Gloria Estefan Becomes First Cuban-American To Win Prestigious Kennedy Center Honor Award

LinkedIn

Singer, songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan became the first Cuban-American artist to be honored with the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors award on Sunday.

Estefan was one of five 2017 recipients honored at the 40th annual event, as well as dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, hip-hop artist LL Cool J, television writer and producer Norman Lear, and musician Lionel Richie.

The honor is given to recipients in the performing arts who spend their lifetime contributing to American Culture.

In an Instagram post, Estefan posted that she felt “incredibly blessed to be in the same class” as the other four recipients. “Your talents & beautiful souls have touched the world and forever changed it for the better! Congratulations!,” Estefan wrote.

In a tweet posted by the Kennedy Center, Estefan said that her dad brought her to the U.S. to live in freedom and to live in a country that allows everyone to be who they want to be. “We all have to stand up for what this country is. And I know that every one of the Honorees in this room has done that in their own special way,” the post read.

Estefan’s daughter, Emily, did a solo performance in honor of her mother’s award, and later posted a black and white photo on Instagram of her mom as a child sitting on the hood of a car.

Emily wrote in part, “Congratulations to the little girl on the hood of that car, who worked like an animal to be able to for one night… sit back, relax, and truly feel the hue of what it means to be honored… and truly deserve it.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, Has Died at Age 76

LinkedIn

Aretha Franklin, the self-taught piano prodigy, vocalist and songwriter who first conquered the charts in the late ’60s and never relinquished her throne, has died, multiple outlets report. She was 76.

The Queen of Soul had struggled with her health for years. A source told PEOPLE Monday that Franklin had taken a turn for the worse and that her death was “imminent.”

“She has been ill for a long time,” the longtime friend told PEOPLE. “She did not want people to know and she didn’t make it public.”

A musical phenomenon who crossed musical, racial and gender barriers, Franklin began her vocal career as a teenager, singing gospel hymns in her father’s Detroit church. From these humble beginnings she scaled to the very heights of stardom, scoring her first national chart topper in 1967 with a searing version of “Respect.”

Since then, the artist has notched 77 Hot 100 chart entries, and earned an astounding 18 Grammys out of 44 nominations. In 1987, two decades after her first No. 1, Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and was later named the Greatest Singer of All Time by Rolling Stone.

A source close to the singer spoke to the Associated Press on Monday to confirm that Franklin was “seriously ill,” although they did not provide any additional details as to the severity or the cause of the singer’s illness.

Showbiz 411 reporter Roger Friedman was first to report the singer was “gravely ill,” sharing that Franklin’s family were “asking for prayers and privacy.”

“I am so saddened to report that the Queen of Soul and my good friend, Aretha Franklin is gravely ill,” wrote Local 4 Detroit news anchor Evrod Cassimy on Twitter Sunday. “I spoke with her family members this evening. She is asking for your prayers at this time. I’ll have more details as I’m allowed to release.”

In February of 2017, the Queen of Soul told a Detroit TV station that she was retiring from music that year. “I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it,” she said, though Franklin admitted she would perform at “some select things.”

Despite her failing health in recent years, Franklin returned to the stage in August for what would be her final public performance at the Mann Center in Philadelphia, despite noticeable changes in her appearance that caused concern about her well-being.

Continue onto PEOPLE to read the complete article.

Nicole Maines on Being TV’s First Trans Superhero

LinkedIn

On Saturday at Comic-Con came news that Nicole Maines would be making history on the fourth season of CW’s “Supergirl,” becoming the first ever trans superhero on television.

Variety sat down with the trans activist shortly after the news broke to talk about her character Nia Nal aka Dreamer as well as what the TV casting means for the trans community.

“I haven’t really wrapped my head around it,” Maines told TV exec editor Debra Birnbaum at Variety’s Comic-Con Studio. “It feels fitting to say with great power, comes great responsibility,” adding, “I’m nervous because I want to do it right.”

Maines, who was featured in the HBO documentary “The Trans List,” says she wants fans and TV viewers to take away a better understanding of the trans community with the casting.

“We can be whoever we want, we can do whatever we want, we can be superheroes, because in many ways we are,” adding, “We’ve had trans representation in television for a while but it hasn’t been the right representation.”

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.

Marysol Castro, Mets’ first female PA announcer and MLB’s first Latina, hits it out of the park

LinkedIn

Marysol Castro remembers a hot and humid summer day between third and fourth grades. She was playing stickball with her brothers and neighbors in her native Bronx, New York, and she remembers some boys looking at her with disdain when she hit her first home run.

She noticed the looks, but it didn’t stop her, and it certainly hasn’t stopped her yet.

Castro, who’s about to turn 44, has spent a little over a month in her job as the first female public address (PA) announcer for the New York Mets and the first Latina PA announcer in Major League Baseball.

“This month has been incredible,” said Castro, speaking to NBC News from her new “office” in Citi Field. “The minute I open this door and look at this view, I realize how incredibly fortunate I am.”

During her two-decade career, Castro has worked in local TV news and has been a national network weather anchor on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and on the “The Early Show” at CBS, as well as a reporter on ESPN — all positions often dominated by men.

“I’ve worked really, really hard,” said Castro.

Sporting feminine wedge sandals and bright red nail polish, Castro is petite, yet she speaks with an authoritativeness and power that shows she’s used to hanging with the guys and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

Castro was ambitious at an early age; she recalls first wanting to be the shortstop for her hometown team, the Yankees, and then wanting to go into politics. At 12, she decided on her own that she would get a full scholarship to boarding school, and she did. Castro says she knew the world was bigger than the Bronx, and she wanted to see it and learn about it.

She taught English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, and it’s there, Castro says, where she learned the power of real communication. After attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she began her career in broadcasting.

A ‘BRIDGE BUILDER’ FOR MLB’S GROWING LATINO AUDIENCE

The new PA announcer is proud of her job and of being a Latina role model.

“In almost every job I’ve had, I’ve been the only Latino,” said Castro. “We have to reflect the eyeballs that watch us.”

Both of Castro’s parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico. Her father, who passed away when she was 10, was a U.S. Navy veteran, a NYC bus driver and was active in the Young Lords, a groundbreaking civil rights group, as well as other community organizations.

Landing her new position “means everything,” said Castro, because she gets to “be a bridge builder for other Latinos” at a time when Hispanic-viewing baseball audiences are at an all-time high in the U.S.

A study showed that the addition of international players to MLB teams, many from Caribbean and Latin American countries, have resulted in a jump of millions in profits. As of last year, MLB players hailed from 19 countries, including the Dominican Republic (93 players), Venezuela (77) and Cuba (23).

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Two Women Refereed An NBA Game Together For The First Time Ever

LinkedIn

Two black women did something this week that no other women have done before: They refereed a professional basketball game together.

Danielle Scott and Angelica Suffren officiated an NBA Summer League game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat on Tuesday evening. Marc J. Spears, a senior writer for ESPN’s The Defeated website, pointed out the news in a Tuesday tweet.

“First time I’ve ever seen two black women referee an NBA game of any kind,” Spears wrote. “Violet Palmer would be proud Danielle Scott and Angelica Suffren reffing at the California Classic Summer League Lakers versus Heat.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass confirmed to HuffPost that this was the first time two women have officiated an NBA game.

Palmer, a retired basketball referee, broke the NBA’s gender barrier in 1997 when she and Dee Kanter were hired. Palmer was the first woman to officiate an NBA game ― on Oct. 31, 1997, between the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks. She was also the first woman to ref an NBA playoff game ― between the Indiana Pacers and the New Jersey Nets on April 25, 2006.

Twitter users applauded the historic moment this week.

“Now, it’s time to have a woman coach,” one user wrote.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Netflix Orders Mexican Drama Series ‘Monarca’ From Salma Hayek

LinkedIn

Netflix has greenlit another international series.

The streaming giant has handed out a series order to Mexican drama Monarca, starring Irene Azuela (Quemar las Naves, El hotel de los secretos, Las oscuras primaveras). The new series, which will begin production this fall and will launch globally in 2019, will follow the world of wealthy Mexican elites riddled by corruption, scandal and violence.

Produced by Salma Hayek’s company Ventanarosa, along with Lemon Studios and Stearns Castle, Monarca is described as a high-stakes, multi-generational family saga about a tequila-born Mexican business empire and the battle that ensues when a member of the family decides to fight the dirty system her family helped create.

In addition to Azuela, the series will star Juan Manuel Bernal. Monarca was created by Diego Gutierrez and written by Fernando Rovzar, Julia Denis, Ana Sofia Clerici and Sandra García Velten. Michael McDonald from Stearns Castle will serve as a producer.

“I’m extremely excited to partner with Netflix, and to be working with amazing Mexican talent in front of and behind the camera,” said Hayek. “We are proud to show Mexico as a vibrant, sophisticated and culturally rich nation fighting to control its own destiny.”

Added creator and showrunner Gutierrez: “This is the definition of a passion project for me. Having been born and raised in Mexico, I’m humbled to have the opportunity to tell this story with Netflix and the incredibly talented team of people we’re assembling, both in the U.S. and Mexico.”

Continue onto The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

Barbie Has a New Career of the Year: Robotics Engineer

LinkedIn

And she comes with a matching coding e-book.

Since 1959, the Barbie doll has undergone many transformations. Not only does pretty much every celebrity from Gigi Hadid to Frida Khalohave their own doll, but also, the original Barbie has had careers as a firefighter, nurse, astronaut, and many more (including, in 2016, president). The latest “career of the year” from Barbie’s makers, Mattel, is yet another field where women are underrepresented: robotics engineering. According to People, only 12% of the field’s employees are women.

“For almost 60 years, Barbie has exposed girls to roles where women are underrepresented to show them that they can be anything,” said Lisa McKnight, Barbie’s global general manager and senior vice president, according to People. “By playing with Robotics Engineer Barbie on and offline, we are giving girls a new platform for play in their imaginary world and teaching them important skills for their real world.”

In collaboration with Information Science Professor and Coder Casey Fiesler, PhD, Barbie is releasing Code Camp for Barbie and Friends, an e-book that provides a kid-friendly introduction to coding and will be available on Amazon, according to a press release by the company. Mattel has also provided a grant of support to Black Girls CODE and gifted dolls at robotics workshops to “reach young girls interested in developing skills in the field” and will continue a multi-year relationship with Tynker, a coding platform for children, to provide workshops. Krishna Vedati, cofounder and CEO of Tynker, says, “Our mission is to empower youth to become the makers of tomorrow through coding, and the Barbie brand is an ideal partner to help us introduce programming to a large number of kids in a fun, engaging way.”

There will be four versions of Robotics Engineer Barbie, each with different skin tones, hair types, and hairstyles. All four, however, will wear black jeans, a blue denim jacket, a graphic T-shirt, white sneakers, and safety glasses. The different versions seem to be part of Mattel’s commitment to a more inclusive Barbie doll following the 2016 release of dolls with petite, tall, and curvy body types with customizable hair textures and skin tones.

Continue onto Teen Vogue to read the complete article.

P&G partners with Katie Couric to champion women

LinkedIn

Procter & Gamble Co.has revealed the new ways the company is pushing for more accurate and positive portrayals of women in advertising and media.

The Cincinnati-based maker of consumer goods (NYSE: PG) said a new series of commitments and partnerships with advocates such as journalist Katie Couricand actress/producer Queen Latifah is designed to increase diversity throughout the creative supply chain.

The effort was outlined by P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard in conjunction with the Monday opening of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France, which is an annual gathering of some of the world’s top advertisers and agency representatives.

“As the world’s greatest creative minds gather to celebrate creativity, we are committed to do our part with meaningful actions to advance gender equality in advertising, media and the creative pipeline in the next five years,” Pritchard said. “We also know no company can do it alone, so we hope to inspire others to be agents of change to accelerate momentum.”

Gender equality is good for society and business, said Pritchard, who oversees $7 billion in advertising spend annually for Procter & Gamble.

“Some of P&G’s best-performing brands have the most gender-equal campaigns,” Pritchard said, citing Always’ #LikeAGirl ads, SKII’s “Change Destiny” advertising and Olay’s “Live Fearlessly” spots as well as Tide, Ariel, Dawn and Swiffer ads that show men sharing the load in household chores. “It’s clear that promoting gender equality is not only a force for good, it’s a force for growth”

To inspire broader efforts on gender equality, P&G will partner with the nonprofit social action group Global Citizen and co-host the first #SheIsEqual Summit on Sept. 28 in New York during United Nations General Assembly Week.

The event will bring together companies, government officials and influencers from advertising, media and entertainment to share perspectives on gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, girls’ education and advocacy.

In addition, P&G will be among companies partnering with Katie Couric Media to collaborate on content that reflects their mutual values and commitment to important issues. Couric’s firm will produce and distribute stories in a variety of formats, including digital series, documentaries, scripted projects, podcasts and live programing.

“My mission for Katie Couric Media is to lead a female-driven team in partnership with leading brands that share our values to develop meaningful content that will help people navigate our complicated world, promote understanding and enrich their lives,” Couric said.

Continue onto Chicago Business Journal to read the complete article.

Octavia E. Butler, Who Brought Diversity to the World of Science Fiction, Honored With Google Doodle

LinkedIn
Octavia Butler

Octavia E. Butler, a groundbreaking African-American science fiction writer who would have turned 71 on Friday, was honored with a Google Doodle that celebrates her contributions to the literary world.

Butler was one of the first writers in science fiction — traditionally dominated by white male authors — to include diverse protagonists in her stories, and was widely admired for evocatively exploring hierarchies and human flaws in her work.

Butler died in 2006, but her family released a statement to coincide with Friday’s Google Doodle that paid tribute to her legacy.

“Her spirit of generosity and compassion compelled her to support the disenfranchised,” her family said in a statement. “She sought to speak truth to power, challenge prevailing notions and stereotypes, and empower people striving for better lives. Although we miss her, we celebrate the rich life she led and its magnitude in meaning.”

Throughout her life, Butler won various awards and became the first science-fiction author to get the MacArthur Fellowship. Here’s what you need to know about her prestigious career:

Nebula and Hugo awards

Butler won two Nebula awards and two Hugo awards in her career, two of the most prestigious prizes in science fiction. Two of those awards were for the same short story, Bloodchild, in which human refugees are imprisoned on an alien planet by insect-like creatures that protect them while using them as hosts to breed their young. Butler insisted the story was not an allegory for slavery while critics applauded it for reversing gender roles and examining the complex structures of oppression.

MacArthur Fellowship

In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction author to be awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. The award came with a prize of $295,000. The foundation said Butler’s “imaginative stories are transcendent fables, which have as much to do with the future as with the present and the past.”

Television adaptation of Butler’s book

Last year, it was announced that Ava DuVernay, who recently directed A Wrinkle In Time, would be adapting Butler’s book, Dawn, into a television series. It is not clear what network will pick up the show just yet.

Read the complete article and more at TIME Magazine.

Latina Director Launches Production Company to Tell Stories About Queer Women of Color

LinkedIn

Back in 2016, director Deborah S. Esquenazi’s documentary Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four documented the case of four Latina lesbians put on trial for assaulting two young girls.The four were convicted and served time before their case was investigated as an example of prosecutorial prejudice and the well-known homophobia that was present in their town. It remains one of the best Latino movies you should seek out, and audiences who were fortunate to see the film then were eager to find out what the Cuban Esquenazi would do next.

The director, who holds both an Emmy nomination and a Peabody award, has announced today she is starting her own production company, Myth of Monsters. The company will “focus on utilizing media and multilingual projects to upend myths about women of color and queer-identified individuals.” The first project set to debut under the Myth of Monsters banner is a scripted adaptation of Esquenazi’s own Southwest of Salem. The TV adaptation has brought on Mad Men writer Jason Grote to work on the script alongside Esquenazi.

The company is also moving forward on a bilingual coming-of-age LGBTQ drama called Queen of Wands. The film will be set in 1989 and is a semi-autobiographical look at Esquenazi’s life growing up as a lesbian in a Cuban-Sephardic household. It is said to draw from the Bible, family stories, and “gay phantasmagoria.”

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.

Oprah Winfrey, Apple Sign Multi-Year Content Partnership

LinkedIn

Apple and Oprah Winfrey have a signed a multi-year content partnership. Under the deal, Winfrey and Apple will create programs that will be released as part of Apple’s original content lineup.

The deal marks one of the first such agreements struck between Apple and a content creator. Previously, Apple set an overall deal with veteran showrunner Kerry Ehrin. Ehrin will also serve as the showrunner on Apple’s upcoming morning show drama series starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

This is also the latest addition to Winfrey’s media empire. The former hit talk show host formed her own cable network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Communications. The channel has become one of the fastest-growing cable networks among women and has produced hit shows like “Queen Sugar,” which boasts Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay as showrunner.

Winfrey recently extended her contract with Discovery through 2025. Sources tell Variety that Apple’s deal with Winfrey does not conflict with the Discovery agreement. Winfrey remains exclusive in an on-screen capacity to OWN with limited carve-outs, such as her role as a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and her recent acting work for HBO.

Via her Harpo Productions banner, Winfrey has also developed several long-running hit syndicated shows including “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” Through her Harpo Films, she has produced several Academy Award-winning features including “Selma,” which was directed by DuVernay. Winfrey also had a featured role in that film, and recently starred in other films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and HBO’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Winfrey also runs O, The Oprah Magazine and published the New York Times best-selling cookbook “Food, Health and Happiness” last year. As a noted philanthropist, Winfrey has contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017.

Continue onto Variety to read the complete article.