3:49pm PDT, May 19, 2021
Kendall Jenner hit with cultural appropriation claims, more backlash over 818 tequila launch
Kendall Jenner and her new 818 tequila are already facing backlash, thanks to an ad campaign and product launch one social media user slammed for its “modern colonizer vibes.” In a promo Kendall shared on Instagram this week, she wears long braids beneath a big floppy rancher hat and an oversized shirt while walking with a horse around the agave fields in Jalisco, Mexico, where the agave used in her tequila is grown. “What an incredible experience I have had thus far, learning about this beautiful place, it’s beautiful culture, and the beautiful people,” she captioned the post. “@818tequila has launched in California… we will be rolling out to the rest of the US all summer long, keep a look out!!!” Kendall added. Instead, critics appear to be “looking out” for various ways Kendall’s tequila is offensive. InStyle noted “it’s telling that comments have been disabled on the post.” Kendall’s ensemble in the promo pics and video have also been slammed as an example of cultural appropriation. That’s all in addition to early criticism of the label’s name — 818 is named after the area code for the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas Kendall calls home, not for anything related to tequila or its Mexican heritage. Meanwhile, questions linger about Kendall’s actual role in 818. She appears to be roaming the fields of Jalisco in her promos as if she’s involved firsthand in the brand. (Which might not be so bad — TMZ reports tequilas made by George Clooney and Rande Gerber, as well as Dwayne Johnson, feature similar footage and have not been so widely criticized.) Meanwhile, tequila “expert” Lucas Assis tells InStyle 818 is like a lot of celeb-hawked brands these days. He says 818 is actually made at the NOM 1137 distillery, where a number of tequilas are made before being marketed under different labels. “Basically they just make barrels and barrels and barrels of tequila, and celebrities come in and literally pick a barrel,” he explains. “What you’re paying for is the celebrity affiliation, and not the quality of tequila.”
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A$AP Rocky confirms Rihanna romance: ‘She’s the one’
Finally! More than a year after the rumor mill started buzzing about whether Rihanna had moved on from Hassan Jameel with her longtime pal A$AP Rocky, the rapper’s confirmed the news in a big way. How big? According to GQ‘s new cover story on Rocky, the moment the writer mentions Rih’s name, “he starts beaming like a teenager whose crush just accepted his prom invite.” Says Rocky: “The love of my life … My lady.” Asked what it’s like to be in a relationship, he responds, “So much better when you got the one. She amounts to probably, like, a million of the other ones.” So is he “embracing monogamy?” Says Rocky, “I think when you know, you know. She’s the one.” The rapper also dished on the couple’s Christmastime trip to Rihanna‘s native Barbados, the same country his father came to the U.S. from. “It was like a homecoming thing,” he recalls, revealing he visited places he knew his father had been before him. And by the way, Rihanna‘s love happens to be ready for fatherhood. “If that’s in my destiny, absolutely,” he says, adding that he’d “be an incredible, remarkably, overall amazing dad” with “a very fly child.” Baby plans aside, Rocky, 32, said that he has new music in the works, much of which he recorded while he and Rihanna were driving on a huge tour bus this past summer from Los Angeles to New York City, by way of Texas and Memphis. Hinting that Rihanna contributed to the new album, “All Smiles,” Rocky describes it as a “ghetto love tale.”
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Naomi Campbell updates her bio with ‘mother’ following surprise baby news
After announcing the arrival of her first child, Naomi Campbell is officially a mama, first, and a model, second — at least, according to her Instagram. The supermodel, 50, updated her bio on the platform this week so that it now reads, “Mother | Model | Actress | Cultural Innovator | Activist | Privacy Law Pioneer | Founder of @fashion4relief.” Naomi used Instagram to announce she’d welcomed a baby girl on May May 18. “A beautiful little blessing has chosen me to be her mother, So honoured to have this gentle soul in my life there are no words to describe the lifelong bond that I now share with you my angel,” she wrote, adding, “There is no greater love.” Among the many fashion icons and other celebs who congratulated her on the happy news her supermodel peer and pal, Helena Christensen, who said she “always knew” Naomi would “be a mama” someday. British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful, meanwhile, was apparently one of the first people Naomi introduced to her little one. “Seeing the two of you together made my year. You will bring each other so much joy ❤️❤️ ,” he wrote in the comments under her announcement. Designer Diane von Furstenberg, who also appeared on this week’s “No Filter with Naomi” YouTube series, chimed in with, “God bless you both,” while Jessica Chastain told the new mom she was crying “tears of joy” for her happy news. Andy Cohen, Tina Knowles Lawson, Debbi Mazar and Holly Robinson Peete send love and congratulations as well.
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Billy Porter reveals he’s been HIV-positive since 2007
Billy Porter — the Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award-winning “Pose” star whose storyline on the show revolves largely around his character’s HIV-positive diagnosis — revealed this week that he, too, is HIV-positive. Billy, 51, was diagnosed 14 years ago, but kept the diagnosis a secret to virtually everyone, including his mother, until now. “Having lived through the plague, my question was always, ‘Why was I spared? Why am I living?'” he tells The Hollywood Reporter in a heart-wrenching new interview. “Well, I’m living so that I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that was here, and I stand on their shoulders. I can be who I am in this space, at this time, because of the legacy that they left for me. So it’s time to put my big boy pants on and talk,” he says. Billy begins his story in early 2007, when, while at a low point in his career, he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, went bankrupt and tested positive for HIV in a matter of months. “The shame of that time compounded with the shame that had already [accumulated] in my life silenced me, and I have lived with that shame in silence for 14 years. HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God’s punishment,” he continues. Concerned his status “would just be another way for people to discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession,” Billy says he “tried to block it out” and proceed with his life and career. Then came the coronavirus pandemic. “COVID created a safe space for me to stop and reflect and deal with the trauma in my life” via “real trauma therapy,” says Billy, citing childhood sexual abuse and other causes. Through therapy, Billy was finally able to tell his mother about his HIV status. “It’s time to grow up and move on because shame is destructive — and if not dealt with, it can destroy everything in its path,” he says. Today, the actor’s completing a memoir and making a documentary about his life with Ryan Murphy. And thanks to advances in medication, he and his T-cell levels are healthier than ever. “This is what HIV-positive looks like now,” Billy says. As for those who might focus on his status going forward? He shrugs that off, telling THR, “Whatever. It’s not the only thing I am. I’m so much more than that diagnosis. And if you don’t want to work with me because of my status, you’re not worthy of me.”
Kylie Jenner, Travis Scott take Stormi to Disneyland
Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott’s fans are, as usual, convinced they are officially an item once more, despite that split announcement back in 2019. The latest obsessive evidence comes via Disneyland, which the pair recently visited with their daughter, Stormi Webster. Photos on their Instagram Stories (captured by Cosmopolitan) show cute pics of the parents and tot wandering around the theme park, clad in matching, Travis-designed kicks (“Travis and Kylie are matching in Travis Air Jordan 6 British Khaki,” noted one eager fan). Another shot on Travis’ Instagram shows him holding his little girl’s hand as she looks over her shoulder in a cute pink mask (“I love Kylie and Travis together,” gushed another fan). In addition to her mom and dad, Stormi was reportedly joined by her cousins, Dream Kardashian and Chicago West, for the trip. The trip comes after a source told ET earlier this month that Kylie and Travis are “exploring their relationship romantically again.”
Pink says couples counseling has been key to her 15-year marriage
Back in January, Pink told Carey Hart on their wedding anniversary, “15 years … proud of us, babe.” Now, she’s shedding more light on the secret to those 15 years. “For us, the answer is there’s no quit button — unless we find one,” Pink joked to “Extra” this week at a premiere for her new Amazon Prime documentary, “All I Know So Far.” “Right now, we don’t have one,” she added with a laugh. On a more serious note, she said, ” “… it’s also couples’ counseling. Learning how to speak the same language, ’cause we don’t speak the same language.” Another key to the pair’s marital success has been the life they’ve built with their two children, Willow, 9, and Jameson, 4. “We love being a family. And we both come from families that gave up, and that’s OK,” Pink explained. “That was their journey, that was the journey we all were supposed to be on. But for us, we don’t want to do that.” It probably doesn’t hurt that the former motocross driver always believes in her dreams. “He’s just the most sensitive, supportive guy in the world,” she gushed. “He never says no. Any dream I’ve ever had, ‘Yes, I’m with you. Whatever you want to do.” While January marked their wedding anniversary, Pink and Carey have technically been together for 20 years, having started dating in 2001.
Johnny Depp files suit against the ACLU over Amber Heard’s divorce settlement promise
Johnny Depp has filed yet another lawsuit related to his messy 2016 divorce from Amber Heard. This time, the actor wants a New York court to force the ACLU and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to turn over all documents he believes will support his belief Amber didn’t comply with her end of their divorce agreement, in which she’d promised to donate her $7 million settlement to the two non-profit organizations. Papers filed by Johnny’s lawyers and excerpted by People. on May 19 show he wants the court to force the ACLU and hospital to “fully comply with the subpoenaes” they’ve been issued as part of his $50 million defamation suit against Amber. (That’s in spite of her lawyers’ previous assertion that the ACLU “understood” Amber had “pledged to pay [that portion of the donation] over 10 years,” as well as evidence they’ve reportedly brought showing she’s donated $950,000 to the ACLU and $850,000 to the Children’s Hospital via anonymous donors.) The ACLU filing appears to be a legal backtracking device Johnny’s team is using to keep the defamation case against Amber alive. In a not-so-small nutshell, Amber’s lawyers have asked to have the defamation suit tossed, arguing that a London court recently found evidence supporting her claims Johnny abused her in the actor’s separate defamation case against The Sun over its “wife-beater” claim. In the London ruling, the judge referenced Amber’s ACLU donation as part of what made him believe she was being truthful about the abuse. Johnny’s lawyers reportedly hope to suggest that if she never completed that donation, there’s no reason to think she’s telling the truth. Johnny has long maintained he never abused Amber.
Jennifer Hudson dishes on her first meeting with Aretha Franklin as ‘Respect’ trailer premieres
It’s been 15 years since Jennifer Hudson first spoke to Aretha Franklin about playing her in “Respect,” the Aretha biopic hitting screens this summer. “So you can only imagine how I feel now, like, ‘Whoa, it’s here? It’s done?!'” Jennifer said on the May 19 edition of “Good Morning America,” where she was plugging the new release of the full trailer for the film. “To see it actually manifest and for her to choose me is … I can’t even begin to put it into words. I do not take it lightly. It’s a dream come true. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but it is,” admitted the Oscar winner. Thinking back to her initial Aretha intro in 2006, Jennifer recalled how the Queen of Soul wanted to know why she was so nervous. “I remember when we first met, the very first meeting, we sat at the table and she said, ‘You shy or something?’ I was like, ‘Well, I am sitting at the table talking to Ms. Aretha Franklin,'” Jennifer told host Michael Strahan (via People). “Those nerves are passion,” she explained. “You can’t just wake up in the morning and think you’re gonna be Aretha Franklin. It does not work like that, and I’m highly aware of it. So I still do my homework, even after filming. Like, ‘OK, I gotta go back to Aretha school.’ I feel like she put me back in music, which I still am in, to this day.” Aretha, 76, died in her home in Detroit in 2018 after a long battle with cancer. “Respect” hits theaters Aug. 13.