Nielsen Report Paints Black Women As Trendsetters, Brand Loyalists, & Early Adopters Who Care About Projecting Positive Image

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Knowing how far we’ve come and how much we’ve blossomed, it’s no surprise that the “African American Women: Our Science, Her Magic” report paints black women as trendsetters, brand loyalists and early adopters who care about projecting a positive image. According to the 2017 Diverse Intelligence Series report, which was global performance management company Nielsen’s seventh look at African-American consumers and the second time they’ve zeroed in on black women, black women’s consumer preferences and brand affinities are resonating across the U.S. mainstream, driving total Black spending power toward a record $1.5 trillion by 2021. At 24.3 million strong, Black women account for 14% of all U.S. women and 52% of all African-Americans, the article says.

“Black women have strong life-affirming values that spill over into everything they do. The celebration of their power and beauty is reflected in what they buy, watch and listen to, and people outside their communities find it inspiring,” says Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen.“Understanding how Black women’s values affect their buying decisions has long been a marketing necessity. Now, marketers must also recognize the intercultural influence of Black women on the general market as an increasingly vital part of how all women see themselves, their families and the rest of the world.”

In a 2018 article, Nielsen also examined digital habits and the impact of black consumers stating that black influence on the economy and pop culture has been intensified by participation in the digital universe and adoption of social media and technology platforms. African Americans are leaning into digital know-how and open-source innovation — with unprecedented impact on brands, elections and what the country watches, buys and listens to.

“African Americans are leveraging innovations in technology and the anonymity of social platforms to level the playing field and get ahead in a marketplace unencumbered by corporate scrutiny,” said Grace. “African American influence has long resonated cross-culturally, and now it’s being delivered directly from creator to consumer. Give talented, creative people unobstructed access to the world stage and, inevitably, they will shine.”

Life Story of Maya Angelou Being Developed For Broadway Stage

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The life and art of the late legendary poet Maya Angelou will be made into a one-woman stage performance with hopes of taking it to Broadway. According to Deadline, Maya Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson, has partnered with producers David Michael Rich of Corstoria LLC, who was Angelou’s representative for more than 11years, and J. Todd Harris of Branded Pictures Entertainment to begin developing the project.

“My mother lived an extraordinary life,” Johnson said in a statement. “She brought a sense of passion to living and invested herself wholly in it. What she wanted most was justice for all human beings, and the freedom to experience joy and laughter. We hope to capture her joie de vivre. We’re going to include some private anecdotes that will be a revelation to audiences. I’m pleased to be working with this team in bringing her story to life and can’t wait for the public to experience it.”

Phenomenal Woman: An Evening With Maya Angelou will be a one-woman show drawing from Angelou’s writings, along with “some private musings that have never before been made public.” Theatrical rights have been secured for key works from Angelou’s estate and have signed Johnson to help develop the project.

Producers hope to bring the show to Broadway in 2021.

Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ On Track To Become The Most Successful Memoir In History

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Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, has sold nearly 10 million copies in four months and is on the fast-track to becoming the most successful memoir in history. Becoming, which was published through Penguin Random House, was released in November 2018 and sold over 725,000 copies on its release day.

“I’m not aware, in my personal experience with Penguin Random House, that we ever sold 10 million units of a memoir,” said Penguin Random House’s Chief Executive Markus Dohle, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Becoming tells the story of Michelle Obama’s life from growing up on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive, balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the White House.

“We believe this could be the most successful memoir in history,” added Thomas Rabe, the CEO of German media corporation Bertelsmann SE.

Bertelsmann SE owns a 75% stake in Penguin Random House. The former First Lady’s release helped the company bring in $20 billion last year, according to the Los Angeles Times. Michelle Obama is currently on a book tour, An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama (see the list of dates below).

“I’ve been so humbled by the response to the tour thus far and the overwhelming interest we’ve received from so many communities we weren’t able to visit this year,” Obama told People magazine. “That’s why I’m thrilled that we’re able to expand our conversations to these new settings and wider audiences. I can’t wait to continue the discussions that have been so meaningful for me and, I hope, for so many others.”

Serena Williams Partners With Bumble Fund To Invest In Female Founders of Color

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Serena Williams is a force to be reckoned with on and off the court. The 37-year-old tennis superstar was appointed to join Poshmark’s board of directors last month. Now, Williams wants to zero in on investing in female founders of color as she has joined Austin-based startup company, Bumble Fund.

According to Black Enterprise, Bumble Fund was launched by CEO of Bumble Whitney Wolfe Herd to invest in early-stage ventures focused primarily on businesses founded and led by women of color and those from underrepresented groups. Wolfe Herd says working with Williams has been a dream of hers since the company’s launch.


“Partnering with Serena Williams has been a dream of mine since we launched Bumble as she is one of the most inspiring women in history and a shining example of someone making the first move in all facets of her life,” she said in a statement. “She is the epitome of strength, integrity, kindness, empowerment, and everything Bumble stands for.”

While Bumble Fund will not be able to fund every business, they want to ensure that all ideas are supported and provided with the necessary tools for growth and success, so they’ve invested in and partnered with Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered platform Alice to provide entrepreneurs with a community, access to experts, how-to guides, and more.

Click here to sign up for the Bumble Fund Community on Alice to learn more and apply. You’ll be able to collaborate with other members, check out relevant resources, and stay up to date with the latest Bumble Fund news.

According to a press release, Serena Williams will also serve as a global adviser to Bumble. She says their partnership will help create a place for women of color to grow personally and professionally.


“I’ve learned how impactful one woman’s voice can be when given a platform to speak and be heard. I am passionate about building on this progress and opening doors for women of all backgrounds, especially women of color, to share their message and trust in their potential to accomplish great things,” Serena Williams said in a statement. “By joining forces with the Bumble Fund, we will continue amplifying female entrepreneurs and creating a place for them to personally and professionally champion their growth.”

Alicia Keys To Release Memoir Through Oprah Winfrey’s Publishing Imprint

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If you’re always searching for new books to read, there’s one coming your way and it’s from singer-songwriter and 15-time Grammy winner, Alicia Keys. Keys will be releasing an autobiography titled More Myself, through Oprah Winfrey’s publishing imprint, An Oprah Book. The announcement was made Wednesday (March 13).

“I can NOT believe this is happening! My sister, mentor & the QUEEN herself helped me share my journey! Thank you @Oprah for letting me share my truth as the 1st release of your new book imprint & for challenging me to become MORE MYSELF,” Keys tweeted.

More Myself will be published by Flatiron Books and is described as “part autobiography, part narrative documentary.” It will cover Alicia’s journey from her “girlhood in Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem, to the process of self-discovery she’s still navigating.”

In a video published on YouTube, Alicia Keys reveals not telling anyone that she would be writing a book. She also prefers to call her upcoming release a journey versus a memoir. More Myself will be released on Nov. 5.

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Marsai Martin Becomes The Youngest Black Executive Producer In Hollywood History

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Talk about black girl magic!

Coming to theaters this spring is a new comedy film starring Regina Hall, Issa Rae, and 14-year-old ‘Black-ish’ actress Marsai Martin. ‘Little’ tells the story of a woman (Hall) who receives the chance to relive the life of her younger self, at a point in her life when the pressures of adulthood become too much for her to bear. This body-switching comedy is based on a pitch from 14-year-old Martin who was inspired by ‘Big’ starring Tom Hanks, a movie in which she watched at the age of 10.

“It was one of my most favorite films growing up,” said Martin. “After the Season 1 finale of Black-ish, we told Kenya Barris about it, and he called Will [Packer] and said: ‘Yo, you know the girl who plays Diane on Black-ish? She has this dope idea!’”

‘Little’ will be executive produced by Marsai Martin along with Regina Hall, Josh Martin, and Preston Holmes. Will Packer will produce alongside production partner James Lopez and ‘Black-ish’ creator Kenya Barris.

With this film, Marsai Martin will become the youngest black executive producer in Hollywood history!

According to Vibe, for a short period of time, Marsai will actually hold the title of the youngest executive producer in Hollywood history, period. That is until 13-year-old ‘Stranger Things’ actress Millie Bobby Brown’s film is released later this year. Brown will be producing and starring in a film series about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister.

‘Little’ hits theaters April 12.


Shayla Cowan Named Chief of Staff of Will Packer Productions & Will Packer Media

Shayla Cowan has been promoted to Chief of Staff of Will Packer Productions as well as Will Packer Media. The announcement was made Wednesday (Nov. 5).

According to Deadline, Cowan started out as a crew member on the 2010 Will Packer-produced film Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming and later moved to executive assistant. Although Cowan will continue in her role of advising Packer and supporting the development and production of his projects, as Chief of Staff she will manage and oversee all operational and administrative activities of both companies.

“RIDE OR DIE – “Someone who holds you down and has your back no matter what. A true soldier who finds happiness in your success and helps take you to the next level.” Ya’ll help me congratulate @shayla_pc on this HUGE MOVE!!!!,” Will Packer shares on Instagram.

Shayla Cowan’s resume includes associate producer credits on Girls Trip, Night School, Little, What Men Want, Breaking In, and Almost Christmas. She also earned film credits for Think Like a Man, Ride Along (including their sequels), No Good Deed, Wedding Ringer, and Straight Outta Compton.

“Shayla has been a major factor in our extraordinary success,” said Will Packer. “Both companies will benefit from her exceptional organizational skills, negotiating expertise as well as her uncanny ability to quickly and efficiently solve any problem. There is no one I trust more than Shayla to help me grow these businesses.”

Common & Lionsgate To Develop Limited Series Based On Zora Neale Hurston Novel ‘Barracoon’

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Common and Lionsgate will be developing a limited television event series based on the New York Times best-selling novel Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo.” The pair has acquired the rights to the recently discovered Zora Neale Hurston written novel, according to Deadline. Common will be producing through his Freedom Road Productions company.

From the author of Their Eyes Were Watching, Hurston’s Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” tells the true story of 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade, abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States in 1927. It is in Plateau, Alabama that Hurston interviews Lewis, who provides a firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage 50 years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. In the three months that Hurston spent in Plateau speaking in depth with Lewis, she was able to brilliantly illuminate the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it.


This project will be the second of Lionsgate and Freedom Road’s TV deal. They are already developing Saturday Night Knife and Gun Club, starring and produced by Common.

Google & PRX Looking For Podcasters & Creators of Color

While Google recently announced a partnership with the National Business League to help grow black businesses, the effort does not stop there. Google and PRX are now looking for podcasters and creators of color to increase the diversity of voices in the podcasting industry across the globe.

Applicants must have a fresh and compelling podcast idea as well as show an interest in their podcasts sustainable in terms of growing revenue and audience.

You have from now until 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 2, 2018 to apply for the Google Podcasts creator program. Selected teams will receive seed funding and participate in an intensive 20-week training program in Boston, MA. According to the details provided, the 20-week training will not require you to uproot your life, but it will involve some time and travel.

During the course of the training, you will be deeply engaged in thinking about the audience for your podcast, what it will sound like and how to develop a solid plan for launch and production. You will be working closely with the other teams in the training and supporting each other in the process.

Applications for the first training (taking place between January – June 2019) are being accepted through Sunday, December 2, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The next application period is expected to begin in May 2019 (taking place in late July – December 2019).

Be sure to check out their FAQ page for more details. If you still have any unanswered questions, they’re having a webinar on Thursday, November 29th, 2018 at 4 pm EST. You can register here.

Good luck!

22-Year-Old Opens Sol Sips, Affordable Vegan Restaurant In Brooklyn

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On a mission to provide her community with the option of an affordable vegan lifestyle, Francesca Chaney opened Sol Sips. The vegan restaurant located in Bushwick, Brooklyn operates on a sliding scale, allowing customers to pay what they can afford. Every Saturday, Sol Sips offer a full meal and beverage ranging anywhere from $7 to $15 from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. Francesca wanted Sol Sips to be a place where not only the community could afford to eat, but her friends as well.

“I didn’t want it to be a thing where my own personal friends were not able to come and eat here because they felt like it was expensive,” says the 22-year-old.

Prior to opening Sol Sips, Francesca was a full-time student, working three jobs, and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. After coming to the realization that there were not many healthy food options available in her community, she found herself making her own organic drinks and begin selling them at her cousin’s apothecary and local festivals. After establishing her own customer base, she saw the opportunity to create something great.

“I guess there was this assumption that I was doing this to be a hero or something,” Francesca explains. “[But] it was for me first and foremost. Then it extended to the community because just living in East New York in high school… and knowing that there were not options for me to have a healthy vegetarian meal outside of my home… just because the option isn’t there doesn’t mean that we’re not seeking the option.”

According to Elle, when it comes to offering advice to young entrepreneurs, Francesca Chaney suggests finding your own source of support. She says there are no “no” people in her life right now as everyone around her is rooting for her and her business.

To keep up with Sol Sips, visit them or follow their Facebook and Instagram pages!

Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry & More Raise Millions To Renovate August Wilson’s Childhood Home

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Denzel Washington is honoring legendary American playwright August Wilson by raising money to renovate Wilson’s childhood Pittsburgh home. The Academy Award-winning actor was reportedly able to raise $5 million in an effort to start the process of turning the 1727 Bedford Avenue home into a museum and art studio.

The August Wilson House will be renovated to resemble how it looked during Wilson’s occupancy and will include some artifacts that belonged to him. It has also been said that the space will be used to hold classes for aspiring writers and to host plays.

“I love August Wilson,” Denzel said during the groundbreaking ceremony in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. “He touches my soul, our souls, in a way that no one else I know has. This is just like coming home.”

Celebrity donations to the August Wilson fundraising project include Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. Jackson, Shonda Rhimes, and Spike Lee.

“It’s surreal, being able to cultivate a relationship with a significant donor just caps off this incredibly long journey,” said Paul Ellis, Wilson’s nephew.

In 2015, Washington announced that he had landed a deal with HBO to produce nine of August Wilson’s plays for the cable network. According to the Post-Gazette, the HBO project is still in the works and is slated to be released by 2020. This is also the expected completion of the August Wilson House.

“It starts with August and the wonderful people here and the commitment that we see today to this community, and I’m glad to be a part of that,” said Washington.

‘Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ Star Karyn Parsons To Debut Novel ‘How High The Moon’ In 2019

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Actress Karyn Parsons, best known for her role as Hilary Banks on the ’90’s sitcom ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ will be releasing her debut novel in spring 2019.

‘How High the Moon’ centers on a young girl’s journey to reconnect with her mother and learns the unexpected truth about her father in the tumultuous times of the Jim Crow South. Karyn’s publisher, Little Brown & Company, best describes the novel as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ meets ‘One Crazy Summer.’

Karyn Parsons tells Essence ‘How High the Moon’ was inspired by her mother’s real-life experience of growing up in the south.

“The stories of my mother’s childhood were so uniquely different from my own that I often found myself wondering what it would be like to grow up in the Jim Crow south,” Parsons said in a statement. “Delving deeper into a time and place that I’d heard so much about but never experienced was very exciting to me. I’m grateful to Little, Brown and thrilled to be able to share How High the Moon with readers.”

You can pre-order ‘How High the Moon’ by Karyn Parsons now or pick it up when it hits bookshelves March 5, 2019.