From Special Olympian To High Fashion Model, Chelsea Werner Defies All Down Syndrome Stereotypes

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While endorsement deals are one in a million for most professional athletes, very few Olympians swap sport for the sartorial.

There is, of course, the exceptions and two-time defending World Champion Chelsea Werner might be as good as it gets.

Chelsea was born with Down Syndrome, unable to walk until she was almost two years old and told she would always have low muscle tone, yet persevered to perform at a physical peak beyond many experts’ wildest expectations.

Surprisingly, the Special Olympian set her sights on an entirely new and unexpected challenge after her fourth US National Championships win – the hypercritical world of fashion modelling.

“I’ve been at the top the Gymnastics World for probably ten years now,” Chelsea said. “I still enjoy it but it’s not my entire life. I got some great modelling opportunities through my gymnastics and discovered I really loved it!”

At a time where inclusivity is starting to trump the unattainable body ideals that litter mass media, the career change really means something.

Models with disabilities are just as aspirational as those with fashion’s predication of unusually long legs – arguably, even more so– and giving the simple act of giving them space challenges the industry’s ‘acceptable’ discrimination.

While Chelsea doesn’t recognise the lack of diversity, her mother Lisa said: “It is slowly becoming more diverse but what they typically consider diversity is usually racial or plus size models.

“When it come to models with disabilities it’s pretty rare. A large segment of today’s population has some form of disability – they want and deserve to be represented!”

In response, Chelsea said: “I think it’s hard for all models. I’ve had a lot of challenges in my life and I never give up. I have a lot of people rooting for me and a good team behind me.

“I’m a very positive person and don’t see things as limitations. I’m pretty stubborn and work very hard. The way my parents raised me really made me feel good about myself.”

In a world where most struggle for a slice of success, her work ethic and attitude that has already started to pay off. Since 2016, Chelsea has been on the cover of Teen Vogue, walked in New York Fashion Week and travelled around the world for big-brand campaigns.

“I have always loved being in front of the camera – that’s where I got the nickname ‘Showtime’,” she laughs. “Whenever there is a camera or an audience I am at my best. I also love the travel. My first modelling job was for H&M and I filmed it in Havana, Cuba!”

Modelling’s traditionally rigid set of ideals (super-thin, able-bodied, white, tall) is one thing, but the lack of disabled visibility across all media is another.

Without representation, it is easy to see how disabled people might assume they aren’t worth representation. That they don’t make the cut. And it the hope-gifted context of the thousands of likes and comments Chelsea receives on her active social accounts.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Can’t travel this summer? Try taking a virtual vacation

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woman tying on her laptop

By Sage Anderson

Sure, we’d all love to be jet-setting around the world, living out the summer travel fantasies that are only attainable for influencers with all their expenses paid and the 0.000001%. But more likely, you’re stuck behind a desk, aggressively swiping through your friends’ vacation Insta stories.

If you get creative, there are definitely ways to make your summer in an office less of a soul-sucking, cubicleland-locked nightmare. But sometimes you just need to be (mentally) where the Coronas are. And that’s where planning a virtual vacation comes in.

It’s an online oasis, a digital escape — whatever you call it, whisk yourself away through world wide web and sail to far-off destinations that are only a click away.

So shove your luggage back in the closet, toss out that tube of sunscreen, and secure your place on the couch. Let us give you the best options for your digital getaway. You can even wear that socks-with-sandals combo from the comfort of your own home — don’t worry, we won’t judge.

1. Go on a virtual destination experience

Trekking across the globe from your own home has never been easier — everyone from big tech companies, to resorts and airlines have been utilizing the latest in VR and 360-filming technology to capture immersive vacation experiences. You can get a birds-eye view of bustling cities, or get up close and personal with undersea life.

The level of “realness” might vary – for example, Google Maps can use Street View to take you on a virtual safari of in South Africa, but you’ll probably need a VR headset to get the full experience of Hamilton Island, Australia’s breathtaking helicopter island tour video.

You can also use an app like Ascape, which describes itself as “the #1 travel agency for virtual reality trips.” The app hosts a multitude of 360 scenic virtual video and photo tours, with plenty of international options.

While Kayak.com may have played off this concept for an April Fool’s Day joke, we’re getting seriously close to Star Trek simulation room-levels of travel immersion. Okay, maybe not — but it’s still a step up from your average nature documentary.

2. Ride a theme park ride on YouTube

Let’s face it, the land of magic that Mickey Mouse built is overcrowded and expensive. Other big amusement parks are no different — so unless you want to personally reenact the Harry Potter ride 10-hour line debacle, there are other ways to beat the system.

Several dedicated theme park YouTube accounts have amassed a loyal following of serial park-goers and average Joes-alike, which make up a community known loosely as “Theme Park Tube.” The most famous of which is Defunctland, which shares the history of rides no longer in operation. But if you’d rather to strap yourself into the front seat of park attractions, we’ve got you covered.

Much like mall kiosks and VR “experiences” of yore, the ever-popular rollercoaster simulation has had new life breathed into it by first-person, ride-through videos. But these perspectives also act both as a way to experience rides from international parks and as a historical record of the aforementioned defunct attractions.

3. Check out adorable live zoo feeds

Penquins at the Zoo

What does everyone need more of in their life? Adorable animals, that’s what! But if you’ve already exhausted the millions of cat videos on YouTube (which, how is that even possible?), there’s a more organic option.

A whole host of zoos already offer live cams and feeds to various habitats of their animals online. Love elephants? Check out the Houston Zoo’s Elephant Yard cam. Want to follow some pandas around and watch them do nothing? Smithsonian National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam has got you covered.

We can’t guarantee that any of these creatures will do anything interesting when you tune in, but most of them run 24/7, so you’re bound to catch some animal tomfoolery at some point.

Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.

Afro-Latina actress Tessa Thompson saves the world in ‘Men in Black: International”

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Tessa Thompson seen on the Men in Black movie set

By Arturo Conde

Tessa Thompson considers herself Afro-Latina, a black woman, a person of color, and Latinx. But when fans go to see the sci-fi action blockbuster “Men in Black: International” this weekend, she hopes that they will only see her character, Agent M, on the silver screen.

“I hope we can get to the space in Hollywood where it’s not noteworthy for a woman, and particularly a woman of color, to top line a franchise film,” Thompson, who has Afro-Panamanian and Mexican roots, told NBC News. “I hope we can get to a place where we don’t have to congratulate it, or comment on it because it happens with such frequency. But we are still really far away from there.”

“Men in Black: International” partners Agent M with Agent H (played by Chris Hemsworth) in a globetrotting mission that will take viewers on a fun and exciting adventure through Western Europe and Northern Africa to find a murderer, expose a mole, and ultimately save the world.Tessa Thompson headshot

Fans first meet M as the six-year-old Molly who has an unexpected encounter with an alien. This exposes her to a new world that is inhabited by unearthly beings. And after the Men in Black erase her parents’ memory, M dedicates her life to tracking down the organization and pursuing the truth.

“Memory is huge for M,” Thompson said. “She doesn’t want to live a lie, and she feels that because there’s this organization [Men in Black] that can go around wiping out memories, the only way to relive the truth in terms of the universe and its underpinnings is to be a part of this organization.” In playing Agent M, the critically acclaimed actress tapped into her gender and ethnicity as a way to understand what drove and tested her character.

“If you’re a woman, and particularly a woman of color, and you’re trying to get access to any space that has been historically white and male, you have to work harder,” Thompson said. “This was an inspiration for me when I was thinking about M because she’s so ambitious. She wants to be good, but she also knows that she has to be good — especially if she wants to get to where she wants to go.”

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

Rihanna Is Now The Wealthiest Female Musician Alive

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Rihanna poses in red dress and red lipstick

It’s official, Robyn Rihanna Fenty is the world’s wealthiest female musician. Let’s let that sink in.

The 31-year-old singer, actress, entrepreneur, beauty and fashion powerhouse just became the world’s highest female earner in music, according to Forbes. Meaning she’s out-earned Madonna ($570 million), Céline Dion ($450 million) and, Beyoncé ($400 million), three of the most wealthy women musicians alive today.

The financial glow up is real: In 2018 Rihanna ranked number 7 on Forbes list with an estimated $37.5 million. As Forbes notes, she’s now worth an estimated $600 million.

As for the tipping point? In May, Rihanna officially launched her luxury fashion label in partnership with the French luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH. The partnership was historical, she became the first woman of color to lead an LVMH business and Fenty Maison is the first fashion company that LVMH has launched from scratch.

While news of Rihanna’s ascent into the highest tax bracket in her respective field is a major accomplishment, it comes as no surprise. Launched in 2017, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty generated $570 million in revenue during its first 15 months.

Then in May 2018, Rihanna launched Savage X, an online-based lingerie company. During the first 40 days on the market, the company made $100 million in sales. It’s now available in 40 markets. Sheesh.

Work, work, work, work, work indeed.

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article

Sixers hire first female coach: Lindsey Harding

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Lindsey Harding-Sixers female coach-sits on the bench talking with another coach

Lindsey Harding sat in a VIP courtside seat, long before the fans arrived, and watched Sixers rookie Zhaire Smith shoot three-pointer after three-pointer. Almost all of them splashed. Harding didn’t care.

She leaned to her left, where Raptors scout Kevin Gamble sat, and, without taking her eyes off Smith, said:

“Look. He tilts his head to the side a little bit. Gets it out of the way when he shoots.”

It was an almost imperceptible imperfection, but, for an expert like Harding, it stuck out like a sore thumb.

That’s the sort of expertise that made Harding the seventh female assistant coach the NBA has seen. The Sixers promoted her from pro scout to player development coach. She is the first female coach in franchise history.

The Sixers hired her to scout last summer, but something like this was inevitable. This is just the next step on what the team is sure will be in a fast, fruitful climb.

“After we interviewed her this summer, everyone I spoke to about her said how driven she was and that her knowledge of the game was impeccable,” said Sixers general manager Elton Brand. He expects Harding to head her own team sooner than later: “Whether that’s the NBA, or a collegiate program — I don’t think she’ll be at the player-development level for very long.”

Continue on to Philly.com to read the complete article.

With Peabody Award, Rita Moreno is first Latina to attain unique ‘PEGOT’ class

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Rita Moreno poses for camera at Hollywood event

By Nicole Acevedo

Rita Moreno’s alphabet of awards is gaining another letter. The Peabody Awards organization recently announced it will honor the Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer with the career achievement award.

That means Moreno, 87, will become the third person to achieve PEGOT status by winning a Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. Film director Mike Nichols and entertainer Barbra Streisand are the other two PEGOT winners.

“So proud to be the first Latino recipient,” Moreno said on Twitter. She is also the second person to ever receive the Peabody Career Achievement Award. The first recipient was legendary comedian Carol Burnett in 2018.

Moreno, who gained widespread fame in the film “West Side Story,” will be honored at the Peabody Awards annual gala in New York City on May 18.

“Rita Moreno is a unique talent who has not only broken barriers, but whose career continues to thrive six-plus decades after her acting debut,” Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of Peabody Awards. “We are delighted to celebrate her many contributions to entertainment and media, as well as her passion for children’s programming and important social issues.”

Most recently, Moreno starred in three seasons of the popular Latino remake of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom, “One Day at a Time” on Netflix, which was nominated for a 2017 Peabody Award, She also signed on to be an executive producer in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story — a film in which she is also co-starring.

Moreno has also received other prestigious awards, such as The Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

Octavia Spencer to Star in ‘Madam C.J. Walker’ on Netflix

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Octavia Spencer’s next project is a literal rags-to-riches story. The Oscar winner will executive produce and star in “Madam C.J. Walker,” a limited series on Netflix that tells the true story of the woman who went from washing clothes to becoming one of the very few African-American female millionaires of the early 20th century.

Ms. Walker was born in Louisiana in 1867 to two former slaves. She was orphaned at 7 and married at 14. She washed clothes for $1.50 a day, until the birth of a daughter motivated her to seek a better life.

“As I bent over the washboard and looked at my arms buried in soapsuds, I said to myself: ‘What are you going to do when you grow old and your back gets stiff? Who is going to take care of your little girl?’” she said in an interview with The New York Times in 1917.

Ms. Walker decided to enter the hair-care industry at a time when few products were geared toward black women. Around 1906 she started her own business and soon created lines of hair straighteners, hair-growth elixirs, shampoos and pomades. As she earned riches and respect in the business world — extremely rare achievements for a black woman at the time — she gave back thousands to the N.A.A.C.P., the Tuskegee Institute, churches and Y.M.C.A.s; she also delivered lectures and helped organize protests against inequality and violence toward African-Americans.

The Netflix series is based on a 2001 biography of Ms. Walker by A’Lelia Bundles, her great-great granddaughter.

The project is being spearheaded by Ms. Spencer, who won an Oscar for her role in “The Help” and has since starred in “Hidden Figures” and “The Shape of Water.” “Since making ‘Hidden Figures,’ I don’t have a problem saying to a room of male executives: ‘I need a female writer or a female director,’ or ‘I need a black voice or a Latin voice,’” she said in a Times interview in 2016.

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

Move Over, Marie Kondo: How You Can Become A Professional Organizer, Too

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January is naturally a time for getting organized — what with New Year’s resolutions and all those winter days stuck indoors. This year, Netflix’s Tidying Up With Marie Kondo has elevated decluttering to the level of cultural zeitgeist. If you got a particularly joyful thrill by watching her work her magic from the safety of your living room, you might be wondering: Could I be the next Marie Kondo?

Okay, maybe you don’t want to snatch Kondo’s crown from her sweet, perfectly coiffed head, but you really could turn your own passion for tidying up into a job. Organizing has been a legitimate, money-earning business for decades (at least!). The National Organization of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) first began 35 years ago and now counts 3,500 members in its ranks, and 98 percent of them are women.

“There are women who had successful careers in a multitude of different backgrounds in the corporate world, psychology, teaching, lawyers, doctors…but many of them made the decision to move to running their own business, because they wanted the flexibility,” Jennifer Pastore Monroy, executive director of NAPO, tells Refinery29. “But now, we’re seeing millennials who are coming in as a first career route… And I think that’s reflective of the gig economy; people are looking to make their own path.”

That path can be standard residential decluttering and organizing, or it can be something more specialized, such as helping people before and after big moves, cleaning up estates after a death, downsizing seniors, working with people with ADHD, optimizing business productivity, and even sorting through digital messes. Some organizers work solo, while others prefer to be part of a team. There are side hustlers who just do their thing on nights and weekends, and others who work six days a week. That makes it difficult to say just how much someone can expect to earn in this profession (especially because of geographical variances, too), but the pros we spoke to charge rates ranging from about $60-$150 per hour. Some entrepreneurs can earn in the mid–six figures, especially if they have people working under them.

Most of the organizers we spoke to are happy that Tidying Up is creating more awareness of their industry, and they’re not worried about an influx of new wannabes. At the moment, they say there’s still plenty of work to go around, and professional organizers are a very supportive community willing to help out newcomers. Just don’t expect the work to look like what Kondo does on TV, where she stops by, delivers her wise words, and leaves her clients to follow her rules on their own.

“It’s not a magic wand that you wave,” says Amanda Wiss, owner of Urban Clarity in New York City. “But if you can be there side-by-side with your client in the trenches, that’s the kind of support that people need. It’s like having a personal trainer.”

Continue onto Refinery29 to read the complete article.

The Best Movies Directed by Women in 2018

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Pictures of movie characters

Earlier today, the 2019 Oscar nominations were announced, and, sadly, the directing category is 100 percent male. It seems we learned nothing from the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, when Natalie Portman called out the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for its lack of female nominees in the directing category. While the Oscars did nominate Greta Gerwig last year for Lady Bird, Portman’s call-out is indicative of Hollywood as a whole. Female directors are, by and large, ignored when it comes to awards season.

And don’t get us wrong: The 2019 Best Director nominees at the Oscars—Spike Lee, Paweł Pawlikowski, Yorgos Lanthimos, Alfonso Cuarón, and Adam McKay—are all great talents, but we find it hard to believe there wasn’t one female-directed film worthy of a nod. Actually, we know there was more than one worthy film. So we put together a list of our favorites from last year, below, to watch before the Oscars. These are all great works done by women, and they all feature complex female characters. Here’s hoping we’ll see more progress in 2020. Until then, take a look—and add these to your queue, stat.

Continue on to Glamour Magazine for more.

Taraji P. Henson to be honoured with star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame

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Taraji P. Henson will be honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

The Oscar-nominated American actress and singer, 48, is known for starring in films including The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Date Night and the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid.

Henson, who also has an extensive career in television, will be honoured in the category of motion pictures with a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Ana Martinez, producer of the Walk Of Fame, said: “Taraji P Henson is a powerful woman and a powerful actress.  She is an entertainer that fans cannot take their eyes off of due to her great acting ability.

“We welcome her bright star on our Walk Of Fame.”

Boyz In The Hood director John Singleton and rapper Mary J Blige will speak at the ceremony, which is due to take place on January 28.

Washington DC-born Henson began her Hollywood career working as an extra in television shows before getting her big break in the 2001 comedy-drama film Baby Boy, starring alongside Tyrese Gibson.

In 2008 she starred opposite Brad Pitt in David Fincher’s The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, playing the mother of a disabled child.

Henson was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for the role. Last year she voiced a character in Disney’s animated film Ralph Breaks The Internet and will appear in comedy What Men Want in February.

Continue onto The Independent to read the complete article.

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.