Feature:Amandla Stenberg

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Named for the Zulu and Xhosa word for “power,” Amandla was born in Los Angeles on October 23, 1998, to Karen Brailsford and Tom Stenberg. Her mother is African-American and her father is Danish (and of part Inuit-Greenlandic ancestry).

Amandla landed the first of her Disney catalog modeling shoots when she was four years old. She has shot numerous commercials, most notably for McDonald’s with Ronald McDonald himself, for Walmart with DJ Tony of The Ellen DeGeneres Show (LeVar Burton aka Kunta Kinte directed), and for BuildTheDream.org. This moving, Boeing-sponsored PSA, which raised funds for a national memorial in Washington, D.C., honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., premiered during the weekend of President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 on Meet the Press and other NBC/MSNBC programs. On October 16, 2011, Amandla was invited by the MLK Memorial Foundation, along with such luminaries as Jesse Jackson, Tommy Hilfiger, Dan Rather, Stevie Wonder and Nikki Giovanni, to participate in the memorial’s dedication ceremony. After an introduction by actress Cicely Tyson, Amandla paid tribute to the four little girls who were killed in the Birmingham church bombing.
In the summer and fall of 2010, the actress shot her first feature, Colombiana, an action-thriller starring Zoe Saldana whose character, Cataleya Restrepo, Amandla plays as a child. Amandla opens the movie, setting the stage for Saldana’s cold-blooded assassin. The Luc Besson vehicle is quintessential Besson, featuring lots of daring stunts, some of which Amandla performed herself. On set to help Amandla hone her natural athletic abilities was David Belle, the French-born creator of Parkour. “A star is born!” raved one reviewer. The New York Times declared, “her portrayal of the future deadly-but sensitive killer is such a perfect combination of trembling, action chops and deadpan humor.”

In April 2011, Lionsgate announced that Amandla had landed the coveted role of Rue in the screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ popular young adult series, The Hunger Games. The news was greeted with overwhelming support by fans, and the highly anticipated film opened in theaters on March 23, 2012, to much acclaim and big box office numbers. The Los Angeles Times noted “the presence of young actress Amandla Stenberg, who makes a powerful impression as 12-year-old Rue.” Time magazine said Amandla “adds underage winsomeness as Rue,” and Variety called her a “winning newcomer.” For her heart-breaking performance, Amandla earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture and a Black Reel nomination for Best Breakthrough Performance. She also won (with Jennifer Lawrence) a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Chemistry and a Black Reel Award.

To promote the movie, the young actress, who was featured in a Hunger Games movie poster, graces the cover of Scholastic’s Tribute Guide and has her own Rue doll, traveled around the country greeting fans and signing autographs on Lionsgate’s mall tour. She also conducted numerous print, television and video interviews with media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, People, Us Weekly, Publisher’s Weekly, Seventeen, Essence, Vanity Fair, E! News and The Wall Street Journal. Singled out as one of Hollywood’s young stars to watch by Rolling Stone, Paper and Ebony, Amandla made her mark as a fashionista, landing on magazine covers (Girls’ Life and Justine), and earning kudos for her red carpet style.

In November 2013 Amandla began a guest-starring, four-episode arc playing Macey, the daughter of Captain Irving (Orlando Jones), on the first season of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. Amandla appeared as series regular Halle Foster on NBCUniversal’s Mr. Robinson opposite Craig Robinson in the summer of 2015. In January 2016 she traveled to Park City, Utah, to attend the premiere of her latest film, As You Are, which won a Special Jurat the Sundance Film Festival.

Amandla appears in the visual album Beyoncé: Lemonade (2016). In March 2016 Fox 2000 won a heated bidding war for Angela Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give. with Amandla attached to star. The actress is also slated to star in the YA adaptation Everything, Everything (2017), the Amma Asante World War II vehicle, Where Hands Touch (2017) and the sci-fi thriller The Darkest Minds.

In addition to on-camera jobs, Amandla has put her sensitive ear to work in ADR gigs for both film and television. Amandla lent her voice to Rio 2 (2014) playing a high-flying, feathery spawn of Anne Hathaway (Jewel) and Jesse Eisenberg (Blu). A gifted musician, Amandla plays the violin, drums and guitar. In 2009, she performed the violin with the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Honors Orchestra at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex. Her involvement with the Rock STAR Music Education program landed her gigs at the House of Blues and the Hard Rock Cafe, as well as a studio session with producer/engineer Gerry Brown, after her band won RockSTAR’s Battle of the Bands.

In 2013 Amandla began performing on the violin and singing harmonies at LA venues such as Genghis Cohen, Room 5 Lounge and Amplyfi with singer/songwriter Zander Hawley. The folk-rock duo known as Honeywater released a self-titled first EP in August 2015; a second, “Wonder,” dropped November 2016.

When she’s not making music, Amandla is making noise on social media. Declared “one of the most incendiary voices of her generation” by Dazed magazine, which featured Amandla on the cover of its Autumn 2015 issue, the social activist helped catapult the topic of cultural appropriation into public discourse when she posted her school project video, “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows” on her Tumblr. Time Magazine named her one of The 30 Most Influential Teens of 2015 and 2016. Amandla appeared on the cover of Teen Vogue’s February 2016 issue, for which she was interviewed by Solange Knowles. ELLE UK dubbed her an “icon of change” on its September 2016 cover while Interview called her “a new progressive” on its cover. Amandla interviewed (and danced with!) Gloria Steinem for Teen Vogue’s September 2016 issue.

Oprah Winfrey has taken note of Amandla’s activism and invited her to give a talk (“My Authenticity Is My Activism”) for SuperSoul Sessions Series 2 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in April 2016. Highlights were featured on SuperSoul Sunday. Black Girls Rock! honored Amandla with the Young, Gifted and Black award and she is also the winner of the BET Awards’ YoungStars award. The Ms. Foundation for Women named Amandla (along with Rowan Blanchard “Feminist Celebrity of the Year” for 2016.

Amandla is co-author, with Stranger Comics’ Sebastian Jones, of the comic book series Niobe: She is Life. She is a youth ambassador for No Kid Hungry (Jeff Bridges serves as spokesperson for the charity’s umbrella organization, Share Our Strength) and supports the Ubuntu Education Fund, which nurtures children “from cradle to career” in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

 

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Queen Latifah Nabs Third Screen Actors Guild Award

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All hail the Queen!

Queen Latifah just took home the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for her role in HBO’s Bessie.

“I’m in shock right now,” Latifah said in her acceptance speech. “Thank you so much!”

Latifah continued in the hopes of inspiring others to pursue their dreams no matter what.

“I hope that anyone out there who does not come in the package people say you should,” Latifah added. “Keep fighting for it. Flip those rocks over. Keep pushing, keep turning. You can do it. You build your own boxes, not people. So knock that thing away, and do you!”

Latifah is a veteran when it comes to the SAG Awards—the multi-talented actress snagged her first award in 2003 for her role in Chicago, and then again in 2008 for Life Support.

Congrats, Queen Latifah!

 

 

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Feature: Tiffany Haddish

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Tiffany Haddish credits her social worker for her success as a comedian/actress. Growing up in foster care in South Central Los Angeles, it was her excessive talking and imaginary friends that prompted her increasingly flustered social worker to steer her into stand up comedy by enrolling her into the Laugh Factory Comedy Camp for children. Haddish has been making people laugh ever since appearing on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes? for TV One, and also on Comedy Central’s Reality Bites.

Not only is she a comedian, she has proven to be a versatile actress appearing in such diverse projects as the film comedy Meet the Spartans and the Lifetime drama Racing for Time, where she played a lead role opposite Charles S. Dutton. Currently, she is appearing opposite Ice Cube in The Janky Promoters. Haddish’s comedy has taken her all over the world. She recently returned from performing on the USO Comedy Tour in Japan for United States troops. She has performed all over Southern California at various comedy clubs and local venues. She also performs in a comedy show called Chuckles Not Knuckles, a program she developed for inner city high school students that promotes nonviolence.

Haddish sees herself as sexy as Halle Berry, as funny as Jim Carrey, raw like Richard Pryor with the comedic timing of Lucille Ball, smooth like Eddie Murphy, Jewish as Whoopi Goldberg, and hopes to someday have money like Oprah.

 

 

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Halle Berry Launches New Scandale Lingerie Line

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Actress/entrepreneur, Halle Berry, is laying down a pretty solid foundation for a well- deserved empire. The A-list celebrity recently entered into a new fashion venture, when she launched Scandale Paris last year, a lingerie line sold at Target stores. With diverse revenue streams flowing in, this woman of power proves she’s all about business.

[Related: Decoded: Multifaceted Power Moves of Halle Berry]

According to AOL.com, Berry stumbled upon Scandale Paris during a trip to France. “Founded more than 80 years ago, the brand was struggling because the undergarments were too expensive”, she told AOL. She reached out to her business partner, Erik Ryd, and they bought the company. In October of 2014, Scandale’s $7 panties and $18 bras began selling at Target and in France, they’re sold at the department store Carrefour.

Strategic, entrepreneurial moves by big screen starlets have become the new normal. Not only does small business ownership allow them to cash in on their famous brands, it also leaves room for family time.

“Having a business like this, I can do more work at home, be with my family,” Berry, who serves as co-owner and creative director of Scandale Paris, explained to AOL . “I have two little kids now. I can’t travel around the world and do a movie like I used to.”

Actress and mom, Nicole Ari Parker, also crossed over into small business back in 2009, when she offered ladies the opportunity tosave their dowith her stylish gym wrap headband; and fashionista Sofia Vergara brought her fans affordable fashion with her clothing and accessory line, Sofia, featured in Kmart stores.

“It’s way more lucrative than making one movie a year,” said Jo Piazza, author of Celebrity, Inc.: How Famous People Make Money, to AOL.”

In the behind-the-scenes video, the Academy-Award winning actress shares the story of her partnership with Scandale, and says the delicate intimates are tailored with “femininity and beauty” in mind, at a price that all women can afford.

“I was drawn to Scandale because of its French heritage and gorgeous lingerie,” Berry said via the brand’s website. “The products are designed to support a woman’s desire to look beautiful, as well as her essential need to feel confident and comfortable in her body.”

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Gabourey Sidibe Inks Memoir Deal

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Gabourey Sidibe,“Precious” star and “Empire” actress, has agreed to pen a memoir that will be published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, according to CBS News.

“I’ve been writing since I was a child, and have always had so many stories to tell that are too long, shady, and impolite to share in interviews,” Sidibe said in a release.”

CBS reports that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Senior Executive Editor, Deanne Urmy, added, “Moving from Bed-Stuy, to Senegal to Cannes, as Gabby has done in a still-short lifetime, has helped produce a fierce, wise way of being in the world, impossible not to admire. ‘Funny’ doesn’t begin to capture just how irreverent and complex Gabby’s stories are,” said Urmy in a statement.

Sidibe, 32, has also appeared on the last two seasons of “American Horror Story,” and the TV series “The Big C.”

 

 

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‘Castle’ Star Tamala Jones Launches Brain Aneurysm Survivor Model Search

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Actress Tamala Jones of ABC’s Castle has teamed up with the Joe Niekro Foundation and luxury hat maker Canada Bliss in a unique model search for brain aneurysms survivors.

According to research, the sudden and fatal illness is believed to claim more than 500,000 lives annually and has a greater chance of occurring in African American women.

After, recovering from the burst of a swollen blood vessel at the young age of 23, Jones decided to go public with her health issue back in 2011, and recounted her experience to BlackEnterprise.com.

“[I woke] up one morning with a massive headache; feeling like I had to use the bathroom, like I had to urinate really bad,” she said in a previous interview. “When I got out of bed I had no balance. I was walking on my toes and I was stomping. When I got to the bathroom, I plopped down on the toilet. I had no control over my body weight. And when I couldn’t go I was like, Oh, my God, I just had to pee really bad and now I don’t have to. Then, I got up because my head was hurting, and I looked in the mirror and I’m telling you two seconds after I looked in that mirror I dropped and hit the floor.”

Now a longtime supporter of the cause, Jones has sparked the model search as part of her early-detection aneurysm campaign and survivor self esteem initiative, to help educate others  and make them aware of the warning signs. It’s also designed to encourage survivors to share their personal experiences.

“This is more than a model search, it a message to survivors that by sharing our stories we help save lives,” Jones said in a statement. “For a long time I did not discuss my brain aneurysm out of fear, so I understand the silence of survivors but now we are giving them not only a voice but faces too.”

Canada Bliss collaborated with Jones to create the signature line Tamala By Canada Bliss to help raise awareness of brain aneurysms.  The company is now taking its efforts a step further by placing survivors chosen via the model search in advertising for the brand.

The model search is currently taking place through June 5th and Jones’ is seeking survivors age 18 and over to come on board with the ad campaign. To enter participants must submit a 500-word essay along with two photos to BASurvivorModelSearch@gmail.com.

Proceeds from the sales of Tamala By Canada Bliss, according to the news release, benefit brain aneurysm awareness and research.

 

 

 

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