Category Archives: News

15May/20

Steven St. Pierre is Blazing a Trail Set by the Likes of Duvernay

Steven St. Pierre is a budding creative/actor I met at last year’s DC Black Film Festival. While interviewing him during my coverage of the film festival, he mentioned how he started film making just recently and that Ava Duvernay had been an inspiration to start on a desirable path towards acting. After the interview, we kept in contact and I watched his progression. Little did I know, he would be achieving a lot more than he could imagine. I had an opportunity to catch up with the rising creative. 

Dapper Dr Feel (DDF): How does it feel to have so much success for your short film, Corey?

Steven St. Pierre (SSP): The success has been great! The way I have been perceived for making something great, for myself. Last time we spoke in person, I was halfway into my festival run and we went to places like Canada and DC and I had entered the film Corey in multiple film festivals in the New York area.” 

Note: St. Pierre’s short film Corey has won multiple awards that include but are not limited to: Best Short film at the Validate Yourself Film Festival, Wavemaker Award at the Everybody Digital Film Festival Black History Month Edition, Audience Choice award at the Astoria film festival, Best Short Film winner and Grand Prize Winner at the Queens City Film Festival. 

DDF: You won big at the Queens City Film Festival, what’s next? 

SSP: After I won the grand prize award, I now have the opportunity to have my next short produced from the Queens City Film Festival. The prize is worth $50,000. Taking the passion I had into my own work turned into something I could have never imagined.

DDF: That’s truly a blessing! I remember you telling me about the trials and tribulations you had putting Corey together. Your co-star, Chantal Maurice, put on a great performance, how has her career been since the short film?  

SSP: Chantal has since moved to Atlanta P-Valley (Starz), Queen Sugar, Dynasty, and other projects that are coming out later this year. She’s killing the game.

DDF: What women have influenced you? 

SSP: My mother and grandmother, the women who raised me in my household. Just seeing their work ethic. My mom worked two jobs, to this day she still works two jobs to help support my grandmother because she is not doing well. Just really seeing all the sacrifices shes made, as an adult, I have developed a deeper appreciation and respect for her. 

I have to give a shout to my work mom and my assistant director Catherine, she just retired. Always supported me, always had my back, she was amazing. When you are in the workplace, you always need an ally and she definitely was that for me.

Ava Duvernay has really been an influence on me. I don’t know how many people are aware that before she was a filmmaker, she was a publicist. She was pounding the pavement, making everyone else’s dream come true and she decided, at what some people would think as an older age, to pivot her whole career. I feel like that has been my journey as well.

“I was a film publicist, so I represented a lot of filmmakers and I was always around them. I [started thinking], ‘They’re just regular people, like me, with ideas. I’ve got ideas.’ That’s literally how it started. It was definitely a career change; I didn’t make my first little short until I was 32.” – Ava Duvernay 

DDF: You had your biggest role as a co-star on High Maintenance, how was that experience?

Steven St. Pierre appears in an episode of High Maintenance season 4

SSP: I got that role not too long after I spoke with you in DC, it’s my first major network role. I felt like I finally cracked that code. Going out on auditions is tough, especially being new to the scene, but it’s going on four years now. It brought two passions together because I am playing a basketball player. I played ball growing up, so going into the audition I felt comfortable. I got offered the job via email and was excited! That was the most excited I have been in a long time.

DDF: What are your other goals?

SSP: My ultimate goals are to establish myself in the industry so I can have the visibility to reach people from places in my community. Letting them know they can do anything they are passionate about. Even today, I go to a lot of career days for my friends who are teachers or are a part of programs for children. I think it helps children see someone like me, who is making it, but not a huge celebrity, to let them know goals are attainable. Otherwise, if they see someone who is a huge celebrity they won’t think things are attainable. They can also see the grind I am going through, so when I make it further into my acting career, it will hopefully inspire them. 

Steven St. Pierre looks to continue his success as a creative and achieve many of his entertainment goals during his career change. With Ava Duvernay serving as an inspiration, St. Pierre knows that, with hard work and persistence, the sky is the limit.

Follow Steven St. Pierre on social media or check out his web page here.

Steven St. Pierre’s award winning short Corey

14May/20
DanceAfrica

BAM Launches DanceAfrica Digital Programs, Bringing the Joy of the Beloved Festival into Our Homes, Launching May 18

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BAM launches DanceAfrica digitally with a series of public programs celebrating the nation’s largest African dance festival and its community. Programs launch May 18th with offerings that include conversations with Abdel R. Salaam, Rennie Harris, Ronald K. Brown, Mikki Shepard, DanceAfrica Elders, and more; online dance classes; streams of past performances; FilmAfrica; and other programs that bring the joy of the festival into audiences’ home. The popular Brooklyn bazaar goes digital for the first time in 43 years highlighting 20+ small businesses through an online marketplace, May 14—June 15.

Images from DanceAfrica: 2019 Rwanda Reborn: The Remix_Photos by Julieta Cervantes

DanceAfrica digital public programming has been specially created in response to the current world environment, with audiences seeking compelling ways to connect with their community and explore the arts from home. BAM’s longest-running and most beloved program is a community celebration, welcoming all to observe. The celebratory events will continue the series of unique digital experiences offered by Love from BAM. Visit BAM.org to join and view a weekly schedule.

Public Digital Programming Includes:

May 21, 2020/Brooklyn, NY—DanceAfrica—the nation’s largest African dance festival—continues its celebration through May 29 with special Memorial Day weekend programs, including a live dance party, a conversation with Mikki Shepard, and more. Visit BAM.org to join and view a weekly schedule. Detailed information below. 

Mon, May 25 at 11am ET

DanceAfrica, The Early Years 

Mikki Shepard, the original producer of DanceAfrica, discusses the festival’s inaugural year and how the program grew, from 1977 to 1984, complemented by video clips from past DanceAfrica performances. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Mon, May 25 from 7pm—9pm ET
DanceAfrica Dance Party with DJ YB
Keep the DanceAfrica celebration going with a live, virtual dance party featuring a set by DJ YB. During the dance party, DanceAfrica will encourage donations to the mutual aid group Bed Stuy Strong, a network of neighbors helping neighbors in central Brooklyn during the COVID-19 crisis. Join DJ YB for an evening of Afrobeat, funk, soul, rock, jazz, and hip-hop stylings. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org 

Tue, May 26 at 6pm ET

DanceAfrica and The Council of Elders

The DanceAfrica Council of Elder members Mamma Normadien and Baba N’goma Woolbright join Abdel R. Salaam

and Charmaine Warren to reflect on their DanceAfrica wedding ceremony (1983) as well as their participation in DanceAfrica over the years, both as Elders and as longtime stage managers. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Wed, May 27 at 6pm ET

DanceAfrica and The Council of Elders 

DanceAfrica Council of Elder leaders and longtime members Mamma Lynette White-Mathews and Baba Bill (William) Mathews join Arts Consultant Stefanie Hughley for a discussion on performances over the years, complemented by video clips from DanceAfrica performances in 2011 and 2019. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Thu, May 28 at 6pm ET

Education and DanceAfrica

Karen Thornton Daniels, Sabine LaFortune (RestorationART), Coco Killingsworth (BAM), and Abdel R. Salaam share their experiences and insights about the essential and evolving role education has played in DanceAfrica. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Fri, May 29 at 2pm ET

Bantaba West African Dance Class

Karen Thornton Daniels and Farai Malianga lead this bantaba dance class with a focus on a variety of dances and traditions from West Africa. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

Fri, May 29 at 6pm ET

DanceAfrica Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Coco Killingsworth, Charmaine Warren, and Abdel R. Salaam gather to talk about the beloved program and the passing of the torch after Founding Artistic Director Baba Chuck Davis’ transition. Free and open to the public. JOIN HERE. For more information, visit BAM.org

SCREENINGS

FilmAfrica Co-presented by BAM & AFF, Inc

BAM partners with African Film Festival, Inc. to present online screenings of a selection of modern African cinema classics. For prices and more information visit BAM.org.

Opens Thu, May 21

  • Aya of Yop City (2012) Directed by Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie (85min)
  • Mother of George (2012) Directed by Andrew Dosunmu (106min)
  • Rafiki (2018) Directed by Wanuri Kahiu (83min)
  • Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love (2008) Directed by Chai Vasarhelyi (102min)

Opens Thu, May 28

  • A Screaming Man (2010) Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (92min)
  • Chez Jolie Coiffure (2018) Directed by Rosine Mbakam (71min)
  • I Am Not a Witch (2017) Directed by Rungano Nyoni (93min)
  • National Diploma (2014) Directed by Dieudo Hamadi (93min)

ONGOING

Fri, May 15—Sun, Jun 14

DanceAfrica Digital Bazaar  

DanceAfrica’s popular free outdoor bazaar goes digital this year, creating an online marketplace highlighting small businesses offering the finest fashion, food, jewelry, and crafts. Free and open to the public. For more information visit bam.org/bazaar

13May/20
pleasantlywaisted

Get Waisted With PleasantlyWaisted

PleasantlyWaisted
CEO Tiffany Henry of PleasantyWaisted

Say hello to Tiffany Henry! “My goal for the rest of 2020 is to continue To help enhance self-love and confidence. My other main goal for the rest of 2020 is to build a community of women, both single or married. A group where we can work out together, Waist Train together, and have social meetups to just vent on daily activities that happen in our lives that we don’t feel comfortable speaking about with other people. A sisterhood!” She is 30 years old and has lived in NYC her whole life. She decided to relocate to ATL a year ago and is a proud mother to a handsome young boy. She had always been a plus-size woman but was also shapely. When she started her weight loss journey ten years ago, her goal was to have a small waist. After doing her research, she came across waist training. She started shopping for one and once she got it, she loved the outcome! The only inconvenience was that it never covered her lower bottom belly, also known as the FUPA. She then ordered another until she owned at least FIVE waist trainers and still wasn’t satisfied. All she could ever ask herself was “well, what happened to the bigger girls or what happened to the girls with longer torsos? That is when she said enough is enough and started creating her own trainer known as the PleasantlyWaisted Trainer!!

PleasantlyWaisted

The purpose of PleasantlyWaisted trainers is to teach women that no matter what size or shape, you are to always love yourself. Self-love is the best love. The trainer gives you that extra push to want to lose weight while helping you get to that small waist goal you’re looking to achieve and including healthier eating and daily activity habits. The trainers also give your back support and help you work on your posture. Henry works full time and, when she gets home, she is a full-time mom. She makes sure her son and home are situated. Once that is all taken care of, she is up all night preparing orders to be shipped out the next day. As it’s her passion, she has learned how to juggle it all.

In order to see results, you have to be dedicated. That means eating cleaner, drinking lots of water, and waist training for 6 to 8 hours every day. A lot of people have the misconception that they can just wear their waist trainer from time to time and eat whatever they want. It doesn’t work like that, the trainers are not plastic surgery and you still have to put in the work. If you follow these guidelines, she guarantees you in about two weeks to a month you will start seeing a difference.

PleasantlyWaisted

I asked Ms. Henry if she can change one thing in our society, what will it be and she answered by saying she wants to see more woman empowerment. She will definitely like to see more women push and encourage each other rather than being in competition with one another and I definitely agree with her.

Kynniah’s Final Thoughts: Henry was so nice to send me a trainer and when I tell you I love it… I LOVE IT! My first time putting it on, it was very tight but as I kept putting it on it became less tight. I have been working on following a low carb diet and have been doing core workouts. I have to admit I do see a slight change and will be uploading some pictures soon to show you my progress. I definitely recommend all of my ladies, all ages and sizes, invest in getting a PleasantlyWaisted trainer…you will not be disappointed! Go shop for your PleasantlyWaisted trainer on their Website. Follow their page on Instagram.

12May/20

Filmmaker Morgan Cooper Wins Two Tribeca X Awards

Morgan Cooper writer and director of U Shoot Videos?

Morgan Cooper made a huge impression with his trending Fresh Prince of Bel-Air inspired short, Bel-Air, and the filmmaker continues his success. The award-winning filmmaker snagged two awards in the 2020 Tribeca X category of the Tribeca Film Festival. Morgan Cooper won “Best Feature Film” for U Shoot Videos? and “Best Short” for Pay Day, winning in the two out of the three categories of the Tribeca X category. Taji Mag was able to catch up with the multi-award-winning filmmaker to see how his projects came to life. 

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What moment did you decide you want to make films? 

Morgan Cooper (MC): My career started on my 18th birthday. I bought a Cannon P2I DSLR camera at Best Buy and, with that camera, I made a career. I felt like I had something to say through the medium. From that moment on, I just showed up and did the work every day. I took small steps to improve my skillset. Over the years I was able to find my voice.  

U Shoot Videos?

Morgan CooperU Shoot Videos is a powerful narrative following a filmmaker trying to excel in his career field. Being young, Black, and gifted but denied the opportunity to make commercials due to his lack of experience and no film school, Moji must figure out how to keep his dream alive and hurdle the obstacles in his path.  

DDF: U Shoot Videos? provides a narrative some Black creatives can relate to. What has been the most interesting response to your film? 

MC: Some of the people that reached out felt it was their story. They felt seen and heard through the film. I can’t think of any better feedback than that. There were people that were thinking about giving up, feeling so alone during their journey in filmmaking, and, after seeing this film, it gives them an extra boost. I was overwhelmed with how positive and how beautiful the feedback was. 

DDF: There was a lot of support for the lead character Moji, from characters like Aaron and Moji’s brother. Was that intentional during the course of the film? 

MC: The show of support was very important to me. You don’t see Black men supporting each other enough on screen. Everything in the film is based on real reactions that I had during the course of my career. I felt it was my responsibility to show these really honest moments where Black men support each other without any alternative motives. Like Aaron telling Moji “I’m down to help you because I want to learn. I have an interest in what you do and you inspire me.” I am really proud of that moment and I hope to see more support among Black males like that on film in the future.  

PayDay

PayDay is a collaborative project with Color Creative, Synchrony, Gian Spoon agency, and written by actress/comedian Gabrielle Dennis. The short follows Nyssa, a young woman who desires to open her own business but spends money like there is no tomorrow. On her payday, she gets caught in a time loop “Groundhog Day” style and is unable to break it until figures out a way to make better decisions. 

DDF: How did you become apart of the PayDay Project and how was it working with Gabrielle Dennis? 

MC: Denise from Color Creative reached out to my agent about the PayDay project. It just looked like an interesting and fun piece. I pitched on it and got the job. I locked arms with Color Creative, Giant Spoon, and Synchrony to make the film happen. It was a long two-day shoot but it turned out really nice in the end.

Gabrielle was great to work with. She brought a lot of enthusiasm to the table. She has a brilliant comedic mind. It was very fun being on set and creating space for her, letting her talent really shine. She trusted my vision from the start and throughout the shoot. We gave ourselves space to express the ideas that we both wanted to bring to the project. We were both aligned with the why behind the project and it was just a tremendous project from start to finish. 

DDF: How did you become so good at providing the right light for people of color while you shoot? 

MC: Perfecting that craft started from who I am, understand my background and culture. As a Black man, I wanted to make sure people of color are captured on film with care. That’s really the root of it. From there it filters into lighting, lens selection, and crafting the scene. Understanding how Black people have been captured on film historically, which hasn’t been great. Over the years I have tested, researched, and studied different techniques to maximize the quality in which our skin is captured. I often think about the actors who are overlooked especially from the city where I am from – Kansas City. With the opportunity for the actors to be on set, they can’t be wondering how they look, they have to just trust your direction. As a director, it’s something I take seriously. I like to make sure I capture actors in an honest way. 

DDF: Have you had other filmmakers ask you about lighting while filming actors of color? 

MC: I have had other colleagues that have sought out advice on lighting, different fusion techniques, transitions, lenses, etc.

DDF: What director inspires you? 

MC: Ernst Dickerson has been one of the biggest inspirations of my career. He’s a former cinematographer who shot films like Do the Right Thing. He’s a brilliant cinematographer who goes into writing and directing. He penned some of my favorite films like Juice. I followed the same trajectory – working as a cinematographer then transitioning into writing and directing. I’m actually getting a chance to speak with him after this interview. 

 DDF: How does it feel to win Best Short and Best Feature in the Tribeca X? 

MC: It feels amazing! I feel very humbled and I am full of gratitude, to be recognized by such a prestigious institution. More than anything, I am so happy for all of my collaborators and I am so thankful to the team for putting together these projects. I can not say enough about the honor. 

DDF: What would be your dream project?

MC: I have several dream projects. I can’t really discuss them but I am very excited about the dream projects I will get to bring to life over the next several years. So stay tuned. 

DDF: What actor/actress would you like to work with? 

MC: I definitely want to work with Mahersla Ali and Janelle Monae. I think they are great actors. When you watch them, you are really transported into the moment they are expressing. I think we would be able to create something special together.

We hope to see more amazing films from the talented filmmaker. Hopefully, one of his dream projects will feature Mahersala Ali and Janelle Monae and will be one that is celebrated as a cult classic. Keep up with Morgan Cooper on Instagram at @cooperfilms.

10May/20
Abraham Adeyemi

South London Native, Abraham Adeyemi, Wins Best Narrative Short at Tribeca 2020

‘No More Wings does an absolutely wonderful job of taking a scenario that is extremely grounded and using the form to imbue it with an elevated sense of emotion and spirituality.’ – Barry Jenkins (Oscar-winning filmmaker)

Award-winning filmmaker, Abraham Adeyemi, adds another award for his short film “No More Wings.” The South London native won the award for Best Narrative at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. “No More Wings” is a short film about two friends at their favorite chicken restaurant who catch up on old times. The film is an exploration of their friendship, the difference in their life choices, and what the future may hold for each. What the audience discovers by the end of the film is shocking and in some cases relatable. Taji Mag was able to catch up with this promising filmmaker to discuss his prize-winning film. 

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What inspired you to make this project? 

Abraham Adeyemi (AA): I grew up in South London and I was thinking about two of my friends from the area, I just thought to myself what would the experience be like if we met up today? The film was the opportunity to explore a place I call home and to see how people can have the same upbringing but turn out differently.

Abraham Adeyemi was mentored by Oscar-winning Sam Mendes and he shadowed him during the production of 1917.

DDF: The cut scenes to flashbacks were dope, is that meant to be reflective of how most people are when catching up with an old friend? 

AA: That was something I had on my mind. Everything in the moment, including their facial expression, explains what the moment means to them. There is definitely history happening within it. I definitely aim to get a sense of reminiscing. 

 DDF: How does it feel to be the only narrative short from the UK? 

AA:  I thought that it was crazy! Tribeca was the very first film festival we submitted the film to, we missed the deadline for the Sundance and some other film festivals. Just to know we got in blew me away. One day, I so happen to look through the catalog and thought to myself, “Wait a minute, there are no other Brit films. It’s funny because in advance I had been in contact with the British Film institution, they are responsible for being in contact with creatives going to the film festival. It was from there I discovered, “Oh my God, I am the only one on the list [from the UK]”. It really hit home how big an achievement it was to be at Tribeca. 

DDF: I loved how relatable this film is. Many Black people all over the world can relate. What has the response been to the film from people outside of the UK? 

AA: Besides Tribeca, not too many people from outside the UK have seen the film. I can only think of two who are Black who have seen the film. My friend and filmmaker Dream Hampton, who attended the Soho House premiere of the film in London in October, and Barry Jenkins, who was on the Soho House Script Judging panel, both at script stage and finished film.

Jury Comments: “It checked every box in terms of authenticity and heart and it was funny!” “It’s such an elegant piece of filmmaking.” 

DDF: How did you react to your win for Best Narrative Short”? 

AA: I never thought this would happen in my wildest dreams. In fact, I quite deliberately made sure I didn’t think about it. Quite a few of my friends had asked me “What do you get if you win? What happens if you win?” and things like that but I’m quite competitive. So I knew it was for the best too – rather than think about “if” I would win, to focus on just being grateful for the incredible achievement that was simply getting selected for Tribeca. It was, of course, the hope and ambition, I always strive for the top, but I was still very much shocked to have won, especially being my debut. In fact, I still am.

DDF: How did you celebrate your win? 

AA: Well, I found out a few days before it went public so I was sworn to secrecy. So on the day, I found out, I actually just celebrated alone in my room. Like, full-on, celebrated. Loud music, popped a bottle of prosecco… And then – just before it got announced to the world – I set up a surprise zoom call with a group of my closest friends with an elusive message “Zoom in an hour. Don’t ask questions. you won’t want to miss this. Bring a drink.” I don’t know who I thought I was… But it worked! It was really important to me that those people didn’t find out through social media. They’ve been massively important in my journey and I wanted to be able to enjoy this moment with them, before the chaos that would ensue once the world knew I had won. It has been non-stop calls, emails, and zoom meetings! I couldn’t be happier.

DDF: Given the film takes place in a restaurant, what are a few food spots a tourist should hit up in London? 

AA:  I would definitely recommend Morley’s because the chicken is good and it’s where I shot my film. It’s a well-know chicken spot like KFC. I would also recommend the Chicken Shop, the chicken is good but they have the best apple pie. I could go there to grab only an apple pie and go about my day.  The last restaurant I’d recommend would be Chuku’s, a Nigerian Tapas Restaurant (the first of its kind in the world!) where the sibling-duo that own it have their own original take on a number of familiar Nigerian dishes. I might be a little biased – because it’s owned by my friends – but I’ve been going since they started out with pop-ups and it’s been amazing to see them finally open their first permanent site earlier this year. Also, objectively, prior to COVID-19 enforcing a temporary close, every single night their reservations were fully booked! So they must be doing something right.”

Amid this COVID pandemic, Abraham Adeyemi is busy working on commissioned tv projects and an upcoming feature film project. Can he reach Barry Jenkins’s status? We’ll just have to keep a lookout for this award-winning creative. Keep up with him on Instagram at @abeislegend.

Angel Kaba

Angel Kaba is Teaching How She Made $1k in 4 Days

Angel Kaba is a dancer, choreographer, artistic director, movement coach, content producer, and digital marketer. Pre-COVID-19 Quarantine in New York City, she was a regular teacher at Alvin Ailey and Steps on Broadway and held regular workshops and rehearsals for multiple gigs. Within 24 hours, her whole life changed. Her schedule was wiped and she had to figure out how to survive and generate income. Taking all of her skills into account, she earned over $1000 in 4 days from teaching her classes online and is now hosting a course to teach you how you can teach online too.

Photo by Wheaton Simis

Taji Mag (TM): What was your teaching schedule like before the pandemic “quarantined” us into not gathering in groups?

Angel Kaba (AK): I was teaching 4 times a week in different studios in Manhattan and the Bronx. On top of my regular schedule, I had special Workshops, rehearsals, and other gigs like music videos and performances for festivals.

TM: How were you affected by the quarantine?

AK: OMG, in 24hours I felt like my life changed as if in a movie, but not for the good. Studios started to close one after another. I was in shock. I had no idea what to do. I am an immigrant here, I have an artistic visa for dance. Legally I can’t do anything other than dance. I thought, “How will I be able to make money and survive?”

TM: What did you do to overcome this hit to your income?

AK: After the shock, I was like, ok, let’s find a solution! I remembered Ashani Mfuko, the money maker of the dance industry who has been speaking about “passive incomes” for years. I researched to find the best way to teach online classes – which platform to use, the cost – then I put a 100% online strategy into place. In 4 days I made $1200!

TM: What are some items people can look forward to when taking your course?

AK: I brought my strength as a teacher and made my knowledge and expertise available for my students during this challenging time. 

To take Angel’s course, contact her via email at afrodancenewyork[@]gmail.com. Keep with with all of her endeavors on Instagram!

Taji Mag Vol 23 Golden Wisdom

Taji Vol23: Golden Wisdom

Release Jun 7 2020 | Vol23 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Golden Wisdom! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of Adele Dejak’s Kenyan Photo Series entitled “Benson”. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick, designer and tailor, T-MICHAEL; our Community Spotlight on Lovely Leo Skincare; our highlighted Hair Feature by Angela Plummer; “Solo Travel: Dance As A Passport with @Jasmine.Noir_” by dCarrie; “Earthiopia” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “#BlackLoveConvo: New Comedy, Twenties, Aims To Stand Strong on the Shoulders of Living Single” by Dapper Dr. Feel; “Help the Children Move in a Time of Stillness” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 23 theme “Golden Wisdom;” Fitness Highlight, “Ernestine Shepherd is Still Bodybuilding at the Age of 83”; Vegan Fun with Earth’s Pot’s Jerk Portabella Toast; “I Am Maathmatics” Book Series; “Nicholas Brooklyn is a Necessary Community Staple;” Featured Art Piece by Craig Carter; Comic Appreciation with “Monarchs” by Joshua Bullock; Black Business Highlights; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Shop Taji’!

Taji Mag Vol 23 Golden Wisdom

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 23

Taji Mag is the epitome of the positive Black experience – elevating Black brands, narratives, and imagery. We embody the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.

22Apr/20
BlackAF

#BlackAF is Barely a Black-ish Carbon Copy

I am always rooting for black creatives and try my best to support them, but in this case, I would be doing a disservice if I did not give my honest review of #BlackAF. Famous producer/writer Kenya Barris delivered a series that lacks the lure and realism of his other successful projects. Don’t get me wrong, I like Black-ish and a few other of Barris’s projects but this series fits into the category of “Nah, I’ll pass.” 

“The very definition of ‘blackness’ is as broad as that of ‘whiteness,’ yet we’re seemingly always trying to find a specific, limited definition.” – Issa Rae 

Acting Be Like…

I understand the series is loosely based on the life of Kenya Barris, but I find it hard to believe that Black wealthy people act like this… Maybe my opinion is influenced by the fact that I only personally know a handful of wealthy Black people. Out of those Black people, none of them act like the family in #BlackAF. If there is a family that exists as the one portrayed, I am pretty sure they would not be as extreme. 

I do like the moments where the family supports each other whenever an outsider tries to attack, like with the white couple in the first episode. Besides a few moments within the first few episodes, there are not many moments I find relatable or compelling to finish the first season.  

Because Dialogue 

As I have become introduced to the screenwriting world, the most daunting task as a screenwriter is writing dialogue. All the top screenwriters have agreed that mastering dialogue is very difficult, so I can imagine writing the dialogue of Black people can pose as an obstacle.

Still, I don’t know any Black people that talk the way the characters talk. I assume the approach is to be as authentic as possible but there needs to be a bit of adjustment. The way in which Kenya talks to his assistant is definitely not believable. If that is the case, that person is a terrible human being.  

“ Contemporarily, we struggle with people worried about representation sometimes. It’s a burden, as artists, that we take on that limits the work. It limits the characters people play. It limits the roles they want to do.” – Dee Rees

The Barris Act or Lack There Of…

From the very beginning of episode one, I became annoyed with Barris’s acting and just found his performance to be too whiny. I understand the character is frustrated with stereotypes and wants to be seen for who he is, but there is a better way to portray this. Take Al Bundy for example, Ed O’Neil portrays him as whiny at times but not to the point where he becomes annoying. 

I think Barris could’ve easily picked someone else to play the character better and with a more compelling delivery. Similar to the way he chose Anthony Anderson to play the father on Black-ish. In all honesty, I think that is what makes Black-ish a more watchable show. The actors that portray the characters in Black-ish, combined with the writing, make Black-ish great. 

In the end, #BlackAF is a rated R version of Barris’s hit show Black-ish, just not as engaging. I wish I could speak differently considering the amount of backlash #BlackAF got last year during one of its first showings. There’s wishful thinking that the series will improve and become the next big hit for the Black culture. I hope that the Black community continues to get opportunities to show diversity within the culture and share stories many people can relate to, vanishing the stereotypes place upon the Black community. Watch for yourself on Netflix.

14Apr/20
Black Honey Toys

Black Honey Toys is Brand for Adult Toys That Look Like You

Black Honey Toys (BHT) is an online adult shop which specializes in sex toys and other erotic products that reflect Black sexuality and skin tones. In an industry dominated by mainstream Eurocentric standards of beauty, BHT has created a unique retail space with their carefully selected inventory and their mission to provide a retail experience which makes shoppers feel empowered and represented.

”Black people – both singles and couples of all sexual orientations, enjoy shopping for sex toys just as much as any other group but the retail experience often leaves people feeling less valued,” says Mac Arthur, Co-Founder and CEO of Black Honey Toys.

“Seeing yourself reflected in your retail experience can be empowering and uplifting; just as the scarcity of products which reflect you and your values can have the opposite effect. We are championing the idea that online sex toy shops should be more racially inclusive in their store displays and product range.”

Black Honey ToysBlack Honey Toys is here for you – whether you are a Black person looking for pleasure enhancing toys which reflect your skin color or you are of any other color and have a particular preference for such toys.

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06Apr/20

“Coffee and Kareem” is “Cop and A Half” Gone Terribly Wrong

Norman D. Golden II in Cop and a Half

Disappointing and racist are the two words I’d use to describe the film Coffee and Kareem. Within the first five minutes, I could tell this film was going to be a hot mess. The dialogue was unbelievable, ridiculous, and, at times, unnecessary. The film felt like a horrible attempt to imitate the writing of the film Superbad with the concept of Cop and A Half.

Kareem’s character, played by Terrence Little Gardenhigh, was so offensive and stereotyped that I had to watch the film in three installments. I understand Kareem was an only child raised by a single mother, Vanessa (Taraji P. Henson), and there are some kids who actually misbehave like this, but there are other ways to represent this character without using so much unecessary foul homophobic language! It’s upsetting because I do believe that Terrence can develop into a great actor based on the charisma he presents on-screen, as long as he won’t be in any more projects like this. 

When it comes to the action, I felt it was a complete waste and a Tropic Thunder rip off. Just random explosions and ridiculous violence that felt like they were added because there was extra room in the budget – especially during the final act where one of the henchmen just stood over a grenade and watched it explode. I understand the character was meant to seem like a numskull, but really? The Police Academy film series had plenty of whimsical comedy but none as terrible as this film.   

Andrew Bachelor starred in this film and he did make me chuckle a few times but I really hope that he gets to work with more talented writers to really showcase his talent. I don’t think he or any of the antagonists were written with any purpose. The main antagonist, Detective Watts played by Betty Gilpin, felt like Crystal Creasey from the film The Hunt – also played by Gilpin. 

In the end, Kareem and Coffee is a complete waste of money and time. I didn’t want to write a negative review out of respect for Taraji P. Henson but the film is horrible. Even during this time of social distancing, I would not recommend anyone watch this film. Next time, Netflix, let the Wayans Brothers write it! 

Below are a few films I would suggest you watch instead.

I’m Gonna Git You Sucka This Keenan Ivory Wayans pinned 80’s film pays homage to Blaxploitation and still provides laughs that are share-worthy til this day. One of my favorite scenes is the bedroom scene. The joke is timeless and still relateable today! This star-studded film is about a soldier who returns home to find out his brother has died of an “OG” overdose of gold chains. He and his collection of action-ready friends set out to take on Mr. Big for revenge. It sounds ridiculous but it is hilarious. 

Cop and A Half Starring Burt Reynolds and Norman D. Golden II, Cop and a Half, is old school but if you want to see a film that involves a white cop and a Black kid without too much racism, it’s definitely a go-to. The film is about a disgruntled veteran cop who takes on an 8-year-old kid to solve a murder.

Cop Out Starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. If you want the slapstick and nonsensical comedy that Coffee and Kareem attempts to have, this is a good film to watch on Netflix. Not the best writing but it’s entertaining enough to sit through for an hour. 

Hollywood Shuffle Starring Robert Townsend. It’s not a buddy cop film but it explores how Hollywood stereotypes Black characters and how they are terribly written by white screenwriters. It’s another 80’s film I found to be hilarious and can be compared to some of the projects out today. Although Hollywood has gotten better since then, it still has a long way to go.