Before recent portrayals of powerful, talented Black women on television, entertainment was known to breed stereotypes. There were very few roles in the first few decades of television’s existence that didn’t marginalize Black women until the late 1960’s. Thus, African American women playing a leading non-stereotypical role was so rare they could be counted on one hand, until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. These women have made their mark in television and have opened the doors for some of the best shows with a leading Black actress on television today. In honor of National Women’s History Month, we celebrate these women from then and now.
In 1968, Diahann Carroll starred in the ground breaking series “Julia.” Heralded as being the first series to star a black woman in a non-stereotypical role, “Julia” produced 86 episodes and Carroll earned herself a golden globe. The first major breakthrough for African American women in television.
In the 70’s, Pam Grier played a character that also went against the typical African American female archetype. In 1974, Grier starred as the title character in Foxy Brown, a sexy yet independent Black woman who was capable of running down criminals and saving the day. Another ground breaking role for Black women in television.
The 1980’s and ’90’s saw the birth of the black upper-middle class in entertainment. In The Cosby Show, Phylicia Rashad played Claire Huxtable, the epitome of a strong, dignified, and highly intelligent black woman that rarely was seen on television before and was noticeably absent. Even after The Cosby Show it was several years before we saw another Black woman playing a lead role outside of the media-bred stereotypes, but Rashad definitely broke the mold for a new generation to come.
Jada Pinkett-Smith has been one of the most popular Black actresses since the early ’90’s. She has appeared in more than 20 films in a variety of genres and in 2009 created her leading television role in the TNT medical drama Hawthorne, of which she was executive producer. Although it was canceled after three seasons, it was definitely the first show of its kind with a leading Black actress, opening doors for many more to come.
Taraji P. Henson
Taraji Henson has proved her versatility in a variety of movies like Baby Boy, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, The Family That Preys, Four Brothers and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Many may not know, however, that she has also appeared on many television shows before landing a major leading role in 2011 on the CBS crime-suspense series Person of Interest. Henson was a cast member on Lifetime Television’s The Division and ABC‘s Boston Legal and guest-starred on several television shows, such as the WB Television Network‘s Smart Guy, the Fox series House, and CBS‘s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. She has proved that hard work and persistence do pay off!
Kerry Washington has played almost every role imaginable from a struggling single mother in Save the Last Dance, a lesbian in Spike Lee‘s She Hates Me, a wife in Ray, a slave in Django, and finally to our favorite professional political fixer in Scandal. ABC’s Scandal was the first time in more than 30 years that a television show starring a black actress appeared on a major television network. Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, portrays a powerful woman who runs a crisis management firm that the political elite trust to solve their problems, including murders and extramarital affairs. Based on the real life fixer, Judy Smith, Washington brings an edge to television that has never before existed.
We cannot celebrate the amazing Black women on-screen without recognizing the powerful Black women that work off-screen creating more opportunities for other women of color. Producer, screenwriter, and director Shonda Rhimes has taken over television, giving us some of the best shows networks have seen in decades including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal. Rhimes is a Golden Globe winner and was also named Time Magazine’s “100 people who help shape the world”. She continues to shape the television world as we know it.
These women have broken through barriers, set new standards and proven that African American women, too, can be successful in the entertainment industry and any other field chosen. These breakthroughs have also allowed others like Tyler Perry to make his mark in television, by featuring Black women as his leading characters. These women have without a doubt changed the face of television, opened several doors, and changed many perceptions in the process!
Where do you think television would be without these women from then and now? Who else are some of your favorite Black women of television?
Premiere Party for Braxton Family Values
Braxton Family Values is back for a third season which will premiere tonight (March 14) on WEtv.
To celebrate the launch of a new season the Braxton’s arrived on the red carpet at STK Meatpacking restaurant in New York then went off to party with a packed house of friends and fans. Divas and Dorks caught up with one of the most outspoken members of the family Tamar and her husband Vince. They were both glowing after revealing earlier in the day that they were expecting their first child.
Both Tamar and Vince seemed overjoyed as they made their way through the crowd posing for pictures and accepting congratulatory handshakes and well wishes.
What is Tamar looking forward to the most about being a mom? “I’m looking forward to family time with Vince.”
Everyone wanted to know which one of her sisters was already going into protective auntie mode. According to Tamar that would be, “Ms. Toni Braxton, she is on team too much,” she said. Then she added, “[Toni is already] talking about my shoes.”
When asked about the sex of the baby Vince said, “We don’t want to find out until it comes.”
Vince shared how happy he was while showering his wife with compliments. “She is everything. She is a beautiful woman, intelligent and smart and I’m so lucky to have her as my wife.” In regards to supporting his wife and her career he said, “We’re supposed to love each other and support each other. That’s what life is about.”
Famous friends Lil’ Kim and Angela Simmons also came out to show their support. Flat screen televisions were spread throughout the venue showing clips of the Braxton’s show. Party goers took turns making silly faces in a custom photo booth. The crowd danced to a mixture of R&B hits including some crowd favorites from Toni Braxton as they sipped on signature cocktails. There were even cake pops made with ingredients inspired by each of the sisters.
It’s going to be another crazy season filled with family battles, touching moments and more catch phrases from our favorite sisters. Get your life, as Tamar would say and don’t miss the first episode of the season three tonight.
Season three opens with Toni, Towanda, Traci and Trina on a trip to Italy sans Tamar who is back home touring for own her spin-off show “Tamar & Vince” which will also be on WEtv as well as promoting her single “Love & War”. Discussion of her absence is not without the side-eyes and comments from her sisters who feel like Tamar may be growing apart from the family due to her recent success.
Here’s a sneak peak of what’s coming up in season three:
Premiere Party for Braxton Family Values
Premiere Party for Braxton Family Values
Premiere Party for Braxton Family Values
And for more photos of the event check out the behind the scenes gallery below…
The Trip to Bountiful, originally released in 1953 as a teleplay on NBC, has now been revived featuring an all Black cast. This April The Trip to Bountiful will be taking a trip to Broadway, starring Emmy winner Cicely Tyson, Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire,” “Red Tails”), Emmy Award nominee Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives”), and Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad (Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias,” Broadway’s Stick Fly).
This amazing story is about Carrie (Cicely Tyson) who lives in a cramped apartment with her son and daughter-in-law and wants to make one last trip home to Bountiful, Texas. Carrie’s son (Cuba Gooding Jr.) doesn’t think his elderly mother is strong enough to make the trip and her daughter-in-law (Vanessa Williams) doesn’t care for her very much, often making her feel like an imposition. However, her motive for not supporting the trip is based on the issue that she is surviving off of Carrie’s pension check. When Carrie escapes to make the trip home it sets an adventure in motion that has its serious and comedic moments, leaving you with a different prospective of the concept “home”.
All of the stars including director Michael Wilson and Hallie Foote, the daughter of the playwright as well as executor of his estate, gathered at Sardi’s Restaurant in New York City to talk to the press face to face about the production. We got some face time with the divas of the show including Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Condola Rashad as they shared their favorite moments and talked about their roles in the play!
Up first, the youngest member of the cast but not the least talented by far, Condola Rashad. In The Trip to Bountiful, Rashad plays the part of Thelma, better known as the “girl on the bus”. Rashad’s character meets Carrie as she is on her journey home- two women of contrasting ages going on two separate journeys. However, in the time that they sit next to each other on the bus they form a brief yet remarkable bond. That bond seems to continue even off stage when Rashad and Tyson are not in character.
“Cicely reinforces everything I have grown to know [about acting]. As long as you are honest and in the moment it will work,” says Rashad. When looking at the way that her character interacts with Tyson’s she doesn’t think she differs from her character in real life. “My character treated her as an adult. When I was a teenager and I would volunteer at nursing homes, I was respectful of people of a certain age not only just because of their age but in the way that allows them to have their freedom and decide what they want to do. My character doesn’t limit Carrie, she respects her journey.”
Cicely Tyson has not been on a Broadway stage since 1983 in her role for The Corn is Green, yet the iconic actress is the recipient of countless awards and is a living legend in her field. Sitting across from Tyson, her demeanor was calm and collected. You could feel the warmth of her spirit but there was also an air of regality that surrounded her.
When asked what she did to prepare for the role Tyson shared her approach to playing this character. “I went to Texas because I wanted to know what was it about this place that this woman needed to go back to. You cannot project anything about anybody unless you know their culture. You have to smell, feel, taste and breathe in order for you to honestly project that character. My method has always been to go where that person stems from.”
Tyson also speaks to the lesson about the way we treat and view our elders, which flows through the undercurrent of every interaction in this production. “One of the things that touches me about this character is that she is an elder and today there is such little respect for the elderly. They are tossed aside and put in a home and disregarded by family members and/ or close friends. I want the audience to leave with a greater appreciation of what we have to offer.” In essence, this is a role that Tyson always wanted to play. In an admiration for the movie adaption of the teleplay, Tyson told her agent immediately “to get me my Trip to Bountiful.” She was referring to one last great role which turned out to be none other than a role in this production. When talking about the kismet way in which she was led to this role Tyson jokingly says, “Be careful what you ask for, because you will get it.”
Vanessa Williams‘ most recent stint was on the show 666 Park Avenue, which was unfortunately short lived. Not long after, however, she found out that she was not going to continue the run on the small screen after she’d gotten the call that she will be getting a chance to show off her skills yet again on the big stage. Her character Jessie Mae makes no effort to hide her annoyance with her mother-in-law Carrie, thus there is a constant conflict between them. As Williams puts it “Mother Watts relishes the past. Jessie May loves the city. She couldn’t care less about the past. The past is too painful. Jessie may is forward in terms of her process and her intention. Mother Watts is always going back. Jessie Mae thinks that acknowledging the past is morbid. Mother Watts thinks that not acknowledging the past is unfeeling. Who’s right who’s wrong?”
When asked about what it was like to work with Tyson, Williams referenced a time when she was just a child watching Tyson playing Jane Pittman on television “Now we get to share a stage,” she says. “I’m living my dream.” Of course it can be surreal to work with someone you look up to. Williams adds, “I kind of have an out of body experience when I’m arguing with Cicely Tyson while we’re character.” Because we are proud to be divas, I couldn’t help but ask Williams how she felt about the extravagant diva qualities of her character. Her reply was that in comparison to the other characters she has played including Wilhelmina on Ugly Betty, she sees Jessie Mae as more of a wannabe. “Wilhelmina was a Diva. Jessie Mae aspires to be a diva. She is always reading her movie magazines and trying to do the hairstyles she sees in them.” In response to being often cast as the in the roles of the headstrong diva, Williams says, “The characters may not always be likable but they are interesting.”
From talking one on one with each of these women, you could feel the strong connection each of them had to the overall meaning of the story in The Trip to Bountiful. From the passion they each had in the telling of the story it is clear that they will bring the same exuberance to each of their roles on the stage. This is a play that holds relevance to anyone regardless of background or age and is definitely a must-see!
Previews for The Trip to Bountiful begin on March 30 and will officially open April 23, running for a 14- week engagement at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, located at 124 W. 43rd St. Tickets range from $37 to $142 and are currently available on Telecharge.com.
Admit it, at one time or another you’ve dreamed of possessing supernatural powers or imagined being a superwoman, holding the balance of good and evil within your hands. In African folklore, the goddess Oya does just that. Oya is considered to be very omnipotent; representing feminine leadership and is known to be a powerful warrior. The film, Oya: Rise of the Orisha resurrects mythical deities from African folklore, known as Orishas, into modern-day superheroes in Britain.
Who Is OYA? Oya: Rise of the Orisha focuses on a young woman named Adesuwa who has the unique ability to transform into the fearsome warrior goddess, Oya, the Orisha of change. As the Goddess of storms, her powers are similar to that of Storm from the X-Men. She brings good fortune to her followers and is the only African Orisha brave enough to confront death (as the goddess of funeral processions and cemeteries known as “Oya’s Garden.”) The film follows Adesuwa as she goes on a head-stomping mission to keep the doorway between the Orisha and humanity closed. Filled with action, mystical adventure and more the question we’re left to wonder, which British starlet could take on the role of being such a powerful warrior woman?
Check out our top picks and why below…
1. Naomie Harris
Naomie Harris has played Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean and was recently cast as Eve Moneypenny in the Oscar-nominated James Bond film, Skyfall. Being named a Bond Girl is synonymous with kick-ass sensuality, cunning intellect, and superior power- she can definitely handle the superior warrior title and is our top pick.
2. Sophie Okonedo
3. Thandie Newton
Well known for her work in The Pursuit of Happyness, Mission: Impossible II, Crash and For Colored Girls, Thandie Newton is not afraid to get physical. She is stunningly beautiful and has proved a wide acting range.
4. Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Soon to star in RoboCop (2014), Marianne Jean-Baptiste previously made history as the first Black British actress to receive an Academy Award nomination for the 1996 drama Secrets & Lies. We’ve also seen her in 28 Days and Takers. No stranger to action or sci-fi, Marianne would be another brilliant choice to bring Oya to life.
Hot off the press and on newsstands today, Rihanna graces the cover of not one, but two Elle UK covers. RiRi has been working to stay fresh in the game and has reasons to be on the tip of everyone’s tongues—from the Rihanna Navy to a slew of commenters on Instagram to bloggers, music journalists, DJs, and mainstream magazines. Both Elle UK covers feature sultry and sexy Rihanna, adorned in black and white with smoky eyes, bold, attention grabbing red lips, and a stylish pixie cut. The images are very mod and sophisticated as Rihanna models several pieces from her newly launched collection, River Island. On one, she rocks a black, zip-through River Island skirt from the spring/summer 2013 line and a Louis Vuitton monochrome top; on the other, a striped River Island bra peeking out from under a Prada silk and satin stole. A tagline on the cover reads, “I will have a child.” One thing we know for sure is that Rihanna will discuss reuniting with her love, Chris Brown. This may well be one of her best interviews with Mark Allen, who spent significant time with the star during her 777 Tour in Paris. In addition to the two covers, RiRi continues to shine bright and here are a few more reasons why:
- Elle – 4 covers since 2008
- Unapologetic – Several tracks off this 2012 album will get continuous spin through 2013: Diamonds, Pour It Up, and newly released, Stay featuring Miley Cyrus.
- PerfumesByRihanna.com – Which fragrance are you? Reb’l, Rebellem or Nude? Find out by taking a quiz on her recently launched fragrance website.
- RiRi [Hearts] MAC – A multi-cosmetics deal based on a signature lip color, RiRi Woo; additional cosmetics to be released throughout the year.
- River Island Collection – New spring/summer 2013 fashion collection launch. IG was abuzz as Rihanna posted provocative pics of pieces from her line.
- Diamonds World Tour – Just off the 777 Tour, RiRi is back on the road with shows planned throughout the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and Switzerland.
With so many reasons to talk about Rihanna how do you get your RiRi fix? What keeps her on the tip of your tongue?
Calling all 6″ inch walkers, we’re sure we just came across your newest purchase, courtesy of London Trash. Coming in a variety of colors from neon orange, and yellow to zebra print the London Trash Ceres Platform Pump could easily be your news heels to accompany you and your night life this spring.
Standing six inches tall with a 2 inch platform, the shoe has a pony hair or genuine leather upper and a cushioned insole for comfort. An elastic vamp in black is featured on all of the Ceres Platform Pump to keep your foot in place, as well as a zipper back to easily slip on your heels and go at a moments notice. The London Trash footwear retails at $168 dollars and are available for pre-order on shopflyjane.com
Recently Erica Atkins-Campbell from Mary Mary was spotted unleashing her wild side in the Leopard Print London Trash Ceres Platform Pump along with a knee length three-quarter sleeve black dress on the Grammys red carpet, doesn’t she look stunning.
Divas would you hit the pavement in these sky-high haute heels or have you had enough of the platforms shoes, let us know below!
Every week the tabloids and celebrity-watch sites make sure that we get a healthy dose of baby bump news. Some of us are clambering to click on pictures of certain bumps more than others. The Royal baby bump of Kate Middleton made its debut recently. It definitely made the news, but not as many people seem to be as consumed with the life of the royals since Princess Dianna. Jessica Simpson’s belly is another one we haven’t seen much since she announced she was pregnant shortly after giving birth to her first child. Maybe that’s because she had the longest pregnancy in the history of celebrity babies, and there were enough pictures to cover both of her pregnancies in advance.
After Beyoncé finally showed the face of her child in her “Life is but a Dream” documentary in February, it was clear that Blue had the features of both of her previously “alleged” parents, and the campaigners behind Beyoncé Babygate lost most of their steam. Believe it or not, Kim Kardashian is making headlines, but this time for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, her stylist (ahem, Mr. West) doesn’t know the first thing about making a pregnant woman look stylish.
Now the latest comments made by Rihanna in her interview in her recent Elle UK interview, have been interpreted as her saying she wants to have a child with Chris Brown are causing a stir. The commentators who are on Team Navy think she will have the cutest child ever with Chris. While the ones determined to hold on to the scuffle she had with Brown a few years ago, are already making outlandish comments about Chris continuing to abuse Rihanna and the child they’re probably not even trying to conceive yet.
If there are already comments on her unoccupied uterus, could you imagine what people will say if she actually makes good on the speculated promise to bring baby Chris or Christina into this world? Will there be outrage? Will forums pop up everywhere about preventing a child from being physically abused using Rihanna and Chris as a case study? Will they blame a sudden spike in teenage pregnancies on Rihanna since they insist on branding her as a role model though she continues to rebel against that label? Will Law and Order make a sequel to that horrible parody they released last week?
Those questions sound crazy? If you said yes, then you’re correct- but with the track record of the media so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those became serious “news” stories. It’s already quite clear that fans, celebrities, haters and the media at large have no problem commenting on children as if they are adults- hence the comments about child actress Quvenzhane Wallis last week, and the questions of paternity regarding baby Blue before her parents took the blanket off of her face.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see after the photogs snap a picture of Rihanna after she eats a sandwich and her bloat is mistaken as a baby bump. Let the Rihanna baby bump madness begin!
What do you think will come of the Rihanna baby bump frenzy? Tell us below…
Would you walk a mile in Jay Z and Beyonce’s shoes? Thanks to PMK, you and your boo can wear the lavish sneakers created by power couple soon. PMK is a favorite brand of Jay Z and his A-list, superstar wife Beyonce. Jay Z had a shoe designed for him last year- the Brooklyn Zoo – by the brand. His pair was as lavish as any sneaker could be, with an endless roll call of reptile skins and embellished textures for your feet.
PMK said: ‘The Brooklyn Zoo 1’s cannot be tamed with an elaborate combination of elephant-print, ostrich, python, boa, crocodile, lizard, alligator, suede, and sting ray intricately cut to transform the Jordan 1 from a basketball sneaker into the world’s most daring and dapper sneaker concepts known to man.’
As Queen of the charts and one of the world’s most famous women, Beyonce’s taste in fashion was always going to be pretty lavish. But her new acquisition takes super-luxe fashion to a new level. The singer’s latest fashion folly is a pair of custom-made trainers, made for her by high end brand Perfectly Made Kicks using exotic animal skins. PMK handcrafted the sneakers for Beyonce to the singer’s exacting requirements using a mix of stingray, ostrich, calf’s fur, crocodile and anaconda skins.
Called The King-Bey, the shoes, which have been given Beyonce’s approval, are decorated with gold accents. The price is as yet undisclosed, but a regular pair sells in excess for $350+ so this embellished pair would obviously sell for a lot more.
Would you and your boo rock a pair of these kicks? (Collectively they could cost you almost $1,000 to own both pair.) For pricing and ordering information, visit pmkcustoms.com.
It was the award season fall that will be talked about for the rest of the year! An elated Jennifer Lawrence on the way to accept her win for the Best Actress award at Sunday’s Academy Awards, went down on her way up the stairs! She stumbled and fell on a short flight of stairs, landing on her knees and hands. However, like any blurp or fall in Hollywood, there’s always a graceful way to cover it up- here’s how she smoothed it over after landing on all fours in front of the world.
1. A helping hand.
Hugh Jackman might have missed out on an Oscar, but the Les Miserables star won the award for chivalry when he leapt out of his chair to help Jennifer Lawrence, immediately following her trip to the podium. Step one in the graceful cover-up, a helping hand.
2. An elegant speech with enough gratitude and humor.
While the world was Tweeting, updating, and pinning about the epic fall, Jennifer Lawrence’s awesome night was just beginning. She got up to the podium, finally, received a standing ovation and dismissed her mortification with the perfect opening. She responded, “Thank you, you guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell. And that’s really embarrassing.” With the graceful rise, the acceptance speech was just as elegant-step two. Lawrence, 22, gave her thank yous and paid tribute to her fellow nominees, including Australia’s Naomi Watts (The Impossible.) She even gave Jack Nicholson a little crap, because she’s an Oscar winner now and he totally deserved it. A perfectly smooth transition containing enough gratitude, humility, and humor to forget about the fall- at least for that moment since the video will continue to circulate online.
3. A little outlandishness to top it all off.
Of course with any embarrassing slip-up and cover-up comes leeway for a little outlandishness- step three. She was caught giving reporters the middle finger in the press room afterwards, but subsequently blamed it on the alcohol. Maybe that was the original reason for the stair trip? It all comes full circle even with the graceful cover-up!
What do you think of Jennifer Lawrence’s trip, cover-up, and alleged drunken middle finger?
For on-the-go divas, it is even tougher to pay attention to personal wellness. With all the traveling, working, and keeping busy, it’s hard to understand how one can always keep it together. We have found some tips from well-balanced celebrities that have shared how they do it. Take these tips that have worked for them and see how you can apply it to your daily self-care! Between working, taking care of the family, and handling personal business it’s easy for women to tire, get sick, and eventually burn out. Burnout takes the form of anxiety, illness, nervous breakdowns, and sometimes even flat out laziness.
There is an app for everything these days. For most tips, there is an app available on smart phones and/or tablets to help any diva meet her self-care goals. Check out some self-care tricks and tips from famous divas on the go, along with supporting apps that’ll help you live your best life well.
1. Tia Mowry: Plan your workouts ahead of time. A fun way to do this would be to set workout “dates” with friends.
The App To Get You There: To track activity, download Nike+ FuelBand. Note: In order for is to work, you must purchase a physical FuelBand, which is available at Nike stores andonline. With the app, users set goals for activity ahead of time and are pushed to meet them.
2. Lisa Ling: Take snacks along for the ride. Before leaving the house, the hotel, or wherever you laid your head down to rest, grab a piece of fruit, fill up a bottle with water, and say no to the sugary treats.
The App To Get You There: To keep track of the food you’re eating on the daily, download Fooducate. It helps users keep track of their grocery list, what they’ve eaten, their water intake, as well as the exercise they did on any given day. (Incorporate this app with tip 1 above.) If you’re in the grocery store and want to know more about a product, you can scan the bar code and get a grade for the product, alternatives, and the ratings of other users.
Fooducate is currently available on iPhones and Androids.
3. Mariska Hargitay: Take time for some TLC. Working too many hours is associated with anxiety and depression. Who wants to deal with that?
The App To Get You There: Use the calendar on your phone and track every minute of your day for a week. At the end of the week, check to see where you can input some “you time.” During this “you time”, put your phone away, or turn it off, if possible.
4. Lisa Price: Fight germs as best you can.
There isn’t an app for this. Wash your hands often. Keep hand sanitizer in your purse. And use tissue when you cough or sneeze so you don’t pass along germs either.
These four tips from four amazing women should guide your in the right direction for living your best life and doing it well. What are your tips for wellness care?