HBO’s Watchmen Premiere: All The Big References To The Original Comic Book

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Watchmen promo

One of the most revered books out there, comic or otherwise, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen is the inspirational touchstone for HBO’s newest TV drama from The Leftovers’ Damon Lindelof.

The Watchmen TV show is a current-day sequel to the original tale, though taking place in a different location and centering on mostly different characters. Regardless of the differences, a plethora of comic-friendly references and easter eggs were infused throughout Watchmen’s premiere as plot-setting connective tissue.

Below is a list of all the big Watchmen comic references that showed up in the TV show’s premiere episode, titled “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice.” From follow-up weirdness to the main story’s shock ending to the appearance of a certain blue superhero, Watchmen was a smorgasbord of “Wait, did you catch that?” moments that deserve quick rewinds. And without further ado, here’s a mostly sequential order of the biggest comic-inspired highlights. (Check here if you need a new copy).

The Blood On The Boy’s Face

Once the orphaned boy wakes up in the field, following that harrowing opening, he has a splotch of blood on his head that definitely feels like a reference to the blood on The Comedian’s button that kicks off Watchmen and serves as one of its most identifiable symbols. This particular reference comes up very obviously at the end of the episode, but it’s worth pointing out that Damon Lindelof also found a way to work a bloodied face into the start of his story. Metaphors abound.

Mirrored Storytelling

The millionth reason Watchmen remains a celebrated and respected work is because Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were so meticulous about filling the comics with reflected and repeated art, dialogue and situations; examples include Chapter 5’s palindromic nature, Doctor Manhattan’s photograph obsession, the somewhat prescient Black Freighter text and much more.

Beyond all of the Rorschach masks that don’t move, HBO’s Watchmen already made some use of this narrative style in its opening episode. The biggest example, of course, would be the episode starting off with a celebratory film strip of a heroic black man roping up a foul white dude, and then ending with a potentially wicked black man looking very much like he hung a white lawman from a tree. To top it off, the guy in the wheelchair was holding the same note as the kid from the beginning, indicating that this is either a near-impossibly old version of that kid, or perhaps his son. Who’s the hero here?

Electric Cars

Within the alternate world of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, it would appear that all vehicles are powered electrically, with zero reliance on gasoline for fuel. Though the TV premiere doesn’t take viewers into an assortment of planes, trains and automobiles, it looks like the world help steady with electric car power since the main narrative’s timeline, without the need to revert back to cruder forms.

Rorschach Mask And Journal

Yes, this is one of the most obvious entries on this list, and it won’t be the last one. It’s still worth mentioning that the Seventh Cavalry was founded on the basis of Rorschach’s worldview, and the white supremacist cult uses his signature mask as a unifying symbol (and disguise). Is his journal their Bible, or more of a manifesto?
Masks As “Faces”

Throughout Watchmen’s comic story, Rorschach refers to his mask only as his “face,” particularly whenever he gets arrested and has it taken from him. On the Watchmen TV series, Don Johnson’s Judd tells Tim Blake Nelson’s Looking Glass, “Pull your face down,” in reference to the latter slipping his reflective mask back on. It’s interesting that Damon Lindelof has the authorities using that wording, as opposed to only the Seventh Cavalry adopting it.

Doctor Manhattan Appears

Watchmen’s mystery-laden build-up kept fans in the dark on how many original characters would appear on the HBO show, and thankfully, the pilot doesn’t get too far before dropping some concrete proof that Doctor Manhattan is still on Mars, and has been for the past 30+ years.

Doctor Manhattan showed up on a news program via satellite footage, in which he could be seen destroying a large and elaborate castle he’d created. (Find out more about that from my interview with director and EP Nicole Kassell.) In general, the situation echoed the blue being’s Mars structure in the comic, although in the TV show, Manhattan’s castle appeared to be a mock-up of the dwelling that Jeremy Irons’ character (almost definitely Adrian Veidt) lives in. Very interesting.

Vietnam, Robert Redford And More

It would have been strange had HBO’s Watchmen changed things up here, but it was confirmed early on that Vietnam is still the 51st state in the U.S., and the American flag represents that with an alternate look. Regina King’s Angela was born outside of Saigon, which is a somewhat deeper connection to the country than the brutal scene in the source material with The Comedian and Doctor Manhattan.

Robert Redford (currently sorta retired in our world) is still the President of the U.S. in Watchmen’s universe after a slew of successive terms, and his predecessor Richard Nixon is part of Mouth Rushmore’s quartet. Redford has his detractors for sure, earning him the name “Sundance-in-Chief.”

Smiley Faces

As mentioned already, The smiley face button is an iconic symbol within Watchmen’s pages, with The Comedian’s yellow button echoed in a variety of ways. The same goes for HBO’s Watchmen, of course. Beyond a few arguable examples, the most overt visual smiley reference occurred when Regina King’s Angela showed her class how to make moon cakes. With the camera below a glass mixing bowl, Angela cracked a bunch of eggs, and after the yolks initially resembled a yellow Rorschach design, they quickly settled into the smiley face layout. Notice that “bloodied eye,” too.

Clocks

The Doomsday Clock is another one of Watchmen’s central visual anchors, and the TV show picks up where the comic book left off. Nine times out of ten, if a clock appears on the screen, it’s going to be set between 11:00 and 12:00, in reference to the atomic age catastrophe monitor. In the school, for instance, It looked as if the clock was somewhere around 11:25 a.m. Everyone should be probably be worried when we start seeing times much closer to 12:00.

It’s also no coincidence that the Seventh Cavalry uses adopted a clock’s sounds as its troubling chant: “Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.” (Though I do wonder why maybe-Veidt’s pocketwatch didn’t follow suit.)

Squids Are Everywhere

Watchmen’s comic book conclusion remains bizarrely surreal all these years later, and Damon Lindelof addresses the Veidt’s squid catastrophe in a big and mysterious way. Though it was one gigantic squid creature that Veidt transported to New York, the TV show’s characters dealt with a temporary rain storm, only with tiny living squids serving as the raindrops.

A squid storms seems like one of the most hilariously disturbing events that could happen in any given day, but Watchmen’s characters are clearly used to it. Angela is quick to get out and wipe the windshield, and there are city cleaning vehicles that were created specifically for removing squids from the streets. But how did things get to this point?

The Minutemen

Within the Watchmen mythos, the first team of vigilante heroes was called the Minutemen, which is with whom The Comedian made a name for himself, both as a hero and as a rapist. (The first versions of Nite Owl and Silk Spectre were also involved.) Much controversy swirled around the various Minutemen members, and within HBO’s Watchmen, those more sordid stories are being showcased through the dramatized TV anthology American Hero Story, a distinctly different AHS than the one airing on FX.

Dirigibles

One of the more curiously unexplained details within Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen is the pronounced use of skybound dirigibles, often with ads emblazoned. The transportation method made an appearance in HBO’s Watchmen, too, promoting the American Hero Story series.

Continue on to Cinema Blend to read the complete article.

1st Filipina American to Win Miss USA
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Miss USA 2022 Winner R’Bonney Gabriel Stands with her crown on - presented to her on stage at the MIss USA Contest

Miss Texas R’Bonney Gabriel made history this week as the first Filipina American to be crowned Miss USA. She also designed her own dress to honor…

Gabriel, a 28-year-old fashion designer from San Antonio, Texas, will go on to represent the U.S. next year at the Miss Universe pageant. Gabriel said she designed her dress to pay tribute to her heritage and parents.

“My mom is from Beaumont, Texas, and my father is from the Philippines,”  Gabriel wrote in an Instagram post. “They got married in Manila, Philippines. I hand-painted the same flower design from my mother’s wedding dress onto my sleeves and tied in a traditional Maria Clara Filipina collar shape. I have immense gratitude for the [opportunities] my parents provided me and wanted to express my love to them through this.”

 

Read the full article on NBC Los Angeles Web Site

Zendaya Makes Emmy History Once Again as Youngest Producing Nominee for ‘Euphoria’
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Zendaya poses with head looking over shoulders smiling

By , Rolling Stone

Zendaya made history in 2020 when she became the youngest woman — and only the second Black woman (after Viola Davis) — to win in the lead drama actress category at the age of 24. Now, with the 2022 Emmy nods out, Zendaya, has made history yet again as the youngest producer to be nominated for an award after Euphoria’s Outstanding Drama Series nod. Zendaya serves as both a star and executive producer on the series.

The general drama series nod comes as she received three other nominations for her role as Rue Bennett in the HBO drama. She was, once again, nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series and also received two nods for Outstanding Original Music for both “Elliot’s Song” with Dominic Fike, and”I’m Tired” with Labrinth.

In the Lead Actress category, she faces off against Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, Ozark‘s Laura Linney, Yellowjackets’ Melanie Lynskey, and Morning Show‘s Reese Witherspoon.

Meanwhile, Euphoria is nominated for the Outstanding Drama Series category against Better Call Saul, Ozark, Severance, Squid Game, Stranger Things, Succession, and Yellowjackets. (Squid Game is the first non-English-language series to be nominated for the prize.)

The list of “firsts” doesn’t end there for the Oakland-born star. With her nominations, she’s also the first Black woman (and only second Black person) to receive both songwriting and acting nods in the same year.

More history could be made next year by Zendaya as she revealed in a recent interview with Vogue Italia that not only does she want to direct, but she “probably” will direct a future episode of Euphoria. “I was supposed to direct Episode 6 [of Season 2], but then I had to act in it,” she said in the interview. “I didn’t have enough time, so, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to this time around. I wanted to have enough time to do it the right way, so next season probably.”

Click here to read the full article on the Rolling Stone.

Simone Biles Makes History as the Youngest to Receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom
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Joe Biden putting the Presidential Medal of Freedom award on Simone Biles

By Njera Perkins, Pop Sugar

Simone Biles continues to break records and make history. On July 7, the 25-year-old Olympian, along with 16 other honorees, received the esteemed Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor — making her the youngest person to ever do so, according to President Joe Biden.

Beyond being a world-renowned gymnast, Biles was honored as a “prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault,” the White House previously announced.

“Today, [Biles] adds to her medal count of 32 — I don’t know if you’re going to find room,” President Biden joked during his remarks at the White House. Biden then praised Biles for her ability “to turn personal pain into a greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” During the award ceremony, Biles wore a bright smile and black tweed blazer dress as Biden placed her medal around her neck, and her fiancé, Jonathan Owens, was there to cheer her on from the front row.

Biles was honored alongside other recipients like Megan Rapinoe and Denzel Washington, though the latter wasn’t present for the ceremony due to a positive COVID test, CNN reported. The actor will be awarded his medal at a later date.

Over the years, Biles has shattered glass ceilings in the sports world and become the most decorated gymnast in world championship history. Now, her latest accomplishment only solidifies that she’s a true trailblazer. Ahead, check out more photos of her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.

Click here to read the full article on Pop Sugar.

Rihanna is now worth $1.4 billion–making her America’s youngest self made billionaire woman
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Rihanna on the cover of Professional Woman's Magazine. Rihanna attends a Fenty event in February 2020 in an orange turtle neck. she is now america's youngest female self made billionaire.

By Megan Sauer, CNBC

The youngest self-made billionaire woman in the U.S. didn’t grow up in a Manhattan high rise or the Hollywood Hills. Instead, Rihanna amassed her fortune from her own music and entrepreneurial ventures.

Recently, the 34-year-old singer and Fenty Beauty CEO graced Forbes’ annual list of America’s richest self-made women for the third year in a row. She ranked 21st overall, and is the list’s only billionaire under age 40. Some of Rihanna’s $1.4 billion net worth is from her successful music career. Most of it is from her three retail companies: Fenty Beauty, Fenty Skin and Savage X Fenty.

In March, Bloomberg reported Savage X Fenty lingerie was working with advisors on an IPO that could potentially be valued at $3 billion. Rihanna owns 30% of that company. She also owns half of Fenty Beauty, which generated $550 million in revenue in 2020. The other half of the company is owned by French luxury fashion conglomerate LVMH.

The numbers are impressive, but Rihanna has said that her focus isn’t on valuations and accolades. In 2019, she told The New York Times’ T Magazine that because she never planned on making a fortune, reaching financial milestones was “not going to stop me from working.”

The nine-time Grammy Award winner also said she wants to give that money away to causes that matter, anyway. “My money is not for me; it’s always the thought that I can help someone else,” she said. “The world can really make you believe that the wrong things are priority, and it makes you really miss the core of life, what it means to be alive.”

In 2012, Rihanna started a philanthropy fund, the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF). It aims to “support and fund groundbreaking education and climate resilience initiatives,” according to its website.

One of its first initiatives, which launched a year after the foundation began, raised $60 million for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS through sales from the singer’s lipstick line with MAC Cosmetics. And in January, CLF paired up with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s #SmartSmall initiative to donate a combined $15 million to 18 different climate justice groups.

That money is meant for organizations “focused on and led by women, youth, Black, Indigenous, people of color and LGBTQIA+ communities” in the U.S. and Caribbean, according to CLF’s website.

“At the [CLF], much of the work is rooted in the understanding that climate disasters, which are growing in frequency and intensity, do not impact all communities equally, with communities of color and island nations facing the brunt of climate change,” Rihanna said in a January statement.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Former TV News Producer Showcases Latin Culture With New Series ‘Gordita Chronicles’
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Former TV News Producer Showcases Latin Culture With New Series ‘ Gordita Chronicles '

By Elizabeth Chavolla, NBC Los Angeles

Working in the newsroom helped her become a better series writer, said Claudia Forestieri, creator of the new comedy “Gordita Chronicles.”

“By day I was a full time journalist and by night an aspiring series writer,” Forestieri told Telemundo 52, as she recalled the years she worked as a reporter, an assignment editor, and a news produce for various Telemundo stations.

“Telemundo helped me become a TV writer. When we do news, you have to pitch stories every day, and if your story didn’t get picked, you can’t sit and cry about it, you have to keep pitching ideas, know how to meet a deadline, and able to summarize a story quickly, so news prepared me well to be a TV series writer,” said Forestieri.

I wanted to showcase the life of the immigrant that is never shown, the fun side, the happy side, the positive side, and show the wonderful things about the Latin culture and how our culture and the American culture can come together and create a beautiful community.

And even though she loved being a journalist, her heart’s desire was becoming a writer for a television series, and nine years later, after years of sacrifice, tears, sleepless nights, and being almost 3,000 miles away from her family, the Dominican immigrant created a series that has received support from HBO Max and the actresses and executive producers, Eva Longoria and Zoe Saldaña.

IT WASN’T EASY
“I started from scratch. I didn’t have any contacts; I didn’t know anyone in this industry. I sacrificed a lot, I missed many weddings, vacations, but in the end my family understood.

Forestieri, who left Miami at age 35, said arriving to the West Coast with a mission forced her to prepare for the challenge she was about to face. “I had to fall in love with the journey. I had to learn to be a better writer, take classes.”

THE SERIES “GORDITA CHRONICLES”
After having been accepted into several writing programs, in 2018 Forestieri did her first screenwriting job, and in 2019 she collaborated on the Netflix series Selena.

Then in 2021, Right during the pandemic, HBO Max announced they had chosen the series “Gordita Chronicles”, and that Zoe Saldaña and Eva Longoria would become the executive producers of this project.

Inspired by the life of Forestieri, the protagonist of “Gordita Chronicles”, Carlota, “Cucú” Castilli (Olivia Goncalvez), is a 12-year-old girl who, along with her parents and older sister, left the Dominican Republic to pursue the American Dream in 1985 after her father, an airline marketing executive, got transferred to Miami.

The series shows how young Cucú faces the challenges of being an immigrant in a new world, showing her courage, humor, mischief, as well as the importance of her culture and family.

“I wanted to write a script that was personal. I was an immigrant girl, I wanted a better life, I had to learn a new language, a new lifestyle in a new country, and make new friends,” said Forestieri.

“I wanted to reflect the life of the immigrant that is never shown, the fun side, the happy side, the positive side, and show the wonderful things about the Latin culture and how our culture and the American culture can come together and create a beautiful community,” she added.

The writer added that most immigrants who arrive to a new country “want a better life, they want the country to be better” and that is precisely what the series will show.

Click here to read the full article on NBC Los Angeles.

Tracee Ellis Ross Partners With Non Profit To Support Black Women-Owned Businesses
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Tracee Ellis Ross on the cover of Professional WOMAN'S Magazine

By Angela Johnson, The Root

She’s already crushing the beauty game with her PATTERN line of hair care products and accessories. Now actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross is teaming up with the non-profit Buy From A Black Woman (BFABW) and H&M USA to inspire and support other Black women business owners. According to a June 13 press release, H&M will partner with Buy From A Black Woman for the second year in a row to shine a light on Black women-owned businesses. And this time, Ross will serve as the non-profit’s ambassador.

In a June 10 sit-down with Buy From a Black Woman founder Nikki Porcher at H&M’s LA showroom, Ross shared her advice on achieving success with other young Black female entrepreneurs. “I am proud to help support Buy From a Black Woman and the incredible network of business owners they’ve brought together,” Ross said. “Black women and their contributions are often overlooked, which is why it’s crucial for us to come together to build, strengthen and create our own opportunities for success.”

Buy From A Black Woman launched in 2016 with a mission of providing Black women with all of the tools they need for success, including educational programming, an online directory and funding. In the second year of their partnership, H&M USA plans to donate $250,000 to BFABW and provide sponsorship for the Buy From a Black Woman Inspire Tour, which will place products from Black women-owned businesses on shelves in select H&M stores across the country.

BFABW founder Nikki Porcher says she believes Ross is one of the best advocates for the cause of supporting businesses owned by Black women. “It’s hard to describe in words what it means to have Tracee Ellis Ross as an ambassador for Buy From A Black Woman. This year we are celebrating and showing the world that Black Women are living examples. I couldn’t think of a better example to help us spread our message of just how important it is to buy from and support Black Women Business Owners better than Ms. Ross. We are truly honored to work with her and to continue our partnership with H&M,” she said.

Click here to read the full article on The Root.

Jennifer Hudson Becomes an EGOT at the 2022 Tony Awards as She Wins for A Strange Loop
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Jennifer Hudson on the red carpet in a black off the shoulder gown

By Jen Juneau, People

Jennifer Hudson has officially achieved EGOT status! The actress and singer clinched her first-ever Tony Award on Sunday evening, when A Strange Loop won best musical. (Hudson, 40, serves as a producer on the show.) It was the final trophy she needed to complete the EGOT quartet of having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

Hudson won her first of the big four awards, an Oscar, for her role in 2007’s Dreamgirls. She is a two-time Grammy winner, having nabbed her first one for her 2009 self-titled album. The American Idol alum went on to score a Daytime Emmy last year, for the animated short Baba Yaga, which she co-produced and lent her voice to.

Hudson previously joked when asked about her plans to achieve EGOT status, “I should get two more dogs.”

“I got a dog and named it Oscar, and then I won my Oscar. And then I got a dog and named it Grammy, and then I won my Grammy,” she said at the time. “So I think I should get some dogs and name them Emmy and Tony — and it’ll give me good luck, and I’ll win. [They’re] like my good luck charms.”

Presented by the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing, the annual Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre (as the Tonys are officially known) recognize the highest honor in U.S. theater — the equivalent of TV’s Emmys, music’s Grammys or the film industry’s Oscars. It’s a necessary award in achieving EGOT, the grand slam of show business.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Who Is Johnny Depp’s Latina Lawyer, Camille Vasquez?
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Camille Vasquez wearing all white in a courtroom

By Yamily Habib, Be Latina

Forget Amber Heard or the trial circus that the legal battle between the actress and movie icon Johnny Depp has become. The real star is Camille Vasquez, Depp’s lawyer who has gone viral on social media, inspiring thousands of Latinas around the world.

As USA Today explained, Vasquez, 37, is one of Depp’s nine lawyers in his $100 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Heard. Today, she is almost as big a social media phenomenon as the two protagonists in one of the most widely followed lawsuits in recent years.

Born in San Francisco to Cuban and Colombian parents, Camille Vasquez graduated in 2006 from the University of Southern California and in 2010 from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, the BBC explained.

For the past four years, she has been an associate at Brown Rudnick, the high-profile law firm hired by Johnny Depp to represent him in his $50 million defamation case against Heard. Vasquez is one of nine lawyers at the firm involved in the trial.

She specializes in litigation and arbitration, focusing on representing plaintiffs in defamation cases, and in 2021, she was named one of Best Lawyer magazine’s “One to Watch” lawyers.

She previously assisted Depp in claims against his former lawyer Jake Bloom and his former business manager Joel Mandel.

Today, the hashtag #camillevasquez has more than 980 million impressions on TikTok. A video of her quick objections to Heard’s lead attorney Elaine Bredehoft had nearly 30 million views.

The two-minute TikTok video of her courtroom interruptions with the caption “where did this woman get her degree?” coincided with a 1,820% increase in Google searches for Southwestern Law School, Vasquez’s alma mater, research from the higher education website Erudera shows.

Similarly, thousands of Latina law students have been inspired by Camille Vasquez to continue fighting for their dreams.

“Had to meet Camille Vasquez and tell her what an inspiration she is to so many Latinas!” gushed Carol Dagny (@caritodagny) on TikTok. To which Andrea (@b.andrea111) replied: “As a Latina entering my final year of law school, no one has gotten me as excited to join the field like she has!”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Pierrah Hilaire On Going Viral Teaching Her TikTok Followers About Black Fashion Brands
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Pierrah Hilaire wearing orange for her article On Going Viral Teaching Her TikTok Followers About Black Fashion Brands

By Robyn Mowatt, Okay Player

Pierrah Hilaire, a Brooklyn-based content creator, was on TikTok before the platform forced its way into the fashion conversation and became a go-to source for people to keep an eye on growing (and dying) trends. But she noticed a problem: that most of the creators behind “Fashion Tok” as she calls it were mostly filled with white creators who also weren’t highlighting the brands — especially Black ones — she admires and enjoys. So, she decided to fill a void and share the brands she had an affinity for, making her TikTok account a popular destination to learn about Black-owned brands and designer pieces in the process.

Originally from Miami, Florida, Hilaire’s roots in fashion stem from her parents; her father was always stylish, while her mother modeled in New York City during her twenties.

“I’ve been obsessed with fashion ever since I could remember because of my parents,” she said over a Zoom call. “I’ve always loved [it].”

Hilaire began modeling as a teen; as she got older, she began dreaming of moving to New York and working in fashion in some capacity, inspired by all of the blogs she voraciously read about New York-based designers.

“The plan was to just go to medical school and stay in Florida,” she said when speaking of her life before taking the leap and moving to New York City. Even as she was studying psychology and putting in work at clinics, Hilaire was still making time for modeling.

“[I went] to school and studied,” she said. “There were times I would even go to clinics and help the physicians in the hospital. But then, I would have my bikini underneath and run to the beach for castings.”

In 2018, she decided to put her medical school ambitions behind her and told her parents she was relocating to New York (Brooklyn) to pursue modeling. The early stages were tough; although she had family support, money was hard to come by and she had only saved up a few month’s worth of salary from a hospital job. But she eventually landed on her feet when she began working in corporate for companies like PepsiCo, while also balancing a social media management side job and participating in as many fashion-related opportunities as she could.

Around this time, Hilaire began seeing Telfar bags in her neighborhood. Unfamiliar with the then-rising Black brand, she began researching it and other Black brands. This, paired with the racial reckoning of 2020 amid the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, led to Hilaire using her knowledge of fashion to shed light on Black-owned brands and designs on her TikTok account.

Hilaire sees TikTok as a fashion discovery tool, and even her first viral video on the platform reflects that. Highlighting bags by Telfar, Brandon Blackwood, Homage Year, and CISE, the video propped up names that have since become more known and popular in recent years, helping the video go viral in the process. Since then, she’s gone on to create additional compilation clips centered around menswear brands, gender-inclusive lines, sustainable fashion houses, and more.

We recently spoke with Hilaire about how she got her start in New York, the role she plays as a content creator, and the rise of Black luxury brands.

Do you feel you naturally fell into highlighting Black designers on your TikTok account?

Pierrah Hilaire: I think it was a mix. I didn’t see what I wanted in the TikTok space. It was predominantly non-black even though we were leading the trends. I always liked to know who was behind a brand that I was buying into. I would ask on Instagram all the time and people would tell me, “Oh, we’re black or women-owned.” And I liked knowing where my dollars were going.

Then, around the Black Lives Matter resurgence [in 2020], I realized, “What can I do to help out?” [Highlighting Black designers] was my form of activism. I went to some of the marches [and] donated to [organizations too].

I was literally sitting in Zoom meetings at my corporate job stressed out. At one point, we were in a lot of racial sensitivity trainings that weren’t even geared toward me. And I felt the least [I] could do [was] support the smaller Black businesses. So, I just started creating a list of brands that I would want to buy into or that I already have bought into, and I was on TikTok for a year already before I really took it seriously. So, when I posted it did really well, and I just kept it going.

How do you feel about the responsibility of sharing these brands with your followers?

As a creator, it’s great when the video does really well when it comes to numbers, but it’s not about the numbers. I think I care about the one person in the comment who’s like, “Oh, I didn’t know about this brand and I’m going to buy into it because ultimately it’s about supporting each other.”

But on top of that, what I love to see is growth. I hope people pay attention to [these] brands because — yes, I love them — but they’re doing amazing work not just for the business. A lot of these brands tend to help their community. I know my money’s not just going to the brand and the brand owner’s pockets, but to the community that they’re serving. That’s where you see the impact, and I think that’s the most important part of some of these videos.

Click here to read the full article on Okay Player

Bethenny Frankel Was a Business Woman Before She Was a Real Housewife
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Bethenny Frankel headshot

By , Observer

I recently spoke to former Bethenny Frankel, an entrepreneur and star of Real Housewives of New York. Frankel, who left Real Housewives in 2019 after appearing in eight seasons, has been building out her business empire, which she said was her intention from before she was even on television.

“I chose to change the course of my career and focus really more on business and philanthropy and not on entertainment, entertaining, (and) dramatic antics as a business,” Frankel said.

Frankel said she initially turned down the opportunity to be on Real Housewives, but eventually accepted because she wanted to promote her businesses, which include cocktail mixes and shape wear. She also was the only cast member to negotiate a deal where Bravo would not receive a cut of any of her business profits.

“I immediately understood the value of using television at the time as a vehicle to promote what you’re doing,” she said. “I was a pioneer in doing that…being one of the first to really monetize reality television in that way.”

Frankel, who has a new book called Business is Personal: The Truth About What it Takes to Be Successful While Staying True to Yourself spoke about the decision to leave reality TV, her different businesses, and what she sees for the future of the creator economy.

“Long before any reality television personalities, period, I had already turned a brand, a successful cocktail brand, and landed on the cover of Forbes magazine,” she said. “I always took my business and my path very seriously. It always came first. It came first before salacious entertainment and drama.”

Bethenny’s Brand
Frankel has multiple products she sells to her fans. Aside from her Skinny Girl Margarita, most of her ideas for products come from a desire to break into a new space or interesting people approaching her.

“A combination of people approaching me and me wanting to do something in those spaces, but usually just good partners that approach me,” she said. “And I thought, ‘Okay, that’s a great idea.’”

New Influencers
The rise of TikTok stars like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae is largely due to the transformation of the retail space, Frankel said. The decline of brick-and-mortar stores and the increase in popularity of direct-to-consumer retail and e-commerce channels has created an opportunity for new influencers, she said. And as their popularity has grown, they have been able to bypass traditional television production companies and stream to their fans directly.

“So now (influencers like) Charli D’Amelio…they’re direct-to-consumer, and they’re creating their own television show, that’s their own network,” she said. “‘This is me entertaining you, my own reality show on my terms.’”

Brand Deals
While Frankel has worked with different companies in the past to promote their products, brand deals are rare for her now. She won’t work with a company unless it’s to promote a product she’s really excited about, like Madison Reed’s hair dye.

“I’m not about the benjamins,” she said. “I mean, I like the benjamins, but it’s been proven by walking away from multiple millions of dollars on television that the money is not what drives me.”

Revenue Streams
Since she left reality TV, she has made money from speaking engagements, her investments—which includes real estate—brand promotions and her licensing business. Frankel doesn’t have an agent and makes a lot of her business decisions on her own, though she sometimes consults her publishers, or her fiance, who is also an investor.

Click here to read the full article on Observer.

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