"Def Comedy Jam was the shit!"

A simple yet powerful statement from one of the all-time great comedians, Dave Chappelle. Even in saying that,  it still doesn't do the show that revolutionized urban comedy enough justice. Twenty-five years ago, the comedy game was changed forever. To the point where all roads of comedy as we know it today, run through Def Comedy Jam. The doors in comedy that were opened due to Def Comedy Jam led to so many people becoming household names, and that's continued to be the case a quarter century later.

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Serendipity.

Serendipity is defined as an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident or good fortune and luck. It is can be a chance meeting of love, wealth or opportunity. 21-year old model Slick Woods had a serendipitous meeting of her own at a Los Angeles bus stop in 2016 when she was discovered by British male model Ash Stymest. The meeting was completely random but it changed her life. "It was literally the luck of the Universe. My energy, my positive energy pulling things towards me. I'm on Law of Attraction. I just feel like I definitely did that for myself. When I was hungry, nobody fed me. I definitely just lucked up. I just do this to show people that luck is a real thing. It really is," Woods said in an Urban Outfitters blog interview.

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I really did not expect a sixteen year old girl to pop up when I googled #BreakingTheSterotype. She is a professional dancer, actress and an advocate for body positivity for all kinds of people. Amanda LaCount started dancing at the age of two, and acting locally at the age of five. Her upbeat spirit and dance moves have landed her in pop-star Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish” music video, on reality television shows like “Dancing With the Stars,” and “The Voice.” The young fiery girl is trained in a variety of dance styles like hip-hop, contemporary, ballet and even tap.

#BreakingTheSterotype is Amanda’s trending hashtag on social media. It was created due to the negativity the passionate dancer has received due to her body size. The hashtag encourages people to break the stereotype imposed on dancers by society. Just like models, most believe dancers should be thin and have a “cookie cutter” body type. Stereotypes take many forms, and mostly negative, but the teen’s hashtag is meant to break this concept in the dancing world. In an interview with Amy Poehler, creator of Amy’s Smart Girls, a platform for young women to live up to their true self, Amanda daringly replied when asked about her hashtag:

“Anyone can be a dancer if they are passionate about it and work hard. It doesn’t matter if you are tall or short, what color you are, what sexual orientation you are, male or female, age, height, thick or thin body type, hair color, how much money you have, if you are blind or deaf, paralyzed, or even if you can walk or not. Anyone can dance if they want to.”

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It's a proven fact that African-Americans experience disproportionate rates of marijuana-related arrests. The recent success of decriminalizing marijuana laws, has led to economic profit. In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs and it currently enjoys the lowest rate of drug overdoses in Western Europe according to the Washington Post. There are many benefits in the decriminalization of marijuana, such as a boost in the local and national economy. There is less of a strain on taxpayers if marijuana possessors are not jailed, and the industry also creates jobs. Last year, marijuana sales made $6.7 billion according to Bloomberg News.

However, the Washington Post reported that marijuana possession arrests were higher than any other violent crime arrest in 2016. This is where Hope Wiseman comes into the spotlight, she is a advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana and African-American rights. Wiseman will be the youngest African-American dispensary owner in the United States. Her goal is to aid African-Americans affected by the war on drugs through her company Compassionate Herbal Alternative. CHA is a medical cannabis company that includes Mary and Main, a Maryland-based cannabis store.

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Breakout acting roles are crucial. The first appearance on the silver screen sets the tone for an entire career. It’s hard to shake first impressions. O'Shea Jackson Jr. suffers from the same issue that many of his peers face after a seminal breakout role. Recently, he emerged on the Hollywood scene by starring in the critically-acclaimed biopic Straight Outta Compton. O’Shea reenacted his father’s early years growing up in Compton, California and becoming one of the biggest names in the hip-hop and rap industry. O’Shea’s carefully chosen film roles and meticulously measured steps towards fame and fortune have cemented him as one of the most talented and versatile up-and-coming stars in Hollywood.

He was born in the early 90s in Los Angeles. He grew and matured during the height of 90s and early 2000s Rap and Hip-Hop. Both he and his younger brother Kareem or whose stage name is Doughboy currently rap. Jackson goes by the name of OMG (Oh My Goodness). At the young age of 18, Jackson and his brother began touring with Ice Cube after appearing on the “I am the West” album. According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly Jackson loved music and performing, "When I was 18, me and my older brother actually started performing with him on stage a lot. We were in Japan and we were in Australia, and I was having people in the audience tell me how my father’s words influenced and pushed them to become — one man became a doctor — lawyers. All these people listened to his words, and it fueled them to live their lives."

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Usually a story of triumph and courage is left to the professionals at Disney. One exception is the real-life tale of Marchelle “Tig” Tigner, a black woman who chose to be a survivor instead of a victim of her circumstances. Marchelle is the owner of Trigger Happy Firearm Instruction. She noticed a lack of female representation in the gun community and felt compelled to couple her military background with her passion for women’s self-defense to teach women effective shooting and firearm safety.

After overcoming a sexual assault, Marchelle decided instead of owning a “victim” status she would become a “survivor” and vowed to help one million women be prepared in the face of danger. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Marchelle travels around the country teaching women the fundamentals of firearm safety, shooting and dispelling the myth that women only want pretty and colorful weaponry. 

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