Empire's Grace Gealey Talks Relationships, Fashion And Empowerment

Grace Gealey has been gracing our Wednesday nights with her beauty and brains by portraying the fierce fiancé of Luscious Lion on FOX’s Empire. Her character, Anika Calhoun (also known as Boo Boo Kitty), deals with the many perils that come from dealing with a man who has a family and a multi-million dollar empire.

While Anika seems to struggle with finding a balance, Grace Gealey knows exactly what she wants for her real life and real relationships.

VIBE Vixen chatted with the actress about her take on life, relationships, and some of her biggest inspirations.

Vixen: Describe what life was like for you as a young girl growing up in the Cayman Islands?
Grace: Amazing. I have a sensational family so I am happily laden with memories of close-knit bonds and island fun. My cousins, sister and I played sports in the backyard, went exploring in the bushes, stained our clothes with mangoes, created treasure hunt maps in the sand, swung in hammocks, climbed trees, had countless beach birthday parties, sold fruit on the side of the street and thanks to my phenomenal grandparents, learned the importance of a good education. I had a ball.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from an influential woman in your life?
My mother is a rock star. She always told me to focus on God. It was so annoying to hear growing up because she said it all the time and I'm like: "Yeah I know, Ma. Geez." As the years went on, I learned just how important that was and how everything aligns once you do that. My spiritual foundation fortifies and carries me through every single situation in my life. So, yup. Ma's pretty dope.

In the show, we see Anika having to deal with an “ex” wife. What’s your take on dating a man who keeps in contact with his “exes” (because of children or business)?
Men have to take the responsibility of establishing the kind of environment that is conducive to everyone's well-being. Compromises must be made on all parts in a fair and mature manner. Once the male backs away from that and you let the power struggle occur between the two women, it can become messy. The same, of course, goes for females if ever in this situation as well.

Anika has some great fashion choices too (along with Cookie). Who are your real-life fashion inspirations?
I love all kinds of styles and I can appreciate anyone who expresses themselves in their own splendor. Every day I dress differently. Sometimes sporty, sometimes edgy, sometimes funky, sometimes boyish. Sometimes glam! Just depends on my mood.

You, along with Keke Palmer and Shanola Hampton, are a part of the “Saving Our Cinderella’s” initiative. What do you hope others can take away from it?
Bullying is so destructive; both for the one doing it and the one being subjected to it. To highlight that is a top objective. But more than that, empowering our young women is vital. Once empowered, it is a tool that will continue to sharpen you for years to come - which is not only irreplaceable but necessary in this world.

What’s your favorite:
Song? "Nothing Can Change This Love I Have For You" by Sam Cooke
Food? Cayman stewed beef
Hobby? Ballroom dancing
Book? The Shack by William P. Young
Designer? Gucci

With all your recent success, what are your plans for the future? Any upcoming projects or events?
I'll keep you updated!

Photo Credit: Gilles Toucas

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'Boomerang' Episode 3 Recap: Stand In Your Power

As the aptly-named episode of BET’s Boomerang kicks off, Bryson is in a deep sleep when his sexual fantasy of Simone riding him like an Amtrak is abruptly cut short after she pulls out a strap-on (um, y’all are grown). Let’s just say, she’s not a football player but she rams. Despite his obvious initial thought, this isn’t a conflict of sexual identity. It’s that feeling of loss of power whenever he’s around the two most important women in his life: Simone and his mother Jacqueline who (FUN FACT) was played by the Queen, Robin Givens in the series’ 1992 film inspiration. First of her name. Mother of no BS. Protector of her pockets. Goddess of You Got the Wrong One. We stan.

While diving deeper into his familial issues, we realize that Jacqueline wasn’t just a ball-buster to Marcus back in the day. A therapy breakthrough reveals that mommy dearest isn’t too affectionate to young Bryson either.  Although she did pull her strings to land Bryson a solid role at the Graham agency, she didn’t make family a priority and that kind of thing sticks with you, ya know? Don’t feel too bad for Bryson just yet because at this point, he will no longer be a “yes, man,” no matter how bomb Simone always looks in her bob.

Just as Bryson decides to boss up, he unexpectedly runs into Simone back at the office who is helping herself to some supplies for her "home office." In a sudden “I can make moves, too” moment, Bryson shares with Simone that her idea (that he’s been persistently pitching)  has finally been greenlit and naturally, sis is annoyed. Marketing an avant-garde black film, such as the project in the episode, “Woke,” has always been a passion of hers.

Within two seconds into listening to his “plan of strategy” to market the movie, it’s obvious that Bryson can’t possibly be Big Bad Bry for too long without asking for Simone’s help. And Simone knows that. At this point, he’s still strong enough to not ask Simone for it but the Hustle Hungry protege takes it upon herself to force it anyway. It’s simple to her. Bryson needs black talent to promote the film and Simone has just the client- Tia. Granted, homegirl can’t sing a note to save her life, but Simone has some tricks and this is way too big of an opportunity to pass up.

Once again at the board meeting, a clearly annoyed Victoria is still over Bryson for previously messing up by being a sucker for love, but she hasn’t lost faith just yet. He still has a shot to prove himself. At an afternoon meeting at their swanky loft, the twin directors of “Woke” try to explain the direction they want for their movie. Although poor Bryson is lost (mainly because their responses barely answer his questions) he hasn’t reached a place of uncertainty to where he feels as if he has to agree with all of Simone’s suggestions. He’s holding it down as Boss Man Bry and he proves that when he reaches the studio. Simone has Tia record two different versions of the track, confident that Bryson would like hers better.

After listening to both, unbeknownst of who is responsible for which, Bryson chooses Tia’s track. He almost even backtracks when he finds out that wasn’t Simone’s vision, but he decides to man up instead and stand his ground, instead.  Yes, he said what he said. Operation Stand in Your Power is in full effect. Simone’s grip on Bryson’s heart slowly slipping. Maybe now she’ll retire from the Rams. *wink, wink*

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Red Bull Music's 'Inspire The Night' Series Introduces Chinese Female DJ Collective

Not only is female empowerment being highlighted across industries in the United States. Through their docu-series Inspire The Night, Red Bull Music is highlighting the NÜSHÙ Workshop, a female music collective hailing from Shanghai. The collective was founded by Lhaga Koondhor, Daliah Spiegel, and Amber Axilla.

In episode three of the series, Shanghai-based NÜSHÙ artist Lin Jirui is highlighted. Jirui, a DJ who mixes techno, gabber and grime in her sets, discusses the importance of music in her life, especially growing up in a strict household where she was often told by her mother "don't be too different."

NÜSHÙ was named for the centuries-old Chinese script used exclusively by women for communicative purposes, and focuses on inclusion through connection, education and championing "femme, femme-identifying, queer, LGBTQ+, and non-binary individuals." The collective provides its members with the tools needed to succeed in their careers and in life.

“[NÜSHÙ Workshop] is not about becoming the next great DJ, it’s a safe place to discover something. There is so much love and passion…,” says co-founder Koondhor in the episode. “It’s a space where friendship is growing.”

Check out the full episode above.

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Shot by our dear friend @mathildeagius in Shanghai during our @redbullmusic Inspire the Night shoot. Watch the full episode through the link in our bio!

A post shared by NÜSHÙ女术 WORKSHOP (@nvshushanghai) on Feb 18, 2019 at 6:21pm PST

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va DuVernay speaks onstage during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 10th annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 18, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Ava DuVernay And Theaster Gates To Lead Diversity Council For Prada

Major luxury brands like Prada and Gucci have been under fire since releasing luxury items with racial undertones. Sparking controversy that is not easily repaired with public apologies, Prada has announced a Diversity and Inclusion Council lead by director Ava DuVernay and social practice installation artist Theaster Gates.

Gates and DuVernay, who have used their art in social justice missions will join " Prada’s initiative to elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at-large.” The pair will also help the brand provide the opportunity for designers of color to obtain internships and apprenticeships that are inclusive of diverse communities.

In a statement to WWD, Miuccia Prada, Prada’s Chief Executive Officer, and Lead Creative Director stated explained the brand's willingness to learn from their own mistakes while actively including creative of color in the company.

“Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company, Prada said. "In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with long-time collaborators, Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates, on this important initiative. We look forward to working with the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to help us grow not only as a company but also as individuals.”

The Diversity Council will work alongside the company's Social Responsibility department to recommend strategic approaches within the next few months.


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