Decades before he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, he was just  another working-class British Pakistani man. Years before he became the first male actor of South Asian and Muslim descent to win an Emmy, he was just another brown face in the entertainment industry. Weeks before he won the SAG award for best male actor in a miniseries, his father told him it wasn’t too late to become an investment banker. But time and time again Rizwan “Riz” Ahmed, has exceeded expectations. He’s no longer the frightful teenager that had knives held at his throat because of the color of his skin. Today, he’s a cultural icon, influencing the world for the better. In fact, when he’s not in front of the camera breaking through Hollywood’s not-so-diverse glass ceiling, he’s either rapping about social justice issues or encouraging activism and philanthropy. One thing is certain. Regardless of the stereotypes he’s been subjected to Wembley, London born actor, rapper and activist Riz Ahmed has the Midas Touch.
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With their elegant, artistic, high-class and couture images, photographers Kahran and Regis Bethencourt are redefining the notion of black magic. Their images, positive and uplifting, help bridge an important representation gap in the fashion and beauty industries. Specializing in lifestyle photography, they especially enjoy visual storytelling. “We love telling stories,” Kahran said in a Rolling Out Magazine interview. “So we love photographs that allow the viewer to dig deeper into that person’s story and feel the emotion the subject was feeling at that point and time.” Instead of falling prey to society’s typical connotation with blackness, the Bethencourts have used photography to not only create their own artistic magic but to showcase the magic-like characteristics of young black models. Whether focusing on skin color, hair texture, neighborhoods or certain time periods, Kahran and Regis Bethencourt are out to show the word just how beautiful black is.  

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At only 25 years old, NBA Point Guard Victor Oladipo has already experienced some of life’s twists and turns. Named the Sporting News Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year and National Co-Defensive Player of the Year while he played basketball for the Indiana Hoosiers, it was no surprise when Oladipo was drafted with the second overall pick in the NBA in 2013 by the Orlando Magic. He was even named NBA All-Rookie first team, an honor given to the top rookies of the season. But when he was traded just three years later to Oklahoma City Thunder after a severe concussion, doubt started to creep into his mind. When he was traded a year later to the Indiana Pacers, he was fighting back depression. “Going through those first couple years in the league,” he told the IndyStar. “I realized that I needed to work on my body and my mind just as much as I work on my game,” admitting that doing so saved his career. “I realized that the game is 20% physical but it's literally 80% mental.” Today, Oladipo is considered one of the best guards in the Eastern Conference and is on the verge of making the All-Star team for the first time in his NBA career. In fact, he is the 7th ranked player in the entire NBA for most points scored in the fourth quarter. Despite a somewhat rocky start, Oladipo has fought and proved that he belongs in the NBA, a habit he learned early on in life.

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The restaurant buzzed with excitement as hungry guests waited to be seated. “You see how bright it is,” one woman commented as she pointed at the rustic brick walls that had been painted white. “It’s kind of modern and kind of industrial at the same time,” she concluded. Her friend, rocking an auburn afro, nodded in agreement. “Of course it is. You know Kandi’s got style.” Although the restaurant has been open for more than a year, it was still the place to be. Located at 177 Peters Street in Castleberry Hill, one of Atlanta’s trendy artistic neighborhoods, the restaurant has gained an increasing amount of popularity for its connection to reality tv star Kandi Burruss. But as I waited in line, seduced by the smell of home-made soul food and staring at pictures on the three family members turned managers on the wall, I couldn’t help but feel warmth of home. Despite her fame, singer-songwriter, actress, record producer and Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss-Tucker’s restaurant seemed authentic and down to earth. “Welcome to Old Lady Gang,” an upbeat server announced as she escorted me to my table. A lively group of young adults sitting at the bar laughed heartily as I followed the waitress, wondering what all Old Lady Gang had to offer.

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Her voice is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. It’s deep and raspy like Tina Turner but seductive; gruff yet captivating, the way R&B music is supposed to be. Her low-toned alto voice ranges from a monotone croon to higher pitched runs with ease. Fused with both R&B and neo-soul vibes, her sound is like a musical lovechild gone wild. It’s hard to believe that her skills are  self-taught but as she’s quick to explain, her gift comes from above. “My gift is spiritually given, literally God poured music inside of me,” she told Essence magazine. Listening to her music confirms just that. Although she’s not singing the gospel music she grew up hearing, her heart and soul are more than transparent. Rooted in authenticity and inspired by love, it’s no wonder why her latest EP Pillow Talk has the music industry wondering who she is. But if you ask the singer, songwriter herself, she’d tell you Tiffany Gouche (pronounced Goo-SHAY), is just like the music she produces: sensual, warm and free.

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