Lupita Nyong’o Speaks on Colorism and More Opportunities for People of Color

Lupita Nyong’o (Photo: Courtesy of Vogue)

article by Erica Schwiegershausen via nymag.com

In the October issue of Vogue, three-time cover girl Lupita Nyong’o talks about growing up in Nairobi, and her desire to see more African narratives represented in Hollywood and beyond. “I want to create opportunities for other people of color because I’m fortunate enough to have a platform to do that,” she said.

Recently, Nyong’o starred in “Eclipsed” on Broadway, playing a 15-year-old girl held captive by a rebel officer in Liberia. In her latest film, “Queen of Katwe,” she plays the mother of a Ugandan girl who becomes an international chess master. (The film opens next week.) And she’s also working on the forthcoming film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah“— a love story that centers around two Nigerians.

“Being able to use my platform to expand and diversify the African voice … I feel very passionate about that. It feels intentional, meaningful,” Nyong’o said.  She was drawn to “Queen of Katwe,” she said, because it was “based on a true story, an uplifting story out of Africa.”  Nyong’o also reflected — not for the first time — on the significance of seeing darker-skinned women represented and celebrated as beautiful.

Alek Wek changed how dark people saw themselves,” she said. “That I could do the same in a way for somebody somewhere is amazing.” She added, “The European sense of beauty affects us all. I came home from college in the early two-thousands and saw ads on TV with a girl who can’t get a job. She uses this product. She gets her skin lighter. She gets the job. The lording of lighter skin is a common thing growing up in Nairobi. Being called ‘black mamba.’ The slow burn of recognizing something else is better than you.”

Working on the set of “Queen of Katwe,” Nyong’o said a young Ugandan-British woman came up to her and said: “I’ve never had so many people call me beautiful until you showed up. I get called to auditions I never would have been called to before. I know it’s because you exist.”

Source: Lupita Nyong’o Wants Opportunities for People of Color

SNL’s Leslie Jones Graces the Cover of ELLE’s 1st Women in Comedy Issue

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Comedian Leslie Jones on Elle Magazine (photo courtesy ELLE)

article via clutchmagonline.com

Leslie Jones is looking fierce with her signature spiky hair on July’s cover of Elle, which celebrates women in comedy.

Jones, who is starring in the upcoming Ghostbusters remake, made mention of her Elle cover at an impromptu stand-up appearance.

“I ain’t used to that (crap)!” she said, adding that her recent fame has inhibited her love life. “I used to be able to be on those sites, you know Tumblr, Grindr, Tinder. Yeah, I said Grindr, I ain’t passed trickin’ a gay man into (having sex) with me,” she joked.

“I just knew that I was funny, and I knew that it was just a matter of time. I didn’t know what was going to actually happen—this is definitely way bigger than I thought—but I knew there was no way I was going to be that funny and nobody was going to notice it.” — Leslie Jones

Jones even joked about how uncomfortable she was dressing for the cover, especially as a size 12.

“I had 22 (bleeping) outfits on today. Jimmy Kimmel had on one (bleeping) suit,” she complained. “I can’t move in this (outfit), trying to be cute. You’re going to see some bra straps.” She said she took off the jacket and then her shoes. “Let me take these shoes off, too,” she said, kicking off her heels.

Well, no one never said Jones doesn’t keep it real.

Elaine Welteroth Named as Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue

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Elaine Welteroth poses for a photo during Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week, Sept. 14, 2015, in New York City. (ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY IMAGES)

article by Angela Bronner Helm via theroot.com

Elaine Welteroth, who made headlines when she became Teen Vogue’s first African American beauty director, has been made the title’s new editor-in-chief.

She will be the youngest editor in the company’s 107-year history. She is also the second black woman named to head a Conde Nast book; Keija Minor has been at the helm of Brides magazine since 2012.

According to her Linkedin profile, Welteroth, 29, has held editorial positions at Glamour and Ebony magazines, and has been at Teen Vogue for more than three and a half years. She received her degree in Mass Communications/Media Studies with a minor in journalism from Cal State Sacramento.

The current EIC of Teen Vogue, Amy Astley, will be moving to the head position at Architectural Digest.

To read more, go to:  African-American Woman Named as Head of Teen Vogue

Ava DuVernay to Direct “The Battle Of Versailles” for HBO Films

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Director Ava DuVernay (photo via deadline.com)

article by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com

The story of the 1973 Palace of Versailles fashion show that put American designers and black models on the map is the subject of The Battle Of Versailles, an HBO Films movie co-written and directed by Selma helmer Ava DuVernay.

She is co-writing the project, now in development, with Michael Starrbury (The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete). It is based on the 2015 book The Battle Of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into The Spotlight And Made History by fashion journalist Robin Givhan.

battleofversaillesThe movie will chronicle the November 28, 1973 fashion show that took place at the Palace of Versailles. A fundraiser for the restoration of King Louis XIV’s palace, it pitted the top five French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior) against five then-unknown Americans (Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, Stephen Burrows and Anne Klein, who brought along her then-assistant Donna Karan) in front of an audience of the world’s social elite. By the end of the night, American fashion would be born, racial barriers broken, and the industry would be left forever transformed.

The French designers kicked off the evening with a big-budget, two-hour extravaganza featuring elaborate set pieces and a live orchestra playing classical music. The Americans followed with a 35-minute show to a pre-recorded Al Green soundtrack, backed by a simple line drawing of the Eiffel Towel. Against all odds, the Americans emerged victorious, hailed for the energy of their presentation, with a lot of the credit going to the fearless 30 models, 10 of whom, in a groundbreaking move, were African American.

The event was also chronicled in Deborah Riley Draper’s 2012 feature documentary Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution.

DuVernay recently signed on to direct A Wrinkle In Time for Disney. In TV, she is writing, directing and executive producing the upcoming OWN drama series Queen Sugar, which she co-created with Oprah Winfrey.

To read more, go to: http://deadline.com/2016/03/ava-duvernay-battle-of-versailles-hbo-films-1201722419/

 

Beyoncé Enlists Model Jillian Mercado, Who Has Muscular Dystrophy, as Face of New ‘Formation’ Line

Beyoncé has launched her new “Formation” line, and model Jillian Mercado, who has muscular dystrophy, has been announced as the face of the new line.

Source: Beyoncé enlists model with muscular dystrophy as face of new line | theGrio

Meet Ericka Pittman, the Power Woman Behind Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ Empire

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Combs Enterprises VP Ericka Pittman (photo via forbes.com)

article by Sidnee Michelle via forbes.com

It’s a snowy Friday morning as Ericka Pittman, vice president of Combs Enterprises, settles down, coffee in hand, and begins prepping for her busy day in New York City. After traveling on a 2 a.m. red-eye flight, she explains how although she is extremely fatigued, the show must go on. Her successes at major media outlets like Time, Inc. and Conde Nast caught the attention of business mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, who hand-selected Pittman as vice president of his companies.

As Sean P. Diddy Combs’ “Sheryl Sandburg,” Pittman’s creative mind and strategic way of thinking make her one of the best brand developers in the business. As the VP, she sits at the helm of the executive team, overseeing the growth and direction of the Combs portfolio and overseeing Combs’ businesses, including Aquahydrate, Combs Wines & Spirits (CIROCDeleon Tequila), Revolt TV and Sean John.

Besides her love of her career, Pittman has invested herself in propelling women from different walks of life to reach their highest potential. As a part of Women’s History Month, we followed her throughout her day in New York City as she discussed her journey and crucial advice to all Millennials.

Sidnee Michelle: What is your favorite thing about being Ericka Pittman?

Ericka Pittman: My heart. I have a very gum-drops-and-rainbows approach to life.  I’m one of those people who will put a coin in an expired meter so no one gets a ticket or towed; I’m one of those types in my heart and in my core. Most people who have known me and know my heart see that side often, but I feel in business I’m not able to be that person 100% of the time – so I try to keep that balance.

SM: What is the most fulfilling aspect of being a woman of your stature?

EP:  That giving back element – when I elevate those around me, it just feels good. For me, I try to give back even in business. Doing well by doing good is very important to me. The same way I was blessed in my career, I try and pass on the good karma by doing everything in my power to advance the next woman that deserves it.

SM: What influence does Sean P. Diddy Combs have on your career? What did he teach you early on?

EP: Sean Combs has taught me to utilize every tool in my tool box, to make the impossible possible. He taught me how not to take no as an answer – that no is the beginning of negotiations to get what you want. He also taught me to be strategic about how you go about getting what you want – with class elegance urgency and fine execution. If I didn’t have that leadership in my life early on, I’m not sure I’d be where I am today.

SM: Besides Sean P. Diddy Combs, who are some of your influences and mentors?

EP: Just recently I started to acquire female mentors. I discovered as I was growing in my career there was a need of a feminine aspect and guidance in business that I was lacking.  I’ll walk into a high intensity board room like a bull in a china shop – stern and aggressive, because that’s what I learned from my male mentors and counterparts. I realized that I had to learn how to finesse my approach from female mentors like Susan De’Passe , who worked with Motown and had hands in discovering the Jackson 5.

SM: How did you rise to the top in such a male dominated industry?

EP: I think I there is a certain level of integrity I have.  I demand a certain amount of respect because of the way I present myself  in business and personal life. You have to conduct yourself a certain way in both realms – while still being able to maintain your identity and a strong and powerful woman.

SM: How do you maintain a healthy work/personal life balance?

EP: It’s tricky at this company because of the brands/companies I work with. Celebration is our core tenant, so we do awesome activations, parties and events. Things like those bleed into my personal time because of the frequency and late hours of these events. To combat that I think it’s important to be 100% present in the moment that you are in.

To read more and see video of Ericka Pittman, go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sidneedouyon/2016/03/17/meet-vice-president-of-combs-enterprises-power-woman-ericka-pittman/#1bf4b5377a84

Vogue Spain Declares ‘Black Is Beautiful’ with Cover Model Aya Jones Rocking Cornrows

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Aya Jones on the cover of Vogue Spain (Vogue España) 

article by Yesha Callahan via theroot.com

It’s not too often that a major fashion magazine declares, “Black is beautiful,” but Vogue Spain (Vogue España) just did for its March issue.

Not only is Ivorian-British model Aya Jones giving all types of #BlackGirlMagic on the cover, but she’s also rocking a simple set of cornrows. The photo editorial was shot in Botswana, with Karim Belghiran styling Jones’ hair, and photos shot by photographer Nico Bustos and styled by Belen Antolín.

To read more, go to: http://www.theroot.com/blogs/the_grapevine/2016/03/vogue_spain_declares_black_is_beautiful_with_black_cover_model_rocking_cornrows.html