Meghan Markle: Making Activism a Top Priority

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By Mackenna Cummings

As a young girl, Meghan Markle knew that there was no age requirement for activism. While many may recognize her as the Duchess of Sussex, a title she earned in May 2018 after marrying Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, the truth is she has been using her voice and passion to change the world for most of her life—which is why she’s the Professional WOMAN’s Magazine Wonder Woman of the year.

Long before she charmed her now-husband through her philanthropy and heart, Markle was witnessing a world around her with inequality—one that needed help—and sought out to change it. At 11 years old, when she saw a commercial for a Procter & Gamble product implying that only women are expected to do housework, she was hurt by the messaging and its implications. She decided to put her disappointment into words, in a letter directed to not only the president of Procter & Gamble but also influential women like Hillary Clinton and Gloria Allred. Her determination paid off, and soon the commercial was edited to reflect a more inclusive message. She was later interviewed on the children’s television channel Nickelodeon, where she encouraged other kids to take a stand whenever they believed something wasn’t right. The experience helped her realize the impact she could have on the world by simply speaking out about causes she cared about.

Throughout her career, Markle has made activism a top priority. She volunteered in soup kitchens in her teens and continued that service in the various cities her acting led her to. She earned bachelor’s degrees in both theater and international relations at Northwestern University, where she completed an internship with the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was interested in politics from an early age, and while she did not pursue a career in that field, she has positively affected lives and changed minds throughout her acting career.

Markle championed for equality and gender rights as her popularity was growing for her role as Rachel Zane on the hit television show Suits. She became involved with One Young World, a charity organization that allows young leaders around the world to come together to brainstorm solutions for world problems. She learned by experience how powerful any individual can be if they choose to use their voice, and she continues to encourage young people to speak up for their beliefs, just as she did when she saw that television commercial. Markle also served the United Nations (UN) as the Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership, visiting refugee camps and meeting with women around the world who are also making positive changes in their communities.

“I’m proud to be a woman and a feminist,” she said at the UN on International Women’s Day in 2015, speaking on gender equality. Through her work, she calls for women to “see their value as leaders” and encourages men to be like her father, who encouraged her at age 11 to write a letter and take a stand. She refutes the idea that women need to “find their voices.” Instead, she reminds women that they have their voices—they only need to use them. Markle believes strongly in building the self-esteem of young women, encouraging them speak up and take on leadership roles wherever they can. Had she not had family members and others who assured her of her value and helped her fight her own insecurities, she might not have become the woman she is today. She makes it a point to do the same for other young girls, in the hopes that one day, they, too can make a difference.

In 2016, Markle became a Global Ambassador for World Vision. The campaigns she has promoted help provide clean water to those in need and bring greater awareness to the lack of education that young girls around the globe can access. She visited India and saw firsthand how the stigmas associated with menstrual cycles prevent many girls from continuing their education and even working. While in India, Markle was introduced to the Myna Mahila Foundation, an organization that empowers women by encouraging the discussion of taboo subjects, such as menstruation, and by setting up workshops to produce low-cost sanitary protection to enable girls to stay in school. In 2017, Markle wrote an article for TIME Magazine, “How Periods Affect Potential,” and she continues to support the effort. For their wedding, Prince Harry and Markle asked for donations to a handful of charities instead of presents, and the Mumbai-based Myna Mahila Foundation was the only foreign organization on the list.

With her acting career coming to an end, she has transitioned smoothly into her role as Duchess of Sussex, even taking over responsibilities dear to the Queen’s heart. Alongside her husband, Markle will take over Queen Elizabeth II’s role for the Queen’s Young Leaders Program. This program is for young leaders who are positively impacting their communities within the Commonwealth, and through it she will continue to support and encourage kids to believe in their ability to change the world. Philanthropy plays a large role in the duties of the Royal Family, and Markle’s background and experiences will certainly only add to the work being done.

According to friends, her passion for helping others and her determination to visit places and make an impact played a big role in bonding with her new husband. As a couple, they both continue to make their charity work top priority, like visiting fairs for World Aids Day, speaking out against inequality, and continuing Prince Harry’s Invictus Games, a competition for wounded servicemen and women. While Markle has left acting behind, her activism and passion for equality, it seems, is only just beginning. She plans to continue to use her voice to change the world and encourage other minorities and women to also take a stand and make a difference.

 

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet Mary Oliver Dies at 83

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Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose rapturous odes to nature and animal life brought her critical acclaim and popular affection, has died. She was 83.

Bill Reichblum, Oliver’s literary executor, said she died Thursday at her home in Hobe Sound, Florida. The cause of death was lymphoma.

“Thank you, Mary Oliver, for giving so many of us words to live by,” Hillary Clinton wrote in a tweet. Ava DuVernay quoted from Oliver’s poem “Praying” and fans online shared their favorite lines.

Author of more than 15 poetry and essay collections, Oliver wrote brief, direct pieces that sang of her worship of the outdoors and disdain for greed, despoilment and other human crimes. One of her favorite adjectives was “perfect,” and rarely did she apply it to people. Her muses were owls and butterflies, frogs and geese, the changes of the seasons, the sun and the stars.

“In my outward appearance and life habits I hardly change — there’s never been a day that my friends haven’t been able to say, and at a distance, ‘There’s Oliver, still standing around in the weeds. There she is, still scribbling in her notebook,'” Oliver wrote in “Long Life,” a book of essays published in 2004.

“But, at the center: I am shaking; I am flashing like tinsel.”

Like her hero Walt Whitman, whom she would call the brother she never had, Oliver didn’t only observe mushrooms growing in a rainstorm or an owl calling from a black branch; she longed to know and become one with what she saw. She might be awed by the singing of goldfinches or, as in the poem “White Flowers,” overcome by a long nap in a field.

___

Never in my life

had I felt myself so near

that porous line

where my own body was done with

and the roots and the stems and the flowers

began

____

Her poetry books included “White Pine,” ”West Wind” and the anthology “Devotions,” which came out in 2017. She won the Pulitzer in 1984 for “American Primitive” and the National Book Award in 1992 for “New and Selected Poems.” In 1998, she received the Lannan Literary Award for lifetime achievement. Her fans ranged from fellow poets Stanley Kunitz and Rita Dove to Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.

“Although few poets have fewer human beings in their poems than Mary Oliver, it is ironic that few poets also go so far to help us forward,” Stephen Dobyns wrote of her in The New York Times.

Oliver was a native of Maple Heights in suburban Cleveland, and endured what she called a “dysfunctional” family in part by writing poems and building huts of sticks and grass in the nearby woods. Edna St. Vincent Millay was an early influence and, while in high school, Oliver wrote to the late poet’s sister, Norma, asking if she could visit Millay’s house in Austerlitz, New York. Norma Millay agreed and Oliver ended up spending several years there, organizing Edna St. Vincent Millay’s papers. While in Austerlitz, she also met the photographer Molly Malone Cook — “I took one look and fell, hook and tumble,” Oliver later wrote — and the two were partners until Cook’s death, in 2005. Much of Oliver’s work was dedicated to Cook.

Oliver studied at Ohio State University and Vassar College, but never graduated and later scorned much of her education as “a pre-established collection of certainties.” She did teach at Case Western University and Bennington College among other schools, although much of her work drew upon her childhood and the landscape around Provincetown.

“I am not very hopeful about the Earth remaining as it was when I was a child. It’s already greatly changed. But I think when we lose the connection with the natural world, we tend to forget that we’re animals, that we need the Earth,” Oliver, who rarely spoke to the press, told Maria Shriver during a 2011 interview for Oprah Winfrey’s “O” magazine.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

How Time’s Up Cofounder Nina Shaw Is Fighting For A More Inclusive Hollywood

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As one of Hollywood’s most powerful dealmakers and a founding member of Time’s Up, talent attorney Nina Shaw is steadfast in her mission to bring equality to the entertainment industry. “We’re at a moment in time where we have to choose our sides,” she says. “And I believe I’m on the side that history will look back at and thank profusely. ” Representing some of Tinseltown’s most prominent artists of color, Shaw is clearing a path for those who have historically been underrepresented and overlooked, amplifying the power of their diverse voices along the way.

A founding partner at the firm Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, Shaw is the negotiator behind such Hollywood heavyweights as Ava DuVernay, Lupita Nyong’o, Misty Copeland, Tracee Ellis Ross, and John Legend, to name a few. The superstar dealmaker grew up in the Bronx against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, an upbringing that infused her law career with greater purpose, instilling in her an ongoing sense of obligation to advance opportunity for others. “It was very difficult to grow up in that time and not feel a great debt to all of the people who were risking their lives to advance your civil liberties, Shaw explains. “To not feel that you owed a debt to society was to be an anomaly.”

Shaw doesn’t tiptoe around what it takes to broker the big deals she knows her roster of A-list clients deserve. “My default is always reasonableness,” she says. “But if you don’t want to do that with me, I will fight you to the ends of the earth.” The upside of her hard-won battles, Shaw believes, extends far beyond the careers of her clients and translates into a win-win for the industry as a whole. “I’m helping to relieve people of a false narrative, of things they believe that aren’t true, but are much more a function of their lack of exposure and their cultural bias,” she explains. “When I can make someone see that a particular performer is someone who they should value in a certain way and pay in a certain way, I’m able to do so often by explaining why that person’s experience is something that you may not understand, but it is valuable. And if I can make you understand it, I can help you to do a better job.”

Last January, Shaw joined forces with a collection of over 300 power players across the entertainment industry to launch Time’s Up, a movement dedicated to combating sexual harassment and workplace inequality. For Shaw, whose tireless commitment to diversity and equal rights has spanned the entirety of her career?, her involvement in the movement was a natural evolution of her life’s work. “It never occurred to me not be involved,” she says. One year later, the Hollywood-born initiative has now come to encompass and represent all aspects of workplace gender-parity, but the journey toward achieving meaningful progress remains ongoing. Shaw stresses the importance of empowering individuals across race, class and community as being crucial to the organization’s future efforts. “I believe that we will only succeed if we are truly intersectional,” she says. “The voices of other women of color and the voices of people across the gender spectrum and in the queer community are all important voices to be part of this.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Former ABC President Channing Dungey joins Netflix

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In a move anticipated within the industry, Dungey is headed to the new home of two other former powerhouse ABCers: Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris.

Channing Dungey, the former head of ABC Entertainment who stepped down in November, is joining Netflix, where she will oversee original TV series alongside Cindy Holland, the company’s longtime head of originals.

The move was anticipated within the industry and reunites Dungey with two of her former showrunners, Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s AnatomyScandal) and Kenya Barris (Black-ish), both of whom decamped from ABC to Netflix earlier this year. At Netflix, Channing will also oversee other high-profile producers, such as the Obamas, who have a producing deal at the company; Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New BlackGlow) and Marti Noxon; as well half of the originals executive team. The other half will report to Holland.

Interestingly, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Dungey, a TV veteran who had been at ABC since 2004, will also have a direct line of communication with Netflix’s content chief Ted Sarandos. Like other executives whom Netflix has poached from traditional entertainment companies, such as Scott Stuber, who heads Netflix’s original film division, Dungey brings experience working with talent and nurturing projects as the company invests more heavily in its own content–and begins to operate more like a traditional studio. In contrast, Holland was promoted to oversee originals in 2012, when Netflix first began making its own shows. She started at the company in DVD acquisitions and then took over domestic TV licensing.

Dungey’s exit from ABC came as its parent company, the Walt Disney Company, was preparing to merge with 21st Century Fox. The new arrangement would have united Dungey with her formal rival at Fox, Dana Walden, who was named in October as incoming Disney TV Studios chairman. Her departure also marked the end of a dramatic year at ABC. After green-lighting a remake of Roseanne that became one of the network’s biggest hits, Dungey swiftly fired the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, after she made a racist slur on Twitter. The show continued production as a spin-off (The Conners) without Barr, but has faired less spectacularly in the ratings. 

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Big League Chew Is Putting A Woman On Its Package For The First Time Ever

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Big League-Chew Girl

Big League Chew Bubble Gum from your childhood is getting a makeover — the bubble gum maker is putting a woman on its packaging for the first time ever.

The news was broken on Twitter by ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell.  NowThis confirmed the news. Big League Chew Bubble Gum was founded by Rob “Nellie” Nelson, former pitcher of the Portland Mavericks. Nelson came up with the idea of shredded gum in a pouch. So he bought a gum kit and got to work. “I just followed the instructions. It was like making brownies,” he stated to CBS this morning.

Since then, it has become one of the most recognizable brands in America. The company has sold more than 800 million pouches. It’s also the #1 selling shredded bubble gum in the world. Nelson’s then teammate Jim Bouton helped fund the project. The two pitched it to Amurol, a division of Wrigley’s, and the first pouch was sold in 1980. It brought in $18 million in the first year. Big League Chew Bubble Gum has six different flavors, including original, grape, watermelon, cotton candy, sour apple, and, most recently, blue raspberry.

Until now, Big League Chew Bubble Gum has always featured male players on its pouches.

Continue on to  nowthisnews.com to read the complete article and view the video.

Raiders hire first female assistant coach in franchise history

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Like every member of Jon Gruden’s new staff, Kelsey Martinez’s first focus is coaching.

Then, every so often, the league’s only female strength and conditioning coach is approached by one of her peers; running backs coach Jemal Singleton, special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, and more.

They all want to thank Martinez for blazing a trail their own daughters can follow.

“That’s when it started to hit: ‘Oh, wow. This is a big deal,'” Martinez told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “To be an inspiration for them is huge to me.”

It’s a rarity to see a woman in on an NFL team’s coaching staff. Recently, Kathryn Smith (Bills) and Katie Sowers (49ers) became full-time staff employees.

But the Silver and Black has a history of trailblazing NFL hires, including Art Shell as the league’s first black coach and first Tom Flores as the league’s first Hispanic coach.

Oakland is currently the only team to list a female strength and conditioning coach on their team website, though. Linebacker James Cowser said he’s thankful he gets to work with Martinez.

“It instantly becomes business, and that’s what it’s all about,” Cowser told Gehlken. “I think that’s a testament to her and who she is because she’s able to get us to switch into work mode. We don’t think about male-female whatever. It’s just business and how can we get better.”

That’s what Martinez tries to bring to the Raiders‘ practice facility every day. According to Gehlken, she’s helping offensive linemen keep pace with Gruden’s faster offense, helping Cowser and his fellow linebackers bulk up.

She’s also helping to pave the way for an underrepresented group in the league. Martinez may want to focus on coaching, but she knows she’s setting an example as well.

“Don’t create limits on yourself,” Martinez said. “There’s many excuses or whatever that can be made, but at the end of the day, what do you love to do? I was able to find what I love to do, and that’s working for Jon Gruden every day. Why limit yourself?”

Continue onto the NFL Newsroom to read the complete article.

Cicely Tyson Becomes First Black Woman To Receive Honorary Oscar

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Cicely Tyson is finally bringing home the gold.

The 93-year-old actress was named this week as the recipient of an honorary Oscar, making her the first black woman to gain that distinction, according to Essence and People.

Tyson has won a Tony, two Emmys and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, but an Academy Award had escaped the performer in a legendary career. She lost the only time she was nominated for best actress, in 1973 for the sharecropper drama “Sounder.”

But she has won plenty of acclaim elsewhere, such as for TV productions like “Roots” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”

Some of her notable big-screen credits include “The River Niger,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “The Help,” “Alex Cross” and “Last Flag Flying.”

Tyson began as a model and stage actress and got her big feature-film break in 1968’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”

Fifty years later, she is getting some overdue recognition by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Netflix creates new executive position focused on inclusion and diversity

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Netflix is creating a new executive position that will focus on inclusion and diversity among employees of the streaming entertainment giant.


Vernā Myers has been appointed to the newly created role of vice president for inclusion strategy, Netflix announced Wednesday. The company said Myers will help devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide.

Prior to joining Netflix, Myers worked as a consultant at the Vernā Myers Co., where she advised corporations and organizations on issues including race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

Her appointment comes two months after Netflix fired its chief communications officer after he used a racial slur on at least two occasions in the workplace. Jonathan Friedland, who had served as Netflix’s top spokesperson for the past seven years, acknowledged that he had spoken in an “insensitive” way.

“Leaders have to be beyond reproach in the example we set and unfortunately I fell short of that standard when I was insensitive in speaking to my team about words that offend in comedy,” he wrote on Twitter in June.

Earlier this week, Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix named Rachel Whetstone — a veteran of Facebook, Uber and Google — to succeed Friedland as chief communications officer.

Diversity executives have become increasingly common at major corporations. Silicon Valley in particular has become the focus of media scrutiny for what some workers have described as a lack of gender and racial diversity at technology and internet companies.

Myers has previously consulted for Netflix, the company said. “Having worked closely with Vernā as a consultant on a range of organizational issues, we are thrilled that she has agreed to bring her talents to this new and important role,” said Jessica Neal, Netflix’s chief talent officer.

Continue onto the Los Angles Times to read the complete article.

NASA’s Katherine Johnson Honored With Statue, Scholarship On 100th Birthday

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Taraji P. Henson portrayed Johnson in 2016’s “Hidden Figures.”

West Virginia State University honored NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson’s 100th birthday with a statue and scholarship dedication over the weekend.

Hundreds of people ― including 75 of Johnson’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren ― attended the event honoring the woman who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” according to the West Virginia Gazette. The bronze statue of Johnson was unveiled Saturday, one day before she turned 100.

The scholarship in Johnson’s name was awarded to freshmen Jasiaha Daniels and Alexis Scudero, both of whom are studying in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“What makes Katherine so extraordinary is she not only prevailed while segregation failed, Dr. Johnson has continued to persevere and thrive with the gracious poise and clarity that defies mere words of explanation, let alone definition,” said Dr. Yvonne Cagle, the keynote speaker at the ceremony and the space and life sciences directorate at the Johnson Space Center.

Johnson started attending WSVU when she was 14 because she wasn’t able to receive further education in Greenbrier County. She graduated from the university in 1937 with degrees in both mathematics and French, then went on to pursue graduate studies at the institution.

Johnson was a teacher for 15 years, then joined the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which later became NASA. She and three other women calculated rocket trajectories and orbits for some of the earliest American voyages into space, including helping astronaut John Glenn orbit the Earth three times.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

To Allure Editor-In-Chief Michelle Lee, Diversity Is More Than A Buzzword

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In a September that has seen an unprecedented amount of black women on magazine covers (with 11 to date, at the time of writing this article), it’s more than fitting to spotlight one of the leaders in the publishing industry at the forefront of this positive change.

Since starting her tenure as Allure editor-in-chief in November 2015 (she was previously editor-in-chief and chief marketing officer at NYLON), Michelle Lee has changed the conversation about inclusion in beauty. And she walks the talk. In a May 2018 Allure article penned by Lee, she talks about the importance of inclusivity: “I’ve come to see representation as something even deeper now. We showcase and celebrate different versions of beauty so we can — finally, wonderfully — see one another.”

The industry is seeing and celebrating Lee’s efforts: she was named Adweek‘s “Editor of the Year” in 2017 and Allure was named “Magazine of the Year.” These are both among Lee’s proudest career moments. Another proud moment? The ripple effect her commitment to diversity is creating in the fashion and beauty industries. Lee explains: “We’ve shifted the ethos and image of a 28-year-old brand to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. It’s hard to imagine now but the beauty industry was not so diverse just two years ago. I like to think we pushed the envelope in some key ways that showed a lot of other brands that diversity is not only something that’s socially important, it’s also something that audiences want.” (Indeed, they want it: allure.com attracts 7.4 million unique visitors per month, according to Condé Nast.)

A look at Allure’s issues in recent years underscores its mission (to challenge old-fashioned views of beauty and broaden the definition of what society deems beautiful), most notably March 2018’s “The Culture of Hair” issue and June 2018’s cover featuring three Asian cover models. And in one of its boldest moves yet, model Halima Aden graced the July 2017 cover in her Nike hijab, which made a larger cultural statement about what American women look like, and how diverse and wonderful American beauty can be.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Simone Biles Is Still Making History, Is 1st Woman to Win 5 U.S. All-Around Championships

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It’s still Simone Biles season, and the American gymnast is still kicking ass and taking names, which culminated in yet another historic career achievement at this year’s United States Gymnastics Championships on Sunday.

The U.S. Olympic team declared that Biles is the first woman to ever win five U.S. Gymnastics all-around titles (h/t Bleacher Report.)

The 21-year-old has wowed crowds ever since taking the stage at the 2013 U.S. Gymnastics Championships. As Bleacher Report notes, she has walked out with the gold in the all-around in each of her five appearances at the competition and has won 16 gold medals across every discipline.

The only time Biles has shown a hint of slowing down was when she took 2017 off from competition. However, the gymnastics superstar started training once more last October, with her eyes set for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Continue onto The Root to read the complete article.