Tag Archives: Fantasy

How to dress like Cinderella for your wedding day

If there’s one picture I’ve been obsessed with lately, it’s this press photo from 1997’s Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, starring Brandy, Whitney Houston, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters and Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher (aka “Prince Charming,” the only way we’ve ever identified the character in Disney’s 1950s animated version).

I love how candid it looks (especially since some versions of it online clearly show a Fujifilm border). It could very well be a great candid shot—something about its energy seems highly off-the-cuff, and usually it’s the off-the-cuff pictures that turn out looking the best. The picture captures what could have been a random moment after Cinderella and Christopher’s wedding (even though she didn’t actually get married in the iconic blue dress in the film). The energy of it makes it one of my favorite pictures ever, not to mention one of my favorite pictures from the amount of PR photos I’ve seen.

It knocked this one down to number two, and this one is actually showcasing the actual wedding scene:

But like the picture above it, this one captures the feeling we’re told to expect from a wedding–pure happiness. I’m sure little girls of color all around the country imagined a wedding day that looked as magical as the one Cinderella and Christopher had, and certainly I’m sure many (like me) were hoping they’d be able to find a Prince Christopher of their own. I’m not even big into the showiness of weddings, but even I have found myself wondering what a huge Cinderella-esque wedding would be like. Not to mention, the film just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Thus, this post was born.

This post doesn’t have to be all about weddings—this post could be very useful for other big events in your life in which you need an elaborate ballgown (like prom, a Quinceañera, a huge cosplay event, etc.). But, if you’re a person who wants to go all out for your wedding or a fancy reception party, then maybe my suggestions could help you out. I’ve scoured the interwebs to find the perfect Cinderella dress and Prince Charming/Christopher suit, accessories and decorations, and even invitations.

Keep in mind: I’m no wedding planner, but I am an artist, and that counts for something. Please feel free to alter my suggestions for a Cinderella-themed wedding how you see fit. This is your big day, after all—I’m just offering my two cents.

(Note:  This post isn’t intended just for heterosexual couples; whoever’s getting married can use this and have fun.)

Dressing as Cinderella

First of all, if you are a seamstress or know someone with wild tailoring/sewing skills, you could have someone custom-make this dress for you. With some of the options I’m about to show you, it might cost just as much (or maybe a little less) to have someone to make this dress for you. As you can probably already surmise, there’s no completely identical dress like this on the market.

HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some pretty close dresses online. There are three ways you can go about doing this–get a Quinceañera dress or ballgown of some type, try Etsy, or find a white wedding dress of a similar style and pay extra to have the store dye it ice blue.

Option 1: Quinceañera dress

If you are as lithe in figure as Brandy, you might be able to get away with getting a Quinceañera dress to serve as your fanciful wedding dress. Yes, Quinceañera dresses are usually made for 15-year-old girls. But, because it’s for the day they finally reach womanhood, these dresses are made exactly the same as lavish ballgowns, but are much easier to find and purchase. But, like lavish ballgowns, they cost an extremely pretty penny.

The brand of Quinceañera dress that I’ve found several types of dresses can could work for a Cinderella themed wedding is Vizcaya by Morilee, an imprint of designer Madeline Gardner’s Morilee brand of wedding, evening, and party dresses. These dresses are the most opulent Quinceañera dresses I’ve seen during my search, and they are also the most mature looking. If you didn’t tell anyone this line was actually made for 15-year-olds, people would believe these were regular ballgowns, meaning that no one will be looking at you like you’re wearing a teenager’s dress on your wedding day.

This one is by far the closest I’ve seen to Brandy’s actual blue dress:

There are some extra straps, but it’s got everything you could ask for if you’re looking for a dress similar to Brandy’s blue dress. If you’re handy with tailoring, you might even be able to snip those straps away or hide them within the off-the-shoulder straps.

Some other good choices from Morilee:

Links: 1, 2, 3, 4

I didn’t check the sizes for any of the Quinceañera dresses, so I’m only assuming you have to be skinny teenage-size to be able to wear these. There could be plus sizes for these, but you’ll have to check.

Option 2: Actual wedding dresses

In the event there aren’t, I found some real wedding dresses that are good for both smaller and plus size women. You can certainly dye these dresses ice blue (or pay someone to if you’re not into DIY with such an expensive dress), or you could just wear it as-is, which would be just like Cinderella on her wedding day in the film.

These designs are by Oleg Cassini, and they capture everything you want in both Cinderella’s ball gown and wedding dress.

Links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (some links are for sale prices)

These two are by Morilee, the same designer as the Vizcaya Quinceañera dresses.

Links: 1, 2

With the ready-made items out of the way, let’s talk about Etsy. One shop, ieie bridal, makes gorgeous, made-to-order dresses. All you have to do is offer your measurements. These three in particular are great for Cinderellas-at-heart, especially the first one, which is a copy of the dress found in the recent Cinderella live action movie starring Lily James.

Option 3: Etsy

If you’re down with Etsy, I think it’d be worth inquiring if the middle dress could be made in an ice-blue fabric. I don’t know what the designer/seller’s rules are for specifications like that, but since it’s a custom dress anyway, it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Links: 1, 2, 3

Glass slippers

The glass slippers are paramount to a great Cinderella wedding, and while no one can actually wear glass and expect not to end up with cut-up feet, here are some (expensive) shoe choices.

(It should be apparent by now that everything in this post is expensive. If you want a Cinderella wedding, you’ve got to pay the price.)

What I’ve found are two shoes from Jimmy Choo–from the Cinderella collection, no less–and a shoe by Betsey Johnson.

links: 1, 2, 3

The shoe search was by far the easiest part of this post. I only took about 15-20 minutes to find these shoes. You don’t even want to know how long it took to find the right wedding dress options. You especially don’t want to know how long it took to find something suitable and similar enough to work as Prince Christopher/Charming’s clothes.

Makeup

I do like makeup, but I’m not someone you should turn to for makeup advice, since I tend to stick to the same five products/brands that either work or simply get the job done. (Shoutout to Fenty Beauty for getting into my makeup rotation–I finally have my perfect foundation shade!)

So instead, turn to makeup guru PatrickStarrr, who released a video celebrating Cinderella’s 20th anniversary.

Dressing as the Prince

This picture, while gorgeous, is misleading. In this shot, the prince’s jacket looks like a pearlized white. However in the shot below, it’s the same ice blue color as Cinderella’s dress.

I’m going with the latter, since it makes the most sense–I’d think the groom might want to be coordinated with the bride in this instance. However, the choice is yours.

If you decide to go with blue, then…you’re up a creek without a paddle if you’re looking for a traditional tuxedo or even an 18th century cosplay jacket, because I’ve scoured the internet looking for an ice blue ornate tuxedo only to come up with nothing. As with Cinderella’s dress, if you want something exact, then find a costume maker who can make this to form. However, if you don’t feel like hiring someone or if you just want some options that could be quicker in the long run, here’s what I’ve got.

Option 1: Sherwani

I had to do some out-of-the-box thinking to come up with some of these options. For instance, the below options are Indian wedding clothes. These sherwani weren’t easy to find–even with sherwani, which come in all the colors of the rainbow, it was still hard to find ice blue–but I think if you wear them unbuttoned with a vest and some black slacks, you’ll come out looking great.

Note that some of these are the Indowestern style of sherwani, meaning they’ve got elements of both traditional Indian and Westernized clothes. Some sherwani are made like ornate tunics, and since these are button down, that makes it easier to imagine them operating like Western-style jackets. These three are from G3 Fashion.

links: 1, 2, 3

I should note that some of these, if not all of these, come with pants. If that’s the case, I’d suggest swapping out the original pants with tuxedo pants or slacks, as I mention above. Not because the pants aren’t cool (they are), but because the prince actually wears black pants with his blue vest-jacket combo. However, it’s your wedding–do what you want to do.

Option 2: Baroque couture

As you’ve seen in the picture near the top of this article, the prince wears gold on his wedding day. If you want to go that route, then there are actually Western-style tuxedos you can wear.

These three are made by Italian designer Ottavio Nuccio for his Baroque collection. And man, are they baroque.

The only prices that are listed on his site are in Euros; I don’t know if there is international shipping. But I think there is a button you can click to inquire about pricing, so maybe more information will be there.

Option 3: Sherwani (part two)

You could also go back to the sharwani for your gold outfit. Utsav Fashion has a lot of great gold options. Again, take care with the pants–swap them out for Western pants or slacks if you so choose.

links:1, 2, 3, 4

There you have it–some creative ways to get your Cinderella wedding right and tight. I’d be excited to know if anyone uses these suggestions for their wedding, Quinceniera, prom, or any other event that requires a huge, frilly ballgown. At any rate, if you’re having a wedding, make sure to outfit your bridesmaids in appropriately ornate dresses. The dresses don’t have to outshine you, but just don’t make them look like your ugly stepsisters.

If you do that, expect the fairy godmother to turn you into a pumpkin.

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Season 2 of “The Exorcist” will bring “Sleepy Hollow” vibes with John Cho’s return to FOX

Is it just me, or is this second season of The Exorcist trying to become the second coming of Sleepy Hollow?

I say that because it’s been a while since I’ve seen a fantasy/sci-fi show on FOX that was this diverse. Usually, I shy away from watching shows about the devil (despite watching Sleepy Hollow, but it was less about the devil and more about ghosts and demonic imps and stuff), but with a cast that looks this good, I just might try to tamp down my fear of evil and watch this season.

There are some characters from last season that are coming back for this season, such as the three-pronged team of Catholic priests who work together to propel the devil back to Hell. Some familiar faces to Exorcist TV show fans include Alfonso Herrera as Father Tomas and Kurt Egyiawan as Father Bennett, both are seemingly led by veteran exorcist Father Marcus (Ben Daniels).

(L-R) Alfonso Herrera as Father Tomas and Kurt Egyiawan as Father Bennett, Ben Daniels as Father Marcus.

But the Sleepy Hollow angle comes intimately into play with John Cho. First of all, he’s back on FOX—the last time he was on the network, he was playing Andy Brooks on Sleepy Hollow, a character who got a raw deal in many ways. Secondly, he’s once again playing an Andy—this time around, he’s Andy Kim, a surrogate father to several kids in the foster system. Maybe this could be like an alternate universe in which Andy isn’t seduced by the dark side, wasn’t a cop, and wanted to do good in the world by taking care of kids and protecting them from the devil.

Other newcomers include Li Jun Li as Rose Cooper, a social worker who checks in on Andy and the kids. She also has a history (romantic, I’m assuming) with Andy, and knows something’s bothering him.

This leads us to the kids themselves. It’s a diverse set of kids, including Deadpool’s Brianna Hildebrand as Verity. Other teen/kid actors include Alex Barima as Shelby, Cyrus Arnold as David Johnson III, otherwise known as Truck, Amélie Eve as Grace, and Hunter Dillon as Caleb, a blind character. Ironically, both Dillon and Hildebrand are in Deadpool 2 together. But one thing of note about Caleb is that he’s a character played by a sighted actor. This could have been a good opportunity for a blind or otherwise visually-impaired actor to have.

(L-R) Alex Barima as Shelby, Hunter Dillon as Caleb

Still Star-Crossed’s Zuleikha Robinson also stars in this upcoming season as Mouse, who is described by creator/EP Jeremy Slater as a “loyal servant of the church” who is “starting to realize the corruption has spread further than anyone had realized” and is adamant about taking down the church’s patriarchal system.

You can learn more about the new characters and see more pictures at Entertainment Weekly. As for me, I’ll put on my big girl britches and check out at least a couple of episodes from this new season. If it’s too much for me to handle, I’ll have to bow out, but I’ll be cheering for its success on the sidelines.

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“Once Upon a Time” angles for black women’s viewership with upcoming season

If you’re like me, you probably zoned out on Once Upon a Time sometime between the second and third season, around the time when likeable Sheriff Graham/The Huntsman (played by Fifty Shades of Grey actor Jamie Dornan) was killed and when Cinderella’s fairy godmother was unceremoniously killed by combustion at the beginning of an episode (to this day, that still makes me mad).

This lovely fairy gets killed by Rumpelstiltskin for no reason!

After skipping out on the show, you might have still kept up with the goings-on through other folks’ recaps. While there were some cool moments, such as Mulan, played by Jamie Chung, being written as a bisexual warrior who was in love with Sleeping Beauty, a portrayal of Lancelot being played by Sinqua Walls, and the inclusion of Jafar, played by Naveen Andrews (in a very cheesy fashion, mind you), there was tons of awful stuff, such as the dire treatment of characters of color in general. As Stacy Whitman, founder and publisher of Lee & Low Books imprint Tu Books, wrote about the series:

“…I’m highly disappointed with how the show handles its characters of color. Have you noticed how many of them die or get locked away to be forgotten compared to other characters? Sidney (who disappeared to star on Revolution, never to be mentioned again); Tamara, Neal’s fiancée who was trying to sabotage magic and kidnapped Henry (who could as easily have decided to be good and joined up with their team, but no, just got killed off; granted, so did her white partner in crime); Lancelot, who is dead before we ever meet him.”

In the end, you realized you only stayed as interested as you did because of the only truly compelling character in the main cast—Rumplestilskin, played by Robert Carlyle, maybe one of the few actors of the main cast who understood how to play his role with equal parts cheeky camp and believable, emotionally-resonating seriousness.

However, with much of the original cast gone, either because they got tired of playing the characters or wanted to go on to different projects, is Once Upon a Time trying to capitalize on a demographic it misused and drove away by taking the story in a much blacker direction? Enter the new phase of Once Upon a Time, in which Henry, now a grown man, is besieged by a young kid much like how he ambushed Emma in the pilot. Henry has to now figure out how he could be a young girl’s father, even though he has absolutely no recollection of being a father to anyone.

First, let’s talk about the little girl. Lucy (Alison Fernandez) is supposed to be the daughter of Henry and Jacinda/Cinderella (Dania Ramirez). This Cinderella is different than the Cinderella I was writing about above—that Cinderella looked very much like the one we know from the Disney movie.

That leads to the next point: this will the second time we have seen Cinderella portrayed by a woman of color since Brandy’s turn as the character in 1998’s Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella for The Wonderful World of Disney. It also seems like Ramirez’s dress has more nods towards Brandy’s dress than the Disney cartoon character’s dress, which is interesting.

Compare that to the first Cinderella’s dress shown in that awful episode of Once Upon a Time, which has more nods to the cartoon character’s dress:

 

(Quite possibly, this was one of the worst episodes of OUAT ever, but it had some of the best costume/hair design ever…go figure.)

If they are making Ramirez’s Cinderella more like Brandy’s version, then maybe there could be something said about how the storyline is focusing on Henry being this kid’s dad instead of the storyline functioning as one that still required the use of Cinderella’s Prince Charming, who would be played by an Asian actor to correspond to the actor who played the Prince opposite Brandy, Paolo Montalban. However, the season isn’t out yet, so maybe there are some surprises in store. I’m always an optimist.

Brandy and Paolo Montalban in 1997’s “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”.

Cinderella’s stepmom Lady Tremaine is played by Gabrielle Anwar, probably best known for her role in USA’s Burn Notice. Anwar herself has Austrian Jewish and Indian heritage, adding to the amount of representation happening in this upcoming season.

Third big surprise—Princess Tiana is going to be a part of this season! Mekia Cox will be playing the character, and Robin Givens will play her mom Eudora. According to Shadow and Act via EW, Eudora won’t be a working-class woman, as she was in The Princess and the Frog, but “a loving mother to Tiana and benevolent noblewoman. Formerly wealthy, now facing financial disaster, she handles the transition with grace and inner moral strength.”

Mekia Cox as Princess Tiana

Once again, there’s a lack of a POC prince mentioned as part of the cast. Just like how Brandy’s Cinderella found love with Montalban’s Prince Charming, Tiana married Prince Naveen, a…vaguely beige dude. I say “vaguely beige” because we have no idea where Maldonia is, but we are led to assume that Maldonia’s not full of Anglo-Saxon people. Technically, if you looked at behind-the-scenes stuff, Disney artists fixated on Maldonia being somewhere in the Mediterranean, while Naveen’s name suggests that the culture and people of Maldonia are South Asian and/or Middle Eastern at the very least. I won’t get into my personal dissertation about why I both love Naveen (I mean, come on—he’s a hot guy and he’s a bad boy turned good) and have some problems with how Disney bent over backwards to not use this opportunity to create their first black prince ever, but suffice it to say, Tiana’s currently missing her Naveen, and this would be a great time to cast an actor of color—maybe an upcoming actor of color who needs that big break—in this role.

Who’s gonna play this guy in OUAT? Will Naveen even be in OUAT??

Another thing to look for this year—a prominent LGBTQ storyline. From the TV Guide video (below), I’m assuming it’s going to be a lesbian-centric storyline, but regardless, Co-EP Edward Kitsis has confirmed that the storyline is, indeed, happening. Will it be treated better than Mulan’s storyline? We’ll have to wait and see.

So that’s what we can expect this go-round in…the fictional area of Hyperion Heights, Seattle (that’s right—we’re not in Storybrooke anymore). Is the OUAT team being shrewd and capitalizing on the current wave of representation hitting Hollywood? Time will tell—if we see any of these WOC killed off or illegitmate reasons or if they’re treated haphazardly, then we’ll better understand the cut of this season’s jib. Until then, I can only say I’ll tune in to see if this season will draw me in just like the very first season of OUAT did.

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This photoshoot of Dev Patel and Imaan Hammam is begging to be turned into a movie

Dear Hollywood:

When we, the viewing public, say we want more diversity in our films, this set of photos is exactly what we mean.

This December 2016 Vogue photoshoot features Oscar-nominated Dev Patel and model Imaan Hammam are giving you a full sweeping international romance in just a few stills. Check it:

I happened to see the pictures from a tweet by film director Matthew A. Cherry, and as Fusion Editor-in-Chief Dodai Stewart responded:

I second this emotion. They look so good together you kind of hate them.

The film I see is one where it’s a retro Hitchcock-esque romantic thriller. Hammam’s character is a 21st century Grace Kelly, a cool, collected woman who’s as glamourous as she is intelligent. She’s a rich socialite who’s living in gilded prison; for some reason, she has some dangerous men after her. Meanwhile, Patel is a former MI-6 agent who is assigned to protect her, which involves taking her to a safe house in Australia. At first, all Patel’s character wants to do is retire to the English countryside where he can raise sheep and indulge his first passion, oil painting. But as he explores the Australian outback with her, he slowly starts falling in love not only with the geography, but with her as well. Eventually, the mission becomes one of getting rid of the thugs chasing her, moving back to the English moors, and putting a ring on it. The movie ends with all of this being accomplished, the last shot being on Patel’s character finally outside of his country home, painting the rolling hills with Hammam’s character hugging him from behind.

Hollywood, if you made this movie, I would start saving my money now to see it at least six times in the theater.

What movie do you think is happening in these photos? Give me your thoughts!

“Magic: The Gathering”: Saheeli Joins WOC Planeswalkers Kaya & Narset

Art: Jeremy Jarvis for Magic: The Gathering/Wizards of the Coast
Art: Jeremy Jarvis for Magic: The Gathering/Wizards of the Coast

Having become a newly-minted fan of Magic: The Gathering, it’s a great opportunity to dive into the types of representation the company is striving towards. In case you’re wondering, my new fandom of the company stems from the fact that I am the consultant on Magic: The Gathering’s first black female Planeswalker, Kaya, Ghost Assassin. Instead of rehashing the particulars of how Kaya positively affects Magic’s representation mission, check out these links explaining the character and the process I took when providing notes.

There are other people of color out there who might not have given a second thought to Magic: The Gathering, quite frankly, because in communities of color, games like Magic are often labeled as “white people stuff.” That idea comes from how fantasy at large is treated; it’s usually a free for all for white characters to exist in a world devoid of racial/ethnic diversity. But to its credit, Magic is doing their best to meet the challenge of diversity in fantasy head on. Not only is Kaya one of their newest Planeswalkers, but they also are aiming to represent the multitude of players out there with characters who reflect our world. One such character that I’m really excited about is Saheeli.

Here’s the official bio of Saheeli:

On her home plane of Kaladesh, Saheeli is a famous inventor renowned as the most brilliant metalsmith of her time. She’s best known for the bewitchingly lifelike artifact constructs she crafts out of gleaming iridescent metal. From the smallest insect to the largest elephant, Saheeli has an uncanny ability to replicate any creature she sees, capturing the essence of its life in her metal creation. Admirers, collectors, and investors flock to see her designs, spending hours gazing, enraptured by her artistry.

Her innate, effortless talent has made her the envy of many fellow inventors, especially lifecrafters who look to her both for inspiration and as a formidable rival. Saheeli doesn’t shy away from competition; when it comes to defending her hard-earned reputation, she is fiercely cutthroat. But when not in contest, she’s wholly supportive of the efforts of other inventors, happy to share advice, a kind word, or an encouraging smile. She thrills at the prospect of innovation, and basks in the creative spirit that surrounds her in Ghirapur. Her bright, optimistic personality draws others to her, and her genuine, thoughtful nature resonates with her fans, who hail from all corners of Kaladesh.

Saheeli’s talents extend beyond what the people of Kaladesh realize or understand. She’s a Planeswalker with a powerful magical command over metal. She can access seemingly endless threads of metal, which she can then weave into one of her creations. And once created, Saheeli’s magic allows her to compel her metal constructs to do her bidding. Thanks to her abilities, she’s never at a loss for an artifact companion.

So, what’s the excitement about Saheeli for? Well, for starters, she’s one of the few women of color in the cast line-up. At present count, there are two other women of color—Kaya and Narset. Another character worth noting in this group as an adjacent member is Tamiyo, who is a member of the moonfolk.  The moonfolk’s culture and the moonfolk’s plane, Kamigawa, are loosely based on Japanese culture. In fact, Magic admits this in their description of Kamigawa:

Reminiscent of sengoku-era Japan, this plane contains two symbiotic worlds: the utsushiyo, or material realm, and the kakuriyo, or kami spirit realm. Each kami was a divinity, and the way to happiness was to honor these gods and live by their ways. The inhabitants of Kamigawa were content with this life of devotion. Then the unimaginable happened. Their gods turned on them.

Naturally, the small amount of women of color (and people of color of all genders) is an issue, but Magic is well aware of this issue and are actively working to correct this as best they can. The increase in representation of women of color in the Planeswalker series is something that is encouraging and seeing how serious Magic is about representation, I’m quite certain there’s more coming down the pike towards this end. Saheeli is a welcome addition to the list of women Planeswalkers.

Secondly, she’s the first Planeswalker that is repping for South Asian culture (to my knowledge): From what I’ve seen and researched, there hasn’t been another Planeswalker that has focused on South Asian representation. Just like with Kaya, Saheeli touches on a section of the Magic audience that hasn’t seen them in Planeswalker form. Also like with Kaya, what Saheeli represents is empowering.

Thirdly, seeing Saheeli cosplayers warms my heart. This particular cosplay took place during PAX West, which featured Kaladesh, Saheeli’s plane, and the Kaladesh Inventors’ Fair.

It’s going to be great to see even more Saheeli cosplay (as well as Kaya cosplay!)

Welcome to the Planeswalker family, Saheeli!

What do you love about Saheeli and Kaladesh? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

6 Questions You Might Have About Magic: The Gathering’s Kaya, Ghost Assassin Answered

Wednesday, Aug. 3., was a fantastic day; I was finally able to reveal a secret I’d been carrying since late last year. I was consulting with Magic: The Gathering to bring a new Planeswalker character to life! Kaya, Ghost Assassin is now a member of the Planeswalker cast of characters.

Kaya is the brainchild of Magic: The Gathering creative writer Kelly Digges, and I’d say that if it’s allowable to call Kelly Kaya’s proverbial father, I’m like Kaya’s proverbial mother. Together, we helped develop Kaya into the character she is today, and like parents, we couldn’t be more proud of her and the reception she received online.

Yesterday, during the release of the character, I was flooded with congratulations and questions. Some of which I’ve compiled in this article that folks can come back and reference.

1. Who am I?

In case you are a new Twitter follower or new to my site because of Kaya, I’m Monique Jones, an entertainment journalist who’s written for several outlets, most notably Entertainment Weekly’s Community blog. I’ve also written for culture/entertainment sites like Black Girl Nerds, Nerds of Color, Racialicious, and The Tempest (then known as Coming of Faith). Technically, my journalism beat is “entertainment,” specifically TV, but my main focus is covering how representation occurs in entertainment. My focus on representation is something that helped me a lot when conferring with Kelly about Kaya.

2. How was I chosen to contribute to Kaya’s characterization?

It’s all thanks to my relationship with Black Girl Nerds as a contributor and to Black Girl Nerds’ creator, Jamie, who helps us writers find opportunities when they arise. This was one of those moments.

3. Who is Kaya?

Kaya is awesome, first of all. She’s a ghost assassin, which is quite cool because people think ghosts can’t die because they’re already dead. I could go on, but I’ll quote Magic: The Gathering’s official bio for Kaya.

A confident, roguish duelist with a mysterious past, Kaya has the ability to become partially incorporeal—allowing her to slip through solid items and physically interact with ghosts and the spirit world.

Kaya is a firm believer that life is for the living. The living should make the most of their lives and pursue what they want while they’ve still got time, and find their own peace before death. If you die with unfinished business, well, that’s probably your fault. And if it’s not…perhaps she could help you…for a price.

In Paliano, she accepted a contract from Marchesa to assassinate the city’s previous sovereign, King Brago. Her actions catapulted Marchesa to power and caused the current chaos in the city—but also opened the way for others to make their claims to their throne and shake up the Paliano’s ancient political order.

4. I’ve already read the introduction story and I love it! Tell me everything there is to know about Kaya!

Sorry, I can’t. You’ll learn more about Kaya at Wizards of the Coast’s discretion.

5. What did you talk about when creating Kaya’s character?

We talked about a lot, much of which is confidential. What I can tell you though is that we discussed Kaya’s origin story, her home plane, her family, and possible future appearances. We also nailed down that swaggy, snarky personality she has. I can also say that we discussed how to make sure Kaya was a fully rounded character, not just a token character. There were lots of aspects of the black experience that went into creating Kaya, one of which—the process of hair styling— was alluded to in Kaya’s introduction story, “Laid to Rest”:

Kaya lit a candle, yawned, and splashed her face with water from a basin. She rolled out the building plans and studied them one last time, humming an old ballad and unwinding the knots she’d put her hair in to sleep.

6. How do you feel about Kaya?

I love Kaya. I knew she had the potential to be a knockout character, and according to the humongous reaction I received the other day, my hunch was right. Kaya is a character in her own right, first of all. But in the macro view, Kaya gives black women and girls who love Magic: The Gathering a character they can identify with and see themselves in. The Magic: The Gathering crew has been working hard to create an inclusive world, and Kaya’s part of that. Despite the current cast of Planeswalkers including humans and alien types of all sorts, including master monk Narset and time-altering sorcerer Teferi, there weren’t any representations of black women. With Kaya being the first, not only is she a very welcome addition to the cast of characters, but she’s history-making. For me to be a part of that is very humbling and I’m honored to have helped bring Kaya to life.

So now I turn it over to you. What do you like about Kaya? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens": Why Finn Matters In This Galaxy and A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is something I’m looking forward to intensely. The film looks amazing, particularly since it looks akin to the originals (we will not speak of the wayward turn the franchise took in between the originals and The Force Awakens). But it’s also a high-profile sci-fi film that not only features people of color in the film, but has an actor of color, John Boyega, as the main character, Finn. Some might wonder why this is important. I’ll tell you in a personal story. 

Fantasy Casting: Three Women Who Could Play Lena Horne

There are so many biopics that have yet to be made. But with the amount of biopics that have been created, one has to wonder why others are left out.

One biopic that I’m surprised no one has snapped up yet is the story of Lena Horne. Who wouldn’t want to see a period piece with Horne singing it up and fighting racial injustice, with the ultimate high point being seeing her play Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz?

Who could play Horne, though? I have three suggestions.