*Although the 2020 Essence Festival and Culture was canceled this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, you can still get your virtual fix of the event over the next two weeks.
Essence has put together a digital benefit series that will feature performances, entertainment and empowerment series.
The theme for this year’s festival is UPLIFTED: Healing Now. Empowered Future. Starting on June 25 and streaming on EssenceStudios.com. Artist scheduled to perform include John Legend, D-Nice, Bruno Mars, BBD, Nas, Patti LaBelle, Common, Big Freedia and more. Below is a schedule of activities.
Thursdays: June 25 & July 2
Kickstart your path to recovery with meditation, conversations, workouts, and tutorials designed to boost your mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial wellbeing.
Fridays: June 26 & July 3
Starting at 5PM ET
Step inside a virtual beauty sphere with top brands, makeup artists, hair stylists, skincare experts and more! Stream live tutorials and get expert tips to accentuating your own flawless beauty with products and brands that are making a splash across the globe.
Wealth & Power™
Saturdays: June 27 & July 4
Starts at 1:30PM ET
Get the tools you need to invest in yourself and makes strides in entrepreneurship, career, and personal finance. Plus, get the latest on the 2020 candidates, the issues that matter most, and why your voice counts!
Saturdays: June 27 & July 4
Hosted by Loni Love
Music by D-Nice
As one of the title sponsors, Ford’s focus this year is to create safe spaces of affirmation and self-care, by providing a virtual support system. Ford will be sponsoring four panels including; Breast Cancer Awareness: Tips During a Pandemic Powered by Ford Warriors in Pink brings together a panel of doctors and survivors to discuss health and wellness during COVID-19 with tips for breast cancer survivors and those currently going through treatment. Thurs, June 25 from 5:54 – 6:09 pm ET
Overcoming Overwhelm: Black Women at Work will open the discussion on mental, social, and occupational wellness and shine a light on the holistic mental health practices Black women can use to fuel their wellness journey. Award-winning actress and founder of The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, Taraji P. Henson, is a featured panelist. Thurs, July 2 from 7:32 – 7:47 pm ET
In the Wealth & Power house, three female trailblazers making strides in traditionally male-dominated industries with be highlighted, in a discussion moderated by Emmy award-winning journalist Shaun Robinson. Saturday, June 27 from 3:28 – 3:43 pm ET
And finally, on Saturday, July 4 from 3:44 – 3:59 pm ET, The Current State of Black Women Entrepreneurs: Still I Rise will provide the opportunity to have an honest conversation on how Black women entrepreneurs are overcoming the challenges of these times.
At the Ford virtual booth, participants will be able to complete virtual walkarounds of the new 2021 Mach-E, 2020 Explorer, 2020 Escape and the 2020 F-150, enjoy live DJ sets from Femme It Forward, the music and entertainment platform featuring female visionaries, and Girls Make Beats, a music production mentorship program Ford worked with earlier this year during the 2020 Escape “Built Phenomenally” campaign.
Over the course of the 2 weekends of ESSENCE Festival, Ford will donate $700,000 to support Black women in 6 cities hit hardest by COVID-19– New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and New Orleans – through National Urban League and 5 organizations that support Black women by creating safe spaces of affirmation and self-care through entrepreneurship, empowerment, mental health and wellness.
Jamie Foxx On Why Blacks Don’t Use Their Voting Power / EUR Exclusive! WATCH
*In 83 days our lives will be changed. Hopefully, for the better.
Q: Why do you think people that look like us don’t use their voting power as often as they should?
Jamie Foxx: We fail to understand our history. Every Black person I’ve talked to doesn’t know our history. They don’t know what slavery meant. They don’t know how many people died within those 400 years – all they were asking for was to be counted. I don’t give a damn who you vote for! Vote because [people] died [for you to have the right to vote].
My grandmother got up every day and picked cotton. My grandfather said: “I’m going to have a dollar in my pocket when I leave this earth so you can have a million dollars in yours.’ So, for us to sit back and come up with all these conspiracy theories and different things…We don’t know our history. People died for us, they marched for us, they stood in front of water cannons, and they stood in front of dogs so we could have the opportunity.
If you think your vote doesn’t count then why do you think they work so hard discouraging you to vote…It doesn’t make sense! They’re constantly trying to throw some type of boomerang. They say, ‘we don’t have to work today because they’ve already done it to themselves.’ Don’t give into them.
THE NEW DYNAMIC DUO: Biden and Harris Make First Campaign Appearance Together / WATCH
Jamie Foxx’s latest film “Project Power” releases globally on Netflix this Friday, August 14.
To register to vote online go to vote.gov or click here. Online voting is available for 39 states plus the District of Columbia.
Jason Sudeikis As ‘Ted Lasso’ Will Rope You Into Tons of Laughs! / WATCH
*Jason Sudeikis plays Ted Lasso, a small-time college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, despite having no experience coaching soccer. The series also stars Hannah Waddingham, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, Brett Goldstein, Phil Dunster and Nick Mohammed.
In addition to starring, Sudeikis serves as executive producer, alongside Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs”) via his Doozer Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television and Universal Television, a division of NBCUniversal Content. Doozer’s Jeff Ingold also serves as an executive producer with Liza Katzer as co-executive producer. The series was developed by Sudeikis, Lawrence, Joe Kelly and Brendan Hunt, and is based on the pre-existing format and characters from NBC Sports.
So, who is Ted Lasso and why is this show so heartwarming and funny? We sat down with Jason Sudeikis and he said “Ted Lasso is a small time, Division Two, Wichita, Kansas football coach, that gets hired out of nowhere to coach a professional soccer team in London, AFC Richmond.” “He’s the main protagonist who happens to also be named after Ted Lasso.” Jason Sudeikis made this character famous from a series of promos for NBC Sports coverage of the Premier League, years ago and he decided to make a series out of it; his first regular sketch series since his 8 years on NBC’s sketch comedy show, SNL.
Ted Lasso is an average man trying his best to understand a crazy world, while maintaining his unwarranted charm and confidence, where a person or people have ulterior motives towards him and are trying to bring him down. This story is a feel-good story that is a perfect addition to AppleTV+. In these unprecedented times, Jason Sudeikis said “while the show is funny, he and Bill Lawrence wanted it to be something that could feel like it could take place on earth, at this time and space.”
Jason Sudeikis then went on to ask, in our exclusive interview with him, “How do we make that palatable to people? The big question was, ‘how could someone who has no idea what they are doing, be in charge of something as important as a professional soccer team’; and now a lot of the country is asking themselves that same question, but with something more important than a professional soccer team, but the entire country!” So, now the show ends up becoming a parable for how and what do we do when that energy is the room and how do we respond to it?
Ted Lasso, Jason Sudeikis believes, is not overtly political, but he does believe in the power of the people! Ted Lasso believes in supporting each other, encouraging each other and looking at the world with “the glass half full”. What you’ll enjoy about Ted Lasso, is that it’s completely relatable, it has a ton of funny moments and it is the ultimate underdog story…with a twist!
Ted Lasso oozes charm, optimism and endless positivity. In a world of uncertainty, division, and the public awareness of the racial and social injustices of the day, a protagonist of such hope could be perceived as cloying instead of endearing, but it’s simply impossible to hate Ted Lasso, both the character and the series! The show is a breath of fresh air and will definitely be on your binge-worthy list, even for the simple “escape into all things good” that it allows you! If you are a tv lover, a comedy lover or even just want something new to invest your time in, this is your show!
The first three episodes of Ted Lasso are set to premiere on Apple TV+ on Friday, August 14, 2020. The remaining seven episodes of the 10-episode season will follow on a weekly basis. Watch the official trailer below and then set your streaming cue!
‘Chi-Town’: The Documentary Features Pro Basketball Player Keifer Sykes / WATCH
*”Chi-Town” is a well-known reference to the city of Chicago, home of the Chicago Bulls with one of the unquestionably all-time greats of basketball, Michael Jordan.
Derrick Rose, Jabari Parker, Patrick Beverly, Anthony Davis, and countless other current NBA players pop up quickly when you think about Chicago, basketball, and NBA players who were born and bred in Chicago.
So, why does the “Chi-Town” documentary focus solely on Keifer Sykes who had an “improbable shot” but “meteoric rise” in the world of basketball?
Keifer Sykes asks that question himself.
Via Zoom, Sykes talked to me about his documentary “Chi-Town.” For five years, a filming crew followed Sykes as he completed his last year of high school and entered four years of college.
“[The documentary] covers me growing up in Chicago as a kid…wanting to reach these dreams, despite all the obstacles, different things we have to face each day in poverty. It was neat to have this movie because at first, you know, these were things that was normal to me, just my normal life, you know. Some of my friends not having the same opportunities…some of them getting shot. Some of them going to jail and also you know me graduating from high school. You know, being a teenage father…I was blessed to have a talent that got me a scholarship to go on to college and you know to get my degree and chase my dream of being a professional basketball player which I have accomplished.”
Sykes’ documentary is a platform that has allowed him to travel “the world” speaking to youth who have a similar dream. Sykes also uses the documentary “Chi-Town” to engage open conversations with people from all walks of life who can use his expertise.
“Chi-Town” the documentary reveals some of the complexities of poverty, violence, improbabilities, and a dream that basketball is an escape. All those topics are still on the table for discussion, and Sykes wants to talk about them to everyone he can.
Sykes says the documentary and his subsequent experiences of talking with people was “eye opening to me because a lot of people gravitated towards me…motivated and inspired you know just by my daily life so…I was blessed that…this crew was able to you know capture it and tell my story and that it’s just been so profound and just it’s had just an enormous impact on my life first and foremost, but now which is what I’m trying to do is just have an impact on the world with my Free 10 Foundation.”
When asked about obstacles and opportunities in the inner city, Sykes says his family and support system helped him to overcome the problems that get in the way for many inner city youth. The documentary features many scenes highlighting Sykes’ family dynamic.
Even though many inner city youth do not have that family support system, Sykes says “a lot of these athletes are fortunate enough to be blessed to have a lot more opportunities than just the normal kid that goes to a urban public high school, however, that comes with much more distractions and just more ways for them to get derailed and for them to be more self disciplined and focused. That’s something I’ve been through.”
Sykes applies his own experience in his Free 10 Foundation by creating the types of supports that he believes are most helpful to inner city youth, including mentoring, skills camps, building reading programs, computer programs. Another important topic for Sykes is teaching inner city youth how to handle both obstacles as well as success.
“Success for kids that come from poverty or from these urban communities…it looks different than…a normal American or white American that has that family structure…and that strong support system.” Sykes says those success stories don’t include having to bring along relatives, fight off gangs, friends, and fake friends like inner city youth have to do.
He talks about the metaphor of yoga as a way to help inner city youth accomplish balance.
“Everything you do on the yoga mat is metaphoric to what you do in life. If you don’t have your balance, if you don’t have your breath…if you don’t have presence…you will be off balance.”
Another area that Sykes sees as vital is the father and male figures that are absent in many inner city children’s lives. One of his priorities is to fill that gap through his Free 10 Foundation.
Sykes has a gym on the West side of Chicago where he is actively involved in impacting the lives of inner city youth. He highly values the work he has done with Chicago Bear, Matt Forte who has a What’s Your Forte foundation.
Asked who Sykes would like to additionally bring in, he wants yoga instructors, nutritionists, chefs, and people from all walks of life who can help youth have holistic growth.
Asked which Chicago celebrities he would like to involve, Sykes mentions President Barrack Obama, and cites that they are both from the Southeast side of Chicago, without mentioning that President Obama is also very much a basketball player himself. Sykes hopes that from a shared passion for helping inner city youth, other Chicagoans like Chance the Rapper, Patrick Beverly (who also attended Marshall high school) and Derrick Rose will work with him.
Sykes’ Free 10 Foundation has been active for 3 years. Now that they have achieved not for profit status, Sykes is getting some help, where he was previously funding the activities out of his own pocket. His website KeiferSykes.com features some of the many activities and camps and giveaways that Free 10 has done, including a coat giveaway at Thanksgiving. Sykes says it was important to give people something they would have for more than one day. At Christmas, Free 10 sponsored a bowling party.
Sykes talks about trying to fill the void many inner city youth experience. He cites the devastation that gun violence and mass incarceration create.
“A lot of people don’t understand…having hundreds of murder[s] per year that a lot of these murders are you know, a lot of our black fathers. And, they leave behind more than one child that…it’s really hard to fill that void and fill in the resources, the support and for them to be nurtured and…for them to just grow and blossom into the kid that they want to be.”
Sykes talks about how Free 10 tries to fill in the gap with “time, resources, financial stability, any connections” for youth who have lost a parent to death or prison, or any other complexities of poverty.
Sykes welcomes anyone who has a desire to contribute their knowledge or expertise to the youth he supports.
Concluding the interview, Sykes talks of the places basketball has taken him, and where he hopes it will take him. Sykes is currently an international basketball player who is working hard to get an NBA contract. Sykes and Beverly share both attending Marshall and international basketball careers, which was Beverly’s route before signing with the NBA.
Sykes says the theme of his life has been what he calls “The Journey.” He used to vlog and has begun vlogging again about his life as a journey. He feels blessed that his “journey” has taken him to places that he used to just see on a map. He talked about spinning a globe and seeing places that he thought had no one there. While playing internationally, he has found places and people that he never thought he would, including being on the Amalfi Coast and in Milan for Fashion Week.
“This journey has just opened up my life to realize that I have to be grateful in every day, every experience.”
“Now that I come to Chicago, you know, my eyes are up. I have a different lens on life…I enjoy every day…to enjoy a city that has the beach and metropolitan area downtown.”
Sykes says he’s had some highs and lows throughout the journey but considers himself blessed. He sees his experience and success through basketball and his documentary “Chi-Town” as a way to change the world around him.
You can also contact his publicist Cynthia Busby for media requests, inquiries or bookings at [email protected]
J. Jermayne (@JJermayne Writes) is the author of 6 published books; 3 are sports themed. Jermayne freelance writes and travels to cover sports, entertainment and cultural events.
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