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Lupita Nyong’o Award-Winning Children’s Book “Sulwe” Becomes Animated Musical on Netflix

by Betti Halsell

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Netflix announced a new animated musical production that focuses on different shades of beauty. The movie, “Sulwe” is coming to life from its original paperback form. Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o created the children’s book to bring awareness to the judgment of skin color happening an early age and to “encourage children to love the skin they are in and see the beauty that radiates from within.”

The bestselling children’s book by Nyong’o includes illustrations by Vashti Harrison, the story is about a young child who has skin that is darker than anyone else’s. According to Deadline, the book begins with “Sulwe was born the color of midnight,” the reader follows Sulwe’s adventure to self discovery and finding her own beauty. 

Rendering information from Entertainment Weekly, the story follows a 5-year-old Kenyen girl struggling to love the skin she’s in, she wants to be like her friends at school and family at home who are lighter-skinned. The young girl is swept into an adventure in the night skies, which helps her see the beauty in darker shades. Sulwe in Swahili means “star.” 

This book is an ode Nyong’o personal challenge of seeing her own beauty within her shade of skin, the publication captured her struggle. However, this book-turned-movie speaks volumes about the change that is happening on a larger scale. Nyong’o’s voice harmonizes with the illustrations; creating a unique perspective. 

A statement found on Kirkus reviews stated Nyong’o shared with Netflix, she said, “The story of Sulwe is one that is very close to my heart. Growing up, I was uncomfortable in my dark skin. I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in the aspirational pages of books and magazines, or even on TV. It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love.” The book is looking to foster the journey to self beauty for young minds. 

There is a revolutionary change with each turn of the page, “Sulwe” carries a message with gentleness; designing a safe space for all ages to self-reflect. The subject of colorism can be easily talked about in a family setting; either by reading the book or watching the movie, these are the conversations that every household needs to have with the future generation. 

The picture book was released in 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, making its way to New York’s Times Bestseller list. Nyong’o will be working with Netflix to produce an animated musical based on her original tale of the story. Emphasizing information from the news source listed above, “Sulwe” is an award-winning book; It received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children Last year and Nyong’o also is recorded reading the book, which is available on Netflix’s “Bookmarks.” The musical will sure to reach thousands of young hearts that share a similar story. 

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Lupita Nyong’o Wore a Cowrie Shells Headpiece To The Berlinale International Jury Photocall. Here is Why This is Significant.

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Lupita Nyong'o at Berlinale

During the international jury photocall on Thursday, Lupita Nyong’o was photographed wearing a grey Boss suit and a gorgeous  Lafalaise Dion cowrie shell headpiece. This was an important fashion statement. Here is why.

The Oscar-winning actress was invited to serve as this year’s head of the Berlin International Film Festival jury. She became the first Black jury president to oversee the annual film showcase event in its 74-year history. Also known as the Berlinale, the festival is one of the five largest in the world, along with the Toronto, Cannes, Venice, and Sundance film festivals.

The ‘Black Panther’ star expressed her excitement to take on the role in an Instagram post, “Let the festivities begin!” she wrote, “I’m so honored to be this year’s @berlinale Jury President and look forward to celebrating one of the things I love most: cinema!”

As the jury president, Nyong’o is expected to lead the jury in selecting the films to award in the two main categories – Golden and Silver Bears.

Film festivals continue to face criticism for lacking diversity on their juries. The Berlinale directors are moving in the right direction by bringing someone like Nyong’o on board, who is a true champion for diversity and inclusion.

Lupita Nyong'o at Berlinale Jury photocall

Nyong’o opted for a minimalist and simple Boss suit for last week’s jury photocall. She completed the look with a beautiful cowrie shell headpiece created by Côte d’Ivoire designer Dion Dewand Marcia Lafalaise, the self-crowned ‘Queen of Cowries.’ These particular shells represent wealth, prosperity, and fertility. By wearing the unique piece, the Kenyan-born and Mexican-raised star paid homage to her African roots on one of the biggest stages in the world.

Dion, who crafted the headpiece, also expressed gratitude, as her creation is now officially a part of Berlin Film Festival history. She wrote in an Instagram post

“…At this pivotal occasion, Queen Lupita Nyong’o proudly embraces her heritage, gracing the world once again with the iconic crown crafted by Lafalaise Dion.
Her journey to this moment serves as a beacon of inspiration, resonating deeply within our hearts and souls. We are humbled and honored to stand alongside her as she etches her name in the annals of cinematic history
.”

The festival is scheduled to run until February 25, when the jury announces the winning films in the major categories.

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Usher Marries Jennifer Goicoechea in a Post-Super Bowl Surprise Wedding (photos)

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Usher Marries Jennifer Goicoechea

On February 11, 2024, the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show captivated the world, featuring a stunning performance by R&B legend Usher. Little did fans know that the excitement didn’t end there. In a romantic twist, the 45-year-old married his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Goicoechea, in a secret ceremony that same weekend.

Usher Marries Jennifer Goicoechea

Born as Usher Raymond IV, the singer has been a prominent figure in the music industry for over three decades. Known for his smooth vocals and captivating stage presence, he has earned numerous accolades, including eight Grammy Awards. Goicoechea, a music executive, has constantly supported Usher throughout their relationship. The couple first met in 2019 and have been together since, raising two young children (Usher also has two older sons from a previous marriage).

The wedding took place in Las Vegas, just hours after Usher’s electrifying halftime show performance.

Close friends and family attended the wedding, including Usher’s mother, Jonetta Patton, who served as a witness. Jennifer wore an elegant white gown, while Usher donned a stylish black suit. The couple exchanged heartfelt vows, and the ceremony concluded with an exchange of rings.

In a statement to People magazine, which released the exclusive images from the ceremony, a representative for the couple confirmed the news, saying, “Usher and Jennifer Goicoechea took the next step in their relationship and did get married on Sunday night in Las Vegas surrounded by close friends and family. They both look forward to continuing to raise their children together surrounded by love and thank everyone for the well wishes.”

The wedding has been met with an outpouring of support and congratulations from fans and celebrities alike. Many fans praised the couple for their love and commitment, while others felt heartbroken by the news.

In a true performer fashion, Usher wrapped this year’s Super Bowl weekend with a bang! Not just because his historic halftime show drew a record-breaking 123.4 million viewers, but also because he made it about family and love.

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First Look at the Magical World of ‘Wicked’ Starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo (Trailer)

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The new trailer for the upcoming movie musical ‘Wicked’ has finally dropped, leaving fans buzzing with excitement. The film, which stars Ariana Grande as Glinda and Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, is set to be released in two parts.

The trailer opens with a stunning shot of the Emerald City, the iconic location from the original ‘Wizard of Oz’ story. We then see a young Elphaba arriving at Shiz University, where she meets Glinda for the first time. The two characters couldn’t be more different – Elphaba is a shy, green-skinned girl whom her peers often ostracize, while Glinda is a bubbly, popular blonde who seems to have everything she could ever want.

As the trailer progresses, we see glimpses of the musical numbers that have made ‘Wicked’ such a beloved show on Broadway. The production design features vibrant colors and intricate costumes that bring the world of Oz to life.

The pairing of Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, both vocal powerhouses, is beautiful and will yield beautiful musical numbers. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Erivo mentioned that she and Grande were surprised at how well their voices complemented each other.

The trailer also gives us a glimpse of the other characters in the film, including Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, and Jeff Goldblum as the Wizard of Oz.

‘Wicked’ part one is set to premiere later this year, with the second installment scheduled for November 2025.

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