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African-American Fashion Firsts: Donyale Luna

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by Alexis Ansley

 

Donyale Luna graces the U.S. Vogue cover in 1966.

 

Donyale Luna was an American born model and actress who helped the world admire the beauty and diversity of African-American women. In 1966, Luna became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of a fashion magazine, British VOGUE, in a photo shot by David Bailey. Prior to this, she was featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1965 as an illustration. To some, she is considered to be the first-ever Black supermodel, covering the covers of the top fashion magazines long before Iman and Naomi Campbell graced a catwalk.

Time Magazine deemed her the “hottest model in Europe” in an article depicting her success entitled the “The Luna Year”: “She is only 20, a Negro, hails from Detroit, and is not to be missed if one reads Harper’s Bazaar, Paris Match, Britain’s Queen, the British, French or American editions of Vogue.”

She was born Peggy Ann Freeman on August 31, 1945 in Detroit, Michigan to parents Nathaniel and Peggy Freeman. She was the youngest of three daughters and early on showed a unique and outgoing personality.

Luna was discovered by photographer David McCabe (below) at age 18. McCabe persuaded her to move to New York to begin her career in modeling. Soon after, in January 1965, Luna’s sketch was printed on the cover of the Harper’s Bazaar; and she signed her first modeling contract the same year.

 

Donyale Luna and photographer David McCabe

Luna was a truly unique beauty at 6’2″ with gaunt limbs and captivating wide eyes. Her defined facial features were a new look for the fashion scene in the 1960’s. Those exotic features intrigued photographers causing her continued career rise into the 1970’s. Luna also appeared in several films, including Andy Warhol’s Camp, and played the titular role in Italian film Solame’.

Despite her fame and success, the talented Luna struggled with drug addiction. She’d become known for her erratic behavior and unprofessionalism on set. Many photographers and fellow models were reluctant to work with her despite her talents.

 

Donyale Luna in Michele Rosier for Vogue UK, November 1968

Donyale Luna in Michele Rosier for Vogue UK, November 1968

 

Donyale Luna died in Rome, Italy in 1979 at the age of 35 from an apparent drug overdose. Her daughter, Dream Cazzaniga, was her only child.

Luna’s groundbreaking beauty and illustrious career made her an amazing force in fashion. Her contributions to the world of fashion are everlasting — just ask Iman, Naomi Campbell, or Tyra Banks.

Want to learn more about Donyale Luna? Check out this great comprehensive article on Golden2Golden Entertainment’s blog.

 

Image Sources:
Vogue Cover: donyaleluna.files.wordpress.com
Vogue UK: Photobucket
Luna and McCabe photo: Golden2Golden Entertainment blog

 

 

Alexis AnsleyAbout the Author:
Alexis Ansley is a Central Florida fashion blogger, fashion consultant and co-founder of Lex&Pooch Styling Co. An avid enthusiast for all things vintage, Alexis has made a name for herself by uniquely combining vintage and contemporary styles within her personal fashion choices and while styling clients. Alexis is a member of the Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) community and work towards bringing fresh and unique fashions to the forefront of all her style ventures.

 

 

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Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023

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WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.

“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.

Mister Rogers Week of Kindness coming March 20-26, 2023. Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.

“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”

“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”

Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.

David Newell, “Mr. McFeely.” Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.

For more information on the events, visit https://www.BuenaVistaEvents.com or https://www.MisterRogersWeekofKindness.com.

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A Quick Primer on the Team Solving Orange County’s Affordable Housing Crisis

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Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force held its introductory meeting on April 12, 2019 at the Board of County Commissioner Chambers. Photo: Orange County Government.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Orange County faces a growing affordable housing crisis, and Mayor Jerry Demings has taken notice–and action. Shortly after his inauguration, he formed Housing For All, an affordable housing task force to face the challenge head-on.

The Housing For All task force doesn’t meet monthly like the County Commission–in fact, their next meeting won’t be until October 4, 2019–but they do work when they’re not meeting. The task force is made up of three subcommittees, Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee and Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee. These three subcommittees meet twice a month to come up with ideas and plans to fix the affordable housing problem.

Each subcommittee has a specific focus on ways to help solve the problem of affordable housing. The Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee is focused on the design of new affordable housing projects, the renovation of current affordable housing that might need fixing and land development for affordable housing units. The Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee is focused on making sure affordable housing is accessible to the major economic zones of the city, develop partnerships with groups and focus on outreach in the county. The Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee is focused on finding ways to increase the supply of affordable housing and how to preserve affordable housing.

At their next meeting in October these subcommittees will update the county on what they have accomplished and what they plan to do in the future. For information from previous Housing for All Task Force meetings or the meeting schedule, visit the Orange County Government website.

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Leyton Blackwell is a photojournalist and Florida National News contributor. | info@floridanationalnews.com

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Opening Biopic ‘Te Ata’ Sets High Bar for 2016 Orlando Film Festival

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ORLANDO: Chickasaw Nation Biopic 'Te Ata' Sets Stage for Orlando Film Festival.

ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) – Orlando Film Festival kicked off at Cobb Theaters in Downtown Orlando Wednesday night. The red carpet came alive with excited filmmakers and actors ready to showcase their projects to the Orlando community and, in some cases, to the world at large, including Nathan Frankowski, director of this year’s opening feature Te Ata.

About Te Ata

Frankowski’s biopic feature chronicles the true story of Chickasaw actress and storyteller Mary Frances Thompson, whose love of stories and the Chickasaw Nation fueled her to share the Chickasaw culture with new audiences in the early 1900s, a time when the United States was still growing as a nation and clashed with Native American peoples in the process.

Viewers are immediately swept into the saga from the film’s opening scene with a voice-over folk tale told by Mary Thompson’s father, T.B. Thompson (played by Gil Birmingham). Ironically, though his storytelling places the seed of inspiration in her, it slowly becomes a source of friction between them as she ages.

What makes the film engrossing is the sprawling backdrop upon which Thompson’s journey takes place. While young Te Ata (which means “The Morning”) flourishes with each solo performance and eventually sets her sights on Broadway, the Chickasaw Nation is fighting to secure the funding due them from the U.S. government in the face of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry–to the point that the government passed a law forbidding the sale of traditional Native American textiles and creations, which caused further financial struggle for the Chickasaw Nation. Viewers even experience the Thompsons’ fish-out-of-water feeling as the Chickasaw people’s territory, Tishomingo, shrinks significantly to become part of the newborn state of Oklahoma.

The political tensions are counterbalanced with Te Ata’s experience. Te Ata does her first performances among family, but chooses to leave home for the first time in her life to attend the Oklahoma College for Women (known today as University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma), despite her father’s wishes for her to find a job at home. Viewers immediately empathize with Te Ata’s awkward experience upon her arrival at the predominantly Caucasian-attended College, but cheer her on when that one connection is made, because all it ever takes is one.

Te Ata’s jumping off point occurs when she meets drama teacher Frances Dinsmore Davis, who encourages her to join her class and to share the Chickasaw stories for her senior presentation instead of the usual Shakespeare recitation. From there, Te Ata’s career blossoms from one serendipitous connection to another, taking her performances across the country. She eventually makes it to New York City, hustling to find her place on Broadway, and finds love in the process while performing privately for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was then Governor of New York. The heroine’s journey continues with well-placed highs and lows, keeping the viewer visually and emotionally engaged.

Te Ata is touchingly channeled through lead actress Q’orianka Kilcher who, like Te Ata, has stage experience, and brought it to bear in the role. Kilcher’s magnetic singing, with the help of the film’s sweeping score and indigenous songs, imprints the true Te Ata’s passion for her people onto the viewer’s heart.

Frankowski, who worked closely with the Chickasaw Nation in creating the film, honors Te Ata’s memory and legacy in a cohesive, sweeping tale that will edify audiences everywhere.

 

 

Florida National News Editor Mellissa Thomas is an author and journalist, as well as a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film. She also helps business owners, CEOs, executives, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.

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