Tag Archives: behavior

I’m Rooting For Everybody (Else) #Netflix

As a feminist who works in media and entertainment, the #metoo movement is about calling attention to sexual harassment perpetrated by those in power with the capacity to affect the success of others in all industries. Likewise, the #timesup movement is about rectifying the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to sexual harassment in the workplace in all industries. Neither movement is meant to be used as a weapon or scapegoat for one individual’s advancement. Mo’nique’s issue with Netflix is a business dispute based on the amount of money she was offered in comparison to the valuation of her individual brand.

Mo’nique is not a co-star in a movie or co-host on a TV show with a man who was making significantly more money than her. As a result this isn’t an issue of wage inequality or gender discrimination. 

Mo’nique airs her grievances against other blacks in the entertainment industry on social media and in interviews but doesn’t seem capable of having a face to face conversation with those individuals. She has repeatedly thrown shade at Oprah, Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and Will Packer. She has recently attacked Roland S. Martin on Twitter challenging his career long work in the black community. She talks a good game about women deserving higher wages, but when she’s in a movie the results are only an increase in her pay, not that of all the women on the cast. She also never addresses the lack of women who work as talent managers and how that impacts the wages of women of color in film and television.

 

Mo’nique’s call for a boycott against Netflix is not the equivalent to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest against police brutality towards people of color, boycotting airlines for unfair treatment and assault of paying passengers or boycotting H&M for selling racially degrading merchandise. Mo’nique was offered an amount of money that would be life changing for many people, including myself, but she decided that it wasn’t what she wanted. That’s her choice and I support her right to make that choice for herself.

 

Many platforms have and do work with people and women of color in mutually beneficial creative content capacities. Amazon Studios is releasing content by a variety of creatives, Issa Rae has opportunities inked with HBO, Tiffany Haddish had a comedy special on Showtime in late 2017 and Jamie Foxx is Executive Producer of the hit Showtime show “White Famous”, just to name a few. Some people of color have invested in and developed their own platforms as well, creating opportunities and opening doors for many to walk through….if they want to. Opportunities aren’t always given to us, so we have to go out and make our own. I know this firsthand. Many of my accomplishments, such as being a movie producer, TV producer, author and others, are a direct result of me creating opportunities instead of hoping or waiting for others to approach me. Had I sat around, I’d never have any of those achievements. The same is true of a lot of people. Hence why there are so many more opportunities available today than 10 years ago.

 

Having said that, I’m not boycotting Netflix on behalf of Mo’nique. In my opinion her issue isn’t helping the #metoo or #timesup movements create fairness or safe work environments free of sexual harassment. Her grievances aren’t about her size or age, and she’s not being bullied. Her issue is about how much she wants to be monetarily valued in and by the entertainment industry. That’s a personal business matter for her to resolve. In fact, supporting Mo’nique by boycotting Netflix would also mean boycotting content written, directed, produced by and starring several other black and brown brothers and sisters, including but not limited to “Mudbound“, which is Oscar nominated. As a member of the entertainment industry myself, that would be unfair and would harm many people of color, both men and women, who negotiated deals to build their relationships with Netflix in order to tell a variety of stories. Shonda Rhimes received a very lucrative multimillion dollar, multi-year deal with Netflix and she’s a black woman. Mo’nique must’ve missed that memo.

 

Boycotts aren’t supposed to help one person eat well while starving thousands. Boycotts are about creating fairness, and justice, not division.

 

Mo’nique has had a great career in both television and film. She is intelligent and talented. As a result she has other opportunities that she can explore outside of Netflix. For many others, Netflix is their first opportunity to have their content seen in their career. People who have never seen the kind of money that Mo’nique was offered in their entire lifetimes use Netflix to meet us on our TVs and mobile devices. They introduce themselves to us one story at a time for the price of one ticket to one movie for one person to see a major motion picture in a movie theater. They are the real MVPs.

 

Mo’nique not agreeing with the amount of money offered and therefore rejecting the Netflix deal means her team doesn’t work and that’s on her, not me or you. Mind you, turning down the opportunity also means she can’t be upset when the next person accepts it. In my capacity as an artist manager I’ve had artists turn down opportunities then get angry because another artist accepted it. Two things often follow:

  • The artist that declines offers isn’t afforded many opportunities going forward.

  • The artist that declines offers doesn’t work nearly as much or earn as much money as other artists.

In the entertainment business every opportunity doesn’t come back around. While this news was breaking I realized that there’s the possibility that Netflix isn’t the first opportunity that Mo’nique may have declined. Tiffany Haddish was the first black female stand up comic to host Saturday Night Live in 2017, yet it was reported that was partly because others declined when they were previously asked, opening the door for her to make history. Was Mo’nique someone who declined that opportunity at some point? I understand that Mo’nique has been black balled, but how much of that is a result of her rejecting opportunities more than she accepts them? After a person is said to be the type to consistently say “no”, people eventually stop asking them.

 

If Mo’nique is saying “no”, she’s making her own decision, which she has the right to do. No one can force her into a deal that she isn’t happy with. However, I can’t support others not being afforded the opportunity to also make their own decisions to work, provide jobs and provide content to the masses in order to make Mo’nique happier… or richer. Maybe she should sit down with her manager and think of a plan that gets her the amount of money she wants another way or on another platform, without hurting others who haven’t had her level of success yet and whom depend on their relationship with Netflix to further their career.

 

Mo’nique’s expectation that we all cancel our Netflix subscriptions to support her individual brand is selfish, not unifying. It isn’t a boss move and it doesn’t help anyone but her, and it might not even accomplish that to be honest. Netflix will just move on and offer someone else the money, as they should because they have a business to run, with content creators and shareholders relying on them to run the business. Selfishness of one person doesn’t bless us or move us forward as women or people of color. Netflix isn’t just here for the benefit of Mo’nique’s career or success. She’s capable of taking her talents elsewhere and securing other partnerships if she feels she deserves better. In the meantime, I wish Mo’nique the best and to paraphrase Issa Rae, I’m rooting for everybody (else) black on Netflix.

Judging A Book By Its Cover

I get a lot of flack for my photographs and book cover. People think the photos are too sensual, too sexy, pornographic and all types of ridiculous things depending on their own standards. People assume I’m peddling sex or that I’m a stripper, or worse, that I’m one of those women who randomly tags people into her bathroom booty pictures on Facebook. They assume that I’m ignorant, uneducated, that I have low morals, that I’m an attention whore and that I don’t believe in, respect or love God. They seem to forget that God made the human body and that some of the most famous artwork in the world consists of the human body shown nude. I receive the most criticism from people who say they are Christians. I find it all very interesting. I’m a walking, living, breathing social experiment watching the world and how it reacts simply because it judges a book by its cover instead of reading the pages.

Recently an article was written about me by Yvette Caslin for Rolling Out Magazine with a very provocative title. The title is a definite attention getter and I love it. If a person only reads the title, they will make several assumptions about it and the content of the article. That title will either persuade them to read the article or it will dissuade them from reading the article. However, without actually reading the article, people will likely make the wrong assumption. Someone who read the article, and had seen my book prior but didn’t buy it, said to me that after reading the article they feel completely different about my book than they did before. What they had done prior was look that the book cover of my book, read the title of my book, and made a determination that it wasn’t worth their time, energy, effort or money to purchase. She probably assumed I was a younger, (single) woman who had written a tell-all book about all of the raunchy, nasty, dirty sex I had previously had with random men (ala Karrine Steffans). Now, after reading the article in Rolling Out Magazine, this person can’t wait to buy a copy of my book so she can enhance her relationship with her husband.

It’s not unusual for anyone to judge a book by its cover. We’ve all done it at some point towards someone else. A lot of it is our biases which develop because of our experiences, our social environment, our personal views, and our upbringing. Anyone who says they’ve never formed an opinion about someone without knowing them is dishonest. Even if for a split second, everyone has done it. Some people just do it more often and more to the extreme than others. If you dislike someone without ever having personal interaction with that person, and you can’t clearly verbalize a logical explanation for your dislike of that person (i.e. she looked at me funny/she thinks she’s cute), it’s likely you are judging a book by its cover. Although this occurs in society as a whole, it is constant behavior among women. So many woman have “disliked” me for unexplainable reasons. Those who have taken the time to actually get to know me, discover that I am nothing like they “thought” I was. Unfortunately, very few people take the opportunity to get to know someone prior to forming an opinion about them from afar. It would be nice if that weren’t the case.

There’s a woman I see often in passing. Until yesterday, I didn’t know her name or anything about her. All I knew about her was that she never spoke to me or smiled when she and I would pass each other, regardless of how pleasantly I said hello, attempted to make eye contact with her or how big my smile was. Eventually, I began to feel rejected, as anyone would, and I stopped making an effort to speak to her. I felt it was a waste of time and energy because she would never reply to me. She’s not the first woman to not speak to me. Believe it or not, it’s a regular occurrence in my life for women to behave this way towards me. [My personal defense mechanism is to ignore them everytime they are anywhere near me. That method may not be best for everyone, but it prevents me from becoming annoyed by something I have no control over.] After having more recent interaction with this particular woman, I discovered that she had some personal conflicts in her life that were taking a stressful toll on her. Having been in a similar situation in my life before, I now sympathize with her instead of thinking she’s just an angry and rude woman. Although her situation doesn’t excuse her behavior (and she may very well be both angry and rude), now knowing that she’s going through drama in her personal life allows me to no longer judge her harshly based on a brief encounter with her. She’s human and she’s allowed to have some bad days. I have my bad days, too. Being Super Woman is hard work and it’s stressful. It would be nice if this woman didn’t take her bad days out on anyone else, but I can’t control that. The only think I can control is whether or not I judge her without taking the time to get to know her. I’m not saying she and I will become friends, but the next time I speak and she doesn’t, I won’t feel rejected and I won’t think poorly of her as a result. She’s not just a book cover to me now.

Every book written isn’t the sum of its cover. There are pages inside of books for a reason. The pages are there to tell the story. Sometimes a book cover is just a pretty picture utilized to grab your attention and nothing more. Sometimes a book cover gives you a brief visual idea of what the book is about. And sometimes a book cover has nothing to do with the content on the pages. Take the time to read the book for yourself and form your own opinion based on what you read, not just what you see on the cover. You may find that if you take the time and effort to do so, it may change how you react to things in your life in general.