Jan 15 2011

Are Will and Jada Pimping the Mini-Mes?

How stupid unobservant am I? (Rhetorical question. Don’t answer that.) Um, yeah, so I just (like, just this minute while writing this piece) figured out that Jaden and Willow smith’s given names are tributes to their parents. Will/Willow. Jaden/Jada.

Duh.

Okay. I know. It’s pretty damn obvious. But, whatever. I feel a wee bit smarter now that I figured that out.

:/

(Anyone out there who didn’t get the Smith’s naming strategy until just now, please do leave a comment admitting it–it’ll help soothe my bruised ego.)

Anywaaaay, I said all that to introduce the fact that Jaden and Willow were both nominated for this year’s NAACP Image Awards–Jaden, for his starring role in the remake of The Karate Kid, and Willow for her hit single, Whip My Hair.

For these two cuties to have been raised by “Hollywood” parents with a combined net worth somewhere in the quarter of a billion dollar range, they seem relatively grounded and down-to-earth. (Though I do think Willow has the potential to get full of herself if her mama doesn’t rein in her little ego right quick.) Love you, Willow…but I’m just sayin’.

Jada and Will have gotten quite a bit of Internet flack recently for supposedly “pimping” their kids, and “depriving them of their childhoods,” but I don’t see any evidence of that here at all. These little Smiths are truly talented, and they seem to really love what they’re doing. And, why wouldn’t they? Though they do have to work hard and put in long hours to achieve the success they’ve enjoyed so far, they also have that huge and powerful SMITH MACHINE behind them, which has to make the whole experience that much sweeter.

Though they barely have 20 years on earth between them, both Smith kids seem to “get it” that they are privileged to have the parents they do, and they understand that most of the world doesn’t have they advantages they were born with. Their parents have done an excellent job of instilling this in them from a young age–not just by setting an example of what philanthropy and concern for community look like in action, but also by encouraging their children to become actively involved in charitable causes themselves.

Jaden and Willow have lent their names, images and time to Project Zambi, which supports children orphaned by AIDS in Africa,and Buy Life which provides medicine, food and shelter to millions of people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.

If you’re wondering what the criteria for winning an NAACP Image Award are, read on:

1. Fair, Accurate, and Inclusive Representations Rather than portraying people of color in broad stereotypes, the project deals with the characters or themes in a fair, accurate, and multi-dimensional manner. Inclusive means that a broad spectrum of people of color is represented. This includes economic, geographic, and political diversity, as well as seniors, differently abled, youth, families, etc.
2. Boldness and Originality The project breaks new ground by exploring subject matter relevant to people of color in a way not traditionally explored, and handles the content in a fresh and original manner. Is this project “cutting-edge?”
3. Impact The project impacts society in a significant way. Does this project dramatically increase the cultural dialogue about issues that pertain to people of color? Or, does this project reach an idea that is not regularly exposed with regard to images and issues pertaining to people of color?
4. Overall Quality The overall quality of the project should be considered. A project which is of high quality production value adds impact, significance, and weight to the images and issues portrayed.

If my little daughter wanted to put a poster of either or both of these kids up on her bedroom wall, I would allow it. I think they stand for something positive, and so far their images are definitely uplifting and admirable.

I hope they both win.

 


Jan 5 2011

Oprah, Kathleen and Heavy D: we got our OWN thang

O, the wonders of photoshop

So, yesterday Oprah was talking to me (like she does several times a week). I was a little preoccupied with something on my laptop, but when I finally looked up at her she looked me right in my eyes (to make sure I was really paying attention, I suppose) and she said,

“Here we are, this is our day. This is our moment.”

She was talking about our new OWN network, of course–you know, the one we launched on January 1st.  She insisted to me that (even though her name is the only one on the logo) it really is OUR network, and darn it, I believe her.

I know she said the same thing to you, I mean, I’m not crazy. I know she wasn’t talking only to me when she said this network is for us, but I must say that so far the programming choices come pretty close to exactly what I would love to see on television. I especially love the show called Master Class.  <click to see the promo if you haven’t seen the show yet–it’s (in Oprah’s voice) really good.

I won’t list the complete schedule, but in addition to Master Class I’m super geeked about these shows: (OWN’s descriptions)

The Miracle Detectives: Do miracles really exist? Or is there a logical explanation to the seemingly inexplicable? Two investigators; one a believer, the other a scientist will travel the globe to uncover answers to mysterious incidents that transcend logic

Mystery Diagnosis: Every year, millions of Americans fall victim to real-life medical mysteries—ailments that go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. Their lives are thrown into turmoil—sometimes their sanity is called into question

Searching For: Viewers can expect an intensely personal ride when cameras follow Pam Slaton, a professional investigative genealogist, and her clients through each step as they track down lost loved ones.  Whether Pam’s clients find a joyous reunion, painful rejection or tragic loss, they all walk away with the closure they were desperate to find. (Pam has an 85 percent success rate, follows a strict “no find, no pay” policy, and is one of the most sought-after professional searchers in the country.)

The Gayle King Show: Start your day off right with Oprah’s best friend and O Magazine Editor-at-Large Gayle King, as her hit radio show comes to television every weekday on OWN. Gayle’s live talk show will offer her unique perspective on an array of topics ranging from current events and cultural trends to politics and more, all while bringing viewers closer to their favorite celebrities and notable public figures with her revealing, compelling daily interviews.

I love Gayle. I think she’s really down-to-earth for someone who is the best friend of one of the most powerful women in the world. (Sorry, I digress.)

Anyway, by now you’re wondering, what the heck does Heavy D have to do with any of this? Well, ever since Oprah started talking to me about this OWN thing… Heavy’s “diddly diddly diddly dee” has been stuck in my head. I know I can’t be the only one who mentally plays the song when the OWN network promos come on.

“We Got Our Own Thang” by Heavy D and the Boyz <listen to a snippet.

Although not all the lyrics in the song are going to be to Oprah’s liking (you know how she is about hip hop), this part of the song is perfect for what OWN is all about:

“In this life, I strive for improvement
Be your own guide, follow your own movement
Loving is a legend
Me, I’m legendary at it…

Stay self-managed, self-kept, self-taught
Be your own man, don’t be borrowed, don’t be bought
Started with a pow and I’m going to end it with a bang
We’ve got our own thang
We’ve got our own thang”

How is that not the theme song playing on the OWN promo?
Maybe Will.i.am and Heav could do a remix for you…
Oprah, it is our network, right?

?

:)


Dec 30 2010

Sofia Vergara’s Heart is Bigger Than Her…Well, Everything Else



One big drawback to being as friggin’ drop dead ridiculously gorgeous and sexy as Sofia Vergara–It’s pretty impossible for people to see (or bother looking for) your spiritual assets when your physical ones are so distracting.

If you’ve watched the Emmy-award winning ABC show “Modern Family,” you already know. Sofia’s character Gloria is a scene-stealer whose thick Columbian accent seems almost too thick to be true–along with some other thick things that Sofia was actually born with. (She wanted a breast reduction, but her mom talked her out of it, saying, “God is going to punish you if you cut them.”)

Before she was discovered on a beach in Columbia and fast-tracked to modeling gigs and a Pepsi ad, Sofia was a catholic school girl (no, really) who more than anything wanted to be a dentist. Please. Can you imagine how popular her dental practice would have been? She abandoned her dentistry dreams to take her first television hosting job–but only after consulting with the nuns in her hometown school who told her to go for it.

Beauty has not shielded Vergara from life’s tragedies. In 1998 her brother Rafael was murdered by kidnappers in Bogota, Columbia and two years after his death Sofia was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which she was able to beat with radiation and surgery. About her cancer battle she said,

“When you go through something like this, it’s hard, but you learn a lot from it. Your priorities change. You don’t sweat the small stuff. “

The experience led her to create Peace and Hope for the Children of Colombia, a charitable organization that has served thousands of needy children in her home country.

“Through the charity I sponsor, we’re building a cancer center in my hometown of Barranquilla. I visited the cancer ward of a hospital in Colombia, and parents were just sitting on the floor while their kids were being treated.”

Sofia also launched a clothing line called Vergara by Sofia,  a socially-conscious brand generating over 1,500 jobs in her native country.

This fall Vergara joined Gloria Estefan, Placido Domingo, Enrique Iglesias and other Latin stars to  record the  song and video “La Gota de la Vida” to raise money for bone marrow donation awareness.

That’s right. In addition to everything else she’s abundantly blessed with…her singing voice is pretty too.