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Fans Think Mac Miller’s Posthumous Album “Circles” Features Ariana Grande


Following the release of a posthumous single titled “Good News,” Mac Miller’s family unveiled Circles, an album that was intended to be a follow up to Swimming. As fans continue to spend time with the release, a project that was started by Mac and producer Jon Brion before Mac’s death, some believe one song contains a special guest — Ariana Grande.

As Vulture reported, on Twitter, a number of users have noted that the single, “I Can See” appears to include vocals that sound similar to Ariana’s singing. “Low key i am pretty sure it’s ariana’s vocals on “i can see” ??? i’m crying,” one user wrote. Some also pointed to the fact that Ariana posted the album cover in her Instagram Story.

Ariana hasn’t yet addressed the social media theories, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for the pop star to show her support. As fans know, Mac and Ariana had previously dated, and although they later made the decision to break up, the “7 Rings” singer spoke fondly of the rapper, even calling him an angel in her hit single, “Thank U, Next.” After Mac’s death, Ariana had posted a simple social media tribute to the performer, sharing an old photograph of Mac. There was also some speculation that Ariana had adopted Mac’s dog Myron, too.

Mac and Ariana had also worked together on music in the past. First collaborating on Ariana’s 2013 debut album, the pair later released “My Favorite Part,” a single which included a duet.

Mac’s family had addressed their intentions with the release of Circles in a previous Instagram post, writing, “We simply know that it was important to Malcolm for the world to hear it. One of the most difficult decisions in the process is how best to let people know about it — how to communicate meaningfully while keeping sacred what should be kept sacred.”

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Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Mac Miller’s Family Releases His First Posthumous Single, “Good News”





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“Sex Education” Newcomer George Robinson on Isaac’s Relationship With Maeve and Disability Representation


Major spoilers for Sex Education season 2 below.

When George Robinson’s character, Isaac, pops up during Sex Education season 2, there’s finally someone in town with a razor-sharp wit that can hold his own against resident genius bad girl Maeve Wiley. Isaac moves into the caravan park next to the Moordale student and is unafraid to push her buttons and pull pranks. But much like we saw with Maeve during the first season of the hit Netflix series, Isaac’s walls begin to crumble and we get to see more into what makes him tick.

“With Maeve, Isaac feels like he wants to drop that side and sort of express himself. Because what Isaac seems to do is deflect quite a lot while he projects his actual feelings,” George tells Teen Vogue. “With Maeve, he seems to have found someone who he feels like he can express himself truly.”

Isaac is one of the new characters introduced to Sex Education that shakes things up for the beloved core cast from the first season. His addition does much more than just complicating the love triangle between Maeve and Otis; Isaac uses a wheelchair, furthering the series’ dedication to showing the multiplicity of today’s world through the microcosm of a horny secondary school in the United Kingdom. To George, it seemed like a “no brainer” that the show would explore disability considering how “unapologetically diverse” it is. George, who uses a wheelchair in real life as well, was also relieved that they were going with an actor who actually has a disability.

“Everyone pretty much knows someone who has a disability and yet the representation in media doesn’t seem to be there in the same way, even though it’s certainly changing,” he says. “There’s been the precedent in the past of having wheelchair characters not being played by people in wheelchairs. I just thought that was such a refreshing thing when I got the call.”

Ever since Sex Education released first-look images of his character, George has received many lovely messages from people sharing their pride and relief that the show is incorporating a disabled character portrayed by a person with a disability. He points to movies such as Me Before You and The Upside as stories about disabled people that weren’t authentically cast.

“I haven’t seen either of those films just because they don’t really interest me as a thing. So I’m sure that the actors in question probably smashed it,” he says. “But there’s always that thing in the back of your mind. Just thinking, yeah, it doesn’t seem genuine. They’ve all seemed to be a medium through which an actor can flex their acting muscles. While nothing authentically portrayed the story of a disabled person.”



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Lexi Brumback Of ‘Cheer’ On How She Was Able To Return To Navarro College


If you haven’t heard of Netflix’s latest docuseries “Cheer,” get bingeing, because you’re missing out.

The show follows an elite cheerleading squad at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, who, with their devoted coach Monica Aldama, have nearly dominated the National Cheerleaders Association’s national championships in Daytona Beach, Florida, since 2000. When we meet them, they’re gearing up to compete for their 14th title, and they’ll stop at nothing to earn another first-place trophy ― concussions, bruised ribs and broken bones be damned.

“Cheer” gives an inside look at the grueling world of competitive cheerleading, but it’s also a powerful piece on fighting adversity, showcasing the personal stories of teenagers struggling with sexuality, status and body image.

One of those teens is Lexi Brumback, a talented tumbler who is trying to move on from her many run-ins with the law and live up to her potential at Navarro. Spoiler alert: The doe-eyed platinum blonde flips, cartwheels and soars across the mat at the championships, but is kicked off the team in the finale episode when police catch her and some friends in a car containing “illegal stuff.” Although it was ultimately Monica’s decision to let her go, she expresses her disappointment, noting that Lexi needs structure in order to thrive.

Well, Lexi blessed us with good news this week and announced she’s back on the squad and getting ready to slay at Daytona 2020. With this in mind, HuffPost called up Monica and Lexi to learn more about the decision to bring her back.

“Her charges were dismissed for what she was pulled over for,” Monica told us. “Her coach reached back out to me, and her mom and her grandmother really wanted her back here to have the structure that she had, and I felt like she had an opportunity to learn from it and it was time to give her a second chance.”

Below, Monica, Lexi and “top girl” Morgan Simianer delve into “Cheer,” and reveal some of what you didn’t see on the screen.

Ladies, your show has taken off into the world like Morgan in a basket toss. Are you surprised, overwhelmed, excited by the attention “Cheer” is receiving?

Monica Aldama: For me personally, I knew that the cheer community would probably watch this documentary just because they want to see the inside of what we do. But I honestly had no idea that people who were not involved in cheerleading would have any interest in it. What else I was most surprised at, just based on some of the things I’ve seen online and on social media, is the number of people that don’t have a cheer background that have not just watched it, but watched it multiple times. I’m blown away. I didn’t realize all the different things that it would touch on besides just cheerleading, and how people would be so touched by the different stories.

Absolutely. The show truly captures the end goal of Navarro, the team, but it also delves into your own personal journeys to get there. Morgan and Lexi, what was it like to be able to tell your stories in this way?

Morgan Simianer: Obviously, at first, it was hard to open up and kind of scary to just share your story with the whole entire world, but I think we both realized after the show came out that we touched so many lives. We didn’t even realize that there were that many people out there that were going through similar things and struggling in their lives, and we helped motivate them to keep going and to keep pushing through. It really means a lot to us that the show portrayed us in such a great way to help inspire others.

Lexi Brumback: I agree. It really made me feel so loved and cared for by people that I’ve never even met. It’s really amazing to know that so many people were inspired by our stories. It feels really good to be an inspiration to someone, especially with as many people who have been reaching out.

It lets you know you’re not alone in your struggles. 

I just love these kids, I’m invested in them and I just want the best for their futures.
Monica Aldama

One of the big topics that was touched on was the physical expectations of the team and some of the injuries you all endure. How did it feel to show some of that on screen? Particularly for you, Monica, because you make up these routines, and these athletes love and respect you and want to do their best, but I’m sure it’s a little nerve-wracking for you knowing injuries can happen.

Monica: You know, the show was only six hours and they were here for four months filming 12 hours a day, so you didn’t get to see some of the progressions that we do. We have a lot of safety things that we implement. We don’t ever try an entire pyramid, for example, without each little section being consistent. I know it was hard to see that from the parts that were narrowed down, but safety is our number one thing. We have all guys spotting anytime within the pyramid, we do the progressions until it’s safe, and then we add the section to it before we ever try and put the whole thing together. Normally we don’t have that many people hurt, and you can call it dumb luck or whatever, but it was just a crazy night [in that first episode] and cameras were there. 

And then, I know a lot of people were freaking out about Sherbs’ [Mackenzie Sherburn’s] incident, and that was a very freaky thing. The show didn’t really touch on it, but we changed the pyramid after that just to make it safer so that that would never happen again. You know everybody was wondering, “Where were the people who were supposed to catch her?!” But they were supposed to throw another girl back and catch Sherbs, and for some reason they couldn’t get that girl out of their arms, and so the people that were supposed to catch her had someone else in their hands.

This year, I bought a shirt that’s actually from football that has some padding in it to kind of help protect the catching on the ribs, because we had those girls that had really tender ribs last year. And [safety is paramount] for the guys too, because they can take a beating when things go crazy. I bought some face masks this year for some of the guys to protect them.

As filmmakers, there’s no doubt they want to show the most dangerous stunts to make us at home keep watching, of course. For Lexi and Morgan, in terms of that, are you fearful of being thrown up in the air or to do back-to-back tumbles on the mat? Are you worried about injuries? 

Morgan: For us, obviously, we build confidence in doing stunts. The first few times we do it, they might be a little bit shaky, but again, our progressions and stuff build us up to be able to do them confidently and safely.

Lexi: Yeah, we definitely practice easier skills, and when we perfect those, we move on to the hardest things we will be doing. We don’t just start off doing incredibly difficult skills. We build our way up to them so that we do feel more confident whenever we’re trying the hard skill we’re shooting for.

I have to say, I’m excited that you’re both returning for the 2020 season. Lexi, you’re back on the team! People are freaking out over your Instagram post. 

Lexi: It feels really good to be back. I’m super excited to kill it this year. 

Monica and Lexi, you can both speak on this, but how did you end up back on the team? The last we saw, you were kicked off the squad and went back to Houston. 

Monica: You know, I’ve kicked people off the team before and then given them a second chance. I think Kapena [Kea, student assistant coach] even touched on that in one of the episodes where he was talking about how he had gotten kicked off for doing some stuff. His situation, it was right before we were leaving to go to Daytona and he got kicked off, but I allowed him to try out again for the next year. With Lexi, you know, it was kind of a weird situation because it was the end of the year, so it was still in that season, but it just felt like there needed to be a little bit more discipline. So that’s why I said she couldn’t come back in the fall.

Her charges were dismissed for what she was pulled over for. Her coach reached back out to me, and her mom and her grandmother really wanted her back here to have the structure that she had, and I felt like she had an opportunity to learn from it and it was time to give her a second chance. I even said at the end of the series that I really felt like she still needed to be here and I still wanted to be involved with her. Lexi and I still talked quite a bit during the fall. It’s not like we never spoke again. We kept in contact, so I could see how she was doing and keep up with her. Once I reached out, I was like, let’s give this another go and hopefully she’s had enough time to kind of reflect on things and think about what she wants for her future.

Lexi: This past fall semester I was actually at another college called Blinn and I was cheering over there. And honestly, I just didn’t click with the rest of the people there like I did here at Navarro. It didn’t feel like home over there, and I just felt like it wasn’t really for me. I did really miss Navarro a lot. And Monica is forgiving. Like, she does believe in second chances and really gave me hope to know I could be able to come back. I’m just really thankful that she ended up accepting me back over here, because I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m just really thankful that she does believe in second chances and didn’t let my decisions in the past define me, and let me prove myself to be my full potential.

Your relationship with Monica was such a standout on the series. And I loved when you did go back home after leaving the team, you admitted that before making decisions, you’d ask yourself, “What would Monica do?” 

Lexi: I do think about that all the time! Even if I’m about to post anything, or if I’m about to go anywhere, I’m always thinking, “Would Monica approve?” [Laughs

I think we’re all thinking about that now. Viewers also want Monica to be our life coach…

Is that an important part of this job for you, Monica, to provide these young adults with the skills to be the best they can be in the future? 

Monica: Absolutely. I’ve told them before, I’ve won 14 national championships. I don’t have to do this job anymore to prove we can be the best. We have done that. Personally, I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m still here because I’m invested in these kids and I’ve always looked at this as really me teaching them about what they should want out of their future and how are they going to get there. That’s the most important thing to me, that I’m teaching them about life after they leave Navarro and how they’re going to be successful, how they’re going to navigate through hard times or good times or both.

You’re never going to have a perfect, happy life. There is always going to be something that you’re gonna have to go through, and my goal is just to show them that they can be strong and they can handle those moments. I always like to tell them it’s OK to be sad and wallow around and cry, but you can’t stay down there. You have to get back up and keep going. I think that’s important because that’s just how life is ― it’s going to throw things at you and you have to be strong enough to get back up and keep going. I just love these kids, I’m invested in them and I just want the best for their futures. 

Morgan Simianer (right) in a scene from "Cheer."



Morgan Simianer (right) in a scene from “Cheer.”

Morgan, I know Monica has been such a champion for you in that you might not have always initially made it on the mat, but she sees that you never give up and push yourself to every limit. Talk a little bit about why you decided to come back for a third year instead of moving on from Navarro? 

Morgan: I think one of the biggest things for me was that I felt very comfortable here at Navarro. It’s one of the places I’ve lived in the longest, and it felt like this was home for me and this is where I’m supposed to be. I didn’t really know what college I wanted to go to and I thought there were classes here at Navarro I could take and finish here and feel more comfortable. Also, there’s just, like, nowhere else to go? I knew Monica would help me and there’s so many more things that I could learn from this program and grow from that would help me later on.

Definitely. And [fellow cheerleader] Jerry [Harris] is back too, right? 

Monica: Yes, he sure is! [Laughs] He’s actually sitting right here. 

Jerry: Hey, ma! [More laughter

So what’s coming in 2020 ― is the pyramid even more insane?

Monica: We’re trying to kind of make it look like a circus. We’ve got it pretty much planned out, so you know, we’re working on it.

I have a feeling this year’s National Championships might be different now that the cheer world has a whole new following. Daytona might be crowded! 

Monica: I don’t know! Once again, I mean, we had no idea that this was gonna blow up like this. We don’t know what to expect. We’re going to work hard and keep the focus on what we need to do, and hopefully we won’t let any of this distract us from that. It was already stressful last year because we knew that we had cameras there and eventually everyone would see it whether we were successful or not. So now we’ve got a lot more eyes on us, but we’re good at handling the pressure, so we’re going to stay focused and put in the work here in Corsicana.

Can we expect more seasons of “Cheer,” or perhaps some spinoffs? 

Monica: We don’t know anything about a Season 2 at the moment. We’re just really excited about the Season 1 that just got released, so we’re just going to enjoy this moment and take it all in. [Pause] Sorry to disappoint you! I don’t have any inside scoop on that. I don’t. I really don’t!

No worries, I’ll check back in later! But in all sincerity, this show gave all us amateurs a way to understand the sport and what you all do day in and day out to prepare. What does it mean to you to see the reenergized excitement around cheer? 

Monica: Well, I think that’s the great thing about it, is it gave people an inside look at what we really do. It shows the true athleticism of these kids. That’s really one of the biggest misconceptions, is that they just put on makeup, look cute and just kind of do something easy, but that’s not it at all. These kids have grit, they have determination, they’re fighters. They come in and work hard every single day. I mean, I don’t even have to motivate them ― they’re self-motivated.

The other thing is just to show that they are real humans that have real problems. They’re not what these TV shows make them out to be: these snobby little popular people that are, you know, perfect. These are real college kids going through real things, but at the same time overcoming those things, coming in and putting in the work. It’s just really a great story.

Lexi: For me, I just love how we pretty much proved everyone who said cheer wasn’t a sport wrong. 

This interview has been edited and condensed. 





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Halsey’s New Album “Manic”: A Track-by-Track Review


To Halsey, an album is a body of work, not just a collection of songs. Nowhere in her discography is this ethos more present than on her new record Manic, out Jan. 17. Across 16 tracks, the singer who was born Ashley Frangipane presents an album “made by Ashley for Halsey,” and it’s her third album, but the first of its kind in her history.

Listening to Manic, it’s easy to imagine how much love and enjoyment she put into the organization of it, the audio samples and interludes almost serving as chapter breaks. It’s an accumulation of who she is in a specific moment.

Back in September, she talked at the Grammy Museum about the way the album’s purpose shifted over time. “I tried to be angry, and I was so calm and so happy and proud, and felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be,” she said. “I sat down to make a list of things I didn’t like about myself because I thought it would help me make an angry album, and I wrote it and I cried. I read it and let some of my friends read it, and after writing it, I couldn’t find any anger at myself, I just found forgiveness. I looked at the list and said, some of these things are true, some are not. You may feel that way about yourself, but it’s okay, you’re going to be okay.” Manic, an album about acceptance and shifting emotion, is the embodiment of that statement.

For fans, the album comes with listening instructions from the artist herself. Two days before her album release, she tweeted a request: follow the track list order for the first album listen. “Some songs go together. Halves of a whole. so when Manic is out, pls don’t skip ur excited asses to a random song,” she wrote. So this is our review of Manic, in order, track by track, parts of a whole.

“Ashley”

When Halsey first released her track list, from the title of this song alone it was evident that Halsey’s mindset approaching album three would be different. As far as introductions go, this one is heavy. Halsey doesn’t mince words — this is going to be an album about pain. Her lyrics are blunt: “Took my heart and sold it out/To a vision that I wrote myself/And I don’t wanna be somebody in America/Just fighting the hysteria/I only wanna die some days.” This album was hard for her to write, so it should be hard to listen to too. The track ends with an audio sample of antiheroine Clementine Kruczynski, from one of Halsey’s favorite films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: “I’m just a f*cked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.”

“Clementine”

“Some songs go together. Halves of a whole,” Halsey said, and right off the bat, she is braiding her tracks together based on the title alone (another callback to Eternal Sunshine). “Clementine” was first released as a promotional single ahead of the album, but placed next to a line from the film that inspired it, the song is a different listening experience. From the start of the album, Halsey introduces herself as the antiheroine.

“Graveyard”

“Graveyard” feels the most sonically congruent to the artist we knew Halsey to be prior to this album: the slant rhymes, the tempo, the young energy mark it as pure Halsey. The song is surprisingly bright, coolly antithetical to subject matter. The lyrics before the final chorus, “It’s funny how/The warning signs can feel like they’re butterflies” are punctuated with an annotated gasp, like she’s out of breath. The natural sound doesn’t feel gratuitous, instead adding extra emotional ferocity to the moment.

“You should be sad”

“You should be sad” was released before the album release as well, and on its own, it’s a kiss-off ode to all the things you wish you said at the end of a relationship, with a revenge-fantasy music video that references work from pop queens Lady Gaga, Shania Twain, and Christina Aguilera. On the album, some of that snark dissipates, leaving a complex, layered feeling in its wake. Less anger, and more relief.

“Forever…(is a long time)”

Halsey described “Forever” as a song about “the journey of falling in love and then sabotaging it with your own paranoia and insecurity.” Self-sabotage comes up often on Manic, and the lyrics here are simple to allow the song’s energy to come from its melody and tension in the elongated piano accompaniment. By the end, thanks to the production overlay on her vocals, you feel like you’re drowning, feeling every bit of the mess the narrator of the song has made.

“Dominic’s Interlude”

This track is the first of three interludes with other artists that Halsey includes on the album, this one centering American singer and rapper Dominic Fike. Its most notable features are the bouncy piano and Dominic’s almost jazzy vocals; the effect feels descended from Frank Ocean. The final verse of the song, “Talk to your man/Tell him he’s got bad news comin’” parrots the closing lyrics of its preceding track, “Forever…(is a long time)”, setting up exciting climactic moments to come.

“I HATE EVERYBODY”

If “Manic” had a thesis, it would be, “I HATE EVERYBODY”. Halsey’s songwriting finds strength in repetition: “If I could make you love me/Maybe you could make me love me/And If I can’t make you love me/Then I’ll just hate everybody” are some of the most imminently relatable in their simplicity. The marching band in the instrumentals on the track awaken the angstiest parts of us all — this song sits at the same lunch table as My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome To The Black Parade.”

“3am”

Speaking of MCR’s era, “3am” has the kind of song lyrics that would have ended up in the caption of a moody selfie or a signature on AIM. Everything about this song sounds so 2008 rock, from the opening guitar and chorus to the song title and early Internet vibes behind lyrics like “I need it digital because baby when it’s physical I end up alone.”





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The Teen Basketball Star: Carmelo Swinson.

Hello everyone we had the chance to interview the teen basketball star himself Carmelo Swinson. 

Carmelo is a 13 year old teen basketball player who has been making a lot of noise with his talents. 

He has several highlight clips of himself on his instagram. One of his games was even featured on Slam Hs. 

That’s how good he is. He will defiantly be one of the top high school prospects in the country when he is older.

Hw currently has 8.8k followers on instagram. Make sure you checkout his page and watch some of his highlights. You won’t be disappointed 

How old are you?

13

What do you hoop to accomplish in your basketball career?

I hope to go to college and play pro ball in the NBA or over seas.

Growing up as a teenager how has the game of basketball impacted you?

Basketball has helped me gain friends all over the country. Discipline . Got my followers up. 😂

What are your plans for the future?

Plans for the future are to continue to learn the game and get better . Hopefully play on the next level.

Do you have any advice for teens in your field?

Advice for teens is to stay focused on school and stay in the gym. I play like this because of how much time I spend in the gym. Nothing is by chance.If you liked this article checkout our recent interview with Bomiia The Teen Musician / Influencer.

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Lili Reinhart Revealed the Beauty Products She Can’t Live Without


Just when we thought we couldn’t love Lili Reinhart any more, the Riverdale actor goes out and reveals one of her go-to beauty products is nothing less than a drugstore option (and you know we’re suckers for affordable beauty).

In a new interview with Glamour, Lili shared the three products she would bring to a deserted island. First and foremost? The actor chose her trusty lip balm from Hawaiian brand Hanalei, because chapped lips are a no-go when you’re stuck under the sun, duh. Secondly? She would, “bring a moisturizer that has sunscreen in it.” Practical, we stan. And last but not least? A cheek stain that can double as a lip stain. And honestly, same.

Just like Lili, we love multi-use, creamy products. However, not any blush would do. The Hustlers star revealed she would bring Covergirl’s Clean Fresh Cream Blush. The best part? It’s only $11 and you can easily find it in your nearest drugstore, Ulta, or online via Amazon.

Now, as we prepare to leave winter behind and welcome dewy skin season with open arms, you bet we’ll be incorporating this desert island staple from Covergirl’s very own partner in our beauty routines.

Ulta

CoverGirl Clean Fresh Cream Blush

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Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Lili Reinhart Called Out Photoshopping Apps for Contributing to Unrealistic Body Expectations



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Being on the B List Isn’t Always a Bad Thing


Failing Up is a series about what happens when we fail. It sucks in the moment, but not every failure is a bad thing. In this op-ed, Dina Gachman explains why being on the “B List” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Every once in a while, a 1950s creature feature called The Monster That Challenged the World comes on TV. It’s a black and white movie about “giant mollusk monsters” that attack California (the title proving that Hollywood once considered California “The World”). Unless you love kitschy monster movies, there’s no reason to watch. I always watch, though. Not because I have a thing for creature features, but because my grandfather plays a character named Deputy Brewer, and his blink-and-you’ll-miss-him performance is a must see. The acting might not be epic, but the effort is Oscar-worthy.

My perception of success has been defined by my grandfather’s so-called “failure” as an actor. I spent most of my life watching this larger than life guy from Texarkana, Texas, chase his Hollywood dreams well into his nineties. Many would have given up and become bitter, complaining that they were better than a bit part in a movie about giant mollusks. My grandfather never complained, though, even when he had to leave Hollywood and go into the steel business back in Texas to support his family. He never made it big despite his continued attempts. But the reason I tune in to watch his mollusk monster film is because he never let those apparent failures impact his passion.

After his brief stint as Deputy Brewer, my grandfather played the County Clerk in a movie called The Return of Dracula (which sounds like a movie about Dracula committing identity theft), and he was in several episodes of the classic Clint Eastwood cowboy drama Rawhide. I guess he became friendly with Clint Eastwood, because my grandfather claimed that they played poker together when the cameras weren’t rolling. When my sisters and I were old enough to care who Clint Eastwood was, this discovery turned our grandfather into a bona fide movie star in our minds. Despite him having a famous poker buddy, outsiders might say my grandfather was a “B list” or maybe even “Z list” actor. Someone who makes it on camera, but barely. Someone whose acting ability is lightyears behind Meryl Streep or Clint Eastwood. Someone who is, by many definitions, a failure.

For better or worse, I inherited my grandfather’s passion for movies and writing, although acting always terrified me. Most careers require perseverance and passion, but the weight of rejection and self-doubt that comes along with a career in the arts can crush you if you let the fear of being a failure dominate your thoughts. As a teenager in Texas dreaming of becoming the next Anaïs Nin or Toni Morrison, my idea of success was pretty straightforward: Write books, win awards, and go down in history as a literary genius. The end. There were no detours on my imagined path to greatness. I’m sure my grandfather imagined a similar path for himself back in the 1950s. I bet he daydreamed about a career where playing Deputy Brewer would lead to a juicy role in a Chekhov play and then maybe a Tony or an Oscar. I eventually learned, by watching my grandfather navigate his Chekhov-less career, that success and failure are, depending on your attitude, subjective, and that you have to be open to unexpected detours on your path to greatness.

I’ve had many unexpected detours along the way, from soul-sucking temp jobs (where, instead of writing the Great American Novel I was typing the directions for Tylenol and tampons into an online pharmacy database) to getting rejected from every film school I applied to. Along the way, I would eventually remember my grandfather’s perseverance, pull myself out of my funk and try again. I got out of that temp job and, after applying again, got into a great film school. Before I ever set out on my path, though, I had my grandfather cheering me on, giving me the confidence to even try.





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Sex Education Season 2 Review: Masturbation, Love Triangles, and More Laughs Than Ever


Minor spoilers for Sex Education season 2 below.

In a crowded world of teen dramas and comedies, Netflix’s Sex Education stood out thanks to everything from its exploration of adolescent sexuality to the vibrant, John Hughes-esque aesthetic. Refreshing, nuanced, and unafraid to go there, the first season of the series was a charming introduction to the teens of Moordale Secondary and their tumultuous sex lives. Or in the case of protagonist Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), his lack thereof. Returning for its second season, Sex Education avoids the sophomore slump by fleshing out the beloved characters from its debut and introducing a contained roster of newcomers that elevates the high bar the series has set for itself.

Happy endings come early in the second season, with Otis finally being able to masturbate following his chronic mind block during the first season. But now he cannot stop wanking, which makes for a comical intro sequence in the show’s realistic-outrageous voice. Things are also going well with Ola (Patricia Allison) now that she and Otis are officially together, even though his mom (Gillian Anderson’s Dr. Millburn) and her father Jakob are also dating.

But as the season progresses, Otis descends into douchebaggery, making poor decisions that end up negatively impacting those around him more than himself. That arc can often feel like a waste, considering that season one was also about him learning to be less self-centered.
Both fortunately and unfortunately depending on how you look at it, Otis’s journey to becoming less of a jerk is the weakest part of the season — but there are plenty of other characters that pick up the narrative slack and remind viewers why the series still feels so fresh.

Maeve (Emma Mackey) continues to be the heart of Sex Education. The first season quickly peeled back her bad girl exterior to reveal a hopeless romantic just trying to make her life a little bit easier. While the love triangle between her, Ola, and Otis still lingers, the most compelling parts about Maeve come through when we get to see what she’s most afraid of and what her deepest desires are. The return of her mother has Maeve trying to figure out what she needs to do versus what she wishes she had. Seeing Maeve grow and become more honest with herself has more emotional payoff in season 2 as we continue to watch her refine the best parts of Maeve Wiley: her fearlessness, intelligence, and dedication to those she loves.

Meanwhile, the scene-stealing Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) gets his own love triangle during season 2. While Adam (Connor Swindells) is away at military school, new romantic prospect Rahim sets his eyes on Eric and treats him in ways he’s never been treated before: he gets asked out on real dates and is flirted with in public. Plus, instead of his love triangle depending on a “who will he choose” narrative, it’s much more about Eric discovering his self-worth and what he wants. Seeing a gay teen like Eric take power in his ability to choose exemplifies the show’s mastery at unearthing stories about young people that have been missing.



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Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s Dispute Is a Sign the Media Has Learned Little from the 2016 Election


The camera pans cinematically across the Iowa debate stage as Elizabeth Warren slides past the row of podiums. Bernie Sanders makes a move to shake her hand, but her hands pull in toward her body as she can be heard saying, inflecting her voice as if it’s a question, “I think you called me a liar on national TV?”

“What?” Sanders responds, his once outstretched hand resting now again by his hip. Warren repeats herself before he says, “You know, let’s not do it right now. You want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion.”

“Anytime,” Warren replies as if it’s a challenge. This appears to strike a nerve with Sanders, who points back and forth between them and says brusquely, “You called me a liar, you told me —” He breaks off his sentence, instead saying, “All right, let’s not do it now.”

“I don’t want to get in the middle,” a hapless Tom Steyer interjects, “but I just wanted to say, ‘Hi, Bernie.’”

Turning to leave, Sanders says only, “Yeah, good, okay.”

I have watched this footage over and over, dissecting it in search of something, anything that can make it valuable information in this primary race. But ultimately, all I can see is what feels like the heavy hand of the cable news network that released the audio a day after exacerbating the apparent rift between Sanders and Warren live on stage at a debate they hosted, an event which itself came after a few days of social media users pouring gasoline on the fire. And what I see there isn’t “good, okay” — it’s the same kind of institutional failure that played out during the 2016 election.

CNN released the audio Wednesday, a day after the debate the network cohosted with local newspaper the Des Moines Register saw a moderator criticized for defying journalistic convention with a debate question about whether or not Sanders told Warren in 2018 that a woman couldn’t win the 2020 presidential election. Sanders reiterated on stage his denial of ever having said such a thing. Then the moderator asked Warren to respond with a question based on the idea that Sanders said exactly what he has repeatedly insisted he didn’t say.

As illustrated by the hot mic post-debate moment that feels tailor-made for the social media news cycle, neither 2020 contender seems likely to recant their version of the story. That leaves us with the question of what actually happened but, perhaps more importantly, a bigger question about what this all means. What this has really become a question of — and what I believe has so animated people across the progressive left — is not whether Sanders said a woman can’t win in 2020 or what he meant if he implied as much; it is about whether people think Sanders is a misogynist, a long-standing question and critique that has been leveled against the Vermont senator by some. In the process, I fear that the 2020 Democratic primary is shifting to become a referendum on gender politics, similar to what happened in 2016, when the contest between Sanders and Hillary Clinton helped fracture the left.

And media organizations, even those that often do great and important work, have aided that conversation shift, bending this campaign kerfuffle into something more akin to a behind-the-scenes extra from reality TV. I often call President Donald Trump’s tenure a reality-TV presidency. When I say that, I don’t mean to imply that Trump single-handedly shifted our media paradigm to one of vicious sound bites; I mean he exploited a media ecosystem that is eager to feed off of that exact kind of drama — because providing fodder for social media controversy seems to pay off.



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Sofia Carson is the New Face of Revlon, and We Are Here for It


Sofia Carson is quickly transforming from Disney star to fashion icon. Whether on the red carpet or out on the town, her style is always on point and breathtaking. And now, Sofia is joining the beauty industry in a huge role.

Earlier today, Sofia took to Twitter to share that she is newest Global Brand Ambassador for Revlon. ” Thank you @revlon, I am deeply proud and honored to join your family💋 #RevlonXSofia #LiveBoldly,” she tweeted, alongside a photo of her rocking Revlon products. The news comes as no surprise considering her track record for wowing fans time and time again with her beauty, but of course, is cause for celebration.

On Instagram, Sofia shared her first Revlon campaign video with the caption, “The first lipstick I ever wore was Revlon. Today, I am proudly @Revlon’s newest Global Brand Ambassador♥️ From Audrey Hepburn to Gal Gadot, Ashley Graham, & Adwoa Aboah, Revlon’s ambassadors are the epitome of what it means to Live Boldly. And I am honored to join their legacy. Revlon’s heart speaks to the woman I was raised to be: a woman who is fearlessly herself, and who boldly fights for her dreams. Looking back at the memories in this video, I smile filled with pride, looking towards 2020 with strength, happiness & gratitude. Thank you @revlon, I am so happy to join your family.”

“Well deserved!! You are so gorgeous!!” tweeted one fan while another said, “OMG that’s huuuge, I’m soooooooo happy for and proud of you!! 💛💛💛💛.” A third fan responded to say what we were all thinking: “miss carson ruling the world we love it.”

Nothing but respect for MY beauty legend.





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