Diva Spotlight

Diva Spotlight: Lupita Nyong’o – Why Her Success Is So Important

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Lupita Nyong’o has taken the world by storm!! I was so excited for her when she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role her in 12 Years a Slave (did anyone else shed a tear during her acceptance speech?)

Like the rest of the world, I fell in love with her beauty, style and grace during the award season. Every time she hit the red carpet, it was like BAM!  She can wear just about anything. And during her interviews, she was always so positive and humbled by the crazy journey she was experiencing.

During the Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, Lupita talked about beauty. After all, people all over the world are fascinated by her beauty and gorgeous skin. She started her speech reading a part of a letter she received from a young girl who viewed her as a role model.

‘Dear Lupita,’ it reads. ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.’

She also spoke about how she used to pray to God for lighter skin. It wasn’t until she saw model Alex Wek on the runways and in magazines that she began to understand that  1) her dark skin was indeed beautiful and 2) beauty is something that just had to be. She couldn’t rely on how she looked to sustain her. Please check out her speech below:

 

Someone recently commented on a fashion blog post about Lupita that the actress may be overexposed. After all, every other post for 2 months was about her. She was EVERYWHERE; magazines, blogs and entertainment shows. A week couldn’t go by without seeing a picture of Lupita online.

But in this case, is overexposure really a bad thing? For some people it may be. But for Lupita, I don’t think so. The letter she received from a young girl wanting to lighten her skin is a testament to that. We live in a world where black beauty and talent is not always acknowledged and appreciated.  In our society, the definition of black beauty is very limited; let’s just say, dark skin women usually don’t fit the bill. In Hollywood and so many other industries, black women are fighting left and right to be acknowledge and respected for their talent and beauty. That is why it is up to black women to celebrate who we are and each other (hence why Black Girls Rock was created).

I think what makes this “Lupita era” so exciting is that she is a representation of so many women and in turn has become a role model for so many young girls; especially dark skin girls. She sends a message that beauty and success are not defined by how you look or where you come from. Lupita’s “overexposure” is a message to young girls (and women) everywhere that your skin is only a fraction of who you are. Compassion for oneself and others is what makes us beautiful. Lupita has also set the example that intelligence, grace, humility and hard work is what sets us apart from the rest.

I pray that all young girls watching Lupita feel inspired to love the skin they’re in, but also feel like their dreams can one day become their reality. The sky is the limit!

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“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid” – Lupita Nyong’o

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Diva Spotlight: Tamron Hall Becomes First Black Woman To Co-Anchor ‘Today’

Tamron Hall is another black woman making history this month!  She became the first black woman first black woman to co-anchor TODAY on NBC.

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It was announced today during the show’s taping that Hall was promoted to co-anchor for the 9 o’clock hour with Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist.  ”I’m excited, I’m nervous. I’m like the sitcom character that keeps popping up behind the sofa and now I’m finally on the sofa,” said Hall.

The show has been on air for 62 years and has never had a black woman co-anchor until now. Hall spoke to Essence about this milestone:

“Oh yes! How could I not be walking on cloud nine? Just the other day I was reading about Meredith Vieira being the first woman to host the primetime Olympic shows. Of course, I knew what was happening with my negotiations behind the scenes and I thought, wow, these big moments at NBC News and now I’m a part of this for women, for Black women, for all of us. And I’m just taken aback by it. I can’t even describe to you how it feels.”

Along with co-anchoring TODAY on NBC, Tamron Hall will continue her NewsNation show on MSNBC and Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall on Investigation Discovery.

Congratulations Tamron!

Check out her full interview at Essence.com

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Diva Spotlight: Lauryn Williams Makes History at Sochi

Track star turned bobsledder Lauryn Williams has become the first U.S. woman and fifth person to win a medal at both the Summer and Winter Olympics! 

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Elana Meyers (left); Lauryn Williams (right)

Williams and her partner Elana Meyers won silver in the two-man bobsled on Wednesday at the Sochi Olympics. When I tuned in on Tuesday, Williams and Meyers had won all of their heats, so I was surprised to hear that they ended up coming in second. According to Yahoo Sports, the two lead the first three of four heats. They missed the gold medal by a split second!

Regardless if the medal was gold, silver or bronze, it is a huge accomplishment to be able to medal at both a Summer and Winter Olympics. She didn’t take up bobsledding until last August 2013. Williams also won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. relay team at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Americans Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans won bronze during the two-man bobsled on Wednesday. This is the first time the U.S. has won two medals in the event.

These ladies are out there making history. Boss! Congratulations to Lauryn Williams and Team USA!

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Diva Spotlight: LaKeisha Shurn Finds Self Love Through #GiveIt100 Challenge

I read about this story yesterday and just had to share! It’s a great story of self discovery!

LaKeisha Shurn had low-self-esteem, was depressed and was feeling down about her body. She decided to take control of her life and signed up for the #GiveIt100 Challenge, a movement which encourages people to try something new for 100 days. Shurn signed up to begin a journey of losing weight and finding herself.

“I have low self-esteem, I am going through depression, and I want to change all of that. Next hundred days I will be on the journey of losing weight and finding myself,” says Shurn at the beginning of the video.

To be held accountable and encourage others, Shurn documented her weight loss journey via youtube videos. The video below is a compilation of her 100 day journey.

 

Shurn lost 18 pounds in 100 days and dropped two dress sizes. But the greatest achievement during those 100 days was finding self love! At the end of the video she’s more confident than she was before and you can tell she has a more positive outlook on life.

You go girl!! I wish her continued success as she continues on her journey. May her story serve as inspiration to others!

You can follow her journey through her videos and on Twitter.

Source: Huffington Post & Clutch

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Diva Spotlight: Dom Streater – First African American To Win Project Runway

There have been some great African American designers on the Project Runway, but Dom Streater was the first one to win the designer competition.  The 24-year-old from Philadelphia, PA created a vibrant, cohesive 10 piece collection (my favorite out of the four finalist) for the final challenge at Fashion Week that crowned her the new winner!

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Project Runway is a fashion designer competition. Week after week, designers are tasked with creating looks for a specific challenge. After each challenge, a designer is eliminated until there are 3-4 designers left. The remaining designers are faced with the ultimate challenge of presenting a 10 piece collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The winner receives:

  • $150,000 from GoBank, the award-winning new bank account made to be used on a mobile phone;
  • $50,000 of next generation technology from HP and Intel to help enable their creativity and launch their new business;
  • a year’s supply of Resource Natural Spring Water and an all-expense paid, luxurious spa retreat for two to the exotic Maldives, courtesy of Resource Water;
  • a chance to design and sell an exclusive collection at Belk;
  • a complete sewing and crafting studio from Brother Sewing and Embroidery;
  • a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine;
  • a 2014 Lexus IS 350;
  • a $100,000 fabric allowance from Tide Pods to inspire fashions that truly pop
  • $50,000 styling contract with L’Oréal Paris.

Talk about a prize package! Not bad for a designer, who before Project Runway, was working as a hostess and animal caretaker.

Dom recently sat down for a Q&A Session with Project Runway following her win. Check out part of her interview:

You have a background in textile design, is that correct?

I went to Moore College, which is a school that was founded on textile design. A lot of the textile courses go hand in hand with the fashion courses there. I took a lot of textile courses when I was in college. I became a very textile-oriented designer because of that.

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Is that why you gravitated toward using prints as your main focus in your finale collection?

That’s exactly why. I love prints. It’s incredibly hard to find a good print. There’s print diarrhea in fabric stores. Sometimes I go in fabric stores and I can’t believe some of the prints I see. Like, who designed this? Really? Really? Who’s gonna buy – there’s some insane stuff. I got into fashion when I started making clothes for my Barbies because I didn’t like what they were wearing. I’ve always been like that: If I don’t see something I like, I want to make it. And that’s how I am with textiles, too. If I have a vision for something I want it to be as accurate as possible to what I had in mind.

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You’re the first African-American to win “Project Runway.” That’s got to be kind of exciting, right?

Yeah! It was never something that was on my mind initially – I didn’t even realize it until the day after, when someone mentioned it. I am incredibly honored. I’m so happy to be the first to do something and to set that example. I personally never thought that I could never make it, but there might be some young women of color who don’t think they can make it in fashion, so I’m glad to be that example better for them.

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What kind of woman will you have in mind when you design your next work?

I’m working on a fall/winter collection for next year, and hopefully I’ll be able to show that in February. I’m deciding to self-title my collection. I’m really excited. It’s very me, but it’s a new direction that I’m excited for. The woman I’m looking to design for? Ideally, I would love for every woman to wear my clothing, to be a Dom girl! But the woman I’m thinking about lives a real life. She works for a living. She lives in the city. She lives a fast-paced, active life, and she wants clothes that can keep up with her, but that are fashion-forward and exuberant. She likes to wear fun clothing. I’m not a wallflower, I’m not boring, and I don’t want my girl to be boring either. That’s the person I think about when I’m designing: Someone who has that confidence, who wants to wear great prints and look amazing in them. That’s what I have in mind when I put my pencil to paper.

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Click here to view the entire interview.

Congratulations to Dom!! I look forward to seeing her future collections!!! You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Photos by Oh No They Didn’t

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Diva Spotlight: 17-Year-Old Victoria Duval Defeats Former Tennis U.S Open Champ

Victoria Duval Diva Spotlight: 17 Year Old Victoria Duval Defeats Former Tennis U.S Open ChampToday’s Diva Spotlight focuses on another teenager making major moves!

During the opening round of the tennis U.S. Open, 17-Year-Old Victoria Duval defeated the 2011 champion Samantha Stosur, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Stosur is ranked 11th and Duval is ranked 256th in the world. Duval resilience on the court is a reflection of a life she endured leading up to the match.

The New York Daily News reports:

That Duval is a resilient and emotionally sturdy player should perhaps not be a surprise, given her life’s journey. At 7 years old in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, she and several cousins were held hostage by armed robbers in her aunt’s house before being freed.

“It was traumatizing, (but) worse things have happened to people,” Duval said. “I’m lucky I got out of it. I’ve kind of erased that all from my mind.”

Victoria’s parents, Jean-Maurice and Nadine Duval, both of whom are physicians, decided to move the family to Florida almost immediately, though her father kept up with his obstetrics/gynecology practice at a Port-au-Prince clinic and would shuttle back and forth. Then, on Jan. 12, 2010, the earthquake hit, and Jean-Maurice Duval was buried alive beneath the rubble of the family home. His legs broken and left arm shattered and seven busted ribs puncturing his lung, Jean-Maurice Duval somehow dug himself out, and ultimately was airlifted to a Fort Lauderdale hospital, thanks to the generosity of a family in the tennis club Victoria was competing with at the time.

“There’s a lot to be thankful for, I don’t take anything for granted,” Duval told ESPN. “I thank God everyday for everything that has happened. Life is short.” Amen!

I look forward to watching Duval during this year’s U.S. Open! Hopefully this won’t be the last time we see this young tennis player at major tennis tournaments.

Match point:

Interview with ESPN:

Source: Clutch Magazine

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Diva Spotlight: Gabrielle Turnquest – Youngest Person To Pass The Bar Exam In the UK

It’s stories like this we need to hear more often in the media!

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Florida teen Gabrielle Turnquest is the youngest person to pass the bar exam in the UK. She’s 18! She took the exam with her 22-year-old sister, who also passed the exam.

According to the University of Law, the average age of a lawyer graduating from the Bar Professional Training Course is 27.

The Florida teen is also eligible to be called to the Bahamas Bar, an opportunity that’s very close to her heart because that’s her parents are from the Bahamas.

“I am honored to be the youngest person to pass the Bar exams but, really, I was not aware at the time what the average age was,” Turnquest told The Telegraph. “I didn’t fully realize the impact of it.”

This is the first time Turnquest has made history. She was the youngest person to graduate with a degree from Liberty University in Virginia at the age of 16.  She plans to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise this fall in the US to study Apparel Industry Management. Her ultimate goal is to become  a fashion law specialist.

“Studying at the University of Law has broadened my horizons and introduced me to a global legal system that will help me in my future career in the international fashion industry,” Turnquest said in a press release.

At the rate she’s going, I have no doubt she has a successful career ahead of her. Congratulations Ms. Turnquest!

Source: Huffington Post

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Diva Spotlight: Kerry Washington Receives First Emmy Nomination

kerry washington uptown magazine Diva Spotlight: Kerry Washington Receives First Emmy NominationKerry Washington is having the best time of her life! She is the lead actress on the popular show Scandal. She was featured in two movies over the past year, Django and Peeples (this was a good movie by the way). She won an NAACP award. She has covered countless magazines AND she secretly wed last month. Whew! Talk about being busy!

To top it all off, Kerry Washington is the first African American actress to be nominated for an Emmy in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category in 18 years!  The last actress to be nominated for this category was Cicely Tyson in 1995.

Kerry Washington is not only an exceptional actress, but she’s also very involved in politics. She hit the campaign trail for President Barack Obama; one of the many celebrities we saw show their support and volunteer for the campaign during the election season.

Ms. Washington is beautiful, intelligent, charismatic and carries herself with so much style and grace.  Let Kerry Washington be an example on how to stay humble, work hard and dedicate yourself to your craft.  You can live a life better than you ever imagined!

Congratulations Kerry Washington on all of your success. We thank you for being who you are! I, like so many others, will be tuned to watch the Emmy Awards on September 22nd. We are rooting for you!

To all the Gladiators: A new season of Scandal returns October 3rd on ABC! Time to set your DVR and start planning your viewing party! icon smile Diva Spotlight: Kerry Washington Receives First Emmy Nomination

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Diva Spotlight: 16-Year-Old Ebony Oshunrinde Produced Jay-Z’s ‘Crown’ on “Magna Carta Holy Grail”

Diva Spotlight Ebony Diva Spotlight: 16 Year Old Ebony Oshunrinde Produced Jay Zs Crown on Magna Carta Holy GrailEbony Oshunrinde aka WondaGurl is not your average 16-year-old.  She is the producer of “Crown” which is featured on Jay-Z’s latest album Magna Carta Holy Grail.  She didn’t become a producer overnight. The talented teenager learned how to produce beats after watching a video of Jay-Z and Timbaland in the studio when she was nine years old.

When she was 14, Ebony entered Toronto’s Battle of the Beatmakers competition. She made it to the quarterfinals and was eliminated, however she entered the following year and won.  After creating “Crown,” she sent the track to rapper DJ Travis Scott:

“A few days after, he messaged me and said I’m about to change your life. He called me actually and said you’re on Jay-Z’s album and like congratulations. I felt like crying.”

When asked what’s next, Ebony said: “I want to win a Grammy.”  

 

I know that’s right! Congratulations to Ebony on being featured on Jay-Z’s new album. Let this be a reminder to all of us that anything is possible!

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Photo: Clutch Magazine

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Diva Spotlight: Asia and Ashely Matthew Accepted Into MD PhD Program

asia ashley matthew Diva Spotlight: Asia and Ashely Matthew Accepted Into MD PhD Program

Source: Clutch Magazine

Asia and Ashley Matthew had mentally prepared to be separated for the first time after graduating from Xavier University.  Asia was accepted into the University of Massachusetts Medical School Program, an eight year program plus residency where students can earn both a MD and PhD.   This is a very tough program that only accepts seven to ten students every year.

But Asia wasn’t the only one accepted into the program.  Her twin sister Ashley was also accepted, so this fall the Matthew sisters will be studying biomedical research together.   They continued to beat the odds by earning a FULL scholarship for the eight year program!! #WINNING

“I was ecstatic. I was really happy” said Ashley. “My sister and I were jumping up and down.  We fell over and ended up tripping each other because we were so happy. We didn’t think it would happen and it did.”

Upon completion of the program, the ladies plan to give back to their community. They hope to one day own and operate a hospital for low-income residents.

“There are people who don’t have adequate health care. So just to open a hospital dedicated towards that…that should be anybody’s goal who wants to be a MD. To serve for a greater purpose,” says Asia.

Congratulations Asia and Ashley! Good luck on your journey to earn a MD and PhD.  There is no doubt they’ll excel in this program and one day open a hospital.  I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we hear of the Matthew sisters.

 

Do you know  a Diva that should be highlighted in the Diva Spotlight? Email me at keri{at}adivastateofmind.com

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