All American: Homecoming

Sydney McCall | Staff Writer

Image Courtesy of WarnerBros.

All American: Homecoming held a panel on February 23 with members of the cast, Geffri Hightower and Peyton Alex Smith, two of the main characters on the show. Nkechi Okoro, the show’s producer was also present.

All American: Homecoming is a spin off of the popular show, All American. 

A major highlight of the panel was the announcement of the Warner Bros. TV Group scholarship. The scholarship, “All American: 

Homecoming scholarship will award $100,000 in grants to 10 students pursuing degrees at historically black colleges throughout the United States. 

The scholarship is a partnership with the NAACP. Students at HBCUs can begin applying in March. 

The panel consisted of questions from HBCU students across the nation. 

The spin-off is set at a HBCU named Bringston University. Hightower and Smith said to expect to see black excellence as a way of life throughout the series. 

Geffri Hightower said that she hopes the show gives viewers a positive outlook on HBCUs as she is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University.

Geffri, who plays Simone, shared that she only knew about some of the popular HBCUs growing up such as Morehouse and Spelman. She expressed that she had some of the best moments of her life at Clark.

Due to her experience, she hopes that young adults explore the many options of black universities so that they too, can enjoy the experience of being surrounded by black 

excellence. 

Peyton explained how he feels that the show is his way of participating in the Black Lives Matter movement. While he did not participate in many protests or campaigns, this show was his way of giving back. 

“This show is my protest for the Black Community,” he said. 

The original All American show features problems teenagers face in everyday society including sexuality, addiction, mental health, and relationship issues. The cast said to expect more of that this season, with a specific focus on navigating through a relationship while in college. 

They also spoke about how easy it was to work with each other on set. Specifically, Geffri shared how beautiful it was to work with a group of people that share similar histories, vernacular and struggles. 

The show airs every Monday at 9 P.M. EST on CW.

Student Artist Highlight: Lauryn Bass 

 Jeremiah C. Lewis | Staff Writer

Last month, Lauryn Bass presented her artwork at Hampton’s Student Art Gallery. Bass is a fourth-year journalism major and psychology minor from Atlanta, Georgia. 

Q1: When did you start loving to paint? 

Bass: Back in the day when silly bands and things like that were popular in elementary school, they would always get banned or taken away from us. My school was always taking away forms of expression from us so when I had to take a required art class it became my favorite time of the week because it felt good to express yourself. Art class on Fridays really made me start enjoying painting. 

Q2: I love the type of colors used in your painting. How would you say colors affect you? 

Bass: It’s a big deal how colors affect us. Jails use dull colors making it depressing. Like Red attracts you. Bold colors for men, feminine colors for women. We express colors in the way we wear things. Green adds grounding scenes. I love to express myself in all kinds of colors.

Q3: What piece do you think people were attracted to because of the colors? 

Bass: My “Sunset” painting. It was well-liked because it felt warm, like grounding yourself outside.

“Sunset” 

Q4: So you would say painting helps you move forward? 

Bass: Yes, especially in times when I feel alone. I take my alone time to talk to God. When you paint by yourself you learn more about yourself. So many things you can’t control, you just have to keep pushing forward. Painting gives you the time to talk to God and it gives you space. Sometimes I might go back and paint over a piece to make it just right. You can always look at your paintings and know exactly what you felt. I recommend people just paint when they’re stressed or going through something.

Q5: You said earlier that you sometimes add on to old pieces. Would you suggest that most painters add on to old pieces? 

Bass: I don’t know if a painting is ever done. As an artist, you’ll know when a painting is finished.

Q6: What painting would you say is your pride and joy? 

Lauryn: It doesn’t have a name, but here it is.

[insert photo]

“Flora” 

Q7: Looking at the untitled painting referenced above, how did you feel when making it? 

Bass: I made this piece when I was 16. Everything seemed like it was going right for a while. I started looking older and not like a little girl anymore. I thought I knew everything I knew in life. Everything felt so right. 

Lauryn: I probably should. Before, I was a free flow painter. Since then, I’ve been learning structure, and I’m interested to see what I’m doing differently now. My art teacher says my painting lacks structure, so I’m interested to see what I would paint in my life after graduation. 

My art conveys a lot of vibrant colors because I would like to think I have a bright personality, which I want to portray in every piece. Nature is a big influence as well because flora really brings me peace.

Jean-Michael Basquiat’s Estate Keeps His Work Alive 

 Trinity Goppy | Staff Writer

Jean-Michael Basquiat, a renowned prolific artist that rose to fame during the 1980’s neo-expression movement in New York City, once said: 

“If you wanna talk about influence, man, then you’ve got to realize that influence is not influence. It’s simply someone’s idea going through my new mind.” 

Basquiat continues to have a tightening grasp on the art community by inspiring the conversation of radical commentary and innovative techniques amongst creatives, after over 30 years of his passing. Basquiat’s estate will be presenting over 200 never-before-seen and rarely shown works, opening April 9. The exhibit, hosted by Basquiat’s family, is named King Pleasure. The name, King Pleasure, derives from Basquiat’s titled painting from 1987. 

The exhibition will showcase his paintings, drawings, multimedia presentations, ephemera, and artifacts that will tell the story of Basquiat from an inward perspective, intertwining his artistic endeavors with his personal life, influences, and the times in which he lived, according to the King Pleasure exhibit. 

Basquiat’s work introduced the world to the New York Art Scene that would later bring influence to hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and A$AP Ferg. His work alone has contributed to the art community and has become a cultural phenomenon in music, black culture and literature. 

“Growing up, my mom had a lot of Basquiat- inspired artwork hanging around the house. Constantly being surrounded by the vibrant aura of his paintings actually inspired me to begin painting in my spare time,” said Hampton University’s first-year psychology major, Vierra Jordan. 

The exhibition will be held in the Starrett-Lehigh Building, which is one of Manhattan’s largest and premier landmark properties. The building has a history of attracting world-class creative companies and elite brands, which made it inclusive in 1932. 

Sir David Adjaye OBE, a Ghanaian-British architect, known for his work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. will transform the ground floor of the Starrett-Lehigh Building through the perspective of Basquiat’s estate. 

“I think Basquiat is a multidimensional artist that faceted his emotions through his work to express the misunderstandings of the black experience. I would be totally down to visit the exhibition once it opens,” said Hampton University’s first-year marketing major, Alexandria Williams. “The opportunity to see his work that has not been released yet would be a very cool experience.” 

Black is Gold Women in Leadership Honoree: Kennedy Ashford 

Taylor Hawkins | Staff Writer

The Hampton University chapter of Black is Gold University, a nationwide organization dedicated to the personal and professional lives of Black collegiate women, is honoring women on HU’s campus in celebration of Women’s History Month. Among those nominated is Kennedy Ashford, a first-year computer science major.

“It is an honor for me to have been chosen as one of the women being honored,” Ashford said. “Receiving recognition from my peers, assured me that all of my work doesn’t go to waste.”

Ashford is involved in multiple organizations and clubs on campus and said she strives to accomplish her goals while working towards a better future. She serves as the freshman class vice president, a Golden Girl in Black is Gold University and is a Women in Computing Club member.

“My motivation to get involved on campus stems from wanting to be somebody after graduating from Hampton University,” Ashford said. “I see these clubs and organizations as a part of my future and I have gained valuable relationships while also working toward my goals.”

Ashford began developing leadership skills at a young age.

“When I was a kid, I had a lot of strong opinions and sometimes got in trouble for talking too much. As I matured, I learned how to change the way I talked to be a better leader,” she said.

To Ashford, being a leader means having a set of morals and ethics while also accepting advice from others whether or not the opinions align. By using her strong leadership skills, Ashford serves her community to encourage other students to use the resources that are given to them by the university to guarantee a future for themselves.

“In my experience, students listen to their peers more than adults about information that can potentially change their lives for the better,” Ashford said.

By holding these leadership positions, she hopes to inspire many women on campus who are nervous about putting themselves out there.

“Several women on campus inspire me, and I strive to be like them,” said Ashford. “As someone who is also nervous, my own experience has taught me that we must first believe in ourselves. Walk into every room with your head held high and go after your goals!” 

Ashford has one piece of advice for women on campus who want to be in leadership.

“If I had any advice for women on campus, it would be to not be afraid,” she said. “There will always be something negative and positive said about you, but as long as you know you are giving it your all, you will be fine. It’s not worth it to follow the crowd, as you may never learn to grow.”

Black is Gold University will be honoring women for the entire month of March and hosting a dinner ceremony on March 20 to shine a light on the Women in Leadership honorees.

Voices of Hampton University 

Jeremiah C. Lewis  | Staff Writer

Hampton University is home to students of various gifts and creators. Outside of the classroom, students lead independent lives of participating in the arts, playing sports as an extension of themselves, and making their time on campus more fun. One such extension of students’ creativity comes in the form of singing. 

Students on campus have the opportunity to passionately express their love of singing by joining the three Hampton University Choirs sections: “His Chosen Sound” (gospel choir), Concert choir (graduations and commencements) and University choir. 

Hampton’s choir students Faith Gibbs, Janiah Carroll and Renae Smith answered questions about how the HU choirs helped them as singers. 

How long have you been singing? 

Faith: All of my life. 

Janiah: Since third grade, so about ten years

Renae: For about 17 years

The best parts about being a part of the Hampton choir? 

Faith: Being able to sing.

Janiah: The community, everyone is a tightly knitted group. It’s nice to have an environment where you can feel comfortable and sing as a group. 

Renae: The experience, like any other organization, you get to meet new people along with creating memories because each rehearsal is different. I like how we blend voices and become one sound. 

Are you excited for the HU Choirs’ 150th anniversary? 

Faith: Yes. 

Janiah: Get to meet alumni. Nice to have a weekend dedicated to us 

Renae: Yes, I am because I’m ready to meet alumni and create new memories. 

What is something you’d tell someone who was interested in joining the choir?

Faith: It’s fun. You get to meet new people who have the same interests. If you have a passion for music and enjoy singing, it’s a good place to showcase that. 

Janiah: It’s a commitment. It has payoffs like networking, and it’s rewarding to share your gift with people, travel, and meet new people. 

Renae: They should do it. Don’t be scared. I was scared at first, but it wasn’t that bad. It was a fun experience. 

How would someone go about joining the Choir? 

Janiah: Email the director, Omar Dickinson, Omar.Dickenson@hamptonu.edu, and then he’ll set you up with a rehearsal.

For all singers of Hampton University, it is highly recommended that you join the Hampton Choirs. The Choirs are performing for their 150th Anniversary on March 27th, 2022, at 4 pm. It is a safe place for all singers on campus to express themselves and share their voices with the rest of Campus. Doors open at 3:15 pm and are free for all students who show their HUID.

The Art and Emotions behind Poetry 

Nia White | Staff Writer

Poetry is how the author describes their feelings on an intimate level. It is a way to present one’s innermost thoughts through written art. Poetry shares the stories of an author’s life with a new conclusion that may not have been previously known. 

“My favorite part of poetry is the storytelling aspect,” HU junior Daisia Smith said. 

This form of art can mean many things to different people. It can affect the audience in a way that is different from the author. 

“I would describe my art as an experience,” Smith said. “Whoever is reading it, gets a small portion of my life.”

The experience of poetry as art also the emotional aspect the writer puts in their work. The subtle influences behind the words bring the meaning of the work together. 

Poetry allows the writer to be creative and direct in their work while impacting others. Poetry allows the reader to understand the author even if only for a second, Smith explains.

HU junior Margaret Daramola describes her form of art as soft yet powerful. 

“I had to write in a way that led to freedom from within, which led to my book “Pathway Through Survival,” Daramola said. 

Personal expression in any art form is essential. However, in poetry, it can differ between spoken and written states. Written poetry is more often open to interpretation from the reader, which means careful selection of words is essential. Spoken poetry is sometimes easier to interpret and to emphasize words or phrases. 

Poets often have different reasons for their style of writing. After writing her book and joining some speaking engagements, Daramola began writing for enjoyment but shifted to spoken word. Smith writes more for personal release of emotions. 

“A lot of my poetry is for fun as well as my mental health, but I would love to get more serious with it and publish some books in the future,” Smith said. “I started writing poetry when I was 14 and I was dealing with depression and anxiety. My therapist thought it would be a good outlet.” 

Style of writing and speaking is what attracts the reader and listener. While stylistic elements can be very different from each artist and even within their work, they help shape it. 

Daramola employs both forms of poetry and influences both spoken and written poetry. Both Daramola and Smith have admired the works of Reyna Biddy and Nicki Giovanni, respectively.

The emotions surrounding poetry are what drive the art. Daramola describes her favorite part of poetry as going from the unknown into clarity. Writing allows her to come to terms with the reality of how things are.

Euphoria: An Open Dialogue of Teenage Drama? 

Trinity Goppy | Staff Writer

Euphoria, a coming-of-age drama, focuses on the troubled lives of a group of teens as they navigate love and friendships in a world filled with drugs, sex and social media. 

Created and written by Sam Levinson, the show stars Zendaya, Hunter Schafer, and other high profile actors. Euphoria is based on the 2012 Israeli show with the same name. 

“I had gone in to sit down with Francesca Orsi,” Levinson said in an Entertainment Weekly article. “I asked her what she liked about the Israeli series and she said just sort of what a raw and honest portrait it is of drugs and being young and everything. I was just trying to capture that kind of heightened sense of emotion, when you’re young and how relationships feel.”

The show is sexually explicit and showcases a wide range of drug abuse. It often highlights the ability of the actors to widen the scope of how trauma and drugs can affect one’s relationship. 

“I have not personally experienced drug abuse but when I watch the show, it makes me think there is someone out there going through Rue’s situation,” said Alexandria Williams, an HU first-year. “There is someone struggling to love themselves like Cassie. And I can relate to the struggle of trying to find oneself in the midst of chaos.”

Exploring issues such as drug abuse, trauma, self-harm, identity and grief through the lens of teenagers that do not fit in the usual television show box is what makes the show unique, said Janiah Caroll, an HU first-year. Hampton University’s first year psych major. 

“Euphoria explores the hardcore aspects that teens and young adults struggle with daily,” said Carroll. “Even though the show is fiction, the actors work really hard to bring the story to reality. You can feel every emotion that the characters do – this sets the show apart from others that try and portray these issues. Because the show is uncensored, it makes it feel so real. Everyone who watches the show can put themselves in the shoes of each character.”

Viewers said Euphoria’s season two finale left the audience with a load of emotion. The show regularly trends on social media due to the raw talent of the actors, cinematography and riveting storylines.

Disney’s new feature musical: Encanto! 

Trinity Goppy | Staff Writer

Encanto is the newest musical animated feature on Disney+ that is taking the internet by storm. The movie tackles several issues such as family dynamics, intergenerational trauma and struggles of migration.

Encanto tells the story of a multigenerational Colombian family, the Madrigals, led by the matriarch, Alma Madrigal. At the movie’s beginning, Alma and her triplet infants are forced to flee their homes by armed resistance. When her husband is taken, everything seems lost until a “miracle” happens, and a magical candle creates the Encanto

Within the magic house, Casita, magical doors connect to each member of the Madrigal family and the unique magical gift they use for the greater good of the community. The only exception to this tradition is Mirabel, who has no gift. 

During a celebration, Mirabel discovers that the magic surrounding Encanto is degrading. As she searches for the solution to save it, she goes on a journey of self-discovery. In the end she learns more about herself and brings her family closer together. 

The animations displayed throughout the movie embrace the representation of dark-skinned Afro Latinos that are not shown often in television or film, and specifically Disney movies.

Afro-Latinos make up 5% of the Black population in America. Despite this, they had little to no media representation until the Disney movie Encanto was released according to a Pew Research study. 

The movie’s soundtrack is critical to most of the character’s development throughout the plot. The middle Madrigal sister, Luisa, serves her family and the village with the help of her magical gift of superhuman strength. 

As the magic deteriorates, so does Luisa’s power and the audience views her breakdown. Luisa confesses through song that she feels like she is under constant pressure, and she would just like to relax occasionally. 

Luisa’s identity revolves around her ability to serve others and productivity, which speaks volumes to working parents, caregivers and medical professionals, according to the Washington Post. 

Exceeding expectations, Encanto remains at the top of the box office, according to movie site Looper. Many people are hopeful the popularity of this movie will help mainstream media recognize the importance of representation, according to Indiana Daily Student. 

On Jan. 18, a song from Encanto called “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” outperformed Frozen’s “Let It Go” in the Billboard Charts, according to Vox. Also, the song is at No. 1 on Spotify’s closely watched U.S. Top 50 tally, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Encanto’s representation is what makes it so appealing. Various social media trends, like TikTok surrounding Encanto, had “people posting videos of their children recognizing themselves for perhaps the first time in the movie’s characters,” said a writer for Los Angeles Times Mikael Wood. 

Luisa’s physical appearance has been praised for representing muscular women, a refreshing take on the usual feminine depiction of female protagonists in Disney, like Cinderella or Moana. 

Encanto features the voices of Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitán, Diane Guerrero, and Wilmer Valderrama. It was directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith with original songs written by Lin Manuel Miranda.

HU Students give their take on Winter Premiering TV Shows

Nia White | Staff Writer

Television is often the talk of social media platforms, whether it’s newly premiering shows or shows that have been renewed for another season. Winter television can provide entertainment in a multitude of genres. 

While many people have been awaiting the new season of HBO’s Euphoria, others have been introduced to new shows, like ABC’s Abbott Elementary.

Abbott Elementary is the creation of Quinta Brunson who also stars in the show. The show is mockumentary-style set in a Philadelphia public school. It is centered around Brunson’s character, Janine Teagues, and her challenges as a new teacher. 

“I really love the nuance and humor that the show has,” HU junior Savannah Lovelace-Swann said. “Usually, when it’s a comedic show, there’s a setup and punchline, but Abbott Elementary doesn’t really have that.”

The cast, featuring Tyler James Williams, Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Ralph Lee, is part of the reason why many people were drawn to the show. 

“I started watching because I had seen the people starring in the show, and it’s a show full of Black people talking about real problems,” HU sophomore Cholena Walker said. 

Other new shows like Showtime’s Yellowjackets are also a topic of discussion. Showtime describes the show as a coming-of-age drama where a high school girls’ soccer team must navigate surviving a plane crash in the wilderness. 

“The best part [of Yellowjackets] is seeing women who are and have overcome a traumatic event,” HU junior Katelyn Simmons said. 

While some shows have premiered as new shows this winter, others have come back as favorites. Black-ish and This Is Us have returned for their final seasons this winter. 

Black-ish premiered on Jan. 4 with Michelle Obama guest starring. 

Euphoria season two premiered on Jan. 9 on HBO almost three years after the first season. The show starring Zendaya, Hunter Schafer, and Sydney Sweeny has been highly anticipated.

Euphoria is a show set in a California town, where high schooler Rue and her friends navigate a world full of their challenges, according to HBOMax. 
While some favorites like Black-ish and This Is Us will not be returning to television after this season, others like Yellowjackets will be coming back. Many people will most likely be looking for more seasons of favorites like Abbott Elementary.

Rob Lee’s Sweet Life

 Trinity Goppy | Staff Writer

HBO’s unscripted reality series, Sweet Life: Los Angeles, directed by Issa Rae focuses on the lives of an ambitious group of Black friends as they navigate adulthood success. Amongst them is Robert “Rob” Lee, a Chicago-born comedian.

“I always knew that I was funny. Since I was about 13 or 14 years old, I always said that I would tell a joke this way instead,” said Lee. “My pastor in highschool once told me ‘laughter does the heart good like medicine.’”

Graduating from Howard University with two film degrees allowed Lee to expand his interests and push himself to new heights.

Lee’s charisma and personality on screen is prominent and that resonates with his comedic career.

“I’ve always enjoyed putting smiles on faces,” said Lee. “I’ve always tried to be relatable with my jokes. I typically use life experiences and for some reason self-deprecation is funny to people. I try to bring life to something and try not to take things too seriously.”

Lee moved to Los Angeles in 2020 amidst the pandemic to pursue his dreams of becoming a comedian and creator. Despite opportunities being limited during the pandemic, Lee thrived and accomplished some of his goals. 

Within six months, Lee was cast in Sweet Life: Los Angeles.

“Moving in the middle of a pandemic is what you would expect,” said Lee. It was a gamble, but I knew that once I got there, everything would fall into place.”

On the show, Lee shares that he is a teacher for younger children in the public school system. The audience sees the highs and lows of virtual learning from an educator’s stand point. 

“I am excited for this year and what I have lined up,” he said. “We are gonna start shooting season two of the show, focusing on my comedy career and stepping into a modeling space. This year is gonna be great.”

Currently, he is collaborating with Cross Colours, the original hip-hop clothing brand from the 1990s. He will be featured in their Foot Locker campaign that will showcase rising artists in apparel that portrays the authenticity of street life. 

The campaign will feature fellow Sweet Life: Los Angeles star P’JAE Compton, Interscope artist Lute, American professional boxer Gabriel Rosado and model Krysta Foster. 

“Growing up, Cross Colours was something that exemplified Black excellence,” Lee said. “They also have a HBCU initiative that is really dope. I am excited to work with them and to hopefully work with them more in the future.”