Category Archives: Creative

13Aug/18

Essence CEO Launches Funds for Black Businesses with Queen Latifah

Have you heard? At last month’s Essence Fest, Essence Ventures CEO Richelieu Dennis announced the official launch of the $100 million New Voices Foundation. Dennis, also Founder of the Shea Moisture Brand, had already invested more than $30 million in the 6 months prior to the announcement. “What many of you may not have known all these years is that when you were buying Shea Moisture products you weren’t just investing in that business,” said Dennis during the event’s opening press conference. “We need you to continue buying Shea Moisture so [that] we can continue putting that money back in[to] the community.” The New Voices Fund, dedicated to funding Black Women in business, was originally established in 2017.

Essence

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

As if that were not enough, the CEO also took the opportunity to announce the new Essence Creators and Makers Fund. Essence Ventures, the parent company of Essence Communications, has already invested $20 million into that fund under the guidance of Dennis. Focused on curating African-American content, production company ‘Flavor Unit Entertainment’ lead by Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere is the first partnership on the bill. Appropriately so, being that during the announcement Dennis gave credit to the duo for developing the idea in the first place. During a later panel discussion on Entrepreneurship, Queen Latifah spoke about the financial obstacles that new ventures often face. “One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas. So by supporting us, you are going to keep this engine running in a way you [can’t] even imagine.” Flavor Unit Entertainment will both create and finance film, television, digital, and documentary-style content that reflects the lives and experiences of Women of Color. The Essence Platform — including print, digital, and live events — will be used to market and promote projects taken under the fund.

Essence

I truly respect Dennis for his direct actions against the disadvantages plaguing Black Economics. So far concerning the Makers and Creators who need to “own our content and not just be work for hire” and the Black Women Entrepreneurs that will receive funding for their businesses, I can’t wait to see what else is in store. “Essence and the vision… speaks to Black Women, but also that creates an economic engine through which… we can reinvest back into our community.” Dennis leads by the example that, with initiative, each of us can take part in the collective growth. I’m convinced that, in finding his purpose, Dennis has our backs for the long haul. That’s almost enough to make me grow back out my hair to support Shea Moisture again. Almost.

Essence

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

Stayed tuned for surfacing news about The Essence Creators and Makers Fund.

Applications for The New Voices Foundation are not yet open, however, you can initiate a profile on the site here.

The New Voices Fund is a 501( c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. Tax-deductible contributions can be made here.

12Aug/18

Singer Mya Talks New Album + Being Vegan on FuseTV’s ASMR Video

Rnb Bombshell Mya’s recent album, “TKO” (The Knockout), has an absolutely accurate title. As her 8th studio album, it was released just a day shy of the 20 year anniversary of her beloved self-titled debut album, Mya. She was a boss then and not much has changed. The artist executive produced and released the album via her independent label, Planet 9, with teaser singles like ‘Ready for Whatever’ that surfaced in September 2017. With heat like the track “Damage” (my jam already) and “Open,” that features Goldlink, Mya takes us on a sexy, heartfelt journey yet again. Single ‘You Got Me” is just that–HEAT. With writers like Kevin McCall and Marsha Ambrosius, I’m sure that’s exactly what she intended.

In this video with FuseTV, Mya gets to be the first Vegan to make an ASMR video. Honest moment: I had no idea what ASMR was. Once I started watching the interview I instantly remembered having seen a video of another woman whispering and eating a head of lettuce into a podcast mic. I had dismissed it as some fetish trend for people who liked whispering and watching others eat food. I know, irresistibly sexy right? But this is Maya we’re talking about. Sweetheart, darling diva, supremely sexy but sublime. So… what’s up?

For those of you as curious as I was, ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It is centered around the practice of listening to a variety of spine-tingle inducing sounds like whispering and crunching. With quite the following, ASMR is generally used for meditation, sleep, and in aiding anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Surprisingly non-sexual. Of the several theories I read surrounding the practice, it seems that whispering both relaxes and stimulates by triggering a reflexive sense of intimacy. Who knew? I’m surprisingly here for it and I’m pleased that Mya was the one to break me in. In the video, we get to watch as Mya speaks (or whispers) about being Vegan, her new Alkaline diet, and shares some veggie tips. I’d tell you why she chews and then spits out Carrots like Tobacco, but that would spoil the video.

Catch it here and of course check out Mya’s new album, TKO, available everywhere.

03Aug/18

‘Nappily Ever After’ FINALLY Has A Trailer — It’s Amazing.

This is a bigger reveal than when Sanaa first posted pictures of her #Baldie Cut. We had the title for a while, but yesterday Netflix released the Official Trailer for Nappily Ever After. Ms. Lathan will be starring in the Netflix film based on the Best-Selling book from Author Trisha R. Thomas. Alongside the likes of Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield, Ernie Hudson, and Ricky Whittle, this is stacked to be a good one.

Nappily Ever After follows Sanaa as Violet Jones, a Woman who is obsessed with Perfection. Not limited to her hair, if it isn’t perfect Violet wants nothing to do with it. But as we all know, it’s not always about what you want, but what wants you. Out of respect for not giving the ENTIRE story away, let’s just say that the gods giveth and they taketh away. Violet’s hair is simply the straw that breaks the Camel’s back. After cutting her hair in a (seemingly intoxicated) act of furious desperation, she is left to face the truth (and the mirror): She doesn’t know who she is without it all. Mix in external pressure and disapproval and you have a story that reeks of resonance. I have a feeling that, Bald or otherwise, most of us Women can relate and even tell a similar story or two. While Women also cut their hair as an act of joy, celebration, and rebellious freedom, this story is one of inevitable truth.

“My Hair was like a second job… Now I’m forced to focus on Myself.”

Coincidentally enough, Sanaa released the pictures of her fresh cut alongside the growing momentum of the #BaldCut and the Black Panther film (btw: Wakanda Forever and ever). There were already ongoing conversations concerning the beauty of Black Women, our hair, femininity, identity, and our imminent liberation from the stereotypes and limitations placed on all of that. Director on the bill is Haaifa Al-Mansour, the first woman Saudi Director and controversial legend of her own country. Being even slightly aware, there are interesting ties to hair and femininity in Saudi Arabia as well. So, with my disappointment at her not being of the Diaspora aside, I am interested to see how she weaves such truths together. In Nappily Ever After, we will get to watch as Violet struggles to recalibrate her entire life and embrace who she is without her preconceived notions of perfection. I have a feeling that it will be just that in the end: Perfect.

Film premieres Sept. 21 on Netflix.

 

01Aug/18
Taji Mag Vol 16 Melanin on Chrome

Taji Vol16: Melanin on Chrome

Release Sep 7 2018 | Vol16 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Melanin on Chrome! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of Stephan Marcellus & Lola Valentine. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick on Budding Young Actress, Model, and Influencer Briana Roy; Community Spotlight: Instagram Recommended Body Butter “Mocha Whip”; our highlighted Hair Feature by Intl I Love Braids Day; “Solo Travel: Excursions” by D. Carrie; “Protection” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “Shades of Melanin” from City Republik; Fitness Feature Model & Actor Marshall Price; “#BlackLoveConvo: “All Blue with Jade Novah” by Dapper Dr. Feel; Vegan Fun with Delliz the Chef’s Thai Pad Recipe; Featured art piece by Will Focus; Must Have Graphic Novel: Marassa; Black Business Highlights; Taji Mag Model Contest Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Shop Taji’!

Taji Mag Vol 16 Melanin on Chrome

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 16

Taji Mag is the epitome of the positive Black experience. Our brand embodies the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.

30Jul/18
International I Love Braids Day

International I Love Braids Day 2018 Was Beyond this World!

International I Love Braids DayInternational I Love Braids Day (IILBD) 2018 was all things braided godliness! This July 29th, the Queens came to make a statement, and that they did! From traditional styles with ancestral meaning to modern spins on staple techniques, these hairstyles left everyone in awe. They proved that braids can be worn by anyone for all occasions, at all ages and stages in life. Your royal can be clean and simple or adorned with cowry shells and jewels, whatever makes you strut and walk with your head held high. This inaugural celebration made history.

International I Love Braids Day

International I Love Braids Day received it’s official Proclamation on July 21, 2017, by the Brooklyn borough president’s office to the founder of IILBD, master hair braider Debra Hare Bey. Debra has been styling natural hair for over 30 years in Brooklyn. Her current salon, OMhh Beauty Oasis, is located at 407 Lewis Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. At the salon, she services clients with a multitude of natural hairstyles, but she specializes in braids. Debra is the originator of the style Nu Locs, most popularly worn by “Maxine Shaw” on the television series Living Single. Go ahead, question it. You thought Erika Alexander was rocking locs back then? Nope, those were yarn braids done by Debra. Debra also has a line of nourishing vegan hair and body care products that smell so good you’ll never want to stop using them. Fall in love with all things Debra Hare Bey and OMhh at www.OhMyHeavenlyHair.com.

International I Love Braids Day

Some of the other participating stylists were Ayana Card of Kinky Rootz, Fajr of Sophisticated Loc Salon, Ngone Sow of Soween, and Thema Taylor.

International I Love Braids DayIf you slacked in your mackin’ and slipped in your pimpin’, check the images here to see what you missed. Be sure to mark your calendar for July 29th next year for International I Love Braids day and follow @internationalilovebraidsdayblc on IG to be notified of the #BraidLoveBK celebration for 2019!

 

 

08Jul/18
Toree Alexandre

Actress Toree Alexandre Talks Playing Young Mariah on Luke Cage

Toree AlexandreWhen it comes to bright new talent in entertainment within the Black community, many of these creatives can be found at or have attended the American Black Film Festival in Miami. I found myself attending the film festival and I wanted to hear from Mr. Black Panther himself director Ryan Coogler speak about his journey to the being one of the hottest directors. While there I experienced the positive vibes from being around all of those in attendance. It was euphoric and energizing, Black excellence at its finest. There were many activities going on for attendees to partake in, one of the most entertaining was the HBO comedy competition hosted by Yvonne Orji aka Molly from Insecure. Before Yvonne’s comedic talents slew the audience, I happened to meet two actresses; one very charismatic Amber Jones and a very shy, jovial Toree Alexandre. We spoke about projects and exchanged business cards, little did I know one of these actresses played the younger version of the villainous Black Mariah on season 2 of the hit Netflix series Luke Cage

Dapper Dr. Feel: How did you get into acting?

Toree Alexandre: My mother was a ballerina in England, and she put me in dance classes growing up, so I was performing in dance recitals from a young age. The turning factor, however, was when I played Johnny Appleseed for a history assignment in my second-grade class. When I put that metal pot on my head and got up in front of my class to perform, I knew I wanted to play Mr. Appleseed in a feature film one day.

DDF: What was your reaction to getting the Black Mariah role?

TA: I was at my desk at work and I screamed (internally), and cried a little! People at work already see me talking to myself daily, whether it is to memorize lines, or just a friendly convo with me, myself, and I – so they didn’t think anything of my strange behavior.

DDF: You mentioned you love classical theater, what made you get into it?

TA: The juiciest part of getting to know my characters is text analysis, and many classical pieces give you tons of text to sift through. From the metaphors to the parallels to the allusions to the rhymes to the symbolism to the imagery, it all gives you an inkling of how the playwright created the truths of the characters you are portraying, and how you as the actor can then insert yourself into the mix and do justice to those fully-realized characters. The depth, backstories and the intelligence of the Shakespearean characters are absolutely enthralling. I write poetry and am working on a few scripts, so I definitely take notes from great writers!

DDF: What was your process of preparing for the role?

TA: I watched the first season of Luke Cage, studied Mariah and her habits, imagined all of the things Mariah would do if she were on vacation in Jamaica, looked deeper into her relationships with Mama Mabel and her Uncle Pete, and how that played into her interactions with people and her hopes and dreams for the future of Harlem… also, dissecting what snapped inside her head for her to pitilessly pulverize her cousin to a pulp was a trip and a half… Ms. Woodard was captivating in that scene; I loved it!

DDF: What is the difference between theater and film?

TA: It’s just a different medium, so the scale is changed and you make adjustments accordingly. There is no real difference; it’s all acting! It really depends on the style of the show itself, that is part of what informs an actor’s choices.

Toree Alexandre

Actress Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard on TV show Luke Cage

DDF: Did you get to meet Alfre Woodard (Adult Black Mariah) or any of the main cast?

TA: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Ms. Woodard (yet), but I was so grateful to have met LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Curtiss Cook, Jayden Brown (and his granddad), Chaundre Bloomfield, Mehki Hewling, Shannon Harris, and Jeff Auer. A lovely group of people!

DDF: How does it feel to be apart of a series that celebrates Black women?

TA: Black women are an integral part of how and why we are all here today. I celebrate Black women daily, so Luke Cage fits right into the puzzle! It feels like I am honoring the influential women in my life, so if I can honor them and pursue my passion simultaneously, what could be better than that?

DDF: What are your goals short term and long term?

TA: I am going to be a full-time actress and writer. I will be on stage and on the silver screen! I will travel the world. I will go back to school to study medicine, or mathematics, or both! My ultimate goal is to be of assistance to those in need.

DDF: What is your advice to young women in entertainment?

TA: Wah fi yhu, cyaan unfi yhu, as my grandmother would say. In other words, what’s for you is for you. Be your best self, work hard, be happy wherever you are and in whatever you are doing, and God and the Universe will take care of the rest.

Make sure to follow Toree Alexandre as she makes her way towards stardom in Hollywood and theater.

21Jun/18
Luke Cage

Luke Cage Celebrates Juneteenth in D.C.

Juneteenth is a day that pays tribute to the freedom of slaves and their opportunity to establish themselves as respected people. What better way to celebrate Juneteenth than spend the evening at the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.)  watching one of our greatest Black fictional heroes, freedom fighter Luke Cage, a bulletproof Black man who fights for Harlem’s people. Netflix and Spotify hosted an advanced screening with an afterparty filled with old-school hip-hop, jazz, and other genres of music featured in the Luke Cage series.

Luke Cage Season 2: The Screening dived into the mysterious past of Luke and other characters like main villain Mariah which turns out to be intricate in the development and existence of the characters. The new villain this season, the Bush Master, has been featured in the trailers and looks to be a challenge to Luke Cage both mentally and physically. As we discover his connection to the city of Harlem and Mariah, he looks to be a foe that will have Luke Cage teaming with the antagonist Mariah. In this case, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, really holds true in this season.

One of the major themes in season 2 is self-reflection – what are the true identities and morals of Luke and some of the other characters. It is something that we all can relate to as we partake in this journey called life. I think that by the end of the season, we will truly be able to see growth and self-discovery in the characters. We may also be able to see the facades of these characters finally be revealed. With all that said, Luke Cage season 2 will definitely keep audiences engaged. Beware, you may be tempted to binge because of all that this season has to offer!

The Teacha: KRS-One

Luke Cage

KRS One

Followed by the screening of Luke Cage, the infamous and rhapsodist rhymer KRS-One gave a short concert that provided energy to the crowd with his flows and hype freestyle. His words consisted of knowledge, influence, and support of the unified people. KRS-One covered oppression, deportation, and strengths of unity. KRS-One showed that he is not only a lyricist but a teacher as he went into the some of the backgrounds of deportation and illegal immigrants. To sum it up, no human is illegal which many in the audience agreed is a valid statement. By the end of his concert, he showed why he is a major part of hip hop culture. He provides entertainment that is laden with substance and quality content.

Midnight Hour at Harlem’s Paradise

Luke Cage

Midnight Hour

While watching Luke Cage, some of us fans dreamt about exploring the Marvel world in real life. Well, Netflix did just that by recreating Harlem’s Paradise in the Kennedy Center’s Atrium. Decorated with purple and red hues with white decor, copies of the Notorious B.I.G painting that can be seen in Mariah’s office were placed around the space. The mood really set the atmosphere as if Mariah herself was watching us network and dance with her lover/partner ‘Shades’ at her side.

Luke Cage

Joi

The entertainment was opened by the music group and soundtrack directors the Midnight Hour, a group consisting of producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and composer Adrian Young. They performed jazzy tunes that bring back the feel of Digable Planets with a hint of Wynton Marsalis. During the show, they brought acts Joi, known for her unique and groovy tunes under the Dungeon Family and talented guitarist, aka B.B. King 2.0, Kingfish.

The night ended with a surprise guest no one expected, Mr. God MC himself, Rakim. When he got to stage the crowd erupted and the evening was set for another explosion of hip hop culture fun. From his hits ” I Ain’t No Joke” to ” Paid In Full,” his lyricism echoed, what seemed to be, across all of DC combined with the crowd that rapped in unison. Well, close to it anyway.

One of the best lines from the night came from KRS-One. He said that bulletproof Black men do exist and those are the ones that are intelligent, educated, and not doing negativity in the streets. As we watch Luke Cage fight for his Harlem people in this next season on Netflix, let’s fight for each other in a positive way.

Check out Luke Cage Season 2 on Netflix June 22, 2018!

07Jun/18
Stächa Huis

Stächa Huis is an Ode to Surinamese Enslaved Women

Alida was very beautiful and one of the slaves of White Dutch slave owners.  Her master, duPlessis was known to be the most vicious slave owner in Suriname at the time.  According to the legacy, the wife of the slave owner, Suzanne duPlessis, thought her husband was sleeping with Alida. Out of pure hate and jealousy, she cut off one of Alida’s breasts and served it to him on a silver chafing dish.  Alida survived and the slave master gave her a position in the house as a ‘misi’ or mistress.  He also gave her a three-legged table inlaid with precious metals.

The ‘Jealousy Chair’ is an important part of Surinamese history; in particular that of the Black Surinamese woman.  The slave women created the Koto dress, which is made up of many layers including a jacket, shirt, skirt, and headwrap, to hide her body and that of young girls, from the predatory eyes of the slave masters.  The ‘Koto Misi’ derives from the story of Alida and Black Surinamese women, until today, honor her legacy by taking photographs sitting in the ‘Jealousy Chair’ in their Kotos with plants or flowers sitting on a three-legged table.  They also celebrate her legacy by having Koto Misi contests in both Suriname and Amsterdam.  Black Surinamese women celebrate the Legacy of Alida until this day for her courage, resilience, and strength during a time when she and Black women like her throughout the Caribbean and America were the innocent victims of cruelty, hate, heinous sexual exploitation and more.

The Stächa Huis brand embodies the culture of generations of Surinamese women in the family of designer Stacey Filé.  Her debut lookbook takes you through traditional Surinamese culture juxtaposed with distinct silhouettes, hand painted batik, rich colors and more.  The memory of Alida mirrored with imported and gilt embellished textiles, this collection tells the story of the women of Suriname who represent Chinese, Javanese, African, and Indian ethos.  The gold in each garment represents in-laid with precious metals in Alida’s chair.  The garments themselves are the opposite of Kotos; they are meant to be freeing and in a sense showing off the female form of the wearer. The story of Alida and so many women like her from the sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean to the cotton plantations in Mississippi allow us to remember the power of our voices, our rich history of revolution and remind us that we are the embodiment of the Black woman, no matter our background.  The Stächa Woman is a symbol of feminine empowerment; she is the definition of the women who came before her and the blueprint of the women to come.

www.stachahuis.com

 

 

Photo Credits:

Models: Fabienne Hankers and Denisha Gough
Hair and Makeup: Fabienne Hankers
Jewelry: Megan Gilchrist
Photography: Kevain Delpesche
Written by Stacey Filé
03May/18
ArinMaya Thank You

New Song “Thank You” by ArinMaya is Musical Soul Food

“Thank You” is ArinMaya’s newest offering that explores issues of self-love, momentous endings, relationship redemption, and freedom all at once. Directed by actor and screenwriter Chris Greene of Truth First Productions (The Night Of; 7 Seconds), the video portrays an introspective ArinMaya looking for inspiration and self-healing in the pages of O Magazine and Together We Rise, the book written and published in commemoration of the Women’s March. An inaugural member of the Resistance Revival Chorus, which was born from the Women’s March, ArinMaya first wrote “Thank You” as mantra in an act of self-love.

ArinMaya Thank YouInspired by a relationship turned disappearing act, ArinMaya came up with the refrain, “Thank you for setting, setting me free – Thank you for letting me be me – Thank you for setting, setting me free,” after realizing that her sadness over the relationship’s ending should actually be joy.

She begins telling the story of love gone wrong, taking lyrical assistance from her bandmate and energetic emcee, BD3. Produced by Edson Sean, the third and most versatile member of ArinMaya’s musical collective The Experi3nce, “Thank You” is a crowd banger. Shirazette Tinnin (Hugh Masakela; Alicia Keys) is the song’s secret ingredient, whose percussion adds a special layer to the song’s already upbeat feel. Replete with a memorable baseline and a clean and vibrant horn arrangement – also played and arranged by members of the Experi3nce – “Thank You” is a song for everyone, as both men and women will find themselves in this powerful, relatable message and melody. Song + Music by ArinMaya featuring The Experi3nce Directed by Truth First Studios. Click here to purchase the track. For more information, visit her website.

 

01May/18
Taji Mag Vol 15 Eclipsed Beauty

Taji Vol15: Eclipsed Beauty

Release Jun 7 2018 | Vol15 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Eclipsed Beauty! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of Stewella Daville. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick on Loc’d Queens @loclivin, @mzladylox, @killadoesthat; Community Spotlight Weeksville – A Historically Black Community; our highlighted Hair Feature by Debra Hair Bey; “Solo Travel: How I Decide Where to Stay” by D. Carrie; “Your Food Might Be Eating You” by Jashua Sa’Ra; Chit Chat with Andrea Rachel; “The Creator’s Lawyer™ – Ticora Davis” by Fiat; Stächa Huis is an Ode to Surinamese Enslaved Women; “#BlackLoveConvo: “When Family Passion Inspires Art: Kenadi Johnson” by Dapper Dr. Feel; “Cayden Cay Consulting” by Fiat; “How Group Economics is Rebuilding the Black Community”; Vegan Fun with Delliz the Chef; Featured art piece by Will Focus; Must Have Graphic Novel: Kubadilisha The Manga Series; Black Business Highlights; Taji Mag Model Contest Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Purchase Taji’!

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 15

Taji Mag is the epitome of the positive Black experience. Our brand embodies the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.