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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 25th

    • 1826: Diplomat Alexander G. Clark was born in Pennsylvania to formerly enslaved parents. He served as United States Ambassador to Liberia.
    • 1870: Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first Black senator seated in the United States Senate.
    • 1896: Blues singer Ida Cox was born in Toccoa, Georgia. She was a vaudeville performer known for her blues-themed performances, and was dubbed “The Uncrowned Queen of the Blues.”
    • 1903: HBCU Albany State University was founded in Albany, Georgia.
    • 1914: James Cameron was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He was a brewing worker and activist who founded three chapters of the NAACP and America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee.
    • 1928: Aloysius Leon Higginbotham, Jr. was born in segregated Trenton, New Jersey. He went on to become a federal judge, scholar, and civil rights advocate.
    • 1948: At age 19, Martin Luther King, Jr. was ordained as a minister at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his father is pastor.
    • 1964: Muhammad Ali, 22 at the time, beat all the odds and knocked out Sonny Liston. Ali predicted he would “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
    • 1975: Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad died from congestive heart failure in Chicago.
    • 1978: Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., the first Black American to reach the rank of four-star general, died in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
    • 1989: Mike Tyson became the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World when he defeated Frank Bruno in Las Vegas.
    • 1998: R. Kelly won Best Male R&B Vocal, Best Song Written for TV or a Movie, and Best R&B Song at the Grammy Awards for “I Believe I Can Fly.”
    • 1999: John King was sentenced to death for his role in the lynching of James Byrd. King along with two others were convicted for dragging Byrd from a pickup truck by a chain until he was decapitated, in 1998.
    • 2007: The Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously to express “profound regret” for the state’s role in slavery.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 24th

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    By Daria Fennell

    Celebrities. VIP sections. Red carpets. The fans, hangers-on, aspiring actresses and actors, as well as, music artists all wait for the day their name will be in lights. In TV One’s new movie Media, which premieres tonight, Feb. 25th at 8 p.m. EST, everyone will learn that all that glitters isn’t gold. The focus of Media is billionaire matriarch Jackie Jones and her very wealthy Black family who own Jones Universal Media Properties (JUMP), an extremely powerful media conglomerate. Viewers will bear witness to the mayhem, murder, drama, and secrets found behind-the-scenes of this high-profile family.

    Media is executive produced by Cathy Hughes, Radio One founder and chairperson; Susan Banks, Hughes’s production partner; Kevin Arkadie, who also served as writer; and Sheila Ducksworth. Ducksworth Productions produced the film, and Craig Ross, Jr. directed it.

    The esteemed cast of Media includes: Gary Dourdan who plays Jabbar Randolph, CEO of JUMP’s biggest competitor; Brian White (Chicago Fire, Scandal) who portrays JUMP’s CEO Michael Jones; Denise Boutte (Meet The Browns) plays Danielle Jones, Michael’s wife; and Finesse Mitchell (Saturday Night Live) portrays DJ Drive, JUMP’s most valuable asset.

    UPTOWN had the pleasure of interviewing Penny Johnson Jerald (24, Castle) who plays Jackie Jones, head of the Jones family; and Blue Kimble (Hunger Games: Catch Fire, Fast and Furious 5) who portrays Anthony Jones, the baby of the family. Grab a glass of white wine and enjoy reading.


    UPTOWN: How does the role of billionaire Jackie Jones, the no-nonsense matriarch of Media, speak to you? And how did your Julliard School training prepare you for this opportunity?
    Penny Johnson Jerald: I am more than proud now to be a part of this project. I am so excited about today that people will tune in and see it. Once reading the role, I kid you not, that first two to 10 pages of the script, you are hooked as an actor because it is all there on the page. And oftentimes, it’s not on the page, you have to create and create and create. But on the first pages of Media, I witnessed the truth of defining the African-American family. And that was truly the attraction. As far as Julliard, Julliard has been my bedrock. It has been the bedrock for everything I have done up-to-date, whether it’s the stillness in front of the camera, my movement, or my different accents. Julliard was a gift that almost didn’t happen because I was advised not to even try, but because I don’t take no for an answer — somewhat like Jackie Jones, the character I play in Media — I went on with what my dream was and the rest is history.

    U: In the landscape of amazing shows such as Being Mary Jane and The Haves and the Have Nots, where does the story of a wealthy, self-made media conglomerate Black family as found in Media fit?
    PJJ: I think it will encompass everything found in both of the show environments as Being Mary Jane and The Haves and the Have Nots. What you find between the two of those, Media is like Dynasty meeting The Godfather. You have the smartness of Being Mary Jane because that show is actually smartly written and very sexy, and in Media, you will have that. You will also have the Mary Jane character always remembering where she comes from, because you see her with her family sprinkled throughout while they experience trials and tribulations. With The Haves and the Have Nots, you have the strength and the power, and then you have the struggle of those trying to get to the top. Media encompasses those two, it’s not in the middle of it, I think it will bookend the two. And you will see more of things that have not been shown on television inside of that too, because there are stories that have not been told that we all know do exist for us. That they are very real people and we are a part of that realness.

    U: What was your experience working with Cathy Hughe, who also served as Media executive producer; Susan Banks; Craig Ross, Jr.; and their team?
    PJJ: First of all, it was extraordinary, and I will be remiss without including Sheila Ducksworth. She is who called me and told me about TV One. I was just floored to be a part of it. The experience was different than experiences I have had working with any production team, in that it’s African-American produced, created, cast, all these things, and the network is African-American. That gave it strength. Oftentimes, you say it’s not going to be as good, they cut corners. I found it to be the contrary, I found everyone at the top of their game, everyone wanting and desiring to be supportive. I found it to be more spiritual. And I just want to explain that. Spiritual, in that, it felt as though we were standing on the ground of an ancestral graveyard and we were moving and shaking because we got the strength of those who came before. That made the difference of being a part of a show on TV One, ergo Media. Our spirituality is our strength that we always will have, have had, and do have. And we don’t know that enough and so Media will be a reminder. So I hope everyone certainly tunes in. Media has also been greenlit as a television series, so you’ll also be able to see these people on their journey of growth. That is a tremendous task. It’s certainly a responsibility that I am willing to take on and I am excited about.

    Continue to the next page for UPTOWN’s interview with Blue Kimble, who portrays Anthony Jones.

    [Images: TV One]


    UPTOWN: As an Atlanta native, what was your favorite part of filming Media in your hometown?
    Blue Kimble: Wow! It’s a blessing to be a part of this production. Ms. Cathy Hughes is the matriarch. This is her brainchild. She’s been trying to get this movie into production for almost 10 years. And now to be finally a part of it, to represent her legacy and to represent everything she stands for because she’s done so much for African Americans as a community. And she still is not stopping, and she’s trying to do so much more. It’s surreal to be a part of anything that she’s doing. And I’m actually calling her Mom now, to be able to call Cathy Hughes Mama Hughes. “Hey, Mama Hughes, what’s up?” We’re on that level, it’s crazy, it’s such a blessing. I almost can’t believe it. The character of Anthony Jones is the youngest, he’s the baby boy of this multimedia conglomerate family of wealth. They’re smart, they’re educated, they’re business-minded. They represent that percentage of Black people that are never shown on TV. We’re so used to being stereotyped on television and media in so many ways, most of them usually being negative. Athletes, drug dealers, thugs, less fortunate. This role, this particular production, is showing Black people in a light that has never been seen before. We are a family of wealth, a family of strength. There are plenty of wealthy Black people, this is that story of that percentage of Black people who are never shown. The Tyler Perrys, the Oprah Winfreys, The Obamas. Those type of people and what they go through and their lifestyle and how they’re living every day. It’s just a blessing to be a part of it and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

    U: And what piece of the way you portrayed Anthony Jones, will you carry with you into your upcoming roles?
    BK: Anthony Jones. like I said, is the baby boy of the family. And it just so happens that I am actually the baby of my real family in real life. I am the baby of three boys. I kind of have been preparing for this role my whole life. I have a lot of personal training as the baby boy. He has the pressure of trying to live up to the family name, live up to the legacy. Living up to what my mother’s done, living up to what my brothers are doing, and all of the burdens of having that monkey on my back, that pressure that leads to me having internal demons. Those internal demons lead Anthony to drug addiction. And leads to him being promiscuous with a lot of women, doing a lot of young shenanigan things. Acting out, trying to find myself. This character is so relatable to many people. We’re a billionaire family. That’s not normal, I understand that. Everyone has expectations that they’re trying to live up to, expectations from work, expectations from family, expectations socially and on social media. You have anything that can drive you to have internal conflicts. We all fall short, we all fall from grace but you have still time to grow. You still have time to revamp yourself. You still have time to find your worth. And that’s what happens to Anthony, he falls from grace, he’s addicted to drugs. But in the end, he finds himself. And that’s the blessing of this road.

    U: Blue, you have worked on some incredible projects, like Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Fast and Furious 5, and Devious Maids. What was the spark that ignited your transformation from professional football player to incredible actor?
    BK: I am so blessed. I’ve been doing this four or five years now. It’s levels to it. It’s levels to the struggles. I’m blessed to have the successes that I’m having, but you have more failures in this entertainment and acting career. I am so blessed to be able to say I am a working actor. And I want people who read this to know that. They see actors and the lifestyle and all they see is the glamour. It’s so much more than that. This industry is very difficult and very hard. It can really wear and tear you down. I want people to understand and know that. It’s a blessing, it’s God’s will. This was never on my radar. I never intended to be an actor, to be in this industry. It just happened to fall into my life circumstantially. That means it is God’s plan and if it were not, I wouldn’t be doing this. I wouldn’t be part of these major productions and I wouldn’t even be on the phone with you right now having this type of interview, you understand what I’m saying. I was a football player, you know that’s the dream of so many young African-American men because that is all we know. That is what I did, I played sports. I was blessed enough to do that, to have that dream actually materialize even though it was short lived. I still was able to touch it, the Lord allowed me to touch it so that was a blessing. Being a professional athlete is so difficult and such a hard task. People don’t understand that. The average lifespan of an NFL player is one year. It’s hard. That’s what NFL stands for “Not for Long.” Every day someone is trying to take your spot, every day you have to be the best or you’re getting cut. Those things actually prepared me for this life I’m living now within this industry. You’re told no your whole entire career, you’re told no a million times but then you just get that one yes. You find a role that’s meant for you. It takes a lot of time being able to withstand all of the negativity and things that come with it. The discipline and dedication that I learned from football actually prepared me for the same discipline and the same work ethic that it takes to be disciplined and dedicated in this acting craft. I am grateful for the lessons that have prepared me for this. It’s a journey and I’m glad to be on it.

    U: Why should UPTOWN readers tune into TV One’s Media premiere tonight?
    BK: TV One Media is one of a kind, it represents Black excellence. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. It represents at a time when we need it the most. We have a brand new President. The country and the world are paying more attention to us and giving us platforms to do more. We have to make it count. It is showing Black people in the light that they need to be depicted. Showing Black people positively. We are more. And this show is made by Black people for Black people showing Black people the way that they need to be seen by us and the rest of the world. Shout outs to TV One. I just want everybody to fall in love with the characters.

    As you watch Media tonight, be sure to tune into the cast’s live tweets.

    [Image: TV One]

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 26th

    • 1738: Prince Hall may have been born on this date. He was an abolitionist, a leader of the free community in Boston, and a Revolutionary War veteran. He also founded the Prince Hall Freemasonry.
    • 1825: James Skivring Smith was born in Charleston. He was a doctor and politician. He served as the sixth president of Liberia from 1871-1872.
    • 1844: James Edward O’Hara was born in New York City. His father was an Irish merchant. He moved to North Carolina, where he studied and then practiced law. He represented the state in the 48th and 49th Congresses.
    • 1869: Congress passed the 15th Amendment, which it illegal for the U.S. or any single government to deny or abridge the right to vote “on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.”
    • 1893: Wallace D. Fard Muhammad, a co-founder of the Nation of Islam, was born in New Zealand.
    • 1899: A. P. Tureaud was born in New Orleans. He served as attorney for the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP during the Civil Rights Movement.
    • 1926: Boxer Theodore Flowers became the first Black middleweight champion.
    • 1928: Antoine “Fats” Domino was born in New Orleans.
    • 1933: Actor and comedian Godfrey Cambridge was born in British Guyana. He made his Broadway debut in 1956.
    • 1943: Actor and film director Bill Duke was born in Poughkeepsie, New York.
    • 1964: Kentucky boxer Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali after converting to Islam.
    • 1965: Civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson died in Selma, Alabama from injuries inflicted by officers in Marion, Alabama.
    • 1966: Andrew Brimmer became the first Black governor of the Federal Reserve Board.
    • 1985: Grammy Awards were given to Lionel Richie (Best Album: Can’t Slow Down), Tina Turner (Best Female Pop Vocalist, Best Song: “What’s Love Got to Do with It”), and The Pointer Sisters (Best Pop Group: “Jump”).
    • 2012: George Zimmerman fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. The racist, so-called neighborhood watchman was acquitted of the murder.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 25th

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    Instagram Photo

    Once again, celebrity hairstylist Tymothe Wallace worked his magic on Taraji P. Henson‘s hair for a very important Hollywood event.

    Wallace says he was inspired by iconic actress Diahann Carroll when coiffing Henson’s tresses into a tousled bob for the 89th Academy Awards. “Her demure, navy blue velvet Alberta Ferretti gown was the perfect, modern nod to old Hollywood glamour, and I wanted her hair to reflect the same,” explained Wallace in a press release.

    What’s most exciting about this look is that it’s easily attainable, even if you don’t have a stylist to the stars on speed dial, because Wallace only used Dove Hair products, which are available at your nearest drugstore.

    Instagram Photo

    Wallace reveals how he achieved Taraji P. Henson’s Diahann Carroll-inspired bob:

    1. I prepped the hair using Dove DermaCare Scalp Dryness & Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner ($4.99 each), which alleviates any scalp dryness and itch but keeps hair soft, nourished, and manageable.
    2. Once the hair was cleansed, I sprayed Dove Absolute Curls Leave-In Detangler ($5.99) on 2-inch sections of hair before blowing them dry with my Dyson blow-dryer.
    3. I then emulsified 2-3 pumps of Dove Absolute Curls Supreme Crème Serum ($5.99) in my hands and distributed it evenly throughout her hair, before using my jumbo FHI Heat barrel curling iron to create pin curls. I then set the curls with Velcro rollers to lock-in the curl memory.
    4. After the curls were set, I took them down and used my trusty Mason Pearson to brush through the roller set. Then, I used my fingers to set the look in place before liberally spraying with Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray ($3.99).

    Instagram Photo

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    By Alake O. Oladele

    About a month after the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Black History Month has taken on an extra special significance for every African American of every stripe. Since January 20th, the political landscape in the U.S. has been rattled with presidential executive orders and congressional legislation that have ignited strong protests nationwide with tens of thousands of attendees. Feelings of depression have been common among African Americans, but Dr. Kevin Washington, president of the Association of Black Psychologists has a reminder for the Black community-at-large. During a recent NewsOne interview, he states that “We cannot lose the fact that we are resilient people, that we’ve overcome Jim Crow, overcome enslavement experiences, and that we move with that verve.”


    Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater (Asase Yaa) understands Washington’s encouraging message and has its own complementary reminder, but from a drum and dance point of view. In honor of its sweet sixteen and Black History Month 2017, this emerging dance company was determined to replace the collective feeling of despair with an empowering message of the traditional African kind. The Brooklyn-based dance company that The New York Times has called “explosive,” presented a new ballet at Symphony Space in Upper Manhattan to a sold-out audience. The executive director Kofi Osei Williams was humbled by the success of the production, but not surprised.

    “The embrace of African culture and of our rich history as a people is a healthy source of pride that can be very healing,” Williams offers. To many African Americans, uplifting, traditional African culture is something that one’s parents or grandparents engaged in during the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. Williams, a master percussionist in the dance company and the head of the non-profit organization that houses Asase Yaa, knows something different.


    “We don’t only present African culture, we live it. We are not entertainers in African costumes, we’re healers,” he explains. “Everything we do is about reminding people that African dance and drum is not just for exhibition. For the past 16 years, our mission has been to let people see the beauty of African culture, but on a much deeper level.”

    Asase Yaa (which means “Mother Earth” in the Ghanaian Twi language) is a 2014 Bessie Award-nominated dance company. (A Bessie Award is the Oscar or GRAMMY of the dance world.) Every ballet it produces is mission-driven but the latest work with a mission gave a little extra. It sought to dispel some of the myths about the ancestral homeland of African Americans. The title of the new work, Ghana: The Place Where the Chief Sleeps, requires some explaining, Williams says.


    “When people hear ‘Ghana,’ they think of the West African country. That is correct, from a modern geography point of view, but ‘Ghana’ literally translates as ‘the place where the chief sleeps,’” explains Williams. “Our purpose in choosing that title was […] to go beyond what is commonly understood about Africa. We designed the show as a haven for our community because we know that African drum and dance has healing properties. Via drum and dance, we can celebrate the rich culture of the Ghanaian Empire, yes, but we can also open our hearts, relieve stress, and embrace our culture, our birthright here on this planet.”


    Ghana: The Place Where the Chief Sleeps will travel to different cities nationwide later this year, but this spring, Asase Yaa will be one of the featured dance companies at DanceAfrica for the event’s 40th anniversary. DanceAfrica is America’s largest festival of African and diasporic performance and takes place every Memorial Day weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). BAM has been known as a center for progressive and avant garde performance for the past 150 years.

    Williams adds, “When Africans, no matter where we live in the world, begin to honor our African heritage unapologetically, then our healing work will be done. Until that time, will be on a healing mission.”

    [Images: Asase Yaa African American Dance Theater by Stella Magloire]

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    With all the fervor over La La Land mistakenly being announced as the winner of the 89th Academy Award‘s highest honor, it’s likely you missed Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins‘s Best Picture acceptance speech.

    As is often the case, the flub stole the moment and became headline news this morning. Fortunately, the cameras were still rolling as the Moonlight cast, crew, co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Jenkins took the stage.

    “Very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true, but to hell with dreams! I’m done with it because this is true,” said Jenkins. “Oh, my goodness. I have to say it is true, it’s not fake. We’ve been on the [awards show circuit] with these guys for so long and that was so gracious, so generous of them. My love to La La Land, my love to everybody. Man.”

    Jenkins and co-writer McCraney also gave an impassioned speech when they accepted the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. As two “boys from Liberty City,” they used their platform to give a voice to “black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves” on the movie or TV screens.

    “For all you people out there who feel there is no mirror for you, that you feel your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back, and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you,” said Jenkins.

    Mahershala Ali also made history last night as the first Muslim-American to win an Oscar. He took home the trophy for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Moonlight.

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 27th

    • 1853: The first Black YMCA was organized in Roanoke, Virginia.
    • 1872: Charlotte E. Ray graduated Howard University School of Law, becoming the first Black female lawyer in the United States.
    • 1872: Cookman Institute was founded in Jacksonville. It merged with the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, which was founded by Mary McLeod-Bethune, in 1923.
    • 1880: Angelina Weld Grimké was born in Boston. The author, poet, journalist, and playwright was the first woman of color to have a play publicly performed.
    • 1890: Nursing pioneer Mabel Keaton Staupers was born in Barbados. She broke down racial barriers in the American nursing industry.
    • 1897: Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia. The contralto is one of the most celebrated singers of the Twentieth Century. When the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow the opera singer to perform at Constitution Hall, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for her to sing at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939.
    • 1904: Elisabeth Welch was born in Englewood, New Jersey. She was a singer, actress, and entertainer best known for the songs “Stormy Weather”, “Love for Sale,” and “Far Away in Shanty Town.”
    • 1907: Baseball player Hilton Lee Smith was born in Giddings, Texas. He was pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs, alongside Satchel Paige, between 1932 and 1948.
    • 1923: Jazz tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was born in Los Angeles. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bud Powell were his contemporaries on the bebop music scene.
    • 1942: Charlayne Hunter-Gault was born in Due West, South Carolina. She is a journalist and former foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, and the Public Broadcasting Service.
    • 1988: Figure skater Debi Thomas became the first Black Olympian to win a medal (Bronze) at the Winter Olympic Games.
    • 2007: Brown University pledged to raise $10 million to formally apologize for benefiting from American slavery. The money would be directed to local public schools and given to graduate students who pledged to work at the university. The university also would explore opening an academic center on slavery and justice, and strengthening its Africana Studies Department.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 26th

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    By Khalil Waldron

    Before our nearly two-hour discussion, I had no idea who Ivorian-American artist Marvin Touré was or what he stood for in the broader scheme of things in the world. Our conversation took us through a wide range of topics, including his history and heritage, his creative aesthetic, the camaraderie of the art community, and our shared thought of the freedom one finds with self-expression.

    You probably won’t notice him in a crowded room, as Touré prefers to inconspicuously observe his surroundings, but that’s OK because his work usually communicates enough. More often than not, his pieces will command attention and come off as loud in the sense of being strong or emphatic in nature, but it is all by design for the 25 year old’s plan for success.

    “It was interesting to see that something that I did for myself, people resonated with and maybe what I have to say is important,” said Touré. “It was an interesting realization when I found that out because it’s like, ‘Oh, I do have a voice,’ and I should use it.”

    Believe it or not his career started with a switch of his major in 2012. As an undergrad, his creativity led him from architecture to new media arts, in which he became well-versed in using technology to create, combining his passions. He didn’t leave the principles of architecture as he gravitated to multidisciplinary art while earning his Master of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts (SVA), finding innovative ways to trigger the human response to the space and given area of his pieces.

    When speaking about his installation pieces Touré said, “I think about what’s already there and then work around that. It’s not just about on the wall, it’s about how people feel in the space, how they move around the space, and how they engage with the work.” His work, he tells me, is also designed and sprinkled with references throughout that are significant to him. A skill often utilized by the most talented of architects like Tinker Hatfield.

    If he could make it in New York, he could make it anywhere, or at least that’s how he saw it. When it came to finding that freedom of expression, he sought out one of the world’s most welcoming spaces that would either break or propel his creative ambitions.


    “I knew that I wanted to come up to New York, I think it was just in my head, when you’re not from here you have this vision of New York,” said Touré, who was born in Takoma Park, Maryland. “Plus, I was doing something creative and […] if you’re doing something creative, New York, L.A., Paris, those are the places you want to be.”

    The transition wasn’t the easiest because this wasn’t something he could just jump into. Touré spoke briefly of just how big of a leap it was to have those creative ambitions stifled by his family’s reservations about him going into a field that isn’t structured like most occupations. His parents, both West African immigrants from The Ivory Coast, didn’t see the practicality in art because of the way the field varies in terms of earning a steady paycheck.

    “They’re supportive, as long as I’m happy and successful,” he says. “That’s what they care about, most concerned with, me being able to fend for myself.”

    [Images: Khalil Waldron]


    bruh where ya mind at? by Marvin Touré

    As we sat in the epicenter of the SVA x Skowhegan exhibition directly on display in front of us was Touré’s contribution. The collection is known for being highly-competitive in its selection of pieces and artists. His offering, bruh where ya mind at?, serves as a take on the effects of western conditioning on the minds of young Black males and their self image. It hangs beside one of Touré’s favorite artists, who he cites as the reason for him attending SVA. The moment seemed all too real for Touré as he took it in. The prestigious Skowhegan residency is one that offers space and resources to emerging visual artists during an intensive nine-week program based out of Skowhegan, Maine.

    “My most natural state is to be quiet and observant and to be in the corner peeping everything, and I think making the work is a way for me to express all of those observations I’ve made when I’m quiet and looking,” he explained.


    The conversation moved toward his creative processes that, he says, revolve heavily around music -– specifically 1970s reggae by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer -– which serves as the catalyst to his projects. He’ll channel different musical inspirations for different moods. His affection for Hip-Hop covers the full spectrum from the most humble of artists to those who carry themselves with extra pounds of braggadocio. They all resonate with Touré, who is far from arrogant but at the same time heavily sure of himself and wants to be heard and understood.

    “I think for the most part that comes from my upbringing,” Touré said. “My father always taught me to be humble, and then my mother always instilled this sense that I’m special and I deserve to get what I strive for and to be heard.”

    His southern hospitality is a breath of fresh air in a world and a city where some of the greatest creative individuals and public figures are deemed controversial. That juxtaposition and balance given to him from his roots back home make him not only a hot ticket, but a more enigmatic artist. He will command your attention without begging for it and then thank you for listening to his story. His morals and his values won’t allow him to sit quietly by the wayside, but at the same time he’ll always prefer the high road of agreeing to disagree instead of not having a discussion at all.

    “When you speak your truth, not everybody is going to like what you have to say,” explained Touré. “When somebody shows you something that’s outside of your belief system, that very well can shake the foundation of your life views, people are going to react a certain way.”

    [Images: Khalil Waldron]


    In a time in which aggression and tension between classes, races, and authority is met with quick haste to sprinkle Kumbaya on delicate and difficult situations, Touré doesn’t mind taking the time to figure out just what the problem is between everyone and figure out what we aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on.

    “You can’t let anybody block your money, block your knowledge, block your forward progression,” Touré told me as we discussed life in America and common goals. He talks of his desire to speak to people, all people, and hopes his works can serve as the megaphone that he speaks from. He intends to open up the often difficult dialogue that can lead to a better understanding of himself and human beings period.

    “There is no right way to be American, an American can look like anything … Being Black in America, to me, is understanding what it means to be looked over and then triumph through that and then also what it means to come to this country looking for a better life,” he said.


    As a fan of his piece Mad Conqueror: PTSD of a Young Atlanta Nigga, I couldn’t help, but offer up my interpretation, viewing it as a showing of the struggles faced by the Black man in America today: No matter how transcendent or triumphant you are in your field and things you achieve, race will always be on your mind and there’s no escaping it and the negative connotations that are meant to keep us from truly being championed. The concept stood out to me, personally, because it was an expression on how it speaks to us as a people mentally. “It wasn’t Black people who created racism in this country, so they alone can’t fix the problem,” he said.

    The conversation shifted from American issues and politics to the art scene on a global scale. Touré expressed his interest to connect with artists from different backgrounds and countries, wanting to do shows in different parts of the globe, and keeping the conversation going worldwide. He acknowledged that he noticed a sense of elitism in the community, and new people who latched on as he passed each milestone –- his enrollment at SVA, his first few shows, and his residency at Skowhegan -– but the mild-mannered Touré doesn’t lose sleep over who ignored him at the start, because his mind is still on raising the ceiling.

    The African-American art community is a small one, and Touré isn’t one to shy away from representing his people and carrying the torch. He is aware that visibility is everything and would love to empower others by doing what he loves and expressing himself creatively, growing his platform as he progresses.

    To learn more about Marvin Touré and see more of his artwork, please visit his website,

    [Images: Khalil Waldron]

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    As you know, this month we’re challenging ourselves to learn something new about our history every day of Black History Month, and we’re hoping to share our findings with you, the UPTOWN readers.

    Today In Black History: Feb. 28th

    • 1704: Elias Neau opened a catechizing school for Black slaves in New York City.
    • 1708: One of the first slave revolts occurred in Newton, Long Island in New York. Seven whites were killed. Following the rebellion, a Black woman was burned alive, and two Black male slaves and one Indigenous slave were hanged.
    • 1732: Mardi Gras Indians were celebrated in New Orleans.
    • 1778: The Rhode Island General Assembly unprecedentedly authorized the enlistment of enslaved Blacks to assist in the Revolutionary War.
    • 1825: Military hero Andre Cailloux was born in New Orleans. He was one of the first Black Union Army officers to die in combat during the Civil War.
    • 1871: Congress passed the Second Enforcement Act of 1871 to combat attacks upon the suffrage rights of Black men. It gave federal officers and courts control of registration and voting in congressional elections.
    • 1879: The “Exodus of 1879” began when 900 Black families fled the economic and political exploitation of Mississippi. They reached St. Louis on their way to Kansas, the North, and the West. One of the major leaders of the movement was former slave Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, who was a businessman and activist known for establishing Black settlements in Kansas.
    • 1895: Bluefield State College was founded in West Virginia as the Bluefield Colored Institute.
    • 1932: Richard Spikes patented the automatic gear shift.
    • 1943: Unrest ignited in Detroit when racist whites attempted to prevent Black renters from entering their houses at the Sojourner Truth Homes.
    • 1977: Comedian and actor Eddie “Rochester” Anderson died in Los Angeles.
    • 1984: Michael Jackson won eight Grammy Awards for his album Thriller.
    • 1989: Philip Emeagwali won the Gordon Bell Prize for solving one of the twenty most difficult problems in computing.

    Did we leave a notable person or event off this list? Well, each one teach one. Let us know in the comments.

    RELATED: Today In Black History: Feb. 27th

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    This device by Garmin is built for active folks at all fitness levels. If you plan on running, cycling, swimming, rowing or hiking, this is it. Imagine doing this with a single watch— Garmin’s vívoactive HR ($249.99). Unlike many of Garmin’s other products, the watch won’t appeal just to athletes. It’s an everyday fitness band, but with smartwatch elements. It gives Fitbit a run for its everyday-fitness money and is a compelling solution for anyone with an active lifestyle.

    The vívoactive HR seems to be able to do it all. There’s all-day activity tracking (for things like steps clocked, floors climbed, calories burned, and sleep), smartphone notifications from your iPhone or Android device, a built-in optical heart-rate sensor, and GPS for tracking a variety of activities. In addition to the ones mentioned above, the watch can track golf, downhill and cross-country skiing, indoor cycling, indoor rowing, walking, strength training, and even paddle boarding.

    Even more impressive is that it can do all of this without having to be charged each night. The watch will last up to eight days, or around 13 hours, with an active GPS signal. Now you have one less excuse to get out and get active.

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    2018 Lexus LC 500 on Hawaii’s Big Island

    By Ronda Racha Penrice

    When Lexus sends an invitation to “experience amazing” with its all-new LC 500 and LC 500h in Hawaii on the Big Island, “yes” is the only answer. And when it’s at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, that’s a “hell yes!” Plus, with summer creeping around the calendar, a stylish coupe is just the right way to soak up the road.

    You better believe Atlanta to Hawaii is a long journey but Lexus made it worth it. Upon arrival, there were two lovely women with refreshing hand towels and water. Then I was whisked away to the hotel in a Lexus, but not the showstopper because there was no need to dim the excitement of the main event. Since the road from the airport is two lanes, we hit a bit of afternoon traffic, so instead of 10-15 minutes, we arrived in 20 minutes or so.


    Grounds of the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

    The area outside the Four Seasons is interesting. Volcanoes rule here so it has a black lava aesthetic going on. That is until you enter the Four Seasons sanctuary. That’s when greenery and water take over. At the entryway of the reception area, I got a peek at the Lexus LC 500. I got my room key and was off to the Lexus Hospitality Suite, a.k.a. the Makaloa Villa.

    Libations and other goodies awaited me. I was also exposed to the concept of “takumi,” which is a Japanese word for “artisan.” “Crafted for Lexus” honors that concept by supporting several artisans. Some have designed fashion-forward dresses, others one-of-a-kind scarfs and uniquely crafted sunglasses for others. There was also an up close and personal look at the Mark Levinson Audio System that powers the Lexus soundtrack while you drive. Most interesting may have been the virtual reality experience with the LC 500. I could see the car, open the door and change the colors. It truly felt like I could get in and drive it too!

    Finally, in my room, I could unwind a little. Four Seasons Hualalai rooms have great Feng Shui and they are very spacious. Lexus left a few goodies of mostly macadamia nuts. The shower is so glorious! It rains down on you the right way and hits the right temperature.


    Red snapper

    Now full disclosure: I visited the Four Seasons Hualalai about three years ago, so I knew Lexus had found a great “experience amazing” partner. Our welcome dinner was on the Beach Tree Lawn with many food stations and, of course, a bar. My fave, at least, Instagram-wise, was the fully-cooked red snapper, head and all. What can I say? It just had a lot of personality. And it was tasty too.

    But the awesome full moon was one of the night’s main highlights and, guess what, the Four Seasons Hualalai and Lexus had a telescope there for us to really see it and snap it!!! When dinner ended, we chilled a little in the Lexus villa but hitting the sheets was a priority so I wasn’t out for long. I certainly didn’t want to be late for anything Lexus LC related!!!

    Breakfast was al fresco at the Garden Lawn outside the Hualalai Ballroom. I ate lightly and then took in the presentation. Lexus pulled no punches. Brian Bolain, general manager of product and consumer marketing, was transparent and informed us that this was a “pivotal time in the brand’s history.”

    Chief engineer Koji Sato and chief designer Tadao Mori explained to us just how their expertise merged to create the LC. Some of the distinctive features include the 21-inch wheels, customized front suspension, and the spindle grille that has become a Lexus signature with its faster rides. The silhouette is a beauty to behold and the synergy of the lines is impressive, the design literally flows seamlessly from the front end to the back. It’s even a beauty under the hood. There is absolutely no plastic on this baby. It’s all car and commands attention.


    Lexus LC

    When it was time to put the LC 500 on the road, our group hit the lottery and got to take the first spin. I slipped into the liquid platinum LC 500. We drove solo but had walkies to stay in contact with our partner. She led and I followed. Well Lexus actually had our routes programmed into navigation but it was uber-cool to whip around a curve and be able to chat about it!

    While the area around the Four Seasons is lava land, other areas are gloriously green. There were lots of winding roads and the LC 500 handled them like the champ it is. Speed limits are quite low, like 35 miles low, and vary so I appreciated seeing the speed limit and my actual speed on my windshield. And I was told cops drive regular cars there and tickets were so not in the budget! One of the other features I really dug was the ease of switching modes from say Eco to Sports Plus. I had to figure out the music thing, but that wasn’t a deal-breaker since whatever the genre of music was, it sounded great through the Mark Levinson speakers.


    Interior courtesy of Lexus

    Let’s talk interior. Mine was peanut butter-colored leather with suede accents. I’m sure Lexus has some uber-fancy name for the color, but all I care is that it looked fab. Gripping the steering wheel was a joy. I test drive a lot of cars, but I rarely sink into a seat so the LC stood out in that respect. And confession: I’m not so much of a coupe, convertible kind of gal but, like a fine man, the LC will have you doing all kinds of things you don’t normally do.

    Going back to what’s under the hood, the LC packs a powerful punch with its nearly 500 horsies and 398 worth of torque. We did switch up rides, at some rather scenic points I might add, so I got to try the LC 500h. Of course it wasn’t as powerful as the LC but it’s not like 354 horses is bad, plus it does have a V6 engine. Its performance definitely bodes well for a hybrid. Driving it was quite delightful and it also switched easily between modes. It’s all a matter of preference. Going the “h” route might mean you are doing both yourself and the environment optimum good.

    When we made a pit stop in Waimea, it hit me and the rest of the crew that the LC 500 is bigger than it looks. There was no compact parking here. This baby is fully-grown despite its appearance. Also getting out of it didn’t make me feel like I was terribly low to the ground. Actually, it felt extremely normal.


    Kaimukanaka Waterfalls

    As we winded down our driving time, we made our way to Ahualoa Farms. The Kaimukanaka Waterfalls took my breath away. But the thing about Hawaii, especially the Big Island, as I was reminded by a native, is they’ve got waterfalls for days. They also have a lot of coffee!! There we ate lunch where I swear I had the most perfect curry vegan rice dish. I truly could have eaten it all day.


    Blue Hawaiian Helicopter parked on private land

    My driving time may have ended but my “experience amazing” with Lexus time wasn’t over. We boarded Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, with me seated next to the pilot, and did an aerial tour. Seeing slithering hot lava was a treat but landing on privately-owned grounds as if in Jurassic Park was truly ballin’!

    Back at the Four Seasons Hualalai, we kicked back at its ULU Restaurant Lanai. Three years ago when I visited Four Seasons Hualalai, Executive Chef Massimo Falsini had just come aboard and now he is thriving, overseeing all food and beverage needs for the resort and the residences. Our menu was eclectic and good. Thankfully the multiple courses were small portions. And the company was fantastic. I got to chat one-on-one with chief engineer Koji Sato, who truly lit up when I mentioned how underrated the GS is because he is behind that ride too! And, of course, he was overjoyed that I adored the LC, as if it’s hard not to.

    When dinner was over, I reintroduced myself to Chef Massimo and, boy, did he have a great story to share. Apparently a certain NBA king rendezvoused there with his family in tow and got himself in Massimo’s kitchen. Now this king isn’t used to anyone in this country not knowing him but Massimo is Italian and only knows soccer stars so his cluelessness was so real. Of course the Cleveland gentleman stood out, especially since Massimo, himself, stands about 6’4. By the end of their exchange Massimo was aware of who he is and they developed a great shorthand throughout the rest of his stay. I’m sure our king is somewhere still chuckling that Massimo truly had no clue who he was!


    The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at dusk

    I chilled out at the Lexus villa a bit and then headed to the room. Some of the crew was rising early to swim with the dolphins. I opted to enjoy some extra zzzzs, a delicious breakfast in the room, and later lunch featuring some amazing beer-battered fries and a killer margarita at the BeachTree.

    Leaving was bittersweet. But it was certainly better to indulge with the LC in a whirlwind than not at all. I truly can’t wait to see these beauties on the road!

    The 2018 Lexus LC 500 goes on sale in May and is expected to tick in at under $100,000.

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  • 03/03/17--09:30: Andiamo! UPTOWN
  • UPTOWN_andiamo

    Join Donna for an exhilarating adventure in the Swiss Alps where she will experience canyoning, jet-boating, snow sledding, a unique zip-line adventure, and so much more on Andiamo! UPTOWN. Premieres Saturday on ASPIRE!

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    Dark & Lovely, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary catering to the hair care needs of Black women, has tapped Justine Skye as the brand’s new hair color ambassador.

    The violet-haired R&B singer, who is known as “The Purple Unicorn,” is also the muse behind Dark & Lovely’s Go Intense! Passion Plum hair color.

    “My hair color is super important to my look because it helps define who I am,” said Skye in a press release. “It’s a characteristic of mine that makes me feel comfortable and different from the rest. I’m a purple girl!”

    As hair color ambassador, Skye is lending her talents to revealing digital content, drive the #LOVEMYCOLOR social media campaign, appear in advertisements, and meet with the Dark & Lovely fans at live events. In her introductory video, Skye shares little nuggets about herself, including why she is known as “The Purple Unicorn,” best ways to express your true self, and what her hair color means to her.

    Go Intense! truly is a magical at-home hair color kit. It packs a powerfully-pigmented punch that gives Black hair, of all textures, truly intense hair color. According to a press release, “This ultra-nourishing cream color has been precisely calibrated to work with the natural undertones of dark hair to deliver highly-reflective color and intense shine with nourishing care.”

    The line includes six hues in addition to Passion Plum, and all are formulated with olive oil. The kits cost $6.99 and are available at drugstores, mass retailers, and beauty supply shops.

    [Image: Dark & Lovely via Instagram]

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    John Legend has expanded his involvement in the WGN America hit show UNDERGROUND from behind-the-scenes, as an executive producer, to in front of the camera.

    The Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Award winner will guest star in season 2 of UNDERGROUND as abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass.

    The critically acclaimed original series from Misha Green and Joe Pokaski “will continue to follow an unremitting struggle for freedom within a divided America on the brink of civil war in season two,” according to a press release.

    Also joining the fight for justice, equality, and humanity is Harriet Tubman, who is played by Aisha Hinds.

    Check out the full-length season 2 trailer here.

    The season 2 premiere of UNDERGROUND will air this Wednesday, March 8th, at 10 p.m. on WGN America. Need to catch up on the drama of season 1? The network will air a day-long, full season one marathon beginning at 12 p.m. ET/PT on the same day as the premiere.

    Follow @UndergroundWGN to hear from the cast and creative team as they live tweet during the premiere episode.

    [Image: WGN America]

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    It’s time to let Luxury Card work for you. These premium credit cards will change your life, making it easier to consume art, learn about new luxurious experiences, travel internationally, and even relax. Here’s how …

    Through Luxury Card, a global services company, you can access three of the most premium credit cards available: MasterCard Titanium Card, MasterCard Black Card, and MasterCard Gold Card. Once your application to one of or all three of the cards is approved, the stainless steel credit card is your ticket to the fabulous life.

    Unlike most premium credit cards, Luxury Card publishes a seasonal print magazine, LUXURY MAGAZINE, that highlights a wide array of interests and passions, tailored towards its affluent audience. Each issue features aspects of travel, fashion, home design, real estate, vehicles, and technology. While the content of the magazine certainly appeals to Luxury Card members, the cover is the star because every issue showcases a famed artist’s work front and center, making the magazine itself a coveted, limited-edition collector’s item.


    For the LUXURY MAGAZINE Spring 2017 Art + Design issue, Gerhard Richter is the profiled artist. “The 85-year-old icon is known for his varied exploration of the medium of painting, especially within his abstract and monochrome canvases,” according to a press release. Within the pages of the issue, Richter’s peers, associates, and leading art experts provide firsthand insight into his world.

    In addition, the spring issue also highlights the season’s best leather shoes, handbags, and accessories; gives a peek into the unique homes of the world’s elite creatives; showcases designer furnishings for children and pets; and so much more.

    Along with offering concierge service, Luxury Card also provides benefits like an annual $200 airline credit, baggage delay insurance, automatic statement credit for cost of the Global Entry Application Fee, and MasterTrip Travel Assistance, which aids in securing predestination visa, passport, and immunization requirements.


    Speaking of travel, when you’re in New York City, LUXURY LOUNGE NY (645 Madison Avenue) is where you can and will want to take a load off. Luxury Card chose NYC as its first U.S. lounge location because it knows everyone — even the elite — can use a respite from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle. Inside this swanky, yet modern lounge, card members can get familiar with the most sought-after products in art, fashion, and design, while enjoying a complimentary beverage, wi-fi, and other amenities. Members can also seek the assistance of the concierge in securing concert tickets or reservations, while lounging. LUXURY LOUNGE NY also features artwork from the renowned artists the LUXURY MAGAZINE features.

    Now that you’re sold on Luxury Card, it’s time to sell it on you. Here’s where you can apply.

    [Image: Luxury Card]

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    Yesterday, visitors to the Geneva Motor Show received the treat of a lifetime — a peek at the all-new 2018 Volvo XC60 SUV.

    The XC60, which is the bestselling premium mid-sized SUV in Europe, has undergone a complete redesign, yet it still reflects the features Volvo is known for.

    Like the award-winning 90 Series (XC90, S90, and V90), it is built on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform.

    The vehicle is fully-loaded with safety features, including Steer Assist which works in conjunction with a new safety system called Oncoming Lane Mitigation and Blind Spot Indication System (BLIS), in order to mitigate head-on collisions and lane-changing collisions, respectively. There’s also the option for Pilot Assist in the new XC60. This semi-autonomous driver assistance system can control steering; acceleration; and braking on well-marked roads.


    “The new XC60 offers Volvo’s award-winning T8 Twin Engine gas plug-in hybrid at the top of the powertrain range, delivering 400 hp and acceleration from 0-100 Km in just 5.3 seconds,” according to a press release.

    Another cool and healthy for you feature is the new CleanZone system, which removes pollutants and harmful particles from the air outside the cabin, so the air inside the vehicle is cleaner.


    Like most Volvo autos, the XC60 has a sculpted Scandinavian feel inside and out. Senior Vice President of Design Thomas Ingenlath described it in a press release:

    “The XC60 is an SUV not designed to look down on others but to drive. The exterior has an athletic sculpture with a subtle, timeless quality. The interior is a masterful composition of well-resolved architecture, beautiful materials, and the very latest technology — all perfectly blended together. The XC60 provides a true Scandinavian experience which will make our customers feel special.”

    The premium car maker will begin producing the all-new 2018 Volvo XC60 SUV next month at its Torslanda Plant in Sweden.

    RELATED: The Volvo S90: Unparalleled Safety & Style

    [Images: Volvo]

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    Delores Browne

    By Bageot Dia

    Misty Copeland might be the most famous Black ballerina today, but there’s a long list of Black ballet dancers who came before her. While dance instructors and artistic directors may discriminate, the art of the dance doesn’t, and the Black dance community has cultivated a legacy within the dance form that is striving for visibility, recognition, and conversation.

    Through Memoirs of Black Ballet (MoBBallet), dancer Theresa Ruth Howard is bringing the legacy of Black ballet dancers to the forefront. The MoBBallet project is a digital archive that aims to chronicle the lesser-known history of Black ballet dancers through video profiles, essays, and archival data, giving them visibility and humanity. It’s quite a feat that Howard has taken head-on.

    MoBBallet features a digital timeline that juxtaposes historical events with those of ballet, resulting in a “scrapbook” of the 20th Century’s most influential happenings. The MoBBallet e-zine highlights the issues affecting the Black ballet community and society at large. In addition, the Roll Call is a growing list of professional, Black ballet dancers as the hallmark of the experience. So far, MoBBallet has captured the names of over 289 dancers, with no sign of stopping.

    With a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, MoBBallet is taking its initiative out of the digital sphere with an anchor project titled, “Philadelphia Project.” This program will document the histories of three Black ballerinas who received their training in the City of Brotherly Love: PHILADANCO! founder Joan Myers Brown; Delores Browne of the New York Negro Ballet Company; and Judith Jamison, Director Emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

    Howard, herself, has the experience to be an authority on the topics of body image and race. She has participated in panels for Dance/USA, Dance/NYC, and the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance at Duke University. She was a member of the Dance Theater of Harlem and Armitage Gone! Dance, and has worked extensively with choreographer Donald Byrd. Howard has contributed to Pointe, Expressions (Italy), Tanz (Germany), and other dance publications. She also holds more than 17 years of experience as a dance educator, including teaching ballet at the Ailey School.

    Howard hopes the emergence of MoBBallet will spark discussion surrounding ballet as it pertains to the African-American story.

    [Image: MoBBallet]

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    2017 Nissan Maxima SR. [Image: Nissan USA]

    By Ronda Racha Penrice

    A couple of years ago the word was keep an eye out for the Nissan Maxima. And, at the Miami International Auto Show, it did cut an impressive figure. But the proof is in the driving, and the 2017 Nissan Maxima SR was hella convincing.

    Looks always catch the eye first and, boy, was this Maxima a winner. I’m talking black on black on black. Exterior, Super Black; interior, Charcoal; and wheels, Midnight Edition. There’s a reason special occasions are black-tie. I felt so good about the Maxima that I was overjoyed to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD) annual aTV Fest with it as my chariot.


    One the day when I pulled up to the Four Seasons, where I got more up close with the celebs in attendance, the Maxima got all kinds of approving stares. One Four Seasons patron exclaimed, “I love your car,” and was even more impressed it was a Maxima. So what if it wasn’t mine. You better believe I brushed my shoulders off anyway.


    Anna Diop, Ashley Thomas, Joe Morton

    To say the aTV Fest was a blast is an understatement. I literally couldn’t snap a pic of everything, but I did get some pics of 24 Legacy co-stars Anna Diop and Ashley Thomas; Daddy Pope or Joe Morton rather; Donna Summer’s precious Brooklyn Sudano from My Wife and Kids and now Taken; and the gorge Gina Torres who joins Shondaland’s Catch this season!


    Gina Torres, Brooklyn Sudano

    I also saw the amazing Aisha Hinds who co-stars in both Underground and soon-to-come Shots Fired. Both the Underground crew and the Greenleaf cast and behind-the-scenes puppet masters participated in panel discussions.

    At the end of a hard day of work (yes, it is work!), I absolutely loved sliding back into the seat of the Maxima and cruising home. Since I live so close to the festivities, I would just detour most nights so that me and the Maxima could get our quality time in. Apparently the seats were so comfortable because they are “premium ascot leather-appointed seats with diamond-quilted Alcantara inserts.” I’m not going to pretend that I truly know what all that is, but I can vouch that it’s dope!

    One of the things Nissan drivers have to adjust to is what I call “the three-quarter steering wheel.” Instead of being completely circular, it’s only three-fourths circular. The steering wheel does feel good though, plus it’s sturdy and firm. Of course, there are lots of safety features, including Blind Spot Warning and Predictive Forward Collision Warning. A rear camera is pretty standard these days.

    Bose powers the sound. There are also lots of tech goodies like streaming audio via Bluetooth and two front USB connection points that are illuminated. These days who isn’t loving pushing the start button and being able to step to the vehicle for “open sesame” with no need to even pull the key out?


    Under the hood, we’re talking V6 engine with 300 horsepower and 261 lb-ft torque. Sport and Normal are the two modes and both are cool. Sport kicks it way up but, trust me, you still feel sporty in normal. It gets roughly 25 mpg, 21 in the city and an even more impressive 30 on the highway. Down low, we’ve got 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels. This 2017 Nissan Maxima SR in its finest glory is around $40,300, but the way it makes you feel is priceless!

    [All other images: Ronda Racha Penrice]

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    Instagram Photo

    “My surgeon said they’d cut my stomach in half. This would limit my hunger and capacity to eat. My brain chemistry would change and I’d want to eat healthier. I’ll take it! My lifelong relationship with food had to change.”

    — Gabourey Sidibe writes in her new memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, which People calls wise, witty, and unapologetic. And before you judge her for taking the so-called easy route by undergoing laproscopic bariatric surgery, Sidibe told the celebrity magazine, “The surgery wasn’t the easy way out. I wasn’t cheating by getting it done. I wouldn’t have been able to lose as much as I’ve lost without it.” The 33 year old said she made the decision after she and her brother Ahmed,34, were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and she was constantly worrying about the effects of the disease, like losing her toes. Since having the surgery, Sidibe is working with a nutritionist and has changed her eating habits. She also has increased her fitness regimen which includes working out with a personal trainer, swimming, and riding a tricycle around the Empire set. Sidibe, who has dealt with anxiety; depression; and bulimia, says, “I love my body now!”

    This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare will be released in May.


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    By Khalil Waldron

    Kong: Skull Island combines an old school aesthetic with new school visual effects to find a satisfying middle ground, during a time in which outings to the cinema will leave you either questioning who green-lights these projects or proclaiming the film was the best thing you ever saw.

    Peter Jackson’s 2005 film King Kong was a remake of the 1933 classic bearing the same name, whereas Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ offering is more of a re-imagining for a new generation. In Skull Island, our attention focuses on the land of wonder and horror that the titular character calls its home. The natural instinct of most of the island’s inhabitants is to kill, and that serves as a big problem for the start-studded cast filled with more big names and promising up-and-comers than one can count.

    The film’s biggest names carry much of the emotional arc and conflict, which doesn’t depend on chest pounding and ground smashing by the beautifully crafted CGI primate to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. With the wonderful display of acting led by Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brie Larson, the film takes a break from its traditional New York City prologue and climatic assent to the peak of the Empire State Building. Instead, it kicks off right at the end of the Vietnam War with a group of scientists and soldiers, journeying to the mysterious and alluring, uncharted island searching for the next scientific miracle.

    To no surprise what they find waiting for them are the island’s vicious inhabitants and their king, the majestic Kong. The ape isn’t playing the traditional ill-tempered antagonist with a disturbing attraction to the female lead, but a set up to the bigger picture and a discussion about humans making enemies where they have none, along with the dangers of disrupting the natural order of things.

    Viewers will leave theaters pleased by the visual presentation and prehistoric creature battles that haven’t been seen since the glory days of movie monsters like King Kong and Godzilla. Kong: Skull Island — which will once again assert the great ape’s dominance and leave audiences questioning who the real “King of the Monsters” is — roars into theaters this Friday, March 10th.

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