I wrote down this speech that I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session. Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community. I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.
I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: ‘Dear Lupita,’ it reads, ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.’
My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.
And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then…Alek Wek. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me the preference for my skin prevailed, to the courters that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.
And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.
And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.
“Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%. Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.”—
After the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige disappeared from public view, in 2007, those who asked questions were stonewalled, or worse. Now interviews with former insiders provide a grim picture of Shelly Miscavige’s youth, marriage, and fall from grace — and an assessment of her fate.
To ensure that area codes would be recognizable to the computers that were to translate the codes into geographical areas, the engineers devised a system that placed either a 1 or a 0 as the second digit in each area code. (Those with 0 in the middle indicated states with only one area code—hence DC’s 202 and Florida’s 305—while those with a 1 denoted states with multiple codes.) The system meant that those early computers would be able to distinguish between a long-distance area code and a local number. Which meant in turn that they could route calls across the nation, to regions of the network and finally to local networks.
When it came to creating the area codes for the country, the engineers also made their plans with maximum efficiencies in mind. New York, the most densely populated area of the nation, got 212—2-1-2 containing the lowest number of clicks possible on the rotary phone. Los Angeles got 213—the second-lowest—while Chicago got 312, and Detroit got 313. Anchorage, Alaska, on the other hand, got 907, which required 26 clicks from the person doing the dialing. To make the system even more efficient and human-confusion-proof, engineers also ensured that codes resembling each other (say, Oregon’s 503 and Florida’s 305) were distributed far apart from each other on the map.
Are you a lifer or a goner? Take our quiz to find out if New York is really your one true love (or just a fling).
Ok so maaaaaybe I’m procrastinating a lil bit but I just took this quiz. As someone who made her dad and uncles take YM quizzes from 1993-1994, I feel I am an expert on these things. I can always tell where the answers are leading before I pick them. But not so much with this one — and as a result, I answered pretty honestly, not knowing what I’d score.
Well, I scored at the top: “You’re either a native New Yorker, or one of those people who will never, ever leave the city. Congratulations!”
… and it’s funny because just yesterday, while we were walking from (the new) Prospect Park ice rink to (the new) Franny’s, passing Grand Army Plaza along the way, passing the Brooklyn central library, passing all the places that defined my first couple years in this city, I said to M., “I was just thinking the other day that in October 2016 I’ll hit 10 years in this city — and I decided I’m gonna throw myself a big ol’ anniversary party. Because by then I’ll be a ‘real’ New Yorker. That’s what they say about 10 years, right? And I mean, by then I’ll be married to a born-and-raised New Yorker. And I may very well be a mother to a New York baby!”
And then we got a little misty for a minute, imaging it.
And then, before we went too far down that track, we started listing off all the New York foods we’ll serve. Bagels! Appetizing! Pastrami! Chinese take-out! Actually GOOD black and white cookies! Egg creams … with booze!
Yep. That’s us.
(That said we are dreaming of that North Fork house like woah.)
This is one way to get (very weird and painful) revenge: A woman who found out her boyfriend had cheated on her removed a tattoo of his name from her arm with a scalpel and mailed the bloody chunk of flesh to his home, which he shares with his new girlfriend.
Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts. Of course I’d known Phil’s work for a long time — since his remarkably perfect film debut as a privileged, cowardly prep-school kid in Scent of a Woman — but I’d never met him until the first table read for Charlie Wilson’s War, in which he’d been cast as Gust Avrakotos, a working-class CIA agent who’d fallen out of favor with his Ivy League colleagues. A 180-degree turn.
On breaks during rehearsals, we would sometimes slip outside our soundstage on the Paramount lot and get to swapping stories. It’s not unusual to have these mini-AA meetings — people like us are the only ones to whom tales of insanity don’t sound insane. “Yeah, I used to do that.” I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean.
So it’s in that spirit that I’d like to say this: Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly “right” for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.
He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it. He’ll have his well-earned legacy — his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.