Orange is the New Black: On The Run


Photography: Geoff Barrenger  |  Design: Sammie Lin

When Piper Kerman entered a low-security Connecticut prison in 2009, she had no idea that millions of people would volunteer to share her sentence with her—from couches and bedsides across the globe. Alongside Netflix, this New York memoirist is redefining the viewer experience (and girl power) with an estrogen-fueled collective armed with guts, color and unmatched talent.

Few things are certain as we reflect on a year that will soon pass. Kanye continues to rant, Beyonce is still invincible, Olivia Pope gets it “handled,” and the term “watching television” will never be the same.  For products of a post-Millennium generation, this seemingly normal activity looks archaic, even to the biggest boob tube addict. For those of us born before the birth of Internet TV, childhood memories are punctuated by the images we grew up with—our proverbial social slideshows. Furthermore, those memories are partially, if not completely, inspired by the characters we watched week to week. Whether it be Saturday nights on Nickelodeon, Friday nights with the WB or Saturday morning cartoons, 90’s babies are the last to know what it means to run home after school, eat dinner and do our homework—all for the sake of not missing our weekly dose of entertainment. Back then, we catered to television; today, it caters to us.

While shows like Breaking Bad, Modern Family and anything spawned by Shonda Rhimes, continue to thrive in traditional form (ads included), others are born, revived or syndicated in cyberspace. Needless to say, Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings were light-years ahead of the curve when they created Netflix in 1997. Inspired by a Blockbuster late fee, the DVD subscription service would take the idea of a video rental and up the ante by going to the World Wide Web and offering more than a physical store. Just a few short years later, they would adopt its current model of charging a static monthly fee in exchange for hundreds of titles available for your repeated viewing pleasure. Today, it demolishes similar video streaming sites with over 40 million subscribers, a quarterly net income of over $30 million and an Emmy nominated series (House of Cards). Next year, armed with a new interface that will spread content across multiple platforms with supplemental information typically offered by standard television, Netflix will take shape as a network similar, if not better, than giants like HBO and Showtime.



The thin line between “old school” TV and online streaming is blurred as both compete on an even playing field with both A-list talent and game-changing programming. Enter our November cover girls: the charismatic cast of Orange is the New Black. When showrunner Jenji Kohan brought the show to several networks, it was Netflix that ordered 13 episodes before its pilot even aired. Led by blonde bombshell Taylor Schilling, Orange tells the true story of Piper Kerman (Chapman), a writer whose life is forever changed by a prison stint stemming from a money-laundering scheme with ex-girlfriend Alex Vause. Somewhat naïve, straight-laced and engaged to a fellow WASP, Piper’s interactions with her fellow inmates not only awaken a part of her that she didn’t know existed, but make for binge-worthy indulgence.

Alongside Schilling is an overwhelming pool of talent, from newcomers to seasoned vets. They all wear orange, but their complexities are wide ranged. From a drug-addicted Jesus freak to an undercover lover and wide-eyed “Crazy Eyes,” the women of Orange is the New Black are some of the most progressive female characters to hit the small screen and a flawed prison system where women are separated by race and hierarchies. Somehow, OITNB writers have created a “so wrong it’s right” formula that makes the series worthy of its dramedy label.


Photo Credit: Nicholas Nichols

Those who have marathoned alongside us have grown attached to the actresses who make up this collective—our sassy sorority of misfits. We get a taste of what it feels like to be part of this close-knit clique as we come together on a crisp October morning. Armed with coffee, couture and conversation, four of the ten castmates—Dascha Polanco, Laverne Cox, Vicky Jeudy, and Jessica Pimentel—seem unphased by our early Saturday morning call time as we pile into the Brooklyn-bound SUV. Sandwiched between Laverne, who sits shotgun (“My legs are too long, honey,” she quips before climbing in) and the rest in the rear, a dizzying series of pow wows pop off as our caravan dissects the latest Hollywood gossip. From Miley Cyrus’ VMA twerk heard ‘round the world to Rihanna’s GIF-worthy “Pour It Up” visuals, no stone is left unturned as the OITNB crew continue their witty water cooler convo (which somehow turns into a hilarious exchange about blood types and who could donate to who within their crew.)

By the time we hit the set, we’re joined by Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Yael Stone, Selenis Leyva, Taryn Manning and Elizabeth Rodriguez. It feels like a family reunion as the team embraces as if more than just an evening had passed and everyone darts to the racks of designer duds and accessories. A far cry from their usual jumpsuits and minimal set make-up, these women emerge from captivity a set of stunners, primped to perfection and coiffed for close-ups. Photographed together for the first time since their meteoric rise to television elite, Vixen is poised to not only honor this groundbreaking series, but the incomparable women who help shape its staggering success.

Stay tuned as we profile each and every cover gal to give you an insider’s look at life for TV’s most wanted (and beloved) convicts.

Watch what happened behind-the-scenes after the jump!


Behind-The-Scenes of VIBE Vixen's November cover shoot with the cast of Orange Is The New Black.

Cast and crew indulge in an animated game of Heads' Up, one of our favorite apps c/o Ellen DeGeneres.



Styling: Karin Elgai for ABTP
Hair: Dominick Pucciarello for ABTP
Makeup: Mari Shten for ABTP

On Yael Stone (Lorna Morello):
Navy Gown with Lace Shoulders and Embellishments
On Elizabeth Rodriguez (Aleida Diaz):
Black Chiffon Gown with Geometric Detailing
Gold Mirrored Hoop Earrings
On Vicky Jeudy (Janae Watson):
Borgundy Lace Sequin Strapless Evening Gown
Rolex Link Ultra Stud & Swarovski Necklace
On Jessica Pimentel (Maria Ruiz):
Navy Ruched Jersey Evening Gown with Gold Metal Collar
On Danielle Brooks (Tasha 'Taystee' Jefferson):
Black Jersey Long Sleeve Evening Gown
Black and Gold Tetric Necklace
Tooth and Emerald Swarovski Slim Cuff
Skull and Stud Gold Delicate Cuff
On Uzo Aduba (Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren):
Black Evening Gown with Silver Beading
Gunmetal and Vintage Swarovski Earrings
On Selenis Leyva (Gloria Mendoza):
Black Cap Sleeve Lace Cut Out Gown
Gunmetal Large Hoop Earrings
On Laverne Cox (Sophia Burset):
Red Marilyn Long Convertible Dress
Brass Fringe Necklace with Red Fused Stones
On Dascha Polanco (Dayanara Diaz):
Black Marilyn Long Convertible Dress
Gold Plated Zig Zag Bib Necklace
Gold & Silver Bracelet with a Mix of Chains
Gold & Silver Necklace with a Mix of Chains
On Taryn Manning (Tiffany 'Pennsatucky' Doggett):
Black Maxi Dress with Leather & Lace Detailing
Black Leather Fingerless Driving Gloves

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.


Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...


— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.


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I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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