Education

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Disney to attend the premiere of BLACK PANTHER.  While attending the press trip, we had an opportunity to sit down with Costume Designer, Ruth E. Carter and Production Designer, Hannah Beachler at the press junket.

 

Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

 

Ruth is a veteran costume designer who in concert with Academy Award®-nominated special effects makeup designer Joel Harlow and hair department head Camille Friend captured the heart and soul of Wakanda’s people.

She worked closely with the production design team to develop a complementary color palette chock full of vibrant African color, patterns and ultimately capture the African tradition and weave it throughout their visual landscape and story-telling.

 

Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

 

From the Sundance Film Festival prize-winning “Fruitvale Station,” to the gritty box office hit “Creed,” the pair have crafted a shorthand that often has Hannah anticipating what Coogler will gravitate to. 

“Black Panther” may be production designer Hannah’s first foray into the comic realm but the talented designer embraced the unique opportunity to conceptualize and articulate the multifaceted vibranium–infused landscape that married the traditional African aesthetic with a highly evolved modernity.

 

Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

 

They entered the room, sat down, and the interview began.  We talked about everything from Ryan Coogler’s suit and Tom Ford tie for his wedding to the creative process of the design.  One of my most favorite parts of this conversation was the respect they held for each other’s work. 

 

Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

It was inspiring to hear them talk about their feelings and excitement when they found out that they were working together on BLACK PANTHER.

When I left I had such a warm feeling. You know when you’re in the right place and in the right space. That’s what I felt like when I left. And I knew that Marvel takes a while to make their decisions. So, I made sure I said to Ryan, let me know. They made the decision and there I came.” – Ruth

Yep, it was pretty awesome. So, that was an honor for me because I know Ruth’s work. And so that just made everything. You know what I mean? It was like, okay, we’re all in good hands.” – Hannah

 

We were there to interview them, but they were in a world all by themselves and their synergy was a lot like the others we had interviewed – harmonious.  The only difference was they were not discussing their roles as cast but how they were able to bring Wakanda and its people to life. 

 

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

They were so energetic discussing the research trips to Africa.  How they pulled from Cape Town for architecture and how they were able to mix ancient indigenous tribal culture with modern.  It was very informative and intense – late night call, very little sleep, and overcoming unforeseen obstacles. 

 

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Ruth told the story about 200 blankets that needed to be more pliable.  She and her team worked through Christmas to get the blankets right.  A team member told Ruth that she would shave the blankets down one by one.  Ruth said,

So, she took a blanket and she shaved it. It took her about two hours to shave one side. And we said, no, we can’t take two hours on 200 blankets. Someone else came to the table and they said if you — what if we burn them.  So, we burned them.  They lit a match outside and it burnt the cotton fibers and the part of the fiber that was synthetic stayed. And that’s how they were pliable.” 

Then Hannah said something that spoke volumes, she said, “And that’s the level for which when you get to this level that you work. ‘Cause I know I — she called me a couple times. It was like one o’clock of the morning.”

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

As moms we have to apply this concept to our everyday thinking. There may be times that we have to reinvent ourselves, and the way we teach our children.  When things don’t go as planned, we must come up with creative solutions.  The world is evolving and so must we. 

 

When I think about the impact of BLACK PANTHER and its success, it takes me back to Hannah’s statement.  I’ve had an amazing opportunity interviewing many of the cast members for BLACK PANTHER and time after time they spoke of their commitment to bring their best self into their character.  Even Winston Duke, although this was his first movie you certainly could not tell. 

 

black-panther-poster

To achieve a greater level of success, we must perform on a higher level.  This was a reminder that I too must always rise to the occasion.  If I want to make a greater impact, I must invest a greater level of work.

 

There are so many amazing Marvel movies and BLACK PANTHER is certainly one of them.  It is my favorite Marvel movie to date, with Thor: Ragnarok trailing slightly behind.   

 

Have you seen BLACK PANTHER? If so, what do you think about the set and costume design by Hannah and Ruth?  Please share, I would love to hear from you.  If you have not, it’s in theatres NOW!

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

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Education

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles courtesy of Sony to attend the #TheStarMovie Press Junket and screening in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

Strengthen Your Faith and Follow Your Heart With The Star

As a mom nothing warms my heart more than exposing Chance to things that will enhance his life.  It’s important to me that we share our faith with him.  When I was pregnant I prayed three very specific prayers concerning him:  1) God, I pray that he is healthy. 2) God, give him a heart after You. 3) God, give him the wisdom of Solomon.  I honestly believe with all of my heart that God honored all three prayers.  Chance (given that name because God gave him a chance at life) was born healthy in spite of the many complications I experienced during pregnancy including being told that I had miscarried.  He loves God and will pray for any and everything.  He is so smart, he began reading at just 14 months.  He’s a gem of a kid…. not just because he’s my kid. 

Being invited to press junket of The Star movie, was an overwhelming experience.  The most compelling aspect being the faith-based component.  I arrived at one of my favorite hotels, The London West Hollywood and things went uphill from there.  The screening was held on site, with popcorn and Christmas cookies shaped like a star.

 

In AFFIRM Films and Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day Bo finds the courage to break free and ends up befriending newlyweds Joseph and Mary. Mary’s kindness soon sets Bo on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock, and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become unlikely heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

 

The Star is directed by Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Timothy Reckart; executive-produced by DeVon Franklin, Brian Henson and Lisa Henson; and produced by Jennifer Magee-Cook.      The voice cast is led by Steven Yeun (Bo the donkey), Gina Rodriguez (Mary), Zachary Levi (Joseph), Keegan-Michael Key (Dave the dove), Kelly Clarkson (Leah the horse), Anthony Anderson (Zach the goat), Aidy Bryant (Ruth the sheep), Ving Rhames (Thaddeus the dog), Gabriel Iglesias (Rufus the dog), Patricia Heaton (Edith the cow), Kristin Chenoweth (Abby the Mouse), Christopher Plummer (King Herod), and Tracy Morgan (Felix) and Tyler Perry (Cyrus) and Oprah Winfrey (Deborah) as the three camels. It makes its way into the hearts of men in theatres everywhere on November 17th.

 

Oprah-in-the-star-movie
Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

I did not realize how much I needed to see The Star until I did.  You see, I have been struggling for a while with my faith.  Not because I don’t believe but I was struggling with trusting God to take care of my needs.  I’m not big on spoilers, so there will be none in this post.  However, I will share how I was impacted by The Star.

 

The Star Pic
Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

The Birth of Christ is Powerful

Even with animation, improvisation, and lots of humor the story of the birth of Christ was still very powerful – and from an animal’s perspective.  Watching the movie renewed my faith. I felt liberated in Christ just seeing the story of His birth.  I was moved and filled with excitement at the thought of my son Chance watching it.

Following Your Heart Can Lead to You to Your Wildest Dreams

I have been so guilty of doing what was comfortable opposed to what I believe I was created to do.   At times, I’ve neglected to follow my heart…. not knowing that one day my heart would lead me to my dreams.  God will give you the desires of your heart, if you trust Him and follow your heart. 

Anyone can Change, no Matter How Much Bad They’ve Done

Your past does not have to dictate your future.  You can turn things around, but you must be willing.  For years I thought I would never escape my past, even after salvation.  But, what I realized is my past will always be my past but what matter’s the most is how I’ve positively responded to my past.  What am I changing? How am I changing?

 

Photo Credit: Sony/CTMG

I love Jesus! I really do, and I believe my relationship with Him is all that matters.  I’ve always tried to teach Chance by example how to develop a relationship with Christ.  It’s not always easy and it gets messy sometimes.  We are saved by grace, we aren’t perfect.  That’s why it’s important that we have movies like The Star

The Star is a perfect combination of humor and inspiration wrapped up in the life-changing story of the birth of Christ. I can’t wait to take Chance to see it.”

I could truly go on and on about The Star, but I am afraid that I will unconsciously include a few spoilers, and I honestly don’t want to do that.  I want you to enjoy this amazingly funny, inspiring and life-changing film with your family. Please enter to win your copy of The Star on Blu-ray and Digital. 

Are you looking for a great family friendly movie that includes faith?  Whether you are or not a person of faith, this movie is full of lessons that we teach our children daily.  How have you taught your children about faith or how to follow their heart?

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

Education

I love unique bags…especially handbags, but really any kind of bag including totes.  It’s really rare that I find a tote that I love enough to carry as a computer bag, simply because I carry it daily and want it to be as close to perfect as possible.  I carried a Vera Bradley computer bag for the last 3 years, and I loved it! That was until I received the Everyday Tote from Saddleback Leather Company.

 

Have you heard of Saddleback?  I hadn’t, but I am so glad that I was introduced to them and their fabulous products.  Saddleback is a leather-crafting workshop that specializes in designing and producing heirloom quality handmade leather bags and accessories.  They believe in their products so much that they provide a 100-year warranty.  I KNOW – AMAZING!

 

I absolutely love the Everyday Tote. It is multi-functional, you can use it as a purse, computer bag, or a super fancy diaper bag.  The full-grain leather is lightweight and very durable.  I have dark coffee brown color, but they have three other colors: chestnut, black, and tobacco.

 

Nice right? I love the functionality of the Tote. It’s not flashy, just a very simple, classic look – but every time I carry it someone is asking me about it or complimenting me on it.  I absolutely love the light straps, but you will need to break them in.  The leather on the straps are a bit sturdier. I am not complaining, but it does take a little getting used too. 

 

It’s the perfect size, it holds my lap top, folders, books and chargers just fine.  There is a nice size pocket on the inside, just enough space for pens, cell phone, post it notes and highlighters.  It’s about 2.5 pounds and is 13.25” H x 14” W x 3.5” D on the inside.

 

I absolutely love this bag.  The leather is very nice, the style is simple and classy and it looks ahhhmazing!  If you are in the market for a new unique handbag, you should consider Saddleback Leather’s Everyday Tote – you will love it!

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

Facebook: /saddlebackleather | Twitter: @saddlebackbags | Instagram: @saddlebackbags

 

Education

The WAIT is over! BLACK PANTHER is in theatres everywhere NOW!  Here’s a sneak peek of the latest movie clips.

 

As you know I attended the #BlackPantherEvent as press for Disney and was given lots of swag.  My son absolutely LOVED everything.  I thought you would want to know all about the Panther Black products, so I created a BLACK PANTHER Gift Guide for YOU (you will want some of this stuff) and your kiddos.

Black Panther Figure Set: $14.95  

Description: Bring the wild excitement of Marvel Studio’s Black Panther to life with this six-piece figure set. The heir to the Wakanda throne, T’Challa, is featured in his guise as the leader of the Panther Clan in this highly detailed set.

Black Panther Reusable Tote: $2.95

Description: Prowl the mall carrying this reusable shopping bag with powerful Black Panther graphic design. Made from 80% recycled materials to help keep the environment active against all odds.

Black Panther: The Young Prince Book: $16.95

Description: When he’s not learning how to rule a kingdom from his father, the reigning Black Panther, he’s off breaking rules with his best friend, M’Baku. But as conflict brews near Wakanda, T’Challa’s father announces he’s sending T’Challa to school in America.

Black Panther: The Battle for Wakanda (A Mighty Marvel Chapter Book): $5

Description: There is a crisis in Wakanda. The sacred Mound is being attacked by an evil cult and Wakandans are growing angry with their new king, T’Challa, aka the Super Hero Black Panther. So it’s bad timing when Black Panther receives a call from the Avengers. There is strong evidence that the king has stolen a highly classified weapon. But how? Black Panther has been in Wakanda the entire time. With help from some familiar faces in S.H.I.E.L.D and some new ones like the Dora Milaje, Black Panther will battle the greatest threats Wakanda has ever faced.

 

Black Panther Warrior Falls Pop! Vinyl Bobble-Head Figure by Funko: $12.95

Description: This Black Panther vinyl bobble-head figure by Funko, inspired by the Marvel Studios movie, is available here in his Warrior Falls guise. This is one Black Panther figure collectors will be keen to get their paws on.

 

Funko Pop Black Panther! Vinyl Bobble-Head Figure by Funko: $6:49

Description: This Black Panther vinyl bobble-head figure by Funko, inspired by the Marvel Studios movie, is available unmasked, or in the limited edition Chase variant masked form. You won’t know which you’re getting until you open the package.

 

Funko Pop! Marvel: Black Panther Nakia Collectible Figure: $8.78

Description: From Black Panther, Nakia, as a stylized POP vinyl from Funko! Figure stands 3 3/4 inches and comes in a window display box. Check out the other Black Panther figures from Funko! Collect them all!

 

Funko Pop! Marvel: Black Panther Erik Killmonger Collectible Figure: $8.49

Description: From Black Panther, Erik Killmonger, as a stylized POP vinyl from Funko! Figure stands 3 3/4 inches and comes in a window display box. Check out the other Black Panther figures from Funko! Collect them all!

 

Funko Pop! Marvel: Black Panther Shuri Collectible Figure: $7.95

Description: From Black Panther, Shuri, as a stylized POP vinyl from Funko! Figure stands 3 3/4 inches and comes in a window display box. Check out the other Black Panther figures from Funko! Collect them all!

 

Black Panther Wooden Push Puppet: $8.99

Description: Thanks to the clever designers at Entertainment Earth, you can enjoy Black Panther as this 5-inch scale floppy wooden puppet that collapses, moves, and stands up again when you push the hidden button on the bottom of the base! Inspired by the 2017 film, this Black Panther Wooden Push Puppet is designed in a vintage style reminiscent of traditional push puppets known as Wakouwa and features vivid hand-painted artwork, along with some decal elements. Ages 14 and up.

 

Black Panther Pin Mate Wooden Figure: $4.99

Description: Retro-styled, 2-inch scale wooden figure features custom, 360-degree details. It’s here: the Black Panther Pin Mate Wooden Figure from Bif Bang Pow! is ready for your collection! The adorable, 2-inch scaled wooden figure featuring Black Panther from the 2018 film Black Panther adds to the growing line as number 71 in the Marvel Pin Mate™ series. Black Panther features highly detailed, brightly colored, 360-degree artwork that includes custom hand-painted artwork. Ages 14 and up.

 

Black Panther Nakia Pin Mate Wooden Figure: $4.99

Description: It’s here: the Black Panther Nakia Pin Mate Wooden Figure from Bif Bang Pow! is ready for your collection! The adorable, 2-inch scaled wooden figure featuring Nakia from the 2018 film Black Panther adds to the growing line as number 73 in the Marvel Pin Mate™ series. Nakia features highly detailed, brightly colored, 360-degree artwork that includes custom hand-painted artwork. Ages 14 and up.

 

Black Panther Erik Killmonger Pin Mate Wooden Figure: $4.99

Description: It’s here: the Black Panther Erik Killmonger Pin Mate Wooden Figure from Bif Bang Pow! is ready for your collection! The adorable, 2-inch scaled wooden figure featuring Erik Killmonger from the 2018 film Black Panther adds to the growing line as number 72 in the Marvel Pin Mate™ series. Erik Killmonger features highly detailed, brightly colored, 360-degree artwork that includes custom hand-painted artwork. Ages 14 and up.

 

Black Panther Okoye Pin Mate Wooden Figure: $4.99

Description: It’s here: The Black Panther Okoye Pin Mate Wooden Figure from Bif Bang Pow! is ready for your collection! The adorable, 2-inch scaled wooden figure featuring Okoye from the 2018 film Black Panther adds to the growing line as number 74 in the Marvel Pin Mate™ series. Okoye features highly detailed, brightly colored, 360-degree artwork that includes custom hand-painted artwork. Ages 14 and up.

 

Black Panther Klaw Pin Mate Wooden Figure: $4.99

Description: It’s here: the Black Panther Klaw Pin Mate Wooden Figure from Bif Bang Pow! is ready for your collection! The adorable, 2-inch scaled wooden figure featuring Klaw from the 2018 film Black Panther adds to the growing line as number 75 in the Marvel Pin Mate™ series. Klaw features highly detailed, brightly colored, 360-degree artwork that includes custom hand-painted artwork. Ages 14 and up.

 

 Black Panther Chair Cape: $24.99

Description: Bring some excitement to your boring chair with Marvel Black Panther Cape from Entertainment Earth! Made of high-quality fabric materials, the patented Chair Cape line from Entertainment Earth adjusts to fit most size chairs by using an adjustable hook and loop based belt and strap design to wrap securely around the back of your chair. On top of the 24-inch long royal black cape, this unique Chair Cape includes an 8-inch rigid raised collar – for a total length of 32 inches. The adjustable black chair strap as well as the cape showcases the Black Panther’s iconic royal necklace. So what are you waiting for? Transform your tame chair into a seat fit for a fierce and protective king! Ages 14 and up.

 

Black Panther Remote Control Stealth Cruiser: $24.95

Description: Race the Black Panther RC Stealth Cruiser with superhero speed! Designed using the latest Wakandan technology, it has the same look, speed and agility as Black Panther. With a 2.4-GHz remote and full function controls, you can race around with ease.

 

Black Panther Glove Set With Battle Sounds: $24.95

Description: Stalk your villainous prey armed with Black Panther’s power gloves, complete with push-button or motion-activated battle sounds for hours of heroic play.

 

Black Panther Action Figure Marvel Toybox: $12.95

Description: Pounce into an action-packed playtime with this Black Panther Action Figure from the Marvel Toybox Series. Two vibranium concussive blast accessories included.

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

What do you think? LOVE them right!  They are great gifts to reward a good report card, to say “sorry” for an epic parent fail, or great for birthdays.  No matter which you choose, I know that it will make any kid (or some adult Marvel fans) very happy.  With the movie in theatres everywhere today, you will certainly want to snag one of these items…if you haven’t already.

When I brought them home to Chance, you would have thought it was his birthday.  Had I been thinking, I would have saved them all for his birthday.  Let me not lie, no I would not have.  That is just too long to keep a secret, his birthday is in June. LOL!  He has played with everything and LOVED it all.

Please let me know what you are surprising your kiddos with from this BLACK PANTHER product list. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

P.S. GO SEE THE MOVIE TODAY!  And please follow Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Other articles you may enjoy about Black Panther:

Villains And Victors: Exclusive Interview With #BlackPanther’s Andy Serkis And Winston Duke

Teaching Our Children to Feel Blessed, Powerful, and Beautiful: Black Panther Press Conference

The Power of Supporting Others With Black Panther’s Cast Daniel Kaluuya And Letitia Wright

Surrender And Believe: Exclusive Interview With Black Panther’s Forest Whitaker

What I Learned From My Black Panther Interview With Lupita Nyong’o And Danai Gurira

My Black Panther Review: Family, Friends, And Foes

Education

As a child, I wanted to be Wonder Woman.  You know the Lynda Carter version of Wonder Woman from the television series filmed in the late 70’s?  Yes, I wanted to be her.  I would pretend to fight the evil villain (my brother) using my special powers, “wham-bam” rhetoric, a magic lasso of truth, and wrist band shields to protect me from bullets and darts.  Those memories are so vivid in my mind.  I remember wanting to be Wonder Woman not to be famous but to make a difference – she always seemed to save the day, to beat the bad guy.

 

Today, my hope is to be an example of the wonder of a woman. To be the strong woman that my husband married and the powerful, passionate, and loving woman that my son needs to see and me to be.  What I loved about my interview with Winston Duke (M.Baku) and Andy Serkis (Klaw) is it reminded me that we get to decide if we are going to be a villain or a victor in our own life.

 

Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

There they sat as opposite as they could be, sharing their thoughts about their characters, overall BLACK PANTHER movie experiences, and feelings about working with Ryan Coogler.  It was interesting and fantastic at the same time.  Their perspectives were vastly different but equally powerful.  When asked, tell us what it’s like to bring to life these crazy characters that people want to root against on screen?  Andy said a few things that really stuck with me.  He said,

”I mean the thing is it is great fun being able to dip into the dark side, because it’s in a safe environment.  And we work in the world of story where you’re allowed to do that.  But you kind of want to make that character live and be human, I wanted to make him strangely someone you might like to hang out with.”

In a safe environment, it’s okay to be a villain…it’s fun to dip into the dark side.  When you do that, you are living and being human. You should even have friends and hang out.  It’s just that easy for us to get comfortable being a villain in our own life.  Our pain, problems, and often perspective causes us to accept persecution and not the promise.  Klaw allowed his pain to make him a villain.  And guess what, pain does not discriminate. Pain is the same and if we don’t decide our path, our pain will decide it for us. And that decision starts in the “safe environment” of our mind first. We must be careful not to let ill thoughts, past hurts, and underserved pain contaminate our hearts and mind and make us live as villain.

 

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

As moms, it’s important that we recognize and examine our lives to ensure that we aren’t villains in private and victors in public (or vice versa) in order to authentically teach our children.  We need to be armed with good examples to help them make the decisions for themselves.  For example, we asked Winston about the decision that his character made to bring resolve to the community. He said,

You use all these isms and put them on people.  So how do you shape that and what does it look like.  M’Baku’s question is, do we stay here, in these mountains and protect ourselves, and what kind of world are we creating by doing that.  Because we also have to live in it.  So, I think it’s he’s grappling with the larger questions himself, because he’s realizing I’m part of this big world.

That’s it! We must ask ourselves the question “if we don’t become who we were created to be, what kind of world are we creating for our children – and would we want to live in it.”  I was told once that obstacles are really treasures themselves. Once we shine our light on the truth of who we are “victors” we can slowly begin the transformation and make the decision to challenge our thinking and change our lives.  M’Baku decided to deal with his pain differently, he allowed his pain to fuel his faith to make a difference in spite of.  In life we too will have to make similar decisions, decide to become who we desire to be.

 

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Once we have watched our heroes, superheroes like Wonder Woman or BLACK PANTHER block bullets with a wrist band or body suit; or natural heroes like a parent, grandparent or Martin Luther King, Jr. give their all to pave a better way for us. I hope we are inspired to honor their contribution as a blue print for us to find our super power within to live victoriously and not let the pain, shame, and mishaps of our lives cause us to become exactly what we’ve always wanted to defeat – the villain.

 

 

Both Andy and Winston spoke highly of Ryan Coogler which did not surprise me at all.  Andy said, Ryan what was so great about Ryan is that he allows us as actors to really play and explore the parts and take it places.  I mean I’m sure you’ve felt that.” 

Winston added, “And he just trusts you to work and create your world.  And I feel a great opportunity for me with M’Baku, I was given the opportunity to create a new language within that world essentially.  This is my first film, so to feel like I could hold my own and create a space where I felt I had agency as an artist came from Ryan creating a safe space.

 

We must decide if we are going to be a villain or victor.  We also must decide who’s starring in our movie.  Who do we trust as director? Are you surrounded by people that allow you to be the best version of yourself or are they trying to dumb you down? 

Having the right support system can be the difference of you becoming a villain or victor. Andy and Winston were cast to be villains, they were role playing.  You and I…well this is real life.  We get an opportunity to learn from M’Baku and Klaw so that we move forward being our own version of a superhero.  

Are you ready to see BLACK PANTHER? It will be in U.S. theatres everywhere on February 16th.  I encourage you to go check it out – and take your family.  I’m confident you will be empowered to be a victor. Someone who celebrates themselves, others and life.

 

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

P.S. I was invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles courtesy of Disney to attend the #BlackPantherEvent & ABCTVEvent in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

You may also enjoy the following #BlackPantherEvent articles:

 

Education

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip by Disney in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.

black-panther-poster

 

I was so glad that we were able to register for the BLACK PANTHER Press Conference early.  Why you ask? Well that meant that we were among the first group of press to go in the room.  I sat myself down on the second row, end seat, center aisle.    The room was full of media and the stage was amazing.

 

Nischelle Turner from Entertainment Tonight served as moderator and introduced the cast one by one.  Kevin Feige (Marvel Studios President), Ryan Coogler (Writer/Director), Forest Whitaker (Zuri), Angela Bassett (Ramonda), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger), Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi), Andy Serkis (Klaw), Martin Freeman (Everett K. Ross), and Winston Duke (M’Baku).

 

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

RYAN COOGLER FELT BLESSED

I was so impressed with Ryan Coogler. When told that he created something special and asked, what he thought about the audience response at the premiere. Ryan said, “Oh, man, I felt – I just felt incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to make the film this way, to make the film with this studio.  Working with Kevin and his team – Victoria Alonso, Louis D’Esposito, and Nate Moore, is an incredible opportunity.

The beauty of the answer was the word “blessed.”  Ryan felt “blessed” to do what he loved with like-minded people.  As moms we are challenged with teaching our children to appreciate their gifts, talents, and opportunities with gratitude.  Ryan enjoyed working with the Marvel team, saying it was “an incredible opportunity.” I imagine because he felt blessed, he was able to recognize incredible opportunities.  Helping my son feel loved, supported, and blessed is important to me.  To be blessed is to be held in reverence, enjoying happiness, or to bring pleasure and good fortune – according to Webster.  Yes Ryan, I would say that you are blessed sir!!!

 

Photo Credit: Christine St. Vil – Moms N Charge

THE WOMEN OF WAKANDA ARE BEAUTIFUL AND POWERFUL

I was completely having a girl crush moment during the movie and the press conference.  I was so happy when Nischelle gave props to women of Wakanda asking “how proud you were to see yourselves being so powerful, beautiful and regal on screen?” Angela Bassett jumped right in, “Extraordinarily so.  And so pleased that this story, written by Ryan, Joe Robert Cole, and Marvel supported that.  In this story, it highlights the queen, the warrior, the general – the young sister.  So, I was so proud to have my daughter, and my son there last night (at the Premiere), because in their faces, and in their spirit – and they were feeling themselves.”

There were so many amazing comments from the women of Wakanda.  Danai spoke about cutting her hair bold and how that become her symbol of power and beauty.  Letitia shared her thoughts about being the smartest person in the world.  Wow!  But for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty, power, strength, and wisdom of Ramonda.  As a boy mom, I get it.  The mother-son relationship is good for a boy’s mental health.  Moms are their sons first love, the most beautiful person in the world.  I think it is important for our sons to see roles where moms are still serving as mothers and guides.   Teaching our children, especially sons to respect and appreciate women is crucial.

 

 

THE BLACK PANTHER CREATION TOOK GUTS

The critics are celebrating the diversity that BLACK PANTHER brings to the comics.  When asked, “how far did you want it to go without it being too radical but still relevant,” Kevin Feige said, “Well I think it’s happened for the comics, it’s happened with the movie.  Ryan wrote this for the most part, a year and a half ago, two years ago so things have happened in the world which makes the film seem more relevant.   There are other things in the film that have been relevant for centuries, but the truth of the matter is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the whole Marvel bullpen created Wakanda, T’Challa and Black Panther and made him a smarter, more accomplished character than any of the other white characters in the mid 1960s.  So, they had the guts to do that in the mid 1960s.  The least we can do is live up to that and allow this story to be told the way it needed to be told and not shy away from things that the Marvel founders didn’t shy away from in the height of the civil rights era.”

I remember thinking “wow” and applauding so loud in response to Kevin’s answer.  I was so impressed not just by the creative boldness of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby but also with Kevin for giving Ryan the permission to make Wakanda what it was intended to be.  The idea of BLACK PANTHER being smarter and more accomplished than every other superhero was not only gutsy, but heroic.   What a “teachable moment” for us moms, especially moms of black boys and girls.  We have an opportunity to help them see themselves as smart, accomplished, powerful, and loving…all at the same time – just as T’Challa.

 

Photo Credit: Christine St. Vil – Moms N Charge

I say this all the time but as moms, we are our children first teacher.  I don’t know about you but we’ve encountered bullying, racism, and just down right mean behavior from other children against our son.  As a parent that is one of the hardest things to deal with – someone intentionally trying to hurt your child.  Saying and doing things that could potentially hurt him physically and mentally.  That’s why this movie and the lessons attached to it are so important.  

 

I enjoy telling Chance how blessed he is – and how he should be a blessing to others.  I want him to know that he is beautiful both inside and out and he should never think otherwise.  We teach him that being black does not make him any less than anyone else.  It’s nice to have movies that reinforce those beliefs.

Are you teaching your children that they are blessed, beautiful, and powerful?  On February 16th BLACK PANTHER will be in U.S. theatres everywhere.  I hope you and your family decides to go see it – and share your thoughts with me.  In the meantime, follow Marvel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

Education

Thanks to Disney, we had an opportunity to interview Anthony Gonzalez (the voice of Coco’s Miguel) during the #BlackPantherEvent press trip.

Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

We arrived at Olvera Street just in time for a little dancing and shopping before meeting at El Paseo Inn for dinner with Anthony and his beautiful family. 

 

 

Anthony is a kid star that appeared in the TV series’ The Bridge (2014) and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (2017), and as lead in the Pixar-produced animated film Coco (2017).  We sat down after an amazing Mexican dinner and he shared his experience and excitement about his role as Miguel.

miguel-from-coco-photo-for-black-panther-event
Photo Credit: Disney

1.      He Identifies with The Character

 I really wanted to do this role because well I identified myself so much with him.  We are both very determined and like if we really love something, we’re going to chase our dreams.  We both have a passion for music.  And just to be part of a movie where I can sing because I’ve been doing that since I was four years old is amazing.  So that’s one way I identify with Miguel.” 

Another way I identify myself with Miguel is we both know how important our family is and we know to really do our traditions.”

2.      He Celebrates the Day of the Dead with his Family

I have celebrated the Day of the Dead. My grandfather- my grandfather passed away when I was six years old, the Day of the Dead is a chance for me to be with him and connect with him again.  It’s made a big change in our community because there’s some people that tell me, wow I didn’t even know this was a holiday.”

 

 

3.      He Had a Few “First Time” Moments

I got to go to D23 and I had the honor to sing with the one and only Benjamin Bratt, which was so cool yeah [LAUGHS].  And I’ve gotten to go to places that I never thought I would go to like Canada and I love Canada, it’s so cold.  And I actually never thought I would go to Pixar and I just love going to Pixar so much, because there’s a soccer field.  I love soccer and I got to play soccer every time I went there.  And the food there is delicious.”

4.      He was a street performer on Olvera Street

Yes, I would do street performances and sing in these streets.  We would do a whole show, my brother would sing, and my sisters would do tap dance, ballet.  While my brother was singing I would just look at them.  Because of them I started singing and acting.”

 

5.      He Loves Celebrating his Culture

This movie is about celebrating this wonderful tradition that Mexicans celebrate.  And it’s a wonderful celebration, a lot of colors, a lot of food, it’s a happy celebration.  I did know it was going to make a wonderful impact, but I didn’t know it was going to make that big of an impact.  To see that a lot of people really took the message and learned a lot about this wonderful tradition, I think it’s amazing.”

 

Photo Credit: Christine St. Vil – Moms N Charge

Isn’t he just the sweetest kid ever?  I really enjoyed hanging out with Anthony and his family.  My son was super excited that I was able meet him.  If you have not seen Coco yet, it comes out on Digital February 13th and Blu-ray on February 27th which is the same day that I am posting my review of the movie.  

You can stay in the know by visiting the website or following Coco on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  You can also follow the 24 other bloggers and me using #CocoBluray or #PixarCoco.

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

Education

While in Los Angeles as press for Disney at the #BlackPantherEvent, we had an opportunity to tour ABC Studios, watch an episode of the newest show #TheBachelorWinterGames, and interview The Bachelor’s host Chris Harrison. 

 

the-abc-studio-group-photo
Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

Hosted by Chris Harrison, “The Bachelor Winter Games” is a production of Next Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Unscripted & Alternative Television. Mike Fleiss, Martin Hilton, Nicole Woods and Bennett Graebner are the executive producers. Harrison is a co-executive producer.   

 

the-bachelor-winter-games-poster-for-black-panther-event

It had been a while since I’ve watched an episode of The Bachelor.  I loved the show but I don’t watch much television these days.  You guys know how it is as a mom, it seems like there’s so much to do in the evenings with homework, dinner, and prepping for the next day.  So, I was excited to have an opportunity to sit and watch the first episode with a room full of Disney Moms.   

 

Photo Credit: ABC Studios

We sat down and began watching “The Bachelor Winter Games” “Episode 101” – Baby, it’s cold outside when 25 bachelors and bachelorettes from around the world meet in the streets of Manchester, Vermont, for a grand celebration of unity and love on the premiere of the new highly anticipated four-episode series. The premiere episode highlights an appearance from Bachelor Nation Alumni Trista and Ryan Sutter and a performance by country singer/Songwriter Ruthie Collins.   

 

Chris walked in the room, sat down, and just began telling us all about his experiences on The Bachelor and the idea behind The Bachelor Winter Games

Let’s make this Global Celebration of Love.  The Bachelor is a phenomenon here obviously in the United States and it’s one of the biggest franchises in the history of TV, and it has been for almost 2 decades.  It’s actually huge around the world from Japan, China, Finland, Sweden, from Russia, the UK, and Australia and New Zealand and Canada.”

 

Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

I really enjoyed listening to Chris talk about The Bachelor.  He is so passionate about the show, particularly the relationships he’s built because of the show.  I am a firm believer that our relationships are our most valuable resources.  When asked, do you keep up with the folks that have been on the show, his response was truly inspiring.

I do, a lot of them are my friends, Trista and Ryan are dear friends of mine, and Andrew Firestone is one of my closest friends.  Bob Guiney, and even now Ben Higgins and I talk all the time.  One of the weirdest things about this job is I’ve had 16 years of these people that have come into my life and that I’ve taken care of.  I’ve married some of them and watched them have babies and created these families with them and on the off-camera side, we’ve had deaths and divorces and love affairs and marriages.  We’ve kind of done it all and that’s not even the Television Show.  And so yeah, we’re kind of a traveling band of Gypsies in this family that’s kind of stuck together, which is pretty special.  It’s neat.  I have some really good friends because of this Show.”

 

Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

This answer and the anticipation of the first rose ceremony made me want to begin watching The Bachelor again.  The last season I watched was with Brad Womack, the bachelor from Austin, Texas.  I just loved him and wanted to see him happy and in love.  Since Chris became friends with so many other cast members, I thought I’d ask if he kept in touch with Brad. 

I do.  Brad’s one of my favorite people too.  And I’m so sorry I didn’t mention him.  He’s a good friend of mine, lives in Austin, Texas and yeah, any time I’m in Austin, not only do I see him but usually he makes me stay at his place.  He may be the most generous and wonderful giver we’ve ever had on the Show, just a great, great man.  One of my biggest disappointments was not finding him love because he’s a big lover.”

Awe that made me smile so big.  I was truly inspired by the way Chris spoke about the friendships that he managed to forge through the show.  The ups and downs, joys and pains…that’s what friendships are about.  And I could tell that he cared deeply for those he considered friend.

It was very cool seeing contestants from all over the world move into their Bachelor villa at The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, Vermont during our sneak peek of “Episode 101” that airs on TUESDAY, FEB. 13 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network, streaming and on demand.  Since we did not get to see the WHOLE show, I must tune in to see what happens during the rose ceremony.  Then there’s “Episode 102” airing on THURSDAY, FEB. 15 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EST) as romantic connections are underway the participants prepare for the second winter game challenge.

 

Photo Credit: ABC Studios

What do you think, should we watch it together and tweet our thoughts using hashtag #TheBachelorWinterGames?  Honestly, I am pretty curious about the cast after seeing a teaser.  This cast is INTERESTING!!!  Trust me…..we should tune in and be on the lookout for Ashley I. from the U.S., Yuki from Japan, Christian from Switzerland, Ben from the U.S, Nastassia from Sweden, and so many more. 

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

P.S. For more information about The Bachelor Winter Games follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

Education

This post is sponsored by A Girls Guide to Cars on behalf of the DFW Auto Show. All opinions are my own.

I’m revving up to attend the DFW Auto Show for the second year in a row and it’s right on time.  I have a little over a year left on my current lease, and I will be in the market for a new car again. 

The DFW Auto Show is one of the most anticipated annual events in the Metroplex, the DFW Auto Show is the ideal opportunity for consumers to compare styling and pricing of every major line make under one roof in just a few hours. The DFW Auto Show was conceived in 1982, and now boasts more than half a million square feet of new cars, trucks and SUVs at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center.

I’m particularly excited about teaming up with A Girls Guide to Cars and Toyota to offer you an opportunity to join me by entering the giveaway for a grand prize of $100 Amazon Gift Card and 2 tickets to the DFW Auto Show.  Enter now for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The 2018 DFW Auto Show will return on February 14-18, 2018 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center (formerly the Dallas Convention Center).  The show will open on Wednesday from 4pm – 10pm, Thursday thru Saturday from 10am – 10pm, and Sunday from 10am – 7pm.  Tickets are reasonably priced at $14 for adults, $7 for senior citizens (65 and older), $7 for children (ages 6-12), free for children 5 and under, and $10 for active and retired Military member (ID required).  Snag your tickets and meet me there. 

This year I am excited to partner with Toyota!  Toyota, designed and assembled in the United States, five generations strong, recently moved their headquarters to the DFW metroplex, and I am happy to share a few fun facts about their 2018 vehicles that will be featured at the Show.

TOYOTA HIGHLIGHTS:

  • New V6 and Toyota Hybrid System Powertrains Offering More Power and MPG
  • New TNGA K Sedan Platform with Multi-Link Rear Suspension and Available Toyota-First Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)
  • Standard Entune 3.0 with WiFi Hotspot, Qi Wireless Charging, Toyota Remote Connect with Smartwatch and Amazon Alexa Connectivity, and Apple CarPlay
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P)
  • On Sale in Late Spring 2018

C-HR

  • Bold, Eye-Catching Style Signals New Direction in Toyota Design
  • Sharp Nürburgring-Tuned Handling
  • C-HR Receives Two Toyota-First Features: Driver Distraction Secure Audio and Brake Hold Function
  • Standard 18-in. Alloy Wheels, Dual-Zone Climate Control, Bucket Seating and 7-in. Audio Display
  • Only Vehicle in Its Segment with Standard Pre-Collision System with Active Braking – Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) with Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

RAV4 Adventure

  • RAV4 Adventure has Dirt-Inspired Styling and Higher Ride Height
  • Active lifestyle inspired

Camry

  • Best-Selling Car in America for the last 16 years
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense-P
  • New Emotionally-Charged Design and Performance Experience
  • Aggressive Exterior Character Lines and Low Center of Gravity

Tundra

  • Built here, lives here; built at Toyota’s San Antonio facility – TMMTX

Tacoma

  • Built here, lives here; built at Toyota’s San Antonio facility – TMMTX

Nice right?  I agree!  I’m thankful to A Girls Guide to Cars for partnering with me for this amazing event.   Now I am encouraging you to see it for yourself, enter the giveaway!

You may not be in the market for a new car, but by attending this event, when the time come you will be prepared.  This is one of the most anticipated events in Dallas. For more specific information please visit www.dfwautoshow.com

If you aren’t in Dallas, please research your local Auto Show you won’t regret it, and follow on social @DFWAutoShow and @girlsguide2cars and hashtags #DFWLovesAutos and #ToyotaDFW

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

 

 

Education

Thanks to Disney I was invited to Los Angeles for the #BlackPantherEvent, able to attend the press junket and interview Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright.

black-panther-poster-for-Daniel-and-letitia

 

As moms we want to teach our children to be friendly and kind.  Maya Angelou’s quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” is a simple reminder of the impact I can make in someone’s life through an act of kindness, positive inspiration, or something as small as how I respond to a Chance getting his name on the board.  Even in discipline, I think kindness, understanding, and support will have a greater impact than any other form of communication or emotion. 

 

daniel-and-letitia-interview
Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

While we sat in that small and intimate conference room listening to Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi) and Letitia Wright (Shuri) talk about BLACK PANTHER, I was captivated by their genuine support of each other.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Danial and Letitia share about the movie, their beliefs, and especially their lasting friendship. 

Photo Credit: Marvel/Disney

As Letitia was asked how she felt about being a black princess on film, the question progressed to did she believe that it would be inspirational for girls and boys.  The conversation that took place between Letitia and Daniel while answering this question set the tone for the entire interview for me.

It’s crazy because this film is pretty much years of prayer.  It’s powerful because this is something I would pray for when I was a teenager just getting into acting. I just wanted to be a vessel of inspiration.  Doesn’t have to necessarily mean that the character is not flawed or has to be perfect, but just to inspire.” – Letitia

 I remember one time you were on set for a scene.  When you walked by in costume a little girl looked up at you and went, “ahhh.” It was like…(huge smile)”– Daniel

That’s another thing.  Daniel would pull me to the side and say things like, “you’re a queen you know” and ‘Tish, be a vessel for something really beautiful.” I would be like, don’t gas me up…But he’s like a beautiful brother, very encouraging.” – Letitia

Isn’t it super sweet? I thought so too, it was such a beautiful conversation to witness.  I was literally smiling the whole time, their genuine love, support and adoration for each was so inspiring.  It’s proof that we can be good friends to each other, if we choose to be.  They are both actors and yet they were supportive of each other’s careers on and off screen. 

letitia-and-daniel-during-junket
Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

Making someone feel seen, understood, appreciated, and most of all supported is not only exemplary of a great friendship but also a productive life.  I honestly feel that I am a very supportive person but listening in on Daniel and Letitia, I felt charged to be better…I think we all did. 

daniel-and-letitia-with-bloggers
Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – Houseful of Nicholes

I must be honest, I think I was so intrigued because I could only hope and pray that my son creates and fosters relationships with such love, support, and genuine concern for the advancement of other people.  So here are the “friendship building” takeaways that I want to ensure that I teach my son:

·         Be Kind: approach and respond to others with a smile and friendly “hello.”

·         Be Considerate: be sensitive to the feelings and situations of others.

·         Be Helpful: extend a helping hand to others.

·         Be Aware: pay attention to actions and behaviors.

·         Be Supportive: encourage others to do and be their best.

·         Be Honest: when someone does good, congratulate them.

Daniel did not feel by encouraging Letitia’s shine it would dim his sparkle.  No, he understood that our real power lies in our ability to empower and support others in their pursuit of greatness.  Greatness is different for everyone.  You determine what makes you great or what it mean for you to be great.  The same goes for our children. 

Listen, I want to encourage you to share these takeaways with your children and do yourself a huge favor and take your family to see BLACK PANTHER on February 16th.  You will see this type of support throughout the movie and you will leave the theatre inspired, empowered, and motivated to be your best self.

Do you teach your children to be supportive?  I would love to hear about the things you do to help your children to see the value in supporting others.  Please share your thoughts, tips and takeaways, I would love to hear from you. 

 

© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom

Snag your tickets for BLACK PANTHER in theatres everywhere on February 16th, please check it out, and follow Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  And please follow the other bloggers using the #BlackPantherEvent hashtag.