Serena Williams bringing attention to financial abuse of domestic violence victims The 39-time Grand Slam winner is teaming up with the Allstate Foundation as the new ‘Purple Purse’ Ambassador

Tennis dominator, entrepreneur and mommy-to-be Serena Williams is taking philanthropy to the next level. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse announced that she has signed on as the program’s new ambassador.

Williams’ role with the organization includes shining a much-needed light on the role that financial abuse plays in domestic violence. Control over the money allows abusers to more easily keep their partners trapped in abusive relationships. Taking the role formerly occupied by actress and Scandal star Kerry Washington, Williams is thrilled at the platform she will have to speak to the public about how to help break the cycle of domestic violence.

“Standing up for women’s rights has long been a passion of mine,” Williams said. “I am honored to join Allstate Foundation Purple Purse to bring financial abuse and domestic violence out of the shadows and into the public conversation. I hope people will join the Purple Purse movement and work with us to end abuse against women.”

According to Purple Purse, 1 in 4 American women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and 99 percent of all domestic violence cases involve financial abuse. Financial abuse can include abusers preventing victims from accessing or earning money. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans (78 percent) are unaware that financial abuse is a form of domestic violence.

To give the public a first view of how financial abuse affects women, the Allstate Foundation recently launched a video, Lost Purse.

“Our purpose at Allstate is to help people live their best lives, and that means continuing to raise awareness of domestic violence and empowering survivors to regain their financial independence,” said Vicky Dinges, Allstate’s senior vice president of corporate responsibility. “We are thrilled to welcome Serena, a longtime advocate and role model for so many, to the Purple Purse family. Her voice will bring new audiences into this critical conversation. Domestic violence won’t go away on its own. We need everyone’s voices — men’s and women’s — to stand up to abusers and speak on behalf of victims, because no woman deserves to live in fear.”

Allstate Foundation Purple Purse has helped more than 1 million survivors through its educational resources since 2005. The Allstate Foundation has invested more than $55 million to educate the public about financial abuse and to provide critical survivor services, including financial education, asset-building, job training and readiness programs.

Daily Dose: 6/26/17 BET Awards provide many moments for the culture

Sunday night, settle down to the television, get on the Twitter box and go. That’s pretty much the routine when it comes to awards shows, and last night was no different. The BET Awards did not disappoint, but they did run way long.

Where do we begin? Los Angeles was popping with black star power Sunday night, and because of who it was there were also plenty of blunders that were pretty funny. I kept a running thread on Twitter about the various observations I had, but most importantly, it was a come up and a half for Leslie Jones. The comedian, who had an extremely tough year in terms of personal strife, was showing all the way out as the host and was definitely funny. If you root for black women to succeed, which you should, last night was a victory for us all.

The value of a black life seems to be ever-changing. In the case of Philando Castile, it’s apparently $3 million. That’s the amount that the family of the man murdered in front of his girlfriend and her child reached in a settlement with the city of St. Anthony Village, Minnesota. Reminder: The man who killed him while on duty was acquitted in his case. When you ask why people consider violence against black people to be state-sponsored, this is why. If you live there, your taxes are paying for him to be killed and also for the consequences.

Capitalism is a fickle beast. Because in theory, market forces in certain scenarios will help everyone out. But, unfortunately overall, the system doesn’t work unless poor people exist. So when you try to overcorrect for previous forms of mistreatment like low wages, if you go too far you blow up business models that were not created on that math. Instead of everyone just getting more money, people have to stop working. There’s concern right now that Seattle might have done exactly that.

John McEnroe is a hater. On top of that, he is apparently sexist. It’s 2017, and to sell a book he’s still going on with this notion that for any woman to be given her credit as an athlete, she must be compared with a man. That’s a) complete nonsense and b) COMPLETE NONSENSE. Serena Williams is the best tennis player he’s ever seen, and he’s just scared to say that out loud because it would rattle his whole raison d’etre. Instead, he throws out a number that she might be ranked if she were a man. Breaking: She’s not. And doesn’t need to be.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Look. I love Migos. This is not news. But Everyday Struggle has become a show that, for whatever reason, manages to make news. Between DJ Akademiks and Joe Budden, these two create viral moments that are either wildly embarrassing or extremely effective. You can take what you will from this Migos confrontation.

Snack Time: If you thought the Ball family empire was limited to just basketball and clothes, you’ve got another think coming. It looks like LaVar Ball could actually be close to inking something with the WWE, which is fantastic.

Dessert: Q-Tip put on for his fallen Queens homey, Prodigy, on Beats1. May he rest in peace.

Golfer Zakiya Randall has been productive in her time away from the sport She’s taking a break from the professional circuit to work on her game and inspire the youth

Twenty-six-year-old Zakiya Randall has been playing golf since she was 10. During her prime, she says, she won close to 80 tournaments around the country on the junior and amateur circuits, but more recently she’s been taking a break from professional golf to hone her skill in the sport. But that doesn’t mean she has a lot of downtime. She hosts business clinics, models and travels the country giving motivational speeches. We caught up with the Golden State Warriors fan (she’s from Atlanta and calls Washington, D.C., her hometown, but it’s all good!) to see what she’s been up to since she appeared on Golf Channel’s Big Break in 2012 — needless to say, she hasn’t slowed down.


How did you get your start in golf?

I was actually playing tennis at the time. I went out on the golf course with a friend of the family, but I was more interested in driving the golf cart more than anything else. We came to a hole, and it was over the water. And I watched these guys, one after the other, hit the ball into the water. And my family friend said, ‘I bet this little 10-year-old girl can hit the ball over the water into the fairway.’ And that’s how I got my start. He gave me a couple practice swings, and I hit the ball over the water. The guys were stunned.

Who is your childhood hero?

Annika Sörenstam. I really looked up to her. She was a golfer on tour, and she basically won a whole bunch of tournaments in a short span of time. She retired, but she still has a huge impact in the game in terms of golf and her wonderful foundations.

What’s the craziest lie you ever told?

When I was young, my parents had this leather couch, and I remember I cut it up and I taped it back together. My mom saw it, and she was like, ‘What is this?’ And I said I don’t know who did it. Let’s just say it didn’t end well for me.

So I take it she didn’t believe you?

Of course not. I was the only person in the house. Who else could it have been but me? I don’t know why I cut up the couch, but I got a lot of heat for that one.

I really like Serena. She’s absolutely amazing.

What will you always be the champion of?

NBA 2K. I’m actually a big video game person, and the Warriors are unbeatable on that game now.

Isn’t it cheating if you play with the Warriors?

Well, the last time I played, I played with the [San Antonio] Spurs.

What’s your favorite social media outlet?

I don’t know if YouTube is considered “social media,” but the reason I like YouTube is that it doesn’t only give you the visuals. It also gives you the ability to hear and to see what people are talking about. There’s so much information on YouTube; I get lost in YouTube all the time.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Will Smith’s “Summertime.” I’m not a good singer, and I don’t like being in front of people knowing I can’t sing, so at least I can bring a whole bunch of energy if I’m rapping.

What’s the first concert you ever went to?

I wanna say an NSYNC concert.

How old were you?

About 5 [laughs]. I really loved NSYNC when I was younger. And the Backstreet Boys.

When did you realize you were making a name for yourself in golf?

When I started getting national attention. From Ebony and Jet and a CNN segment with Fredricka [Whitfield]. And I also do motivational speaking. All those things together let me know that people actually want to see me!

What do you talk about in your motivational speeches?

I usually talk to the youth about developing character strength and persevering through the same struggles that I went through when I was a teen.

What would you tell your 15-year-old self?

It gets no easier. I had a lot of false interpretations of what the golf world was really like. I thought if I just reached this level of success in my golf game it would be cruising from there, but that has not been the case. There’s always a different challenge.

What’s one thing you can’t get on the bandwagon for?

I can’t stand macaroni and cheese.

Are we talking boxed macaroni? Because boxed macaroni is nasty and I’ll never touch it.

I’m talking homemade, Thanksgiving, your grandma made it.

You don’t like grandma’s mac and cheese?

I’m not a big cheese person.

What’s the last stamp on your passport?

Puerto Rico. That was where I shot my last show, [Golf Channel’s] Big Break [in 2013].

What’s one habit that you wish you could break?

I sometimes procrastinate. When I need to get something done, I wait until the last hour or two before it needs to get done rather than doing it immediately.

Have you ever been starstruck?

I briefly met Boris Kodjoe. I didn’t think he was going to be as gorgeous in person. But Boris really is gorgeous.

If you could be any athlete, dead or alive, who would you pick?

Michael Jordan. I know he’s a male, but he’s absolutely incredible.

Every Valentine’s Day my dad sends me two dozen roses.

I’m sure it feels great to wake up and be Michael Jordan. Who’s your favorite athlete of all time?

Serena [Williams]. I really like Serena. She’s absolutely amazing.

Is it better to look perfect and be late or just OK and be on time?

Just OK and on time. I am a stickler for being on time.

What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve ever received?

Every Valentine’s Day my dad sends me two dozen roses.

Do you have any rituals before a big competition?

I’m kind of superstitious. I have to put my clothes out perfectly, I have to get a certain amount of sleep. I’m very particular in my routine before I go out.

What’s the last show you binge-watched on Netflix?

House of Cards.

What’s the last museum you walked through?

The National Archives. I saw the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and it was really cool.

Where does your courage come from?

I have a courageous view of things because I know that God is in control. No matter what, everything is going to be OK at the end of the day. That’s what drives me through my days.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

I briefly met Lee Elder in Orlando. I remember him giving me encouraging words. He said, ‘Keep it going, you’re doing really well.’ That coming from him, his stature and what he’s done for golf, that’s the best advice [I got] from a golfer.

NBA standout Serge Ibaka is a standout single father too ‘To me, to be a father, it’s a dream,’ says the forward as he celebrates his first Father’s Day with his 11-year-old daughter Ranie

The bond between a father and a daughter is unbreakable — even when it’s not one forged at birth. It’s seems like only a minute since NBA forward Serge Ibaka learned he had a daughter. Now, he and 11-year-old Ranie are living in Orlando, Florida, and celebrating their first Father’s Day.

But, Ibaka says, it’s a celebration with a learning curve here in the United States.

On a hot, rainy summer afternoon in his stucco home tucked away in a gated community in Orlando, Ibaka, Ranie and her nanny, Gail Goss, coordinate a day that includes swimming, homework and dinner, where they will discuss their Father’s Day plans.

“I’ve never done Father’s Day before,” Ibaka said. “You know, the funny thing is I never had to spend time on Father’s Day with my daughter, so this is going to be the first time. So, I don’t know what a father does on Father’s Day. When I was young, for me Father’s Day was like one of those days where you wake up in the morning and you say, ‘Hey, Happy Father’s Day!’ to your dad. And then, that’s it. And then he goes to work, and that’s it.

“But here it’s kind of different. You have to be with your kids and then do something. I don’t know what actually I have to do, but I’m just going to learn it. But I’m sure she knows already. She’s going to tell me.”

But Ranie admits to just as much confusion.

“I didn’t know that it was Father’s Day,” Ranie whispered to her dad.

“It’s OK,” Ibaka said. “She didn’t know it was for Father’s Day.”

“I can’t keep on schedule,” Ranie admitted.

NBA free agent Serge Ibabka is going to spend his first Father’s Day with his 11-year-old daughter Ranie.

Preston Mack for The Undefeated

Ibaka said raising Ranie has been the best experience and expression of love for which any person can ask.

“It’s a dream to me, to be a father,” he said. “Since I was young I always dreamed of myself traveling, envisioned at least three, four kids, five. And then, I’m living my dream right now and something I always love to do, and it’s fun. It’s really changed my life. It’s changed everything about me. The way I think and the way I live my life. It changed everything.”

Ranie, a 5-foot-5 fourth-grader, has known of her father since she was 5 years old, but she didn’t get fully acquainted with him until recently. Born in Congo, Ibaka left his family and his home to pursue a basketball career in Europe at the age of 17. But before he left, unbeknownst to him, he’d fathered a child. Ranie’s mother informed Ibaka’s father, Desire, of the news, and he decided to keep it a secret. It was Desire’s thought that Ibaka would not have pursued his basketball career if he knew he had a child back home. So Desire took on a paternal role and helped raise Ranie until it was decided that he come clean.

“I was young when I found out,” Ibaka said. “And I was shocked a little bit because it’s something new. And then I didn’t know what to do, what to say or how to react. And I was like, OK, I’m a dad now. But a couple of days I start feeling better, and like I said, it was something I used to dream about always. I want to have kids, and now I want to have more. So, it’s fun.”

Ibaka said what he looks forward to most in raising Ranie is her education and continuing to be there for her.

“I didn’t really have that opportunity when I was young,” he said. “I put her in a better school. I didn’t have the opportunity, so to me I want to make sure everything I didn’t have, I want her to have that. And it’s just like kind of my challenge. I’m trying myself to be there for her. Make sure even if I’m busy, because my dad was so busy when I was young. I really didn’t have a lot of opportunity to spend with my dad. But it is kind of normal for me now, but I don’t want that to happen with my daughter. And I try to be my best I can to be with her and spend time.”

Ibaka said his decision to move Ranie to the U.S. was difficult for her mother.

“You know, the funny thing is I never had to spend time on Father’s Day with my daughter, so this is going to be the first time. So, I don’t know what a father does on Father’s Day.”

“I had to explain to her, it’s best for our daughter to come here to the United States, where she can have a better education,” Ibaka explained. “The school system is a little better. And she’s going to be close with me and, like I said before, for a daughter, they need a dad. So it was a little harder, and she did not understand, but now everything’s going smoothly.”

French is Ranie’s first language, but it didn’t take her long to learn English, Ibaka said.

“I put her in American school since she was in Congo because I knew that at some point she had to come here. So, I wanted her to be ready when she’d come here.”

Raising a young daughter at a young age as a man does, however, presents a lot of challenges.

“But it’s kind of a good challenge, especially for a man like me,” Ibaka said. “I’m still young and having a little girl, and they just make you see a lot of things differently. The way you do things because you’ve got a daughter, and they really make you a better man. I love that.”

What he would tell his daughter about guys when it’s time to date?

“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Take it easy,” he said with a shy smile. “It’s too early. When the time comes, I’m sure we’re going to sit down. We’re going to talk. But it’s too early. It makes me nervous now. But I know the time is going to come. Everything has a time. And when the time comes, we’re going to sit down. We’re going to talk.”

Ibaka’s journey includes leaving Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo to become an integral part of the Oklahoma City Thunder after being drafted in the first round by the then-Seattle SuperSonics with the 24th overall pick of the 2008 NBA draft. He went from dazzling with his defensive and offensive skills on the court with the Thunder to a brief stint with the Orlando Magic, and now his most recent stint is with the Toronto Raptors.

Ibaka founded the Serge Ibaka Foundation just after meeting his daughter, with the goal of furthering his humanitarian efforts in Africa. Ibaka desires to inspire children around the world to believe in themselves and in their chances no matter how hard their circumstances are.

With the help of NBA Cares and UNICEF, Ibaka has provided resources and hope for Congo natives in the past few years by bringing basketball, pro athletes, celebrities and charities together through his various philanthropic efforts, to provide support, spread awareness and open a dialogue about the issues and attributes of his homeland. In April, Ibaka was elected to the board of directors of the National Basketball Players Association Foundation.

Ibaka opened up about first setting sight on Ranie in the 2016 documentary Son of the Congo: This is Africa. He said he’s now getting used to being a single father, but it’s not that easy.

Ranie was born in Congo and was raised by his family unbeknownst to him until a few years ago.

Preston Mack for The Undefeated

“I have to spend time with her and make sure because she needs me. I want to be here for her and make sure we spend time together.”

While Ranie is quickly becoming acclimated to her new life, it wasn’t an easy transition.

“It was a little hard in the beginning for myself,” Ibaka said. “And with basketball at the same time, and then with her, she didn’t understand in the beginning because in the NBA we travel a lot. We’re always on the road. So she really didn’t understand, and she had to get used to and understand my daddy’s busy, and that’s how the things go. So, she’s getting better. She understands, and she’s getting used to now.”

Ibaka is the third youngest in a family of 18.

“The oldest, my sister, is 35,” Ibaka said. “It’s good to have a lot of brothers and sisters, you know? You got family. It’s always good to know you got family. That’s enough, because it’s kind of normal where I come from. It’s kind of normal. I always grow up in a family place, a house. That’s why I love kids.”

Ibaka is known for his fashion-forward style, and Ranie is following his lead. Described as equally stylish and one who takes pride in her wardrobe, the two often debate about who is the best dresser in the household.

“Well, she thinks she’s better than me,” Ibaka explained of Ranie’s wardrobe. “She thinks she’s better than me. So we always try to challenge each other, because she knows. But I’m sure she’s watching me all the time, how I dress, and then she kind of picks it up a little bit. So, she loves to dress too.”

Many teen fathers who are also the primary custodian sometimes have fears. But Ibaka said he’s not afraid.

“Well, yeah, I’m a very strict father,” he said. “But I don’t try to do too much. But I make sure I’m strict.”

“I don’t know why, but I’m not really afraid to be a father,” he said. “I try a lot to be a father. And, like I say again, I’m going to try to give her the best education I can. Sometimes we try, we do everything, but it ends up the way we don’t want. But that’s life, you know.

“But at least I know I’m going to try. I’m know I’m going to give my best. I’m going to make sure I’m here for her. Put her in the better position for her to grow up like a sweet little girl. And then everything is not really in my power too. But I just want to make sure, at least I want to tell myself in the next couple of years, you do the best you can.

“Well, yeah, I’m a very strict father,” he said. “But I don’t try to do too much. But I make sure I’m strict. I’m trying to raise my daughter the best way I can, you know? Maybe I didn’t have the opportunity. I didn’t have that chance. But I’m going to give my daughter that.”

Ibaka said he wouldn’t change anything about being a single father.

“So far I think I don’t want to change anything because everything’s going smoothly right now. And then, she’s smart. She’s doing great in school. She’s listening. She respects me. I always tell her, respect people. Thank God everything’s going smoothly.”

Ibaka enlisted the help of Goss, who has experience as a nanny to other Orlando-based NBA players. Goss, a mother of two and minister from Mississippi, has been Ranie’s caregiver for more than one year. She’s known around the league as “Miss Gail.”

Ibaka met Miss Gail when he first moved to Orlando, and she’s been like family ever since.

“I got here, I was looking for a nanny,” he explained. “Someone to take care of my daughter. So, my assistant, he was working on it. And then that’s how we found Miss Gail. And then because I kind of know her story a little bit. She used to work with all those players before, so I was, like, maybe she understands NBA life, how NBA life goes.”

Since Ranie is new to Father’s Day and the culture surrounding the celebration, she’s still figuring out her plans for her famous father.

“I really don’t know,” she said when asked what they were going to do.

On a normal day, they spend time doing various activities.

“We go to the movies. Go to Universal [Studios], swim, play Uno.”

She wants a cellphone, but Ibaka is against it.

“I want to raise her the way I’ve been raised,” he explained. “Like my mom, father, because the new generation is kind of different right now. Everything is going fast. Because I’m kinda person where I never forget where I come from. Even everything I want out of my life, I never want to change the way I think, the way I am. I want to stay the same person. You know, that’s why, and I have the kind of same mentality of raising my daughter too. Because now, everybody having iPhone, everybody having this, everything like that, I have to change the way I think. I would have to change the way I do my thing. You know? I don’t want to that, so that’s how I am.”

Ranie wants to be a doctor and a tennis player but her father said she keeps changing her mind, at first desiring to become a lawyer.

“No, I never wanted to be a lawyer,” Ranie said. “You told me you wanted me to be a lawyer.”

“It’s true love,” Ibaka admitted about fatherhood. “You never go wrong with true love. It’s easy and natural.”

Preston Mack for The Undefeated

La La Anthony wants everyone to know she’s still standing The truth about the mom, actor, author and fashionista’s professional — and personal — star power

La La Anthony breezes into the atrium of Washington, D.C.’s, Mandarin Oriental hotel in curve-accenting fitness gear, fresh from a studio cycle workout. With her hair pulled back in a smart ponytail, scarf tied around her head, sunglasses covering her eyes and not a stitch of makeup on, she’s easily the most beautiful — and the most composed — woman in the space.

Take a deep breath.

And exhale.

Because La La is back. And she’s standing — perhaps — in the best professional place she’s ever been. In the midst of one of the most challenging personal moments of her life, good things are happening for her creatively. The kinds of things for which La La Anthony has spent years laying down a foundation, and things for which she has been fighting.

“I love acting,” she says between sips of an iced tea. “It’s my passion. I’m aligning myself with some great people … and [I’m] continuing to work on my craft and to audition … showing people that not only is it something I’m doing, it’s something I’m good at. It excites me that it feels like it’s just getting started.”

FYI, from here on, this story contains mild spoilers from Starz’s upcoming season four premiere. But we continue:

Anthony has a number of projects on deck. She just wrapped Furlough with Tessa Thompson and Oscar winners Whoopi Goldberg and Melissa Leo. She shot Double Play with Ernest Dickerson, who, among other things, directed Tupac Shakur in the 1992 classic Juice. And Queen Latifah and Anthony have plans to turn her No. 1 New York Times best-seller, 2014’s The Love Playbook, into a film. Lastly, the season four premiere of Starz’s much-watched Power lands June 25, and LaKeisha Grant, as portrayed by Anthony, went missing last season. As many have smartly guessed, she’s back.

La La Anthony (as LaKeisha Graham), Naturi Naughton (as Tasha St. Patrick)

Courtesy of Starz

That all of this is happening for her as her marriage to star New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is in turmoil is unfortunate, but what Anthony wants everyone to know is, she’s still standing. “It’s a different space for me right now, but a great moment for me, and a powerful one at that. I’m still here. I’m still successful. I’ve been thrown a bad hand at different times in my life, and I’ve never let that stop me from … persevering. And if that’s what I can lend to another woman, then I feel like that’s the success,” she said. “I’ve found the power in that.”

“It’s a different space for me right now, but a great moment for me, and a powerful one, at that. I’m still here. I’m still successful.”

Page Six reports that Anthony recently contacted famed divorce attorney Laura Wasser, who has represented Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. But there’s been no word on when — or if — such action will happen between the two, whose love story and nuptials were documented by VH1 in 2010 for the docuseries La La’s Full Court Wedding. High-profile guests such as LeBron James, Ludacris and Serena Williams were in attendance. A spinoff series, La La’s Full Court Life, premiered in 2011 and concluded in 2014. What is known is that the couple have separated — she moved out of their New York apartment on The High Line and now resides in Tribeca.

She also still resides on Power. In the first five minutes of the new season, which last year was the second-highest-rated series on premium pay television, Anthony’s character is revealed from behind a bedroom curtain. She slides it over, showing the world that Keisha, the Keisha who just about everyone had written off, the best friend of Naturi Naughton’s Tasha, is alive and quite well — for now.

So is the actual La La Anthony.

“I learned from Keisha to be careful what you wish for,” said Anthony, “because you just might get it. She wanted the life so bad, and now she’s getting pieces of [it] and realizing, ‘Oh s—, this isn’t what I thought it was!’ But now you’re in so deep, you can’t really get out. Or if you get out, there’s going to be repercussions.”

Anthony says that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. “We’re always looking at her saying, I want that. Why can’t I have that? But you don’t know the prices [those things] come with. You don’t know the struggles that [people are] going home with every day just because on the ’Gram it looks good. People are going home, feeling depressed, popping pills, doing all kinds of s—. You don’t know! So my thing is being satisfied with what you have, because what you have is meant for you. That’s what I’ve been learning in life, and that’s what I’m learning from my character.”

In May at the celebrity-filled Met Gala, a black-tie extravaganza that raises funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, Anthony shut the entire place down. Wearing a Thai Nguyen Atelier gown with a high neck and Lorraine Schwartz jewels, Anthony stepped out solo and stunted on everyone.

Everyone.

Instagram Photo

She captioned her Instagram photo with one word: Unbreakable. “The Met Gala was a moment for me. I didn’t expect it to be all that big of a moment, but it was such an amazing feeling, just being there,” she said. “I went alone this year … and to have such love, and such great feedback … I loved it.”


Alani Nicole Vazquez was born in Brooklyn, New York, almost 38 years ago. She started out as a popular radio DJ, and in 2001 she became one of MTV’s go-to veejays as co-host of two of their most popular shows: Direct Effect and Total Request Live. That same year she had her first film cameo, in Two Can Play That Game, which starred Vivica A. Fox and Morris Chestnut. She also portrayed herself in a 2003 episode of HBO’s Sex and the City. Eventually, she dove headfirst into an acting career, determined to make Hollywood see her as more than a dope interviewer.

She met Carmelo Anthony through their mutual friend, DJ Clue, and the NBA star proposed on Christmas in 2004. Married in 2010 after being in a relationship for seven years, their son, Kiyan, is 10 years old.

Outside looking in, she has a charmed life. Anthony’s friendship circle is mighty, and filled with powerful women: Ciara, Kelly Rowland, Kim Kardashian West and tennis superstar Williams are all close friends. But the truth is, many people count Anthony as a close and trusted go-to friend.

“The Met Gala was a moment for me. I went alone this year … and to have such love and such great feedback … I loved it.”

“I had a friend yesterday, we kind of had a back-and-forth. I was like, ‘I just want you to know that I really appreciate you doing this for me.’ And they’re like, ‘Of course I’m going to do it for you!’ ”

Anthony says she has a need to make sure people understand that she doesn’t expect anything. “I’m so appreciative of anything that He does for me,” she says of her relationship with God. “My mom grew up in [Brooklyn’s] Marcy Projects — this life? The Mandarin, Oriental? This is not supposed to be my life, and for this to be what it is? I never lose sight of that, no matter how long I’ve been in business, no matter how successful I’ve been, no matter how much money I’ve made. I never lose sight of that, because this wasn’t the plan. And because of that, I’m so grateful for anything in my life that I work really hard for.”

On her birthday this year, June 25, Power premieres. The coincidence isn’t lost on her that on the date she was born her career enters a new phase. She now is a principal character on the series, and this season LaKeisha’s arc is essential to the story. This is the first time Anthony has been a principal member of any cast. She’s an actor, not a vanity thrill-seeker who wants to do side projects when simply being famous isn’t enough. This is who she really is. It’s who she’s aspired to be for so long. And finally, she says, people are getting it.

Anthony is also invested in producing great work. She co-produced 2015’s Eclipsed, an all-black, all-female play that was penned by actress and playwright Danai Gurira and ran off-Broadway at New York City’s Public Theater. It featured Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and was that theater’s fastest-selling new production in recent history. It later moved to Broadway at the John Golden Theatre in 2016.

Anthony also has an overall deal with iTV, one of the largest production companies in the U.S., and she’s gearing up to produce a bunch of nonscripted television, including a show on VH1 she’s doing with music producer Timbaland called Goal Diggers, which centers on women becoming entrepreneurs. “The purpose of a show like that is female empowerment,” she says between nibbles of eggs, avocado and turkey bacon. “You can start somewhere and become something else. You can be an Instagram model who seems [a certain] way, and now you’ve got a business. It goes back to … not putting people in boxes. If I’d continued to be put in a box, I’d still be La La from MTV, or La La who’s on the radio with Ludacris. And that would still be who I am, but I broke out of that. I can do other things.”

And one of those things is to inspire other women — that’s important to her. In spite of everything. Perhaps because of everything.

“We have to learn how to focus on putting us first. In my life, I spent so much time putting everyone else before me that I didn’t realize how much I was lacking in things that I needed for myself. And when you have a child, that is a very hard thing to do, because my son is my world. When you’re in relationships or marriage, it’s hard to do,” she says. “I’m learning to put my needs first. Because if I’m great, then I can be great for everyone else in my life. That’s a hard thing to do. When you’re a nurturer, you’re always worried about taking care of everyone else. ‘I don’t care about how I’m doing. I want to make sure you’re OK. Are you OK? Do you need anything?’ It’s something I want women to continue to work on, to learn.”

And don’t think the tweets and Instagram comments are being missed by her. She sees them, and the supportive ones warm her heart. “I feel the love in a time when I do need it, and that’s appreciated,” says Anthony. “ It doesn’t go unnoticed. It keeps me going, through tough times. It means a lot to me.”

Daily Dose: 6/9/17 NASA selects black woman as part of new astronaut class

I’m in Bristol, Connecticut, on Friday to appear on Outside The Lines, so if you’re around a television at 1 p.m. EST, tune in to give your boy a look-see talking about the best stories of the week. I will not be wearing a hat this time, I promise.

In the classic film White Men Can’t Jump, there is much trash talk. And in one particular scene, a guy decides that “your mama’s an astronaut” is a serious insult. It’s so off the wall and ridiculous that his opponent takes mega offense and loses it. But let’s be clear, being an astronaut is awesome. And for Jessica Watkins, her childhood dream of becoming one just came true. A researcher at the California Institute of Technology, she was one of 12 people picked by NASA for its newest class. This story is so excellent that it makes me want to cry.

If you don’t know who Gwen Bunn is, you will soon. She’s a producer, an artist and a songwriter who came to fame when she linked up with Top Dawg Entertainment’s ScHoolboy Q for the song “Collard Greens.” But she chose to stay independent instead of signing with a big label because she wants to maintain her flexibility as an artist. Here’s a cool story about how she got there. But, while you’re here, make absolutely sure you check out SZA’s new album CTRL, because it’s incredible.

When it comes to being progressive, the NBA is as good as any league in the U.S. And not just in terms of what its players are saying when the cameras are on, but also in regard to what happens behind the scenes to keep their league diverse. Now a few teams are working with Jopwell, which places minority candidates in positions with major firms. And they don’t just work with the NBA. They’ve got agreements with the U.S. Tennis Association, and in general they keep these pipelines open. Half of the startup team is a former Yale guard.

Last night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, something foul happened. At one point, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators decided to renew their little rivalry in a game that was otherwise a blowout. Sid The Kid at one point was grinding Subban’s head into the ice as a way to tweak him. OK, whatever. But then NBC’s Mike Milbury gets on the camera saying that he deserved it, for God knows what reason. Oh, wait. Yeah, Milbury’s the reason that hockey will be forever stuck in the Stone Age.

Free Food

Coffee Break: It’s summertime now, so you’re going to be dealing with something that we all hate: bugs. Whether it’s keeping them off your body, out of your food or out of your house, they’re a problem. Some of us use the old magazine/newspaper method for the latter, but if you’re a humane person, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has something you can work with.

Snack Time: There are people actually paying money to walk around Brooklyn, New York, in tour groups as part of some “ghetto safari” experience, and these people are the worst. I’m so angry at just the concept, never mind execution.

Dessert: Sometimes, it’s rough with the fam. But we’re all gonna make it if we try. Happy weekend, kiddos.

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Serena Williams’ maternity style is a grand slam The tennis legend and mother-to-be is ruling the baby bump fashion game

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard that Serena Williams, tennis goddess and one of the best athletes on this here planet Earth, is pregnant. Folks are so ready for any and all news about Williams’ bambino, her impending nuptials to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and what she’s wearing as the couple traipses across the globe on a superglamorous babymoon.

One of the biggest surprises about Willams’ pregnancy — besides her sister, Venus, accidentally spilling the beans to the press about the baby’s gender (a girl!) — has been her maternity style. Take a peek at her Instagram page, which has 5.8 million followers, and notice the subtle fashion change. Since she announced her pregnancy in April, Williams has been stepping out in classic, elegant attire.

It started with the custom green silk halter maternity dress that she wore to the Met Gala. Williams’ longtime fashion stylist, Kesha McLeod, was responsible for giving us the first taste of the new Serena aesthetic: sexy and dramatic, yet understated and well-executed. Williams’ new “work” clothes have veered toward the conservative side, with hemlines hitting her knee and made in soft fabrics that flatter her incredible, muscled-like-nobody’s-business body. The makeup and hair are elegant and pretty. Williams is the now the very picture of a calm, meditative madonna, a blossoming mama-to-be.

But hold on for a minute. We’re all here for the #blackgirlgoals, but where is our Serena? You know, the 23-time Grand Slam champion who plays tennis in leatherette catsuits, gladiator tennis boots, miles of weave, tons of jewelry, makeup and nails. Not that folk expected a nine-month circus show, but we are talking about a world-class athlete who has spent the past 20 years staring down anyone who came at her wrong for being too flashy, too urban, not feminine enough, too much of her own woman. Surely, the ruthless assassin who killed weaker women on the pro tennis circuit before the breakfast dishes were cleared would dress the same part as a very fit pregnant lady.

And though Williams’ turn at demure appropriateness isn’t at all what we expected from “La Williams of Compton,” we’re actually getting what we need from someone who has titillated us with her style antics. Not that she would have, but Williams could have gone the Kim Kardashian, “Kanye only likes me in stilettos when I’m pregnant” route. Or the way of her also-pregnant BFF, Beyoncé, whose deep dive into belly-baring African Earth Mother goddessdom has temporarily shut Sasha Fierce all the way down.

Seems our Serena is more than ready to make the transition from single, multimillionaire megastar to wife of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur geek and mom of a (very) genetically blessed baby. And the hardcore fashionista who already has a successful clothing line sold on HSN now has a legitimate shot at designing a maternity line for active, fit moms if she wants. Williams would be the perfect model, and you just know she’d knock that ball out of the park. So, serve it up, mama. We’re all here for it.


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Serena went casual chic with a simple cotton, polka dot-print dress with hip, but comfy Chanel espadrilles when she announced that she’d joined the board of SurveyMonkey.

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Guests who attended Beyoncé’s star-studded baby shower came dressed in African-inspired clothing. Serena’s traditional head wrap was colorful and fun.

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A patterned shirt dress and beautiful nude pumps can make any woman look good. Serena knows these things because Serena is the GOAT.

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Nothing says summertime at an amusement park like a denim overall shorts set. This particular one happens to be worn by the best pound-for-pound athlete in the world.

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The dress that started it all: Serena’s curve-hugging Versace Met Gala gown debuted her baby bump in the best, most fashionable way possible.

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Taking a style cue from Michelle Obama’s closet, perhaps? The wide leather belt gave Ms. Williams the illusion of a waist.

My three sons: Mother of ‘Queen Sugar’ star Kofi Siriboe on raising her Hollywood heartthrobs Supermom Koshie Mills on her Mother’s Day surprise and her ‘three kings’

Koshie Mills’ three sons have distinct personalities, and they all correspond with the personas of well-known and accomplished actors.

The eldest is the life of the party, a charismatic cross between comedians-turned-actors Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx (“The party starts when he arrives,” she jokes). The middle son is more like Denzel Washington: “He is more introspective and philosophical​; he’s my charmer; everyone flocks to him,” she explains. The baby is a Denzel/Will Smith mix in the group. Dubbed “the diplomat,” he’s​ “the spiritual conscience of the brothers and always pushing others to view life from different perspectives,” Mills said.

And this supermom knows her sons very well.

“I call them my three kings, like the three kings who visited baby Jesus,” said Mills, a Ghana-born, London-bred and “Los Angeles-curated” international media strategist. “Each brings his own unique gift, and there’s power in each of those gifts.”

Like most any proud mother, Mills can’t contain her excitement when she speaks of her “boys” — well, fawning and gushing is more like it. And she’s got plenty of reason to do so.

Her middle son, Kofi Siriboe, 23, is best known for his breakout role as Ralph Angel Bordelon on Ava DuVernay’s drama series Queen Sugar on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The swarthy heartthrob began acting at age 6 with print work and television commercials, followed by ​guest ​roles on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and a ​recurring role on MTV’s ​comedy series Awkward. He made his film debut in 2008 in the comedy-drama The Longshots.

The eldest, Kwame Boateng, 25, got an early start too, acting and modeling at age 8 and appearing in more than 30 national commercials and movies, including Not Easily Broken, a film based on a T.D. Jakes book. He also snagged roles on television shows The Chicago Code, The Office, ER and Everybody Hates Chris.

At 18, Kwesi Boakye is the youngest of the brood. (“He booked his first job at 9 months,” gushed Mills.) He played Manny in the 2009 Tyler Perry film I Can Do Bad All By Myself and has also previously done voice work for The Looney Tunes Show and The Amazing World of Gumball. He has also ​starred in television shows such as TNT’s Murder In The First with Taye Diggs, ABC’s Mind Games, Touch, The Mentalist and Hawaii Five-O and as a series regular on Ray Romano’s Men of a Certain Age.

Being “mom” to three of Hollywood’s brightest rising stars is no small feat. Add in a flourishing, nearly 26-year marriage and helming her own full-service, boutique multimedia firm based in Beverly Hills, California, and it’s safe to say that this “mom-ager” is, like Jill Scott sings of, living life like it’s golden.

From left to right: Actors/brothers Kwame Boateng, Kwesi Boakye and Kofi Siriboe pose after the making of a TV commercial for Code Blue PSA Campaign, designed by actor Jermaine Crawford on Oct. 17, 2009, in Los Angeles. Crawford created Code Blue to bring awareness of and to fight against the issues that threaten teen youth.

Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

After many years solo, Mills now shares management duties and also serves as publicist and does branding for all three. Having dear old mom so inextricably intertwined in their lives both personally and professionally is not a problem, they insist, but a plus.

“Our relationship is very special. I’m a mama’s boy,” confessed Siriboe, who is slated to appear this summer alongside Regina Hall, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith in the Universal Pictures flick Girls Trip. “My mom is one of those people with a big, nurturing spirit, so even simple moments with her feel like pure nourishment for my soul. There’s a level of assurance I carry that trickles into my work, no doubt. I fully trust my mom, and I know she always has my back; that trust allows me the space to be as expansive as God intended me to be.”

Boateng said he feels similarly.

“It was my mom that started me in the business, so obviously she has been instrumental in nurturing this passion I have for the arts and entertainment. She helped develop me and put me in classes and supported and cultivated my dream, so her impact is undeniable,” Boateng said. “My mom is my best friend, confidant, my ride-or-die, the person I go to when I need counseling or help dealing with life decisions and challenges. My mom makes me feel like there is nothing I can’t tell her, and our transparent relationship is precious to me.”

Kwesi, who graduates from high school next month and ​i​s currently in a ​recurring role on the USA Network’s Colony, echoed his brothers’ sentiments. “She’s very hands-on, and it’s dope,” he said. “She’s like a guardian angel. She makes sure that I am taken care of, that I’m not taken advantage of.”

Mills laughs at the assertion that all three of her uber-talented sons hold their own as bona fide “bae” status (some of their adoring fans have even nicknamed them “Triple Chocolate Crunch”). While flattered, she said, she’s most proud that they’ve developed into positive, respectful and upstanding young men who are equally proud of both their American and African roots and give back to the community.

When she thinks back to the 10 years she spent solo managing their careers in film, television, voice-over and modeling work, she can’t help but feel a personal sense of accomplishment. Somehow she juggled it all around their schooling, extracurricular activities and, through much of it, a full-time job working overnight as a registered nurse.

Oprah Winfrey Network’s Queen Sugar premiere at the Warner Bros. Studio Lot Steven J. Ross Theater on Aug. 29, 2016, in Burbank, California.

“Acting was just another one of their hobbies,” she said. “All of them played instruments: Kwesi played the violin, Kofi played the trumpet and violin, Kwame played the bass clarinet and viola. Then there was soccer, basketball and tennis too. Kwame and Kofi played golf, but Kwesi didn’t [because] I was too tired by then.”

Her husband, Kwame Boakye, cared for them while she worked and made sure they got to school each morning, giving her just enough time to rush home to grab two hours of sleep after work before calls from casting agents started pouring in around 10 a.m. There were always last-minute auditions or jobs across town that clashed with school schedules.

“At one point I had one in elementary, one in middle and one in high school — that’s three stops I had to make,” remembered Mills, chuckling at the memory. “Even if only one had a job, I had to [pick] them all [up] because I could not risk being across town [for their gig] and miss picking the others up from school in time. Sometimes I wonder, ‘Who was that woman back then?’ I did it with God and my husband right there holding us down financially and supporting us.”

Even with their natural, God-given abilities, Mills said, cultivating the talent within her brood took time and sacrifice. For example, on countless evenings after a long day on set, she’d meet her husband, style aficionado and fashion consultant, in arbitrary parking lots to hand the boys off to him, car seats and all, just in time to race to work at the hospital. And then there were the afternoons she’d meet up with teachers at McDonald’s to scoop up a child (or children) stuck at school late when another’s acting job ran long.

She finally ended her 19-year nursing career in 2011 to devote herself full time to her sons’ careers.

“I hope my story will inspire others to recognize, curate and nurture the talents of their children,” she said. “Never give up hope, and seize the moment when it’s at hand.”

She insists that her K3 firm, which provides media relations, branding, strategic support and talent management for her diverse mix of mostly international clients, was inspired by her sons because their “talents needed the various platforms to shine.”

Added Mills, regarding her company: “It was literally born out of a mother’s love to give her children the recognition they deserved for the great work they are doing in Hollywood.”

Her passion for her family runs as deeply as her West African roots, which she and her husband have always shared with their children through music, language and their favorite: food. Mills is far from meek when speaking of her cooking skills. During the holidays, one of the rare times the entire family is all together under one roof, her sons always flock home to Los Angeles, ready for one of her world-famous feasts.

“I’m very African but I am also very American, and so they were raised on a mix of both African and American foods, like jollof rice, fufu and soup,” she said. “My recipes for greens, mac and cheese, and gumbo will make somebody want to smack their mama.”

Mills said she remains committed to serving as a “connector to bridge the creative gap between Africa and America,” and she hopes to one day soon spearhead an initiative that helps to “rebrand the dastardly images [often] perpetuated in the media about our black boys.” Well, it seems her three sons have already gotten a jump on that idea.

“I always taught them to be strong black men, to be leaders and not followers,” she said. “We’ve tried to raise them with a sense of identity, and to let them know that they are vessels and vehicles for their talent, not the drivers of it.”

Mills said she’s not sure what her sons and husband are planning to pull off for her this Mother’s Day weekend, but she expects it to be epic. The K brothers don’t disappoint.

“For sure we have some plans, lots of designer gifts,” quipped Kwesi, stopping short of spoiling any impending surprises. “She has expensive taste, and she loves luxury. And she deserves it.”

Anthony Hemingway of WGN’s ‘Underground’ is creating some of the dopest — and wokest — culture on screens The director loves pingpong and ‘Good Times’ — and says Colin Kaepernick is his favorite athlete

Anthony Hemingway is here to teach. He’s a director, yes. But the work he’s been creating, on film and on television, informs us about history and pushes us to have complicated, and at times uncomfortable, conversations about contemporary headlines. Hemingway, from New York, has been working on WGN’s powerful Underground, a thriller about life on the Underground Railroad. He directed that impactful recent episode that featured a brilliant Aisha Hinds as former slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and he also recently directed an episode of Fox’s intensely socially conscious limited series Shots Fired. And he’s got more important, teachable work on the way.


Does championing the truth inform the decisions that you make as a director? You’re part of #WokeWednesdays with your TV projects.

Yes. As I look back on my life, and at the elevations I’ve made, the blessings I’ve had and what really connects and speaks to me in terms of material, it all has some social relevance to it, some social connection, and I’m very thankful for that. It’s something that I don’t seek out. It’s something that really finds me. That’s how I operate. I’m thankful that what I do and what I’m able to really champion as a director or a filmmaker is not in vain. It really is serving a purpose and being meaningful.

What’s your favorite throwback TV show?

Most of what I loved growing up had a pretty comedic drive to it … a lot of the [Norman Lear] sitcoms, so it was done in ways that [told] a great story and made a connection, or was relevant. Like Good Times or What’s Happening. These shows affected my life and were a part of what shaped my childhood. I love the early sitcoms — those shows that I saw myself in.

What made you want to be a director?

I was 16 or 17 when I really made the decision to make this my career. I was a production assistant, and … I continued on the production train and became an assistant director. And along the way of AD’ing, I was included in a lot of the creative circles and I was allowed to have a voice. It just started to slowly click … just happened organically.

“I didn’t go to college, so my favorite team is unconventional — it’s the University of Hard Knocks!”

What’s your favorite college team?

I didn’t go to college, so my favorite team is unconventional — it’s the University of Hard Knocks! That’s my favorite team because I’m a product of it. And I’m proud that someone like myself, as a young black man that can be successful and can make it, can be an example to others to realize that there’s more than one way to go about things. I’m not trying to persuade someone not to go to college, because school is very necessary and, I think, important. But it’s not for everyone. I stand strong in knowing that my destiny and divine order was in the way that it happened. And so because it happens for me, it could happen for someone else. So that’s my team!

Favorite pro team?

Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s been a natural, organic favorite of mine because my cousin played for them and won two Super Bowl rings with them. Willie Williams. He was a cornerback for the Steelers. The Jets and the Knicks are also going to be all the way on the list because I’m from New York.

Do you have a favorite athlete?

Colin Kaepernick right now is someone I support because I love what he stands for and what he’s done … not being afraid to voice his point of view. And regardless of the controversy that it caused, I support him.

“I love the early sitcoms — those shows that I saw myself in … I could relate to [them] and even use [them] as somewhat of an education.”

Is there a sports story out there that you’d love to tell?

I’m actually in development on a couple films right now. One is a story about James Harris, who was the first black quarterback in the NFL. He came out of Grambling State University and made it to the Buffalo Bills. The name of the film is called Man on the Field, and it’s the story of his life. The other one that has been a long passion project of mine … is Emile Griffith, who, God rest his soul, passed a couple years ago. But he was a boxer in the ’70s in New York, and the tagline for his story was basically, ‘I killed a man, and the world forgave me. And I loved a man, and the world wants to kill me.’ That touched my heart when I heard that. To see someone who’s just passionate at what they do and love what they do and is amazing at what they do, and because of who they love they get crucified. It’s just one of those things that I think really kind of has multiple connections to many walks of life.

What will you always be a champion of?

Table tennis, pingpong, whatever you want to call it. I’m the master at that. But in terms of life and my focus? I will always champion truth.

Serena Williams’ baby shower wish list What do you get the baby who has everything? Reese Waters has a few ideas

Tennis legend Serena Williams is about to have her first child, which got Reese Waters thinking hard and fast about the perfect gift to bring to the baby shower. He was able to come up with quite a few interesting ones. Don’t kill us for the shots fired, we’re only the messengers! lol