On an episode of Red Table Talk, the topic centered around mom-shaming, specifically within the entertainment industry. Joined by fellow moms Ashley Graham, Maren Morris, and Jessica Alba, Jada Pinkett Smith recounts the waves of criticism she received when Willow Smith, then 12-years-old, decided to shave her head.
That experience, coupled with many others surrounding the appearance of her children, taught Jada an important lesson about parenting.
"Looking at how my children were being affected, that's what count(s). When people are like, 'Oh my god, I can't believe you shaved Willow's head!' If they coulda seen this child's expression of freedom looking at her hair falling to the ground, so me as a mom looking at that, experiencing that with her—there is nothing that anyone could say to me to tell me that it was wrong."
Willow, then, revealed that she believed her and her brother Jaden were shunned from the black community based on their eclectic appearances and the way they were raised.
"Specifically with the African-American community, I felt like me and Jaden were shunned a little bit. Like, 'We're not going to take pride in them because they're too different, they're too weird."
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The question shouldn't be if Willow was shunned by the black community; more so, was she shunned by mainstream media? A media that historically has a one-dimensional view of what a young black woman should look and act like. The American media is, and has been for decades, controlled and operated by people who do not look like Willow. Up until recently (and recently being 2019), writers' rooms and corporate suites were full of homogenous old men.
For Willow to point to the black community as the media, when very few, if any, black voices are heard or amplified, is a bit harsh. That's not to say Willow hasn't been shunned by members of the black community. A few seconds behind that statement, she says:
"Even some of our family members, I would feel they thought we're too different."
As with many young black people, the views and beliefs of our elders can be oppressive and limiting. Sexism, homophobia, and other harmful stereotypes exist in our community that we actively need to fight against. We're constantly fighting from within, especially as a black woman. Jada explained:
"Even in the community, we create stereotypes around ourselves and it's something that we, as a community, really have to learn how to let go of. I know that people felt like it's dangerous ... You know what it's like to be a Black or Brown person in this world. You are doing your kids a disservice. I understood where that fear came from, but I also understood, from having been on the streets and having had not been your conventional Black girl in the streets of Baltimore, I knew that self-confidence is what helped me survive."
Both concepts can and do exist. Willow and Jaden were shamed in the media for the way they expressed themselves, but that wasn't the black community. It is also true that Willow and Jaden were shunned by members of the black community for how they chose to express themselves.
As a community and especially black entertainers, it's important to be careful about the rhetoric we place on our community and our members.
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Featured image by DFree / Shutterstock.com
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Courtney is a contributing writer, based in Puerto Rico by way of Tennessee. Interested in the intersection of fashion and culture, she has an affinity for fashion, empowerment, and really good tacos. Keep up with her on Instagram (@hautecourtxo).
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Donald Glover Thanks God For Rejection Because Without It His Career 'Wouldn't Have Happened'
In the fast-paced world of television production, stress is a common occurrence for both cast and crew members. This can be magnified when you're a young creator and even more so when you're a young creator who is melanated. This is no different for the team behind the hit show, 30 Rock, specificallySwarmand Atlanta mastermind Donald Glover, who was a writer for the show.
He recently opened up about the “stress dreams” he used to have while writing on 30 Rock as a result of only being hired because of NBC’s diversity initiative at the time. According to Glover, these dreams would involve him running around the set, trying to find something he had lost. While this might seem like a typical anxiety dream, Glover claims that these dreams were more intense and vivid than any he had experienced before.
"It definitely didn't feel like I was supposed to be there. I used to have stress dreams every night where I was doing cartwheels on the top of a New York skyscraper with the other writers watching me," he revealed to GQ. "There's no animosity between us or anything, but [Tina Fey] said it herself...it was a diversity thing. The last two people who were fighting for the job were me and Kenya Barris. I didn’t know it was between me and him until later. He hit me one day, and he was like, ‘I hated you for years!’”
Glover went on to serve as a writer for three seasons before he broke out to become the phenom that he is today, ultimately developing his alter ego, rapper, singer, and artist, Childish Gambino.
So, what do these stressful dreams reveal about the behind-the-scenes world of television production? Probably everything. And for one of the most brilliant and original minds in Hollywood to struggle with imposter syndrome, our struggles with the same seem just a little more validated.
Glover also opened up about his new production team, where he's headed in the next few years, and more.
Donald Glover on only putting out the freshest entertainment and art at GILGA, his new multimedia studio (which btw, he recently revealed he is actively hiring for):
“You know how you go to a farmers market, and you ask for peaches, and they don’t have any because they’re out of season? Peaches have a season! I’m not gonna sell you shitty peaches just because you want a peach now.”
Donald on one of GILGA's first projects being a short film created by Malia Obama and what it's like being her mentor:
“The first thing we did was talk about the fact that she will only get to do this once. You’re Obama’s daughter. So if you make a bad film, it will follow you around."
Donald on being thankful he was turned down from Saturday Night Live in 2007 and 2009:
“I dodged so many bullets. Me being on SNL would’ve killed me. I got friends who made it on SNL, and, at the time, I was like, damn. But if I got on SNL, my career wouldn’t have happened. And thank God. Thank God I didn’t get some of those pilots. I wanted so desperately to be on Parks and Rec because it was the cool, hipster show. I am the bullet dodger. I feel like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. That wasn’t a mistake, you know? God did that.”
On Chris Rock encouraging him to try stand up (again):
“So I was with Chris Rock, and he was like, ‘People aren’t good [at stand-up] until they’re your age. The only one who was better when he was younger was Eddie. Why aren’t you doing this shit?!’"
Glover went on to discuss what he's like as a family man, the meaning of GILGA, and what's next for Donald Glover. Continue reading his GQ cover story in full here.
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Featured image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images