy, who hired me back in 2017 when I was fresh out of university with no experience. Her guidance and support have been hugely important to me and I never would be in this role now without her believing in me.
What is your favorite or most rewarding part about helping to run an athleisure brand?
Seeing something go from an idea in Tammy’s mind and watching it come to life. My favorite part of my job role is design meetings with Tammy. We have such a similar taste and it’s so exciting to see what she comes up with and then working through the process of fabrics, colors, and sampling to get the final product.
How have the donations from your proceeds sparked real social change in women and children around the world?
We’re so excited to now be working with i=change, which means that $1.00 from every sale on saskicollection.com will go to a life-changing product. Customers can choose from three sustainable charities to donate to when checking out. This gives us a chance to give back to those who need it most.
The three charities we have partnered with are:
UN WOMEN, to end violence against women
National Breast Cancer Foundation, to prevent women from dying
My Room’s Children Centre, support children, and their families
We’re so passionate about these projects and are excited to be able to give our customers the chance to choose where our donation goes when shopping with us.
How do you and your team plan on expanding the Saski brand, and if so, to which kinds of customers?
Tammy has huge plans for Saski Collection and how she wants to expand upon our existing collections and customer base. I don’t want to give too much away at the moment, but we’ve already moved from athleisure to our first swim range in late 2019, as well as our most recent ‘mini’ and ‘unisex’ collection which sold out in less than 2 minutes. There is definitely lots of room for us to continue on expanding Saski and we’re looking forward to showing more of that in the coming months.
“The Chadwick Journals” is a 3-season series featured on Amazon Prime that deals with psychological and sexual journeys of men of color while they lead double lives and explore their identities. Deondray Gossett, a Los Angeles native, has been writing and producing this series since 2011. Married to Deondray, Quincy Le Near is also a producer and director of this series. Below, both masterminds share their experiences and insights related to creating the series:
1. How did your past directing experiences prepare you for directing “The Chadwick Journals?”
Our whole franchise The DL Chronicles and The Chadwick Journals has always been produced the same: no money, guerilla-style, last-minute shooting. Chadwick Journals was just business as usual for us: no money and last-minute. We greenlit it 1 week before shooting and was still casting the project all the way up until 17 hours before call time on the first day.
If I think about it, from the scope of my earliest experiences, this is literally how I began as a child. I created short films as a child, casting my younger cousins and friends in roles, and shooting in and about our homes. It’s pretty comical to recognize that directing the Chadwick Journals is basically the same process, albeit with real SAG actors and much more expensive equipment but with the same Indie spirit and approach.
2. What have been some of the biggest challenges with directing this series?
Money… (laughs). With our limited budget, we often don’t have a lot of money to finesse our scenes. We get a max of three takes from each very limited angle on our very short shot list. It’s very intense and fast-paced. We shoot 10 pages a day on average, so casting is crucial; we have to get actors who are well-trained, come to set extremely prepared, and can nail the material in the limited amount of takes we give them. The cast and crew are completely exhausted after our typical 12-hour workdays and 5 consecutive days of shooting, so as I directed, I have to find creative ways to help them keep up with the pace. We keep a very Zen and fun atmosphere so that the exhaustion never compromises their performances, but instead enhances them.
In the beginning, season I, it was basically a two-man operation; cinematography, lighting, wardrobe, sound, direction, editing, etc. Not having money means you have to juggle all of the plates and it’s much more difficult to give 100% focus on perfecting one aspect of production. Luckily, we both have very versatile skill sets and experiences so we can perform those roles, but a director should only have one important job to focus on. A cinematographer has one job to focus on. A sound engineer, gaff, grip, etc. all only have to do their jobs when there is a full paid crew and you create a better-quality project because of it.
Trying to do it all yourself, out of necessity, leaves a lot to be desired in the end. We managed to spend a little more and afford more crew each season, but it’s been an uphill battle. Luckily the fans are captivated by the great story and the strong performances but the perfectionist in me wishes we could remake the first season the way it deserves to be seen. Who knows? Maybe if we strike a deal to bring this show to cable or streaming networks like Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix, we can remake and expand upon them. That would be amazing.
3. What have been some of the most rewarding experiences of working with the actors?
Watching them have breakthroughs as artists. Particularly from the latest season of The Chadwick Journals, Damian Toofeek Raven, Jemar Michael, and Skyh Black all had breakthroughs right before my eyes on set. There was no time for a pre-table read, so a lot of my direction was on-the-fly. I was amazed at how quickly they adjusted to the slightest nudge from me. They would go from zero to a hundred with emotion with just a simple, “Dig deeper.” It was at these moments, even in the midst of all the exhaustion and all of the fires that were burning that I thought to myself, “I made some damn good casting choices.” They made my job so much easier, and Damian’s breakthrough garnered him a 2020 Daytime Emmy® nomination for “Outstanding Principal Performance in a Daytime Program” for his leading role in this season of The Chadwick Journals.
Damian Toofeek Raven who plays Chadwick has been with us for 15 years since the DL Chronicles series was created in 2005. He is our brother and working with him is like playtime for us. He’s always very concerned about connecting to the backstory and inner world of Chadwick. He cares about how Chadwick is portrayed as much as we do. Just to be able to create with someone we’ve grown to love is a plus and with someone who cares for your creation the same or even more than you do is priceless.
4. How have the LGBTQ+ and African-American communities responded tothe series?
Honestly, though we’re critically acclaimed in the larger LGBTQ+ community, we’re really only known by the film connoisseurs and the gay Hollywood Elite. To the average white viewing audience, we still remain largely unknown even after 15 years of making this show. Conversely, gay and lesbian African-American, LatinX, Asian, and other people of color hang our posters on the wall. Two very different worlds that still remain separated by cultural and racial lines. We also surprisingly have a large straight African-American female audience who watches the show. They are some of our most vocal viewers who astonishingly aren’t always harping on the DL phenomenon, but actually are engaged in the characters and the plots. To have them as part of our fanbase is SUPER flattering for us.
I second that.
5. What kind of audience(s) would you advise or want to watch the series, and why?
Though we obviously are a series that’s trying to give a voice to the gay black community, we feel like our stories are universal. I think most people can identify with identity and self-love issues, which is ultimately the theme of both of our shows. Love is the undercurrent of every single episode, and I feel like you possess any amount of empathy, you will resonate with the characters whether you’re straight, gay, black, or white.
Anyone who has ever felt like they had to pretend to be someone they weren’t to be accepted. Anyone who has felt forced to make decisions that were not in their best interest or desires out of fear. Anyone who has felt they would be unloved for being their authentic selves or voicing their dissent. That’s who these stories are about. Regardless of gender, race, or sexuality, we hope that anyone watching who might share those experiences can identify with these characters.
6. How has the series evolved over the 3 seasons and why are the seasons spread out in the way they are over the past decade?
The Chadwick Journals literally began as a fundraiser for the, then upcoming, re-launch of the The DL Chronicles back in 2011. It was meant to be a hybrid prequel/sequel that was going to energize the fanbase and raise funds. Fans always wanted to know who Chadwick Williams (the narrator of the The DL Chronicles) was and how he was tied to the characters, so this spinoff web series idea done much like HBO’s In Treatment seemed like a perfect vehicle. The first season, “Donovan” (co-starring Nic Few) took the festival circuit by storm and added more than 10,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel in just a month. We knew we had something, and we knew we needed to make more episodes, but just didn’t have the funding. We still self-finance the series to this day. Our second season, “Niquarterli” (co-starring Thomas Hobson) didn’t happen until 2016, and the current season, “Oren” (co-starring Jemar Michael) in 2019. The gaps are simply due to financing. We’re making moves now to up our content volume so that our &SEEN Network streaming platforms can provide more programming to our viewers, which will create a stable and consistent subscriber population.
7. What does it feel like to be nominated for an Emmy and how will you use this accomplishment to move forward with your careers?
This honestly feels like a dream. We’ve been creating this content for the past 15 years. We’ve gone from being independent, to being on the air, then back to independent again. We’ve sat on the front seats at award shows and won, and then years later not even able to get into the afterparty. Hollywood can be very mean and two-faced. We kept our chins up and continued to believe in the work we were doing thanks to our very loyal and loving fanbase. This current season of The Chadwick Journals almost died after having been passed around to several would-be investors who ultimately weren’t interested. Something told me not to let this die, so I took out a personal business loan and once again financed it ourselves. Looks like it was the best decision I could have ever made.
I’m honored and still pretty flabbergasted. We’ve had a good campfire once before and when that died down there was no more heat. We managed to keep the ember smoldering, waiting for that gust of wind that will ignite it again. This industry is all about the heat, whose bringing it, whose flame is brighter, whose sending up the visible smoke signals this week. Who can I make s’mores with? LOL. One minute you’re hot, the next minute you’re not, so you have to be ready to jump on the opportunity when the opportunity comes back around. This nomination feels like that gust of wind. If we win, it will open the doors again to “be in the room where happens.”
So, I feel just like Alexander Hamilton, “I’m not gonna miss my shot.”
8. What is the overall message that you both want to convey through the series?
It sounds cliché now, but the message simply is, it gets better. DL and closeted men are often seeking approval from the folks that ultimately don’t matter. Everybody you want to love you, won’t, but you can find your own tribe. Stop seeking out the things and people that can’t see your beauty. Pay attention to the ones that can.
To find a way to heal yourself and be authentic. I want people to feel free and unafraid. I want people to know that they may only have this one life to live and to not waste it on conformity. Live in your truth and not in a lie that someone else, society, culture, or religion, coercers you to accept. There is joy to be had if you let it lead you.
9. How has the past decade’s pop culture and history informed the series’s direction over the course of the 3 seasons?
Pop culture has had very little impact on the show really, as we are still dealing with an age-old and unfortunately timeless issue. This question has been posed to us before: “How does The DL Chronicles and The Chadwick Journals fit in with the current state and condition of LGBTQ+ people? Is it still relevant? Is it dated?” And my answer to those questions is always yes, it still has a place, yes, it’s still relevant, and no, it’s not dated. While the larger white LGBTQ+ community is becoming more and more emancipated, the subsets (LGBTQ+ African Americans and people of color) have largely been stagnant. I’m not talking about life for the Black Gay Elite (myself included), which is drastically different in terms of acceptance and access than it was 10 years ago; I’m talking about the average gay, lesbian, trans-Black and LatinX folks who still live in the hoods and barrios of America. It’s still unsafe for them to walk the streets in their truth and to be out and open in their churches. This series is speaking to and for them.
I’m not sure that Pop Culture itself has had a direct influence, but I can say that some modern social issues have had an influence, specifically with episode Oren which deals with an HIV serodiscordantrelationship and the use of PrEP for prevention. Even season 2 Niiquartelai touched on sex-positive sex work and polyamorous relationships which were once pretty taboo subject matters. Those weren’t topics of conversation that were openly discussed 10 years ago or even existed. If I think about season II it did include a sex tape that was found on a smartphone. Does that count as Pop Culture since everyone seems to have them?
10. Are you both planning on directing more seasons, and in any case, how do you both want “The Chadwick Journals” legacy to live on?
TV and Film directing is our passion, so yes, we will definitely continue to direct on the shows; however, we don’t have to do all of them. It has always been our plan to nurture new talent to be able to pass the torch and allow them to add their creative spin on our shows and possibly help them to produce their own original ideas.
We hope that the Emmy® nomination will help get the much-needed eyes on the show to enable us to not only continue to make this two needle-moving and groundbreaking series to be there as moral support for the community, but to also be able to create new original content that graduates our community from a place of self-acceptance to a place of full unapologetic existence and expression.
QUINCY: We have created a franchise andthis character, and these stories can live in so many ways; TV, film, podcasts, novels, interactive books, chapter books, graphic novels, web shorts, etc. So, the sky’s the limit and I look forward to exploring it.
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USING ART AND DESIGN AS CATALYSTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE IN GUATEMALA.
Filling a crater surrounded by conical volcanic peaks, Guatemala’s Lago de Atitlán – Central America’s deepest lake – has been a center for colorful textile production since Mayan times. Local women still wear the traditional huipil dress, patterned with iconography derived from the natural world, and a strong connection with the region’s craft heritage remains.
But today, the 12 towns sprinkled around the lake’s verdant, sloping shores are experiencing economic struggles due to lack of job opportunities for young people. A dearth of arable land, low fish stocks and substandard education are all impacting the communities. Guatemalan journalist Harris Whitbeck, whose family has a house in the lakeside town of Santa Catarina Palopó, witnessed these problems first-hand three years ago. So he devised a plan to help reinvigorate the place with which he has had “a very long and intense relationship”.
Remembering the success that Dutch artists Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas (Haas & Hahn) had in revitalizing the Santa Marta favela in Rio de Janeiro, simply by painting the buildings in bright colors, Whitbeck contacted the duo and asked if they could do something similar for the 850 hillside houses that make up Santa Catarina Palopó. Thus, the Pintando el Cambio: Santa Catarina Palopó project was born – following other art-focused initiatives around the world, like Jodipan village in Malang, Indonesia, which was painted in rainbow hues by local artists and students to prevent evictions, and a variation on the same theme in the Tepe neighborhood in Kuşadası, Turkey.
Initially, the team presented their vision for repainting the Santa Catarina Palopó buildings, but the designs were rejected by the townspeople. The project evidently needed a more personal, and local twist. So Whitbeck invited Guatemala-born designer Diego Olivero – co-founder of Meso Goods – to join the effort. The two had collaborated for a decade on various social schemes in the country, and the appointment seemed like a natural fit. “Diego’s really good at connecting to the people he’s working with,” Whitbeck told The Journal.
Yet there was still push-back from the town’s residents when Olivero put forward his first ideas. “We did a couple of initial proposals, and the community was like ‘no, this really doesn’t represent us’, because I came with a design without first doing a workshop with the community,” the designer said. “So we went back to the sketch paper, and had a meeting with the 20 community leaders that represent the 5,000 people who live there. Then we went back to the studio, created different patterns and proposals for how it would look, and then it was approved.”
Olivero’s updated vision was to use the colors and patterns of the local textiles as a starting point for the facade designs, providing a selection of base hues, and a set contemporary graphics based on the heritage motifs to be applied on top. Each homeowner could choose from this palette, ensuring their building treatments are “traditional and sentimental”, while keeping visual cohesion to the town overall. Residents gave it the thumbs-up. “All the roofs are red and windows are white, based on the antique huipil, then the rest is based on the contemporary huipil, so blues and greens are applied to the front of the houses,” Olivero said.
Volunteers, painters and residents began working together to wash the facades with the preferred shades, then applying the patterns using stencils. One house at a time, the town is being transformed into a patchwork of vivid buildings that serve as a backdrop for vibrant daily life. “For a $500 fee, anyone can ‘adopt’ a house and participate in choosing a design with its inhabitants, then join in painting the facades,” said Olivero.
As a result, visitor numbers are increasing, spurring young families to open new businesses, tour offices and cultural centers. The skilled weavers are also creating more traditional textiles to sell to tourists, helping to preserve and continue the ancient craft techniques. “The community has received a lot of attention recently, and a lot of tourism has arisen from that,” Olivero said. “Design was a tool to create that impact.”
The success of the project so far, according to both Olivero and Whitbeck, has been tied to working so closely with the town’s residents – listening to their needs and preferences, and implementing solutions that go beyond a lick of paint. Creating work for the manufacturers in the community – alongside the new enterprises popping up organically – is key to long-term economic success.
But the job is not yet done. There are still hundreds of houses in the town left to paint, and additional funds are needed to see the project to completion. That’s where West Elm comes in. Olivero contacted the American furniture retailer about Pintando el Cambio in 2017, and also introduced Mitzie Wong and Wendy Wurtzburger of Philadelphia design firm Roar + Rabbit – whose debut collection launched with the brand – to the region and the cause.
After traveling to Lago de Atitlan, painting one of the Santa Catarina Palopó houses themselves, and meeting some of the local artisans, Wong and Wurtzburger were impassioned to create a capsule collection of furniture and home goods that incorporated the Guatemalan craft techniques. “They brought a lot of enthusiasm to the project,” Olivero said. West Elm, which has a long-standing commitment to sustainable production, also jumped at the chance to support the communities around Lago de Atitlán.
Some of the textiles used for the furniture, homeware and objects in the capsule are manufactured by the women of Santa Catarina Palopó. Along with the age-old weaving techniques, new skills like beading and wool-work were introduced to the artisans, helping to increase jobs and productivity. What’s more, West Elm is pledging $100,000 to the Pintando el Cambio cause, which should be enough to bring the project to 70% complete.
“The social mission of this, combined with the design component and making it accessible to people, really resonates and felt natural and organic for us,” said West Elm’s Dru Ortega. “Having worked with both Diego, and Wendy and Mitzie, it just felt natural for us to be able to do it, in a way that didn’t feel forced, and felt like we were giving back to a good cause.”
The Atitlán Project capsule collection by Olivero and Roar + Rabbit includes 14 one-of-a-kind chairs and ottomans that highlight the craft of Guatemala. Textiles beaded and woven by hand, in contemporary patterns and colors influenced by the huipiles, are used to cover the pieces. West Elm is also selling a limited-edition selection of rugs, artwork, cushions, towels and other accessories that follow a similar aesthetic.
The one-off designs will be auctioned off during May 2019 to raise additional funds for Pintando el Cambio, and Whitbeck hopes that the tangible connection to the town will encourage potential buyers. “The project created work in the community, and the designs are manufactured by women in the community,” he said. “People who consume design want to have a story attached to it, and are looking for more meaning in what they spend their money on.”
The online auction, hosted on Paddle8, will launch May 6, 2019. To coincide, a panel discussion between Whitbeck, Olivero and Roar + Rabbit will take place at A/D/O on May 7, 2019, when the group will discuss the importance and impact of the project in more detail. The Atitlán Project furniture will also be on show at A/D/O May 6-9, 2019, and the auction will continue taking bids thorough May 22.
By raising awareness and funds for the project with events like these, the whole team hopes that support for the communities around Lago de Atitlán will continue to grow beyond Pintando el Cambio, and create a stable and sustainable economy in the region for generations to come.
“The idea is to continue the development,” said Olivero. “Painting is one thing, but the handcraft is another. Education is super important. Raising awareness about the lake, which is on the verge of very high contamination. The art is just the start.”
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