At Sunday night’s 61st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Drake — who was largely expected to sit this one out, as he has done for the last several years — surprised viewers by showing up to accept the Grammy for Best Rap Song for his smash hit “God’s Plan.” But it was his acceptance speech that stole the show, as the Canadian rapper took his time onstage to rebuke the musical establishment and send a shout-out to artists who may not be receiving recognition from organizations like the Recording Academy.
“We play an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport,” Drake said. “This is a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada might have to say or a fly Spanish girl from New York.” He continued: “If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here, I promise you that. You already won.” And then, although it seemed that Drake had more to say, he was cut off both on the telecast and live in the theater.
Drake has been nominated for dozens of Grammys in his rap career, but has only won four, including this year’s prize. The last time he attended the Grammys was back in 2013. His album Scorpion is also nominated for Album of the Year. And although he did end up dropping by this year’s ceremony, he reportedly declined to take on a performance slot.
Drake, after winning a Grammy and then clowning the very idea that your work has to be validated by people who don’t understand your music pic.twitter.com/91Lp7TMSl0
‘We can be in it to win it but we should be supporting each other’
Second Act is hitting cinemas this week, undoubtedly set to become the feel-good film of the season.
The high fashion office wear and career inspiration make this a millennial must-see, but it’s the two strong female leads, coming in the form of Jennifer Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens, that make it a really important watch.
‘I think it’s great for women of all ages,’ Vanessa Hudgens told Marie Claire‘s Jenny Proudfoot. ‘I think that you’ll leave the film feeling inspired to reassess and go after what you really want and know that you aren’t a victim to your life. You are in control of it. And you decide how you live it.’
This is the film’s chief takeaway – a huge dose of career inspiration and an example of why women should support other women.
Jenny Proudfoot sat down with the lovely Vanessa Hudgens to talk all things Second Act, her surreal connection with J-Lo and why we should all surround ourselves with strong women on (and off) screen.
What was your first impression when you read the script?
I mean, my biggest thing reading the script at the beginning was, ‘Oh my gosh – Jennifer Lopez is going to crush this role and I want to watch her doing it.’ I grew up with her films. I remember watching The Wedding Planner over and over again and how charming she was and I was just so excited to see what she was going to do with this script because it’s so well-written and supportive of women.
Were you nervous meeting Jennifer Lopez?
I had met her once before in passing, and I was just really excited to have the opportunity to work with her in the room, and once we did our read together we connected in a way that was kind of crazy. Every now and then I feel like you meet people that you feel a soul connection to. It’s kind of weird and unexplainable but it’s a very real thing and you just feel it. That’s what happened with us. I remember calling my boyfriend afterwards and going, ‘Babe – even if I don’t get this part, I am so grateful for the experience that I just had because me and Jennifer connected on such a deep, real level that it just felt magical’. We read the big emotional scene. There were lots of tears between the two of us which I guess is what made it so special. It was emotional for me but it was also emotional for her. And afterwards she apparently said that she wanted me. I mean, only she can vouch for that but I feel like because our connection was so real, it just felt like it was right.
Do you hope this film will push women to boost each other up in business?
Yes. I think that it’s something that is really special and important. I feel that it’s such a sensitive time right now that women are really afraid of stepping on someone else’s toes, and it just goes to show with this – it’s ok as long as there is motive to support each other. We can be in it to win it but we should be supporting each other. I have always surrounded myself with strong women – I 100% think that who you are is a reflection of the people that you surround yourself with. It’s so important to be surrounded by people that challenge you and lift you up and are always there for you. I think it’s so important – that’s why my friendship group is so small!
What’s your top career advice?
I think people should lean into their interests. I feel as though we are at a point where it’s like “Work hard, go after what you want and be focused on that”. While that’s very true, it can give you tunnel vision and you lose sight of what brings you joy. It’s most important to lean into your interests – especially as an artist. I feel that there’s no right or wrong direction. Just follow your bliss and fully lean into it.
What career advice did Jennifer give you on-set?
Jennifer says herself that she loves being a mentor. She has been in this industry for so long and she knows the ropes – she has kind of done it all. So we would talk about trajectory and image and stuff like that. I mean, she was just super open with me and was down to talk about whatever.
What was your favourite scene that you filmed together?
It is really random. There was one scene when we were walking through Central Park together around the big classic Central Park fountain while we were filming in New York. It was a walk and talk scene and at one point it literally felt like someone had turned on a massive fan and put leaves in front of it. There were just leaves blowing all around us. But no, it was just Mother Nature doing her thing. And I remember looking up at Jennifer and looking around at Central Park and all these leaves blowing and it was just one of those real life movie moments, which is so funny because it turned into a real life movie moment.
Did playing VP Zoe inspire a career change of your own?
I’m an actor because I love stepping into other people’s shoes and then I feel that I get to bring a part of that person into my own personal life. And I think that there was something very empowering about playing this character, being the VP of the beauty department and having authority and power in an office space. Granted, that was fun but I would not be down for an office job. I don’t think I would survive. I like pretending, but not in real life.
What was your favourite Second Act look?
Zoe’s wardrobe was really nice. I love the winter layering – like the big winter coats with the thick scarves – I felt like they were such statements and so chic. I do like A/W fashion and I definitely enjoy seasons for short stints of time, but being a native Californian – I just want the sun the whole time. I mean, I’ve literally just been complaining about how I want it to be summer so that I can wear a dress.
What is your pre-audition prep?
I went to an acting class and they said before you do any audition you owe it to yourself to feel your body. By doing that you lie down and breathe, take account where you’re holding tension and pick a colour and put that colour in that place of tension. You breathe into it and therefore walk into the room feeling centred and grounded and completely present, giving yourself the best shot of getting the job.
While Zoe doesn’t have a British accent, how did you nail Lady Margaret’s voice in The Princess Switch?
I had a dialect coach that I worked with religiously. I obviously listened to a couple of the royals but at the end of the day it was all about thinking how I would be as a Duchess and practicing it. I was very self conscious about it and it would get to the point where I would have to do it all the time – in real life as well – so it would start to feel less foreign to me. There would definitely be days where I would go around all day with a British accent to everyone, even my mother.
Second Act comes to UK cinemas on Friday 25 January.
Manhattan West Asset Management is an extremely diverse firm in the wealth management sector, existing in a world that is overwhelmingly white and male-dominated. The firm is made up of high character, highly-educated financial advisers with incredible backgrounds that previously reflect leadership roles at Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan among others. It currently has a mix of African American employees that hold executive roles, Latino American partners, and a list of high ranking women.
Although extremely impressive, this is not the norm. Stats that include this type of makeup are extremely low. According to the Center for Financial Planning Board (CFP), less than 3.5% of all the 80,000 certified financial planners in the United States are black or Latino. So what is going on?
BLACK ENTERPRISE caught up with executive Justin McCurdy to find out what got him involved in wealth management and the importance of African American wealth management advisers as a career option for people of color.
Black Enterprise: How did you break into Wealth Management?
Justin McCurdy: I do not have the typical background of most wealth management professionals, but I believe that is why I am able to serve such a diverse client group. I came to the United States as an immigrant from Canada. My family moved from Jamaica to Canada before I was born in search of more opportunity. I won’t go too far into my personal life, but my background contributes to how unusual it is for me to be in my current role. My mother had me at a young age and we moved from apartment to apartment, city to city, before finally settling in Los Angeles when I was 11 years old.
I worked hard and was accepted at the University of Southern California. I financed my education through financial aid and the revenue earned from the youth sports organization I founded at the age of 18, which I still operate today. After about a dozen internships, I graduated and took a position as an advisor at Morgan Stanley. With no family connections, financing or an existing Rolodex, it was an uphill battle to build a client base. Fast forward 5 years and I am now at Manhattan West Asset Management holding a leadership role and realizing the abundant opportunities available when you’re willing to go after what you want in life.
What attracted you to wealth management?
My passion in educating those who did not come from backgrounds that gave them the skillset to properly manage wealth is what initially attracted me to the industry.I came from a traditional working-class family and although supportive, I was not exposed to wealth accumulation or preservation concepts.I worked extremely hard to educate myself and with the help of mentors I met through sports was able to develop a strong understanding of finance.Ultimately, I want to use my knowledge to educate and empower those around me, with a special focus on those that might have encountered the same roadblocks as me along the way.
What types of clients do you advise?
My clients stem from all walks of life but I have a special emphasis on professional athletes and entertainers.
Justin McCurdy and client, retired NBA veteran, Ryan Gomes (Image: Instagram)
Why do you think there is such a drastic shortage of African-American Advisors?
It’s simply a matter of exposure. African American kids do not often see Financial Advisors of color, making it hard for them to envision themselves taking that career path.
Why is it beneficial for African-Americans to be involved in a career like this?
It’s my belief that the more African-American advisors there are, the more educated the black community will be about finance.This will only lead to more wealth accumulation and preservation within the community.Living in such a unique time where people from all demographics/walks of life are acquiring wealth at sometimes rapid paces leads me to believe that professionals servicing them need to evolve and represent this newfound diversity as well.
Many African-American children have not had the opportunity to see successful Financial Advisors of color and that needs to change.I want the upcoming generation to see wealth management as a viable career opportunity that embraces those willing to work hard for their clients. Class, background or socio-economic status should not be a factor.