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Diversity

The Academy Shakes Things Up With More Diverse Oscar Membership

oscar awardThe Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences — the “Academy” that everyone thanks when they’re accepting their Oscar award — has named its list of potential new members and it’s clear they’re trying to be more diverse. This includes racial diversity, age diversity, diversity of style and diversity of national origin.

Seeming to finally take the persistent criticism that the Academy is just a group of out-of-touch, old white American men to heart, the list of actors that have been invited to join spans across all sorts of boundaries. Some famous names are Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who The Hollywood Reporter notes ticks off the “middle-aged” box at 53 years old; June Squibb, the 84-year-old actress who was nominated last year for her performance in Nebraska; Michael Fassbender; Lupita Nyong’o; Chris Rock; and Pharrell.

It will be interesting to see how the new line up changes who is handed an Oscar on the big night.

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Betty Crocker Redefines ‘Homemaker’ and Re-Brands as Champion of Marriage Equality

Notification CenterThe Betty Crocker brand released its first cookbook in 1942, targeting its tips, tricks and recipes toward the American homemaker — i.e. stay-at-home wives and mothers. Jump ahead to 2014, and the traditional idea of what an American family looks like and how a household is run no longer applies in the majority of cases, so rather than being left in the dust with its old-fashioned sentiments, Betty Crocker is not only transforming itself to embrace the diversity of the modern American family, but is actively pushing for recognition, understanding, and support for families of all kinds.

In its latest ad (after the jump), the brand states that “Marraige and family have changed more in the last 35 years than in the last 350.” For instance, “less than half of all American households contain a husband and wife; the number of same-sex couples living together in the US has increased by 80 percent since 2000; since 1965, the time dads spend with their kids has tripled; 40% of women are the primary providers for their families; and the percentage of new interracial marriages is six times what it was in 1960.”

The commercial goes on to point out, however, that every family, no matter the demographic differences, has something in common: where there is love, there is a family, where there is a family, there is a home, and “at the heart of every home is a homemaker.” The brand even acknowledges that term itself may seem outdated, but the concept actually isn’t; you don’t need to identify yourself as a homemaker to be one — if you are a loving member of a family who actively works to make your house a home, guess what? You’re a homemaker, and Betty Crocker is here to support you.

This is some seriously compelling re-definition and branding. Read more

Mattel Shouldn’t Let The Opportunities From Entrepreneur Barbie Slip Away

business barbieBarbie has had many jobs (150, according to CNN), outfits, homes and houses. She’s lately added a business suit and tech gadgets to her wardrobe with Entrepreneur Barbie, a doll that comes with a smartphone and tablet.

She’s still the same blond bombshell. Still chic in pink. But this time around, she comes with a social network that includes 10 (human) entrepreneurs, who are the doll’s “Chief Inspirational Officers.” Founders from Rent the Runway, One Kings Lane, and Girls Who Code are part of the network and they conducted a Twitter chat last week to launch the doll.

The Atlantic finds it strange that the brand is using the #Unapologetic hashtag for this doll seeing as how it was used for the previous one, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue collaboration. We’ll second that, but there’s actually a little more at stake here than just a wrongheaded hashtag.

This partnership is a real opportunity to jettison Barbie into 2014, with a lesson for young girls that is modern and tied very much to reality. Barbie has the chance to be something more relevant and significant than she has been in the past.

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Coming Film She Started It Highlights Female Tech Entrepreneurs

You don’t have to be a big “Silicon Valley” fan to realize that the tech world currently suffers from a dearth of female stars. Many women within the industry–not to mention the PR firms that represent its biggest names–have addressed the issue: Rachel Sklar started the Change the Ratio group in 2010 and Nitasha Tiku of Valleywag recent published a New York Times op-ed hitting at the heart of the matter: encouraging girls to learn code.

Today, via Fast Company’s “Strong Female Lead”, we discovered that two journalists want to take the matter to the masses with their documentary film She Started It, which follows four female tech founders over a yearlong period.

The full piece is well worth a read. While we can’t imagine that a single documentary can bring dramatic change to an industry established in its ways despite its own love of “disruption”, She Started It will, at the very least, bring some much-needed attention to women following their own path in tech.

It could also be a powerful investor relations tool.

The Indiegogo campaign closed one year ago after raising nearly double its $10,000 goal total, and the trailer debuted online last month; the film is set for release in October.

Disney to Make Princess Leia Toys Thanks to #WeWantLeia Hashtag

leiaBack in May, Disney announced it would be rolling out a new line of Star Wars themed toys, which will be available for purchase in Disney stores. As excited customers browsed through the soon-to-be-collectibles, they quickly noticed the lack of products featuring female characters — Sure, Luke and R2 and Han and Vader were all represented, but where was the no-nonsense heroine Princess Leia?

A mother shopping for her daughter asked Disney that exact question via Twitter, to which the brand responded:

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Eva Longoria Launches a Political Group, PAC to Rally the Latino Community

eva bruno marsEva Longoria has taken her career in entertainment behind the camera as executive producer of the Lifetime hit Devious Maids. She’s also working behind the scenes in politics, as co-founder of the Latino Victory Project and the Latino Victory PAC.

Leading the groups alongside businessman and Democratic National Committee finance chairman Henry R. Munoz III, Longoria is poised to become a major influence in upcoming elections, focused on “a pro-Latino agenda and values.” That includes issues like immigration, healthcare and the economy. She is also focused on getting more Latinas in office.

Longoria has been vocal in her support of President Obama, telling The Hollywood Reporter back in 2012, “The big picture is that people need to stop looking at the Latino community as us vs. them. The Latino community is American; its concerns are the same. The economy is the No. 1 issue, second is education, then health care, and immigration falls fourth or fifth.”

Just as important, she realizes the power that her celebrity has. She also has a sense of how to use that to maximize the impact she can have.

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Nintendo Responds to Petition Asking for Reinstatement of Same-Sex Relationships in ‘Tomodachi Life’ Game

Nintendo Strikes Down Gay Marriage Requests for Tomodachi Life - IGNJust weeks before Nintendo plans to release its life-simulation game Tomodachi Life in western markets, it has patched out a “bug” that allowed — as the company put it — “strange relationships,” AKA same-sex romances between characters. The decision has sparked an increasingly-popular online petition called Miiquality, which is asking Nintendo to reverse its actions.

Tye Marini, the 23-year-old Nintendo fan from Mesa, Arizona, who launched the campaign last month, said of his hopes for the 3DS game, “I want to be able to marry my real-life fiancé’s Mii, but I can’t do that…My only options are to marry some female Mii, to change the gender of either my Mii or my fiancé’s Mii, or to completely avoid marriage altogether and miss out on the exclusive content that comes with it.”

In response to the petition and growing controversy, Nintendo released a statement, saying:

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The NAACP Takes a PR Hit In The Donald Sterling Debacle

adam silverCommissioner Adam Silver was everyone’s hero on Tuesday when he announced that Donald Sterling would be banned for life from the NBA after the league confirmed that was in fact his voice on a recording filled with racist and sexist remarks. (Was there ever any doubt?)

Not only that, Sterling has to hand over $2.5 million for charity — not much for a billionaire, but it’s the principal — and Silver says he’s going to press to get the LA Clippers sold to a different owner. Not only did Silver call the comments “offensive,” but he said they were “harmful,” which connotes something deeper, more serious and more corrosive.  Boom. Boom. Boom.

While he and the league are being given credit for handling the situation swiftly and effectively (well, by almost everyone), there have been a lot of questions about how the NAACP could have seen fit to give Sterling not one, but two lifetime achievement awards. The second one was meant to be handed out next month at the organization’s annual convention, but was rescinded on Monday. Even then, the LA chapter’s president Leon Jenkins said there is “room to forgive.”

It looks as though the NBA has been much tougher on Sterling than the NAACP has. And some are saying that it could be because Sterling donated money and Clippers tickets to the organization.

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Avril Lavigne Responds to ‘Hello Kitty’ Critics and Cries of ‘Racism’

Avril Lavigne (who apparently still exists) is taking some serious flack for her new video “Hello Kitty.”

Since the video first appeared on YouTube this past Tuesday (it has since been taken down and re-posted), shaming, angry tweets have abounded, and even the experts haven’t been sure what to make of it — the general consensus seems to be that it might be racist (pandering at best), and it’s definitely terrible.

Billboard magazine’s Jason Lipshutz called the video “an embarrassment in any language,” and Entertainment Weekly‘s Darren Frenich said, “There are serious questions about whether it’s offensive (expressionless Asian dancers, Tokyo-as-prop) or offensively obvious (this one’s for you, large Japanese fanbase!).” Read more

Miss America Defends Student Suspended for Asking Her to Prom

Miss NYLast Thursday, the current Miss America, Nina Davuluri, was set to visit Pennsylvania’s Central York High School. Her purpose, as the first-ever Miss America of Indian descent, was to spread a message of diversity.

But student Patrick Farves had a different purpose in mind, and planned on utilizing the beauty queen’s presence at his school’s assembly to secure himself the holy grail of all prom dates — Miss America herself.

When administrators heard rumors of Farves’ plan, they warned him not to follow through with what would undoubtedly be a major disruption, but by that time, as Farves’ told Reuters, “my mind was already set. I was already in the zone.”

During the assembly, Farves, plastic flower in hand, approached Ms. Davuluri and asked her to be his date to prom, after which the crowd of students dissolved into laughter and cheers. The school’s administration, however, was less than amused and assigned Farves a three-day suspension. Read more

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