All Articles Tagged "Amber Riley"

Dascha Polanco’s NYFW Statement Is The Eff-U I Needed

September 13th, 2016 - By Quindara Lazenbury
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@theblondsny #NYFW #Selena #GlamInspired #Selflovery #ismellgood

A photo posted by SHEISDASH (@sheisdash) on

The presence of “larger” women as a conveyor of beauty is evolving and dramatically rising. As a debatable BBW myself, it is always inspiring to see other women wear confidence in unconventional and unique ways. Let’s take Amber Riley who earlier this year called out a fat-shamers insulting her size on social media. She responded with a calm, “My a– is fat. And the fellas love it. And so do I. So eat it!” We should also peep Danielle Brooks’ IG page featuring all of her golden chocolately-ness and increasingly fitter figure. She slayed at the launch of Christian Siriano’s new collection for Lane Bryant and rocked it out at the Jouvert Festival in Brooklyn.

Recently, Orange Is The New Black‘s Dascha Polanco peeked social media’s interest with her thighs-out, low-cut, black and white striped bodysuit with a Virgin Mary bedazzled, floor-length coat. Dramatic? Yes. Shocking? Yes. Regrettable? Hell no!

Dascha wore the outfit for the premier of The Blonds Fashion Week showcase, a show where many attendees come to demonstrate that fashion is daring and bondage is considered a basic accessory. Therefore, it is no surprise that Dascha chose to arrive in splendidly shocking attire. But what makes the outfit most bold is that Dascha’s ensemble flies in the face of critics who say she shouldn’t wear her legs out and let the entire world see her curvy proportions simply because they are larger than what society has deemed acceptable.

With this simple fashion statement, Dascha is signaling a big F-U to supposed societal and fashion expectations that you have to be a certain size to be free. Dascha’s thighs remind me of my own and her slayage is not limited to a “certain kind of thick.” So walk on Dascha and keep inspiring women to wear confidence in their individual way. Now, I might get a body suit and rock out with a bedazzled cloak. OK–maybe scratch the bedazzled coat.


Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of The Wiz Live!

September 12th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Source: NBC

Source: NBC

The Wiz Live!, NBC’s third and by far most popular live musical event (especially with Twitter) since 2013 took audiences by storm last year. Not that the cast, featuring newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy, David Alan Grier, Elijah Kelley, Ne-Yo, Queen Latifah, Common, Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba and Stephanie Mills, to name a few, had any real pressure – what with the beloved Broadway musical and 1978 film starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Lena Horne to boot. But they did an amazing job bringing the beloved musical to audiences – new and old alike. Want to know how they pulled it off? Here are some secrets behind the making of The Wiz Live!

Gabourey Sidibe “Mistaken” For Amber Riley To Push A Bogus Weight Loss Story

September 2nd, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Gabourey Sidibe "Mistaken" For Amber Riley To Push A Bogus Weight Loss Story

Last night, during my daily—almost hourly— Facebook perusing, I saw that Gabourey Sidibe’s name was one of the top trending topics. Curious to see what happened, I clicked to find out what she’d done that had the internet blowing up.

It was a weight loss story. Headlines were claiming that I wouldn’t believe what Sidibe looked like now.

Apparently, she’d done a complete 180 and would shock the world. But I’d seen this headline one too many times to believe it. Plus, I follow Sidibe on Instagram and I hadn’t seen any evidence of this so-called-miraculous weight loss.

Eur Web did post a picture of her rocking a Biggie shirt and she did look smaller but that wasn’t the image that had the internet ablaze.

Instead, it was Time To Break’s 43 page slideshow.

When the outlet tweeted about their story, they wrote the headline read, “Precious is Skinny Now and Will Make Your Jaw Drop.”

(Note: Please don’t do what I did and click through all 43 pages.)

Naturally, the woman we came to see, Sidibe, was featured as the 43rd celebrity. Unlike the other stars, whose photos were taken from red carpets. Sidibe’s was taken from a scene in Precious. And what made a bad situation even worse, was the fact that her after picture was one of Amber Riley.

Gabourey Sidibe lost so much weight she morphed into Amber Riley.

Not only was the story and the headline deceptive, it speaks to the very stereotypical and incorrect notion that all minorities, anyone who’s not White, look alike. You don’t have to know or followed Sidibe or Riley’s career to understand that these two women aren’t the same people. Furthermore, weight loss and the preoccupation—borderline obsession—with it make these stories so annoying. I mentioned this before when we wrote about the Ghanaian bride-to-be and her engagement pictures. The image of her fiancé lifting her went viral. But it wasn’t long before someone tried to insinuate that their transformative love made her better and eventually caused her to lose weight. I said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s a shame that we can’t celebrate people, women for who they are right now. They have to be smaller, thinner, skinnier for us to be happy for them. It sends that message that Gabby, as she exists now, is not enough. And that’s just not true. Her personhood is more than her weight and it’s so much bigger than the Hollywood aesthetic we’ve been force-fed. Furthermore, her contributions to society, even outside of the entertainment realm, are largely due to her physical appearance we observe today.

If you ask me, the best thing she’s ever done was deliver that speech at the Ms. Foundation Gala. You can read the entire speech here but the gist of it is that Sidibe said that she got to the point where she learned to think so highly of herself because no one else did. And while it’s sad, it’s also inspirational. All of us have to get to this place in our lives, no matter what size we wear.

In another interview with Huffington Post, she told Oprah that she started her first diet when she was six years old. “I’ve never been a small girl. One day I had to sit down with myself and decide that I loved myself no matter what my body looked like and what other people thought about my body. I got tired of feeling bad all the time. I got tired of hating myself.”

Honestly, I wish the media would get to that point too. The point where they stop trying to profit off of a bogus story; but more importantly to the point where we’re able to see the worth and value in people before they undergo some miraculous weight loss journey.

In case you’re wondering, Gabby did catch wind of the Time to Break story, with the mismatching before and after photo.

She had this to say in response.

Lance Gross: “Without Women, Men Would Be Lost”

July 3rd, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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Every year at Essence Fest in New Orleans, McDonald’s hosts its 365 Black Awards, paying homage to icons within the entertainment industry and the fast food organization whose vision and hard work have made a significant local or national impact.

We decided the annual golden carpet before the awards would be a great time to ask these leaders and innovators what words of wisdom they received from their favorite auntie, grandma, mother, or cousin that helped them along their way — because we all have that one auntie who will tell us what we need to hear even when we don’t want to here it.

See what Amber Riley, Lance Gross, V. Bozeman and more shared in this episode of My Auntie Always Said.

Amber Riley Has Some Words For People Fat-Shaming Her: “Let My Big A– Live!”

May 24th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

If there’s anything you’ve been wanting to get off of your chest but didn’t know how to, a few painkillers will definitely help you do so. Just ask actress and singer Amber Riley.

The former Glee star had some dental work done recently, and while she was feeling the buzz from her medicine, relaxing in her loungewear sans makeup, she decided to address people who had been making comments about her size on her social media pages. For all those showing faux concern about her weight, through her Instagram page she made it clear that she doesn’t want nor need you to care so much about her business–including her body.

“Why does me being fat offend so many people? Is it because I’m confident, and I’m fly, and I’m sexy? Do my thighs, offend? Does my stomach, offend? Does my big juicy ass, offend? Why? Why? Let my big ass live! I let y’all live! I love all colors, shapes and sizes. So, just so you know, when you come on here, and you call me fat, it’s not an insult, dummy. My a– is fat. And the fellas love it. And so do I. So eat it!”

But her clapback for her haters is no surprise. Back in 2010, when Glee was was all of the rage, Riley told People that while there are some things she works on changing, and that “I’ve gone up and down” in terms of her weight, she loved her body.

“I love my breasts, my face, my butt,” she told the magazine. “Most importantly, “I love myself.”

Check out what Riley had to say below and share your thoughts:

I got some things I need to get off my chest, and my thighs, and my stomach 🙄

A video posted by Amber Riley (@msamberpriley) on

Here’s Why “The Wiz Live” Attracted 11.5 Million Viewers Last Night

December 4th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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I have so many thoughts about last night’s live production of “The Wiz Live.” It was just everything. I’ll formulate my thoughts more clearly on the following pages. While I was legitimately sad when it was over, I was also so very full. It was a beautiful display that went beyond just entertainment value. What I saw last night was good for my spirit. The recent and persistent evils of this world have had me feeling down lately and this uplifter was much needed. With so much racism and  sexism, it was nothing short of therapeutic for the Black community to see such a display of Black excellence, particularly from a cast that featured quite a few amazing women.

Check out the best and most standout moments from the production and watch the full show again or for the first time, on the last page.

“It’s A Part Of Who I Am, It’s A Part Of Why I Am”: “The Wiz Live” Cast Share What The Story Means To Them

December 1st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: NBC

Source: NBC

Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more invested in “The Wiz Live,” we had an opportunity to speak with the cast members about their experience rehearsing for this live, televised event on Thursday, December 3. We interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and they had a lot to say about this project. But more than anything, the cast members kept reiterating how important The Wiz, both the play and the feature film, were to not only themselves but to the African American community as a whole.

Check out some of the thoughts, memories and passion shared by both the on-stage talent as well as the folks behind the curtain.

Source: NBC

Source: NBC

Stephanie Mills, Auntie Em

I knew of Shanice (who plays Dorothy) before they actually cast her because Kenny and I were having a talk and he said, ‘There’s this girl and I know she’s Dorothy, I know she’s Dorothy.’

I’ve given her love. I told her you can’t–I don’t want you to try to do what I did. She’s her Dorothy, the 2015 Dorothy. It’s her. I did my part 40 years ago.

It’s emotional because I see myself in her. I see the innocence, how young I was doing it and how afraid I was at that time. It brings back all those memories.

Executive producer, Craig Zadan: I don’t think we had any pressure. We took it on because we love it and we thought it would make a great show for us to do. What we were surprised at was the amount of people who called us. I would say this was the first time in our lives that very prominent African American artists, actors, directors, producers called us to say ‘Do you know how important this is to the community? Don’t blow it.’ And we realized at that moment that there’s a reverence for this material. We didn’t take it on for the reverence. We took it on because we loved it. But then you realize that there is that added responsibility of making sure that it’s done correctly. And we’ve done it correctly. We hope. We hope when you all see that you feel it’s done correctly too.

MN: Was there a moment when you felt like ‘ok, this is right’?

Executive producer, Neil Meron: Yeah. At the table read when it was all the talent in one room and we heard how much they collectively felt the same way about the material and what we were about to do. It felt good.

(Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

(Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

Amber Riley, Addaperle (Good Witch of the North)

I don’t know how old I was but I remember watching [The Wiz] and rewinding it over and over again. And I remember trying to do “Ease on Down The Road.” I remember the music, I specifically remember the music.

Before even hearing what names were going to be a part of [this production], I wanted to be a part of it anyway. I didn’t really care who was going to be in it. You know, this is iconic. The fact that my mom has seen it and that was her first Broadway show and then I saw it in the movie and now my niece is four is going to be able to watch it. Anything that can withstand generations has to be amazing. There’s something special about it and I really wanted to be a part of that.

Uzo Aduba And Amber Riley Join “The Wiz Live!”

August 6th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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uzo and amber feat

Looks like “The Wiz” cast is rounding out pretty nicely. Essence just reported that Uzo Aduba and Amber Riley will be joining the A listers already set to star in this production.

Award-winning actress and “Orange Is The New Black” star Uzo Aduba will play Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. Before Aduba, a classically trained singer and actress, took on the unforgettable role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, she,worked extensively on Broadway starring in Coram Boy, Godspell, and Venice. 

“Glee” actress Amber Riley will also join the cast as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North.

Executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron released a statement saying, “We look forward to showcasing the amazing musical talents of Amber, and we are eager to introduce Uzo’s remarkable singing voice for those who know her solely as an extraordinary dramatic actress.”

Aduba and Riley join David Alan Grier, Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige, the original Dorothy Stephanie Mills and newcomer Shanice Williams who will play the lead role in this year’s production.

The Wiz LIVE! is set to air on Thursday, December 3 at 8/9c on NBC.

To Be Young, Gifted, Black, And Fat: Why I’m Proud To See More BBWs Front And Center On-Screen

April 9th, 2015 - By Cynthia L. Dorsey
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Getty Images

Motivation comes in many forms. One motivational musical piece for me is Nina Simone’s melodious proclamation that, In the whole world there are a billion boys and girls who are young, gifted and Black, and that’s a fact!” But if I could add an adjective to this adage it would read, “To Be Young, Gifted, Black, and Fat.”

Yes, it must be written and archived! Notated and dialogued. Black women living on the pluser side of life are walking with more confidence than ever and taking over Hollywood and primetime television at the same time. You no longer have to “watch out for the big girl.” We are here, taking names, and cashing checks.

In an industry where thin and white is the prototype for beauty, opportunities for actresses who are Black and thicker than thick used to be non-existent unless they were playing the Mammy; and in most cases, they were muted of all beauty and sexuality. We honor those Black actresses like Hattie McDaniel for breaking down barriers in the entertainment industry so that there would be a place, time and opportunity for actresses today to share their talent with the world. We are thankful that we are able to see images of our likeness on television and in film.

Today, the list of beautiful and plump actresses is steadily growing. Writers have started to give an authentic voice to female characters who have more to love. The characters now have more depth. We are transitioning from being able to play only the maid, the mom, and the sassy best friend, to having successful lives and even having love interests.

One evening I watched Raven Goodwin in her role as Niecy Patterson on BET’s Being Mary Jane. Goodwin was standing in front of the mirror, glowing in the eminence of her beauty as she tried on clothes for a night out. She stared proudly at who she saw in that mirror and I was ecstatic about it. The brilliantly edited montage of Goodwin getting dressed in form-fitting clothing even featured a moment where she stood in her bra and panties, showing the world that size does not diminish beauty. It was a scene I’d been waiting to see for my entire life.

But BET isn’t the only network to be blessed with a voluptuous beauty on one of their shows. Millions of us tuned in every Wednesday for eight weeks straight to watch the new FOX Drama, Empire. Cookie wasn’t the only one serving fierce night after night. Gabourey Sidibe came pumping through the halls of Empire Entertainment as Becky, the loyal yet firm executive assistant to Lucious Lyon. On Empire, Sidibe is witty and fearless, and her confidence is contagious. As a plus-size woman, I can admit that I have an insecurity about wearing tops that expose my arms. I just can’t do it. So I’d often yell at the screen, “Gabby, where are your sleeves?!” But I was honestly glad to see that Sidibe didn’t care one bit and wore the hell out of every outfit!

Fox may have its suspect views on pretty much everything, but it’s clear they love us BBWs. Before Sidibe, Glee featured the beautiful Amber Riley as belting diva club member Mercedes Jones. Riley even catapulted that opportunity into a stint on Dancing With The Stars, taking home the mirrorball trophy in 2013.

What’s most heartwarming is that even in an industry where competition is seemingly inevitable, these three young women can be seen flicking it up on Instagram and hanging out together. Yes, Black women of Hollywood do support one another.

But this is just the beginning for plus-size actresses. There are more of us out there patiently waiting in the wings. We are going from overlooked to overbooked. We are beautiful, smart, sexy, and have a rightful place in film and television. “Oh but my joy of today is that we can all be proud to say, to be young, gifted, Black, and fat is where it’s at!”

10 Of The Worst (And Funniest) Dancing With The Stars Contestants

December 2nd, 2013 - By Meghan Williams
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Earlier last week, our girl Amber Riley took home the season 17 Dancing With the Stars mirror ball trophy after quick-stepping, foxtrotting, and cha cha cha-ing her way to the top. So incelebration of her victory, let’s take a look back at some of DWTS’s worst – and of course funniest – celebrity contestants. Complete with video!