celebrity

John Leguizamo is through with the media overlooking Latinx talent

John Leguizamo has had enough with the lack of Latinx representation in the media. He made his displeasure known in his op-ed for Billboard.com after the VMAs snubbed wordwide hit “Despacito,” despite its record-breaking success.

“‘Despacito’ is the name of a Spanish-language music video by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi with a historic record-breaking 3 billion views on YouTube. The song, not the video, was a late, perfunctory inclusion as the song of the summer at the MTV Video Music Awards,” wrote Leguizamo. “We must ask ourselves, is this a blatant omission? A proactive and decisive stand against the Spanish language? With 3 billion views, this historic song and video triumphs over the likes of, with all due respect, Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, but this is only one example of exclusion.”

The actor went on to say how the habit of exclusion hits more than just music—it hits his profession as well, and in a hard way.

“We Latin people are less than 6 percent of roles in TV, movies and all streaming platforms. Most of those Latin roles are attributed to Latin-only audiences. As if we Latins are the only people who can relate to our skin color or our accents. It’s an unconscious choice to ignore our talents and achievements and trump it up to a ‘limited market,’ but that’s what happens,” he wrote. “…While this is a slap in the face to Latin artists who work so hard to hold a mirror up to humanity as a whole (and not just Latin people), it’s far more detrimental to our youth. A youth that still grapples with identity. A youth that must still learn to fill a historic void or itself—omitted from the history books and omitted from current pop culture.”

Leguizamo put out a call to action to other Latinx in the media and otherwise to speak out louder on the issues of representation and inclusion.

“There are almost 70 million Latinos in America, and why do we remain so absent and invisible when we are the second-largest ethnic group after whites? It’s not because we don’t have top-level talent…Yet we still only account for 5 percent of artists across all platforms. I try to justify these numbers, this inaction in all sorts of ways. For myself…and most importantly, for my kids. But I shall justify them no longer,” he wrote. “…It’s time we stand up. It’s time we educated and enabled the Latin people to better the world through brilliant art. We have a lot to offer the world…and I’ve come to feel sorry for those who have yet to know it.”

You can read his full article at Billboard.com.

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Rihanna celebrates WOC beauty with Fenty Beauty makeup line

Women of color who are also makeup obsessives know just how tough it is to find makeup that compliments your exact shade. Even harder to find are makeup companies that make women of color a priority outright, not just in shade matching but in marketing as well. Looks like Rihanna has come just in the nick of time with her Fenty Beauty line.

The makeup line is set to release on Fentybeauty.com and Sephora’s website and physical stores Sept. 8, and Rihanna has put all of us (and our wallets) on notice with this hyper-inclusive, melanin-rich promotional Instagram video.

Rihanna has definitely put all major makeup brands on blast by showing how inclusivity in the makeup industry is done. Not only does she have several shades of black women in her video—showing that she does realize how hard it is for people with the darkest skintones to find matching shades and that she plans on being their go-to girl—she also features women of other ethnicities, cultures, and even religions, showing that she’s here for multiracial, multiethnic, and heavily underrepresented women. The message, plain and simple, is “You’re beautiful, and I’m here to help you flaunt your beauty.”

The shade names also speak to Rihanna’s aesthetic and the girl Rihanna’s aiming to capture with her brand. “Chili Mango,” “Yacht Life,” “Trophy Wife” and “Confetti” all speak to the girl who either has (or is working on growing) large amounts of self-confidence, self-love, and self-worth.

In short, this is going to be one of the biggest makeup events of the year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the products.

Loved this article? Follow JUST ADD COLOR at @COLORwebmag and on Facebook!

Man Crush Monday: Daniel Wu

Daniel Wu as Sunny – Into the Badlands _ Season 2, Gallery – Photo Credit: Carlos Serrao/AMC

I understand I haven’t written about Into the Badlands in a while. Life happens, everyone–more than I’m letting on in this sentence. I’m planning on writing notes on the series as a whole after the Season Finale. But until then, let’s all ogle at Daniel Wu in amazing Into the Badlands costuming.

Maybe it’s just that Wu-as-Sunny just looks great when he’s dressed by the baronesses (Chau, whose color is white, and The Widow, whose color is blue). Baronesses seem to have a lot more style than the barons, and I wonder if that was a specific gendered choice by the Into the Badlands team.

Wu has redeeming qualities aside from his good looks an looking fabulous in tailored clothes. He’s the executive producer of Into the Badlands, for one, and he’s had a storied career in Hong Kong, starting out as a model and falling into acting after being discovered by film director Yonfan. After starring in 60 films, he’s become known as the “young Donnie Yen” (and indeed, it’d be amazing if an English-language film for the American market starring both Yen and Wu was made–I’d have a front row seat).

Voice your love for Daniel Wu below in the comments section!

Man Crush Monday: Dev Patel

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – MAY 02: Actor Dev Patel is photographed at The H Hotel on May 2, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Actor Dev Patel is in Dubai for the Chivas Icons. The event recognises individuals who inspire others to Win The Right Way. This event will celebrate Dev’s work with the #LionHeart campaign, which helps vulnerable children in India. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for Chivas Regal )

I might as well start off this series with someone I’ve featured frequently on this site in recent days, especially since he’s just been honored by Chivas Regal and their Win The Right Way event for his Lionheart campaign, which supports nonprofits who help homeless children in India.

Patel, who started the campaign after being inspired by playing Sunny Parwar in the Oscar-nominated film Lion, said he wants to use his platform to give opportunities to others.

“I am grateful for my life and the success I have enjoyed. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep; when I’m going to eat or how I’m going to protect myself. I have the freedom to make my own choices and choose my path in life. Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of children in India and around the world. For this reason, I want to help others by telling culturally diverse stories that educate and shed light on the human condition. True success means using your own to help others who don’t have a voice or the freedom we take for granted. This is what Win the Right Way means to me. It shows that success is better shared and is a force for good.”

In short, aside from being the possible leading man in a film starring either Imaan Hammam or Octavia Spencer, Patel is also a humanitarian, all at the age of 26. Love this guy.

Read the full press release about Chivas Regal below.


(Dubai, UAE) Actor Dev Patel, who catapulted to success in 2009 when he starred in the Academy Award winning film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, will be the guest of honour at the Chivas Icons event on 2nd May 2017, at Play in the H Hotel.

The Chivas Icons was launched in October 2016 to recognise and celebrate individuals in The Gulf, who not only make a difference themselves but also inspire others to Win The Right Way. This event will recognise Dev for his work with the #LionHeart campaign, which helps vulnerable children in India.

The #Lionheart campaign was inspired, in part, by the 2016 movie Lion which starred Dev opposite Nicole Kidman and Sunny Parwar. It tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian child lost many miles from his home and his decade long struggle to return to his family. Each year 80,000 children go missing in India, with a further 11 million living on the streets. The #Lionheart campaign supports three India base charities – Magic Bus; Childline India and Railway Children India – all of which do extraordinary work on the ground to protect children in India and around the world.

Dev Patel, commented:

“The ideal of sharing success resonates strongly with me. Success is not something that’s handed to you on a plate. It takes hard work, many sacrifices and years to achieve and, in my own experience, it wouldn’t be possible without the support of family, friends and collaborators along the way.

“I am grateful for my life and the success I have enjoyed. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep; when I’m going to eat or how I’m going to protect myself. I have the freedom to make my own choices and choose my path in life. Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of children in India and around the world. For this reason, I want to help others by telling culturally diverse stories that educate and shed light on the human condition. True success means using your own to help others who don’t have a voice or the freedom we take for granted. This is what Win the Right Way means to me. It shows that success is better shared and is a force for good.”

Antoin Breen, Marketing Manager Chivas at Pernod Ricard Gulf, said:

“We, at Chivas, believe real success is not measured by wealth alone but by how many lives a person has enriched. Chivas Icons is based on the ideal of encouraging individuals to not only strive for professional success, but to do so in a way that improves the lives of those around them. We are committed to championing this message and endeavour to inspire others to Win The Right Way. We are delighted to recognise Dev for his inspiring contribution.”

The inaugural Chivas Icons event in October 2016 recognised several leading local Icons including Dubai restaurateur Silvena Rowe, Dubai based industrialist and founder of Petrochem Yogesh Mehta and Charles Blaschke of Taka Solutions – winner of The Gulf Chivas Venture 2016.

Win The Right Way is a global campaign encouraging individuals to not only strive for professional success but to do so in a way that improves the lives of those around them. It has been supported by Javier Bardem, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Evans, Don Cheadle and Oscar Isaac, amongst others.

ABOUT CHIVAS REGAL

Launched in 1909, Chivas Regal is considered a timeless classic, renowned for its benchmark quality and taste, style, substance and exclusivity. A truly global brand, Chivas Regal has been integral to the growth of the Scotch category worldwide and today sells 4.5 million 9L cases annually in more than 150 countries across the globe. With generosity, entrepreneurship and integrity at the heart of Chivas Regal, the brand launched its successful Win the Right Way campaign in 2014, which aims to inspire a new generation whilst making a positive impact on the lives of others. The Chivas Regal range includes: Chivas 12, Chivas Extra, Chivas 18, Chivas Ultis, Chivas 25, ultra-prestige blend and pinnacle of the range Chivas Regal The Icon, and the Global Travel Retail exclusive Chivas Brothers Blend. Launched in October 2016, Chivas Regal Ultis is the first blended malt Scotch from the House of Chivas and represents the true essence of Chivas Regal. www.chivas.com

ABOUT #WINTHERIGHTWAY – CAMPAIGN MANIFESTO

“We believe generosity and success go hand in hand. That being generous with our time and knowledge, creates greater success for ourselves and for others. That business should solve social problems not create them, that people are as important as profit, and that the individual pursuit of wealth has created problems for us all. We believe in sharing our success, supporting local communities, and investing in social businesses. It’s at the heart of what we do.”

ABOUT DEV PATEL

Dev catapulted to success in 2009 when he starred in the Academy Award winning film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, directed by Danny Boyle, receiving rave reviews for his performance and garnering a number of award wins including the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performance, The British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Dev Patel was most recently seen in theatres starring opposite Nicole Kidman and Sunny Parwar in Weinstein Cos Academy Award nominated LION, directed by Garth Davis. Dev won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. He was also nominated for an ACADEMY AWARD, GOLDEN GLOBE, SAG, and BROADCAST CRITICS AWARD.

ABOUT THE #LIONHEART CAMPAIGN – VARIETY INTERVIEW

See-Saw Films is partnering with The Weinstein Company (TWC) and The Charity Network to launch #LionHeart, which will provide financial support to the over 11 million children who live on the streets of India. As part of the effort, Dev Patel, the star of the upcoming drama, is appearing in a video that discusses some of the issues in the country and to urge viewers to donate money. “Lion” recounts the story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian boy who got separated from his family and was later adopted by an Australian couple. As an adult, Brierley used Google Earth to find his biological family and reunite with them. “Unfortunately, stories like Saroo’s are all too common. Over 80,000 children go missing each year and there are over 11 million children living on the streets in India alone,” Patel said in a statement. “There are organisations on the ground doing amazing work to help kids like Saroo. And the best way we can help is by giving them the financial support they so desperately need.”

The partners say that more than 80,000 children in India go missing every year. The non-profit organisations that #LionHeart will support include Magic Bus, which educates at risk children and provides them with life-skills necessary to move out of poverty, as well as Railway Children, a charity that works with kids living on the streets and railways stations to prevent them from being exploited or abused.

Variety 2016

Dear Hollywood: Make this Met Gala pic of Donald Glover, Riz Ahmed and Rami Malek into a blockbuster

(Twitter)

The Met Gala has come and gone, and we’ve learned three things:

1. Rihanna is the Queen of the Met Gala

2. Kylie Jenner doesn’t get out of bed unless she can copy a black woman

3. Rami Malek, Riz Ahmed, and Donald Glover should star in a movie together. Any movie, whatever genre. Just make it, Hollywood.

Just look at these guys. I don’t even know if they’re friends in real life, but they’d look like they’d make great buddies. It’d be even better if they could showcase that friendship on celluloid (or, as it is nowadays, digital recording).

Picture it–a Girls Trip-esque film, but instead of having Queen Latifah and the gang go on an Essence weekend in New Orleans, it’s a Guys Trip, with Ahmed, Malek, and Glover going on a dude weekend in…anywhere other than Las Vegas, because that seems to be the cliche place for guys in a film to go. Let’s say they go to Miami, which is, technically also a cliche, but I used to live there and I like Miami, so there you go.

However, instead of the film being written like a typical “dudes on vacation” film, which usually involves a lot of ridiculous dude-bro behavior, the film would be written like…well, Girls Trip. From what I’ve seen of the trailer, it’s a film that is just as bawdy and sexual as any guys film, but instead, there’s the throughline of friendship and sisterhood. With the theoretical Guys Trip, the R-rated humor would be there, but there’s also tons of characterization and brotherhood there as well. It’d be awesome!

Also, we’d get to see Ahmed and Malek in comedic roles, something we haven’t seen from them in a long time, in the case of Malek (who has been in the Night at the Museum films), or ever, in the case of Ahmed (who hails from The Night Of and Rogue One).

If  roadtrip comedy isn’t in the cards for these guys, then I’d certainly take a future in which Ramek joins Ahmed and Glover in the Star Wars universe.

What do you think of Guys Trip, and would you watch it? Or, what kind of film would you want to see starring this trio of handsome guys? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

We need the romantic dramedy starring Dev Patel and Octavia Spencer pronto!

Sorry for the tardiness, y’all.

First, I haven’t written on this site in a long time. I’ve been dealing with Real World Stuff, so excuse me.

Second, I haven’t watched the Variety “Actors on Actors” interview between Dev Patel and Octavia Spencer until today, even though it’s been out since December of last year, the beginning of Oscar season. But I knew about it, and I knew about that picture from Patel and Spencer’s Variety photoshoot promoting the interview, and even then, I knew there was a film to be made with these two people as the leading actors.

Photo credit: Variety

Just look at them! Does this or does this not look like the poster for the best romantic dramedy of the year? It literally writes itself!

Yes, I know she’s 46 and he’s 26, so there’s literally a 20-year age difference, but that’s why this would be a romantic dramedy, wouldn’t it? The film would be all about this sensible 40-something woman with a stable job, a few good friends, but empty home life (maybe a divorcee, a widow, or perhaps just someone who thought she’d be an eternal bachelorette, unlucky in love) questioning herself for falling for someone she’d never think she’d fall for–a man in his 20s. The film would be all about her reckoning with societal standards, the opinions of her friends and family (both good and bad opinions), and finally with herself as she goes on the journey towards unlearning societal shame and going full-throttle with this man who, despite his age, has an old soul, clearly a soul that has been on Earth several times before.

Speaking of Patel’s character, his reaction to the whole thing would be to view it, as an old soul who is in its last incarnation on earth probably would view the situation, as a delightful surprise on his journey from the cradle to the grave. He’d see in her something he doesn’t see in the women his age, which is why he would have never kept a serious girlfriend around throughout his life, to the point where his some of his more unobservant family members might have started thinking he’s either gay or a player. His parents just wonder what magical girl it’s going to be that will finally grant them with the grandchildren they’ve always wanted but believe they’ll never get. In Spencer’s character, he’ll see a maturity that comes with getting knocked down by life and getting back up, having vulnerability, and having life experiences that girls his age haven’t had yet and probably wouldn’t know how to cope with. (Not to say that girls in their 20s aren’t vulnerable, but the girls that keep throwing themselves at Patel’s character wouldn’t be the brightest bulbs in the box; if I was writing this, the girls that would see him as a hard-to-get prize would be the girls who think all he needs is a good night in the club and some Cristal to loosen him up.)

Has Patel’s character himself had the life experiences Spencer’s character has had? Well, not in this lifetime, he hasn’t. But because his soul is so wizened beyond his body’s years, he can identify with the struggles and triumphs of the older set. But he would think it’s funny that it would still come as a sweet surprise to him that he, as a 20-something, desires older women. But him being who he is, all he needs to do is think about it for a second, but two and two together, and laugh about how obvious it is that of course, an old soul would desire an old soul.

Screenwriters, you may use this idea and all of the character building I’ve provided in this post, as long as you give me an “story by” or “based on a concept by” credit. Just something so I can get a small royalty check when this unseats the next Julia Roberts movie as the Oscar-worthy rom-dram of the season.

The interview itself backs up this imaginary tale. In it, you see how they both respond to each other in a warm, gentle, loving way. Now hear me–I’m not saying they’re dating in real life; the vibe is much more of profound respect, admiration, and dare I say maternal on Spencer’s part, which is something Patel himself points out about her personality–BUT, qualities such as mutual respect and admiration are a part of true love as well as deep friendship, right? These same qualities could be the building blocks for some talented screenwriter out there to write this script with Patel and Spencer specifically in mind.

In short, I’d watch this film in a heartbeat. Perhaps it could even help me get over my own ageist issues when it comes to dating either above or below my own age bracket. Also, I’d watch that other film I pitched featuring Patel and model Imaan Hammam. Basically, I’d watch any movie that treats both Patel with the respect he deserves as an actor. Ditto for Spencer. Come on, Hollywood–MAKE THIS MOVIE!

Got other movie ideas for Hollywood you want me to write about? At me on Twitter @moniqueblognet. 

Exclusive Interview: “Pretty Dudes” creator Chance Calloway on the power of inclusive webseries

Calloway with Carlin James (left), Dionysio Basco (center) and Leo Lam (right) (Pretty Dudes/Twitter)

You learned a little bit about the inner-workings of Pretty Dude creator Chance Calloway in his #RepresentYourStory article; now he’s back in a full-length interview!

Pretty Dudes has recently wrapped its two-part season finale as well as filming for its theme song music video, all of which is available on the series’ YouTube page. Calloway, who is currently in the middle of casting for the second season, said he is even more consumed with the mission to cast inclusively.

“We purposefully put out a call for more actors with marginalized backgrounds and conditions,”  he said. “We want people with skin conditions or disabilities, people who you typically don’t see represented on screen. …We want everybody[.]”

I was happy to speak to Calloway about why he created Pretty Dudes, why he thinks fans are attracted to the series, and his take on the talk about representation that’s consuming Hollywood at the moment.

Go check out the webseries, which you can watch here. You can find Calloway on Twitter. Pretty Dudes releases a new episode each Tuesday, and you can also keep up with Pretty Dudes on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook. You can also support Pretty Dudes through a donation via PayPal.


What was the inspiration for Pretty Dudes?

I would say probably the main thing is that I love those sitcoms where everyone lives in one house, like The Golden Girls and Living Single. But…they’re pretty much monochromatic, no matter how you look at it. So…I really liked the idea of having an inclusive environment where we’d be able to talk about a lot of different things, not just have, “Oh, this week, the Latino neighbor comes over,” or “this week, we have the gay sister.” I wanted it to be every week. I figured that would free up more storytelling, but that is also the reality for most people, myself included–we have people with different lifestyles than we have, so I wanted to really explore that and put that out there because I’m thinking if I’m…missing that, then there are other people as well.

A lot of your viewers are clamoring for that storytelling. How important was it for you to have that kind of diversity and the kind of cast that you do have? How important was it for you to cast a multicultural range of actors?

It was very important. When we were doing the initial casting, the only role we specifically requested a certain race for was Ellington because we’d set up this entire storyline of him being black. But all the other characters [ethnicities] weren’t mandatory. [For some of the characters] I specifically did not ask for any Caucasian actors because I didn’t want to be overwhelmed with a lot of white actors who could get cast in anything else and not have an opportunity for these actors of color who are working in the industry but never get to play any three-dimensional roles. I wanted to have that reality play out based on the casting, and thankfully, we were able to pull it off.

Webseries including yours are pushing Hollywood further more than the mainstream is. What do you think about the fact that there are a lot of webseries out there doing what folks have wanted Hollywood to do for a long time?

I think it’s great. The great thing and difficult thing about making webseries is that they’re often independently funded. So even though that creates a financial struggle, it allows for a freedom in storytelling and in choices of how you tell that story. So, the mainstream industry won’t greenlight something because they want something that’s safe. Whereas if I just wanted to make it, I could just make it, and a viewer out there could see it and get exposed to a whole world they never would have been exposed to before if it wasn’t for [a] particular series. There are a lot of things about the trans experience or the lesbian experience that I had no knowledge of until I started watching webseries and that’s something that you’re not going to get from Hollywood. I think that’s great because we can be bold in our storytelling and we can really do whatever we want. I think that’s huge.

What kind of response have you gotten from fans of Pretty Dudes?

Oh gosh! It’s been really positive. I’ve been really excited because you never know what you’re going to get. We had pretty much filmed the entire season before the first episode came out…So to put that much blind faith and trust into a project when you don’t know what the response is going to be is a little nerve-wracking. But the stories we keep hearing from people is “This happened to me” or “This happened to my friend,” and people who are really appreciating the inclusion in the storytelling. So, that’s positive.

The cast of “Pretty Dudes” (Pretty Dudes/Twitter)

In the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of discussion about casting, whitewashing, inclusion, diversity, erasure, all that kind of stuff.

Yes.

As someone who is trying to make stuff that is combating those issues, how have you been taking in the conversations that have been going on right now?

Two-fold. One is that over the last five years, the majority of films that have focused on whitewashing, on white savior narratives have bombed spectacularly at the box office, so that’s been so vindicating–other people aren’t just accepting what Hollywood’s putting out. But on the other hand, it’s frustrating because it reminds you that these are the tastemakers, so to speak, who keep greenlighting these things, which have bombed spectacularly, then you have wonderful content that don’t have any kind of backing who are changing the game, who are making great strides, and it makes you wonder how long it’s going to take before Hollywood wakes up and realizes [this] is where it’s at.

You have a Hollywood film like Hidden Figures, films like Moonlight, Get Out, that have done amazing things, because people are looking for something fresh; people are looking to see themselves represented. It really kind of boggles the mind that you have Death Note and Ghost in the Shell, and they’ll come up with any excuse [for] whitewashing. They’ll even bring up feminism to excuse whitewashing, as if those two things don’t overlap in the Venn Diagram of representation and where Hollywood needs to move to. Like the whole thing with Tilda Swinton [in Marvel’s Doctor Strange]–[the excuse is] it’s so powerful to cast a woman, well they could have cast an Asian woman in Doctor Strange. I don’t get why that’s when things are so quick to descend [into] whitewashing and using white as the default and expecting the rest of us to just kind of show up for it as if we’re okay with it.

And even that argument with feminism–it basically says that white women are women and everyone else is just people.

Right, right!

That doesn’t make any sense at all because like you said with Doctor Strange, if they wanted a female Ancient One, they could have cast any woman. An Asian woman preferably, but any woman could have been cast, it would have been a nod towards feminism, not just a white woman.

Right, exactly. And then they’ll bring up tropes and that they’re trying to protect from those tropes. “If we had cast an Asian man, then we would have been accused of this.” If you look at a lot of the conversations that white filmmakers are [having], they’re never, ever conflicting with people of color. It’s always them saying “People would have said.” Well, who did you talk to? Did you have a room of people with varying opinions and went forth from there? The answer’s always “No,” otherwise, that’s what they’d be referencing. They would be saying, “We had test audiences,” or “We talked to this group of people,” but it’s always like, “We know that these types of people would have said this.” Well, did you ask?

…There needs to be diversity behind the screen as well as in front of the screen. The reason why people behind the screen keep making those mistakes…is because they’re not having conversations among a diverse group. You can go back to the Project Greenlight episode where Matt Damon basically shouts down Effie Brown, just shouts her down about her being wrong instead of listening. You have room for the white guys and one black woman, and you’re not going to listen to the black woman when she’s talking about diversity in the casting, and that’s where the major problems come in.

I purposefully reach out to have female crewmembers on Pretty Dudes, because with me writing the majority of the episodes–even though I’m an at intersection [of being] a gay black man, that still has nothing to do with the fact that I’m writing women characters. So, I know that what I’m writing may be problematic, so I want as many women to read it and tell me what they think as possible because I am not a woman, and I’ll never be a woman. I don’t know what that’s like. In order for me to write a story or a character that’s not problematic, I need voices behind the screen who are going to give me a different point of view. If you look at the situation with Iron Fist or even Ghost in the Shell, you have a lot of white men who are telling you what you’re supposed to think and feel. I’m kinda over that.

Or you have Scarlett Johannson telling you what to think. I still don’t understand how she thinks we’re supposed to think she’s not playing an Asian woman.

Thank God for Black Twitter and Shaun [Lau] of No, Totally and all the other voices out there [including] Asyiqin Haron [for Geeks of Color]. I love the fact that people are bold enough to speak up on a platform that we do have, to say “No, this is not good and these are the reasons why.” If you’re still [not listening], then you are choosing not to listen. It’s just like the co-creator of[the Iron Fist comic book] when he referred to Asian people as Orientals and he said, ‘I know that’s not the word.’ Okay, so you’re blatantly being racist, you’re blatantly showing that you’re unwilling to change. That’s the reality of it all, just blatant disregard. I call it “willful ignorance” of a lot of people, to just live in this darkness because that’s what they’re comfortable with, and they feel it doesn’t impact them. White isn’t the default, and that really needs to change.

Onto a lighter topic, what shows do you watch on a regular basis?

I just started Riverdale, which is a guilty pleasure of mine because it’s just diverse enough for me to feel like, “Okay, cool.” I’m a huge Archie Comics fan. I’m still finishing up Black Mirror. I think I only have one episode left. That show is amazing. I just started Season One of How to Get Away with Murder because I’m super behind. …I feel like when this interview is over I’m going to to think of five more, but those are the ones I’m watching. I’ll always go back to my tried-and-trues, which are A Different WorldGolden Girls, and Community. I’ll watch those any day of the week.

I do want to give shout out–my friend Danielle Truett, her show Rebel just started on BET. I love that this is a show about police brutality through the eyes of a black woman, especially because black women are usually at the forefront of all social change–if you have Hollywood tell it, that’s not the case. But Black Lives Matter is started and led by black woman, and I love that Rebel is looking through those eyes as well.

My final question–with everything that we’ve talked about, where do you see the industry going as far as being more inclusive?

What I think what’s happening is that people are gravitating towards inclusive filmmakers like Jordan Peele and Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler, Cary Fukunaga. You can see the people who have the…passion to be more inclusive are the ones who are getting an audience–Donald Glover with Atlanta, Issa Rae with Insecure. I think what’s going to happen is that you’re going to keep seeing people watching those shows, those channels, those movies, and Hollywood’s going to have to change or Hollywood’s going to continue to stay behind the longer they stay set in their ways. It’s likely that the industry could recover [or] the industry’s going to metamorphosize into something we don’t completely anticipate, because it’s fascinating that a film like Moonlight won Best Picture. Now, all of these other filmmakers like me, I all of a sudden thought after Barry Jenkins won that I had superpowers. …You just put in the dedication and the talent, and you can change the course.

There are a lot of upcoming filmmakers…who are invigorated by what they’re seeing and by seeing this type of representation, it’s pretty inescapable. But I think we also have to do that not just for black people and queer people, but we have to continue doing that for Asian people and Indigenous people and Latinos. We have to keep going forward and I think it’s also important that we band together, as we did with Ghost in the Shell. All of the marginalized communities have to support each other; that’s the only way we’re going to overturn how things are now.♦

Yara Shahidi already wins at college by having Michelle Obama to write her college recommendation letter

Yara Shahidi Instagram

How great would it be to have former First Lady Michelle Obama to write your college recommendation letter? Black-ish star Yara Shahidi had that happen for her. Talk about getting your choice of colleges after such a seal of approval!

Shahidi told W Magazine that the former First Lady not only wrote her recommendation letter, but also “gave her a ‘go get ‘em tiger’ back-rub before Shahidi took her AP exams.”

“She is a very amazing and such a supporter, which is something very surreal to say,” she said.

Shahidi’s college ambitions include double-majoring in African American studies and sociology. Before she hits the books, though, she plans on taking a gap year.

Shahidi’s college life might coincide with the college years of her black-ish character Zoey; black-ish creator Kenya Barris has stated his interest in making a spin-off focusing on Zoey’s adventures in college. If black-ish is analogous to a more relevant version of The Cosby Show, the spin-off sounds like it could be the second coming of A Different World that we’ve been waiting on.

What would you give or do to have Michelle Obama write your college recommendation? Write about it in the comments section below!