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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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‘The Man From Toronto’ Trailer: Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson Star In Action-Packed Comedy

Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson star in Netflix’s upcoming action-packed comedy dropping on Netflix on June 24.

A case of mistaken identity arises after a screw-up sales consultant and the world’s deadliest assassin—known only as The Man from Toronto— run into each other at a holiday rental.

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‘Bid For Love’: BET Announces Premiere Date and Releases Official Trailer

BET debuted the trailer for its upcoming original drama Bid For Love, set for a June release.

The cast includes Blue Kimble (Ruthless), Dawn Halfkenny (Saints & Sinners), Adrian Lockett (The Oval), Jermel Howard (BMF), Tami Roman (The Family Business), Nikki Dixon (First Christmas), Ptosha Storey (The Oval), Jayda Cheaves and Kwaylon Rogers.

‘Bid For Love’ cast

Directed by Arthur Muhammad (Carter High), the story follows Sasha (Halfkenny) as she navigates life following a prison release. After serving time for her former drug trafficking boyfriend Memphis (Kimble), Sasha falls in love with Malik (Lockett), a generous and successful real estate entrepreneur. The man’s motives for Sasha, however, are far from good. Malik slowly attempts to alienate her from family and friends as he secretly plots against her.

Bid For Love is produced by Lawainna Patterson, London Williams, Shauna D. Balfour, and Christina Cooper. The film will air on BET Her and BET+ on June 23. Watch the official trailer below.

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Martin Reunion First Look Trailer

Martin reunion

BET+ debuted the first look trailer for its highly-anticipated Martin reunion. Three decades later, the cast is reuniting for a special episode dropping on June 16.

Participating stars include Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Tichina Arnold, and Carl Anthony Payne II.

The trailer opens with a dedication to Thomas Mikal Ford, who played Tommy in the series. The actor sadly passed away in 2016 from an operation complication. He was 52.

Hosted by comedian Affion Crockett, the special will focus on the show’s origin and evolution. In addition, it will feature interviews with the surviving cast, original directors, special musical performances, and behind-the-scenes must-sees.

Martin, which premiered in 1992, starred Lawrence – who played various characters, Campbell as Martin’s girlfriend and later his wife, Gina; Arnold as Gina’s best friend, Pam; and Martin’s two best friends, Cole (Payne) and Tommy (played by the late Thomas Ford). The series concluded with season five due to the tensions between the two main cast members. People reported that Campbell sued Lawrence for “repeated and escalating sexual harassment, sexual battery, verbal abuse, and related threats” in 1997. The two later reconciled, with Campbell announcing in 2020 that she was “so glad that we’re in a good place right now.”

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