What a time to be a magical black girl.Hidden Figures is now the number one movie in the country, beating out the latest Star Wars installment Rogue One. The biopic starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae made over $22.8 million at the box office on opening weekend. That's an impressive feat considering the film's budget was a mere $25 million. Critics have consistently sung the praises of the film, with the feature earning stellar reviews and endless nominations this award season.Taraji P. Henson took to Instagram to share her excitement over the news, and since last night's Golden Globes, the film has received even more acclaim, especially within the Twitterverse.With all the well-deserved hype, it won't be a surprise if ticket sales and foot traffic continue to...
Four years ago, I remember my first time watching Janelle Monae perform live at an event during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. In June of this year, I watched her rehearse the morning of the BET Awards ahead of her spectacular Prince tribute and just like four years prior, she poured her heart onto the stage. Janelle's eleclectic style and vibrance is practically impossible to ignore. Audiences have watched her soar to great heights over the years through music and artistry. Yet, we've only experienced a fraction of what she has to offer.
I had the pleasure of interviewing her this week and her heartfelt words are just as dynamic as her exhilarating mark being left on this world. We touched on her spectacular success, her exploration into acting and why everyone should see the upcoming film, Hidden Figures.
On her exciting journey as an artist:
"It's been electric. It's been unpredictable. I would not have been able to map out the things that the universe, God the creator has allowed me to do and see. I feel honored and humbled to be just a piece of a larger fabric, a quilt that this world makes up. I feel like my purpose is to continue to uplift, to always highlight and inspire and try to encourage women, women of color to know that their dreams are valid. There are so many people who I am inspired by that enjoy my music," Janelle said. "I try to align myself with films, with music and with performances that encourage and inspire those individuals who need it, including myself."
Janelle debuted her acting chops in the critically acclaimed film, Moonlight which is currently in theaters.
On what drew her to Moonlight:
"When I read the script, I was blown away. The director Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote the play that inspired the script, did such a phenomenal job just pouring out their truth. And I was so moved that I was in tears multiple times reading the script. I said, 'Finally we're going to have a conversation in film about the young black gay male experience.' As a woman of color I have friends and family members who are a part of that black gay male experience and I think it is so important. All I could think about were the young boys who may be afraid to come out or maybe did come out and is ostracized from their community because of their sexual orientation or identity. That young boy walking in, sitting in that theater. Maybe he felt alone before he saw the film but afterward he wouldn't feel so alone. Maybe he would finally feel represented and included in the American story."
On her passion for both film and music:
"I went to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy out of high school. I was a drama student, I was in the acapella choir, so I've always done both. I've never considered myself to be just a singer or musician or just an actor but more so an artist storyteller. I love and I enjoy telling untold human, universal stories in unforgettable ways. I always felt that I had room to do that with music and through film. I grew up writing screenplays and short stories."
On her future journey in film:
"I have a lot of exciting, big ideas as it pertains to the film world and music world. I'm excited about my future and I'm excited about the future of cinema and the future of young women who are writing screenplays and directing and producing. I started an organization called #FemtheFuture and it's about advancing the careers of young women in film and in media and music. It's a grassroots movement with progressive millennials and we will absolutely send the future of music and film beyond."
Janelle stars as Mary Jackson, the real-life engineer and historic maker at NASA. She alongside Taraji P. Henson and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer deliver the untold story of the African-American mathematicians who were pivotal in launching NASA’s early space program.
On her portrayal of Jackson in Hidden Figures:
"It was my dream role. When I read the script, I said, 'Wow. This is the role that I have been waiting on.' When you think about the '60s and the segregation era, people were saying 10% of what they were thinking. They could be lynched. Be hung. They could be murdered. They could be hosed down and nobody would do anything about it. And what Mary was able to do was speak up for a generation who was upset about the discrimination and racism. Mary, however, was not going to sit back idly and allow anyone to discriminate against her because of her race or her gender. Two things that she couldn't change and two things she wouldn't change, if she had the opportunity. She was proud to be a black woman. I was excited to play a feisty, brilliant mind. She wasn't just a pretty woman with a mouth, she was smart. She became the first African American female engineer at NASA. She changed the face of the engineer. An engineer was usually a white male. Here you have this outspoken black woman who came to NASA and she shook things up. She was a revolutionary and you got that from her consistently throughout the film."
On the impact of the film for audiences, including young women of color:
"For me, these women are my superheroes. I think we have heard and seen some of the same stories recycled and regurgitated. This is fresh. We get the opportunity to be inspired by new women. These women went through obstacles. They didn't have it easy and I think that all of us can relate to that. None of us go through life in a perfect world. Please show me a person where that is the case. But, as I speak to young girls and women, we're constantly told that because we're women we can't do this or we're fearful because we don't see a lot of women in those fields, STEM in particular. These women now will have context. People will now look at them as cooler than before. You have women like Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and so many women who made it look like the coolest thing in the world to send a man to space and to become an engineer or to teach women how to work the IBM computers. That's what those women did and now I think that brilliance is going to be even more attractive. I am excited that these young girls, whenever they feel down or feel low and they feel defeated and told that because they're a woman they can't be in a certain profession, or if people in their family, or their friends look at being in STEM as not being cool they can always turn to Hidden Figures, and they can reenergize and activate and know that their dreams are valid."
On the message brought by Jackson's character :
"She said what so many black women and minorities have been thinking. For us, we have been taught that we have to work twice as hard. We have to look twice as good. It's about equal footing. It's about being able to make mistakes and not be punished and to have the same level of empathy that we have for white women living in this country when they make mistakes. There have been situations in my life and so many people's lives who will probably read this where they can just recall and remember what it's like to always have to work five times as hard and then when you do work hard, sometimes we're undercut and we're dismissed. Whether people are doing it intentionally or not, it hurts. Mary Jackson, what she was experiencing was the excitement of finally being able to achieve a dream or live up to her true potential. Then you have this woman, this white woman to be specific telling her, 'No, you have to work twice as hard. You cannot attend the courses that the regular white men and women attend because of the color of your skin.' A predominantly all-white school and you're not going to be accepted there. And she gets very defeated at that moment and frustrated and she just says it like it is. The truth. Every time we try to get ahead or every time we try to have equal rights, you guys move the finish line and don't allow us that room to succeed."
Janelle's final thoughts: :
"What we have to do right now is galvanize. We can't get numb. We can't be fearful. We have to choose freedom over fear. This movie will give off the energy that we need and we'll realize we need each other more than ever," she said. "We have to have the commonality of wanting to live in this world, together, through harmony, as one. If we can have that goal, if we can fix our minds and hearts on that then I think we will be fine."
Hidden Figures hits theaters on Christmas Day.
Watch the latest clips, behind the scenes footage and interviews from the film.
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It’s Tuesday, and we’re just kicking off the work week waiting as we close in on Halloween. Luckily, I’m here with some new tunes to keep you going. Hidden Figures is an upcoming film that tells the untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). These black women were the brains behind one of the most important operations in American history: getting astronaut John Glenn into orbit. This understated achievement didn’t just push us forward in the Space Race, it restored our confidence as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world.
With a powerful story like this, it’s only fitting that we have a prominent figure create the soundtrack. Enter Pharrell Williams, who released two tracks yesterday from the soundtrack, entitled “Runnin” and “Surrender,” which features Lalah Hathaway. The production on both tracks are upbeat and sound like something you could rip from the past. Jazz, funk, soul and even hip-hop are infused into both of these tracks and it works. Pharrell’s perfection on the mic continues to shine and he’s created two songs that are guaranteed to work on-screen, and they definitely work for me in my headphones. Lalah Hathaway’s contribution to “Surrender” is heavenly, upbeat and will fit right into your playlist.
Pharrell isn’t done either. He’ll be releasing “I See A Victory,” featuring Kim Burrell from the soundtrack this Friday, October 28th. If you’re interested, you can check out the trailer for Hidden Figures above. Below you can check out both “Surrender” & “Runnin." Hidden Figures drops in theaters on Christmas Day 2016.
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Looks like Hillary Clinton is racking up more endorsements from today's superstars. Earlier this week Lebron James penned a letter expressing why he is supporting the democratic presidential nominee, which is possibly an added boost in her quest to clench swing states.
Now, the cast of FOX's hit series, Empire have joined in the campaigning for Clinton.
Clinton's campaign released an ad directed by Empire's co-creator, Lee Daniels featuring him, Taraji P. Henson, Tasha Smith, Bryshere Gray, Jussie Smollett, Grace Byers, Trai Byers, and Gabourey Sidibe.
The ad addressed issues that Clinton has made a pivotal part of her campaign. From Black Lives Matter to health care, the video suggests that Clinton is the one who cares most about these issues and will fix them, if elected as President. Bryshere Gray speaks the names of police brutality victims, remindings us that more are continuously added.
By the end of the video, the stars including Daniels give their stamp of approval by stating individually that they are voting for Hillary. The next question is, after watching this ad, are you with her too?
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MAC Cosmetics is teaming up with Taraji P. Henson in a major way!
The cosmetics giant and the superstar actress made announcements about the #MACTaraji collection on Instagram early Tuesday morning. The collection will be available on Sept. 6, 2016.
Taraji P. Henson has won the world over with her fearless performances, powerhouse confidence and charismatic spark. We’re thrilled to announce she is joining forces with M·A·C for an upcoming collaboration! Coming in September, to select markets. #MACTaraji
A photo posted by M∙A∙C Cosmetics (@maccosmetics) on Aug 23, 2016 at 7:04am PDT
In a press release, MAC said, "Taraji P. Henson has won the world over with her fearless performances, powerhouse confidence and charismatic spark. We're thrilled to announce she is joining forces with MAC for an upcoming collaboration."
The collection will include six items – lipstick, bronzer, highlighter, eyeliner, mascara and a brush.
This is lit. Taraji, take all of our money.
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Twentieth Century Fox released the Hidden Figures trailer Sunday night during NBC's Olympic coverage and the preview is nothing short of amazing.
The real-life story follows the historic genius of three black women mathematicians and their pivotal contributions to the 1960's NASA program. Their calculations and problem-solving techniques made it possible for rockets and astronauts to go where no man had gone before. During a time when women, especially African American, were regarded to jobs as maids, teachers and nurses, this account of representation within aerospace engineering arrives right on time for today's ever-growing discussion surrounding diversity.
Based on the Margot Lee Shetterly book of the same name, this is an inspiring story about true OG blerds.
Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughn), Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson) and recording artist Janelle Monae (Mary Jackson, the first female engineer at NASA) share the spotlight as the dynamic trio who are often overlooked in the history books. They portray dynamic women who dared to defy gender roles and tear down racial barriers while keeping America ahead of the competition in space. Their refreshing chemistry on-screen makes audiences even more eager for the film's release.
The film also starring Kirsten Dunst and Kevin Costner features original music by Pharrell Williams.
Watching the trailer, you can't help but to ask yourself, "what took so long to tell their story?". Surely, public schools need to reprint the history books and include Vaugh, Jackson and Johnson to the list of notables in NASA. With more schools across the country enhancing STEM programs, Hidden Figures proves the possibilities are endless when an interest in the field is sparked at an early age.
Twitter rejoiced when the trailer made its debut.
I'm gonna be crying during #HiddenFigures.
— smoakin hot ☕️ (@vanesuhh9) August 15, 2016
#HiddenFigures I am here for it. pic.twitter.com/IqxTbt18w4
— T'Rella Watson ☔ (@indoob) August 15, 2016
Once again for the folks in the back that don't understand. REPRESENTATION MAAAATTTTEERRRRSSSS #HiddenFigures movie long overdue!
— MistyKnightsTwistOut (@Steph_I_Will) August 15, 2016
Me watching the #HiddenFigures trailer pic.twitter.com/jD5AYKGLt7
— PantheR (@____PantheR) August 15, 2016
So the trailer for #HiddenFigures has me ready to do all my calculations at work tomorrow by hand.
— MistyKnightsTwistOut (@Steph_I_Will) August 15, 2016
#HiddenFigures looks so good. Go @TherealTaraji Go @JanelleMonae Go @octaviaspencer pic.twitter.com/M4ejq35POX
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) August 15, 2016
My nieces will definitely see this movie!! #HiddenFigures
— Adrienne Pegasus (@MissAP) August 15, 2016
Like why don't the history books tell us about the Black women that helped put men on the moon?Surely we skipped that chapter #HiddenFigures
— J.MISFIT (@_AdvntrsofJess_) August 15, 2016
Hidden Figures hits theaters on January 13. Tell us what you think about the trailer below in the comments.
Take our money now, we're ready to buy our tickets.
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Around the Way Girl is just around the corner. Empire star Taraji P. Henson announced on Instagram Thursday that her memoir, Around the Way Girl, will be released this fall in October!
The wait is ALMOST over!!! October 11, 2016 you will be able to cop your hard copy of my memoir!!! You can also pre-order! Link in bio! #AroundTheWayGirl 💋💋💋
A photo posted by taraji p henson (@tarajiphenson) on May 12, 2016 at 10:54am PDT
“I’m just a girl who went to Hollywood with my son, $700, and a dream,” Henson said in a statement on Simon & Schuster’s website. “There were some detours along the way, some heartache, and a whole lot of hustle. My family, friends, and fans always keep it real with me. Know that I’m going to keep it real with you. Check out my story. I hope you laugh with me and cry with me and maybe get a little bit inspired.”
Simon & Schuster announced Taraji will share stories of her father, a Vietnam vet who was bowed but never broken by life's challenges, her mother who survived violence both in the home and on DC's volatile streets, her education at Howard University, and her experiences as a single mother, a journey some saw as a burden but which she saw as a gift.
You can preorder the book here.
This is about to be epic.
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We've been paying attention since the all-star, black women leads of Hidden Figures were cast from Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae. Now we get our first look as the film begins production.
The three leading ladies were all on set, in costume, on March 28th in Atlanta to film scenes for the movie and they are serving 1950s realness.
In Hidden Figures, Henson, Spencer, and Monae play a team of mathematicians given the assignment by NASA to send, John Glenn, the first United States astronaut into orbit around the earth aboard the Friendship 7.
Check out some photos from the set.
Mahershala Ali, who plays Remy on House of Cards, was also on set, cast to play the love interest of Taraji P. Henson's character Katherine Johnson.
Hidden Figures has a tentative release date for January 13, 2017, in hopes that Martin Luther King weekend will inspire people to go see the film.
What do you think about the first photos from the set of Hidden Figures? Let us know in the comments.
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Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy and Kevin Hart, oh my! Some of the best comedians in the business have shown off their skills on the Saturday Night Live stage during its 41 seasons on-air. But they aren’t the only ones who’ve gotten audiences to cry laughing. Some of SNL’s most hysterical moments happened when our favorite celebrities stopped by. Check out this list of celebs we would love to see make another SNL appearance.
“I’m on a Boat” has become one of SNL’s top skits.
Some of his funniest work was as an SNL host. Maybe we can make #DrakeOnSNL a thing...
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Seeing Cuba Gooding, Jr. back on SNL would be a great complement to his current dramatic work on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Nicki as Kim Kardashian? Hilarious.
It never gets old seeing this former cast member back on the show.
Her reactions in the "Single Ladies" skit were priceless. It would be great to see her reprise her role as, well, herself!
He was so young when he hosted back in season 12! How fun would it be see him back on now that he’s older and wiser?
Oprah hosted SNL in 1986 right around the launch of her talk show. We’d love to see her slay the stage 30 years later. And with #OprahAlwaysOnBeat floating around, she and Beyonce could pair up for an unstoppable episode. #wishfulthinking
Snoop back on the show would be the funniest thing ever. He could discuss his thoughts on the Friends reunion!
David Alan Grier
When we saw him in The Wiz: Live, we were reminded of his magic. We wish he could grace the SNL stage with it once again.
She did a fantastic job playing every black woman ever while hosting during season 39. We know she’d kill it if she hosted again.
He’s one of the longest-running cast members on SNL (he worked on the show for almost 10 years). We know he would get us giggling.
He's consistently funny. Plus, he could bring Damon, Jr. with him.
She’s so funny on Empire, we want to her doing more comedy!
She's known for dramatic roles, but we’d love to see Halle Berry show us more of her funny side.
The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson)
It would be hilarious if he brought his Taylor Swift dance moves to SNL.
After seeing her in Top Five, she could certainly hold her own with the comedy pros of SNL.
A man of many talents, we always love to see Ludacris let loose.
Taraji P. Henson
The queen of shenanigans, she’s perfect for SNL and should be on the show more often.
A classic comedian who we can’t help but wish could be on SNL every week.
These folks haven’t hosted before but would definitely be tons of fun on the show!
Sasheer Zamata, Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharaoh, Leslie Jones and Michael Che
They’re already part of the SNL cast, but we’d like to see them as leads!
This feminist has a sense of humor! She turned slut-shaming on its head in a fantastic partnership with Funny or Die and was hysterical playing Charlie’s ex-love on Black-ish. She would easily make a kickass SNL host.
Happy #InternationalChocolateCakeDay #LetThemEatCookieCakes 🍪🎂🍪🎂🍪🎂🍪🎂🍪🎂🍪 @tarajiphenson 👀 #SheAINTReallyMyMama
A video posted by Jussie Smollett (@jussiesmollett) on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:53pm PST
He was pretty funny on New Girl, but imagine if Prince’s expression-less face was on “Black Jeopardy.” 100 percent perfection.
Who would you like to see back on SNL? Let us know in the coments below!
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