This Filmmaker Required NATURAL HAIR for Her Cast & There's a Really Good Reason Why

Sens Dessus Dessous Cast 
By Ta-ning Connai

Matamba Kombila is not your average filmmaker. While most directors have the primary focus of creating stories to engage their audience, she takes it a step further with goals to impact her cast through a hair challenge aimed to build true self-esteem. Who in the world does something like that?

Matamba did that.

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Tell It Tuesday: When All Else Fails, Climb the Statue of Liberty

Patricia Okoumou
By Ta-ning Connai

The Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July...what an ironic time and place to wage a protest against immigration laws, considering what both the monument and holiday stand for. It was the perfect place for Rise and Resist (a New York activist group) to oppose the Trump administration's asinine policy of inhumanely snatching innocent children from their parents.

And as disbelief swept across the globe and we saw children psychologically tortured and literally encaged, it was Patricia Okoumou, a member of Rise and Resist, who put her compassion to the test by making a statement of her own.

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Tell It Tuesday: A Lesson for Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson & Those Who Victim Blame


Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Terry Crews
By Ta-ning Connai 

I use to love me some 50 Cent. Key words: USE TO. I know he got his start as one of the kings of Hip-Hop beefs, but now as a full-grown man with a bunch of kids and a whoooole lotta stuff to do, the beef he instigates on social media is RI-DI-CU-LOUS. Makes me wonder if 50 Cent will ever grow up, or will he keep acting like he's just a small dish full of loose pocket change?

The Power exec seems to take a peculiar kind of pride in trolling online conversations. The man who brought us “go shorty it's ya birfday" has taken on bullying like a sport and gossip like it's a part of his work out plan. And while most of his tweets had many of us cringing in disbelief, his most recent remarks about actor Terry Crews have many more saying, “Alright Curtis Jackson, ENOUGH!”

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Tell It Tuesday: Jay, Bey & the POWER OF FORGIVENESS


Jay & Bey
By - Ta-ning Connai

Whenever your doubters have you down for the count, here’s a list of things to do to show them you're still on top…
1. Shut down the Louvre in Paris
2. Rattle out some lyrics hot enough to burn down the Amazon Rainforest
3. Make sure you get it all on film

Simple right? Well, Jay and Bey sure make it seem that way. The famed museum was the backdrop for The Carters’ video for Apesh*t, the first single from their sneak attack album called Everything Is Love (dropped June 16).

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Tell It Tuesday: For Those Who Feel Like There's No Justice, Remember This

Tupac Shakur
By Ta-ning Connai

June 16 was Tupac Shakur’s birthday. And if he was still alive today, he would have been 47 years old. Often hailed as the greatest rapper of all time, he was Passion Manifested! Whether spitting prose like a modern Gil Scott-Heron, making gangsterish threats to a dope beat or dropping knowledge like the late Malcolm X...when he spoke, the brother made time stand still. And even while performing on the silver screen, he made the fictitious seem soooooo real. Like when Bishop killed poor Raheem and then went after Q in Juice...chiiiiile, I was so scurred, I wanted to jump off that ledge myself! The rapper turned actor deserved an Oscar for that piece and there was more great work to come.

Sadly, the thug life Tupac portrayed so well didn't end when the director said, “Cut!” The same passion that fueled his gifts fueled his anger too, ‘til one day he reached the point of no return.

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If Suicide Seems Like Your Only Hope, Try This Instead...

Anthony Bourdain
By Ta-ning Connai

I watched Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on a barely working television when I was living in a rinky dink hotel. It was a depressing period in my life and there was hardly anything that could cheer me up. By stumbling through the channels one day, I was instantly captivated by the professional chef’s people-loving skills as he effortlessly adapted to every culture he explored. From Koreatown to places I can’t pronounce, Anthony Bourdain seemed to love life, as delicious dishes and traveling the world were the vehicles he used to show it. Oddly enough, this interesting show about food was a vehicle God used to show me great possibilities beyond my surrounding circumstances. Although I knew in my heart things would change, Parts Unknown gave me a picture of what change could look like. I was encouraged by Bourdain’s struggles and the tremendous loss he had overcome and his “second time around” gave me the hope to hang on and wait for mine.

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Tell It Tuesday: How Football Led Kaepernick to a Higher Calling


Photo illustration by Cristiana Couceiro. Source photograph of Colin Kaepernick: Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/ Getty Images.

By Ta-ning Connai

There’s nothing like a man on a mission, especially a man who didn’t set out to be on one. Colin Kaepernick was getting busy on the turf when the call to activism came knocking. His stand against racial injustice came by way of a kneel and the rest, my friend, is history. 

Tell It Tuesday: Homeless to Harvard Teen Knows Real Success


Richard Jenkins
By Ta-ning Connai 

Sometimes the road to success is littered with disaster. For 18-year old Richard Jenkins, homelessness and lots of humiliation tried to obstruct his path. Yet, while living in a shelter surrounded by hopelessness and despair, he reached for books as his way of escape. As word spread at school regarding his obsession with reading, bullies taunted him relentlessly and called him “Harvard” as a joke. But his enemies had NO IDEA they were actually prophesying his future ‘cause baby boy can now officially say, “Whaddup Harvard University! I'm on my way and my scholarship is PAID IN FULL!” My my my, look who got the last laugh on his way to real success!

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Tell It Tuesday: Meghan Markle's #BlackGirlMagic is a Reminder of This


By Ta-ning Connai

Black Girl Magic is a big gigantic rainbow! And if Meghan Markle were a part of my 90’s inner city camp crew called Unlimited Flavors, she probably could've squeezed right in between me (they named me Nutty Coconut) and this girl we called Vanilla Almond Swirl! We were celebrating our black girl magic way back before the hashtag, loving what brought us together while embracing the ways we all stood apart.

Who knew decades later we’d be witness to an average sistah just like us plucked from obscurity and thrusted into royalty! Racists tried to deem the newly crowned Duchess unworthy right from the start, but Prince Harry was like, “Not today Satan!” and he shut that nonsense down!

Tell It Tuesday: Gabrielle Union's 'Breaking In' Will Have You Giving It Up to Mom.


By Ta-ning Connai 

Gabrielle Union was recently spotted wilin’out, throwing things and dropping bodies left and right! NO, not in real life (that'd be so weird) but in her new movie, Breaking In, which was released over Mother's Day Weekend. Instead of the same old “if you try to hurt me, my dad the ex-cop is gonna postpone his retirement, come after you and your crew, I'm gonna go free, and y’all gonna be dead and oh so sorry" flicks, we are finally presented with an exciting, refreshing storyline that's quite believable too.

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Tell It Tuesday: The Lesson in Jada Pinkett Smith's 'Red Table Talk'

L-R: Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Jada Pinkett Smith & Willow Smith 
By Ta-ning Connai

Jada Pinkett Smith is the realest! She's the perfect mix of class and sass, and will go gangsta on any fool who thinks she won't! She’s the reigning queen of killer abs and balances work and fam like nobody's business. All of which is why she'll always be my #WomanCrushWednesday every day of the week!

Red Table Talk aired May 7th on Facebook Watch, giving us a sneak peek into the real life connections between Jada, her daughter Willow and her mom, Adrienne Banfield-Norris.

Tell It Tuesday: Will Kanye Ever Be Great Again?

Photo taken by Ta-ning Connai in her Santa Monica neighborhood
By Ta-ning Connai

As soon as we think we've recovered from Kanye’s last outrageous stunt...SURPRISE!....he hits us with another dose of untapped foolishness! He recently poured out some pretty glowing feelings about the POTUS and I suppose he had to ignore Trump’s racist, misogynistic and morally decayed views in order to esteem him that way. The suck up continued with words like “brother,” “love,” and “dragon energy” (huh???) followed by a pic of Kanye sporting a Make America Great Again cap (again). But this isn't a person simply exerting the right to his opinion or political views, as his wife Kim tried to defend. Sadly, his comments point to his slow, but deliberate path towards “white is right, black is whack” (a phrase going back to the 70’s), and that alone is more disheartening than who he would cast his vote for.

Tell It Tuesday: What Wendy Williams' Dis of The Clark Sisters Can Teach Us

Wendy Williams
By Ta-ning Connai 

The clapback of the week comes from a community highly encouraged to turn the other cheek. But it was Wendy Williams’ cheek that turned when church folk went psycho after hearing she dissed beloved gospel legends, The Clark Sisters.

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Tell It Tuesday: Oprah Shines Light on Cardi B, Reminding Us We All Have a Light to Shine

Cardi B via IG (left) & Oprah listening to Cardi B's album via instagram (right)
By  Ta-ning Connai

When I first saw the Instagram post of Oprah showing some love for Cardi B’s album 'Invasion of Privacy,' my first thought was, “Dang, Oprah done officially went hood!” Then my second thought was, “Dang, Oprah is ALWAYS shining light, even in the most unexpected places.” Now, when I say unexpected, what I mean is this...It's no secret that Oprah has never been a fan of Hip Hop. Known for her stand against profanity, the N- word and materialistic overload, we’re led to believe that the genre's prominent message conflicts with her Super Soul Sunday philosophy. Has she changed her position? I ain't got a single clue, but one thing remains the same...No one is more moved by someone else's success than the former queen of daytime TV. No one is more thrilled by a person's rise to the top than the rags to riches phenom herself. And no one has a tradition of lifting others up quite like the lovely Miss O. She brightens up the room when she steps up in the place and we should all be inspired to do the same exact thing.

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Tell It Tuesday: Mary J. Blige Shows Us How Our Brokenness Can Make Us Better


Mary J. Blige in April's Ebony magazine
 By Ta-ning Connai

No one masters the art of the comeback quite like Mary J. Blige. The woman who inspired the phrase Ghetto Fabulous has yet again risen from the ashes to live her best life ever in spite of the many burdens she's had to bear. Her most recent achievement is a soulful rendition of the 1976 Elton John classic, 'Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.' Released on April 6 as a single from John’s star-studded tribute album Revamp, you best believe the R&B songstress gives it everything she's got.

 If we learn nothing more from the diva who has survived domestic violence, drug abuse, betrayal, disappointment and loss of every kind, we should at least learn this...brokenness can either break you OR it can make you better. And based on her continuous whirlwind of miraculous restoration, better she most certainly is!

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Tell It Tuesday: Denzel Washington & the Positive Impact of Mentorship

Denzel Washington 
By Ta-ning Connai

Summer is almost here, which means the movie Equalizer II is in our near future! This is where we get to see Denzel Washington play a good guy who does bad things to bad people for good reasons. Oooh now that's gonna be good!

Greatness seems to come easy for this 63-year-old actor; everything he touches turns into award-worthy gold. However, he's quick to credit his childhood mentors and the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon. He says the program provided him an alternative to the prison life that snatched up quite a few of his friends, and he's been an avid spokesperson for the club. Imagine if that program hadn't existed, the world would be void of the many brilliant performances that reached deep into our souls.

Tell It Tuesday: Black Panther Scene Stealer Proves It's Never Too Late

Dorothy Steel Courtesy of Cindy Butler, left photo courtesy of Matt Kennedy  
By Ta-ning Connai

Dorothy Steel is a scene stealer and she's got a growing fan base to prove it. The 92-year-old actress had all eyes on her during her appearance as the merchant tribal elder in Black Panther, and she can hardly step outdoors without requests for selfies or her autograph. One would assume Ms. Steel was a seasoned vet, but she's only been acting for 4 short years! At 88, she embarked on an entirely new career when most people her age are settled into retirement. It was her participation in a play at a senior center in Georgia that sparked a love for the arts that she didn't know she had. So she came out of retirement (worked for decades for the IRS), got herself an agent, and the rest is silver screen history! God certainly has a way of reconnecting us with our dreams. Whether it's months or years, there's one thing for sure...it's never too late, but we might have to wait....

Tell It Tuesday: Will Smith's Got a New Song. But an Old One Changed My Life


Will Smith via IG
By Ta-ning Connai

Will Smith is an O.G. when it comes to success, but his stratospheric rise on Instagram is brand spankin’ new. His mix of life lessons and family fun have us all loving the newly revealed side of a man we only get to know via interviews and the silver screen. And the video he posted on St. Patrick’s Day ought to remind us that he can still serve up a catchy tune no matter how many decades have gone by. His new song Freak Accident will probably be the anthem for all the “ooops, I had one too many drinks” for many years to come, but my favorite will always be the one about the haven of beachy sands.

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Tough Times For Blac Chyna: Can Anyone's Reputation Be Restored?

Via Black Chyna's IG
By Ta-ning Connai

Blac Chyna had a mini meltdown on Instagram last week and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why. Unless you've been living under a rock, we all know about the Kardashian catastrophe that was doomed right from the start. The relationship with Rob was a no-no. To put it on air was a no-no. But to then try and sue Kris Jenner and her entire K-Klan? Now that's an absolute OH NO! And then when you think things can't get worse...a scandalous sex tape AND the resurgence of the meme “you can't turn a ho into a housewife,” which now has her face on it. And although she appears to be a victim of her own circumstance, it doesn't mean she should be viewed as the least likely to change.

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Tell It Tuesday: Pride Will Bring You Low, But Being Humble Takes You Higher

Kenan Thompson as LeVar Ball on SNL
By Ta-ning Connai

Egotist. Sexist. Obnoxious. Who knew that LaVar Ball and Trump had so much in common?! There's a Twitter War going on between them and they've both achieved buffoonery status being portrayed on Saturday Night Live. Kenan Thompson brought the house down yet again recently taking his parodied version of the Ball family mascot to TNT’s Inside The NBA. Even Thompson couldn't refrain from rolling on the floor with laughter, but in real life, prideful arrogance just ain't funny.

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