Talk about a rising star, speaking to her community at the core, to their hearts, and making smart-smart moves!
This is not for me, I’m not the demographic. Yet one has to admire the work she has put in thus far and I think she has the tools for a long, prosperous, and maybe even a revolutionary career.
She’s like the African-American version of Gaga and I love it. Side note, just like Gaga, she was in a drama program in her youth. Sure enough, just like Gaga she really knows how to step into her mark at the right time. Hitting your mark at the right time means making the right moves, faces, eyes, stares, tone, etc. In my experience, the folks that know how to do this instinctively are the real superstars versus the product-hand-made stars.
This all really hit me when a homie made me watch her BET performance below. What also really hit me is that her tribe is loyal and they love her. Listen for a moment, they know ALL the words to her song! Nicki goes IN and kills it. Pretty powerful stuff.
After doing a pop culture pay homage toNatalie Portman last December I realized the Media + Creativity blog has failed, miserably failed at shining the light on the legendary female warriors who influence and inspire culture.
Shame on me.
So, today we are going to acknowledge some bad mama-jamma’s (Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Anna Wintour/Grace Coddington) that have shared their creative works and continue to inspire us to reach for the stars.
As Maggie Betts said in a recent V Magazine issue “Her all-in-one package of old-school Hollywood royalty combined with a rebellious and passionate lifelong commitment to social activism just makes her so badass and truly authentic.”
Jane’s controversial but you can’t blame her for keeping it real. Thank you to Jane for creating great work (CHINA SYNDROME, NINE TO FIVE), standing up for what you believe in, and paving the way for others to be courageous.
Recently watched POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE. This is a film adaptation of Carrie Fisher’s life and her relationship with her mother, Debbie Reynolds, played spectacularly by Shirley McClaine. A side note, the whole Debbie Reynolds/Carrie Fisher family story has and will forever be a crazy Hollywood legend. So much talent in one family! Clearly, genes have something to do with it.
Now, back to the bad mamma jamma that is Meryl Streep. This woman is a LEGEND!
These two bad mama’s have been telling us what’s hot in Fashion at American Vogue since 1988. They both started on the same day! What?! Legendary. Anna the editor-in-chief and Grace the production designer/artists. They’ve been a team for 23 years.
Grace came from BFE U.K. (BFE is code of middle of nowhere) and dreamed of being a part of the Vogue movement and she did just that. She became a model and was featured in the pages of British Vogue. Her modeling career was tragically cut shot due to a car accident but this didn’t stop Grace. After time off she got back on her feet and went on to be one of the most influential art directors in fashion.
All those great photos/scenes you see in American Vogue? Yeah, that’s practically all Grace.
Anna is known more for her reputation than her skills. Know this, fashion wouldn’t be the same without Anna Wintour. She sits at the top of the food chain and helps fashion dictates its course year in-and-year out. Pretty out of this world because when one considers all that she has to juggle as a mother, executive, icon, ambassador, and more.
Don’t take my word for it thought – watch SEPTEMBER ISSUE and you can catch a glimpse into all the work that goes into creating one of the most dynamic fashion magazines of it’s time.
At the core, Pay Hommage is about gratitude and empathy. We thank these people for being who they are because just getting up everyday and putting your best foot forward is not easy much less doing it everyday with enormous pressure to deliver.
Furthermore, one has to respect the obstacles that must have stood in their way as they rose to a space to get an opportunity to let their skills shine. That’s empathy, putting yourself in their shoes for a moment. It’s a worthy exercise.
So, we pay respects to these woman for doing what they do and by the way, looking terrific every time they do it.
Jane, Meryl, Grace & Anna – keep going – you’re an inspiration to anyone with ambitions to accomplish great achievements.
Next up will be some bad mama’s in the social enterprise space thanks to my home girl Kari at Rubina Design for cuing me in on the movement. TBC. That’s TO BE CONTINUED. . .
Black Swanis all the buzz in movie land at the moment and it damn well deserves to be.
Saw this piece of cinema last night. It’s safe to sayNatalie Portman rocked my world. It is also safe to say that I am going to see the film again.
Pay Homage was something I started back in ’08 as it seemed like a lot of legends of our time were passing and I wanted to acknowledge what they gave us through their work. At that time it was Sydney Pollack, George Carlin, andYves Saint Laurentwho had just passed when this originated.
Then, I thought screw waiting for people to die to write about them. Let’s celebrate the great artists and figures of our time while they are still with us.
So, last night’s viewing of Black Swan has inspired the latest pay homage edition featuring the magnificent Natalie Portman.
Natalie has killed it on the big screen since she was a kid. Who can forget how she wowed audiences in her performance inLeon aka The Professional as Mathilda along side Jean Reno. Why this hasn’t become a La Femme Nikkita-esque franchise (same creator) with Natalie Portman is beyond me. Portman as the matured assassin? So much there.
Now, clearly Black Swan is some next level Natalie Portman. A vehicle, finally worthy of her throwing more of herself into the role than previous parts. Showing us everything she’s got and folks, it’s a lot. She dances beautifully, goes from sweet girl to dark angel in a snap of a finger and you leave the theater riveted.
So, we pay homage and thank Natalie Portman for her amazing work of art. How it entices us and inspires. Keep going Ms. Portman and good luck at the Oscars, the Best Actress award belongs to you.
Stephen J. Cannell passed away last week. He was one of those creative warriors behind-the-scenes – writer/producer/actor. I put his passing in the same category as the Bernie Brillstein pay homage – guys who were class-act Hollywood legends back in the golden age. But Stephen’s passing really struck a deeper chord within because this guy was a major inspiration to me in some of the darkest moments of the earlier period of my life.
It was pretty scary/no fun when being a young lad with this condition. Couldn’t do my ABC’s, had a tough time learning simple arithmetic, pronouncing common words and writing in legible manner. It made me pretty pissed off all the time because while I was having trouble learning – I was savvy enough to know full and well what was going on – the “light” in my brain wasn’t clicking on – it was the first of what would become the many battles of my life.
With the wonderful support of those two people I call my parents – this tough learning disability was conquered. Ended up going to a kick ass middle school/high school in Texas and even graduated from University of Arizona with a B.A. in Communications. Not bad for a kid who was told to be held back in elementary school. By the way, that never happened, because my parents are bad asses (this posting is a pay homage to them as much as Mr. Cannell!!)
So, when I heard that Cannell had passed the other day – a flood of memories came crashing into my mind about my youth, how scared I was and how a guy like Cannell always reminded me of what was possible – what was within reach even though I might struggled to figure out the dynamics of the U.S. education system. Not only did Cannell discuss his dyslexia openly, but he also showed that it didn’t hold him back from achieving greatness on a both a professional and personal level.
Inspiration. Next level inspiration.
You are probably wondering, so what was this guy so great at?
Creative story telling – some of the best television programming in the modern era.
You might have heard of 21 Jump Street, A-Team, Wise Guy or The Commish. All were major hits in TV land at the time where TV ruled the airwaves and had a bigger influence on our entertainment culture. He did all of this even though he could barley write or type (he often dictated scripts to his secretary who wrote them on a typewriter).
In summation– Stephen J. Cannell – my mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my family thank you and I thank you. I’ll never forget how you inspired me at the darkest moments of my youth to just believe – maybe one day I too could get a TV show made – you never know.
Usually on the M+C – the ‘pay homage – pop culture’ tends to go to individuals who influence the masses. Today – we are paying respects to entire TV show because from top-to-bottom Mad Men is nothing short of amazing.
Matt Weiner, Scott Hornbacher, the producers, writing staff, physical production team, Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, John Slattery and co. deserve all the standing ovations and accolades for their terrific work on AMC’s one-hour scripted drama - Mad Men.
This show is totally and completely two things.
The set, production design, costume design – how they put together all the 1960s aesthetics is so precise – so on point. Mix this with great writing and their magnificent beauty of contextualizing strong ideas within the words and actions of the characters and you have one of the best programs on TV in 2010. The layers are endless.
For example, watching this awesome clip from the show. Some of the best scenes are when Don is pitching potential new clients. Do you notice it? He’s pitching new clients but he’s also talking about something else – that’s much deeper, much more personal to both his character in the show and to everyone in the room at the same time and of course us – the audience. Brilliant.
I originally started out thePay Homageseries to pay dedication to fallen creative warriors such as the recent posting paying respects to Dennis Hopper. Then the series morphed into a feature that can also honor the greats that are living among us.
The amazing creative warriors we honor today areThe Roots! Questlove, Black Thought, Kamal Gray and fam – they bring the heat!
Some fast facts:
Roots started in 1987.
They have produced 11 albums since the 90s
The have won Grammys and been nominated multiple times.
Work with artists across multiple genres constantly
Probably one of the best live show you will ever see
Currently the on-set band for the Jimmy Fallon show on NBC
On How I Got Over the Roots does so many things right. The beats are modern yet a little old school at the same time – jazzy hip-hop. They don’t explicitly tell a story but indirectly through the beats, track selection and message within their lyrics a story is being told and if you listen you might think about life in a different way. The album is filled with a lot of honest commentary about being someone in these times and about hip-hop. It’s not on the surface but if you give yourself a little time, pay a little attention and play the album from start to finish you might see what I am talking about.
Thank you Questlove, Black Thought and the rest of the Roots crew. You guys are amazing and I sincerely appreciate your work. Keep making real music and keep showing us how it’s done the right way.
And readers – if you do not know who the Roots crew – even if you are not a hip-hop fan – go out and buy this album. It will help you see something new.
If you want to give the album a peep – click here to give a listen on MKaps Playground.
I started out the Pay Homage series a few years back in spirit of postings such as this one – to pay homage to great icon that has recently passed but showed us a new way of thinking about life through creative expression.
5. Dennis Hopper influenced over five decades of motion pictures, art and culture.
They don’t make creative warriors like this everyday my friends. Do yourself a favor and go Netflix some of these classics to pay homage to the American legend that is Dennis Hopper. RIP my man – thank you for sharing your gifts with us.