“Hair is an extremely important aspect of an African American woman’s appearance,” Dr. Diane Jackson-Richards, director of Henry Ford Hospital’s Multicultural Dermatology Clinic in Detroit, said in a hospital news release. “Yet many women who have a hair or scalp disease do not feel their physician takes them seriously. Physicians should become more familiar with the culturally accepted treatments for these diseases.”
Stores won’t sell Iman’s cosmetics line for women of color
Don’t you think Iman’s successful makeup line should be easily accessible on store shelves?
Supermodel and super entrepreneur Iman, 56, started a makeup line for women of color back in 1994. It quickly became super successful at J.C. Penney, earning an impressive $25 million in the first two years, according to a smart piece in New York magazine.
But taking it to the mass market, meaning getting it on mainstream retailer store shelves, has been much tougher than she ever expected, she said at WWD’s Beauty CEO Summit late last month. In assessing the situation, Iman expressed her dismay:
I didn’t understand that … if they have 1,000 doors, 200 are for women of color,” she said.
Stores like Walgreens and Target were not only hesitant to carry her products, they wouldn’t shelve them in the mainstream beauty aisle.
It was a no-go. They wanted me to be placed at the back, which they considered, like it is, for the ethnic section, which I was totally against it for no other reason but ’cause also I never considered myself an ethnic brand,” Iman said.
This is nonsensical for myriad reasons but a big one is that we are still, for all intents and purposes, in a recession. Wouldn’t you think stores would want to curry favor with their customers? Jezebel reported:
African-American women spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, but shell out 80 percent more money on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care products than the general market, according to the research. That difference comes as African-American women sample many more products to find the ones that are most effective on their skin.
And that was in 2009, so it’s got to be even more now! Iman recently launched a liquid foundation for women of color and it became her biggest seller within 3 months.
Most of Iman’s business is online. Which underscores the trust her following has in her products and expertise (her website is very comprehensive and helpful), but it doesn’t ameliorate the fact that women should able to go into their local store and test the product if they want to, feel it, smell it, sample it.
Aside: That’s why stores like Sephora have been so successful. And The Body Shop is now launching a new concept in their stores – Pulse boutiques — where women can immerse themselves in the products in an experiential way.
Hello? In a depressed economy, you’d think retailers would seize any opportunity to sell to an eager market. It’s a no-brainer. But maybe we’re dealing with people with no brains.
A study being released today shows the United States may be on top when it comes to acquiring wealth, but it doesn’t measure up as well when it comes to happiness and life span,MSNBC is reporting.
The study of well being, known as the Your Better Life Index, was conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which promotes economic and social satisfaction, according to MSNBC. The index looks at areas such as income, education, work-life balance and life satisfaction, the news organization reports.
Among the 34 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia included in the study, the United States ranks first in average household wealth, at $102,000, according to MSNBC. Switzerland is the only country that comes close to that, at $95,000, MSNBC reports.
When it comes to life satisfaction, the study shows that 76% of people in the USA report that they have more positive than negative experiences in a typical day, but many countries — including Denmark, Norway and Switzerland — reported higher scores, according to MSNBC.
The study measured the average life expectancy in the United States to be 79, lower than the organization’s average of 80, MSNBC reported.
Many aspects of our health are genetically linked. For example, according to researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research at the University of London, there’s a 57 percent chance that a girl will start menstruating within three months of the date that her mother began.
Here are eight health conditions that experts say we may have inherited from our mothers:
There’s a 70-80 percent chance that you’ll suffer from migraines if your mother did. Researchers believe that a flawed gene may cause severe headaches and can be passed on.
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If this gene is defective, outside factors, like light, are more liable to trigger pain centers in the brain that cause headaches.
Other triggers include sensitive foods like chocolate, coffee, cheese, citrus fruit and red wine and should be avoided. Also, be aware that hormones during your menstrual cycle can set them off.
2. Breast Cancer
Women who carry the mutated gene BRCA1 or BRCA2 are more at risk to develop breast cancer. Most women who have the defective gene will develop cancer at a very young age, says cancer geneticist, Dr. Elizabeth Rapley.
As a preventative measure, it’s extremely important for women to get mammograms after age 40. If you have a blood relative who has had breast cancer, you can also get genetically screened and be more closely monitored. Some women, who have the mutated gene and a family history of cancer get prophylactic mastectomies to reduce their chances of developing the disease.
3. Fitness Levels
We can inherit up to 50 percent of our fitness levels genetically. Even though we all need to exercise to build muscle, it is true that people require far less physical activity to achieve the same amount of tone and fitness level. Unfair, we know.
Louise Sutton, the head of Carnegie Centre for Sports Performance at Leeds Metropolitan University, says, “You need to do 30-45 minutes of moderate to high-intensity aerobic activity, such as running, swimming or cycling, preferably with bursts of speed, on at least three days a week.” Adding resistance and stretching will also help.
Mental illness, including depression, is known to run in families, and studies say there is a 10 percent chance you inherit it if you have a family history.
According to the chief executive of Depression Alliance, Emer O’Neill, make sure you get enough sleep and watch your alcohol intake—fatigue, stress and drinking can all increase your risk of suffering from depression.
People who carry two copies of the fat FTO gene have a 70 percent higher chance of being obese than those with none. Another study found that 4 percent of girls with normal-weight mothers were obese, while 41 percent with overweight mothers became obese. According to Sutton, apple-shaped bodies are more genetically linked than pear-shapes and thin figures.
Interestingly enough, a 2009 study discovered strong ties between mother-daughter obesity and father-son obesity, but no links between genders.
Of course, there may be a nurture as well as a nature connection to obesity. Did your overweight mom encourage you to eat more as you were growing up? She may have established a pattern you find hard to break. While you can’t control genetics, watching your calorie and fat intake will help you maintain a healthy weight, as will exercising and living an active lifestyle.
6. Rheumatoid Arthritis
You’re up to 50 percent more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis if your mother had it. This condition occurs when the immune system attacks the body, which leads to inflammation that affects joint lining and cartilage. Still, a family history does not necessarily mean you will get the disease.
Arthritis researcher Alan Silman points out that rheumatoid arthritis is more often seen in people who smoke and consume large quantities of red meat and caffeine.
The Alzheimer’s Society has identified genes that can be passed on, making some people predisposed to certain types of dementia. If your mother suffered from early-onset Alzheimer’s, your risk of developing the disease is increased about 30-50 percent. There’s also a 3-5 percent increased chance you will get dementia.
Chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, Ruth Sutherland, says that keeping a healthy weight, and keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol at a healthy level after age 35 can help reduce your risk of developing dementia by 20 percent.
8. Heart Disease
If your mother had a heart attack or suffered chest pain due to blocked arteries, several studies revealed that your chance of developing heart disease is upped 20 percent.
In addition, a study done at Oxford University showed that your chance of having a stroke also increases if your mother suffered from one. This is because the inherited vascular disease affects the coronary artery in the heart as well as the cerebral artery in the brain.
However, the exact reason why a mother’s history with stroke affects her daughter’s heart is still unknown. Researchers are still not sure whether genes or lifestyle factors play a bigger role.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is imperative to having a healthy heart. That means, maintain a healthy weight, eat food low in saturated fat and salt, don’t smoke and keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum.
Crowne-Bars © by Mark Herpel (2008)
What does true entrepreneurial success look like? Is it by number of books sold, number of columns secured, number of press hits, number of blog subscribers, or revenue?
I asked ten rock star entrepreneurs: How have you defined your success as an entrepreneur so far? And what is your advice to others for defining their own success as an entrepreneur? Here’s what they shared with me.
“In our business, success is defined by action and innovation. We are a talent agency, so a lot of our success is contingent upon the success of the artists we represent. We try to not think about that and think more about how we can add value and forge artists’ careers forward. We have worked with everyone from the Black Eyed Peas to emerging talent. Some months, our success is based on the number of shows we serviced that month. Other months, it may be based on signing new acts we are excited about. Another month, month, success might be seeing a project we have been working on for a long time come to fruition or a big brand account. Advice to others: Be flexible. You may have to change directions to be successful, but don’t ever give up!”
– Alex Kirshbaum, President of NUE Agency, a talent agency focused on concerts, tours and endorsement deals globally with an emphasis on Tech and the “NUE” music business
“No matter how much money you make or how many things you have or if your business is worth millions or trillions — if you wake up in the morning and are happy with the person you are, if you believe you’re well-rounded by doing well (and your doing well by doing social good), then that defines success as an entrepreneur. The money will come. I will never let a number define who I am as an entrepreneur. Believing that success is based on a monetary figure is a small way of describing a big picture. Do well while doing good, and you can change the world while being a great entrepreneur. Don’t let some stat or ego-play dictate what you believe an entrepreneur is or is not.”
– Scott Gerber, serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated columnist, TV host, founder of The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), active angel investor and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job
“I wouldn’t say that I’m a successful entrepreneur at this point. I have an entrepreneurial mindset and a passion for entrepreneurship and have started companies, though I didn’t start Path (a simple way to share life privately with close family and friends). Books, columns and press hits are not the answer. Entrepreneurs build and start things, and how many times you can do that in your life is what defines success as an entrepreneur. One of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur is to fail and fail often, but learn quickly and move on.”
– Matt Van Horn, Vice President of Business for Path
“I try not to define my success based on the amount I earn or anything like that. The coolness factor of the work I do matters a whole lot more. Entrepreneurs work longer and harder than anyone else, so you absolutely have to think what you’re doing every day is cool. Otherwise, what are you doing it for?
– Ryan Paugh, Community Director and Chief of Staff for The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
“Success can be determined by accomplishing milestones and goals for your business. What may seem to be the smallest of goals may be the largest accomplishment for an entrepreneur. A true entrepreneur won’t be simply satisfied by accomplishing just one goal. They’re typically tempted to continue to raise the bar and reach new goals. Revenue milestones are obvious indicators of success, but also reach and visibility are just as important. My advice for others defining success as an entrepreneur is to set realistic goals, and don’t be concerned with how big or small they are. Just stay focused and love the journey.”
– Jordan Edelson, CEO of Appetizer Mobile LLC, a mobile development application platform and consulting company
“For me, defining my success has been about what I have been able to create out of nothing and how far I have come. Each year, I look back and assess what I have been able to accomplish in the previous year. I continually set goals for my business and celebrate each milestone as a sign of where the business is going. It’s tempting to just define success by the revenue you are bringing in, but I would advise entrepreneurs in the startup phase not to make that your only barometer for success. Of course, increasing revenue is a great sign of success, but also make sure to take pride in the fact that you are succeeding in doing something you love and that brings value to others.”
– Marni Galison, founder and CEO of Sunday at Noon, a personalized matchmaking and event company in Manhattan, New York
“I won’t lie, revenue isn’t bad, but I could make money in a lot of different fields by working for other people. For me, it’s the freedom to make enough money for a good life and the freedom to make a schedule that lets me be a good mom!”
– Bryce Gruber, founder of TheLuxurySpot.com, and principal at IntenCity Global
“Success means different things to different people. For some people, it’s about controlling their time. For others, it’s about money. For me, I know I am headed in the right direction when I get feedback from all over the world about what I’m doing for women. As time goes on, I am sure the definition of success will change for me. That’s just the life of an entrepreneur.”
– Amy Palmer, Emmy-Nominated Entertainment Correspondent, Executive Producer, CEO & Founder of PowerwomenTV
“For me, success is defined by the ability to make a difference in the lives of others, and make a living. The exchange of value between my clients and myself helps us both, and that is how I define my success. My advice to other entrepreneurs for defining your success: if it keeps you up at night or wakes you up in a cold sweat, you’re on the right track.”
– Nick Nanton, Esq., Emmy Award-Winning Director and Producer, also known as The Celebrity Lawyer and Agent to top celebrity experts
“My definition of success is constantly changing and evolving. I care more about making meaning than making money, so that’s a huge benchmark. I’m really proud of building She Takes on the World to inspire entrepreneurial women worldwide, and I’m excited to be leading a council of the world’s most successful young women entrepreneurs as Co-Founder of YEC Women. Winning an Emmy Award has also been a huge highlight of my career so far too, and it’s proof that it doesn’t matter how young you are — the sky truly is the limit.”
– Natalie MacNeil, Emmy Award-winning digital media entrepreneur and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of She Takes on the World, a leading blog for women in business
Kris Ruby is the President and Founder of Ruby Media Group LLC, founded with the goal of opening the vast potential of Social Media on the web to companies wishing to build relationships, grow and profit from Web 2.0.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
As a recent college grad in New York, Barack Obama fell in love with a young white woman named Genevieve Cook. Passages from her diary appear in a new biography of the president.
By Linda Feldmann, Staff Writer / May 3, 2012
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
It could be anybody’s worst nightmare: The diary of an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend suddenly comes to light in a very public way, available for all the world to read.
But for President Obama, whose ex-flame Genevieve Cook comes to life via her private writings in a new biography of the president, the window into the young Mr. Obama may be a plus.
Obama already has a cool image that the Romneycampaign is trying to counter. Ms. Cook’s thoughts from the mid-80s, when she and the future president were in a relationship, may only add to that mystique. In her journals, she describes a thoughtful young man, at times emotionally distant, trying to sort through his racial identity and chart an ambitious future.
She also paints a picture full of images and scents that may shout TMI – Too Much Information – but given the buzz around the book, it’s clear the public is interested.
An example: “I open the door, that Barack keeps closed, to his room, and enter into a warm, private space pervaded by a mixture of smells that so strongly speak of his presence, his liveliness, his habits – running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing.”
Cook’s words come to us via Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss, whose book “Barack Obama: The Story” comes out in June. Mr. Maraniss interviewed both Cook, the daughter of an Australian diplomat, and the president for his portrait, but it’s Cook’s impressions of her boyfriend starting in late 1983, when their relationship began, that add texture to the young Obama already revealed in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father.”
In his interview with Cook, Maraniss writes, “she remembered how on Sundays Obama would lounge around, drinking coffee and solving the New York Times crossword puzzle, bare-chested, wearing a blue and white sarong.”
But Cook also sensed that something was missing.
“The sexual warmth is definitely there – but the rest of it has sharp edges and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all,” Cook wrote in her journal on Feb. 25, 1984. “I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive. Tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness – and I begin to have an inkling of some things about him that could get to me.”
Maraniss writes: “When she told him that she loved him, his response was not ‘I love you, too’ but ‘thank you’ – as though he appreciated that someone loved him.”
Cook is white, and she came to realize that the mixed-race Obama “needed to go black.” She also foresaw a mate for him that is almost eerily prescient.
“I can’t help thinking that what he would really want, be powerfully drawn to, was a woman, very strong, very upright, a fighter, a laugher, well-experienced – a black woman I keep seeing her as,” Cook wrote in her diary.
Obama loved Cook – he says so in his memoir, though without mentioning her name. The president has had to answer for the fact that in “Dreams From My Father,” some scenes involving his “New York girlfriend” were in fact drawn from more than one girlfriend. But, as has been reaffirmed, he did explain in the introduction to every edition of the book that he had combined girlfriends into a composite character to simplify the narrative.
That’s a mere bump in the road. The real takeaway from the excerpt published in Vanity Fair is that Obama was already becoming the man we see today – the reserve, the intellect, the striving. And even if reading about the 22-year-old future president’s choice of deodorant seems undignified, we can be sure of this: A tell-all by a former girlfriend could have been a whole lot worse.
France’s first ethnic beauty contest for only black women is causing a controversy. A pageant to be held in Paris has split opinions in French society. Despite the fact Miss Black France was widely supported, many people still believe that it might have a
“This contest is a defeat of our values… These girls need to feel French, not black in French society,”
Patrick Lozes, the founder and former president of the CRAN is quoted by Le Monde as saying.
The beauty contest for black women of France was the joint project between CRAN and the organizers of the traditional Miss France competition. Eighteen young black women aged between 17 and 28 were chosen from a thousand applicants representing all regions of France.
“The Traditional Miss France contest is not representing today’s French population accurately. There are usually very few black candidates in it. Our contest aims to focus on these women, who are rarely given any media attention,”Frederic Royer, one of the organizers of Miss Black France told AFP.
The competition also aims to attract attention to sickle cell disease, one of the most common genetic diseases affecting afro-caribbeans.
Who among us has not made a plan to get up in the morning and exercise, but then hit snooze one time too many, sleeping through our morning jog?
We may have been super-inspired by the incredible brain-boosting properties of exercise. We may have had every intention to start an exercise plan and stick to it. But then… We didn’t. Our warm bed sucked us in. We’ll exercise tomorrow.
What we need is willpower. Once we get in the habit of exercising — or of staying calm in the face of a toddler meltdown, of not checking our email after 5 p.m., or of doing anything else we want to have the resolve to do — we don’t need to try so hard. But for now, because we are in the habit of pushing snooze — or yelling, or checking email compulsively all evening — we need self-discipline.
Here are five tips for strengthening your willpower.
1.Get enough sleep. That’s seven to eight hours for adults, at least nine for teens, or 10 to 12 for elementary and middle school kids.
Sleep deprivation makes us susceptible to temptations like Facebook and that chocolate-covered cookie over there, for physiological reasons. Self-control takes a ton of brainpower, and when we are tired, our bodies don’t tend to deliver enough glucose to our brain for it to get the willpower engine going.
2. Meditate for five minutes a day. Sit up straight and focus your attention on your breath. When your mind wanders, as it will, you’ll be building willpower when you simply notice that your mind has wandered and you bring your attention back to your breath.
As Kelly McGonigal notes in her awesome book The Willpower Instinct, the worse you are at meditation, the better it is as an exercise for building self-control. Here’s why: In order to check your impulsive tendency to snag that donut off the counter, you need to build self-awareness.
When you are aware of what you are doing (e.g., “I’m feeling tempted to scarf that down.”), you’re actually engaging the part of your brain you need for willpower, rather than letting your impulses take over. Meditation gives you practice at engaging your self-awareness; as a bonus, deep, slow breathing also helps strengthen your self-control.
3.Lay off the cocktails. Science of the blazingly obvious, I know, but face it: We often have a glass of wine right before we need willpower to make healthy choices at dinner. Alcohol lowers your blood glucose, which a series of studies shows can dramatically weaken your willpower. (You’d be better off drinking sugary soda before testing your will, although I’m not actually recommending that.)
Alcohol also reduces self-awareness, and it is self-awareness that we need most to bring us back to our goals. (See numbers 2 and 5.)
4. Make a plan for dealing with the temptations you will face. What will you do when things go wrong? Don’t leave your answer to chance or your whims; instead, write out a plan, however simple.
If you are trying to stop snapping at your children when they’re running late, make a plan for what you’ll do when the’re dawdling and you are in a big, big hurry. Write out what you’ll do instead of yelling — e.g., take deep breaths, walk away from the car, etc.
If you do blow it? Forgive yourself and move on. You are only human, and judging yourself as a bad parent or lazy slob will make you less likely to meet your goals, and more likely to give in to your impulses.
5. Remind yourself WHY you are doing what you are doing, and what you will lose if you give up. Why are you trying to start your new habit or quit your old one? Be honest as you do this; remind yourself what you really want, rather than what you think you should want.
For example, I could tell myself, or my neighbors, that I’m exercising more because I want to be a good role model for my children (what I should want). But what I really want even more than that is to fit into my jeans and feel healthy. Research suggests that these less moralistic motives tend to be more effective.
So ask yourself, frequently: How do you want to feel? Then visualize what you will lose if you give in to temptation.
I’ve mined literally dozens more tips for improving willpower and forming habits from the four amazing, research-based books listed below. If you want a concrete plan for strengthening your willpower and you have time to read only one, I recommend McGonigal’s book.
What works for you when you most need willpower? Help others by leaving a comment below; I’ll try to reply with the scientific reasons why your tactic might work for others!
For further information, check out:
Baumeister, Roy F., and John Tierney. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.Penguin Group US, 2011.
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Random House Publishing Group, 2012.
Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
McGonigal, Kelly. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It. Penguin Group US, 2011.
© 2012 Christine Carter, Ph.D.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012, 11:34 AM Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012, 12:35 PM
It’s unusual for the New Orleans Museum of Art to schedule a gala on a Monday night, but that’s the way chef Leah Chase wanted it. After all, most of her restaurant-world colleagues are off on Mondays, so they more easily could attend the party celebrating her 90th year (she was born Jan. 6, 1923) and the debut of “Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III, “ a series of 20 intimate portraits of the legendary lady behind Dooky Chase restaurant.
The 71-year-old Orleans Avenue landmark is known for its historic role as a meeting place during the civil rights era, the extensive collection of African-American art that lines the walls of the dining rooms, not to mention the authentic Creole cuisine still prepared by Chase.
It also is unusual for the guest of honor at a gala to provide the food, but Chase insisted. “It’s the least I can do, ” she said. “They’re working so hard. I would feel guilty not doing anything.” In the days before the gala, Chase said she was composing a party menu that included chicken pasta, smoked salmon, caviar pies and “maybe a daube glace.” The evening’s entertainment also is a Chase family affair, with music provided by Leah’s daughter, well-known jazz singer Leah Chase-Kamata.
Chase said her relationship with the museum goes back to 1973 when businesswoman Celestine Cook nominated her for a seat on NOMA’s board of trustees. Chase, who had scant experience in the art world, was reluctant. “I said, ‘I don’t know anything about this, ‘ ” she recalled. Cook advised that serving on the board was “going to be good for your business, ” Chase said.
To her surprise, she was elected to the board for a three-year term, and, at the end of that period, she was invited to be a trustee for life. Chase said that Cook not only introduced her to museum board membership, she introduced her to the works of African-American artists, including Bill Hutson, Jacob Lawrence and John Biggers. Biggers, Chase said, once traded her artwork for gumbo. With the advice of other New Orleans art lovers, Chase eventually lined the restaurant’s walls with what may be the city’s best-known collection of African-American art.
“I’ve been the luckiest person in the world, ” she said. “People who crossed my path were people who helped me grow.”
The museum celebrated Chase’s 75th birthday with a purposeful party at the City Park institution. Sale of tickets to that event went to the purchase of a painting by African-American artist Barbara Chase-Riboud. Chase said she provided the food for that party, too. “I’ll do it for my 100th, too; how about that?” she said. Monday’s event also is a focused fund-raiser. Part of the $75 admission price will be used to establish the Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund to acquire African-American artworks for the museum.
One of the evening’s biggest treats will be in a second-floor gallery, where guests will be given an artistic glimpse of Chase in her domain, the busy kitchen of her restaurant. Gustave Blache III, a New Orleans-born artist who now lives in Brooklyn, spent two years visiting Chase’s kitchen to soak up the vibe, then poured his inspiration into a suite of 20 dinner plate-sized oil paintings that capture the unseen labor that underlies Dooky Chase’s seven decades of success.
Blache imbued the paintings with an intimate feel, but they are far from sentimental. The cool light, spare compositions and Chase’s candid poses lend a sense of unglamorous reality to the small genre scenes. Blache said that part of the challenge was capturing Chase as she worked, without interfering with the action. “The kitchen is a bit cramped, ” he said in a February interview. “I was very aware of not trying to impede her. You do not want to be the person in her way.”
The Leah Chase 90th Year Gala and opening of ‘Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III’
- What: A fundraising party honoring chef and art collector Leah Chase, with an exhibit of paintings of Chase at work in her restaurant. Food provided by Dooky Chase restaurant and music by Leah Chase-Kamata.
- Where: The New Orleans Museum of Art, 1 Collins Diboll Circle, City Park. Visit www.noma.org or call 504.658.4100.
- When: The gala takes place today from 6 to 8 p.m. Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Fridays until 9 p.m. The exhibit “Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III, ” continues through Sept. 9.
- Admission: Gala tickets are $75. Regular museum admission is adults, $10; seniors, students and active military, $8; children 6 to 17, $6; younger, free. Wednesdays free. A catalog of the show is on sale for $40 at the musem.
At the close of 2011, one of Blache’s paintings, titled “Cutting Squash, ” was accepted by the prestigious National Portrait Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution. In the quietly powerful piece, the iconic chef, wearing a pale violet baseball cap, concentrates on slicing vegetables, as steam rises from pots in the background. In a February interview, Chase coyly commented on the authenticity of Blache’s renderings. “I told him, ‘You could have made me look like Halle Berry or Lena Horne, ‘ ” she said, –”but you made it look like me.’ ”
Blache, who attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, said the Chase series reconnected him with his Crescent City roots, since his maternal grandparents’ first date took place at Dooky’s.
“I still cannot believe it’s happening to me, ” Chase said, reflecting on her humble working-class beginnings and the gala and art exhibit being held in her honor. “If you work hard, you can get what you are going after.”
The exhibition “Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III” opens to the public on Tuesday. Read the related story “Leah Chase likeness enshrined in the National Portrait Gallery” here.
By Michelle Kung
Two new releases surpassed dystopian drama “The Hunger Games” at the box office this weekend, marking an end to the latter’s four-week reign as No. 1.
The dating comedy “Think Like A Man,” from Sony Corp.’s Screen Gems division, exceeded studio expectations to gross $33 million from 2,015 locations, making it the first new film to claim the box-office crown since March 23.
The film, which the studio says was made for $12 to $13 million, features a largely African-American ensemble cast and is based on Steve Harvey’s advice book “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man.”
The film played strongly to its core audience of 18 to 49-year-old African Americans. Overall, the film appealed primarily to women, who made up 63% of the audience, and those over the age of 30, who made up 62% of the audience.
The film also featured a very targeted advertising campaign. To help promote the film, Mr. Harvey featured several cast members on his morning show and the studio reached out to radio DJs from top urban markets and groups at historically black colleges and universities. The studio also secured partnerships with television networks including BET and TNT and leveraged its large cast’s 40 million+ social connections through Facebook, Twitter and more.
“The Lucky One,” a romantic drama starring Zac Efron as a returning soldier, earned $22.8 million. Released by Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. Pictures, the film is based on the eponymous novel by Nicholas Sparks and appealed primarily to women, who made up 76% of the audience.
According to Warner Bros. President of Domestic Distribution Dan Fellman, Mr. Efron was the main draw, with 57% of audiences citing the young actor as their primary reason for wanting to see the film.
“The Hunger Games” dropped from first to third place with a weekend gross of $14.5 million from 3,752 locations. The box-office phenomenon from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. has cumulatively earned $356.9 million thus far, making it the 19th highest-grossing domestic film of all time.
Walt Disney Co.’s documentary “Chimpanzee,” released through its Disneynature division, grossed $10.2 million from 1,563 locations. It is the highest opening for a Disneynature film, surpassing the $8.8 million earned by “Earth” in 2009.
“The Three Stooges,” a comedy from News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, rounded out the top five. (News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.) The film earned $9.2 million from 3,482 locations in its second weekend, bringing its total gross to $29.4 million.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) – Two black men who said they were “lookin’ for love” and auditioned last summer for the popular ABC reality television show “The Bachelor” sued the network on Wednesday, saying they were rejected because of their race.
“They were tossed aside because of their race,” said Byron Perkins, one of a trio of prominent civil rights attorneys representing Nathaniel Claybrooks, 39, and Christopher Johnson, 26, in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville.
The suit says ABC has never put a single person of color – whether African American, Hispanic or Asian – in the central role of “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.”
The popular shows chronicle the search for a mate as the man or woman dates more than a dozen contenders. Each season ends with a final choice of a partner.
The two men said at a press conference they tried to audition for “The Bachelor” last summer in Nashville.
“I heard about a casting call,” said Claybrooks. “I said to myself â€˜I’m single … (I can try) to look for someone I could be compatible to in life … lookin’ for love.’”
He said when he arrived at the auditions, the interviewers spent 45 to 60 minutes with “the white men in front of me” while they gave him only 15 to 20 minutes.
“They rushed me through. I was very upset about the situation and wanted an equal opportunity like anyone else.”
Johnson said his attempt at being interviewed for the role of “The Bachelor” lasted 30 seconds.
He said people of color “never get a show that shows we have love and affection for each other.”
Claybrooks, a former college and minor league football player, is an entrepreneur in Nashville. He owns a barber shop, a sports bar and a car detail business while also working as a meter reader for Nashville Electric Service.
Johnson is also a former college football player and now is a teacher and football coach in Nashville. He said he plans to try out for National Football League teams as a wide receiver soon and also has plans to enlist in the Air Force.
The lawsuit was filed against ABC, Warner Horizon Television Inc, Next Entertainment Inc, NZK Productions Inc and Michael Fleiss, executive producer of the two shows.
ABC, which is owned by The Walt Disney Co, said it had no comment on the lawsuit.
Warner Horizon Television, the production company behind “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” said in a statement the suit was “baseless and without merit.”
“In fact, we have had various participants of color throughout the series’ history, and the producers have been consistently – and publicly – vocal about seeking diverse candidates for both programs,” the company said.
Asked last year if the show would feature non-whites, Fleiss the executive producer was quoted as telling Entertainment Weekly: “I think Ashley (the 2011 Bachelorette) is 1/16th Cherokee Indian, but I cannot confirm. But that is my suspicion!
“We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity. It’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would.”
“The Bachelor” made its debut on ABC in 2002 and “The Bachelorette” began to air the following year.
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Mohammad Zargham, Greg McCune and Lisa Shumaker)
Janet Jackson recently joined the growing list of celebs that endorse weight loss programs. The singer reveals her trimmed body in two form-fitting ensembles for a Nutrisystem commercial that will air Monday, April 9.
“For Janet, it’s about feeling good,” a rep for the program said without revealing how much weight Jackson has lost while on the program.
She signed on to become a spokesperson for the weight loss program late last year and in December toldUs Weekly that she’s struggled with her weight her entire life. “People can relate to me because I have lived it. I truly understand what it’s like to have a problem with weight loss, losing too much weight or gaining more than you desire to and becoming unhealthy,” she said.
During a visit to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in January, Jackson said her heaviest weight was 180 pounds, which she gained while prepping for a movie role. After brother Michael Jackson‘s death in 2009, rumors began swirling that it led the singer to gain more weight from emotional eating.
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Hula hooping is this summer’s fitness fad, promising not just to firm your abs but boost confidence, mood – and even sex drive. Harriet Walker discovers it’s trickier than it looks
Beset by memories of poor childhood co-ordination and playground ignominy, I approached this year’s latest fitness craze with a certain sense of gloom. But it is hard to stay gloomy when you’re flinging a day-glo hoop around your waist and waggling your hips like Ricky Martin.
Hula hooping first rose to prominence in the Fifties as a cheap and faddy phenomenon that somehow took hold of an entire planet’s imagination. From housewives hooping at Butlins to kids on the beach, even geishas in their kimonos, the hula hoop has proved its universality and its timelessness. Like the bicycle and the slanket, it feels like one of those inventions that has just always been around. It was immortalised in the 1994 Coen brothers’ film, The Hudsucker Proxy, with the line: “The hula hoop! You know – for kids!”
Except it isn’t anymore. Those Fifties housewives had the right idea: there’s nothing like developing your core strength (that is, your abs and stomach muscles) for keeping you trim. And there’s no better way to give them a rigorous going over than to stand and loop the loop with a hoop for half an hour. “The reason it’s such a good tool for exercise is that core strength is key to your whole body,” says Marawa Wamp, a circus-trained hooper whose help I have enlisted. She has performed across the globe with companies such as Le Clique and now runs classes geared specifically towards teaching hula as a means of fitness. She also has an app that will teach you how to get started, as well as a few simple exercises.
“You can work on your calf muscles and do lots of chin-ups and have strong arms, but if your core’s not right then forget it,” she says. “Then there’s the theory that… it’s breaking up fat cells every time it runs over you – so it’s a two-in-one: tightening up the core and keeping that area nice and firm.”
Wamp has been hooping for 10 years and has the fluid-but-strong posture of a ballet dancer. Her shoulders are straight, she stands tall and she exudes sinuous strength. I want to be like her, I decide. I will slay all those memories of having a hoop flutter to the ground past my skinny pre-teen knees and I will master the hula hoop.
My first move is to Google for tips, of course, and in doing so I discover a whole hooping community, not to mention oodles of testimonials from women who claim it has changed their lives. People hoop at home or in the park, some dressed as fairies (not something I’m willing to try) or simply in their pyjamas. One woman, Jen Moore, claims to have lost 143lbs – just over 10 stone – by using her hoop at home as she watched television; she’s now a spindly spokeswoman for Hoopnotica, the company that helped her get fit. It all serves to confirm my exercise-starved and indolent sofa dream of becoming incredibly thin by not doing very much.
Hoopnotica is one of many companies that have sprung up to teach the ways of hula to those looking to make their fitness regime slightly more fun. With its instructional workout DVD comes an adult-sized hoop that breaks apart and reassembles for ease of storage. It is much bigger than I remember; I feel like a dwarfed Saturn standing in the centre of it. “Most people I talk to about hula hoops say ‘oh, I used to be able to do it when I was a kid, but not any more’,” Wamp says. “But of course you can! They haven’t thought about the fact that when they were a child, they were probably half the height and a bit smaller – so you need a bigger hula hoop. You want one that comes up to your hip. For most people, they pick up one of these and pretty quickly they can do it.” She pauses. “For some people it can take a little longer.”
Before I meet with Wamp, I have a go with my hoop at home in front of the the Hoopnotica DVD, which is presented by several gazelle-like winding creatures who promise that hooping will not only give me great abs but will also boost my confidence, sex drive and feelings of positivity. Having silently scoffed at this, I realise after a few minutes of gyrating in the way they tell me that I do feel slightly more confident. That’s just what pelvis-thrusting can do for you, I suppose.
After a few false starts, I manage to keep the hoop up for more than three spins. Then six, then 12, then suddenly it just keeps going. I try hooping to the left and to the right; the DVD teaches me how to turn round in the hoop and to keep it spinning and how to walk around the room with it still whirring away. I am not very good at the last one, but there’s time. I am thrilled, confident and filled with a boost in my feelings of positivity.
Terribly excited, I explain to Wamp when we meet that I’ve been doing the video and following the instructions and that, yes, I am now a hooper too. I can hoop for most of Madonna’s new album, I tell her, although I’m not sure I’ll bother listening to it all the way through again. But still.
“It’s very difficult to engage your core,” she smiles, ready to appraise my technique. “I thought I was doing it for a couple of years, even when I was performing, before I realised I wasn’t actually using those muscles at all.”
Oh. I have been doing it wrong, it turns out. Lesson one of hula hoping: simply spinning the hoop on your waist is not good at all if you’re rocking back and forth on your feet, even if you do it for days and weeks on end. You’ll burn some calories, but you won’t get those stomach muscles working. The technique that Wamp teaches me is rather different, standing with my feet parallel and shoulder-width apart, then flicking the hoop around my middle by pushing out with my stomach as it comes into contact with my belly button. It is much harder and I can’t do it. After three revolutions (achieved only with the momentum of me hurling it around myself in the first place), it simply clatters down to the floor again. Oh well.
Hula hooping takes practice and patience, but once you’ve mastered it, it’s a bit like riding a bike. It works best when you simply don’t think about it at all, but just let your body get into a rhythm and rely on it to remember when to flick. I’m no pro, but the creaking of my abdomen the next morning is proof enough that just a few spins will awaken even the most neglected of cores.
After 26 years of searching and despairing, I think I’ve found my sport.
Ask most producers ahead of opening weekend how well their movie will do and they’ll start bragging about the blockbuster numbers from their studio tracking surveys. But Will Packer, producer of the upcoming romantic comedy “Think Like a Man,” is far more likely to boast about his film’s social media buzz. Last weekend, Packer re-tweeted a rave review from LeBron James, who told his followers: “Great movie and funny as [heck]!!”
Packer isn’t your typical Hollywood producer. For one thing, his home base is Atlanta, where he’s lived for the last 15 years, after graduating from Florida A&M with a degree in, of all things, electrical engineering. For another thing, Packer, who’s produced such hits as “Stomp the Yard” and “Takers,” is a big believer in touting his movies directly to his target audience, something he learned from studying Master P, the 1990s hip-hop star known for driving around in a loudspeaker-laden rap truck.
And, oh yes, if you hadn’t already figured it out, Packer is African American, which when it comes to Hollywood makes him a stranger in a strange land, since black producers are ridiculously few and far between in the film business.
Being African American in showbiz still has its disadvantages. Packer’s films, which have had predominantly black casts, have rarely made a dent overseas. And even though he’s had four sizable hits, none of which cost more than $20 million to make, he’s still waiting for someone to invite him to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
But the brash 37-year-old believes that being an African American in the white world of Hollywood is actually a big plus. “I’m the youngest and darkest guy in the room, but I’m the one with the unique perspective,” he told me the other night, squeezing in an interview before racing off to a promotional screening of “Think Like a Man,” which opens April 20 and is based on a relationship advice book by Steve Harvey. “When you’re around 40 white guys, you’re the one who can bring something different to the table. When I was a kid, my parents never let me use race as an excuse. They’d say, ‘When you walk into a room and it’s all white, those kids have to work to stand out, not you.’”
Packer worked his way into the movie business through hustle and showmanship. At Florida A&M, he helped fellow student Rob Hardy, now his business partner, fund a coming-of-age college movie called “Chocolate City.” He sent screeners out to everyone in Hollywood but got no response. They held the world premiere in the school’s main auditorium, which sold out.
Packer says he learned a valuable lesson then about niche marketing: “Everyone loved the movie because it was about them — it was about the college experience.” Packer persuaded a “hippie dude” who ran a local second-run theater to book the film for a week. It played for months, becoming the theater’s all-time top grossing film. “We sold T-shirts, caps and posters and turned our $20,000 investment into a $100,000 business, which is when I realized I could be an entrepreneur,” he recalls.
When no one in Hollywood showed interest in his next film, an erotic thriller called “Trois,” Packer flew to Las Vegas and used a fake press pass to sneak into the movie trade gathering ShoWest. “I was like a politician, shaking hands and giving out business cards, meeting every exhibitor I could.” He left with commitments for one-week showings at 19 theaters in 19 markets, largely in the South.
“The African American audience had seen erotic thrillers before, but they hadn’t seen one about them,” he explains. The movie grossed more than $1 million. This niche appeal led to Packer’s breakthrough hit, 2007’s “Stomp the Yard,” a dance-competition drama that opened at No. 1 and ended up making $61.3 million. Distributed by Sony’s Screen Gems label, the film is one of seven Packer-produced films with Screen Gems.
With its focus on low-budget, genre-oriented films driven by niche marketing, Screen Gems has been a perfect fit for Packer. “There’s nothing more important than having a personal connection with your audience,” says Packer. “In the early days, I’d tour with my cast from city to city. But today, you use social networking. It’s the new frontier when it comes to marketing. I’m always going to go up against movies with bigger muscle and money, so I need to have a strong grass-roots game.”
When Packer is casting a film, he’s just as interested in an actor’s active relationship with his or her audience as with his or her credits. “I look at who’s got juice with their fans,” he says. “If someone has 1 million Twitter followers, that’s really valuable because it helps give our films an edge. It helps us be as loud as the big dogs.”
He points to the comic Kevin Hart, a costar of “Think Like a Man.” “He really activates his fan base through social media because he’s always tweeting and posting clips. I’m looking for people like him, because when opening weekend comes along, I want our film to be the top trending topic out there. It’s the way to catch people’s attention.”
Knowing that sports stars, especially in the NBA, have embraced social media, Packer had an early screening of “Think Like a Man” during the league’s February all-star weekend in Orlando, then a second screening the other night for Miami Heat players, which inspired the Twitter shout-out from James.
To hear Packer’s industry fans tell it, social networking isn’t his only skill. “He’d be a great producer even if social networking didn’t exist,” says Screen Gems chief Clint Culpepper. “He’s just a great people person. When he walks into a room, he reads the room and when he walks out, he owns that room.”
Packer often finds his audience outside the country’s biggest cities. “Our movies will do better in Memphis, Atlanta and St. Louis than in L.A. or New York,” he says. “On ‘Think Like a Man,’ we’re doing outdoor ads in places like Jacksonville and Birmingham.” He laughs. “Let me tell you, you don’t usually see a lot of movie billboards in Jacksonville. But it’s a demographically rich market for us.”
The next market he wants to conquer is overseas, where African American films rarely do any business. “It puts a black film at a big disadvantage when the studio bean counters don’t see it having any foreign box-office potential. But look at the NBA. They worked the international market to make sure their sport happened overseas. And I’m going to work it too.”
I wouldn’t bet against Packer. Like generations of showbiz people before him, he is a man in a hurry, eager to make his mark. “When you come into the industry as an outsider, you need to have an entrepreneurial spirit to succeed,” he says. “In Hollywood, it’s very clear that you either play by the rules or make up your own. And I wanted to do it my way.”
Caption: Top, from left: Jerry Ferrara, Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart, Terrence J, Gary Owen and Romany Malco in a scene from “Think Like A Man.” Bottom: Will Packer at a New York screening of “Think Like a Man” earlier this month.
Credits: Alan Markfield/Sony Pictures. Fernando Leon/Getty Images