Rihanna Named the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year 

Rihanna (photo via news.harvard.edu)

article via Harvard Gazette

Rihanna has been named the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year, and is accepting the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award at a ceremony today. “Rihanna has charitably built a state-of-the-art center for oncology and nuclear medicine to diagnose and treat breast cancer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados,” said S. Allen Counter, the Harvard Foundation’s director.

“In 2012, she founded the nonprofit the Clara Lionel Foundation Global Scholarship Program [named for her grandparents] for students attending college in the U.S. from Caribbean countries, and supports the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project, which provides children with access to education in over 60 developing countries, giving priority to girls, and those affected by lack of access to education in the world today. ”

An international musical phenomenon, the Barbados-born singer, actress, and songwriter — whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty — has sold more than 200 million records. The Harvard Foundation recognizes prominent public-spirited leaders each year in honor of the late Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes.

Past honorees include physician-statistician Hans Rosling; actor James Earl Jones; Nobel Peace Prize Committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland; U.N. Secretaries General Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar; gender rights advocate Malala Yousafzai; anti-child-labor spokesman Kailash Satyarthi; tennis player and activist Arthur Ashe; former Health and Human Services Director Louis W. Sullivan; and farmworker rights advocate Dolores Huerta.

To read more: Rihanna named Humanitarian of Year | Harvard Gazette

“Moonlight” Triumphs at Oscars, Wins Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor

Barry Jenkins accepts Best Picture Oscar for "Moonlight" (Patrick T. Fallon via nytimes.com)

Barry Jenkins accepts Best Picture Oscar for “Moonlight” (Patrick T. Fallon via nytimes.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Moonlight topped off its amazing awards-season run by earning the Best Picture Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards. Moonlight director/writer/producer Barry Jenkins accepted the award at the end of the night after a shocking turn of events where La La Land was mistakenly called to stage to receive the Academy’s highest honor. Jenkins also won with co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor in Oscar history to win the Best Supporting Actor Award.

The star-studded evening also saw an energizing opening performance of “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Original Song nominee Justin Timberlake, a medley of two songs from “La La Land” by its co-star John Legend (“City of Stars” went on to win the Original Song award) and a standing ovation for Best Feature Documentary presenter, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who was introduced by “Hidden Figures” stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae (and wheeled out on stage by current NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle).

There were also Oscar presentations from Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, but one of the biggest highlights of the evening was the speech delivered by three-time nominee and Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis:

Viola Davis (photo via Parade.com)

Viola Davis (photo via Parade.com)

People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies, exhume those stories, the stories of the people who dreamed.  I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.

Davis went on to thank her co-stars and Best Director/Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington, her family and her parents.

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Imelme Umana Becomes 1st Black Woman President of the Harvard Law Review

Imelme Umana (photo via mic.com)

article by Mathew Rodriguez via mic.com

On Sunday, Harvard Law School‘s black law students’ association announced on Twitter that Imelme Umana, HLS ’18, had become the first black woman to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review.

According to Clutch, Umana is most interested in exploring stereotypes of black women in American political discourse.

Umana’s role as president of the Review puts her in some pretty great company. Former President Barack Obama was the first black American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review.

In response, some people put their money on Umana to serve as a future president. Or perhaps she could sit on the Supreme Court bench, as many justices have similar backgrounds with the Harvard Law Review.

To read more, go to: Imelme Umana becomes first black woman to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review

“Hidden Figures,” Viola Davis, Mahershala Ali, Denzel Washington Win Screen Actors Guild Awards

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“Hidden Figures” Wins Best Cast Ensemble for Film at 2017 SAG Awards (photo via kansascitystar.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

The 2017 SAG Awards took place on Sunday night at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and among the winners were favorites Viola Davis for Best Supporting Female Actor in a Motion Picture (“Fences”) and Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (“Moonlight”), as well as surprise victors Denzel Washington for Lead Actor in a Motion Picture (“Fences”) and “Hidden Figures” for Best Cast Ensemble in a Motion Picture.

“Hidden Figures”  also added $14 million to its box office numbers this weekend to cross the $100 million mark and bring its current total gross to $104 million.

Other notable wins were “Orange Is the New Black” for Best Cast in a Comedy Series and “Stranger Things” for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series.

The complete list of winners is below:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Denzel Washington, “Fences” (WINNER)
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”

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Essence to Honor Issa Rae, Janelle Monae, Aja Naomi King and Yara Shahidi at Black Women in Hollywood Awards

(photo via shadowandact.com)

(Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King, Janelle Monae, Yara Shahidi (photo via shadowandact.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Essence, the nation’s preeminent brand for African-American women, will commemorate the 10th anniversary of its “Black Women in Hollywood Awards” by shifting from a daytime luncheon to an evening gala for the first time.

The Awards & Gala will honor Hollywood’s “Next Generation”— young women who are excelling and elevating their crafts—including actress/musician Janelle Monáe (Breakthrough Award); groundbreaking “Insecure” actress/writer/producer Issa Rae (Vanguard Award); “How To Get Away With Murder” Yale-educated actress Aja Naomi King (Lincoln Shining Star Award); and “Black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi (Generation Next).

Actress/Producer Gabrielle Union will serve as the program’s host and the red carpet ceremony will be held at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, CA, on Thursday, February 23, 2017.

“For the past decade, the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards” have paid homage to our modern image-makers—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” said Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “This past year has been an exceptional one for diversity in film and television, and with the incredible contributions of Janelle, Issa, Aja and Yara, it is fitting that our 10th anniversary will honor the future of Hollywood and its continued steps on the path to inclusion.”

Also for the first time, internationally acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker Mickalene Thomas will be infusing the event with her elaborate imagery celebrating the power of female beauty as a facet of women’s empowerment.

To check out highlights and behind-the-scenes access to the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards & Gala,” go to Essence.comFacebookTwitter or Instagram @essence #BlackWomeninHollywood.

‘Moonlight,’ ‘Fences,’ ‘Hidden Figures’ and Actors of Color Make Oscar History

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actors Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris, director Barry Jenkins, actors Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae and Mahershala Ali of 'Moonlight,' winner of Best Motion Picture - Drama, pose in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actors Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris, director Barry Jenkins, actors Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae and Mahershala Ali of ‘Moonlight,’ winner of Best Motion Picture – Drama, pose in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Reversing course from last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and other people of color-centered works with Oscar nominations today (January 24).

The three films, each of which features a predominantly Black cast, compete in the “Best Picture” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” categories. Actresses Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) also square off for best “Actress in a Supporting Role.”

“Moonlight”‘s eight nominations are the most of any film this year besides the musical “La La Land.” They include “Best Director” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” for Barry Jenkins, and “Actor in a Supporting Role” for Mahershala Ali.

“Fences” star and director Denzel Washington received a best “Actor in a Leading Role” nomination. Playwright August Wilson‘s script, based on his original 1983 play, earned him a posthumous “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” nod.

Other acting nominees of color include Ruth Negga (“Loving”) for “Actress in a Leading Role” and Dev Patel (“Lion”) for “Actor in a Supporting Role.” Patel is the first performer of South Asian descent to receive an acting Oscar nomination since Ben Kingsley for 2000’s “Sexy Beast.”

Ava DuVernay‘s “13th,” Raoul Peck‘s “I Am Not Your Negro” and Ezra Edelman‘s “O.J.: Made in America” each received Documentary (Feature) nominations. The category also includes another Black director’s work: Roger Ross Williams“Life, Animated,” and Joi McMillon became the first black female to be nominated in the Editing category for “Moonlight.”

This year’s nominations are far more diverse overall than last year’s, and NBC News reports that this year’s acting nominee pool is the most diverse in Oscar history.

To read more, go to: http://www.colorlines.com/articles/moonlight-fences-and-actors-color-make-oscar-history

New Edition Receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

New Edition receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame (photo via YouTube)

New Edition receives Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame (photo via YouTube)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Today before an enthusiastic crowd of fans, New Edition members Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe, Michael Bivens, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California, just a day ahead of the premiere of the group’s three-part miniseries The New Edition Story on BET.

Their 35-plus year career has seen multi-platinum album sales as well as hit singles on the R&B and Pop charts such as “Candy Girl,” “Cool It Now,” “Mr. Telephone Man,” “If It Isn’t Love,” “Can You Stand The Rain,” and “N.E. Heartbreak.”  To see a promo of the miniseries in advance of its January 24th debut, click below:

To watch the Walk of Fame ceremony in its totality, click below:

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