Release Dec 7 2020 | Vol25 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of AfroFuture! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of @NoriRaneMUA (by @BymshaBrownePhotography with @NYCNory). Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick, #BlackLoveConvo: “Jurnee Smollett Talks Lovecraft Country, Activism, and Breonna Taylor” by Dapper Dr. Feel; our Community Spotlight on Nichelle Consulting; our highlighted Hair Feature by Angela Plummer; “Solo Travel: Are You A Performative Global Ally?” by dCarrie; “Micro Betrayals?” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “Building the Image Nation” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 25 contributed photo story, “AfroFuture;” Fitness Highlight: @itsdreamsworld; Vegan Fun with Earth’s Pot’s Wontons; Think Tank, “Lack of Love” by Brianna Burnley; Earth’s Cabinet LLC, Aligning Your Body Holisticly; “The Garden Metaphor Of Finance” by M’Bwebe Ishangi, Founder of Cryptowoke Financial Sustainability Movement; Lovely Leo Skincare Awakens All of Your Body’s Senses; Featured Art Piece; Comic Appreciation; Black Business Highlights; and more!!
Born and raised in West Africa Liberia, Diezie Sahn is a promising actor, screenwriter, and director, specializing in martial arts and fight choreography, now based in Atlanta. He has acted and performed stunts in several short films, despite battling a speech impediment, and has received the CMF and TERMINUS “BEST ACTOR” Awards. His recent Lead role in the P.S.A, “Corona Man,” went viral. Before breaking into the film industry, Diezie lived in an Ivory Coast refugee camp during the Liberian Civil War. He refuses to allow anything to stop him from achieving his goal of empowering others through film.
Taji Mag (TM): What inspired you to become an actor?
Diezie Sahn (DS): I remember vividly at the age of 7, in the town we were living called “12 houses,” my siblings and I were attending a small community school and my mother had been encouraging me to sing in church. She decided that she would register me to perform in the Bible play, “King Solomon”, and I was to play King Solomon. I was completely terrified! Here I was, a stuttering 7-year-old child, who now had to perform in front of hundreds of people at the end of the school year. The entire school would think I was a joke. I was upset with my mother and didn’t care to see what she saw in me, but my mother was relentless. She drilled the entire play with me for days so that I would be prepared for the role. To this day, I still remember my lines. When the big day came, I was beyond ready. That was when I realized that acting and performing was my purpose in life. On stage, I can speak freely through the characters and truly express myself. For the first time, my voice was heard. I felt free and happy.
TM: What films, directors, and/or actors have influenced you?
DS: Every film I’ve ever seen growing up influenced me in some ways. Western films, the Asian martial arts films that were popularized at the time, and Nigerian (Nollywood) films. I was intrigued by the Asian films because of the action, the western films introduced me to real acting, and the Nigerian films opened my mind to telling our own African stories.
I believe that life is a busy intersection we all crossing through to create a path that fits each of us. My influences are the ones like myself who didn’t allow stuttering to stop them from becoming great: Bruce Willis, Steve Jobs, Samuel L Jackson, James Earl Jones, Legendary B.B King, Steve Harvey, Harvey Keitel, Kendrick Lamar, Elvis Presley, John Gomez, Marilyn Monroe, Emily Blunt, Julia Roberts. The list goes on! They inspire me to persevere.
TM: What type of films do you most look forward to creating/participating in?
DS: I look forward to playing James Bond one day or I’ll create my own James Bond-style movie with an African actor as the lead. I’d also like the opportunity to play a superhero. I think it would be awesome to see an African man in the sky doing something out of the normal beside flying to out of his country.
Follow Diezie Sahn’s journey at on Instagram!
Harlem born and raised, indie rapper-producer XAV. released his debut single “Jiggy” in July to fans who have been patiently waiting for his first single as a solo act (XAV. is one half of the group Xav and Ola). The single was written and produced by XAV. with a seamless feature from fellow Cleveland-born rapper, Trill Mah, who adds to the melodic aesthetic of the track with their own witty, sharp lyricism. The single, “Jiggy”, is a lighthearted track that is the perfect addition to your summertime playlist. In the lyrics, XAV. lets us in on his more playful side as he’s detailing his interest in a young lady, eager to know if she’s interested in getting jiggy with him.
The visual for “Jiggy” was shot before we ever heard the phrase ‘social distancing’. In true indie-artist fashion, XAV. tapped into his community to vividly transform his single from lyrics to screen. Friends and fellow artists gathered to take us back to a time when tripping and vibing with your friends at house parties and on rooftops was a reality. The overall vision was flawlessly executed by Indian female filmmaker and photographer, Tashi Bhutia, who directed and edited the visual.
Quarantine has been a personal experience of ups and downs for all of us. XAV. is using this time to continue to create and engage, whether that means releasing new music, talking trash on XBox, or using his platform to be outspoken about systemic racism and police brutality. For XAV., the debut single “Jiggy” is only the beginning.
“I do this 100% indie with love, creativity and thoughtfulness,” says XAV. “I hope you feel that in the song and video. There’s so much that I have been working on during this time and want to continue to create art that speaks to the humanity of my community. I want to make sure that I am creating art that allows us the freedom to vibe without restriction.”
Taiwo Aloba is proud to offer her latest chapbook, Surulere, Lagos, that has hit Amazon in September 2020. In Surulere, Lagos, Taiwo Aloba offers a map to the city life of Lagos. With deep roots in her African culture, the New York-based writer guides her readers through a series of honest and reflective accounts of growing up in Lagos. Born and raised in Lagos, Taiwo Aloba believes that her poetry mirrors her perception of the world. She explores topics like identity, culture celebration, corruption, systemic violence, and religious fanaticism.
“I am so proud to offer you all a feast in my new work. “Surulere, Lagos” is now available on Amazon: @amazonkindle @amazon (Ebook and Paperback). I threw all of myself into it. I wrote, edited, and published it. It is a labor of love and creativity. Surulere, Lagos is truly a gift, and I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.” – Taiwo Aloba.
The African American Day Parade, Inc. (AADP), one of the largest and oldest parades of Black American culture, will virtually host the 51st Annual African American Day Parade on Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 12pm. It will be hosted live across Facebook, Youtube, our website homepage, and Scratchvision. The 51st annual parade will honor individuals and organizations that have made key contributions to the African American Community through Business as this year’s parade theme is “A Tribute to Black Business”.
Sponsors of this year’s parade include Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), WBLS, TWU Local 100, Scratchvision, the National Association of Black Accountants, and Mech Multimedia Agency. “We are excited to virtually celebrate Black culture,” exclaims AADP Chairman and Board Certified Chaplain at MSKCC, Yusuf Hasan. “For over 50 years, this parade has served as a vital platform for showcasing our heritage and history from our perspective. We feel it is extremely important to continue in this legacy as it uplifts our people.”
The African American Day Parade, Inc. (AADP) will host the 51st Annual African American Day Parade Virtually
Sunday, September 20, 2020, at 12pm
Tune in via: AADP website, Scratchvision TV),
FaceBook Live, YouTube Live
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) partners with Rambert Dance Company to present the forthcoming real-time, live-stream world premiere performances of Wim Vandekeybus’ Draw From Within. The show will be streamed direct from Rambert’s London studios and performed across time zones for international audiences. The newly commissioned production is currently underway and is being created while adhering to the latest UK health guidelines to ensure the company’s safety. Using all of the company’s spaces from the loading bay to the studios to the corridors and even the roof, Draw From Within will be performed live in the Rambert building and streamed in real-time to ticketed audiences around the world. The new work will be broadcast to NYC audiences via Rambert’s new cross-platform web application Rambert Home Studio at 8 pm EST on September 26, 2020. Live performances are also scheduled for audiences in Seoul, South Korea on September 24 and the UK on September 25.
World-renowned Belgian choreographer and filmmaker Wim Vandekeybus has brought the prestigious UK company back to life after lockdown and transformed its state-of-the-art studios on London’s Southbank into a fantastical world. Taking viewers on a surreal and exhilarating odyssey, the experience will be an assault on the senses akin to being within the piece itself. Set to a heady and eclectic soundtrack and featuring Rambert’s awe-inspiring company of dancers, Draw From Within promises to make an impactful mark on the fast-developing digitally-driven cultural landscape.
To support the performing arts economy at large, Rambert is encouraging audiences around the world to support their local partnering institution or theater through their ticket purchase for Draw From Within.
Tickets are $13 and go on sale Tuesday, September 15 on BAM.org.
BAM Members will have access to a special pre-show discussion and Q&A with Rambert’s Artistic Director Benoit Swan Pouffer and BAM’s Charmaine Warren, included in the ticket price.
A warrior goddess escaping to find peace in memories of her tribe in the midst of the present-day chaos.
Photographer: Chante Ramsey, VySyn Photography
Model: Toni Faith
Make-up: Jessica Wilson
Headwrap: Danielle Moore
Concept: Chante Ramsey, VySyn Photography
Location: Central Park (formerly Seneca Village)
SYNOPSIS: Everyone wants to know why women go to the bathroom together. Welcome to Potty Break where we show you why. This is a wild/raw/comedic journey of two aging party girls who tackle serious situations while looking for love and/or meaning in a shallow and NYC party scene. Starring Toni Thai Sterrett and Donna Augustin-Quinn.
Potty Break is a hilarious series from Toni Thai Sterrett who wore multiple hats to see it to come to fruition – writer, director, producer, songwriter, lead actress. Toni gave us some insight into Potty Break’s core.
Taji Mag (TM): What spawned the concept for Potty Break?
Toni Thai Sterrett (TTS): A few things spawned the concept. One was the idea of the bathroom being a sacred space for women. When you want to have a private cry in a professional setting, bathroom. You want to take a bath to soak a hard day away, bathroom. And for some of us who have wacky periods, we can spend a lot of time in the bathroom just sitting there, enjoying the comfort of just sitting there. LOL. Even moms sometimes use the bathroom to escape their children. But last but not least, the bathroom is where women congregate. In clubs, bars, restaurants, etc. People always want to know why we go to the bathroom together so I used this as an opportunity to show them.
TM: There are so many important discussions addressed in the series. What are some that are most important to you?
TTS: For me, the most important discussions addressed in the series are 1. Men’s mistreatment of women. In the “To Dump A Predator” episode, I compare men who take advantage of vulnerable women to child molesters. It’s the same thing. Misusing your power over someone who is trusting and vulnerable. 2. Colorism. I know for a fact that my complexion has opened (fake) doors for me and gotten me in certain rooms. I also know that it tends to attract certain types of men and I’m not going to sit up here and gaslight Darker-skinned black women by saying the thing is not a thing. I want to air this shit out and help my chocolate sisters heal from the bullshit. 3. We talk about dating outside of your race. It’s important to me that Black women open their minds up. Yes, most of us want a Black man but we can’t cry racism then turn our noses up to a man from another culture who wants to get to know and love us. Not fetishize you, but love you. They are out there. I mean have your preference but be open to what God has for you. He just might be from Korea. IJS. 🙂
TM: Centering Black women is obviously important in the series but it appears that so was flipping stereotypes. What were your thoughts behind Kandi Kream Kane as well as Adrienne and Taylor’s characters?
TTS: Kandi Kream Kane is important because she is a sex worker. A porn star. So we judge and look down on pornstars but the porn industry is booming. So the same people talking shit, are secretly indulging. That’s crazy to me. I believe Pornstars serve an important function in society. It’s stress relief, acne prevention (you have to watch), educational, and probably even Rape prevention. I hate to say that but I feel it’s true. As far as Adrienne (Black) and Taylor (White), I wanted to show that there can be a sisterhood between Black and white women. Also, I wanted to show that the Black girl isn’t always the hanger-on and plus one. She was the one from money that exposed the white girl to the club culture and excess. I love those episodes. They are so fun and the ladies are amazing.
TM: Who would you love to make a cameo on Potty Break?
TTS: Dave Chapelle for sure. I just think he’s one of the most brilliant minds we have in our culture. He’s funny, smart, honest and he challenges his audience which I love and I set out to do in my own work. He also curates an amazing, positive, kind group of people in real life around him which I think says a lot about him. I know he’d probably be smoking a cigarette in the scene, which I hate, but I’d let it slide, I’d even write that in!
TM: I loved everything about the series except the concept of you all sitting on a bare toilet in a public restroom lol, would you consider including an episode that addresses those of us with OCD and how we maneuver through these same girl chats “without touching anything”?
TTS: Thank you. and OK, so full disclosure, that was a fuck up. The first time we shot it, I was doing the squat thing my mom taught me as a little girl but let me tell you, I was so overwhelmed with all the hats I wore on set that I honestly just forgot. That’s why it’s important that you have someone covering your blind spots when you are writing and directing. In Santana’s episode, She actually lined that seat with toilet paper first but our editor cut it out for timing. Looking back, we should’ve left that in. I love that you bring that up and we need to address that in future eps because that would never happen.
TM: I enjoyed how every episode zones in on the conversations and builds character development without ever having to leave the restroom. Would you consider expanding the Potty Break episodes to other 1 location stories?
TTS: Oh absolutely. And thank you for that. You know, the possibilities are endless and when you have limited resources and time/budget, you have to be really creative. I love that. We are working on different ways to flip it so stay tuned.
TM: Are you planning on future seasons?
TTS: Yes, because of the current climate, we are working on new ways to tell our stories. Obviously, clubs are closed so we have to flip it and are working on that now.
TM: What else do you have in the works?
TTS: So we actually have a theme song for Potty Break that I wrote and performed called “Queen Of The Club” so we will be promoting that soon. We are also in talks to do an entire mixtape. In addition to that, we are in talks to do a podcast to dig in deeper on the serious themes that we tackle in Potty Break.
Watch Potty Break on YouTube now and get in on the conversation!
Black Dance Stories announces its August 2020 lineup featuring dancers and choreographers who use their work to raise societal issues, strengthen community through their programming, and use history as a source of inspiration. This month the story sharing and discussion series brings together yonTande and Meredith Rainey (Aug 6); Sydnie Mosley and Raja Feather Kelly (Aug 13); Zane Booker and Oluwadamilare “Dare” Ayorinde (Aug 20); and Leslie Parker and Wanjiru Kamuyu (Aug 27) in discussion. Black Dance Stories will also present the world premiere video of nora chipaumire’s new work—[another] township manifesto (Aug 27). The piece was created specifically for the digital platform in response to our current world environment where Black artists are finding innovative ways to continue to address the politics of Black bodies and connect to their audience. The series streams live via Zoom every Thursday in August at 6pm.
For full schedule and artist bios click here
The Black Dance Stories team consists of Black creatives in the arts, including Charmaine Warren, Kimani Fowlin, Nicholas Hall, Cynthia Tate, and Gabe Dekoladenu. The series is consistent with the tradition of Black artists finding a way for their voices to be heard during turbulent times. When civil, moral, and social freedoms are challenged and at times stifled, Black artists find ways to use their talents as activism. Black Dance Stories upholds, highlights, and celebrates Black creatives.
The series launched in June 2020. Previous artists include Ayodele Casel, Stefanie Batten Bland, Jamar Roberts, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Cynthia Oliver, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris, J. Bouey, Kyle Marshall, and Okwui Okpokwasili. Each session will be archived on the Black Dance Stories YouTube page.