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Mj Rodriguez Becomes First Trans Performer Nominated for a Major Emmy

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Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez became the first out transgender woman to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress for her role Blanca in FX’s POSE.

What We Know:

  • According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Rodriguez is also the first transgender performer nominated in any lead acting category. Last month GLAAD rallied 40 other organizations to write an open letter that encouraged Emmy voters to support POSE in its third and final season. The letter said that POSE “transformed the landscape of transgender representation in Hollywood and educated the world on who transgender people are.”
  • POSE garnered 9 nominations, including Rodriguez for Lead Actress, Best Drama, and Billy Porter in the Lead Actor category. The show is no stranger to making history with its award show nomination, as Porter was the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy in the Lead Actor category. Rodriguez plays Blanca, house mother, and nurse, imbedded in the ballroom culture of the 1980s and 90s.
  • Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to be nominated in an acting category in 2014. In 2020, Rain Valdez was nominated for actress in a short-form comedy or drama series for Razor Tongue. Rodriguez’s nomination is another major milestone in transgender actors being recognized for their work. In the past, cisgender actors have been recognized for playing transgender characters. Creators of POSE Steven Canals and Ryan Murphy made a point to cast transgender actors as trans characters.

“Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez’s Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series is a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of POSE,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.

  • Rodriguez was emotional when she received the news of her nomination. She said she felt seen by the acting community for how much she desires to contribute to art. She continued, “I’m a human at the end of the day. All I wanted was the world to see me, I wanted them to see that I had something to offer.” Due to her nomination, Rodriguez was excited about the potential it could bring her career. She went on to say, “The world — it’s opened, and I can’t even express how happy I am to know that I’ll be able to be a part of more amazing pieces of work…I know that’s what the future looks like.”

Rodriguez is currently working on her next project with Maya Rudolph, a comedy for Apple TV with the working title “Loot.”

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Rapper DaBaby Apologizes for HIV Comments, Several Companies and Events Drop Him

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The rapper made insensitive comments about those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS during his set at Miami’s Rolling Loud Music Festival.

What We Know:

  • DaBaby‘s rapidly rising fame came to a halt after recordings of him saying homophobic remarks surfaced on social media. While performing, the artist, whose real name is Jonathan Kirk, asked his fans to put their cellphone lights in the air if they didn’t show up to the festival with “HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two or three weeks;” this comment provided misinformation on HIV/AIDS to the crowd. DaBaby also proceeded to make lewder comments as his set went on.

  • Several celebrities revealed their disappointment with DaBaby after the footage went viral. Dua Lipa, who previously worked with him on her song “Levitating,” stated on her Instagram story she felt “surprised and horrified” by his words. She went on to say she did not “recognize this as the person I worked with” and stood “100% with the LGBTQ community.” RuPaul’s Drag Race star Trinity K. Bonet also criticized DaBaby in a tweet in which she provided information on HIV transmission. Twitch streamer Hasan Piker added to the social media backlash by saying DaBaby’s comments emitted “90s era homophobia” energy, and calling him “DaBoomer”.

  • Despite the scrutiny, DaBaby did not initially apologize. Instead, he took to his Instagram stories and told his critics to “shut the f*** up.” He additionally said what he does during live shows is for those audiences. Furthermore, he declared he will not explain said actions to somebody looking at a clip on their phone. A few slides later, DaBaby wrote more outlandish remarks.

“All the lights went up, gay or straight. You wanna know why? Because even my gay fans don’t got f****** AIDS… They don’t got AIDS. My gay fans, they take care of theyself, they ain’t going for that. They ain’t no nasty gay n*****. They ain’t no junkies on the street,” DaBaby proceeded to say.

  • DaBaby did not show any signs of remorse until brands and events began to drop him. Last week, boohooMAN, an online retail store, kicked off the rapper’s cancellation by announcing they would no longer work with him. BoohooMAN stated the company prioritizes diversity and inclusion, does not tolerate hate speech, and that it stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
  • After this, DaBaby released an apology on Twitter. He reported that anyone suffering from HIV or AIDS has a right to be upset and that he did not intend on offending anyone. He also addressed the LGBTQ community by telling them he has no issue with them.

  • Although DaBaby apologized, others quickly followed boohooMAN’s steps. This week, events such as Lollapalooza, Day N Vegas, and Governors Ball canceled his sets and created new lineups.

Alongside this controversy, DaBaby has previously roused negative attention to himself due to violent behavior, drug offenses, and possession of loaded and concealed weapons.

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Family of James Brown Finally Settles 15-year Battle over His Estate

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The family feud over James Brown’s estate began after his death on Christmas Day in 2006.

What We Know:

  • Attorney David Black told the Associated Press the legal battle came to an end as family members reached a settlement on July 9. However, details of the settlement were not disclosed.
  • Brown’s estate, which is estimated to be worth anywhere between $5 million to more than $100 million, had been the face of lawsuits over the years. One of the litigations’ central figures includes the Godfather of Soul’s former partner Tomi Rae Hynie, who claimed she was Brown’s fourth and final wife. Because of this, she claims she deserved a portion of their estate.
  • However, the South Carolina Supreme Court declared Hynie never legally married Brown due to her previous marriage never being annulled. The Supreme Court also ordered a lower court to “promptly proceed with the probate of Brown’s estate in accordance with his estate plan.” Brown wanted his estate to provide scholarships to underprivileged children in South Carolina and Georgia.
  • This decision came after the South Carolina Supreme Court overturned a previous deal in 2013. A settlement plan from 2009 aimed to give nearly half of Brown’s estate to a charitable trust, a quarter to Hynie, and the rest to his adult children. The Supreme Court overturned this plan because then-Attorney General Henry McMaster ignored Brown’s desire for his money. Instead, McMaster hired a professional manager “who took control of Brown’s assets from the estate’s trustees to settle debts.”

Black News Alerts will provide more information on the Brown estate when details on the settlement are released.

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Whoopi Goldberg, Danielle Deadwyler to Appear in Film about Emmett Till’s Mother

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Till will highlight Mamie Till-Mobley’s fight to obtain justice for the murder of her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till.

What We Know:

  • In 1955, while visiting family in Mississippi, Emmett became a victim of a hate crime; Carolyn Bryant, a 21-year-old white woman, accused him of harassing her at a grocery store. Several days later, Carolyn’s relatives took Emmett, beat him, and lynched him.
  • While preparing for his funeral, Emmett’s mother Mamie insisted on an open casket to raise awareness on violence towards Black people in the South; Mamie’s actions are considered one of the catalysts for the civil rights movement. The movie chronicles this decision, as well as Mamie’s choice to permit Jet Magazine to publish David Jackson’s funeral photos.
  • Watchmen’s Danielle Deadwyler will portray Mamie. When discussing her new role, Danielle said she is “charged with humility and great will” to embody Mamie’s life during such an “integral moment of personal tragedy and political rebellion” and the civil rights movement. She further mentioned she will accurately represent Mamie’s love for her son. Danielle expressed gratitude for the women who will support her in this endeavor, such as director Chinonye Chukwu, and Whoopi Goldberg, who will play Emmett’s grandmother, Alma Carthan.
  • In addition to directing Till, Chinonye wrote the screenplay, which is partially based on Keith Beauchamp’s original research for his 2005 documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till. The film is a follow-up to Chinonye’s Clemency, which stars Alfre Woodard. Chinonye also conveyed appreciation for the project. She said Till will tell a story of Mamie and Emmett’s humanities and their relationship. Alongside this, it will educate audiences on “the activist consciousness that grows within Mamie as she seeks justice for her son.”
  • Chinonye feels confident in her actresses’ skills. She called Danielle a “powerhouse of an actor,” and emphasized her joy in working with the “legendary” Whoopi. Principal photography will begin in Atlanta this September.

The news on Till was released just two days before what would have been Emmett’s 80th birthday.

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