Entertainment

Erika Jayne Of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Has Been Low-Key Serving Up Latina Realness Right Under Our Noses

@theprettymess | Instagram

Since the reality show boom in the late 1990s, we have been fascinated by watching seemingly normal people doing outrageous stuff on television or being put in extreme situations. We have also found a not so guilty pleasure in seeing the rich and famous in their everyday, mundane lives. Producers try hard to sell an illusion of reality, but in fact, much of what you see on television is at least partly scripted. Companies like the Dutch powerhouse Endemol and the US channel Bravo have tried it all. Titles like “Big Brother,” “A Simple Life “(that sensational show in which Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie were “forced” to work in a farm), “Survivor” and “The Osbournes” permeated popular culture and redefined what celebrity is.

But perhaps one of the most endurable formats is the “Real Housewives of…” formula. It is simple: you choose a set of women who are uber rich and who have the potential to produce the most amount of pan y circo (in short, dramarama) for audiences who are hungry for extravagant personalities and near-fistfight, as well as plenty of chisme with the occasional tear-jerker of a reconciliation. Besides some clear issues in terms of gender representation (women are housewives by nature, really? Pardon our French pero no mamen) and the sense of privilege that the cast seems to have, there are some pretty inspirational stories of women who embrace just causes and have worked really hard for what they have. One of these women is Erika Jaymes, the already established singer who has become an Insta sensation and an all-around estrella due to her honest and exorbitante personalidad. Here’s what you need to know about this güeraza who has gotten a second round at fame!

1. Her full name is Erika Nay Girardi (her maiden last name is Chahoy)

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And she was born on July 110, 1971. She is a proud daughter of Atlanta, Georgia.

2. She is a bestselling author

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Yes, her autobiography, Pretty Mess, has been on the top of the lists of The New York Times bestsellers. The publisher describes it as follows: “In Pretty Mess, Erika spills on every aspect of her life: from her rise to fame as a daring and fiery pop/dance performer and singer; to her decision to accept a role on reality television; to the ups and downs of family life (including her marriage to famed lawyer Tom Girardi, thirty-three years her senior)”. Wow, what a rollercoaster of a life!

3. For years she has had to tell haters to F-off! 

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Leave Erika alone! No, seriously, if you are one of those individuals who goes online to trash other people’s lives, just stop. Erika has been brave enough not only to remain classy in the onslaught of online hate but also on making it public, which is a way to put herself out there. Bien.

4. From high school talent to a billboard on Times Square!

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She first got in touch with her ample talents during her stay in North Atlanta High School. She joined the musical theater group and did roles such as Val from “A Chorus Line.” She also did great versions of “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton and Madonna’s “Into The Groove”. And, to be honest, she has kept that Dolly Parton vibe, hasn’t she?

5. She moved to New York when she was 18, in search of a musical career

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Hundreds of young people move to New York and Los Angeles each year hoping to break into the music industry, but only a few are successful. Our girl moved to the Big Apple and soon became part of several girl groups such as the I-Dolls.

6. She married her first husband in 1991

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While starting her career in the entertainment industry she met Thomas Zizzo, a DJ. They got married at St Patrick’s Cathedral and had a son, Thomas Zizzo Jr. The couple divorced in 1996 and she moved to Los Angeles to reignite her career.

7. She married her second and current husband in 1999

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She met a powerful attorney, Thomas Girardi, and they married in 1999. He is 33 years her senior. During the first years of her second marriage, she played the role of what she describes as “a lawyer’s wife”. She went to dinners, met powerful people and basically learn how the upper echelons of power work.

8. But being a housewife wasn’t enough: 2007 is the year of Erika Jayne

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Erika decided that marriage was not going to stop her from having a musical career. She launched her first dance music single, “Roller Coaster”, in 2007. Her rise to the top of the Billboard charts was explosive: she reached number one at the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. Her second single, “Stars”, held the same position in the Billboard Dance Play chart. And, as they say, a star was born.

9. She has her own record label: Pretty Mess Records

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Under this label, she has released collaborations with some of the biggest names in the music industry, such as rapper Flo Rida, with whom she released “Get It Tonight” in 2013.

10. 2015: The year of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

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Erika joined the cast of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” for the show’s sixth season. She soon became one of the favorite drama queens on television!

11. She has had roles in film and television ever since! 

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She had some minor roles on television early in her career (before her first marriage), but the huge fame that Real Housewives brought to her life has lead her to roles in the telenovela gringa “The Young and the Restless” (she appeared with her “Housewives” co-star Eileen Davidson) and in the B-movie sensation “Sharnado: The 4th Awakens,” She also appeared in Animal Planet’s show “Tanked.”

12. After the Real Housewives comes “XXpens$ive”!

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Her experience in the reality show she released this single on January 4, 2017, during the show “Watch What Happens with Andy Cohen.” The song is a hymn to materialism and entertainment.

13. So how has she accomplished so much? Well, she got her resilience and her talent from her santa madre

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Her mom is Renne Chahoy, who was an 18-year-old classically trained pianist and actress when she had her daughter, suddenly became single when Erika wasn’t even one year old.

14. So she didn’t meet her biological father until she was 25 years old

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Erika was adopted by her stepfather, but she never really met her biological dad while growing up. The first encounter happened when she was a young independent 25-year-old woman. She describes the encounter as “meeting a stranger”.

15. She also appeared in “Dancing with the Stars”

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The 24th season of the show (yes, 24th!) had her as one of the main competitors, and she was paired with pro dancer Gleb Savchenko.

16. She has collaborated with make up brands

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Her ultra famous public persona and her fierce femininity has led her to collaborate with brands BeautyBlender and Too Faced Cosmetics. From Atlanta to Sephora!

17. She has also collaborated with shoe brand ShoeDazzle!

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Remember that epic Times Square billboard? Well, it was part of her campaign with the famous shoe brand. She released a collection of 12 of her favorite shoes. We want them all.

18. She is a fashion trendsetter 

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What Erika Jayne does is replicated in dozens of dance clubs around the country. We are not sure about this Tigresa del Oriente outfit, though!

19. She is a philanthropist 

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Erika and her husband contribute to the betterment of their community through charity work, particularly towards the empowerment of young girls.

20. She is a queer icon

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Jayne is vastly popular in queer culture due to her fierceness and all around extravagant awesomeness! Yasssss!

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

Entertainment

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

There’s a new live-action stage version of Disney’s 1997 animated film “Hercules” at the Public Theater in New York City — and Hercules is Black as hell

In 1997, San Francisco Gate’s Peter Sack described the film as, “The great old Greek is turned into a ’90s-style athlete who gets endorsements, sandals named after him and a chance to stand tall among nymphs and muses.”

Sound familiar to you? Lest we not forget this was the same era that Michael Jordan did Space Jam and Shaquille O’Neal did Kazaam. The original animated film took inspiration from major athletes of the time and thus, it inevitably heavily references Black and hood ’90s culture. If you watch it now the sneakers, the gospel music, the humor, it probably seems so obvious. 

One might wonder with all these references to the Black popular culture of the ’90s, why didn’t the creators just make Hercules Black? Well, they finally have.

The story of Hercules.  

While most of us were forced to read and re-read Hercules in secondary school, not everyone may know the story. Hercules is the son of the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera. When a prophecy foretells that he will eventually defeat the god of the underworld, Hades, Hercules is kidnapped as an infant. Unable to kill him, Hades is able to take his immortality away but not his strength. The baby Hercules is raised by a mortal couple. At 18 he figures out his real origins and is determined to become a hero so that he can return to Mount Olympus with the gods.

Meet your new Hercules.

Hercules at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, through The Public Theater’s Public Works Program is based on the 1997 animated film, and has kept Alan Menken’s musical score. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also created the music for Disney’s Aladdin. Jelani Alladin stars as the demi-god Hercules. Krysta Rodriguez plays his love interest Megara.

The difference between the stage musical and the film is that Disney has finally chosen to embrace their story’s Blackness. Rather than simply coding their narrative as one with allusions to Black culture, they’ve put that Blackness at the forefront and center. That’s what we call growth! Everybody loves Black culture, it’s time we start loving the people who make it. 

Danielle C. Belton of The Root describes the original as having flirted with African-American culture, while this new version embraces a multicultural cast. 

“While the film Hercules only flirted with African-American music and culture—the muses who were the “Greek chorus” throughout the film were patterned after classic, Motown-style Black ‘50s girl groups,” she writes. “This version of ancient Greece and the Greco-Roman gods features quite a few Black, Asian and Latinx people, including Jelani Alladin as the titular teenaged Hercules, and, of course—all five of the doo-wopping muses are…sistas with voices.”

How Hercules gave nods to Black culture. 

Hercules is something of a hood icon. It was the first time many kids probably saw Black women portrayed as the muses and Greek chorus. This gaggle of doo-wopping muses sang the funky, soulful Hercules theme. There were also pivotal aspects of hood culture, some of it is even social commentary. Hercules’s character is parallel to the superstar basketball players of the ’90s, their rabid fans, and endorsement deals. The creators, Ron Clements and John Musker, even referred to Hercules as the Michael Jordan of his time. 

In the movie, we see a young Hercules’ as he rises to fame for being a demi-God with some serious strength. When the hero-worship begins, he snags a sweet endorsement deal — but these aren’t Nike Jordans — they’re fresh to death Hercules sandals called Air-Hercs. When the villain Hades sees that one of his minions is rocking the Hercules sandals his response is simple and iconic: what are those?The phrase has now become a popular meme on Black Twitter going so far as being referenced in the “Black Panther” movieThe hero even has his own version of a Gatorade sponsorship, the drink is called “Herculade.”

A Latinx Megara embraces feminism.

Unlike other Disney women of the era, Megara was never waiting to be saved. She was sarcastic, witty, and pretty unimpressed with Hercules’ attempts to holler at her. Krysa Rodriguez’ Megara puts feminism at the forefront — again we see subtle codes made explicit. 

“In a new song, a pants-clad Meg imagines a world without men, envisioning it as a utopia where she could do as she pleases. A dopey, lovestruck Hercules, seeking to demonstrate his feminist credentials, replies clumsily, ‘My mom’s a woman,’” writes Adrienne Westenfeld for Esquire.

Diversity is always an improvement. We live in a multicultural world, there is never anything wrong with reflecting that in the stories we tell. After all, it’s the stories we tell that teach us who we are and who we will become. For Hercules that is learning the truth about his traumatic past to create a better future — for America, well, it’s no different.

Cast Of Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ Intervenes On New Cast Member’s Behalf After Online Trolls Get Out Of Control

Entertainment

Cast Of Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ Intervenes On New Cast Member’s Behalf After Online Trolls Get Out Of Control

13 Reasons Why: Season 3 Kiss Scene!!! Grace Saif and Clay Jensen

Grace Saif deleted her Instagram after “13 Reasons Why” fans bullied her relentlessly. Fans of the show didn’t like the new character Ani, who is played by Saif, and misplaced that hatred by harassing her on social media. Saif’s bullying comes in the wake of aggressive “stan culture,” particularly aimed at women and women of color. 

When misogyny and anti-blackness mixes, we call that misogynoir and many felt Saif has become victim to it. While there is a lot to say about fans who cannot separate the actress from her character, it is much easier for fans to characterize a black woman as unlikeable.

Why don’t “13 Reasons Why” fans like Grace Saif? [*Spoilers Ahead*]

Season 3 introduced viewers to Saif’s Ani Achola, who is a new student at Liberty High School and the omniscient narrator. Fans did not find Ani’s character convincing but this was largely due to plot holes. Viewers didn’t understand how a new girl at school knew so much about students at Liberty, and they weren’t sold on her storyline regarding Bryce’s death.

Rather than crediting the writers for a lackluster season, they targeted Saif on social media and accused her of ruining the show. 

Grace deletes Instagram and makes Twitter private.

The online abuse became so difficult she decided to cut off the source. While we won’t be sharing many of the harassing Tweets and comments on social media because why share that hatred, they so ubiquitous you’ve probably already seen a few in your feed.

There’s a long history of harassing women actresses on social media. 

Daisy Ridley who plays Rey in the latest Star Wars reboot deleted all her accounts and said she would never return to social media due to misogynist bullying in 2017. Meanwhile, her Star Wars co-star Kelly Marie Tran faced a similar fate after experiencing anti-Asian and misogynist bullying in 2018. 

Women who are a part of a series with a rabid fanbase tend to be larger targets of bullying and if they are women of color or queer it is so much worse. In July, Candice Patton who portrays Iris West on The Flash experienced so much racist bullying by fans who can’t deal with Barry Allen having a black wife, her co-star Grant Gustin had to step in to shut things down

But the rest of us aren’t putting up with bullying.

Saif’s co-star Timothy Granaderos Jr., who plays Monty de la Cruz, spoke out against the ongoing harassment and encouraged fans to chill out. 

“Hey Y’all, just a reminder. Whether or not you support, like, or love, a character in our fictional tv show—please remember that there is a talented and beautiful actor/actress bringing those scripted words to life,” Granaderos Jr. wrote on Instagram. “One of the underlining themes in our show is to take care of each other. I’ve seen some pretty nasty things being said online, concerning the introduction of a new character. Y’all are passionate & we love you for that, but PLEASE PLEASE try to be kind and respect the work of the talented actress/actor behind the character. Love y’all & keep taking care of each other.”

Anne Winters who plays Chloe Rice told People the backlash against Ani was unwarranted. “Ani is amazing, Grace who plays Ani is like the sweetest girl ever. I really loved her character this season,” she said. 

Fans on social media showed support for Grace Saif.

“I stand with grace saif. so now people’s reason for abusing another BW is for being so bomb at her job she convincingly plays a multi-layered, complex character? we cannot win. you haters can duck out. grace keep shining we got you boo,” tweeted @JazleeJones.

Oh, the irony…

“I wasn’t really rocking w Ani in #13ReasonsWhy but I find it cruel how y’all bullied this woman until she deleted all her accounts! It’s just a show guys. Hell yeah her character was annoying but y’all forget that this shit isn’t real @gracesaif I hope you’re doing fine,” one fan wrote.

And this whole thing is ironic because the series “13 Reasons Why” aims to address difficult issues including bullying. 

Many felt that fans missed the entire point of the series by harassing Saif.

“The irony here… it stinks. First you 13RW fans fight against bullying. Now you (not everyone) are bullying an actress who played someone you didn’t like. I’ve seen Ani and most of all Grace Saif receive more hate than Bryce and Justin Prentice. You guys are disgusting,” another fan pointed out.  

However, the Netflix show, whose main demographic is teens, has come under fire multiple times, for glamourizing behaviors on the show like suicide and sexual assault rather than examining or condemning them, by psychologists and mental health experts. 

Whether the show is good or not has nothing to do with Grace Saif. Stop the misogynoir!