It was recently announced that Queen Latifah will be hosting this year’s Black Girls Rock awards ceremony, which takes place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Prudential Hall in Newark.
Honorees of the night include legendary R&B singer Mary J. Blige, who will be receiving the Star Power Award, supermodel Naomi Campbell, who will receive the Black Girl Magic Award, iconic dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison, who will be receiving the Living Legend Award, and actress and screenwriter Lena Waithe, who will receive the Shot Caller Award. Other honorees of the night include Tarana Burke, who will take home the well-deserved Community Change Agent Award for her work in creating the #MeToo movement.
Involved in music at an early age, Mary J. Blige started out singing in the church; and like most songbirds, it later blossomed into a love for entertaining. The Bronx native became the first and youngest female recording artist to sign with Uptown Records at the age of 18. Her debut album, What’s the 411, which spawned hit records such as “Real Love,” “Reminisce,“ and “You Remind Me,“ went multi-platinum. It was also produced by her longtime friend and music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.
1994 saw the release of Mary’s second album, My Life, which quickly shot to the top of the charts, reaching #1 on the Top R&B/ Hip-Hop Albums chart and #2 on Billboard 200. It was no doubt that Mary J. Blige solidified her spot in music.
Fast-forwarding to now with a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus 32 nominations), a 2012 Golden Globe nomination, and five American Music Awards, there is no denying that Blige is most deserving of the 2018 Black Girls Rock Star Power Award.
Naomi Campbell has been working on her talents since the age of three. Born in South London, she attended stage school and begin training as a ballerina. According to Vogue, Naomi’s mother Valerie was a dancer, so it came as no surprise to see Campbell gravitate towards the spotlight. She says when she was about 12 or 13 years of age, her mother appeared in a fashion show and used the hallway of their home to show Naomi how to runway walk to the beat of the music.
Naomi Campbell’s modeling career kicked off shortly after being scouted by Beth Boldt, the head of the London-based Synchro modeling agency. “On my first visit, she parted my hair in the middle, did my makeup and took me up on the roof in my school uniform to take a few black-and-white pictures,” Naomi said.
Former editor-at-large of Vogue magazine André Leon Talley says Campbell’s unique presence on the runway is what truly elevated her.
“It was an extraordinary lineup of models in the 1990s,” he says. “But for Naomi, it was her unique presence on the runway that elevated her. I mean, we shot her all the time for Vogue, she was fantastic on camera. But the walk; she has that incredible walk, and she lifts any look that she’s wearing. You have to remember, she was a dancer. She brings that energy to the runway. For me, there’s never been anything like Naomi tap-dancing in that Alaïa show. That’s my image of her, always—full of joy, tap-dancing down the runway.”
Although Naomi Campbell has been dominating the fashion industry for years, she admits that getting to this point was no easy task.
“When I started out, I wasn’t being booked for certain shows because of the colour of my skin,” Naomi says. “I didn’t let it rattle me. From attending auditions and performing at an early age, I understood what it meant to be black. You had to put in the extra effort. You had to be twice as good.”
Congratulations to Naomi Campbell on being the recipient of the 2018 Black Girls Rock Black Girl Magic Award.
Tarana J. Burke is an African American civil rights activist who has dedicated more than 25 years to bringing awareness to sexual harassment, abuse, and assault as well as social injustices. Burke started a campaign known to us all as the #MeToo movement in 2006, which catapulted into a global phenomenon in 2017. The #MeToo movement supports the survivors of sexual abuse and aims to take the focus off aggressors and perpetrators in order to transmute victims into survivors.
Burke was born and raised in the Bronx and became involved in her community as a teen rallying for those who had been abused or were disadvantaged and underserved. According to BET, Tarana has worked at, with and founded various nonprofits supporting social justice and equality. Her interests in furthering Black arts and culture eventually led her to be a consultant to Ava DuVernay on SELMA.
Tarana, thank you for your contribution and congratulations on receiving the 2018 Black Girls Rock Community Change Agent Award.
The televised edition of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! airs Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. EST on BET.