Creative block: The impact COVID-19 has on artists

NYLE PAUL- STAFF WRITER

As coronavirus cases increase nationwide, more and more artists find themselves having to forcefully adjust to the restricting nature of the virus. The financial, mental and physical restrictions that the virus imposes result in the risk of art equipment becoming harder to access and artists having little to no motivation to continue their craft.

At Hampton University, there are many artists who specialize in different styles of art. With the coronavirus running rampant throughout the nation, here is a glimpse at how one artist is maneuvering through this “new normal.”

Gabrielle Tazewell is a senior journalism major and a liberal arts minor. She is a blogger and specializes in creative writing.

As the pandemic continues to worsen, the financial burden gets heavier as it is drawn out. Since physically going out in public spaces exacerbates the risk of catching the coronavirus, the artistic capabilities of many artists are challenged. With money being tight and accessibility of equipment being restricted due to store closures, it has been a hassle for artists to continue their work. In an interview with Hampton Script photojournalist Isaiah Taylor, Gabrielle shared her experience with the difficulties she ran into and how they have affected her craft.

“This pandemic is taking a lot of opportunities, career wise, from me within the whole freelance blogger industry,” Tazewell said.

“But I think within my own platform, for this year, I was actually planning on going on my own, taking my own pictures and actually collaborating with more people in person. But because of the pandemic, I’m unable to really do that. I am still able to collaborate with other people, which is cool virtually. But otherwise, I have been really affected by this in terms of my own platform and progressing my career in general.”

The ongoing limitations that the pandemic has brought upon has either encouraged people to become more disciplined in their craft or left them lacking motivation to continue their craft. To help maintain her motivation, Tazewell touched on a few things she has implemented into her routine.

“Creating a consistent routine is the biggest thing,” she said. “Prior to the pandemic, when I was blogging, I kind of had a set schedule after classes. I was already doing work, so afterwards, I jumped into the blog.

“But in terms of motivation, it’s really been a struggle to just get up and stay consistent with it. Something that has helped me is finding other bloggers and aspiring writers who are motivated and want the best for themselves. I’ve just been trying to surround myself with more of those people so I can stay motivated and on top of my stuff.”

If there’s one thing that all artists can relate to, it is their collective dislike for the dreadful creative block. Referencing her familiarity with creative block and the strain it can put on one’s creative process, Tazewell discussed how dealing with creative block in the pandemic has personally affected her writing.

“With the motivational standpoint that I was talking about previously, everything we do now is digital,” she said. “So, usually I would get my content on Instagram or I would just find an influencer or a blogger similar to me and just write about them, so I wouldn’t say it’s really affected that aspect.”

“In terms of creative block/writers block, it is a really big issue when you’re going off of your own perceptions within writing, especially now. All in all, I would say that it would really affect the way that I perceive the content and how I spin it to become my own thing.”

With the mental, financial and physical challenges that the pandemic has brought along, it brings about the question of how some artists have been able to keep focused on their art during this difficult time. Tazewell shared how she has been able to remain focused on her craft and encouraged creatives to practice discipline, especially in a time like this.

“Surrounding myself with fellow creatives and connecting with a lot of people on Instagram has helped me a lot with breaking out of creative block,” she said. “It also helps me to be more consistent because I’m seeing the way that they’re working and I’m seeing the progress they’re making, so that inspires me.”

“In terms of advice that I would give to other writers or creatives, I’d advise to set a consistent routine for yourself. This time, especially for creatives, is really about discipline. Whether you’re setting alarms or setting deadlines, really do that for yourself because when you get into the actual workplace, you’re going to have to meet deadlines. So, setting alarms and maintaining a consistent schedule would be like a head start almost. There’s really nothing more that you could really lose in this time then we’ve already lost, so just do it.”

Courtesy of Isaiah Taylor
Gabrielle Tazewell and her blog can be found on Instagram
@gabrielletheblogger, where some of her work is featured. Her website is http://www.gabrielletazewell.com.

TikTok: A game changer for social media influencers

JAMEL ROGERS- STAFF WRITER

TikTok is the new wave for future generations. The app helps publicize lots of media influencers, especially those specializing in comedy, singing and dancing.

According to a YouTube podcast titled 1422, a teen nicknamed Swag-BoyQ is a dancer and entertainer on the app. Claiming that TikTok has opened a lot of doors for him, he noted that he used to tease TikTok users on the app until his friend encouraged him to try it out.

The role of corporations in this outcome is to sell more of their products to new faces. Over the past few years, TikTok has gained more than 50 million users and played an integral role in creating large platforms for a lot of users such as SwagBoyQ.

TikTok has a vast amount of challenges, songs, dances and even original work put into each user’s timeline. The great thing about this app is that it’s free, and being an influencer on the platform leads to a lot of great exposure. Any influencer on the app can withstand a lot of marketing advertisement in their 60-second-or-longer video. The app is particularly popular with young users, but people of all ages can share their creativity with the world.

According to a CH Tech article, TikTok profits in the months of May,
June and July totaled up to $102.5 million. Considering this amount of revenue, TikTok affords all users the possibility of one day becoming influencers to reap immense social and economic benefits.

Jayla Daniels, senior psychology major from Houston, Texas, has a deep appreciation for TikTok.

“TikTok is a unique platform,” Daniels said. “I think the reason TikTok is so popular is because of the algorithm. Millions of people can see the same thing at the same time. The algorithm allows others to connect and exchange ideas faster than any other social media platform.

“I love the app, and I’m learning more about the world’s current events through a first-person perspective when people post. It’s like the news except that I can ask questions in the comment section, and I’ll receive a direct response.”

With the rise of new users, TikTok generated $88.1 million in August. The app has contributed tremendously to artists in genres like gospel, R&B, hip- hop and more. Famous YouTubers also utilize TikTok to expand their streams of income.

Users encourage anyone to try out the app to see new trending music and advertisements. There is also a live feature on the app where celebrities can connect with their fans anytime they want. In the coming years, you can expect to see even more revenue generated from TikTok as the app becomes increasingly popular.

Bryson Tiller drops new album: Anniversary

ANYAE JOHNS- STAFF WRITER

For years, fans of Bryson Tiller were concerned if the Kentucky artist could revive his career and be the musician they first fell in love with. Three years since the R&B artist released his second album True to Self, his new album Anniversary is finally out.

The new project dropped on the fifth anniversary of his debut album, TrapsoulAnniversary contains 10 songs and a feature with Drake on the “Outta Time” track.

The album received a lot of mixed reviews from fans and critics. Listeners are still stuck on his debut album, and it’s up to Tiller to get them hooked on something else.

“Old Bryson Tiller is still better than new Bryson; it just doesn’t give me the same feelings as the Trapsoul album did,” said Tayliour Martin, a senior journalism major. “I personally liked ‘Always Forever’ and ‘Keep Doing What You’re Doing.’”

If you’re expecting Bryson to be in his Trapsoul bag, you may be disappointed. He’s matured and is bringing new vibes.

If you’re familiar with Bryson Tiller’s work, you’ll be able to see his growth as an artist in this album.

“I feel like this album was really overdue. I personally expected more from him, but I still loved it,” said Aniyah Oberlton, a Hampton University strategic communication major.

Anniversary is a mood from the lyrics to the album cover. The cover
is an eccentric blue with him looking to his left. It is similar to the Trapsoul cover, which is in red and he is looking to the right.

The album starts with the track “Years Go By.” Another man is talking to Bryson, saying, “With what the young generation’s doing and I’m like, yo, man, you really just got to do this, worrying about or trying to figure out what they need to think or like it or not. Aw, man, you going to have about five years go by…next thing you know, you ain’t going to want to do this no more.”

The lead single, “Always Forever,” sets the mood for the album. The beat is hard, and the lyrics are relatable. Ready for You and Things Change paint pictures of relationships that many listeners may have been in before. The lyrics speak to real-life situations in today’s social climate.

The track “Timeless Interlude” slows the mood down. It speaks on growing and becoming wiser. It also speaks on how life is flashing by and reminds listeners to be mindful of that.

The chorus of “Inhale” contains a sample of SWV’s “All Night Long.” The sample, in conjunction with the reverb vocals and spacy drums, creates a sound incredibly reminiscent of the late ’90s R&B sound that still asserts its influence today.

“Outta Time,” featuring Drake, drives the album home. Hearing Drake and Bryson Tiller on a track is something soothing and something our generation needed. Their voices together blend well and make the song dynamic.

“Keep doing what you’re doing” opens with a voicemail from Tiller’s grandmother, who passed away early in 2020. Dedicating the song to her, the sentimental aspects of this record become apparent. This track really inspires the listeners to believe in your- self and to keep going no matter what.

Anniversary concludes with Next to You, which includes a sample from the Flight Facilities’ “Heart Attack” record on the chorus. Bryson really showcases his vibrato and style throughout the song.

The album will put you in your feelings and is perfect to listen to on a late-night drive. This album was personal and spoke to the highs and lows of relationships. Tiller did what needed to be done for R&B.

In a recent interview with Genius, Bryson Tiller confirmed that he has another album coming out called Serenity, a three-part series. Volume 1 will consist of R&B, Volume 2 will consist of hip-hop, and Volume 3 will consist of pop.

Fans are hoping that Serenity is just the project they need to restore their initial feelings of Bryson as an artist.

SAVAGE X FENTY: A star studded socially distant event

NOAH HOGAN- STAFF WRITER

Dennis Leupold | Associated Press

Robyn Rihanna Fenty opened the second volume of her Savage X Fenty special with a beautiful quote:

“Storytelling is the last part of any journey. There’s experience and there’s that emotion that’s connected to the experience. Whether it’s a scent, whether it’s the sound, that emotional connection to that particular moment is the thing that makes it worthy of telling in a story.”

Rihanna did just that with her follow-up on the Amazon Prime streaming service.

Packed with celebrity appearances, distinct set designs and stellar choreography, Volume. 2 was more than a worthy successor to the first show at New York Fashion Week.

What is most intriguing is that Rihanna and her team understand the need to create a story of Savage X Fenty without forcing the need to focus on the actual garments. Instead, she uses different mediums such as music and choreography to set a mood using the clothes to be nothing more than what they are, clothes.

From the very beginning, we are introduced to some of Fenty’s creativity in the most obvious role that most associate her with, her music. More specifically, her music taste.

She uses songs from artists that her base can easily identify like Kendrick Lamar and Roddy Rich. However as a woman of Caribbean descent,

Rihanna takes the opportunity to make her audience aware of artists in the Latin and Caribbean markets with performers like Rosalína and Bad Bunny. Although Riri does not stick to the conventional rap or pop genre, she finds a way to weave in elements of R&B and house music to give each scene its own identity.

“The scenes were perfect for the clothing pieces that she showed and the music made it better. I liked the dances in Volume 2 more than the first,” said Monique Smith, a Hampton University biochemistry pre-dental major, leadership studies minor from Atlanta, Georgia.

The Savage X Fenty show allowed Rihanna to take on other personas and blend them to create the best version of herself.

We see her wear many hats such as the creative, the businesswoman and the leader.

If you listen to the way she describes in great detail something so trivial like fabrics, you would think she was a graduate of a fashion design school. Savage X Fenty is proof that Rihanna has taken the time to be fully invested in her craft.

Design Director Emily Whitehead describes Rihanna as having the eye
to figure out not just what pieces are going to work best but how to best utilize them. “That kind of steers us and makes it better but also makes it hers,” Whitehead said.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just Rihanna’s brand name recognition that made the show feel special. She allowed for others to shine and show case their talents on a major scale, not taking into account celebrity status or prominence.

Rihanna and company did a great job incorporating models and dancers of all shapes, sizes and walks of life.

From a multitude of frames, there were many different women and men who were able to express themselves through fashion. Citing that inclusivity is something that is “second nature” and that “there is no need to think about it.”

“I love that she’s doing that,” Smith said. “It made me want to buy and support her even more. Many people are insecure about their body, and lingerie is supposed to be ‘sexy.’ So Rihanna’s show highlighted a diverse group of models and told people that all body types are sexy and be confident and love yourself.”

Overall, Rihanna chose to tackle themes of sexuality, inclusivity, mood and inspiration within a 56-minute time frame.

Opting for the lingerie garments to serve as background images to compliment the bigger themes at play, she also completed a goal of creating something that surpasses the boundaries of fashion and enters the space of great art.

The only question left unanswered now is, if Rihanna is so invested physically and emotionally to her clothing line, will she have the necessary time or energy to uphold the other big obligation in her life, music?

Creative Block: The Impact COVID-19 Has On Artists

Nyle Paul- Staff Writer

Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash

With the Coronavirus outbreak abruptly shifting everyone’s daily lives, artists are learning how to operate in this “new normal” with a deficit in the accessibility to equipment and artistic motivation. 

Hampton University has a large population of artists, all of whom specialize in different art focuses.  The limitations that quarantine imposed has had an effect on the artists’ craft. Isaiah Taylor is a senior Journalism and Communications major with an area of emphasis in Liberal Arts at Hampton University. He specializes in digital art.

Because of the financial burden that the pandemic has brought, the artistic capabilities of many artists were challenged. With money being tight and the mass closure of stores across the nation, getting the equipment and software to help carry out their work has been a hassle. Isaiah detailed the difficulties he ran into and how they served as an inconvenience to him.

“Most of my art pieces are produced digitally. So getting software isn’t really a problem if I have an internet connection,” said Isaiah. 

“However, I had problems getting art supplies during the beginning months of the pandemic. At most art stores they were only letting in five customers at a time to contain the spread of germs and bacteria. Personally, I enjoy sketching preliminary drawings in my sketchpad with mechanical pencils as practice for my digital drawings but it was a real tussle going out to purchase new pencils.”

The restricting nature of the pandemic has either encouraged people to expand their minds and tap into their unlocked creativity, or left them lacking motivation to continue their craft. For some artists, like Isaiah, quarantine influenced a mixture of both feelings. 

“This time of quarantine is a blessing and a curse in my eyes,” said Isaiah. The impact is more of a double sided sword. Yeah, I had more time to draw and write story ideas for my microfictions but I found it harder and harder to draw in the original space I was in. I found myself moving my workspace around my home and even going outside to parks to draw and it really helped towards motivating me to keep going.”

Creative block is a commonality among almost all artists. Referencing his familiarity with creative block and the strain it can put on one’s creative process, Isaiah discussed how the pandemic personally affected his ability to access his internal creativity.

“It’s been a teeter totter story when it comes to accessing internal creativity,” said Isaiah.  “For a string of days I’ll be on a roll with writing and drawing. However being at home most of the time does hinder my creative flow. I just want to experience new sights to get the juices flowing but due to the pandemic I couldn’t really go out like I wanted. So I had to find other methods like watching more shows /movies and envision myself there.” 

With the mental, financial and physical challenges that the pandemic has brought along, many may question how some artists have been able to keep focus on their art during this difficult time. Isaiah credited his determination for his perseverance and touched on advice he would give to those who have not been able to tap back into their artistry. 

“Creative block has always been a hindrance for me while drawing and writing but honestly throughout the pandemic I’ve been able to cultivate a few ways to combat it,” said Isaiah. 

“Days will come where you kinda don’t want to do anything related to your craft. You just want to do nothing. However, you can’t let that feeling persuade you into laziness. Don’t just do nothing.  Even if that’s drawing a doodle or just writing a singular paragraph. At least you made progress towards your craft. I’d rather be in slow motion than no motion at all. As cliche as this sounds, believe in yourself. Don’t allow opinions from other people or even your own negative thoughts define your body of work. You do art for yourself and nobody but yourself. Hold yourself accountable and take the steps you need towards greatness. Greatness lives inside of all of us. It takes time and it varies.” 

You can support Isaiah and his art by following his instagram account, @ixayuh, where some of his work is featured. He can also be contacted via direct message regarding commission inquiries.

Zendaya Makes History for her Performance in HBO’s Euphoria

Anyae Johns- Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Invision, AP (AP20265171505843.jpg)

Zendaya, 24-year-old star of HBO’s “Euphoria”, won an Emmy at the 72nd Emmy Award show ceremony on Sept. 20th for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Written by Sam Levinson, “Euphoria” focuses on high-school students as they navigate love, sex, drugs, and more. Zendaya plays the role of Rue ~ a troubled teen fresh out of rehab struggling with her drug addiction, among other things. The show premiered on HBO in June of last year. 

Zendaya is the youngest to ever win this category, making history with her first nomination for an Emmy award. 

She is also the second Black woman to ever receive an Emmy in this category, after Viola Davis was awarded in 2015 for her lead performance in “How To Get Away With Murder”. 

Being that it took over 60 years for a Black woman to win this category is quite alarming and should be addressed. 72 years later, two phenomenal Black women have taken over this category and there needs to be more. 

“The talent is there. It always has been. I’m glad the world is waking up and giving credit where it’s due. I hope they continue to give awards based on performance and not ethnic group,” expressed Madison Williams, a Hampton University Communications Major from Dallas, Texas. 

Despite her award, critics and social media users claim that her historic achievement of being the second Black woman to win in this category is inaccurate due to her ethnicity. Zendaya is biracial; her father is African American and her mother is Caucasian.

Other critics disagreed with the award as a whole. A New York Post article titled: “Biggest upset: Zendaya wins Emmys 2020 over Jennifer Aniston, Laura Linney” stirred up a lot of opinions from Euphoria enthusiasts. 

Cameron Jones, Sophomore Theater Major from Detroit, Michigan explained that age has no say in awarding theatrical performance. 

“When it comes to acting it does not matter who has more “experience” its about who delivered their performance the best,” he said. 

Zendaya was over a decade younger than most of the actresses nominated in her category but her work speaks for itself. Her irrefutable performance as Rue definitely showcased her unique acting skills.

Many millennials have watched Zendaya blossom as a young Black actor. From her dancing days on Disney’s “Shake It Up”, to the moment she was seated around family and friends as Jimmy Fallon announced her victory. It was a very emotional moment for the star and she tried to find the words in her acceptance speech. 

 “This is a really weird time to be celebrating but I just want to say that there is hope in the young people out there.”

“I know our tv show doesn’t always feel like a great example of that but there is hope in young people. To my peers out there doing work in the streets, I see you, I admire you, I thank you,” she further explained. 

“Euphoria” was renewed for the highly anticipated second season on HBO but due to the pandemic, production has been delayed. Thankfully, HBO president Casey Bloys stated in an interview with Deadline that Euphoria will likely begin filming season two in “early 2021.” Many fans can expect a premiere date around the end of next year. 

In the meantime, you can expect to hear a release date for Zendaya’s latest project, “Malcolm and Maire”. Euphoria creator, Sam Levison, has shot and completed the entire film during quarantine. Not much is known about the plot but the film will star John David Washington and Zendaya as they navigate a rocky relationship. The film will premiere on Netflix. 

Javicia Leslie is the New Batwomen

Jamel Rogers- Staff Writer

Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Javicia Leslie was born in Germany on May 30, 1987. Her family then moved to Maryland where she was raised in Upper Marlboro. Since then, she has become a proud alumna of Hampton University, acting in several productions such as “Seven Guitars”, “For Colored Girls”  and more. Her first ever movie role she played Samantha Morgan in “Killer Coach”, which became a hit thriller during its time. 

This year, Leslie landed the role of Batwoman for the second season of  “Batwoman” on CW’s channel. The leading actress Rubi Rose playing Kate, will be replaced by Javicia Leslie as Ryan. The show is set to return this coming January with new expectations and excitement for Leslie’s character. 

The show begins after Batman’s disappearance from the city of Gotham. Batman’s cousin, Kate, continues to soar in the streets of Gotham, reliving the legacy of a dark knight vigilante as Batwoman. This year Javicia Leslie will be playing Ryan Wilder on the show. This role may bring on a lot of controversy which also is great publicity for her to gain more roles in the near future. The controversy could range from comic similarities in characters to adjusting to a new superhero in the show. 

This is inspiring to minorities especially aspiring actors and actresses wanting to expand their horizons. With Leslie being a Hampton grad, it also helps the reputation of our great Home by the Sea. 

Recently, Leslie welcomed Hampton’s incoming freshman class for the remaining school year, giving Onyx 12 some great advice.

“Hampton has an amazing drama program and some amazing connects that have graduated already that can put you in the right places and the right doors, so make sure you network,” she explained. 

 The elevation in this television role has been phenomenal to women all over the world. It is taking up a lot of the media directed toward past experiences starting with “Black Panther”. “Black Panther” and “Batwomen” can be considered the first black lead superhero films/shows. It also shows a change in media development as they would cast more minorities into prestigious roles. She’s also helping out the LGBT community due to her lead acting achievements. 

“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” Leslie said in a statement. 

According to E News, Javicia Leslie is getting along well with some of her castmates as they began shooting. Leslie recently informed everyone about her upcoming role through social media, getting the attention of DC Comics enthusiasts all over the world. 

“You all have been a huge support on this journey!!! So, this isn’t my Batwoman, this is OUR Batwoman,” she said in the announcement post on Instagram. 

She is a great representation for minorities wanting to take the next big steps in the movie industry and we can expect there to be a great incline in the number of actresses in each generation.

Christina Buie, Hampton Sociology major from Maryland said, “I think it’s great, especially for Hampton women! There are a few notable Hampton alumnae in the 21st century and I think she is a great catalyst for Hampton students and seeing more people on TV who look like me.”

 Javicia Leslie is also one of many to show accomplishments for black women. Historically, most superheroes have been predominantly white and minorities were usually sidekicks or extras. Her success in the role would motivate young black women to strive for greatness. The effect she has on society will lie within her legacy as an actress. 

Make sure to be on the lookout for updates on the show’s production, set to premiere January of 2021.

A look at women’s creation and expression

Noah Hogan- Staff Writer

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in mid-September has left a hole in many hearts.

 Her name is synonymous with women’s rights, equality and LGTBQ+ initiatives. She was one of the most recognizable faces of today’s time. Playfully being dubbed “The Notorious RBG”, Ginsburg carried a powerful moniker named after hip hop’s own, the late Christopher Wallace “The Notorious BIG.”

She left behind a legacy of determination, hard work and fortitude. That same legacy opened the door for women in a plethora of social areas to fully express themselves in ways that were never imaginable before.

  The genre of hip hop has been a creative space that has been historically dominated by men. These artists often portray women with sexist lyrics and videos that objectify women’s bodies. In contrast, several women have defied the odds and rose to the pinnacle of success within the genre, such as Queen Latifah, Salt and Pepa, M.C. Lyte and Nicki Minaj.

These women promoted cultural expression, racial pride, safe sex and life from their various perspectives. The words they spoke, the clothing they wore and the messages in their lyrics defined who they were.

These legends have opened the doors for new talent such as Cardi B., Saweetie and Meg the Stallion. The ladies of the new school seem to have one thing in common – their vivid expression of sexuality.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The artistic expression and freedom of women in the hip hop industry of today has been stifled and manipulated. No longer do we hear records like  Queen Latifah ‘s “U.N.I.T.Y”, Salt and Pepa’s “Express Yourself” and M.C. Lyte’s “Keep on Keeping On”. We are now subjected to songs like Cardi and Meg’s “W.A.P.” and  Sweetie’s “Tap In”.

The songs that have strong sexual content by female artists seem to be the only music that receives attention from mainline media sources. With “WAP” and “Tap In” amassing over 75 million streams and 25 million views on YouTube, respectively. It’s clear that a shift in the industry has taken place, validating that women are now able to express themselves in ways that were considered controversial in the past.

 “I don’t believe that currently the way females express themselves throughout the music industry in today’s society is being marginalized just due to the fact that we see more women rappers out there like Megan Thee Stallion put out very prominent music to where so many people are willing to now listen to female rappers.”, said Carrigan Smith, Hampton University Broadcast Communications major from Dallas, Texas. 

The argument that is now in question is, “If a man can do it, why not a woman too?”

Is this the same sexual equality that was fought for decades ago? Meanwhile, as the creative space for women expands ever so rapidly, we’re left to question when a new female act emerges in the genre, will they be regulated to the age old industry standard or will they be afforded a legit chance to succeed in the unforgiving culture that is Hip Hop?

Gone are the days where industry executives that would rather an artist develop a style in which they tailor their image to cater to the sexual fantasy of support base over prioritizing a quality listening experience.

The Notorious RBG fought for gender equality, which has transcended into every area of society today. Although taboo for some, it goes without saying that women should have the right to express their music and most importantly themselves without restraint or strife within spaces that are comfortable for them. 

The Photograph: Not a love story – a like story

Alton Worley II | Staff Writer

krists-luhaers-AtPWnYNDJnM-unsplash-2

Photo Credit: Pexels User Brett Sayles

It’s been a while since audiences have seen a black romance movie, and The Photograph provides a breath of fresh air, but not in the way you would think.

The official synopsis: “On Valentine’s Day, Issa Rae (HBO’s Insecure, Little) and LaKeith Stanfield (FX’s Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You) connect in a romance where a woman must learn from the secrets in her mother’s past if she is to move forward and allow herself to love and be loved. 

When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, she leaves her estranged daughter Mae Morton (Rae) hurt, angry and full of questions. When a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box is found, Mae finds herself on a journey delving into her mother’s early life and ignites a powerful, unexpected romance with a rising-star journalist, Michael Block (Stanfield).”

The Photograph takes a modern approach to the romantic movie genre and does something that has become rare nowadays. In a world now full of romantic comedies, The Photograph manages to stay solidified in the romance category only having hints of comedy in it. 

The only way this movie works is because the leads do a good job portraying the roles that they were given. Rae and Stanfield’s chemistry and acting keep this movie afloat when the writing does not, but in terms of realism, the writers did a good job keeping it real when it comes to their character’s relationship. 

“I had major hopes for what this [movie] could have been or what I expected it to be, but it didn’t make me feel the way I thought it would,” said Savannah Henson, a Hampton University psychology major from Prince George’s County, Maryland. “The storyline was just cute, and the impression and feelings I had left after seeing the film weren’t long-lasting. I don’t know … I expected more, and it was just ‘Eh.’” 

“Cute” would be the best way to describe this movie, as it isn’t anything extraordinary, but ordinary enough to keep the audience entertained, if that. While the stars play their characters well, their timid personalities often leave the audience wanting more.

“Personally, I didn’t like The Photograph,” said Myana Mabry, an HU political science major on the pre-law track. “I felt as if it was fast-paced, predictable and a bit awkward. I strongly believe the main characters didn’t actually love each other – rather, this film was based on lust. I left the theater disappointed.” 

There were no big gestures or reveals that made the movie scream “romance,” so the power was in the body language with some credit given to the dialogue. The characters weren’t perfect, and in reality, no one actually is, so seeing them go through things very relatable to the audience was nice, but also lackluster as the movie was missing something. 

“I felt that the movie was a nice break from the drama that usually occurs in black films about love,” said Jasmine Robinson, an HU strategic communication major from North Carolina. “No one was dramatically shot as well as other stereotypes associated with black love films.” 

This movie should keep the audience entertained, but it doesn’t. In a society where every movie is trying to be bigger than the next, this movie tries something different by not trying at all. This movie lacked the drive and heart-wrenching emotion that many other movies in its genre have, and that’s why it missed the mark it needed to hit.

The Photograph is now playing in Hampton theaters at the AMC Hampton Towne Center 24, Cinema Café and Studio Movie Grill.

Gayle King “was doing her job” in asking about Kobe Bryant’s past, journalists say

Andi McCloud | Staff Writer

Gayle King was being a responsible journalist for CBS when she asked about a past felony sexual assault charge against former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, several journalists agree.

“I just feel like she was doing her job,” Hampton University journalism major Marcus Nelson said, adding, “If you aren’t in her field of work, you just might not understand that.” 

Snoop Dogg issued a warning to King online after her “CBS This Morning” interview with former WNBA player Lisa Leslie about Bryant, who was killed Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others.

The Associated Press reported that other celebrities, including LeBron James, 50 Cent and Bill Cosby, criticized King for asking Leslie whether Bryant’s legacy had been complicated by the accusation that he raped a woman at a Colorado resort in 2003. Bryant said the two had consensual sex, but he later apologized for his behavior and, after the charge was dropped when the accuser was unwilling to testify, settled a civil suit against him.

Snoop Dogg later posted an apology video after he was criticized for his extreme response.

Oprah Winfrey — King’s best friend — held back tears as she spoke on NBC’s “Today” show about death threats King received.

“We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist,” CBS News President Susan Zirinsky told the AP. “We find the threats against her or any journalist doing their job reprehensible.”

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other media organizations included articles about the assault charge in their news coverage immediately following his death.

King took to Instagram to speak about how a portion of her interview with Leslie was disseminated. 

“I am embarrassed,” King wrote. “And I am very angry. Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview, totally taken out of context, and when you see it that way, it’s very jarring. It’s jarring to me. I didn’t even know anything about it.”

Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones said King was in the right to ask the questions she asked.

“King had nothing to apologize for,” Jones wrote on Poynter.org. “She is a journalist and asked questions any responsible journalist would.”

During the CBS interview with Leslie, King said: “It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge, which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?”

Leslie responded: “It’s not complicated for me at all. Even if there are a few times that we’ve been at a club at the same time, Kobe’s not the kind of guy — never been, like, you know, ‘Lis, go get that girl, or tell her or send her this.’ I have other NBA friends that are like that.”

King continued to question Leslie about whether or not she would have known the truth about Bryant’s alleged rape, and Leslie defended Bryant to be “never like that. I just never, have ever seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way.”

King talked to Leslie because the former Los Angeles Sparks star was one of Bryant’s good friends. 

“If you are a serious journalist, you cannot avoid the painful questions and topics,” Alfred Edmond Jr. wrote on Blackenterprise.com. “King’s interview with Lisa Leslie was about Kobe Bryant’s life and legacy; a good journalist knows you can’t just leave out the parts we don’t like.”