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Mary J. Blige for EBONY’S March Issue #QueenMother [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out the reigning queen of hip hop soul—Mary J. Blige—for EBONY Magazine’s March Issue. The two-time Oscar nominated actress and songwriter is watching the throne on the new cover with fashion’s selected by ANTM judge Law Roach and her signature blond tresses by celebrity hairstylist Larry Sims.

“She is a classy street chick who wore torn jeans and a baseball caps. All of a sudden— with the flick of a mascara wand and swipe of a lip liner 💄— she could transform into a glam cover girl” 😭 That’s Our Mary,” says EBONY on Instagram.

Look for Mary to star in the new Netflix movie The Umbrella Academy. She’ll be portraying Cha-Cha, a ruthless and unorthodox hit woman who travels through time to kill assigned targets. Even though she has a few gripes about the bureaucracy of her employers, this job is her life.

Blige will also be headlining with Janet Jackson this summer at ESSENCE Fest.

See more images of her majesty below that were shot by Dennis Leupold:

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‘Black Panther’ Cast covers new issues of ESSENCE [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

WAKANDA FOREVER!

The amazing cast of Marvel’s Black Panther rocks several covers for ESSENCE Magazine.  The film’s star—Chadwick Boseman—truly embodies King T’Challa on a solo cover and then appears on another one with his brothers – Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan and Daniel Kaluuya. The last cover features the divas of the movie – Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira. They all look absolutely stunning in these beautifully shot images by Dennis Leupold.

“The idea of creating a scenario where you’re seeing very powerful, empowered Africans is really thrilling to me, something my heart, soul, and spirit yearned to see,” said actress Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, head of the Dora Milaje, a powerful all-female army of bodyguards.

See all of the fabulous covers below:

ESSENCE featuring the cast of Black Panther hits newsstands on February 23.

Black Panther opens in theaters this Friday, February 16.

Photo Credits: Dennis Leupold

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Silk, Shekinah Jo, Keyshia Ka’oir, Larry Sims + more at Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Check out photos from Day One of the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show. The annual hair and fashion extravaganza is taking place all weekend long at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center and featured a number of your favorite music, TV and social media stars.

James Bronner + Erika Repress + SILK

The event was officially kicked off with a press conference conducted by Show Director and SVP of Bronner Bros., James Bronner along with Show Manager, Erika Respress. It also featured the “next generation” of Bronners, who are working behind-the-scenes to ensure that the legendary show continues for generations to come.

SILK + The Bronner Clan

A highlight during the press conference included an impromptu performance by iconic R&B group—Silk.  The quintet is celebrating over 25 years in the music industry and took us to church with a soulful rendition of “The Greatest Love of All.” The group, who was discovered by Keith Sweat in the early 90s, will also be featured on the opening episode of TV One’s new season of UNSUNG on Sunday, February 18.

The Cast of To Rome For Love

Other special guests at the press conference included the lovely ladies of the new docu-series, To Rome for Love(Chef) Shay Atkins, Nakita McGraw and Mercedes Young. They are also in town hosting a viewing party for their show which airs tonight on Bravo.

Cynthia Bailey Eyewear + Candles

Other personalities spotted on the showroom floor included celebrity hairstylist and reality star Shekinah Jo, RHOAs Cynthia Bailey and Kenya Moore, reality diva Keyshia Ka’oir, celebrity hairstylist and Bravo TV star Larry Sims and social media star and celebrity wig maker Alonzo Arnold. Atlanta’s station—V-103—was also broadcasting live with Big Tigger.

The evening closed out with a comedy show hosted by Steve Brown and featuring Mark Gregory (nephew of the late Dick Gregory), Rodney Perry and Sean Larkins. There was also a special Valentine’s Day musical performance from Love and Hip Hop Atlanta stars Waka Flaka and his wife Tammy Rivera.

See more images below:

Larry Sims

Barbering action on the showroom floor

Alonzo Arnold

RHOA star Cynthia Bailey taking photos with fans

Precision styling and cuts on the showroom floor

Atlanta’s #1 Beauty and Fashion Brand – SHEEN Magazine hosting a panel discussion

Keyshia Ka’oir

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Lupita Nyong’o to release a children’s book ‘Sulwe’ in 2019

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Congratulations to Oscar winning actress and star of “Black Panther,” Lupita Nyong’o. The stage and film diva has revealed that she is releasing her first children’s book in 2019 titled, Sulwe.

According to the New York Times, the book’s title means “star” in Ms. Nyong’o’s native language, Luo, and the story will focus on a 5-year-old Kenyan girl who is determined to find a way to lighten her skin. This isn’t the first time Nyong’o has addressed the issues of colorism, race and beauty.

“I am pleased to reveal I have written a children’s book! It’s called “Sulwe”! Sulwe is a dark skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure, and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty. She encounters lessons that we learn as children and spend our lives unlearning. This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in your own skin. Coming January 2019,” wrote the Star Wars star on Instagram.

Sulwe will be published through Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers next January.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: AmsterdamNews

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‘Girls Trip’ stars cover ‘ESSENCE’ #Vacation Issues [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

“Ain’t no party like an ESSENCE party, cuz an ESSENCE party do stop!”

Congrats to the cast of the upcoming comedy “Girls Trip!” The fierce divas—Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish—are featured on five unique #Vacation covers for ESSENCE Magazine.

“Girls Trip” opens nationwide in theaters on July 21 and features the ladies as four lifelong friends who travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, where they rekindle their wild sides. The film features a lot of dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make even the Big Easy blush. Larenze Tate, Kate Walsh, Mike Colter and “Queen Sugar” heartthrob Kofi Siriboe round out the cast. “Girls Trip” was written by “black-ish” creator Kenya Barris along with Tracy Oliver.

“Because of our history in this country and how we’ve been labeled, I think we, as Black women, tend to be a little hard on ourselves,” Pinkett-Smith told ESSENCE about letting go and having fun in the July 2017 issue.

Take a look at the beautiful covers below + click here to watch the film’s trailer:

Photo Credits: ESSENCE

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GPB’s ‘A Seat at the Table’ to debut 6/18 [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Renowned broadcast journalist and former Atlanta news anchor Monica Pearson is teaming up with journalist and author Denene Millner and entertainment attorney Christine White for a brand new talk show on Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) titled “A Seat the Table.” The series, which is inspired by Solange‘s Grammy-winning album of the same name, debuts on Sunday, June 18 at 6:30 p.m. EST.

“A Seat at the Table” is being described as “a weekly series that discusses the diverse experiences, perspectives and challenges of African-American women.” The trio will talk candidly about topics ranging from national news, family, kids, careers and medicine to sexuality, beauty, fashion and relationships. The “no filter” program will cut through the silence and engage viewers in a conversation that will be enlightening and entertaining.

I had a chance to meet the ladies this week during a private press luncheon at the GPB Studios where Pearson was excited about returning to television and viewers getting an opportunity to meet the “real” woman behind the camera.

“I came out of retirement to do this because I always had to keep my thoughts to myself. Now there were viewers who thought that I had shared my thoughts by the way I moved or raised my eyebrows but this gives me an opportunity for people to see me as more than a reader and more as a reporter, said Pearson, who left television in 2012 after being Atlanta’s first female and first minority news anchor.

Millner is an award-winning journalist and was been named by BlackVoices.com as one of the 40 Most Influential Black Female Writers. She was the co-writer for Steve Harvey‘s hugely popular Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man and wrote the novelization of the screenplay for both “Dreamgirls” and “Sparkle.”

White is a Spelman College graduate who has build a very successful career as an entertainment attorney and cultural economist. Passionate about activism and Black entrepreneurship, White co-founded the Influencer Coalition (icATL), a political organization composed of entertainment industry professionals in the state of Georgia.

Click here to see the ladies tackle the controversial issue of “Body Image” and stay tuned for my exclusive interview with them for a future edition of #UPFRONT.

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Gabrielle Union addresses color, gender & fame in her new book, ‘We’re Going To Need More Wine’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Gabrielle Union is about to give her fans a more personal and intimate account of her life as a Black woman in Hollywood through her new book, We’re Going to Need More Wine. The NAACP Image Award winning TV and film star announced it earlier today via social media and promised fans that there would also be an audio version too.

“Big announcement, ur girl wrote a book! Preorder now to read about my journey… the good, the bad, & the WTF.”

According to the HarperCollins website, We’re Going to Need More Wine is a moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor. Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame.

Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic, and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.

The book officially debuts on October 17, 2017 but fans can pre-order a hardcopy now!  Look for Union to appear in “Being Mary Jane” this summer and later on as Rebecca Parks in the upcoming drama, “The Public .” We talked about it during our #UPFRONT interview two weeks ago.  Check it out!

CONGRATS!

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Watch a preview of Centric’s ‘BEING’ featuring Kierra Sheard (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Gospel music sensation, Kierra Sheard is being profiled on tonight’s episode of CENTRIC’s “BEING.” Her episode is the story of a young woman born into a family of Gospel music royalty (The Clark Sisters) and a heavy Christian faith. With expectations set high to follow the successful blueprint already written, Kierra struggles to find her own way in both artistry and ministry. Not wanting to be boxed in by the presets of her mother and father, she is a lot more honest about her shortcomings than the gospel fan base is used to experiencing. Kierra is an open book and she connects to the masses by often discussing her weight issues, cosmetic surgery and her own character flaws – including her choices in men. She is boldly creating her own path, in hopes of reaching those who aren’t interested in stepping inside a church. But she is learning that sometimes the road less traveled, is a hard one…

Check out a sneak peek below:

“BEING” feat. Kierra Sheard airs tonight at 10 p.m. on CENTRIC
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Lincoln honors Aja Naomi King during ESSENCE’s ‘Black Women in Hollywood’ Event [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Check out photos from ESSENCE Magazine’s recent “Black Women in Hollywood” event that was held at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, CA prior to the Academy Awards. The event was a huge success and was powered by The Lincoln Motor Company.

This year’s event celebrated black excellence in film and honored singer and breakout actress Janelle Monáe, producer Issa Rae, “Black-Ish” star Yara Shaidi and “How To Get Away With Murder” actress Aja Naomi King, who was presented the Lincoln Shining Star Award by her co-stars Viola Davis and Alfred Enoch.

Kenya Freeman, lead designer for Sylvia Mollie created custom dresses inspired Lincoln Black Label for Lincoln Art of Arrival contest winner, Adeola Bakre, and Lincoln Blogger Bar host and author Demetria Lucas D’Oyley. The designs pulled inspiration from Black Label themes Rhapsody in Blue (Bakre) and Center Stage (D’Oyley).

“This year’s honorees embodied class and elegance similar to our flagship vehicle, the all-new Lincoln Continental,” said Raj Register, multicultural communications manager, Lincoln.

Celebrities like Broadway star Cynthia Ervio, TV, stage and film icon Loretta Devine, trans superstar Laverne Cox and dancing legend Debbie Allen arrived to the star-studded event in the latest lineup of Lincoln vehicles including 2017 Lincoln MKZ and Continental.  See more pics below of the stars posing in front of the all-new Lincoln Continental including actress Meagan Good, celebrity stylist June Ambrose and more!

Meagan Good

Gabrielle Union

June Ambrose 

Dawn-Lyne Gardner

Photo Credits: PictureGroup

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Jurnee Smollett-Bell covers EBONY + chats with RC about Season 2 of ‘Underground’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

“Underground” actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell is showing off her post baby bod for the new March cover of EBONY magazine and we absolutely love it! The 30-year-old starlet is seen in a variety of colorful looks and voluminous hairstyles inspired by the 60s and 70s. She also opens up about activism and the issue of colorism in Hollywood.

“There are obstacles and challenges that my dark-skinned sisters face that I will never know,” Smollett-Bell acknowledges. “How they are percieved when they walk in a room of strangers is something I will never truly know. I would be ignorant to say colorism doesn’t exist, its gross and disgusting.”

Bell also dishes about the second season of “Underground,” which makes its way back to WGN next month. Here’s what she told RC in our exclusive interview during SCAD’s aTVfest:

“The Underground Railroad was such a complex network. How did they operated in it? They didn’t have a GPS or cellphones or the modern ways to communicate. So how did they transfer cargo? Where were the stations? What was the secret language? Why were they using boiled eggs or flash cards to communicate? I think people will really find that fascinating in season two of the show.”

Check out more images + the new full trailer below:

https://youtu.be/O-ofsO8DX6Y

Photo Credits: EBONY

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SHEEN Magazine to honor Vivica A Fox, Naturi Naughton and more!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

My good friends at SHEEN Magazine will be saluting TV, film and stage star Vivica A. Fox during this year’s “Legendary Weekend.” The veteran entertainer will be recognized alongside “Power ” star Naturi Naughton and BMI executive Catherine Brewton.

The “Legendary Weekend” takes place April 28-30, 2017 at the prestigious Marriott Marquis Hotel in Atlanta and will celebrate “Black Power Excellence.”

SHEEN’s “Legendary Weekend” features: VIP Blogger Ultimate Beauty Experience, Vendor Booth Mall, Fashion Show, All Red Party After Party, Beauty Innovator Tea, Black Tie Gala, Empowerment Sessions (Beauty, Fashion , Hair and Business) and Celebrity Sunday Inspirational Brunch.

Click here to see a recap and photos from last year’s gala where Kelly Price and Margaret Avery were among the honorees.

Photo Credit: SHEEN MAGAZINE

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Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe cover ESSENCE [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

The stars of “Hidden Figures,” Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe look absolutely “out of this world” for the upcoming February issue of ESSENCE Magazine.  The actresses are on the covers promoting their new film which opens in limited theaters on December 25 and nationwide on January 6.

As previously reported, the divas portray mathematicians Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson. These Black women were not just pioneers in their chosen fields but they helped integrate NASA’s White male dominated space program.  “Hidden Figures” also stars Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali and Aldis Hodge and has already been nominated for numerous awards this season including three Golden Globes.

Check out their covers below along with excerpts from their ESSENCE interviews.

“When I was growing up, people told me out of their mouths math and science are for boys. I was told that over and over. Like, no one showed me how to fall in love with numbers. If I had a teacher like Mrs. Johnson, who knows, I might be on the moon,” says Henson to ESSENCE.

“I think they would not have achieved the level of success that they did had they not had one another,” says Monáe to ESSENCE. The Grammy nominated-singer turned actress has already earned AAFCA’s “Best Breakout Performance” Award for her role in this film as well as Barry Jenkins‘ “Moonlight.”

Spencer, who has also earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role, signed on to the film project two years ago and continues to admire the woman she portrays. “Dorothy Vaughan is the genesis of Black Girls Code,” Spencer tells ESSENCE.

The February issue of ESSENCE hits newsstands on January 13.

Photo Credits: ESSENCE.com

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KONTROL Magazine hosts ‘Beauty & the Beat’ featuring Jessica White [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the pleasure of covering KONTROL Magazine’s “Fashion Jams: Beauty & Beat” last night at the historic M Rich Building in downtown Atlanta. The event featured some of the city’s rising fashion designers like Tristan Blake along with musical performances from the industry’s up-and-coming artists like Mishon.

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Julian Lark with Charlotte Wilson

Supermodel Jessica White served as the evening’s celebrity host along with appearances by “Cutting It in the ATL” star Dedra Allen, TV and film actress Reece Odum, actor and star of TV One’s “Media” Blue Kimble, Enchanted PR’s Christal Jordan and more. The evening also served as a cover party for the magazine’s dual winter issues featuring White +  fashion and beauty maven Charlotte Wilson.

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Dondria Nicole performing “Options”

KONTROL Magazine’s Julian Lark also introduce a new addition to his REVEL cosmetic line. The product is titled “Options” and was inspired by R&B singer Dondria Nicole‘s new single of the same name. The So So Def entertainer was in attendance to show off her new makeup collection and performed the song.

Check out all of the photos below featuring the fashions and much more:

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“Beauty and the Beat” was sponsored by M. Lashea

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DJ Nephu

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Julian Lark with Tristen Blake 

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“Cutting It in the ATL” star Dedra Allen 

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JUST BECUZ…

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Jessica White 

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Julian Lark with Mishon

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Blue Kimble with Reece Odum

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Julian Lark unveiling Jessica White‘s cover

FASHIONS

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Dondria Nicole‘s “OPTIONS” by REVEL

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Tristin Blake Collection

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Tristin Blake with his models

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Ty Hunter & Raquel Smith host 2nd ‘Let’s Talk ATL’ Event [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Celebrated fashion stylists Ty Hunter and Raquel Smith hosted a 2nd “Let’s Talk” Networking Event over the weekend in Atlanta, GA. The intimate gathering took place at The Bailey Agency and featured the dynamic duo, who became overnight sensations as stylists for music and film superstar—Beyoncé. Their first Atlanta engagement, which took place in September, was such a huge success that they decided to come back and host another one.

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“Let’s Talk” is an opportunity for aspiring fashion stylists, designers, bloggers, writers and models to come together for inspiration, motivation and fellowship. During the three hour event Ty and Raquel revealed how they got started in the fashion industry, how they were able to establish themselves as reputable stylists and how they ultimately started working for Beyoncé. The also talked about their future business goals and personal endeavors. Following their discussion was a lively Q&A session where the audience was able to ask them about their careers, fashion styling techniques and brand building strategies.

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In addition to Ty and Raquel, attendees were also able to hear from three of their industry friends and how they broke into the business. That session included two makeup artists as well as noted celebrity hairstylist and wigmaster, Terrence Davison. He is best known for creating cutting edge looks for Trina, Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Hudson and Nicki Minaj. He is also the recent winner of the “Bronner Bros. Hair Battle” that aired last month on BET/Centric.

Atlanta celebrities in attendance included “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” starlet Ariane Davis as well as Keshia Knight-Pulliam.

Check out more photos below from the event!

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Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com