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Black History Captured on Film: Josephine Baker – The Original Celebrity Reality Star

Josephine Baker used her life to build a brand, “her life was her stage.”

American-born dancer Josephine Baker redefined beauty as a Black entertainer in France during the roaring twenties, she created a brand around her persona and possessed control over her image. The Black Venus captured the essence of the French nightlife, with her famous banana skirt hypnotizing viewers across Europe.

She received 40,000 love letters and 2,000 marriage proposals, Baker was in high demand. Although her body was how she gathered the crowd, Baker captured their attention by her vivacious lifestyle up until her life ended on April 12, 1975. Baker made Black culture attractive, during a time where the collective community was considered unfavorable.

Born in June 1906 in St. Louis, Missori, Freda Josephine McDonald grew up in humble beginnings. She began touring with a dance group when she was 16, Baker eventually moved to New York in 1923, making her mark as one of Broadway’s Chocolate Dandies. There she became aware of her personal image and its charm on her viewers.

 A couple of years passed, Baker found herself performing at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in France. In the La Revue Nègre, she introduced her Danse Sauvage and stole the hearts of all French men in the room, in her time of fame, her legacy went viral, spreading across the world.

Besides her curves, dance moves, and “dark skin,” the banana skirt Baker wore during her performance was provocative and brought attention to a new fetish–the rear end. The skirt would see many different renditions over a 10-year span.

Baker was fully aware of the viewer’s desire of her, she intentionally played into the “exotic” fantasy that was growing around Black culture. Her consciousness was described as having a “third eye,” by seeing herself as a brand.

She sold ‘Bakerskin;’ a skin darkening lotion and ‘Bakerfix,’ a pomade that made a lot of her wealth besides her music-hall performances. Baker played up her “exotic” role, dancing with carefully placed necklaces and pearls, causing a scene wherever she went. When reflecting on her life, one of Bakers’ sons, Jean-Paul Baker said, ” Her Life was her Stage.”

French critics would define her style as “priminitive,” Baker responded in her autobiography. She acknowledged that she was tickled by the reports about her show, “Primitive instinct? Madness of the flesh? Tumult of the senses? ‘The white imagination sure is something,’ Baker continued, “when it comes to Blacks.” Baker was painted to be seen as coming from the jungle, but the American dancer knew she was from Missouri. (Rose, Jazz Cleopatra, 81.)

The St. Louis native didn’t hide from the injustices happening domestically and internationally, she refused to perform in states that had segregated audiences, carried out espionage activity for the French resistance, and hid Jewish refugees when they were under siege. Baker received French merit, which included the Medaille de la Resistance and the Legion d’Honneur.

Baker created her own life, living in a 24-room mansion with a pet cheetah named Chiquita. She adopted 12 children, each having a different ethnic background, Baker called them her ‘Rainbow tribe.’ She created a life of her own, her legacy and political influence continue to echo in fashion and the freedom to portray sensual personas in present-day; for example, she was the inspiration behind Rihanna’s 2014 “naked dress” Riri wore during the CFDA Fashion Awards. Baker showed the real power behind female celebrities taking hold of their image and narrating their own intimate stories.

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Watch: Penny is All Grown Up in ‘The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder’ Trailer

Disney+ has released the first trailer for its highly anticipated animated series reboot. The streaming platform is bringing back The Proud Family  20 years later, with the original cast reprising their roles.

The show will continue to tell the story of Penny Proud and her family – parents Oscar and Trudy, twin siblings, and grandma Suga Mama.

Returning voices include Kyla Pratt as Penny Proud, Tommy Davidson as Oscar Proud, Paula Jai Parker as Trudy Proud, JoMarie Payton as Suga Mama, Cedric the Entertainer as Uncle Bobby, Carlos Mencia as Felix Boulevardez, Maria Canals-Barrera as Sunset Boulevardez, Alvaro Gutierrez as Papi, Karen Malina White as Dijonay Jones, Soleil Moon Frye as Zoey Howzer, and Alisa Reyes as LaCienega Boulevardez.

Joining the cast are Keke Palmer as young activist Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins and Asante Blackk as Penny’s boyfriend Kareem.

The returning series will also feature guest voice-overs from stars such as Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Tiffany Haddish, and Cedric the Entertainer among others.

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder premieres Feb. 23 on Disney+. Check out the trailer below.

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Mary J Blige’s Most Memorable roles: From Guest Appearances to an Oscar Nomination

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Mary J Blige has been a music icon for many years now. With 13 studio albums and many awards, she has made her name known across the globe. Today, however, her portfolio includes not only music-related accolades. The R&B queen is making significant strides in the television and film industry. One of the biggest of them was her 2018 Oscar nomination for supporting actress for her role in Netflix’s Mudbound. And this is just the beginning!

Here are Blige’s most memorable television and movie roles thus far.

I Can Do All Bad By Myself (2009)

Mary J Blige Acting Timeline

Tyler Perry gave Blige her first feature film role. She played an inspiring singing bartender at the nightclub. Before this, the singer/songwriter only had cameos on television. I Can Do All Bad By Myself also starred Taraji P. Henson.

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The Last Days Of Ptolemy Grey: New Series Starring Samuel L. Jackson Gets Premiere Date & First-Look Images

Apple TV+ has announced the premiere date and released the first-look images for its new limited series, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. The six-episode drama stars Oscar-nominated Samuel L. Jackson in the titular role. BAFTA-nominated Dominique Fishback (Judas and The Black Messiah) will join the Hollywood heavyweight.

Based on the novel by Walter Mosley, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey follows the story of a lonely dementia patient forgotten by his family and friends. Suddenly left without his trusted caretaker and on the brink of sinking even deeper into his ill state, Ptolemy is assigned to the care of orphaned teenager Robyn (Fishback). When they learn about a treatment that can restore Ptolemy’s dementia-addled memories, it begins a journey toward shocking truths about the past, present, and future.

The Last Days Of Ptolemy Grey
Source: Apple TV+

Other cast members include Cynthia Kaye McWilliams (Real Husbands of Hollywood), Damon Gupton (Criminal Minds), Marsha Stephanie Blake (When They See Us), Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight), and Omar Miller (Ballers).

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is executive produced by Mosley and Jackson, and his wife of 40 years, LaTanya Richardson.

The highly anticipated series will debut with two episodes on March 11, 2022, according to Deadline. After that, episodes will drop weekly, every Friday.

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