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

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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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Netflix Renews The Vince Staples Show For a Second Season

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Vince Staples Show

‘The Vince Staples Show’ has been renewed for a second season. 

Created by Staples and executive produced by Kenya Barris (Black-Ish), the show follows rapper and actor Vince Staples as he navigates the challenges and surprises of everyday life in his hometown of The Beach.

The first season of the limited series debuted in February with a total of five episodes.

Also starring in the series are Vanessa Bell Calloway and Andrea Ellsworth.

“The Vince Staples Show is back!” Staples shared in a statement. “The people have spoken, and the most riveting, captivating, and polarizing show on Netflix is returning for season 2. Get ready for hijinks that only a mother can love. Thank you, Netflix!”

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Kerry Washington Confirmed To Join ‘Wake Up Dead Man: The Knives Out Mystery’

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Emmy-winning actress Kerry Washington has been confirmed to join the third installment of ‘Knives Out.’

Washington will join a star-studded cast that includes Daniel Craig, reprising his role as the enigmatic detective Benoit Blanc, Andrew Scott, Josh O’Connor, and Cailee Spaeny.

The ‘Knives Out’ series, directed by Rian Johnson, is a mix of whodunit mystery and comedy. The first film, released on Netflix in 2019, quickly became a hit among audiences and critics alike. Its success led to the announcement of a second and third film, with the third film’s title recently revealed as ‘Wake Up Dead Man: The Knives Out Mystery’.

While the plot is currently kept under wraps, the third installment is set to be a standalone mystery, not directly connected to the previous films. Washington’s addition and other new cast members suggest that the film will continue the series’ tradition of intricate, unpredictable plots and surprising twists.

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Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’

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Eddie Murphy Axel F

Eddie Murphy reprises his role as the iconic Detective Axel Foley in the new action-packed trailer for ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.’

After a nearly 30-year hiatus, Eddie Murphy is back as Axel Foley in “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.” The new trailer reveals that Foley returns to Beverly Hills to investigate the untimely death of a long-time confidant and to protect his daughter, whose life is in danger. Along the way, he teams up with a new partner, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and reunites with old friends Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton).

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'
‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

In addition to Eddie Murphy and the original cast members returning, the new installment introduces some fresh faces to the franchise. Taylour Paige joins the cast as Axel Foley’s estranged daughter, Jane, a criminal defense attorney in Beverly Hills. Kevin Bacon stars as the Beverly Hills Police Department’s captain, Grant.

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

First introduced to audiences in 1984, “Beverly Hills Cop” quickly became a massive hit, thanks to Murphy’s charismatic portrayal of Axel Foley, a street-smart Detroit cop who finds himself in the luxurious and unfamiliar territory of Beverly Hills. Two sequels followed, in 1987 and 1994.

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ is directed by Mark Molloy and written by Will Beall, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten. The action comedy is based on characters created by Danilo Bach and Daniel Petrie, Jr., with a story by Beall. Jerry Bruckheimer, who has been involved with the franchise since its inception, produced the fourth installment.

The film is set to launch on Netflix on July 3, 2024.

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