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Being Mary Jane

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On July 2nd BET premiered the its new original series, Being Mary Jane. Starring Gabrielle Union as Mary Jane – a multi-faceted woman who embodies the contemporary, professional stylista. Like each of us, some parts of MJ’s life are incredible while others she wishes she could change – she remind us that what glitters is not always gold.

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From the outside MJ looks like she has it all, success, beauty, and an amazing family. She drives a nice car, lives in an extravagant house, and has a closet any fashionista would die for. This professional woman is also the face of her own talk show where everyone adores her beauty as much as her intelligence.

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Though she’s experienced success in her career, she still yearns for a loving partner. Coming home to an empty house proves to be emotional torment – she wants more. She wants a family of her own, so much so that she looks to Mr. Wrong to be that special someone.  How many of us have laid next to Mr. Wrong knowing that he will never be Mr. Right? MJ’s love stories are easily relatable – from dating men who deceive her to men who just temporarily fill the void. Sometimes the inner crazy comes out after these failed relationships – men can just take us there sometimes! After multiple dating woes, MJ, like many of us begins to wonder, is it worth it? You might even ask yourself, “What do I have to show for being the good girl?”

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Then of course there’s her family – to whom much is given much is required. Being the bread winner comes with its own set of pressure. How many of us see the potential in our loved ones and just wish they too saw the greatness they possessed? Feeling  a sense of responsibility for her family Mary Jane struggles with caring for the ones she loves without enabling them.

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Race and ethnic issues also touch the screen in this show. Mary Jane is fighting to tell the story of dark skin women while her network believes the story is simply old news. She even clashes with a fellow female comrade bringing forth colorism and cross-cultural perspectives into the conversation. Navigating the world as a woman is tough, for MJ being a woman of color adds another layer to it.

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And of course where would any businesswoman be without style! Mary Jane is fabulous and you can’t deny it. Her wardrobe is killer, the perfect look for a woman of sophistication with a hint of sex appeal! On the budding edge of trends, this show will definitely provide stylish abodes to every #CPS!

Being Mary Jane is a well scripted portrayal of the contemporary professional stylista who is learning and exploring each day she lives. Needless to say Mary Jane’s story resonates with a piece of each of us. I Am Mary Jane!

Black Hollywood History

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Celebrities in Black Hollywood are on fire! This talented class of artists continue to perfect their craft and fight for recognition among their peers.  African Americans undoubtedly contribute their creativity to the entertainment of the world. But, before modern day superstars there were great musicians and actors that paved the way – making it possible for us to enjoy the sensations we all know as household names. Cheers to African American entertainment greats in music, television, and film!

Music

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Music

Before musical icons such as Beyonce, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson topped the charts there were a host of African American artists who paved the way with their music talents. We may be used to these aformentioned artists toping the charts but when Rock & Roll, Jazz, and Blues were king artists such as The Platters broke racial barriers as the first to reach the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for their song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in 1958.  Proceeding them were the Mills Brothers “Paper Doll” in 1943 as the first African AMerican artists to hit #1 on the Billboard charts and in 1950 Nat King Cole become the first African American solo singer to have a #1 hit on the Billboard charts for his song, “Mona Lisa.”
Perhaps the biggest accolade of any musician, is a Grammy win. Though modern day couple Beyonce and hubby Jay Z are two of the leading African Americans with the most Grammy wins, in 1959 Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie became the first African-American Grammy Award winners. Ella won Best Female Vocal Performance for “But Not For Me” and Best Individual Jazz Performance for “Ella Swings Lightly.” For his role as a musical composer in the film Duke won two Grammys for Best Sound Track Album – Background Score from a motion picture and Best Musical Composition.
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Television

Many of us love leading ladies such as Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union of Scandal and Being Mary Jane respectively. Their shows and talent have won accolades during this award season but before HD, DVR, and Internet television, African American actors paved the way for these lovelies to shine on the silver screen.  In 1939, Ethel Waters became the first African to star in her own television show, The Ethel Waters Show which aired on NBC.  Bob Howard was the first African American to star in a regularly scheduled network television series, The Bob Howard Show in 1948. That same year Amanda Randolph starred in the television show, The Laytons. Several years later, before his widely known success on The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby became the first African American to star in a network drama, I Spy, for which he would later be the first African American male to be nominated for and win a Primetime Emmy Award.

As a television actor, winning an Emmy is a golden moment where you are recognized by peers for your talent and artistry. Before Halle Berry, Lauretta Divine, and even Bill Cosby won their awards, African American actors proceeding them paved the way. Notably, Diahann Carroll was the first African American to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series in 1969. She was nominated for her role in Julia in which she became the first African American to play lead in a role outside of being a domestic. She won a Golden Globe for this same performance. Later, in 1979 Ester Rolle became the first African American and person to win an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries.

Film

2013 marked an incredible year for Black films such as Fruitvale Station, 12 Years a Slave, and Mandella. Before big time actors such as Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Idris Elba, and Halle Berry commanded millions of dollars for their Blockbuster and award winning films, African American cinema stars years before led the way. Ethel Waters was a prominent actress with roles in such films as Pinky. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee led the way for power couple movie stars like Will and Jada with their decades of film success. Remarkably, not only have African American actors blazed trails in their roles in front of the camera but also behind the scene. Before independent directors such as newcomer Ryan Coogler, or veterans such as John Singleton, and Spike Lee there was Oscar Micheaux. Widely credited as the first African American director, Micheaux made his cinematic debut with the silent film production of his famed book, Homesteaders in 1919. Before there was Tyler Perry Studios, Oscar founded the  Micheaux Film and Book Company to independently produce his own feature films and books.

The success of a movie star is crystalized by recognition from the Academy Award. Denzel Washington and Halle Berry  both made history with their 2001 Oscar wins. Before these greats were African American actors whose performances demanded the attention and recognition of the Academy.  In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in her role in the 1939 classic film, Gone with the Wind. In 1954 Dorothy Dandridge became the first African American women to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Carmen Jones. Halle Berry would later win an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as Dorothy Dandridge. Sidney Poitier won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964 for his role in Lilies of the Field. During Denzel Washington’s own Oscar acceptance speech he stated about Poitier, “I’ll always be following in your footsteps, there is nothing I would rather do.”

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