Gabrielle Union: A Journey to Fulfillment
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Gabrielle Union seen at ULTA event wearing a long red dress

By Jovane Marie

Gabrielle Union found her way into the mainstream and straight to our hearts at the start of the new millennium with her breakout performance as the leader of the East Compton Clovers in Bring It On.

In the nearly two decades since then, the actress’ life has evolved to encompass a multitude of additional roles across a personal and professional spectrum—outspoken activist, best-selling author, fashion-forward designer, dedicated wife and, most importantly, doting mother.

Actress to Activist

Union’s influence emanates far beyond her on-screen portrayals. Proudly raised by her parents to have a world perspective, she supports a multitude of causes, from racial justice to ending violence against women, voting rights to eradicating poverty, and diversity to health initiatives.

Her tenacity in standing up and speaking her mind was cultivated through education and life experiences, both positive and negative. As a young black girl growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, Union admits she wanted nothing more than to completely assimilate, letting racially tinged jokes and perspectives roll off her shoulders to avoid being seen as “other.”

Exposure to African-American studies while attending UCLA had a huge influence on Union’s mindset, highlighting the importance of calling out injustice and oppression and opening her perspective to a treasure trove of change-makers.

“Learning about those brilliant Black activists and authors encouraged me to have pride in myself and in my voice,” she said. “I realized that assimilation can be a path to becoming invisible and complacent. I’d rather be ‘other.’”

With the strength of those lessons at her back, and following a sexual assault that threatened to marginalize her even further, she began speaking her mind fearlessly and unapologetically, raising awareness about the issues that mattered to her—a characteristic that has endured in her day-to-day life.

“My goal is to use my platform to provide a sense of connectedness

Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design
Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design

for those who suffer in silence,” said the activist, who was appointed to former President Obama’s National Advisory Committee for Violence Against Women in 2010. “It’s been a journey and an evolving consciousness—not an easy process, but definitely worthwhile.”

She’s a Boss

As she’s solidified her place in the film and television industry, the America’s Got Talent judge has lent her efforts to establishing and growing her commercial empire, calling upon her down-to-earth persona and relatable personal brand to connect with fans and consumers.

In 2004, she became a brand ambassador for Neutrogena, a successful partnership that lasted for more than a decade.

In 2012, she partnered with Napa Valley-based winery JaM Cellars to develop a full-bodied Chardonnay cheekily named Vanilla Puddin.

In 2014, she became the first celebrity ambassador—and creative advisor—for nail beauty company SensatioNail.

And in 2017, her entrepreneurial spirit erupted with both the launch of Flawless by Gabrielle Union—a hair care line created specifically with black women in mind—and the announcement of her partnership with major consumer fashion brand New York & Company, where she serves as the face of the brand’s 7th Avenue Design Studio and launched an acclaimed namesake collection.

The Flawless brand was born through Union’s experiences with trying to care for her natural hair while working in the industry. More often than not, she lamented, the stylists on set would have no idea how to manage her textured mane, leading to damage and dismay.

When the opportunity came along to create a line of products that catered specifically to her hair care needs, she jumped at the chance, working with a team, including former Macadamia Beauty CEO Vince Davis, to produce a range of catered shampoos, conditioners, repair masks, oil treatments, edge control, and more. A common thread throughout the brand’s offering is the use of a group of key ingredients proven to promote healthy hair, including argan, marula, macadamia, coconut, and avocado oils, as well as pea protein.

“My goal with our Flawless products is to help women with textured hair create ever-changing looks without compromising the health of their favorite accessory—their hair,” Union said of the collection, which is sold online, in JCPenney Salons and at ULTA. “I just want them to have great hair days. Period.”

Union’s collaboration with New York & Company’s 7th Avenue Design Studio materialized to the star’s admitted surprise—she never expected to be courted by the popular retail chain to serve as a brand ambassador. Operating as a sub-brand and inspired by her character on series Being Mary Jane, the line features chic dresses, modern suiting, and versatile separates that “embody the career woman who needs easy, effortless, styles that are polished and on trend.”

Kaavi James Collection; Caption: Kaavia James Union Wade and Gabrielle Union visit New York & Company Store in Burbank, CA, to launch Kaavi James Collection on May 09, 2019. PHOTO BY JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY
Kaavi James Collection; Caption: Kaavia James Union Wade and Gabrielle Union visit New York & Company Store in Burbank, CA, to launch Kaavi James Collection on May 09, 2019. PHOTO BY JESSE GRANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY

“Mary Jane’s style reflects power, leadership, and risk taking,” she explained. “She wears classic styles, but with a twist, which is why I think she’d definitely shop at New York & Company.”

Beyond her ambassadorship, which features Union modeling fashions on the company’s website, in print and digital advertisements, and on social media, the actress has ventured into a “whole new game” with the launch of her namesake collection, featuring a wide range of fashionable choices, all reminiscent of the style icon’s eclectic taste.

“I wanted to offer on-trend fashions at affordable prices that flatter all body types—that’s the bottom line,” said Union, who was given free rein to design whatever she chooses and prides herself on being fully hands-on with the creative process.

Two years into her venture, the designer recently pulled from a new source of inspiration to drive her latest launch—five-month-old daughter Kaavia James Union Wade. The adorable all-inclusive capsule collection, entitled Kaavi James by Gabrielle Union, features an array of stylish dresses, T-shirts, jumpers, and onesies (many of them unisex!) in sizes 0–24 months, all within a $15–$45 range. In addition to serving as fashion muse, Kaavia (whose parents recently trademarked her name for future projects) serves major face in the campaign’s advertisements, posing alongside her mom with her hilarious signature “Shady Baby” expression.

Family First

When it comes to priorities, the multi-hyphenate talent makes it clear—nothing is more important than her family. Just check her social media (which is plastered with their faces). She married NBA star Dwayne Wade in 2014, in the process becoming stepmother to his three boys, Zaire, Zion, and Xavier.

After struggling with infertility due to a form of endometriosis, the couple turned to surrogacy, welcoming Kaavia in November 2018.

The new mother has been open and honest about her fertility struggles, believing there is healing in the knowledge that many couples face similar challenges as they try to conceive.

Union’s life today may seem like a fairytale, but it has required blood, sweat, tears, self-love, introspection, and a dogged determination to succeed to transform her life from then to now.

A Pre-Destined Path

Union embarked on her acting journey in the mid-90s, performing in a guest role capacity or as a supporting character for a number of popular sitcoms, including Family Matters, Moesha, 7th Heaven, and Sister, Sister.

Interestingly enough, she hadn’t grown up with stars in her eyes, dreaming Hollywood dreams. The driving force behind her foray into the acting world, she admits, was money to help pay for college.

“You want to know when I became serious about being an actress?

Gabrielle Union interacts with fans during America’s Got Talent auditions. TRAE PATTON/NBC
Gabrielle Union interacts with fans during America’s Got Talent auditions. TRAE PATTON/NBC

When I made money! It really wasn’t for the love of it, in the beginning,” said the star, who graduated from UCLA with a BA in Sociology. “My plan back then was to eventually go to law school, but pretty quickly, I realized I could make a living doing this. So, I recalibrated—and never looked back.”

She hit a double whammy in 2000, appearing in Love & Basketball (as superficial high school mean girl Shawnee Easton) and co-starring with Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On (as captain of the East Compton Clovers, Isis), both of which were extremely popular and have since become cult classics.

Her role in Bring It On held a great significance for Union—she credits it as one of the biggest boosts of her career—as it not only addressed the real issue of appropriation but also served as a catalyst for her to be conscious of the roles and narratives she agreed to portray on screen.

“It’s interesting, because I had wanted a part in another cheerleading movie that came out around the same time, but they didn’t pursue Black women for any of the roles. I couldn’t even get an audition,” she revealed. “In this movie, the very premise was about cultural appropriation and how the hard work of African Americans has been repackaged with blond hair and blue eyes. The social justice of it appealed to me.”

The role directly led to her casting in the ground-breaking medical drama City of Angels, which held the distinction as network television’s first medical drama with a predominantly African-American cast. The show, which ran for two seasons on CBS, featured a who’s who of eventual Black Hollywood royalty, including Blair Underwood, Viola Davis, Maya Rudolph, and Vivica A. Fox.

It was her portrayal of successful TV news anchor Mary Jane Paul on

Union discusses television series on The Talk on the CBS Television Network. MONTY BRINTON/CBS ©2017 CBS BROADCASTING, INC.
Union discusses television series on The Talk on the CBS Television Network. MONTY BRINTON/CBS ©2017 CBS BROADCASTING, INC.

BET network’s Being Mary Jane, however, that truly solidified Union’s superstar status and staying power. The award-winning series, which ran from 2013 to spring 2019 over the course of four seasons, followed the personal and professional life happenings of the broadcast journalist as she searches for “the puzzle pieces that she, and society, insist are missing from her life as a single Black woman.”

The show was an absolute homerun for BET (debuting as its highest-rated show and quickly becoming the network’s signature series) and was praised across the board for its complex characters, captivating storylines, and willingness to tackle powerful issues. African-American women across the world hailed the series as they saw themselves and their families reflected on a weekly basis.

For Union, participation in the project was a labor of love and her greatest creative decision, offering an opportunity for her to take a role she cared about, while playing an imperfect, complicated, messy character.

“I didn’t want to play a perfect character that was a fully wholesome role model who had all the right answers,” she said. “I’d never been challenged like this—I could be required to show a bunch of different colors within one scene. In many ways, we shared similar struggles and triumphs, loves and losses, and especially the penchant for epic reads. This role was one of the most gratifying of my life.”

Producing for the Future

Building on years of experience in front of the camera, in 2014 Union added to her repertoire by stepping behind the camera to produce, starting with the Lifetime original film With This Ring. In the years since, she has served as an executive producer on a number of projects, including last year’s Breaking In (for which she was awarded Breakthrough Producer of the Year at the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards) and Spectrum Originals first major original series LA’s Finest (a Bad Boys spin-off co-starring Jessica Alba).

She also launched her own production company, I’ll Have Another (named as a nod to her best-selling book, We’re Going to Need More Wine), signing a first look deal with Sony Pictures TV last year to develop broadcast, cable, and digital projects.

It is a responsibility Union doesn’t take lightly, as she realizes that she is one of but a handful of Black women who head their own production companies.

“As I’ve taken on new projects, I’ve become more aware of the lack of diversity behind the camera,” she noted. “It’s been proven that real inclusion actually makes dollars and cents, and Hollywood is starting to change, but we still need to increase the diversity of directors, executive producers and studio heads.”

The Road Ahead

With her family by her side, her career expanding, her businesses and partnerships blossoming, and her voice for social justice reverberating, Union is living life unapologetically and striving daily to reach her full potential.

“I’m just trying to think limitlessly and not put a cap on my dreams,” she said. “When you’re open like that, the world will take you all sorts of places you could have never imagined.”

It’s obvious that for this multi-tasking mama, the best is yet to come.

Regina King ties record for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer
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Regina King accepting Emmy while holding the emmy in hand

“Watchmen’s” Regina King made history at the 72nd Emmy Awards Sunday.

King’s win for lead actress in a limited series or movie for her portrayal of Angela Abar (a.k.a. Sister Night) in the HBO superhero drama is her fourth career Emmy. This ties the record held by Alfre Woodard for most acting Emmys won by a Black performer.

Created by David Lindelof, “Watchmen” is based on the acclaimed comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons but is not a direct adaptation. It is more like a sequel that follows new characters such as King’s Sister Night.

This “allowed me to tap into all those things I think are just wonderful about being a Black woman,” King previously told The Times. “[T]he blueprint that was the inspiration for Angela was probably every Black woman that ever was.”

In addition to being recognized for her performance in “Watchmen,” King has previously won the lead actress in a limited series or movie Emmy in 2018 for “Seven Seconds.” In 2015 and 2016 she won in the supporting actress in a limited series or movie category for her performances in “American Crime” (playing different characters each time). King has five career Emmy nominations so far.

Woodard, who has earned 17 Primetime Emmy nods, won in 1984, 1987, 1997 and 2003. These recognitions were in the supporting actress in a drama series category for “Hill Street Blues,” guest performer in a drama series (before there were gender-specific categories) for “L.A. Law,” lead actress in a miniseries or special for “Miss Evers’ Boys” and guest actress in a drama series for “The Practice.”

The other Black actors with four Emmy wins each are Chris Rock and Bill Cosby, but their awards include non-performance categories. Rock has won three Emmys in writing categories (1997, 1999 and 2009) in addition to his variety, music or comedy special win in 1997 for “Chris Rock: Bring The Pain.” Cosby, who is currently serving time after being convicted of sexual assault in 2018, won three consecutive lead drama series actor Emmys for “I Spy” (1966-1968) and in the variety or musical program category in 1969 for “The Bill Cosby Special.”

Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.

Zendaya Makes History with Her Emmy Win
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Zendaya poses with head looking over shoulders smiling

“She’s younger than Baby Yoda and she already has an Emmy,” Jimmy Kimmel said after a visibly shaken Zendaya, 24, became the youngest Emmy winner for best lead actress in a drama for her role as Rue on HBO’s “Euphoria.”

The breathless actress, who was surrounded by a semicircle of teary-eyed supporters and wearing a crystal bandeau top with a billowing black-and-white polka-dot skirt, clearly had not prepared an acceptance speech.

“This is pretty crazy,” Zendaya said as she clasped her hands over her statuette, as though hardly daring to believe it was real.

The Disney-actress-turned-drama-star beat out the decades-older counterparts Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, Sandra Oh and Laura Linney to claim the crown — not to mention the incumbent winner, Jodie Comer, who set the record last year when she won for “Killing Eve” at age 26.

“Thank you to all of the other incredible women in this category,” Zendaya said. “I admire you so much.”

“Euphoria,” a drama series created by Sam Levinson about high-school students who navigate love, sex, drugs and identity conundrums, premiered on HBO in June 2019. It received six nominations this year, though Zendaya’s was the only one for acting. HBO announced last year that the series had been renewed for a second season.

The actress said she was inspired by others her age who were working to make a difference in the world. “I just want to say that there is hope in the young people out there,” she said. “And I just want to say to all our peers out there doing the work in the streets: I see you, I admire you, I thank you.”

Continue on to the New York Times to read the complete article.

Heroines on the Big Screen and in Real Life
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Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins, and Lynda Carter on the red carpet.

By: Natalie Rodgers

Though Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot play Wonder Woman on the big screen, this iconic role follows them into their day-to-day lives off camera as well—advocating for causes that aid and empower women of all generations.

Lynda Carter, who played the original “Wonder Woman” in the 1970’s, continues to fulfill her legacy off screen. Carter uses her previous appearances as Wonder Woman and her social media presence to encourage women and young girls to be confident in themselves and their abilities. She has also served as a strong advocate for numerous causes.

Much of her work consists of advocating for healthy lifestyles, as well as being an integral supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an advocate in curing AIDS, and one of the frontrunners of Alzheimer’s and dementia awareness, having lost her own mother to Alzheimer’s.

Though a very vocal supporter of taking care of the human body physically and mentally, Carter also embraces the importance of body positivity. Carter also uses her past experiences in rehabilitation programs for alcoholism to encourage addiction recovery for others. She recently celebrated 20 years of sobriety.

Lately, Carter has been using her social media platform in support of the LGBTQ community, having served as the Grand Marshall at Pride parades in New York, Washington DC and Phoenix, and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and those fighting for equality amongst races

Gal Gadot, the current on-screen Wonder Woman, also emulates the superhero’s characteristics off-screen. Not only does Gadot possess Wonder Woman’s physical capabilities—once having served as a combat instructor in the Israeli army—but she is also a strong feminist, advocating for the rights of women and girls. Using her role in the DC Universe, Gadot’s time playing Wonder Woman has given her a platform to encourage of the strength and perseverance women can bring.

Gadot has also served as an advocate in social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in the Black Lives Matter movement. Gadot led the online celebrity cover of “Imagine” to encourage audiences in times of uncertainty during the pandemic and has shown her strong support in wearing protective masks in public.

But even behind the camera, the place where Wonder Woman is meticulously crafted and thought through, Director Patty Jenkins, proves to be not only a fantastic director, but an influential and empowering wonder woman herself.

Having directed the franchise’s first “Wonder Woman” film in 2017, Jenkins became the first woman to direct a big budget superhero movie. This film not only brought tremendous success in the box office, but Jenkins’ Wonder Woman proved to be more complex than past portrayals. As many films have presented Wonder Woman as either all powerful or in stereotypes of society’s “ideal woman,” Jenkins decided to make the iconic character the strong and powerful hero the world knew while also making her unafraid of emotion, humor and personality

Jenkins’ influence continues to grow as her career does. During the 2017 Oscar season, Jenkins spent much of her time touring college campuses and encouraging film students in their work. Her influence continued to grow when she was chosen by Mattel to be a part of the “Role Models” Barbie collection, where the toy company designed a doll after her. Along with being an advocate for woman’s rights, Jenkins has also served as an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The influence that strong, female role models have on the screen is tremendous, but seeing the real-life heroes that can make these characters come to life proves that the future of women in every area will continue to strengthen and diversify.

Rihanna: PWM’s Wonder Woman of the Year
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rihanna posing at the Fashion Awards

By Samar Khoury

It’s difficult to describe Robyn Rihanna Fenty—better known as Rihanna—in one phrase, but two words sum her up perfectly: Wonder Woman.

She has created a $600 million fortune.

She’s the world’s richest female musician.

She was the third highest-paid female singer of 2019.

And she holds various titles: businesswoman, activist, philanthropist, and actress, to name just a few. Plus, she’s been honored with countless accolades throughout her career.

But Rihanna is anything but complacent.

In fact, the musician is more active than ever, advocating for equality, showing enormous support for the Black Lives Matter movement, providing relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, and launching her new skincare line.

Rihanna has left a mark, and it’s only going to get greater.

 

The Face of Activism

Following the tragic death of George Floyd, Rihanna was one of the first celebrities to speak out. The business mogul closed her online Fenty beauty, fashion, and lingerie stores on June 2 in honor of #BlackoutTuesday. “This is not a day off,” Rihanna said through Fenty’s Twitter page, “this is a day to reflect and find ways to make real change, this is a day to #PullUp.”

“We are not staying silent and we are not standing by,” she continued. “The fight against racial inequality, injustice, and straight up racism doesn’t stop with financial donations and words of support.”

Rihanna on stage singing
The Barbadian singer Rihanna during the ANTI World Tour hosted in Milan. (Photo by Francesco CastaldoArchivio Francesco CastaldoMondadori via Getty Images)

Rihanna also pledged, through her charity organization the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF), that she’d donate funds to Black Lives Matter Greater NY and The Bail Project.

What’s more, the fashion icon’s 2019 viral tie-dye dress made a special comeback to support Black Lives Matter. Fashion label A Sai Ta specifically created the dress for the 32-year-old singer, which made numerous headlines. “No one else has this dress apart from me and Riri,” a post on the label’s Instagram page read. “We will be producing this iconic dress EXCLUSIVELY for 3 charities. Finally, you can also have this dress!!”

Standing by the Black Lives Matter movement is only scratching the surface of Rihanna’s efforts to make change.

Amid the pandemic, Rihanna made it a mission to lend a hand to those in need. In addition to donating $5 million to COVID-19 relief efforts through CLF, she gave away personal protection equipment to New York, which used to hold the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.

“Protecting our frontline health workers and marginalized communities around the world requires getting ahead of it FAST,” her foundation’s site read. “The time to act is now.”

Rihanna has made such a difference that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented her with the President’s Award during its 51st Image Awards on February 22 in Pasadena, California.

“From her business achievements through Fenty, to her tremendous record as an activist and philanthropist, Rihanna epitomizes the type of character, grace, and devotion to justice that we seek to highlight in our President’s Award.”

Rihanna receives he Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year Award on stage
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Rihanna receives the Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year Award from Dr. S. Allen Counter at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

And devoted she has been.

“If there’s anything I’ve learned,” Rihanna said while accepting her award, “it’s that we can only fix this world together. We can’t do it divided…We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in. The ‘If it’s your problem, then it’s not mine.’ ‘It’s a woman’s problem.’ ‘It’s a black people problem.’ ‘It’s a poor people problem.’”

The Queen of Philanthropy

Rihanna constantly aims to make the world a better place. Growing up, she often came across poor and needy children, inspiring her to give back.

Her commitment to charity work earned her Harvard’s humanitarian of the year in 2017.

In 2012, she founded CLF (named after her grandparents), a nonprofit organization committed to aiding underserved communities through health care and education.

“I feel strongly that all children everywhere should be afforded the opportunity of a quality education,” she says.

Through her annual Diamond Ball gala, Rihanna has been able to raise millions for the foundation. The Clara Lionel Foundation has since funded programs, including Children’s Orthopedic Center and the Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program.

But it doesn’t end there.

The philanthropist is also an ambassador of her hometown, Barbados; the Global Partnership for Education; and the Global Citizen Project. She dedicates much of her time traveling and raising money for these roles.

As an ambassador of the Global Partnership for Education, Rihanna advocates for education for girls, gender equality, and those affected by war-ridden countries.

In 2016, she met with Prince Harry to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Barbadian independence and spread awareness about AIDS.

And her donations to many charities are endless.

“My money is not for me; it’s always the thought that I can help someone else,” Rihanna says.

The Road to Stardom

Although we admire Rihanna’s philanthropy and activism, we can’t forget

Rihanna on stage in Barbados at an HIV event with Prince Harry
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS – (2nd L-R) Rihanna, Prince Harry and councillor Ministry of Health HIV Program Susette Neblett-Straughn talk on stage at the ‘Man Aware’ event held by the Barbados National HIV/AIDS Commission.(Photo by Chris Jackson – Pool/Getty Images)

how we first fell in love with the Barbadian beauty—her chart-topping hits.

Rhi-Rhi, as fans like to call her, has become the youngest solo artist to score 14 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, has sold more than 54 million albums and 210 million tracks worldwide, and holds nine Grammy Awards.

Her top hits include “Diamonds,” “Umbrella,” “Work,” and much, much more.

Rihanna’s road to musical stardom is an inspiring one.

While she was growing up in Saint Michael, Barbados, her parents’ marital problems and dad’s battle with drug and alcohol addictions began to take a toll on the star. To cope, Rihanna turned to music, leading her create a musical trio with two of her classmates.

Her big break came in 2003 at age 15 when Rihanna and her bandmates were introduced to record producer Evan Rogers, who was vacationing in Barbados with his wife.

Rogers was immediately in awe. “The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist,” he said to Entertainment Weekly.

At age 16, Rihanna moved to the US with Rogers and his wife, later being signed by Jay-Z to Def Jam Records.

From there, her career took off instantly, and she debuted her first single, “Pon de Replay.” The catchy hit made the top five in 15 countries and became a major U.S. club hit.

The popular single was included in her debut album, Music of the Sun. A year later, she released her sophomore album, A Girl Like Me—featuring No. 1 singles “SOS” and “Unfaithful.”

The rest is all history.

Rihanna’s eighth and most recent album, Anti, released in 2016, saw major success: She achieved her second consecutive No. 1 album with 166,000 first week sales.

Rihanna kisses Chase Sullivan, a child of Harvard professors, after receiving the Harvard Humanitarian of the Year Award in Cambridge, MA.

Although fans are anxiously awaiting new music, Rihanna assures them it will be worth the wait. Currently, the entrepreneur has been focusing on her new skincare line.

“I am always working on music, and when I am ready to put it out in the way that I feel fit, it’s gonna come out. And you’re not going to be disappointed when it happens,” the singer told Entertainment Tonight.

 

Thriving Businesswoman

In addition to hit albums, world tours, and movie roles—such as Home, Annie, and Ocean’s 8— Rihanna has built a beauty and fashion empire.

Her new skincare line, Fenty Skin, made its debut on July 31. People of all skin tones and types can enjoy products from the singer’s new venture. Sales have already skyrocketed.

But Rihanna has been shining in business for years. Her businesses include makeup line Fenty Beauty; Fenty, a Paris-based fashion house she created in partnership with luxury fashion group LVMH (Rihanna was the first woman and black woman to be added to the LVMH group); intimates collection Savage X Fenty; and now her new skincare line. She has also released 11 fragrances throughout the years.

It should come as no surprise that when Fenty Beauty launched in 2017, it took the world by storm. According to Forbes, the brand reported $100 million in sales in its first six weeks, reaching more than $550 million in its first year.

Rihanna’s goal was to create an inclusive makeup collection catered to people of all skin types—not just white women. So, when Fenty Beauty launched, 40 shades of foundation came along with it. This move paved the way for the beauty industry. Rihanna’s “Fenty Effect” set the precedent for foundation ranges to come.

Like her singing career, Rihanna’s love for makeup started in Barbados. She was intrigued by her mother’s lipstick and when she tried makeup for the first time, she never looked back, making it her choice for self-expression.

“Makeup is there for you to have fun with,” Rihanna says. “It should never feel like pressure. It should never feel like a uniform. Feel free to take chances, and take risks, and dare to do something new or different.”

Shining Bright Like a Diamond
Rihanna has been living in London for the past three years, focusing on her music, leading the fight for change, and continuing to be the musician we know and love.

As Rihanna’s whopping 85 million+ Instagram followers and slew of fans can attest, she’s not going anywhere.

But we can’t help but wonder: What change will she spark next?

Shattering the Status Quo
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Jenny Lee sitting on a panel at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco

From a city’s youngest elected mayor to a country’s first billionaire, these Asian women don’t see obstacles—only opportunities

Otsu Mayor Aims to Use AI to Prevent Bullying

Naomi Koshi is the Mayor of the city of Otsu in the province of Shiga in Japan. She became the youngest woman elected mayor of a Japanese city. The city of Otsu announced plans earlier this year to use artificial intelligence to predict the potential consequences of suspected cases of bullying at schools. This would be the first such analysis by a municipality in the country. “Through an AI theoretical analysis of past data, we will be able to properly respond to cases without just relying on teachers’ past experiences,” Otsu Mayor Koshi told The Japan Times of the planned analysis, set to begin from the next fiscal year.

Source: The Japan Times

Vietjet Founder is Vietnam’s First Woman Billionaire

Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao has made history as the only woman to start and run a major commercial airline, Vietjet Aviation. Her success has also made her very wealthy. She is Vietnam’s first self-made woman billionaire and the wealthiest self-made woman in Southeast Asia, with a net worth of $2.5 billion.

Source: forbes.com

GGV Capital’s Lee Ranks High on Forbes Midas

Jenny Lee is one of the highest-ranking women on the Forbes 2019 Midas list. Her portfolio at U.S. and China-based GGV Capital – where she is a managing partner – includes 11 unicorns, with some valued as high as $56 billion. A former fighter jet engineer with Singapore’s ST Aerospace, Lee has taken 11 of her portfolio companies public, including three IPOs in 2018. Her 2012 investment in Chinese social network operator, YY, netted GGV a 15-fold return.

Source: forbes.com

Grab App Co-Founder is Southeast Asia’s First Decacorn

Tan Hooi Ling is the co-founder of Southeast Asia’s first decacorn, super app Grab. The 35-year-old Harvard MBA graduate has led the company with cofounder Anthony Tan in raising over $9 billion dollars since launching in 2012. Nearly half of that sum came last March when the Singapore-based startup raised $4.5 billion in a funding round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Alibaba, Microsoft and 26 other investors, valuing the company at $14 billion. This Series H round aims to raise another $2 billion before the end of the year.

Source: egradio.org

Awkwafina Makes Golden Globes History

The Farewell star Awkwafina is the first performer of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe Award in a lead actress film category. She’s only the sixth woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the lead actress in a musical or comedy category. Awkwafina joins a small group of performers of Asian lineage who have won Golden Globe awards since the show started. The Farewell, which features a predominantly Asian cast, tells the story of a young woman named Billi (Awkwafina) whose family decides to keep news of a terminal diagnosis from the family’s elder matriarch, Billi’s grandmother Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao).

Source: cnn.com

Johnson & Johnson Names Gu and Huang Among Women STEM Scholars

Johnson & Johnson’s WiSTEM2D (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing, and Design) Scholars Awards program, designed to increase the representation of women in these fields and support the development of women leaders, named Grace X. Gu and Shengxi Huang among its six recent Scholars Award winners. Grace X. Gu is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include composites, additive manufacturing, fracture mechanics, topology optimization, machine learning, finite element analysis, and bio-inspired materials. Her current project focuses on developing a more efficient 3D printer that can self-correct during a print job.

Shengxi Huang is an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include biomedical devices and systems, electronic materials and devices, and optical materials, devices, and systems. Currently, she is developing a device to measure potential disease-causing biomolecules, such as cancer cells.

Source: wiareport.com

MiMi Aung Awaits Summer Launch of Helicopter on Mars 2020 Rover

Burmese-born MiMi Aung is very familiar with uncharted territory. She tackles it as part of her job: overseeing the building of a helicopter to fly on another planet. “What I find most rewarding and challenging about the work I do is the chance to develop never-been-done-before autonomous systems for space exploration,” the JPL project manager for the Mars Helicoper shared by email. The miniature 4-pound, solar-powered helicopter is designed to fly for up to 90 seconds and is scheduled to travel with the Mars 2020 rover. And when it attempts to fly on the Red Planet in 2021 (and hopefully succeeds) it will solidify Aung’s place in the history books.

Source: kcet.org

Ex-Chemistry Teacher Becomes Richest Self-Made Woman in Asia

Former chemistry teacher Zhong Huijuan has become the wealthiest self-made woman in Asia with a $10.5 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The bulk of her wealth comes from her stake in Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group, China’s largest maker of psychotropic drugs, which soared 37 percent during its first day of trading in Hong Kong. Zhong, who founded Hansoh in 1995, overtook Longfor Group’s Chairman Wu Yajun to claim the self-made title. Zhong is the second-richest woman in Asia, trailing only Yang Huiyan, co-chairman of Country Garden Holdings, who inherited her fortune.

Source: bloomberg.com

Photo: PHOTO BY STEVE JENNINGS/GETTY IMAGES FOR TECHCRUNCH

Latinas on the Rise
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Selena Gomez smiling at the camera at a red carpet event

From the arts to activism, here are five Latina Woman that are making strides, breaking boundaries and that you should be paying attention to.

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is an American labor organizer and author. On August 12, 2019, Ramirez announced her intention to challenge incumbent United States Senator John Cornyn in the 2020 United States Senate election in Texas. Tzintzún began organizing with Latino immigrant workers in 2000 in Columbus, Ohio, and then moved to Texas. At graduating from University of Texas, Austin, she helped establish the Workers Defense Project (WDP), serving as its executive director from 2006 to 2016. Following the 2016 election, Ramirez launched Jolt, an organization that works to increase Latino voter turnout. Her bid for the Senate has been endorsed by New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Texas representative Joaquin Castro, and actor Alec Baldwin.

Mariah

A rising star in the male-dominated world of urbano (Ozuna, J Balvin, Bad Bunny), Mariah Angeliq, who goes simply by her first name, is here to prove that the girls can be bosses, too. On debut single “Blah,” the Miami-born and raised singer of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent lets the men know that their money (and their bragging) don’t impress her much, while her latest track “Perreito” is dripping with swag as she boasts about stealing the show with her flow as the one that shoots and never fails.

Lineisy Montero Feliz

Lineisy Montero Feliz is Dominican model known for her work with Prada. She is also known for her natural Afro hair. She currently ranks as one of the “Top 50” models in the fashion industry by models.com, including Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Roberto Cavalli, Versace and Céline.

Rico Nasty

Rico Nasty is one of the leading voices in the current style of hip-hop that adopts elements from hardcore and punk rock. Rico released a new song in January titled “IDGAF;” it’s built around softly echoing electric piano sounds and finds the DMV rapper in melodious sing-song mode.

Selena Gomez

The singer announced the summer launch of her cosmetics company, Rare Beauty, via Instagram on Feb. 4. The cosmetics company shares a title with her most recent album of the same name.

“Guys, I’ve been working on this special project for two years and can officially say Rare Beauty is launching in @sephora stores in North America this summer,” she captioned in the Instagram video.

“I think Rare Beauty can be more than a beauty brand,” the singer says in the video. “I want us all to stop comparing ourselves to each other and start embracing our own uniqueness. You’re not defined by a photo, a like, or a comment. Rare Beauty isn’t about how other people see you. It’s about how you see yourself.”

Selena Gomez Photo: TIBRINA HOBSON/GETTY IMAGES

Acker & Shah: Making Their Mark on Screen
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Movie Poster for Jungle Cry with Emily Shah running

Tanya Acker, judge on CBS’s popular court show Hot Bench, and Indian American actress Emily Shah, starring in the Indian film, Jungle Cry, each bring a strong feminine perspective to their individual roles—both on screen and in their passion projects; Acker with the Boy Scouts of America and Shaw with UNICEF, both among others.

Professional WOMAN’s Magazine (PWM) caught up with Acker and Shaw and spoke with each on their backgrounds and interests as well as their latest endeavors.

Tanya Acker

Tanya Acker serves as one of three judges on CBS’s syndicated court show Hot Bench, created by Judge Judy’s famed Judy Sheindlin. The program returned for its fifth season last September, and was the #3 first-run program in daytime television, delivering 3.2 million daily viewers, during its 2017-2018 season.

Acker, who is a Yale School graduate, is an experienced civil litigator who has represented a wide array of clients, from major automobile manufacturers in high stakes product liability litigation to media companies in hotly contested trade secret disputes. While at Yale, she represented low-income women in family law cases and served as a teaching assistant in Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure courses.

Today, Acker serves on the boards of Public Counsel, the nation’s largest provider of free legal services; the Western Justice Center, which promotes alternative dispute resolution; the Western Los Angeles County Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Pacific Battleship Center, which operates the Battleship USS Iowa Museum; and Rainbow Services, which provides shelter services to victims of domestic violence.

PWM: How did you first become interested in law?

Acker: I’ve always been interested in how systems work. Law school was a great opportunity to decipher the world while at the same time ensuring I’d be able to make a living and support myself.  My parents used to say that they lost the trust fund I never had ? I think it’s key that women have a plan for handling their lives.

PWM: What led you to be cast on Hot Bench?

Acker: CBS called me, Judy (Sheindlin) picked me. It was very exciting.

PWM: With more than 1,000 episodes finished, what has been your most memorable case/moment?

Acker: There are so many. Frankly, I never cease to be amazed at the attempts that people make to avoid doing something they should or to try to extract something from someone else that they don’t deserve. By the same token, I’m often pleasantly surprised by how generous people can be, both with their resources and their hearts. I think there are far more good people in the world than bad ones—it’s just that the bad ones make so much noise

PWM: How did you first get involved with the Boy Scouts of America? What inspired you to participate?

Acker: A local council (the Western Los Angeles County Council) had adopted an inclusive, non-discriminatory policy before the national body had, and they needed some legal and communications help and reached out to me.  Since then, the Scouts have become more inclusive nationally and I’ve become involved nationally. I’m so proud of their work—the Scouts provide youth leadership training like no other. Scouting doesn’t just inspire young people to get involved and make an impact in their communities, it provides them opportunities to do that. We offer experiences to young people that they often wouldn’t have unless they come from really privileged environments, and I’m excited to be a part of the work.

PWM: How does it feel to be working with America’s first graduating class of female Eagle Scouts?

Acker: It is a moment that inspires me. Girls have long been a part of the organization—now they will have the opportunity to attain the rank of Eagle. It’s magnificent.

PWM: Why do you feel it’s important for women to be part of the Boy Scouts of America?

Acker: Because opportunities should be open for women to do what they want to do!

PWM: In your opinion, conversely, should men be allowed to join the Girl Scouts of the United States of America?

Acker: I’ll leave that to the Girl Scouts, another great organization. Smart women let other smart women make their own rules ?

Emily Shah

Emily Shah is a 24-year-old Indian American actress and the daughter of famed Bollywood actor and director Prashant Shah. The Chicago-born, New Jersey-raised actress grew up on set for her father’s films and always felt an infatuation with both production and acting. She has been preparing for her big break since the age of five by training in dance and theatre classes. Her first film, Fortune Defies Death, premiered in 2018 in which she played one of the lead roles, Mona.

As a teenager, Shah started working in local pageants, commercials, and doing print work for Indian American brands. She got a job on the set of Jersey Boys as an assistant to Clint Eastwood and later assisted in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Monster Trucks, and Fast & Furious 7. A former Miss New Jersey in 2014, Shah is also the youngest contestant in the state’s history and the first Indian American at a Miss USA pageant.

Currently, Emily stars in the Indian film, Jungle Cry, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and received acclaim at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Based on a true story, the film follows a young team of rugby players who grow up in the slums of India and made worldwide history after winning the 2007 Rugby Nations Cup in England. Shah plays the team’s physiotherapist.

PWM: You have an extensive background in dance and working in local pageants, among others. You also mentioned you’re influenced by your multicultural background. Can you tell us more about that and what inspired you to pursue acting?

Shah: I always loved performing since I was a toddler. I got into dance at a very young age which lead to theater. I did local plays within my community and absolutely thrived whilst acting. I knew that it was my passion to perform for an audience and as I got older, I realized that because of my background, I wanted to reach an audience on an international level…what better way to do so then film? Especially in today’s digital age, the global audience is highly accessible and that excites me even more.

PWM: Can you tell us about Jungle Cry and your character in the film? What inspired you to take on the lead role?

Shah: Roshni is not only the sports physiotherapist. She is a mentor, a leader and a strong woman taking on a career in a male dominant field. Women in sports tend to have to deal with proving themselves in ways men don’t have to and we catch a glimpse of that in Jungle Cry. My character is the element that breaks down barriers while shining a light on the potential that these tribal and orphan boys have. I wanted to play Roshni because I knew that the film needed a woman’s dynamic. It gave me the opportunity to own my power as a female lead as well as giving a voice to women in the sports industry.

PWM: Jungle Cry is based on a true story. How was your experience portraying your character, how did you prepare?

Shah: Roshni is actually the only fictional character in Jungle Cry. The writers and director wrote her in specifically because there were no females in the original story from 2007, but that is not the world that we live in today. Today, women absolutely have a stance in the sports field and that should not go unnoticed. The film was also very male driven and it was missing the element of a feminine touch. I shadowed a rugby sports physio who was Canadian-Indian and studied/ worked in the UK with rugby players after graduating. That’s exactly what my character did as well. She studied in the UK, specifically focusing on rugby. I also did a lot of research about the actual sport, its origin and the most common injuries. I would prep with the on-set medic before a scene to make sure I was physically taking the correct steps while treating players.

PWM: Tell us about your experience as an upcoming actress in a typically male-dominated field. Do you face any challenges, and if so, how do you overcome them?

Shah: In almost any industry, women, especially of color, tend to face more challenges than males do. We live in a unique time where women are generating a voice and are standing their grounds on equality. It is inspiring to be an actress with everything going on in the entertainment industry at the moment, but I know my generation needs to do more to have actors of different ethnicities represented. I already notice the changes happening but I think we can do more. I hope one day, I can be in the producer’s chair, creating content that gives opportunities to diverse actors and talent.

PWM: We read you’re a UNICEF, Autism Awareness, and Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation ambassador. What have you accomplished through this, and are there other organizations you’re partnering with?

Shah: During the year that I campaigned with UNICEF’s End Polio campaign, India became Polio free. That was a huge accomplishment and I know UNICEF continues to strive to make other countries Polio free. I have worked with several charities over the years but during my time at The Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation, we raised over $2.5 million dollars and set up lounges in 38 different states. These lounges are able to make teenagers feel more comfortable while being treated at a pediatric hospital. We were also able to hold a “Prom Night” at the North Central Bronx hospital for the teenagers who couldn’t attend their own prom. It was a beautiful event. Working with several platforms has always been a goal of mine. Also, I hope to continue my work with UNICEF, specifically focusing on helping women in India.

PWM: What are some of your upcoming projects or films?

Shah: I am reviewing a few scripts at the moment, all which cater to international audiences.

BECOMING – OFFICIAL TRAILER
LinkedIn
Michelle Obama book jacket cover

BECOMING is an intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama during a moment of profound change, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House.

The film offers a rare and up-close look at her life, taking viewers behind the scenes as she embarks on a 34-city tour that highlights the power of community to bridge our divides and the spirit of connection that comes when we openly and honestly share our stories.

Film Release Date: May 6, 2020
Format: Original Documentary Feature

Directed by: Nadia Hallgren
Produced by: Katy Chevigny,
Marilyn Ness, & Lauren Cioffi
Co-Producer: Maureen A. Ryan
Executive Producers:
Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis

A NOTE FROM MICHELLE
I’m excited to let you know that on May 6, Netflix will release BECOMING, a documentary film directed by Nadia Hallgren that looks at my life and the experiences I had while touring following the release of my memoir. Those months I spent traveling—meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe—drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with.

In groups large and small, young and old, unique and united, we came together and shared stories, filling those spaces with our joys, worries, and dreams.

*BECOMING is the third release from Higher Ground Productions and Netflix*

For more information about the documentary visit, netflix.com/Becoming.

#IAmBecoming

‘Gentefied’ leading actresses talk about Spanglish, tacos and being ‘Latina enough’
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The cast from Gentefied are seated on a couch during an NBC interview

The three leading female stars of the new Netflix series “Gentefied”say there’s a reason why the bilingual, bicultural show has been so fun to make.

“It’s fun because it’s us,” says Karrie Martin, who grew up in a Honduran-American household and plays a young artist, Ana, on the show. “The world is now seeing what we see at home.”

The series, executive produced by America Ferrera, features three Mexican-American cousins living in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights in L.A.

They’re trying to figure out their own lives, which are intricately intertwined with their grandfather’s taco restaurant — and the struggle to keep the business viable amid rising rents and the slow gentrification of the neighborhood.

Annie Gonzalez, who plays Lidia, a Stanford-educated, brainy young woman on the show, was born and raised in East LA. She is now an actress in Hollywood, and uses her own life as an example of the show’s title, which is a play on words.

“If I were to go back and want to buy a piece of property, I would essentially be replacing or displacing a group of people that live there — for my benefit,” she said. That’s gentefication: the process by which more affluent Latinos are gentrifying working-class Latino neighborhoods. The title is a play on the words gente, which means people in Spanish, and gentrification.

The issue of younger, affluent professionals displacing working-class Latino families is an ongoing issue in several parts of the country, whether it’s in Brooklyn, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The show delves into serious topics about work, gender, economics and family, but with humor. It’s also one of the few shows that move seamlessly between languages, with the older Latinos speaking Spanish to the younger generation, who answer in English.

The bilingual nature of the series is personal for Gonzalez who, as a fifth-generation Mexican-American, didn’t learn Spanish at home because her family was reluctant to teach it.

“We were forced to assimilate,” said Gonzalez. “My grandma would get hit if she spoke Spanish in school.”

“Gentefied” deals with the themes of Latino identity and authenticity, which Gonzalez said were relatable for her. Growing up, she experienced being questioned by other Latinos over whether she was embarrassed by her culture or how Mexican she really was.

“I couldn’t be more Mexican if I tried,” she said.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

Netflix Premieres First Ever Documentary About Black Women CEOs
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multiple images of the stars of She Did That Netflix series

Black women CEOs and entrepreneurs are the stars of the newest Netflix documentary called She Did That. Filmmaker and blogger Renae L. Bluitt created the documentary to promote a more accurate representation in the media of Black female business owners.

She Did That is Bluitt’s first cinematic project, and as a digital content creator and PR consultant, she has been writing about the entrepreneurial pursuits of Black women on her blog, In Her Shoes, for nearly a decade. But now the topic is being brought to the world’s attention via the world’s most popular streaming service.

The film revolves around the lives of four Black women entrepreneurs, their journeys, and how they face issues such as the funding gap for Black women. Inspired by #BlackGirlMagic, Bluitt wanted to show how Black women turn challenges into opportunities and become an inspiration to the next generation.

“As the fastest group of entrepreneurs in this country, [Black women] are literally turning water into wine in spite of the many obstacles we face on our entrepreneurial journeys. This film was created to let the world know what it really takes to be a successful Black woman entrepreneur in this world. Platforms like social media only show us the results and the highlights, but “She Did That” pulls back the curtain to reveal how and why we do it,” Bluitt told Forbes.

She Did That highlights the perseverance and determination of Lisa Price, the founder of hair care brand Carol’s Daughter; Melissa Butler, the founder of beauty brand The Lip Bar; Tonya Rapley, the founder of My Fab Finance; and Luvvie Ajayi, a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and digital strategist.

For the project, Bluitt intentionally hired a camera crew of Black women as well as production staff, assistants, and researchers for filming locations. In addition, after almost 2 years of filming, the documentary premiered at a sold-out screening event at ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans. It has since been screened at several HBCUs and other cities in partnership with organizations that cater to Black women.

Bluitt said she is overwhelmed with the opportunity to partner with Netflix. Now with a wider audience, she hopes that the film willl touch more Black women’s lives.

“I want women to know that even the most successful women in business have experienced the challenges and obstacles they face while building their brands. We all make mistakes, learn from them, and stop to refuel or keep going even stronger. I want women to know they are not alone in their fears and the biggest takeaway is this – if the women in this film can do it, you can do it, too!”

Stream it now on Netflix by visiting netflix.com/title/81194454

Continue on to Black Business to read the complete article.

Upcoming Events

  1. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020

Upcoming Events

  1. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020