Media maven promotes black women’s representation in mainstream media

first_imgProducer, writer and director Issa Rae shared her transition “From Awkward Black Girl to Media Maven” in a titular lecture sponsored by the Multicultural Student Programs and Services in Carey Auditorium on Tuesday evening.Rae said her career began with a YouTube series she created while an undergraduate student at Stanford University.“I created my first web series my senior year of college, called ‘Dorm Diaries,’” Rae said. “It was a satirical diary about what it was like to be black at Stanford. I cast my friends and shared it on Facebook, and the school’s response was amazing. It even spread to schools like Duke, Harvard and Howard. I could not believe that I created a show that students around the country were relating to.”Following the conclusion of this first mini series and her college graduation, Rae said she moved to New York City in search of opportunities in the theatre and film industries. There, Rae said she felt disillusioned by the various media executives hindering her from the success she knew she was capable of.“I kept getting told to ‘Change this’ or ‘Wait’ or ‘Do this,’” Rae said. “It really forced me to take a step back and realize that a lot of these people — the gatekeepers — were just in my way, and I decided I would work to build my own projects.”Despite these initial setbacks, Rae said her desire to share stories with the world and change the racial dynamic of media outweighed her nerves.“I have always wanted to tell stories – about me, my friends, about people I can relate to — and that can be really easy to do, except there is a huge disconnect when it comes to race on television,” Rae said. “The desire to tell my own story is what, in part, made me want to get started as a writer.”Rae channeled this ambition into her second web series, “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl.” She said she hoped that this venture would transform the way people see girls on television.“I will say that girls – New Girl, Two Broke Girls – they all have something in common, and that is that the universal term ‘girl’ is white,” Rae said. “In these successful series, the default girl is implied that she is white, and I really have a strong desire to change that.”Since launching “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl,” Rae’s channel has earned over 20 million views and nearly 160,000 subscribers. Rae was also listed on Forbes 30 under 30 twice, including this year, and went on to work with stars such as Pharrell Williams, Tracey Edmonds and writer Shonda Rhimes.Moving forward, Rae said she hopes to help others to succeed in the media field. Recently, she launched ColorCreative.TV, which aims to help women and minorities looking to work in media.“Just last year I launched a platform called ColorCreative.TV for minority women,” Rae said. “The mission is to disrupt the traditional television process and change the landscape of television.”Tags: 30 under 30, ColorCreative.TV, Dorm Diaries, Forbes, race, The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl, YouTubelast_img read more

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The Wiz’s Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige & Amber Riley on Witchcraft, Wizardry & Nerves

first_img View Comments For a wizard and two witches, there’s a good amount of pressure when presenting The Wiz to millions of television viewers. Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Amber Riley take on the roles of the Wiz, the wicked Evillene and good witch Addaperle in the December 3 NBC telecast. At a recent press event, the trio opened up about expanding horizons—both for themselves and their audience—and whether Broadway is next in line.“It’s completely terrifying,” admitted Queen Latifah. “I’m so out of any comfort zone that I’ve been in.” While this is the closest the performer has gotten to live theater in her professional career, she’s no stranger to weaving singing and acting after Chicago, Hairspray and Bessie.But any fears are quickly resolved as she remembers the potential impact a live event like this has. “You think about how you see this play and kids are going to be doing these dances…This opens up a world. I hope that it touches someone. Not just someone African American, but anyone who feels like this could be [him or her].”A live theatrical event is also new to Blige: “I’m pulling every acting job I ever had.” But when The Wiz called, she had to accept. “The only reason I’m here is because of The Wiz and what it has done for me as a kid in my neighborhood. That’s why I’m here—so I can give someone else hope.”The musical has had an impact for all three; Queen Latifah even credits Stephanie Mills’ performance on Broadway as what made her want to perform. Riley is no stranger to singing and dancing (including on live TV), but the show makes it personal. “My mom has a special connection to [The Wiz], and now my four-year-old niece is going to sit down and watch.”After getting through the live telecast, Riley’s ready to bring her singing and dancing skills to the Great White Way. “I’ve always wanted to do Broadway,” she said with a grin. “I was locked down for seven years in the Glee vault! It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of doing. And I get to…all shall be revealed soon.”last_img read more

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Iran supreme leader says voting is ‘religious duty’

first_imgIranians are set to elect a new parliament on Friday, with conservatives expected to make a resurgence.Observers expect a low turnout as many reformist and moderate candidates have been barred from running by the Guardian Council.The council, made up of six clerics appointed by the supreme leader and six lawyers selected by the judiciary, disqualified more than half of the 14,444 hopefuls.The move threatens the thin majority of President Hassan Rouhani’s alliance in parliament. Topics : Friday’s election comes after months of domestic turmoil and steeply escalating tensions between Iran and its arch enemy the United States.In November, nationwide demonstrations over petrol price hikes turned violent before being crushed in a deadly crackdown.Tensions with Washington have risen since 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.But they have never come as close to a direct confrontation as in the past seven months, when it has happened twice, most recently after the US killed prominent Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on January 3.Iran hit back on January 8 by firing a barrage of missiles at US troops in Iraq.It had been on high alert for US retaliation that day when they shot down a Ukrainian airliner in Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.The downing of the Boeing 737, which the armed forces later admitted was accidental, sparked more protests that turned political.Khamenei said the election would show that Iran’s enemies had failed to divide the nation.”Watch how the people favor the election despite the enemies’ insistence on distancing the people from the system,” the supreme leader said.center_img Iran’s supreme leader said Tuesday it is a “religious duty” for people to vote in this week’s general election and strengthen the Islamic republic against the “propaganda” of its enemies.”Participating in elections and voting… is a religious duty, not just a national or revolutionary duty,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech, parts of which were aired on state television.”Elections nullify many of the vicious plots the Americans have in their minds and Zionists have in their hearts against the country,” he said, referring to US ally Israel.last_img read more

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Wisconsin hires tight ends, special teams coach

first_imgWisconsin’s head football coach, Gary Andersen, announced the hiring of Jeff Genyk Tuesday.Genyk, after spending the last three seasons at California as an assistant, will coach tight ends and special teams for the Badgers, filling the position left by Jay Boulware, who left for Oklahoma last week.“We are very excited to have Jeff, his wife, Lisa, and their two children, Jake and McKenna, become a part of the Badger family,” Andersen said in a statement. “He’s been a tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at the BCS level, as well as having head coach experience, so that made him a very attractive candidate. I’m extremely pleased we were able to get a tremendous coach like Jeff, especially given the timing of this transition.”Genyk comes to Wisconsin after a brief stint at Nevada where he was the special teams coordinator and running backs coach. Genyk’s time at Cal as special teams and tight ends coach is full of impressive achievements.In 2012, Genyk’s punt return team ranked third in the Pac-12 and 22nd in the nation with an average return of 11.37 yards. Cal kicker, Vincenzo D’Amato, and Cal punter, Bryan Anger, were both back-to-back first team all-Pac 12 selections.In addition to his first team nomination, Anger was selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, which was the highest selection for a punter since 1995.Before coaching at Cal, Genyk was the head coach at Eastern Michigan from 2004 to 2008. In his first year as coach, he led the Eagles to third place in the West Division of the MAC – their best conference finish in seven years.As was the case at Cal, the play of his special teams was among the best in the nation; his 2006 team ranked third nationally in punt return yardage defense (3.1 YPR) and 15th in the nation (5.7 YPR) the following season.Under his watch, three players at Eastern Michigan (LB Daniel Holtzclaw, DE Jason Jones, PK Andrew Wellock) earned All-American recognition. Genyk also coached OT T.J. Lang, a fourth-round selection of the Green Bay Packers in the 2009 NFL Draft.Genyk began his coaching career as an assistant at Grand Rapids Community College in his home state of Michigan, where he worked with quarterbacks and tight ends from 1990 to 1992. After Grand Rapids, Genyk spent 12 seasons at Northwestern (1994-2003), and was in charge of special teams during each of his final five seasons in Evanston, Ill.Genyk was an all-state quarterback at Milan High School before moving on to Bowling Green State, where he played quarterback and punter.The Badgers ranked sixth in the B1G and 71st in the nation in punt returns (8.2 YPR) last season.last_img read more

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One of these decades, ‘Peanut Man’ Roger Owens could come out of his shell … maybe this World Series

first_imgJust some arthritis from years of tossing bags behind the back, under the leg, two at a time overhand from distances that you’d have thought by now wouldn’t be easily attainable.Regular back pain from a bulging disc is eased by a couple of ice bags and some Advil at his home in Torrance after each night’s command performance. An ongoing case of vertigo may also pop up to make climbing the concrete stairs a bit of a challenge.That Owens has made it to this point as the ultimate loge level wandering minstrel covering the territory from home plate to third base and back again, energized and efficient as he twists through the aisles and embraces spectators coming at him from all sides for selfies and autographs and joke swapping … it just doesn’t seem possible.Yet no one takes him, or his routine, for granted.“It’s my love for my job, and my love for the fans — it’s just a passion,” Owens explains about what could possibly motivate him at this point to keep hoisting eight-ounce bags at $6.25 a pop.It’s not just for the tips, which this postseason have been rather sizable as enthusiastic fans want to include him in their celebratory mood.“I don’t know what else I’d do from April through every high note in October,” he says. “No matter how many steps it takes up and down. I know the fans appreciate me year after year and I’m grateful.”Equally humbled fans who Owens has become friends with over the years will talk about how they shell out money before each season to make sure that they, or whomever is in their seats, get Owens to personally deliver their peanut requests in Hollywood fashion. They could easily go up to the concession stand and add the cost of the nuts on their credit card, but they have established this tradition that goes back to the days when Owens’ special tosses were the two-to-a-bag paper bags balled up.Owens found himself in Section 101 visiting with Brian Martin, a businessman from Lake Forest, during the first inning of Monday’s Game 1 when, in the middle of a sentence, Chris Taylor launched the first pitch into the left-field pavilion for a home run.“We started hugging and jumping up and down together,” said Owens.“It’s such a privilege. The people in that loge section, they’re like my family, and now they’re into the third and fourth generation. That just blows our minds.”Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner will tell you that when he was a kid in Long Beach and his dad brought him to Dodgers’ games, Owens was the one everyone knew at Chavez Ravine.National anthems still give Owens goosebumps and tears. Kids who try and try again to catch the bags he throws their way before they finally catch on make Owens laugh. Games that are tight in the late innings make him sweat as much as his stair-climbing workout, he insists.“I might have my back to the field while I’m working, but I’ll hear the crack of the bat, and turn around to see Puig making some kind of crazy catch or sticking his tongue out, and it’s all worth it,” Owens said.Celebrities may come and go at Dodger Stadium, but history counts Owens among those worthy of throwing out a season-opening ceremonial first pitch — as he did from the loge level down to home plate once.He’s been in a movie (a peasant peanut pitcher in Mel Brooks’ 1993 “Robin Hood: Men In Tights”) and his TV appearances on NBC’s “Tonight” show goes back to the Johnny Carson days.His bobblehead was created by Ontario-based Ultimate Pastime Sports Collectibles, and the story of his audacious life, “The Perfect Pitch,” from foster care to grind-it-out discovery of his talents, written by his late nephew, has been in circulation since 2004.The stories he brings home to wife Sharon and his dog Casey III are fortified by whom he reconnects with on a nightly basis.A fan may watch Rich Hill walk the first batter he faced Tuesday night and scream to Owens, “You should be out there!”Owens has a stock reply.“You know, the Dodgers have talked to my agent and offered me $300,000 to pitch in August, September and October — which sounds like a lot, but who wants to take a pay cut? Besides, my EBA — Earned Bags Average — is below one.”And the fan will respond: “You just enjoy working for peanuts.”Six decades later, Owens must agree with the peanut gallery. Of the Dodgers’ 19 franchise World Series appearances, Roger Owens has now pitched in the more than half of those — 10, including the current Fall Classic.Although before Tuesday, “The Peanut Man” wasn’t completely sure. Sitting up in Dodger Stadium’s reserved level some seven hours prior to the end of the Dodgers’ 7-6 11-inning Game 2 loss to the Astros, perhaps the sport’s world most recognized peanut vendor flipped through a newspaper story about the Dodgers’ postseason history and started checking off the dates off, going back to 1959 when he was a teenager at the Coliseum.Yup, it’s 10.No, really, it’s 10.Boy, he must be nuts. Fifty-nine years of this.“And I don’t even have peanut elbow,” the hurler who’ll turn 75 next Valentine’s Day humbly bragged.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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