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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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Film & Television

Meghan Markle To Release Her Debut Children’s Book

The soon-to-be mother of two will also narrate the audiobook version

The actress-turned-duchess is adding a new title to her post-royal résumé. Markle is releasing her debut children’s book, The Bench.

Inspired by her husband Prince Harry and baby Archie, the book will reportedly focus on the special bond between a father and son, viewed through a mother’s eyes.

The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born,” the new author shared in a statement. “That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens. My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.”

Published by Random House Children’s Books, the book is illustrated by award-winning artist Christian Robinson.

The Bench will be published on June 8.

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Film & Television

‘Lupin’ Part 2: Release Date, First Look Photos & Trailer

The French heist drama returns with five new episodes

Netflix recently released the first look images from Lupin season 2. The photos give viewers a glance at the upcoming episodes, set to release on Netflix, reportedly, in summer 2021.

The French heist drama stars Omar Sy as Assane Diop, a man inspired by the life and dealings of a fictional character, a thief named Arsène Lupin. The series follows Assane’s quest to expose the wealthy and powerful Pellegrini family after its patriarch, Hubert, framed Assane’s father, who later ended up dead in jail. Lupin also focuses on Assane’s relationship with his son and his ex-wife as he tries to salvage it while executing his mission.

Here are the first look images for part 2.

According to Netflix’s data, Lupin part 1 was the most-watched French original series on the platform. Seventy million households reportedly viewed the show in the first four weeks of its release.

Lupin Part 2 doesn’t have an official release date yet, but it’s expected to premiere this summer. Watch the official teaser below.

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Film & Television

Will Smith’s Body Transformation Will Be Documented In A New Youtube Series

Will Smith broke the internet earlier this week by posting a picture that some would consider unflattering and others could very much relate to. The caption read, “I’m gonna be real wit yall – I’m in the worst shape of my life.”

Looking at the shared image, from Smith’s outfit to his physique, one could assume that the I am Legend actor was simply sharing the outcome of his quarantine lifestyle.

Earlier today, however, in another social media post, Smith revealed that the image was just a teaser of what’s to come.

It turns out the actor is teaming up with YouTube for a fitness and wellness series intended to document the 52-year-old’s journey.

“This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” he captioned his latest post. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better. No more midnight muffins…this is it! Imma get in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!!!!!”

No further details were disclosed as of yet. We can’t wait to follow this transformation journey!

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