‘Freeing for me:’ Navajo woman becomes viral sensation with skateboarding videos
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Naiomi Glass is doing a trick on her skateboard in Arizona

by Brady Wakayama

An Arizona woman, born and raised in Navajo Nation, has become a viral sensation, showcasing her skateboarding skills on the reservation. Naiomi Glass hopes, with her growing platform, that a new skate park can be built and will inspire others to pursue their passions.

The 24-year-old, from Rock Point, Arizona, has gained tens of thousands of followers over the year on Instagram and TikTok who can’t get enough of her skateboarding.

Photo: Nexstar Media Wire

“I would see these sandstones and I was like ‘I wonder if I could skate that,’” Glasses said. “So then one day I was just like ‘you know what, let me just try it, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.’”

She learned how to skate when she was 5 years old from her older brother and hasn’t gotten off the board since.

“I’m not a professional at all, by any means, I just like to ride around,” Glasses said. “It’s very freeing for me.”

Glasses says skateboarding is very popular within the Navajo nation, despite the lack of pavement and only five skate parks throughout the area. Because of this, she said she is teaming up with a Navajo-inspired clothing company that plans to build a new skate park in “Two Grey Hills,” which is just two hours away from Glasses’ community.

“I love skateboarding so much and I would just love to bring that joy and love of it to other communities,” said Glasses.

Read the full article at WSPA.

Joye Hummel, first woman hired to write Wonder Woman comics, dies at 97
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Joye Hummel at a comic-con convention speaking on a pannel.

By Harrison Smith

In March 1944, shortly before Joye Hummel graduated from the Katharine Gibbs secretarial school in Manhattan, she was invited to meet with one of her instructors, a charismatic psychologist who had been impressed by her essays on a take-home test.

Over tea at the Harvard Club, professor William Moulton Marston offered her a job — not in the classroom or psych lab, but in the office of his 43rd Street art studio. He wanted Ms. Hummel to help him write scripts for Wonder Woman, the Amazonian superhero he had created three years earlier and endowed with a magic lasso, indestructible bracelets, an eye-catching red bustier and a feminist sensibility.

PHOTO: Wikipedia

Ms. Hummel, then 19, had never read Wonder Woman; she had never even read a comic book. But Marston needed an assistant. His character, brought to life on the page by artist H.G. Peter, was appearing in four comic books and was about to star in a syndicated newspaper strip. He was looking for someone young who could write slang and who, perhaps most importantly, shared his philosophy and vision for the character.

“You understand that I want women to feel they have the right to go out, to study, to find something they love to do and get out in the world and do it,” Ms. Hummel recalled his saying. She was “astonished and delighted” by the job offer, according to historian Jill Lepore’s book, “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” and soon began writing for the comic. “I always did have a big imagination,” she said.

Ms. Hummel worked as a Wonder Woman ghostwriter for the next three years, long before any woman was publicly credited as a writer for the series. As invisible to readers as Wonder Woman’s transparent jet plane, she was increasingly recognized after Lepore interviewed her in 2014. Four years later, she received the Bill Finger Award, given to overlooked or underappreciated comic book writers at the Eisner Awards.

Ms. Hummel, who was known in recent years by her married name, Joye Murchison Kelly, died April 5 at her home in Winter Haven, Fla., a day after turning 97. Her son Robb Murchison confirmed the death but did not know the precise cause.

“Joye was absolutely a pioneer in bringing her own voice into these stories,” Lepore said in a phone interview. “She was then pretty much entirely forgotten. … I sort of think that people hadn’t bothered to find her. I called her up and said, ‘Are you the Joye Hummel who wrote Wonder Woman in the 1940s?’ She nearly dropped the receiver — she was delighted but surprised. It was a story she had told her grandchildren, but they didn’t believe her.”

By the time Ms. Hummel started writing for Wonder Woman, the comics had an audience of 10 million readers. The character debuted in a 1941 issue of All-Star Comics, three years after Superman first lifted a car on the cover of Action Comics and two years after Batman leaped across the pages of Detective Comics.

Together, the three superheroes became linchpins of DC Comics, with Wonder Woman emerging as arguably the world’s most famous female superhero. She appeared on the cover of Ms. Magazine’s first issue (“Wonder Woman for President”), inspired a hit 1970s TV show starring Lynda Carter and was revitalized for the big screen beginning in 2016, played by Gal Gadot

The character was “created by a whole series of women” who were never publicly credited, Lepore said. Marston — whose psychological research contributed to the development of the lie-detector test — received help from his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, as well as their partner, Olive Byrne, the daughter of radical feminist Ethel Byrne and niece of birth-control activist Margaret Sanger. Both women worked behind the scenes, forming a fruitful creative triad and secret domestic arrangement: one husband, two wives.

After Ms. Hummel became the first woman hired to write for Wonder Woman, Byrne gave her a copy of Sanger’s book “Woman and the New Race,” which advocated for legalized birth control, and told her it contained everything she needed to know about the character.

Ms. Hummel at first typed Marston’s scripts before writing more than 70 scripts of her own, with detailed instructions for the artists. She developed stories that were often more innocent than her boss’s, which showed Wonder Woman fighting fascism while also being bound, tied, lassoed or gagged. Years later, she recalled that when she brought her scripts to editor Sheldon Mayer, “He always OK’d mine faster because I didn’t make mine as sexy.”

All of the early comics were published under a pseudonym, Charles Moulton, invented by Marston. Individual writers were credited in later anthologies by DC, which revealed that Ms. Hummel was behind some of the series’ more fantastical stories, involving beautiful mermaids and winged maidens. “They’re like fairy tales,” said cartoonist and historian Trina Robbins, who later worked on Wonder Woman.

Ms. Hummel stopped writing the comics in late 1947, shortly after she married, deciding to stay home and raise her stepdaughter. Marston had died earlier that year, and the series passed to writers who did away with much of the comic’s feminist messaging, including a regular centerfold feature chronicling the lives of influential women.

The changes infuriated Ms. Hummel, who remained loyal to Marston’s original vision of Wonder Woman as an emblem of free and courageous womanhood. Decades later, she wrote in an email to Lepore: “Even if I had not left because of my new daughter, I would have resigned if I was told I had to make [Wonder Woman] a masculine thinking and acting superwoman.”

Joye Evelyn Hummel was born April 4, 1924, and grew up on Long Island. Her son said that she rarely spoke of her upbringing; at various times, both of her parents apparently managed a grocery store chain.

Read the full article at  The Washington Post.

‘Kung Fu’ star Olivia Liang: ‘Our show is necessary right now’
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Olivia Liang as Nicky in “Kung Fu” holding a fist up ready to fight kung fu

By Lauren Sarner, NY Post

Olivia Liang said that she barely needed to act for her starring role in the CW’s new rendition of “Kung Fu.”

Olivia Liang said that she barely needed to act for her starring role in the CW’s new rendition of “Kung Fu.”

“After reading the pilot I was like, ‘Oh, OK, so Nicky is just me!’” Liang, 27, told The Post. “Our incredible showrunner and creator Christina Kim infused so much heart and nuance and specific experience into the script — it was the first time I had read something and I was like, ‘Yes, I get it.’”

Premiering Wednesday (April 7) at 8 p.m., “Kung Fu” follows Nicky Shen, a Chinese-American woman who drops out of college and goes on an adventure to China, learning martial arts skills at a monastery. After her mentor is murdered, she returns home to San Francisco — only to find it overrun with crime and corruption that requires her newfound abilities.

Meanwhile, she also reconnects with her family — including dad Jin (Tzi Ma), mom Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan), sister Althea (Shannon Dang), brother Ryan (Jon Prasida), Althea’s fiance Dennis (Tony Chug) and Nicky’s estranged ex-boyfriend, Evan (Gavin Stenhouse).

“My life experience gave me what I needed to play Nicky, because it was just so spot on and so specific,” said Liang, who has also appeared on The CW’s “Legacies.”

“Nicky’s mom is kind of a tiger mom who is easing up a bit, and that’s exactly what I had growing up. I’m also an older sister and Nicky has a younger brother in the show. The things that she goes through were just so relatable to me.”

However, there were a few aspects of Nicky’s life that were new to Liang.

“My experience with martial arts before this was simply driving my sister to her Taekwondo classes,” she said. “So I did have to learn it for the show, but it’s been really fun and rewarding and hard. It’s a really beautiful sport and art. If you add up everything, I’m probably doing about 65 to 70 percent of the stunts. Anything super-cool is my amazing stunt double, Megan Hui. I’m trying to do as many of the stunts as I can because it’s really important to me that I’m able to do the martial arts of it all.”

“Kung Fu” originated as a 1972 series starring David Carradine as a monk and martial arts expert traveling through the American West. (It also spawned a syndicated sequel series, “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” which aired from 1993-1997 with Carradine again starring.)

“That show was a little before my time, but my uncle and my mom growing up would watch it,” said Liang. “So it was very surreal to them when I got this part. I’m just really happy that we get to re-imagine it — and maybe do it the way that it should have been done, with Asian people at the forefront.”

Click here to read the full article on NY Post.

How a Black Female-Owned Subscription Box Service is Helping Young Girls Feel Loved Every Month
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Three young girls lay on a bed laughing looking at the camera.

by Cassidy Allen Chubb

During Black History Month, the Atlanta Hawks highlighted two Black-owned businesses who played a pivotal role in the launch of the MLK Nike City Edition uniforms. With March being Women’s History Month and wanting to continue to celebrate Black-owned businesses in Atlanta, the Hawks partnered with Chase to tell Kelly Beaty English’s story and how she created SelfE Box.

What started as an idea that came from English’s own experiences growing up as young Black teen turned into helping Black girls feel loved and validated through each month’s curated subscription box. Cassidy Allen Chubb spoke with English about her journey and how she created a self-esteem box that’s delivered to girl’s doorsteps each month.

Tell me about how you got the idea to create SelfE Box.

The idea for SelfE Box was planted in my mind as a tween girl. My parents used to subscribe to tween and teen magazines for me and I remember reading them and thinking “none of these girls in here really look like me, their experiences don’t reflect mine.” They were just talking about things that culturally, I couldn’t relate to. The beauty and grooming advice didn’t necessarily work for me, for my hair texture and things as fundamental as washing your hair every day.

Black girls don’t wash their hair every day and so through things like that, I just felt very othered.

And so, there was that part of me that kind of wished that I could see more Black girls get hair and beauty advice that actually applied to our own lives.

I remember thinking about it like “gosh, if I could just go door to door and just give girls self-esteem.” And then at the time when I first had the idea, subscription boxes had kind of just come onto the scene. I paired the two ideas together and it was like, “Oh, we need a self-esteem box!”

What can girls and parents expect to receive in each box?
very month we pick a theme. Overall, we try to gear the boxes towards health, wellness and growing because that’s such an important topic for girls in that age group. For many of them, it’s the first time they’re starting to have to use products, their grooming habits are changing. We wanted to create a safe space to talk about what’s happening and coach them through that period. The overall theme is about health, wellness and grooming, but we pick a different topic every month. One month we did the move out of your comfort zone issue and we talked about the importance of physical movement and how it’s important to get up and going.
It could also be a theme related to mental health. In one issue we talked about anxiety and being at home and how that has that changed our world. We also have a career profile from a Black woman in every issue. We just try to find a woman who speaks to the topic for that month. We don’t want any particular type of career. We feature everything from women in sports, to women in business, to women in the arts.
Where did you grow up and were you exposed to Black entrepreneurs at a young age?

I’m from Atlanta. I lived in Southwest Atlanta for the first half of my childhood. And then we moved out to the suburbs for the other half of my childhood. My father was an entrepreneur. So it was right here in my household. One great thing about the city of Atlanta and growing up as a Black child here, you have the benefit of seeing Black professionals in all walks of life. My pediatrician was a Black woman who ran her own practice. My dentist was a Black woman who ran her own practice. My parents were very intentional about putting me around Black people where I could see myself in their stories.

What would you say is the most challenging part of being a black business owner?

It takes a crazy amount of self-belief to be an entrepreneur and specifically to be a Black female. I remember going to business summits and business conferences for women and they would have panelists from all of these very well-known brands. The women would be talking about, “Oh, I started this in college” or “I just had this idea and I was able to reach out to my dad’s network and we were able to raise a million dollars” just to test the idea, and for most black people, that’s just not our experience.

I’m an HBCU graduate. I have an incredible network. I’m very blessed to have friends who are doing literally probably anything that you can think of, but we as a people moving through our American journey do not have, for the most part, generations of wealth. So, we don’t just pass down homes and portfolios to our children. When we as Black people go to college and get our first offer letter, we are at the starting point, right? We are just then getting started, but so many of our peers are already years ahead of us, even at the starting line.

How do you continue to overcome those challenges and what keeps you going?

When I get the reaction photos from our SelfE girls and when I get the messages from moms who say their daughters wait at the mailbox at the end of the month and when that package is not there, she’s like, “Where’s my box?” that keeps me going. The impact that it’s made on girls’ lives so early and already….we’re not even a year old at this point. When I get those messages it gives me the fuel to go on. I have to do a whole lot of talking and a whole lot of selling, unfortunately, to get brands to partner with us, but I believe it will come. Because the impact that we’re making in these girl’s individual lives is great and it’s real.

What is something you would tell your younger self knowing where you are today?

I would say, keep going, raise your hand. Don’t question yourself. Don’t doubt. Don’t mask. Don’t try to blend in because everybody that you want to blend in with, is also trying to blend in with you. One of the things that we do as, as girls, and I think, well, until we become young women, is we look to the left and we look to the right. Instead, we need to continue to look straight ahead and look into that mirror and look into our own eyes, looking back at us, in our reflection and concentrate on her. Love her, give to her because everything that is unique about you was created specifically for you. If your hair is big or it’s curly, or it won’t lay down like the other girls, or maybe your body type is different, or your clothes fit differently–

All of the things that you’re trying to hide from people are the very things that are going to make you unstoppable in this world. It’s the very thing that is going to make people seek you out. It’s the very thing that’s going to make you successful. Keep your hand up, keep asking questions, keep not being afraid to be seen, because when you do that, all you’re doing is slowing down your progress later. There’s going to come a moment you’ll go, “you know what? I am great, and I can do this.” And the faster you get to that moment, the faster you get to everything that the world has to offer for you. Be you, be you without apology. You were born here just the way that you were supposed to be, to do all the things that you’re going to do.

Read the full article at NBA.

Dolly Parton Gets Her Own Comic Book for Women’s History Month
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Dolly Parton's Comic book character with big blonde hair and a big smile.

By  , TV Over Mind

The ideal thing to do would be to congratulate Dolly Parton for reaching another pinnacle in pop culture since her own comic book in a series that’s being run for Women’s History Month will cap off the month of March as it arrives on the 31st. That’s the expected thing to say, and it’s well-deserved since the country star has been around for so long and done so many great things that saying anything openly disparaging about her is bound to be met with a tirade of defensive statements and ridicule that would send quite a few naysayers running for the hills with their tails between their legs like scalded dogs.

Okay, maybe it wouldn’t be that bad, but considering that Dolly has led a pretty impressive life and had such a stellar career it’s easy to think that anyone daring to badmouth Parton would be on the receiving end of a nonstop litany of insults that would make them think twice about saying another word against the woman.

Seriously, Dolly is loved by just about everyone that’s ever heard of her, and respected at the very least by those that aren’t huge fans. If anyone’s going to bother wondering how a person could not be a fan of Parton’s, all that needs to be said is that a person doesn’t enjoy country music, or that they don’t even know that much about Parton.

It’s all well and good to give respect to someone with a career that’s spanned so long and accomplishments that aren’t easy to count, but undying and obedient respect such as many of her fans have given for so long isn’t something that every individual is going to give without pause.

For those that aren’t big fans but know enough to be polite and offer congratulations, it’s enough to think that she continues to be a driving force in the music industry and that her works are continuing to be recognized. It’s one thing to recognize her though, and another to have her and any other celebrity shoved into the spotlight so that people absolutely have to acknowledge her.

The best part about this is that Dolly doesn’t exactly do this as she does what she does best and encourages others while inspiring them without being pushy. That’s what PR people are for after all, and it’s the efforts of those that want so badly for everyone worldwide to know how great of a person Dolly Parton is that tends to annoy people just a bit. One of the best parts of this is that if a person doesn’t want to acknowledge it they can look away and call it a day, just as anyone can with anything.

That’s a freedom we all have and it’s one that a lot of people exercise on a regular basis since it’s so much easier to turn away from something we’re not into or don’t approve of than to start up an argument or campaign to say why what we don’t like or don’t follow shouldn’t be getting this press. Besides, with Dolly it wouldn’t be accurate anyway, considering that this is a woman that said no to a statue in her image.

It does feel likely that whenever the day comes that she passes away that those Tennessee will see fit to commemorate her life with a statue, but for now she’s decided that her presence within the industry is all that’s really needed, as the issues that have been going on with statues over the years might not make this the best time to think about putting up another one.

Click here to read the full article on TV Over Mind

Meet NASCAR’s first Black woman on pit crew
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Brehanna Daniels wearing a NASCAR uniform while seated on a NASCAR vehicle

By Robert Brown,  Click Orlando

Brehanna Daniels grew up playing sports, so it’s no wonder she made it to where she is. “I think I was like 4 years old when I started playing basketball,” she said. In middle school, she played four sports: basketball, track, field hockey, and soccer.

Competition at such a young age taught her lessons that she still carries with her today. Lessons like resilience, courage, and commitment have helped her make history. Now at 27, Daniels is NASCAR’s first Black female tire changer.

In 2019, she became the first Black woman to pit in the Daytona 500 and she’s still breaking barriers in the historically white, male-dominated sport.

 

“I’ve been around a lot of guys before because of the different sports teams I’ve been on, but this was different…it’s a sport that’s known for a lot of white men,” Daniels said.

Daniels’ journey in NASCAR started in 2016, when she was attending Norfolk State University, which is a Historically Black University.

One of her friends approached her about NASCAR coming to the school.

“I was looking at her like ‘Girl, you know I don’t watch NASCAR, what are you telling me this for?’” Daniels said.

Brehanna Daniels seated wearing a bandana on her head and safety goggles while holding a tire changing hose in front of a NASCAR vehicle.
In 2019, Daniels became the first Black woman to pit in NASCAR’s historic Daytona 500 race. (WKMG 2021)

At the time, she didn’t even know what a pit stop was.

That same friend showed her a video on YouTube and Daniels was intrigued, so she gave it a chance and went.

Daniels was the only woman in a group of men who tried out for the pit crew team as part of the organization’s “Drive for Diversity” program.

The program is aimed at recruiting and training minority and female racecar drivers and pit crew members.

Daniels impressed and she was invited to the national NASCAR combine, which included more than 20 women, and the rest is history.

Click here to read the full article on Click Orlando.

Oscars: Female Directors Break Record for Most Nominations in One Year
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Two photos next to each other. Photo on the left pictures director Emerald Fennell in an orange long sleeve shirt, and the photo on the right pictures director Chloe Zhao wearing a dark blue denim button up.

By Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter

For the first time in the Academy Awards’ nearly century-old history, more than one female director has been nominated in the best director category.
Directors Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) were both nominated in the best director category for the 93rd Academy Awards, with Zhao also becoming the first non-white woman to be nominated.

In total, only five women have been nominated in the best director category. The first woman nominated in the category was Lina Wertmüller in 1977 for Seven Beauties, followed by nominations for Jane Campion (The Piano, 1994), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, 2003), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, 2010), and Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, 2018). Bigelow is the first and only woman to win in the category.

Zhao is the first woman to receive four nominations in a single year; she is nominated in the film editing, adapted screenplay, director, and best picture categories. Fennell, who is the first woman to be nominated for a feature directorial debut, received three nominations, the third woman to do so, along with Coppola for Lost in Translation and Fran Walsh (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).

In total, the nominations for the 93rd annual Academy Awards saw 70 women receive 76 nominations, a record for any given year.

“An Oscar nomination is the evidence of an industry that values work from its first screening until the nomination process. Often, women directors don’t receive that level of notice,” Dr. Stacy L. Smith explained to THR in an email. Smith is behind USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which has long tracked the progress women have made in the industry in key creative and leadership roles.

Click here to read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter.

Grammy awards 2021: women rule as Taylor Swift and Beyoncé break records
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Beyonce and Megan Thee Stallion accepting their grammy award on stage

By , The Guardian

It was a historic, triumphant night for women in music at the 2021 Grammys, as a range of female artists took home the top awards.

HER took home song of the year for the Black Lives Matter anthem I Can’t Breathe, Taylor Swift became the first woman to win album of the year three times, and the rapper Megan Thee Stallion won both best new artist and best rap performance for her Savage remix with Beyoncé, now the most awarded singer (male or female) and female artist of all time.

The first Grammys from executive producer Ben Winston, 39, best known for turning James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke series into a viral staple and the first new producer since Ken Ehrlich took over the show in 1980, stuck mostly to live or pre-recorded performances spliced with videos highlighting new, streaming-bolstered stars. The production’s Covid precautions – 6ft-compliant tables and chairs beneath a garlanded outdoor terrace, five separate stages at the Los Angeles Convention Center, widespread testing – added millions to the show’s budget but helped the show avoid some of the tech glitches and Zoom awkwardness that plagued last month’s Golden Globes.

The cascade of performances and success for black female artists glossed over a growing wave of criticism over the Grammys’ opaque nomination process, alleged conflicts of interest and years of appearing to snub black artistry. The Canadian artist known as The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, led an anti-Grammys chorus which included such artists as Zayn and Drake, after his album After Hours, a critical and commercial smash containing the year’s biggest song, Blinding Lights, was surprisingly shut out of nominations. In a statement to the New York Times last week, the Weeknd said he would boycott the awards from now on and direct his record label not to submit his music for future contention, citing the anonymous committees with final say on nominations.

But the controversy mostly stayed outside the frame on Sunday, save a statement in the final 10 minutes from the interim Grammys president, Harvey Mason Jr, promising a renewed diversity effort and calling on artists to “work with us, not against us”. Instead, the 3.5-hour mega-concert was about “bringing us together like only music can”, said the night’s ebullient host, the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, and “never forgetting what happened in 2020, but hope for what is to come”.

Click here to read the full article in The Guardian.

Tracee Ellis Ross Teaches Us to Own Our Power
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a collage of Tracee Ellis Ross images with the cover of the magazine in the middle

By: Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

Tracee Ellis Ross is not new to titles or attention.

She is the second daughter of the legendary Diana Ross, a nine-time NAACP Image Award winner, a four-time Primetime Emmy nominee and a Golden-Globe recipient. She’s been recognized as a director, producer, philanthropist, social activist, fashion icon (for which she won the 2020 People’s Choice Award), founder of the haircare line, Pattern which caters to curly, coily, tight-textured hair, and, as of this past February, the Diversity and Inclusion advisor for Ulta Beauty. When it comes to owning her power, Ross has practiced what she preaches. “I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me,” says Ross.

Diligent about Diversity in Workspaces

Due to her main career as an actress, many believed Ross would be limited in her desired business ventures. “When I told a member of my team some years ago that I wanted to start a haircare line, their idea was to start a line of wigs!” she told Fast Company this past January. She took many early rejections and was even told by another associate during her early planning stages that, since she is an actor, who would want to buy haircare products from her? Ross went on to offer some powerful advice for those encountering this type of criticism, doubt or rejection, “Be patient, and stay the course,” she counsels other entrepreneurs. “Take in the information. Take in the disappointments. They will come. They are important. They are part of the opportunity to clarify what you want to do.”

She continued to press forward despite roadblocks and inexperience. Last October, Ross talked more about this during the U.S. Bank’s Women and Wealth Summit, “I did not know how to negotiate on my behalf. I did not know how to talk about money,” which is still a common phenomenon, especially in American society. “Culturally, women are not taught to talk about money. It is thought to be gauche, to talk about money, to be ambitious,” she says. “Patriarchy, racism, sexism, all of these things, have given the very clear message that women are meant to not take up space and not rock the boat.”

Tracee Ellis Ross standing behind a podium wearing a bright pink jacket smiling with arms raised high in a support gesture
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 21: Actress Tracee Ellis Ross speaks onstage at the women’s march in Los Angeles on January 21, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
Ross encourages fellow women entrepreneurs, especially BIPOC entrepreneurs, to not allow their lack of experience or outside pressures to deter them though. “No one wants to give you money; no one wants to give you all the things you should have,” Ross said during the summit. “I strongly believe in women and women of color fighting for equity, for having a stake in what they create, because historically we give up our names, we give up all these things, and we have no stake in what we make.” This sentiment is evident in how she brands her business. Pattern, available exclusively at Ulta Beauty, focuses on a celebration of Black beauty, which Ross believes is still uncommon, but necessary. “If our hair could talk, it would tell you of our legacies,” she says, “all those ways our identity pushed through spaces where it wasn’t meant to be, but is nonetheless.”

Since launching, Ross has put her naysayers to shame. On its first day, the site yielded nearly eight times the expected sales, and its Instagram following grew to 130,000 within a week. Ross saw how underpenetrated the Black haircare market still remains. According to a 2018 Nielsen report, the Black haircare industry made an estimated $2.5 billion, showcasing that there is considerable opportunity for Black-owned businesses like Pattern to enter the mainstream market. This is exactly what Ross hopes to see happen as the new Diversity and Inclusion advisor for Ulta Beauty. She told BusinessWire, “This work requires commitment and accountability from Ulta Beauty to ensure measurable goals are achieved. I am hopeful and optimistic our work together will create foundational change.” According to Ulta CEO Mary Dillon, the company is “deeply committed to leading purposefully with and for underrepresented voices across retail and beauty on our D&I journey.”

It’s Ross’s goal to support and uplift current and future brands, suppliers and companies created by and for people of color sold at Ulta as well as to assist the company in developing diverse and inclusive leadership as well as in their supply chain. They are committed to joining executive diversity and inclusion council summits quarterly. “For so many years, there had not been products for women who wanted to wear their hair naturally and didn’t want to put heat on it or hold themselves up to a white standard of beauty,” shared Ross with InStyle.

FEBRUARY 24: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image has been converteAshlee Simpson, Evan Ross, Diana Ross, and Tracee Ellis Ross seated at a table at a charity event posing together smiling
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 24: (L-R) Ashlee Simpson, Evan Ross, Diana Ross, and Tracee Ellis Ross attend the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF19/WireImage)

She also told them, “I walked into my relationship with Ulta as a person who always was looking to create a more equitable space for women, for Black people, for people of color across the board. It’s something that is my guiding force and mission in my acting career and my producing. That is how I move through the world, so it was no different in the beauty industry. And it’s one of the reasons I decided to go with Ulta. Mary Dillon has been focused on and fighting for inclusion and diversity at Ulta from when I started my relationship with them, and none of that has changed through all of this.”

Commitment to Personal & Professional Growth

The actress has had a stellar career from playing lawyer Joan Clayton in the critically-acclaimed show “Girlfriends” in the 2000s to Dr. Rainbow Johnson in the award-smashing “Black-ish” and most recently Grace Davis in her biggest film yet [that also showcased her singing debut], “The High Note.” However, it has not always been simple or easy. Ross had to find her own way in Hollywood without falling into the shadow of her famous mother. She’s also felt the challenges of being a woman (especially single and childless) in a ruthless, patriarchal industry still holding on to antiquated social ideals. As Ross explained in a past interview with Oprah, “My worth just gets diminished as I am reminded that I have ‘failed’ on the marriage and carriage counts,” adding she spent “many years waiting to be chosen” until it occurred to Ross that her power to be happy relied solely on her. “Well, here’s the thing – I’m the chooser,” she said.

Ross uses her platform and her projects to help other women feel comfortable with choosing their own power verses yielding it to others.

During her 2020 People’s Choice Award speech for Fashion Icon of the Year, she explained, “I spent years playing dress up in my closet as a way to find some freedom or some power, and the more that I discovered who I really was – the more I was able to hone my creative expression through clothing. I wear my insides on the outside, and if featuring Black designers at the American Music Awards helps someone see the power of Black artistry, or if joining the call to wear black at the Golden Globes led to solidarity with women saying time’s up on sexual harassment, then you heard me loud and clear…”

On an episode of the podcast, Can’t Stop Watching, she mentioned pushing back against outdated gender norms in her portrayal of Rainbow. “What I did speak up about from the beginning was, ‘Why am I carrying laundry?’ ‘Why am I the person in the kitchen cooking right now, when this has nothing to do with the scene?’…And I started coining them as ‘lady chores.’ ‘Why am I doing the lady chores?’ ‘Can’t Anthony [Anderson] do the lady chore?’” She was adamant that this role shouldn’t mimic the usual “sitcom wife” and that society can benefit from this kind intentionality in our programming.

“I don’t believe they’re ‘lady chores.’ I believe they’re house chores.

Laurence Fishburne, Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson speaking as a panel onstage
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – AUGUST 04: (L-R) Actors Laurence Fishburne, Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson speak onstage at the ‘Black-ish’ panel discussion during the Disney ABC Television Group portion of the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 4, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

And I don’t believe that we should assume, because I believe every relationship is a negotiation between two people about what each of them feel comfortable doing, and I think the more that we portray that on television, the more that that becomes the reality out in the world, or matches the reality that the world actually is,” she said.

On Power, Politics & Progression

We connect to our personal power in so many ways and on varying levels. One issue that Tracee Ellis Ross advocates we should focus our power on is promoting positive social change in our government, specifically through activism and the vote. Ross was included in the 2020 Democratic National Convention lineup and spoke to Geoff Edgers, of the Washington Post, previously on what it was like when she was first asked to assist the DNC during the Obama administration as well as the relevance of her platform. “…I don’t think I knew at that time how personal politics were. They felt like something that was out of my reach. So for me, the [2020] DNC felt like a sort of an evolution from where I already sit. The career I have is about storytelling, but I’m more than an actor. I’m a producer and a founder of a hair company and a CEO. I’m an American citizen. I’m a black woman,” shared Ross.

These different, but inclusive, identities drive her pleas to other black and women voters to harness their powers and use their voices to bring about necessary changes in this continuously discriminatory and marginalized society. “It takes a lot of courage to advocate for yourself. As a woman, and as a Black woman, advocating for yourself is actually a form of resistance. It is how each of us push the world, to make sure that the real estate matches the reality of who we are and what we deserve,” Ross said in a chat with fellow Golden Globe-winner Kerry Washington for Elle this past August.

“And every courageous act that a marginalized person takes opens up a space for somebody else,” she continued. “…The system is mirroring back a powerlessness. That’s not the truth, but we so often believe in the system—because how could you not?—and you think that’s the truth.” She went on to discuss the value of power in community. “That is one of the ways that the system keeps you powerless. The system says, you’re alone in this, it’s only you. The more that you link arms and realize the fellowship that occurs in the same feelings, the more power you have.”

As for her haircare line, Ross to InStyle she believes her company to be “inherently political, because the celebration of Blackness in the face of racism in and of itself is a political act of resistance.” Pattern supports multiple related initiatives such as the Crown Act, the African American Policy Forum and United Way Worldwide, specifically as it relates to their programs helping Black communities which have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Ross told Yahoo Finance this past December, “Particularly during this pandemic, it was a little scary. And I think so much of what’s happened in this very unprecedented time has really reinvigorated my mission for the company, my intention and my promise of the brand.” Ross, with her tenacity and graceful perseverance, reminds us to be unapologetic with how we acknowledge and use our inner power. It is our own. Without our permission, our power cannot be taken; it cannot be shaken; it cannot be broken.

Melody Ehsani Wants to Make Sneakers More Accessible as New Creative Director of Foot Locker’s Women’s Business
LinkedIn
Melody Ehsanisits and smiles as she sit ona couch next to a pink pillow.

By Aria Hughes

Foot Locker recently named Melody Ehsani the Creative Director of its women’s business, but what exactly does that mean?

According to Ehasni, she will be designing capsule collections for the sneaker retailer and curating a selection of Nike and Jordan products—since she’s partnered with Nike, she’s not able to work with competing brands. But for Ehsani, who started her eponymous women’s streetwear and accessories brand Melody Ehsani in 2007, her main goal is to make cool product more accessible to everyone.

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for COACH

“It’s really important for me to democratize cool product,” says Ehsani over the phone. “Just because right now, as it stands, when I work with brands, we’ll do a release, and especially in the sneaker world, it’ll be a limited release, and most of the shoes end up being resold at crazy prices. And it never really gets into the hands of my customer, or my girls. I’ve always priced my things in a way, because there’s a certain community that I like to serve and that I would serve for free if I could. And so I feel like Foot Locker will help me provide that level of product, but to a wider audience where I can actually reach a lot of different girls.”

Ehsani, who says she’s been in talks with Foot Locker about this position for a year, says there will be Melody Ehsani x Foot Locker pop-up shops and their locations will be determined by a digital crowd-sourcing program that will take consumer feedback into consideration. Foot Locker says these pop-ups will open a week in advance of the capsule being available, so the city can shop the experience before it’s dropped globally.

Ehsani has built up the credentials needed to take on this role, which is a completely new position for Foot Locker. She’s worked on sneaker collaborations with Reebok and Nike, and maintained a store on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles—one of the few, if not only, stores catering to women on the streetwear strip—over the past 10 years.

Here, Ehsani speaks about what’s missing in the women’s sneaker market, what it’s been like working with a new investor for her own line, and if she will ever get back to making heels.

Read the full article at COMPLEX.

Chloe Zhao Becomes Second Woman to Win Best Director at Golden Globes: “Sometimes a First Feels Like a Long Time Coming”
LinkedIn
Chloe Zhao virtually receiving best director awards at golden globes 2021

‘Nomadland’s’ Zhao is the second woman to win best director at the Golden Globes, and the first Asian woman to win the prize. Chloé Zhao has made history as the second woman ever to win the best director award at the Golden Globes, and the first Asian woman to do so.

Zhao won for her work on Nomadland, which follows Fern (Frances McDormand) as she embarks on a new life as a van-dwelling nomad, traveling the American West. (Nomadland also earned the best motion picture drama award.)

“Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming,” said Zhao in the virtual press room, after her historic win. “I’m sure there are many others before me that deserve the same recognition. I just love what I do, I just really love it. If this means more people like me get to live their dream and get to do what I do, I’m happy.”

Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Regina King (One Night in Miami) were also nominated, marking a record-setting year for female director nominees, making up the majority of the category. David Fincher (Mank) and Aaron Sorkin (Trial of the Chicago 7) were also nominated.

During the E! red carpet pre-show King addressed the historic three nominations, saying, “For a lot of us it’s bittersweet, the fact that it’s 2021 and this is just happening and that this is the conversation. I’m happy that it is a conversation and I’m hoping that it remains a conversation.”

Barbra Streisand was previously the only woman to ever win the best director prize — in 1984 for Yentl. Streisand was nominated a second time — the only woman to be nominated twice in the category— in 1992 for The Prince of Tides. Ava DuVernay was the last woman nominated for her work on Selma in 2015. Along with DuVernay and Streisand, the only other female directing nominees have been Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.

Read the full article at Hollywood Reporter.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE)
    August 16, 2021 - August 19, 2021
  2. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
  3. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021