Songwriters have long been the driving force behind the music industry. Their creativity, motivation and desire to be completely vulnerable shapes songs on the music charts that range from top 40 to Alternative. Songwriters are the foundation of the music industry. Their tireless efforts are usually unrecognized in favor of the performers. However, singer-songwriters are not  easily overshadowed, they are a part of a the package deal.. Rising singer-songwriter Julia Michaels exemplifies both characteristics with the rise of her hit single “Issues.” She finally stepped from behind the scenes after years of writing for other artists to show the world her beautiful voice. The songstress was born in a small town in Iowa before moving to Santa Clarita, California when she was six years old. Michaels, originally named Julia Carin Cavazos, is of Mexican-Puerto Rican background. Her father changed his name to John Michaels at the advice of a casting agent when he pursued his acting career in the early 90s. She kept the surname Michaels as a stage name.  

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Actions shape our world. The decisions of goodwill and grace as well as malevolent choices affects all outcomes. In the same manner, action movies revolve around choices. The main character is often presented with an issue, and has to make a decision on which path to take towards a solution. Action movies are more than just mindless violence, most contain plots of moral dilemmas. Critically-acclaimed actor Liam Neeson is one of the most prominent action movie stars in Hollywood. However, to consider him just an action star in thoughtless films is egregious. His films directly reflect his feelings towards life and its’ machinations as well as his faith, “We really had to strip away the layers and really confront yourself in what your real beliefs are. I certainly did, didn’t come away with any answers…I’m still questing, let’s put it that way,” he explained to CNN about his role in the film Silence. Neeson’s movies represent important themes such as tragedy, religion and most importantly life and death. Neeson’s quiet dignity and grace enhances moviegoers’ experience in any film he stars in. Although he has lived a life full of major film and personal successes, we should note his accomplishments beyond the silver screen.

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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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The limelight is intense. It is all-encompassing and blinding for the celebrities that live within its confines. Although, their children live extremely privileged lives, they face a unique set of growing pains in comparison to others. Their lives are documented and watched by the entire world. They often have to grapple with identity issues, public criticism and invasions of privacy. While Jasmine Jordan, daughter of basketball player Michael Jordan, faced some of these difficult circumstances while growing up in the public sphere, she has conquered them all. Jordan has created an identity alongside her father’s brand without losing herself by creating her own identity. She told lifestyle blog BeGeorgeous, “The fame, fortune, legacy and list of accomplishments are my father’s. Those accolades don’t define me nor are they mine to claim. My father is Michael Jordan. I am simply Jasmine Jordan.”

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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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Women face many conflicts in the sports. They are often underpaid, underrepresented, overworked and objectified. From the rise of sexual assault allegations to the physical and mental strain from competing, being a woman in sports is a tough job. However, no one makes this tough job seem easy like Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad. She made history after becoming the first Muslim-American woman to compete in the Olympics while wearing a Hijab in 2016. The illustrious member of the United States Fencing Team sparked many conversations about Muslim women in sports and most importantly in America.

US Ibtihaj Muhammad reacts competing against France’s Cecilia Berder in their womens individual sabre qualifying bout as part of the fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on August 8, 2016, at the Carioca Arena 3, in Rio de Janeiro. / AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
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The subtleties and complexities of the human expressions are often misinterpreted and misrepresented. Many artists possess a great talent for the expressions of people. Their keen sense of perception and attention to detail allow them to create beautiful masterpieces and mosaics of emotions. Colombian-born, Toronto-based artist, Carlos Delgado, is one of the artists to possess this talent. His paintings primarily focus on human connections and expressions through many mediums. His cultural and economic background offer an exciting and fresh twist on portraits. 

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Middle School is a test of endurance, bravery and mental fortitude. The physical changes of the body combined with and pressures from school make for a lethal mixture of emotional volatility. The main concern of the average middle schooler consists of popularity, popularity and more popularity. Because there are attractive and physically-gifted jock types at the top of the social ladder, there must be a bottom to this social ladder. The bottom includes nerds and wimps like “Greg Heffley.” Heffley is the main character in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a fictional comedy novel by Jeff Kinney. Kinney that perfectly illustrates the perils of adolescence and the quest for acceptance and popularity. His writing reveals a unique brand of humor and child-like illustrations, gaining him a massive fanbase and readers for a lifetime.

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