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.

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
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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.

ViacomCBS And The Association Of National Advertisers’ Seeher Movement To Honor And Celebrate Women’s History Month With Activations Throughout March
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international group of happy smiling different women

ViacomCBS and its family of networks have once again committed to a robust campaign supporting the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) SEEHER movement to increase accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising, marketing, media and entertainment.

“SEEHER is a movement near and dear to my heart, and I am thrilled that we now have the full power of ViacomCBS to promote SEEHER and its important mission of portraying women and girls accurately in media, advertising and marketing,” said Jo Ann Ross, President and Chief Advertising Revenue Officer, ViacomCBS Domestic Advertising Sales. “We value the opportunity to work with our brand partners, who share our passion for this mission, to help lead this movement during Women’s History Month and all year long.”

“CBS and Viacom have actively supported SEEHER across their portfolios since our launch in 2016,” said Nadine Karp McHugh, president, ANA SEEHER. “They leaned in early and continue to promote the movement with extensive cross-platform integrations.”

The activations planned across ViacomCBS throughout the month of March and beyond include the following:

• CBS will pay tribute to seven trailblazing women who are prime examples of what it means to challenge and overcome stereotypes and biases in their industries. They will be introduced in a series of CBS CARES public service announcements in primetime on the CBS Television Network throughout March.

The honorees and CBS talent introducing them in the PSAs include:

o Cheryl Crazy Bull  by CBS EVENING NEWS anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell
o Alejandra Y. Castillo by ALL RISE’s Jessica Camacho and Lindsay Mendez
o Senator Tammy Duckworth by THE TALK’s Carrie Ann Inaba
o NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir by ALL RISE’s Ruthie Ann Miles
o Judge Jane Bolin by ALL RISE’s Marg Helgenberger and Simone Missick

These PSAs will also be featured on cbscares.tv, SeeHer.com and other CBS websites and shared on social media. In support of SEEHER and Women’s History Month, several SEEHER member brands will be sponsoring these extended PSAs including AT&T, Clorox, Ford, Georgia Pacific, L’Oreal, P&G and WW.

Cheryl Crazy Bull
Cheryl Crazy Bull – President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund

• Pluto TV has launched a 10-week Pop-Up channel in partnership with SEEHER. The premium, curated channel will offer viewers 40+ hours of programming featuring accurate and strong portrayals of women from programming spanning the ViacomCBS portfolio and beyond, including “Younger,” “Broad City,” “Hot in Cleveland” and “Being Mary Jane,” among others. Brand partners supporting the channel on behalf of SEEHER include Hershey’s, Verizon and WW.

• Three unique PSAs will air across MTV, VH1, CMT, Comedy Central, TV Land and Paramount. The first, featuring Bebe Rexha, launched on Feb. 1. This content was also distributed socially on MTV and CMT’s Facebook pages and VH1 and CMT’s Twitter handles. Brand partners supporting this campaign include AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, P&G, Hershey, Kellogg’s, L’Oréal and Walmart.

About ViacomCBS
ViacomCBS (NASDAQ: VIAC; VIACA) is a leading global media and entertainment company that creates premium content and experiences for audiences worldwide. Driven by iconic consumer brands, its portfolio includes CBS, Showtime Networks, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, CBS All Access, Pluto TV and Simon & Schuster, among others. The company delivers the largest share of the U.S. television audience and boasts one of the industry’s most important and extensive libraries of TV and film titles. In addition to offering innovative streaming services and digital video products, ViacomCBS provides powerful capabilities in production, distribution and advertising solutions for partners on five continents.

About SEEHER
Despite strides made in recent years to accurately portray women and girls in media, unconscious bias persists throughout advertising and entertainment. The average age, race, and body type of women depicted in media today still represent only a small fraction of the female population. Led by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), SEEHER is a collective of leading marketers committed to creating advertising and supporting content that portrays women and girls as they really are. It launched in June 2016 in partnership with The Female Quotient (The FQ) in Washington, D.C. at the United State of Women. To help marketers benchmark success, the group developed Gender Equality Measure™ (GEM™), the first research methodology that quantifies gender bias in ads and programming. GEM shows that content portraying women accurately dramatically increases purchase intent and brand reputation, increasing return on investment by as much as 30 percent. GEM won the prestigious 2017 ESOMAR Research Effectiveness Award, and the methodology became the industry standard, which led to a global rollout in 2018. In 2019 the movement expanded into new verticals, including sports (#SeeHerInSports) and music (#SeeHerHearHer.) Visit SeeHer.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @SeeHer2020.

About the ANA
The ANA (Association of National Advertisers)’s mission is to drive growth for marketing professionals, for brands and businesses, and for the industry. Growth is foundational for all participants in the ecosystem. The ANA seeks to align those interests by leveraging the 12-point ANA Masters Circle agenda, which has been endorsed and embraced by the ANA Board of Directors and the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of more than 1,600 domestic and international companies, including over 1,000 client-side marketers and nonprofit fundraisers and 600 marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). Collectively, ANA member companies represent 20,000 brands, engage 50,000 industry professionals, and invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.

Jane Fonda Made a Powerful Statement With Her 2020 Oscars Dress and Coat
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Jane Fonda wears red dress and carries red coat on the red carpet

Jane Fonda knows how to make a fashion statement. The Grace and Frankie star looked stunning while presenting the award for Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars, and she made every single detail of her outfit count. The 82-year-old actress stepped onto the stage at the 92nd Academy Awards in a ruby red, beaded Elie Saab gown with a red coat and a gray pixie haircut.

As part of her fight against climate change, Jane chose to wear the long-sleeve, open back dress for a second time after originally debuting it at the 67th International Cannes Film Festival in 2014.

The activist also added a simple, yet powerful touch with her now-famous red coat. Back in November, she declared it was “the last article of clothing” she would ever buy.

“When I talk to people and say, ‘We don’t really need to keep shopping. We shouldn’t look to shopping for our identity. We don’t need more stuff,’ I have to walk the talk,” she said on Capitol Hill. “So I’m not buying any more clothes.” Since then, the coat has accompanied her to a handful of protests and subsequently, to jail.

And to pack the final punch, the former fitness guru traded in her signature blonde bob for a silver pixie cut. She was also considerate about donning Pomellato jewelry “because it only uses responsible, ethically harvested gold and sustainable diamonds.”

Fans watching the 2020 Oscars from home applauded Jane for speaking her mind wherever she goes.

“So beautiful and true to her beliefs! Thanks for standing up for our Earth!” one person wrote on Instagram. “YES our environmentally conscious queen,” another added. “You look so powerful in that dress ❤️?” a fan commented.

Continue on to Good Housekeeping to read the complete article.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira delivered a red-hot Super Bowl halftime performance in Miami
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Jennifer Lopez Super Bowl draped in Puerto Rican flag during Halftime show

The Latina powerhouses were joined on stage by J Balvin and Lopez’s daughter.

Ever since Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were announced as headlining the Super Bowl LIV Halftime show, it was expected that the two would bring the Latino Power, and the singers did not disappoint.

The divas delivered a nearly 15-minute performance that began with Shakira, who opened with “She Wolf,” followed by a medley of her hit songs, including “Whenever, Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie.” Viewers at home and in the stadium were surprised to hear Shakira launch into “I Like It,” the song made famous by Cardi B., until Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny, who was featured on the track, joined in on a Super Bowl remix of sorts. Shakira also wowed with her guitar playing — or slaying — skills, nodding to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” as she belly danced atop a fiery projection.

J. Lo’s performance followed with a demonstration of her pole dancing talents, courtesy of the movie “Hustlers,” in which she stars. It was just one of a dozen-plus choreographed pieces which showed her versatility as a performer and, yes, as a singer. Among her greatest hits mini-set were the classics “Jenny from the Block” followed by snippets of “I’m Real,” and “Get Right.” She then changed into a silver and nude one-piece and launched into “Waiting for Tonight.”

Colombian artist J Balvin joined Lopez for a performance of “Que Calor,” while she sang “Love Don’t Cost a Thing.” The two switched to “Mi Gente,” on which Balvin collaborates on with Beyoncé, who was also in the building. As Balvin exited the stage, Lopez went into “On the Floor” and touched hands with her daughter Emme, who led as a vocalist in a chorus of children performing a slowed-down moving version of “Let’s Get Loud.” This was followed by Emme, whose father is Marc Anthony (also present in the stadium), delivering the chorus to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Referencing her own heritage, Lopez was draped in a coat bearing the Puerto Rican flag.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

Michelle Obama Is On Her Way To Becoming An EGOT
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Michelle Obama dresses in all white giving a thumbs up sign

Our forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama is officially a member of the Grammy family, and on her way to the coveted EGOT status, meaning she’s earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award.

On Sunday, Obama won Best Spoken Word Album for the audio recording of her New York Times bestselling memoir, Becoming, which chronicles her life, from her childhood in Chicago to her days in the White House. Released in 2018, the book has held a place on the bestsellers list for 58 weeks.

The Best Spoken Word Album award goes to noteworthy audiobooks, storytelling and poetry recordings. Other nominees in the category included, National Poetry Slam winner Sekou Andrews and the Beastie Boys. Although Obama wasn’t there to collect her golden gramophone, jazz singer and fellow Grammy winner Esperanza Spaulding graciously accepted it on her behalf.

Snagging this honor from the recording academy puts Obama in good company with Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr. and her husband Barack Obama. The former president is a two-time Grammy winner for Dreams From My Father (2006) and The Audacity of Hope (2008).

Obama is the second first lady to add the Best Spoken Word trophy to her mantle. In 1997, Hillary Clinton received the award for the audiobook of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.

Although this is Obama’s first Grammy win, in 2012 she landed a nod for her audiobook American Grown. But she didn’t actually record the audio for that book.

Snagging this honor from the recording academy puts Obama in good company with Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr. and her husband Barack Obama. The former president is a two-time Grammy winner for Dreams From My Father (2006) and The Audacity of Hope (2008).

Obama is the second first lady to add the Best Spoken Word trophy to her mantle. In 1997, Hillary Clinton received the award for the audiobook of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.

Although this is Obama’s first Grammy win, in 2012 she landed a nod for her audiobook American Grown. But she didn’t actually record the audio for that book.

Fans must wait until the Oscars on Sunday, February 9 to see if Obama gets another step closer to the small group of celebrities enjoying rare EGOT air. There’s only 15 people who have the honor, and only two Black entertainers—Whoopi Goldberg and John Legend.

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
    August 3, 2020 - August 6, 2020
  2. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  3. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020

Upcoming Events

  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
    August 3, 2020 - August 6, 2020
  2. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  3. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020