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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Feature: Vanessa K. Bush

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Vanessa K. Bush, award-winning journalist, editor and author, has been named Editor-in-Chief of ESSENCE, it was announced today by Martha Nelson, Editor-in-Chief, Time Inc.  Her appointment is effective immediately.

As Editor-in-Chief, Bush will serve as the brand’s editorial leader and oversee the magazine’s content and vision.  Most recently, Bush has served as Acting Editor-in-Chief since February of 2013, responsible for leading the editorial team.   

Bush recently introduced ESSENCE’s #HeIsNotASuspect social media campaign aimed at reducing racial profiling of young African-American men.  She has spearheaded numerous editorial franchises including “Guns Down”, ESSENCE’s multi-part series addressing gun violence in our communities and “Where Smart Starts”, a year-long initiative around education.  During her tenure, ESSENCE launched a new Twitter program, #ESSENCEDebates, and Essence.com introduced the innovative Beauty Matchmaker tool.  In addition, under her leadership, the 2013 ESSENCE Festival’s ESSENCE Empowerment Experience daytime programming enjoyed record-breaking attendance; bringing ESSENCE content to life around the pillars of family, health, relationships, beauty, careers, personal empowerment, activism, and more.    

She first joined ESSENCE more than a decade ago as Beauty and Fashion Features Editor, where she directed all style and beauty sections.  In 2003, Bush was named Lifestyle Editor, responsible for coverage including food, home, parenting and lifestyle.  Additionally, Bush was a member of the editorial features team, writing and editing numerous impactful stories – such as Thin Line Between Love and Hate on teen dating violence and Fat Chances chronicling childhood obesity.  In 2005, she was named Executive Editor, managing the editorial team to implement the brand’s creative vision, as well as overseeing staffing, systems, operations and the magazine’s operating budget.

“Vanessa’s more than 10 years of experience as an editorial leader at ESSENCE will ensure continued success for the preeminent African-American women’s media brand,” said Ms. Nelson.  “She has the full support of Time Inc. to execute on her vision to honor this loyal and cherished audience.”

As Acting Editor-in-Chief, Bush recruited Dawnie Walton as Deputy Editor, Aretha Busby as Beauty Director and Melissa Kramer as Fashion Director.

“Vanessa’s wealth of knowledge about the ESSENCE brand and connection to our community of nearly 10 million readers has deepened reader engagement,” commented ESSENCE President Michelle Ebanks.  “Vanessa is poised to deliver on our mission to help African-American women move their lives forward – not only through the magazine, but by meeting their needs across all of our branded platforms.”

Prior to joining ESSENCE, Vanessa served in a variety of editorial capacities at publications such as Life and Glamour. She is also the co-author with Tyra Banks of the best-selling beauty and empowerment book, Tyra’s Beauty Inside & Out.

Vanessa received her Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in English and American Literature from Harvard University, and her Master of Science in magazine concentration from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

 

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Feature: Thulisile Madonsela

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Thulisile Madonsela was born in 1962 in Soweto. Her parents, Nomasonto and Bafana were both traders. She obtained a bachelor of Law from the University of Swaziland in 1987 and three years later, an LLB at Wits University. She then started working as an assistant teacher and taught from 1980 to 1983. In 1984 she entered the legal profession as a legal and education officer at the Paper Printing Wood & Allied Workers Union where she would work from 1984 to 1987.

Since 1987, Madonsela has worked in several government departments and civil society including, law lecturer at Wits University, presiding officer at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), deputy director at the Justice Department and managing director at the Office of the Status of Women in the Presidency. Madonsela currently holds three positions; chairperson for the Centre for Reconciliation and Equality Studies, member of the South African Law Reform Commission and the public protector of South Africa.

Madonsela was appointed Public Protector by President Jacob Zuma in 2009 after being recommended by parliament. She got a hundred percent vote by all parties in parliament. She was the only full-time commissioner in the South African law Reform Commission at the time. Of all her achievements and high profile positions that she has held, it is the public protector position that has put her in the public eye. Since her appointment, she has investigated several high profile cases and has received praise for her efficiency and professionalism.

An advocate for Gender equality and the advancement of women, Madonsela is a member of South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA) and Business Women’s Association of South Africa (BWASA). In 2012, she was honoured with South Africa’s most Influential Women Award. She has authored and co authored several publications including books, chapter, journals and handbooks on gender management and gender mainstreaming. Madonsela was one of the drafters of South Africa’s current constitution in 1994.

 

 

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