Serena Williams, Tracee Ellis Ross and other Celebrity Women Unite for ‘Black Women’s Equal Pay Day’

(photos via Twitter)

via thegrio.com

July 31st is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.

This year, Equal Pay Day was on April 4 to mark the extra three months and a few days that women in general have to work in order to make as much as men do in a year, with the pay gap at around 80 cents to the dollar. But the gap is worse when you take race into account, with Black women only making 67 cents to every dollar.

Thus, Black women have to work 19 months to make what white men make in 12. To mark the day, celebrities and other notable women have all come together to stand for equal pay for all women, especially those who are disadvantages twice over.

While many celebrities, such as Tracee Ellis Ross, took to Twitter to explain the significance of the date, others used the platform to specifically call for change. “We need to do more to address the economic injustice that exists at the intersection of gender & race. #BlackWomensEqualPay,” wrote Senator Kamala Harris.

Others, like Remy Ma, expressed messages of consolidation and support: “Black women are the cornerstone of our communities, they are phenomenal & they deserve equal pay.”

Check out some of the best of #BlackWomensEqualPay from Twitter by going to: Celebrity women unite for ‘Black Women’s Equal Pay Day’ | theGrio

Black While Funny and Female: Comedic Actresses Speak on Working in Hollywood

(Photos by Kirk McCoy via latimes.com)

by Tre’vell Anderson via latimes.com

Making it in Hollywood is no easy feat, and doing so as a woman is even more difficult. If that woman is black — or Latina or Asian or otherwise nonwhite — the odds just aren’t in her favor. But with the release of “Girls Trip,” four black women — Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish — attempt a takeover of the buddy comedy, possibly the first time black women have led such a picture.

One reason as to why? The number of black women thought to be able to carry a studio-backed film is slim, and there hasn’t been a bona-fide black female comedic superstar since Whoopi Goldberg. We spoke to 18 funny black women about their industry experiences. Below are their thoughts:

Tracee Ellis Ross

“Girlfriends,” “black-ish”

While most probably know Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow on the hit “black-ish,” others see Joan Clayton of “Girlfriends,” the early 2000s show almost no one would argue about rebooting.

While most probably know Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow on the hit “Black-ish,” others see Joan Clayton of “Girlfriends” — the early 2000s show fans would love to see earn the revival or reunion treatment.

Regardless of her career experiences, Ross is just beginning to get her due recognition. In addition to nabbing a Golden Globe earlier this year, she’s earned her second consecutive Emmy nomination. Some might say she has all the makings of a comedic superstar.

But when she takes a moment to ponder other black women who fit the bill she’s forced to think hard.

“Regina Hall … Issa Rae … Jessica Williams,” she said after a moment, “but I shouldn’t have to search to come up with those names. The difficulty is, and I think what happens is, you might see somebody in a role and you’re like, ‘Holy …! She is so funny.’ Then she doesn’t get another opportunity, but she needs those roles because they help you build a career so everybody knows your name and knows what you’re capable of.

“And it’s not just black comedic women. There are, I’m sure, a lot of very funny Asian women and Latina women, and we know some of them, but it’s not because the talent doesn’t exist. The other thing is, the talent exists, but [performers] need the experience to keep getting better and have more depth.”

Ross is encouraged, however, by the likes of Rae.

“I think Issa is a beautiful example of ‘You’re not going to give me any real estate? Fine. I’m going to make it,’” she said. “There is revolution going on.”

How did you settle into comedic acting?

I loved making people laugh when I was younger. It was frowned upon during dinner time but I thought it was hilarious to make my sister laugh. It was often the thing that got me kicked out of class because I was always silly. It was one of the ways my shyness manifested and the way I protected myself and kept people at bay. And I’ve always been a very physical person so when I experience a feeling, I experience it in my entire body.

As I look back, it was a natural progression into the physical comedy and the ways I use my body. In terms of my career, I don’t know that it was a conscious choice that I moved into comedy, but it was an authentic choice. I don’t consider myself funny. I consider myself silly. I just tell the truth and my truth comes out in a way that makes people laugh. My goal isn’t to make people laugh, but I enjoy that exchange.

I think the difficulty for actors of any kind is when you get stuck with what other people assume is who you are. We’re actors and we can do anything.

— Tracee Ellis Ross

Who are some of your comedic inspirations?

I was a Carol Burnett, Lucy [Ball], Lily Tomlin type of girl. They were the three women that etched it in for me. I remember looking back and seeing Goldie Hawn in “Private Benjamin.” I was drawn to all of that growing up. Those were the women that defined freedom and courage [for me]. From there so many funny women like Julia Louis-Dreyfus — I don’t even understand [how she does it].

And then Whoopi Goldberg did the Moms Mabley documentary, and I was so grateful that she did that because it really showed me that Moms Mabley is specifically one of the reasons I can do what I do. She carved something out and did something so consciously that allows me to be a black woman in comedy.

Read more from Ross here: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-ca-black-women-comedy-tracee-ellis-ross-20170720-htmlstory.html

Tiffany Haddish

“Girls Trip,” “Keanu,” “The Carmichael Show”

Tiffany Haddish is legitimately having a moment. As a star of “Girls Trip,” opposite industry vets Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall. Based on her performance, and with an upcoming Showtime comedy special, she’s on her way to household-name status.

But what else would you expect from “the last black unicorn?”

How did you get into comedy?

My social worker. [laughs] I was living in South Central L.A. and was being bused to Woodland Hills. I was getting in trouble because I was not sure how to make friends. So I made this imaginary friend up because I thought I was at the Nickelodeon Awards — I had never been around this many white people. I thought I was at the Nickelodeon Awards every day so I thought I needed to be all creative and entertaining because I thought white people lived in TV — my concept of people was really messed up.

I remember going to court and seeing the judge. I thought he was the judge from “People’s Court.” [laughs] By the time I got to 10th grade, it was bothering my social worker that she was getting called to the school every week. I was getting sent to the dean’s office for being racist because I had this bird named Cracker. It was this imaginary bird, and I would be like, “Cracker want a Polly?” And I would take actual crackers and break them up on my shoulder. Kids would laugh and stuff. We’d be taking a test and I would be like, “What’s the answer to number seven Cracker?” And they’d be like, “Go to the dean’s office!”

So my social worker was like, “You have two choices this time. You can go to Laugh Factory Academy Camp or you can go to psychiatric therapy. Which one you want to do this summer?” I was like, “Which one got drugs?” and I went to comedy camp. It was the first time a man ever told me I was beautiful and I didn’t feel like I was going to be hurt in some kind of way. They taught me confidence, communication skills, how to write, how to have stage presence.

Read more from Haddish here: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-ca-black-women-comedy-tiffany-haddish-20170720-htmlstory.html
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Donald Glover, “Atlanta,” “Blackish” Garner Multiple Nominations for 2017 Primetime Emmys

2017 Emmy nominees Viola Davis, Donald Glover, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The nominees for the 2017 Primetime Emmys were announced this morning, and among them are nods in the Best Comedy Series category for writer/creator/star Donald Glover‘s freshman FX half-hour “Atlanta” as well as writer/creator Kenya Barris‘ veteran ABC show “Black-ish,” which also garnered nods in the Lead Comedy Actor and Actress categories for its stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. Glover also picked up a nod for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

Emmy winner Viola Davis was recognized again for her role as Annalise Keating in ABC’s  “How to Get Away With Murder,” and Sterling K. Brown came through in the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for his work on the popular NBC hit “This is Us.” Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton were acknowledged for their Supporting Roles in “Westworld,” as was Samira Wiley for her work in the original Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Up against Wiley in the same category is her former “Orange Is the New Black” castmate Uzo Aduba.

Additionally, Leslie Jones grabbed a nomination in the Supporting Role in Comedy category for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” and RuPaul Charles got some love in the Host for a Reality/Reality-Competition Program category for his work on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Behind the scenes, Donald Glover earned his third Emmy nomination for “Atlanta” in the directing category, and his fourth, along with his brother Stephen Glover, for Writing for a Comedy Series. Ava DuVernay & Spencer Averick were nominated in the Writing for a Nonfiction Program category for their outstanding work on the Netflix documentary “13th.” The full list of nominees follows below:

Drama Series
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
“Westworld” (HBO)

Comedy Series
“Atlanta” (FX)
“Black-ish” (ABC)
“Master of None” (Netflix)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
“Veep” (HBO)

Drama Actress
Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”)
Claire Foy (“The Crown”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”)
Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)

Drama Actor
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”)
Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”)
Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)
Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”)

Comedy Actor
Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)
Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”)

Comedy Actress
Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”)
Tracee Ellis-Ross (“black-ish”)
Jane Fonda (“Grace and Frankie”)
Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”)
Allison Janney (“Mom”)
Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) Continue reading

“Moonlight”, “Atlanta”, Donald Glover, Viola Davis and Tracee Ellis Ross Win at 74th Annual Golden Globes

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-11-46-13-pm

Golden Globe winners Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis and Donald Glover (photo via thejasminebrand.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

On Sunday’s 74th Golden Globe Awards, the most shocking-but-deserved win of the night was Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” taking the honor of Best Motion Picture, Drama over “Hacksaw Ridge”, “Hell or High Water”, “Lion” and “Manchester by the Sea.”

Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her powerhouse performance in the Denzel Washington-directed “Fences,” while on the television side, “Black-ish” lead Tracee Ellis Ross became the first African-American woman since Debbie Allen in 1983 to win Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.

Donald Glover and his lauded FX cable creation “Atlanta” went two-for-two by winning both awards he was nominated for:  Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.  

The complete winners list follows below: Continue reading

“Moonlight”, “People Vs. OJ Simpson”, “Atlanta”, Ruth Negga, Octavia Spencer, Pharrell, Issa Rae and Many More Receive 2017 Golden Globe Nominations

(photo via madamenoire.com)

2017 Golden Globe nominees (l-r) Issa Rae, Naomie Harris, Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, Tracee Ellis Ross and Viola Davis (photo via madamenoire.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

It seems as if last year’s #OscarsSoWhite backlash has had a marked effect on this year’s pool of projects and talent considered and honored as the 2017 awards season gets underway.

The 2017 Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and nominees of color were found in the majority of film and television categories.  Indie film sensation “Moonlight” not only garnered a nod for Best Motion Picture, Drama, but also for directing and screenwriting by Barry Jenkins, in the Best Actress category for Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali was recognized in the supporting actor category.

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were honored for their performances in “Fences”Ruth Negga was nominated for her leading role in “Loving,” and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer grabbed a nomination for her supporting role in the upcoming space race drama “Hidden Figures.”  Additionally, Pharrell Williams is in the running for Best Original Score — Motion Picture, for his work on the music for “Hidden Figures.”

2017 Golden Globe nominees Donald Glover, Pharrell and Riz (photo via billboard.com)

2017 Golden Globe nominees Donald Glover, Pharrell and Riz (photo via billboard.com)

On the television side, Donald Glover‘s “Atlanta” received nods in two categories; Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.  Anthony Anderson provides some competition for Glover in the acting category, and “Black-ish” is nominated for Best Comedy Television Series as well.  Tracee Ellis Ross gained a nod in the Lead Comedy Actress category, as did “Insecure” star Issa Rae.

In limited series, actress Thandie Newton was nominated for Westworld, and Kerry Washington‘s portrayal of Anita Hill in “Confirmation” was also acknowledged.  Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance gained a nod for his work as Johnny Cochran in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”  and the series was nominated in the Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category alongside Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley’s “American Crime.”

Below is a list of all the nominees:
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Tony Award Winner Daveed Diggs of ‘Hamilton’ Joins ABC’s ‘Black-ish’ in Season 3

Daveed Diggs Tony Awards

Daveed Diggs at the 2016 Tony Awards (EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP)

article by Maureen Ryan via Variety.com

When the third season of “Black-ish” arrives, the Johnson family will expand.  Fresh from the Broadway smash “Hamilton,” Daveed Diggs will have a major Season 3 arc as Rainbow Johnson’s brother, Johan, Variety can exclusively reveal. 

Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and Johan, whose mother is a very laid-back, hippie-ish soul, had very different childhoods than Dre, and that’s partly why Johan will be a frequent thorn in Dre’s side. Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) has always feared that his kids will grow up to be overly pampered, and it sounds like Johan is the personification of those fears. 

“He’s sort of a hipster, entitled kid who gets on Dre’s nerves,” creator and showrunner Kenya Barris said. “He’s constantly on a search for the best conditioner for his hair. He’s probably gone to Penn or Wharton and could have gotten a great-paying job, but he’s trying to find himself. That attitude more than anything makes Dre want to strangle him.”

For Diggs, who won a Tony for playing Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in “Hamilton,” there’s even a tiny link to French culture.  Johan “has been to Paris twice and he’s like, ‘You Americans!’” Barris said. Johan, as it happens, doesn’t like his butter to be too cold and complains about Americans’ mania for refrigeration. “He’s like, ‘This butter’s making my croissant crumble,’” according to Barris. “Dre is constantly snatching food from him.” 

The upside for Johan, who will have a “substantial” recurring arc in the third season, is that the Johnson kids think he’s extremely cool — except for Diane (Marsai Martin). “She’s not buying that sh*t,” Barris said. 

Though Barris didn’t give an exact timetable, Diggs’ character will turn up “early” in Season 3. It’s not the actor’s only high-profile new role, by the way. Diggs has also lined up roles in the upcoming film “Wonder” and the HBO sports mockumentary “Tour de Pharmacy.”

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/black-ish-daveed-diggs-kenya-barris-1201818550/

Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes Join Essence to Celebrate Black Women in Hollywood, Honor Debbie Allen

Honoree Debbie Allen and family (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

article by Sandy Cohen, AP via blackamericaweb.com

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Oscar host Chris Rock, producer Reginald Hudlin and film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took an afternoon off from Academy Awards preparations to celebrate black women in Hollywood.

Rock, Hudlin and Boone Isaacs were among the guests at Essence magazine’s ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rock and Boone Isaacs didn’t speak publicly; Hudlin took the stage to present an award to legendary entertainer Debbie Allen.

The annual Essence event celebrates the achievements of black women in entertainment. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw and filmmaker Thais Francis were also recognized.

Francis thanked the magazine “for creating a platform of visibility.”

“A lot of us in this audience know the importance of visibility, especially during a time, in a society, in a world, in an industry that’s telling us that we’re invisible,” she said.

Shonda Rhimes, who introduced Allen as the new producing director of “Grey’s Anatomy,” called the writer-director-choreographer-performer “a force of nature.”

Producer/writer Shonda Rhimes attends the Essence 9th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

Shonda Rhimes (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

“Debbie blows through an environment and changes the landscape forever,” Rhimes said.

As Allen accepted the Legend Award, she said she felt like she was in church, preaching to her sisters.

“The only plate I’m going to pass is the plate of purpose,” she said, urging the women in the audience to make real connections with each other — not just to meet up for drinks, but to work on ways of changing the world.

Shaw gave similar advice as she accepted the Power Award. The attorney for such entertainers as Laurence Fishburne, Lupita Nyong’o and Ava DuVernay was introduced by Nick Cannon and Channing Dungey, who became the first African-American to head a broadcast network when she was named president of ABC Entertainment last week.

“If you are a woman who wants to be empowered, then empower other women,” Shaw said.

“Black-ish” star Ross, accompanied by her father and older sister, Rhonda, accepted the Fierce and Fearless award. Ross said she had been sick for the past week and worried she wouldn’t be able to attend the luncheon.

“I got dressed in the car,” she said. “I’m unclear if what I’m wearing is see-through. If it is, I’m sorry.”  She said the recognition from Essence “is truly one of the proudest moments I’ve experienced.”

Oprah Winfrey opened the program, which will air Saturday on OWN.

To read more, go to: http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/02/26/oprah-winfrey-shonda-rhimes-join-essence-to-celebrate-black-women-in-hollywood-honor-debbie-allen/