tracee ellis ross tracee ellis ross

A Grown-Up Guide to Playing Dress-Up

--Tracee Ellis Ross’s Facebook page, you know that she’s been directly interacting with her fans much more these days, offering personal photos, both close-up and full-length, discussing her TV viewing preferences, and dishing on favored vintage and designer items in her wardrobe. You may’ve also noticed how sophisticated some of her Instagram pics are and wondered if she has a professional photographer on retainer, just to cover the events of her daily life.

As it turns out, Ross is just a fan of self-portraiture–and she happens to be really good at it. But why would someone who grew up under the glare of fame and lives near-constantly in the public eye now even want to spend her personal time dressing up and photographing herself? Well, there’s a difference between a big, business-related photo shoot, where orders are being barked and wardrobe is assigned, and the kind of silly, sultry, empowering pics you take in the privacy of your home.

The latter is something I know a little bit about. I started taking self-portraits in grad school, as an extension of an intense, belated self-discovery phase. As an introvert, I wanted a private and carefree space within which to explore the sides of my personality I’m reluctant to express in public. It’s surprising how commanding you feel when you direct yourself into character–huntress, mogul, sexpot, urban fairy–and position your body at odd angles, under various tints of light. You’re almost entranced and when you emerge from the moment and look at the photographs it yielded, you barely recognize your resplendent, uninhibited, unapologetically fierce self.

As an experience, I highly recommend it. And, apparently, so does Tracee Ellis Ross. Of her own interest in “playing dress-up,” she has this to say:

"I keep posting these fun pics I take of myself and you all say the loveliest things and you keep liking them. THANK YOUUUUUUUU!!!! I have always loved taking pictures. I love playing dress up and I love any kind of “pretty playtime”. Now with all this technology you can do such fun things to your own pictures you almost don’t need some fancy photoshoot to make great pictures. Anyway, playing dress up, playing with hair and MU, being silly being sexy and sometimes creating characters from my dress up has always been a form of creative expression for me. I was a stylist when I first got out of college and worked in the magazine world @ Mirabella magazine and in the fashion Department of NY Magazine. And I have been dressing up and taking pictures side I came out of my mom’s belly. Images, style, clothing —-I love aesthetics but from a deep place of self expression not necessarily from a place of FASHION. Anyway, I am glad you seem to be enjoying what I enjoy. I see some of your nice pics on Instgram and Twitter…FUN!!!!"

In short: yes. Grown folks play dress-up, too. Some of us get more into it than others. At the height of my interest in the hobby, I’d even hit up Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe and buy one of those insanely cheap dresses I wouldn’t have the nerve to wear in public, just for self-portraiture purposes. I’d dress it up or down, coyly lift the skirt or tug at the bodice, or trouble a strand of faux pearls. Someday, I hope to have a home with an extra room entirely devoted to the practice (If you’re a Community watcher, think Troy and Abed’s Dreamatorium.), where I’d build and break-down photo sets and turn myself into Dorothy Dandridge, Donyale Luna, or Pam Grier in the space of an afternoon.

(Continue reading at Clutch...)

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Premiere: Inayah Lamis Busts The Windows Out Of Toxic Love In Visuals For "Best Thing"

Breakups are never easy but let Inayah Lamis heal your heart with her cheeky video for "Best Thing." Inspired by true events, the Houston native sings about bitter feelings about love gone astray.

The emotional ballad is simple in production thanks to the presence of an acoustic guitar, allowing Lamis to show off her vocal chops. Reminiscent of 2000s R&B gems like "I Wished You Loved Me" by Tynisha Keli and recent classics like Tink's "Treat Me Like Somebody," Lamis finds the right words that almost anyone can relate to.

"The track “Best Thing” was birthed from a realtime heartbreak," she tells VIBE. "I went into the lab and wrote it while I was ending a relationship that had a strong hold over me. I literally cried in the booth as I was singing it. My hopes are that every woman or man that has been emotionally broken and taken for granted by a lover will feel comfort in knowing that leaving was the best thing they ever did for themselves."

Thanks to her around the way aura, the video plays off her personality with the presence of "Smakie Lamis" taking Lamis out of her sad girl feels over her deceitful partner, allowing her to hop in the whip and bust out some car windows–even if it's not her beau's car. Directed by Michelle Parker, the video also plays up Lamis' Houston swag as she rides around town in a candy green whip.

The budding singer knows how important her songwriting plays a role in her relationship with fans. Lamis previously shared a bit of her writing style with Refinery29, while opening up about the importance of body positivity.

"Anytime something impacts my life, I write it down and make a song out of it," she said. In her previous visuals for "Suga Daddy," the singer turned up the sexy for a good reason. "I've displayed my confidence as a chunky girl in this video. So many people have things to say about curvy, bigger girls. I feel like we're in a space now where we're able to finally have a voice and be free, and still be sexy. Particularly with the wardrobe, I wanted to show some skin, to show those curves, those back rolls, those fat little pockets I got underneath my chin and shit. I wanted to make sure I displayed that and rocked the hell out of it, confidently."

Lamis is gearing up to release her debut EP S.O.L.A.R. (Storytelling Over Lyrics and Rhymes) on Dec. 13. The singer hopes to share more stories her fans will appreciate and the masses will adore. Her come-up is a digital grassroots movement thanks to her remake of Ella Mai's "Boo'd Up" in 2018 leading to her debut studio single  "N.A.S.," an acronym for "Ni**as ain't S**t."

 

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BEST THING CHALLENGE 🔥 -Stream/Download my new song BEST THING -DM me your videos -No instruments -No music -Just you & your voice -#Bestthingchallenge

A post shared by Aʅʅ I Nҽҽԃ Iʂ Oɳҽ Mιƈ... 🎤 (@inayah_lamis) on Nov 18, 2019 at 12:05am PST

Taking things up a notch, Lamis announced the #BestThingChallenge to welcome fellow sangers to show off their vocals.

Before diving into the challenge, enjoy the visuals for "Best Thing" below.

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Singer Whitney Houston is seen performing on stage during the 2004 World Music Awards at the Thomas and Mack Center on September 15, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Whitney Houston's Close Friend Robyn Crawford Details Romantic Relationship In New Memoir

Whitney Houston's personal life has been explored ten times over since her untimely passing in 2012 but one of her closest friends wants to share with the world the Whitney she knew and ultimately fell in love with.

In excerpts to People Wednesday (Nov. 6), Robyn Crawford presents a strong bond between the two in her new memoir, A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston. The singer and Crawford met in their youth while working at a summer camp in East Orange, New Jersey. From there, their friendship blossomed into something more romantic. With homophobia running rampant in the 80s, Crawford says they never looked at labels but enjoyed the experiences they shared together.

“We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay,” writes Crawford. “We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever.”

As their journey continued, Whitney's star began to rise which put allegedly put their romance on ice. “She said we shouldn’t be physical anymore,” writes Crawford. "Because it would make our journey even more difficult. She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us....and back in the ’80s, that’s how it felt. I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence.”

Whitney's relationship with Crawford was mentioned in the 2018 documentary Whitney. Created by the singer's estate, the film focused on the singer's legacy and didn't include first-hand accounts from Crawford. Family members were weary of their special friendship.

"I’ve never seen them do anything but I know that she was something that I didn’t want my sister to be involved with," Whitney's brother Gary stated in the documentary.

But Crawford is finally ready to tell her own story while "lifting" Houston's legacy.

“I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship,” she tells People. "I'd come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship. And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent."

A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston is expected to hit bookshelves this fall.

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Black Music Honors

Keke Wyatt Announces That She's Pregnant With Her Tenth Child

Keke Wyatt has news to share that concerns expanding her family tree. On Monday (Oct. 14), the "If Only You Knew" singer revealed that she's pregnant with her tenth child.

"My husband Zackariah Darring and I are so happy to announce that we are expecting our new bundle of joy!" she wrote on Instagram. "We are excited to welcome the 10th addition to our beautiful family."

The vocalist continued to state that fans can follow her pregnancy journey on her YouTube series The Keke Show where she gives an intimate look at how she balances her career and motherhood.

 

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My husband Zackariah Darring and I are so happy to announce that we are expecting our new bundle of joy! We are excited to welcome the 10th addition to our beautiful family. Stay tuned for the release date & information for my new YouTube Series “The Keke Show” where you will see me balancing Wife, Mommy and Artist!!! Trust me.. it’s never a dull moment with my family. Love ya sugars💋💋💋 photo credit: @keever_west Styled/Designed by: @keever_west Asst: @freddyoart

A post shared by Keke Wyatt (@keke_wyatt) on Oct 14, 2019 at 4:43pm PDT

In an interview with The Christian Post, Wyatt said she believes she has "an anointing with motherhood" and looks at her children as fuel to keep striving in her career.

"I just don't believe in shutting down. I believe in that's what the Lord had for me," she said. "Babies don't get in the way of careers, we get in the way of careers. If that's what the Lord had for me from the very beginning, there's nothing nobody can do and nobody can say."

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