When Selena Gomez launched Rare Beauty back in 2020, the message was simple: break down previous notions that everyone must be perfect, and shine a light on mental health issues.
While this may have broken every budding makeup brand’s dream, brands like Fenty Beauty shared similar, groundbreaking mission statements: bolster inclusivity in the makeup industry and force all brands to do the same in the process.
Inspired by her 2020 album, Rare, Rare Beauty began with the basics: 48 foundation shades, lip balms and matte lip creams, eyebrow definers, and the icon, liquid blush. Four years later, it’s hard to imagine a more viral, innovative celebrity makeup brand that remains in stride with Fenty.
Quickly, the Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush became TikTok’s go-to staple product. And no one can deny there is no blush on the market that is as pigmented, easily blendable, and long-lasting as this one. Selena Gomez has proven herself a bonafide content creator with her charismatic social media posts for fun Rare Beauty launches like an under-eye brightener, an SPF-laden tinted moisturizer, and lip combos.
Not only is Rare Beauty inclusive in shade range, but the spherical shape of the top of their products is disability-friendly.
As of 2024, Rare Beauty is a $2 billion company. But what sets this company apart is their attention to detail and true dedication to bettering the world. The same year that Rare Beauty was founded, the Rare Impact Fund was also created.
What Is The Rare Impact Fund?
In a statement by Gomez on the Rare Impact Fund’s website, she states,
“The Rare Impact Fund is committed to expanding access to mental health services and education for young people everywhere. We work with a strong network of supporters and experts to bring mental health resources into educational settings to reach young people.
Because no one– regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or background - should struggle alone.”
Upon their start, the Rare Impact Fund committed to raising $100 million by 2030. Along with corporate sponsorships and donations from individuals, 1% of proceeds from all Rare Beauty sales go towards the charity as well. By 2021, they had donated over $1.2 million in grants to eight mental health institutions including Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
In 2021, the Rare Impact Fund launched a GoFundMe for their new Mental Health 101 initiative. According to the GoFundMe,
“Mental Health 101 advocates for more mental health in education, empowers our community, and encourages financial support for more mental health services in educational settings through the Rare Impact Fund,”
Promising to match up to $200,000 in donations, to date the GoFundMe has raised over $500,000 and has donations from less than six months ago.
How The Rare Impact Fund Works
By leveraging both Selena Gomez’s millions of social media followers and the four million people who follow Rare Beauty on Instagram, the Rare Impact Fund quickly trickles into visibility. Suddenly, fans of the brand and Gomez alike can help make a difference by donating even a few dollars in honor of their favorite actress-singer extraordinaire.
As of 2023, the Rare Impact Fund helped grantees like UCLA Friends of Semel Institute, Batyr, La Familia, Mindful Life Project, Black Teacher Project, and Trans Lifeline. According to the website, they have raised $6 million in contributions and distributed $3 million in grant support so far.
Rare Beauty and the Rare Impact Fund alone are blazing a trail for all brands: you can make a change while still distributing high-quality products — and it pays off.
The AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA have reached an interim agreement. Here’s what that means for TV and movies
Christmas has arrived early! The SAG-AFTRA strike is finally over after 118 days — making it the longest actor’s strike in history. After a summer spent picketing and pleading with studios, actors are back to work as of 12:01 am Thursday, November 9th. Here’s what that means for them, for us, and for film and TV in general.
When did the actor's strike end?
After two weeks of arduous negotiating, SAG-AFTRA voted unanimously to approve the new deal laid out by the studios. Details are emerging slowly about the exact terms of the deal but the headline is this: it’s looking good for actors, and great for movie-goers.
The SAG-AFTRA statement read:
“In a contract valued at over one billion dollars, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes "above-pattern" minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and for the first time establishes a streaming participation bonus. Our Pension & Health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much-needed value to our plans. In addition, the deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories including outsize compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities.”
Items on the original list of grievances included: the use of AI, actors' compensation and residuals, healthcare and other union benefits, and more. We can assume that most of these were addressed in the deal. Like the WGA strike of the summer, which lasted 143 days, actors can hope to see some fundamental changes in the business — hopefully for the better.
A parade of press tours
One thing we’ve missed during the strike? Press tours. Martin Scorcese - coming off a recent wave of TikTok fame thanks to his daughter - carried out a heroic press tour of one for Killer of the Flower Moon and the few films that received waivers had to feed our thirst for magazine interviews and red carpets. The cast of Priscilla and The Iron Claw … we thank you for your service.
But now, everyone is back to work. After saying no to events, awards, and press junkets, actors have to get back in front of the cameras and beg us to go watch their movies — balance is restored.
Other films coming out soon might have to scramble to put together some sort of press. Titles we’re expecting by the end of the year include The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Trolls, Napoleon, Anyone But You, The Boys In The Boat, Saltburn, Eileen, Ferrari, The Color Purple, and more.
What movies and TV shows are filming now?
I’m sure many actors got calls summoning them back to the studio ASAP! Studios are prioritizing films with an original release date of early 2024, hoping to get them out in time. For example, It Ends With Us, the adaptation of the global Colleen Hoover hit is slated for February 2024. Can Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni pull it off? We’ll see.
Other high-priority films include a whole lotta sequels. Marvel Studios/Disney’s Deadpool 3 starring Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, directed by Shawn Levy was around half complete when the strike began. Paramount has been thinking about the Roman Empire as they anxiously await to finish Gladiator 2 over in Europe, while Warner Bros’ Tim Burton-directed Beetlejuice 2 just needs two days on set to wrap things up (allegedly). Clint Eastwood’s Juror No. 2 is another one hoping to wrap up soon with around a dozen days left. Then, there’s Sony’s Venom 3 for all the Spiderman/Tom Hardy lovers.
Needless to say, Hollywood’s gonna be busy.
What movies and TV shows will still be delayed?
Though the strike ending is great news for all, some films and TV shows have already been pushed back longer than we can take. Dune: Part Two won’t hit cinemas until March 2024, Zendaya’s Challengers with Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor won’t bless us until April 2026 and The White Lotus Season 3 won’t even be back until 2025. Other delays include Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kraven the Hunter and the next Spider-Verse movie. Stranger Things has even said they’ll have to use technology to make the actors look younger in the final season, which we likely won’t see until 2027. Wake me up when that’s finally out.
“Obviously, we’d like to try to preserve a summer of films,” Bob Iger of Disney told CNBC earlier in the negotiation cycle. “The entire industry is focused on that. We don’t have much time to do that.”
Despite the delays, what SAG-AFTRA leaves us with is hope. The statement said: “We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers. Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work.”
Solidarity with all workers!
2021 has already brought good news: A Barbara Walters impression can still team up with tequila shots to turn Anderson Cooper into a beautiful, hysterical mess.
“Saturday Night Live” alum Cheri Oteri joins @AndersonCooper and @Andy Cohen for New Year’s Eve and revives her ico… https://t.co/TguEYQE8XO— CNN (@CNN) 1609466811.0
In honor of national treasure Anderson Cooper, we joyfully bring you this flashback from one year ago, when our collective attention was once again on his eye crinkles of hope. Remember our innocence then? Neither do we, but at least we still have Anderson Cooper's giggles.
Originally published on Jan 1, 2020
No doubt the coming year will offer plenty of apocalyptic weather events and political drama that will have us all pulling our hair out — election day here we come! But the good news is that the new year has already produced one of those rare, shining moments of pure joy that make it possible to crawl out of bed and face the ugliness of the world each morning.
'SNL' alum revives Barbara Walters character, Anderson Cooper loses itwww.youtube.com
It's all thanks to an unlikely petition on Change.org, recalling an iconic TV slogan from 15 years past. Barbara Walters, who hosted the ABC program 20/20 until 2004, would always open the show with the phrase, "I'm Barbara Walters, and this is 20/20."
The petition to have her host the annual ball drop and ring in the New Year with that phrase was started in January of 2019, and by the end of December it had only managed to collect around 7,000 signatures. It wasn't enough to make that vision a reality, but it was enough to get a shout out in CNN's New Year's Eve coverage. And with the help of a former SNL cast member and several scorching shots of tequila, that shout out turned into something truly spectacular.
This is 2020www.youtube.com
It's maybe not that surprising that CNN was unable to get the real, 90-year-old Barbara Walters to brave the crowds and the cold of Times Square for the midnight announcement.
Fortunately, Cheri Oteri was on hand to provide the next best thing. Reprising the impression of Walters that she perfected in her days on SNL, Oteri brushed off a suggestion that she could return to The View, and instead pitched a reality show following Walters' jet-setting lifestyle, populated by a cast of geriatric former celebrities and some imaginary senior-specific dating apps, such as "Loose Skin."
The material itself is worth a laugh, and if you're old enough to have a memory of Barbara Walters on 20/20, then you probably know how good Oteri's impression is, but what makes the moment truly special is Anderson Cooper's hysterical, buckled-over laughter.
As it turns out, the shots of tequila that co-host Andy Cohen kept giving to Cooper as the night wore on really did their job, leaving Cooper loose and goofy by the time Oteri started turning to the camera to deliver, "This is 2020." The pure joy he unleashes as a result is impossible to resist.
What makes it even better is going back to see footage of Cohen and Cooper throwing back those tequila shots and Cooper taking each one like a mouthful of pure fire. After each one goes down, Anderson Cooper's cool and collected demeanor devolves into paroxysms of shrieking, gasping disgust that finally prompt Cohen to ask, "Are you kidding?!" to which Cooper can only say, "I don't drink!"
Anderson Cooper trying to drink tequila on televisionwww.youtube.com
Clearly his lack of tolerance is a testament to that. But why don't you drink, Anderson? You're so fun when you drink!
This is not intended as an endorsement of any unhealthy habits — the best medical advice dictates that drinking should be reserved for special occasions and restricted to moderate portions — but have you ever considered getting hammered during all of your broadcasts, Anderson? It might not align with professional journalistic standards, but I'm sure that a lot more people would tune into Anderson Cooper 360 if every episode involved you attacking your throat with liquor and collapsing in a fit of giggles.
Now, thankfully, in 2021 we have another one of these joyful little gems to help us survive a world that feels like it's burning.
And Zuko's arc represents transformation from complicity to active allyship.
Addicted to an illusion of its own greatness. Motivated to violence by the belief that the rest of the world would benefit from colonization. Willing to go to war to achieve its goals.
These words could describe America. They could also describe the Fire Nation in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is a kids' show that aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. It tells the story of a world of four nations, each with sovereignty over a specific element: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. Throughout the show, we get to see the many ravages of the Fire Nation's 100-year war, which has devastated the environment, enraged the spirit world, and created thousands upon thousands of refugees.
The show begins in a world in which the Fire Nation has launched a massive war in an attempt to colonize the world. Most of the Earth and Water kingdoms have been overtaken, and the entire race of Air Nomads has been wiped out—all except one.
Aang, an Air Nomad, is the resident Avatar, who has the power to control all four elements and thus is the only living person who has the power to restore balance to the world.
But Aang has been trapped in a block of ice for a hundred years. At the beginning of the show, the ice is de-thawed by two Water Nation teenagers, Sokka and Katara, and so begins a three-season quest to defeat the militant Fire Nation.
When Avatar re-emerged on Netflix this May, it captivated whole new legions of fans—and not in a small part because of its political relevance. While the Fire Nation certainly represents elements of Japanese culture, many fans saw parallels between European colonization and the Fire Nation's belief in its own greatness.
Ali A Olomi, a University of Pennsylvania assistant professor of Islamic, Middle Eastern, and the global south's history, also sees parallels. "One of the things we see with the Fire nation is the ideological justification for what they're doing," he said in an interview. "We are a glorious civilisation. We have abundance, we have wealth, we have technological advancement; we need to share it with the rest of the world. That's almost word for word European colonisation."
The United States' Colonial Empirewww.youtube.com
Parallels Between America and the Fire Nation
Many Americans watching the show in 2020 also saw strange connections between current events and the show's central conflict. In June, co-creator Michael Dante Dimartino shared a quote from a Salon article that read, "The sobering difference between watching Avatar in its time versus seeing it now is that life in America looks and feels a lot like life in the Fire Nation as Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, and eventually Zuko experience it. It is a place addicted to its increasingly hollow sense of greatness and even superiority, steered by a leader more concerned with his own glory than caring for his people."
To begin with, the Fire Nation in Avatar: The Last Airbender and America share a love of prisons—America has the highest prison population in the world, and the Fire Nation's prisons are overflowing with traitors and benders from other nations. "[Avatar] really highlights the corrupt policing system that we're experiencing in our own climate," argues one YouTuber named Channeling Chinez, describing the Fire Nation's prisons as an "accurate portrayal of what our prison system looks like."
AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER | Is America the Fire Nation? | 10 Wokest Avatar Eps | Channeling Chinezwww.youtube.com
The two nations also share a love of war. America, like its forefather Europe, has long been starting wars and relentlessly colonizing other nations, buoyed by a firm belief in its own right to sovereignty and greatness—just like the Fire Nation.
It's no surprise, then, that the parallels between America and the Fire Nation's violent colonial efforts have long been discussed by the Internet's ranks of cultural critics. In one video by a YouTuber named Zotaku, the Fire Nation is compared to the United States through the lens of its occupation of Haiti.
America Is the Fire Nation 🔥 (US Occupation of Haiti)www.youtube.com
Like the Fire Nation, America has a lot to be proud of—but the idea that everyone else should be forced to follow America's lead is fundamentally flawed.
"Since the 1970s, China has not once gone to war; the U.S. has not spent a day at peace. President Jimmy Carter recently noted that in its 242-year history, America has enjoyed only 16 years of peace, making it, as he wrote, 'the most warlike nation in the history of the world,'" writes Wade Davis for Rolling Stone. "As America policed the world, the violence came home… As they stare into the mirror and perceive only the myth of their exceptionalism, Americans remain almost bizarrely incapable of seeing what has actually become of their country."
Origins of the Fire Nation's Senseless Wars
In Avatar's third season, we learn the backstory of Sozin, the Fire Nation general who started the entire war, and Roku, the Avatar who was Sozin's best friend. Through this flashback, we discover that there is no real logic behind Sozin's colonial efforts; there's only greed.
At one point, Sozin looks out over the Fire Nation and admiringly comments on how "successful" it is. Heasks Roku to help him create a "brighter future" for the world—by colonizing it and spreading Fire Nation ideology. Roku adamantly refuses, but the seed of the idea had already been planted in Sozin's head, and he goes ahead to expand the Fire Nation's army and navy. Eventually, he establishes colonies, burns down Roku's home, and starts the destructive war that would wreak havoc on the world for the next 100 years.
Since World War II, America has positioned itself as the world's policeman—ostensibly in an effort to shield the world from communism. A deeper look reveals that many of America's war efforts were not based in any real need—more often than not, they are based in a desire for profit.
Every day, America seems to veer closer to authoritarianism. In some ways, we are all Roku, observing the collapse of our nation. In other ways, we are all Zuko, born into a world we had no part in creating and forced to decide where our loyalties lie.
Zuko's Journey as a Blueprint for Growth and Revolution
One of Avatar's greatest strengths is the way it refuses to take black-and-white views of issues. In Avatar, the Fire Nation is not a monolith—and neither, of course, is America. American citizens are not evil, and neither are the Fire Nation's inhabitants. Instead, the efforts of a few corrupt leaders and a corrupt system have guided us and them down this path.
The Fire Nation may be the show's main antagonist, but the series also demonizes anti-Fire Nation rebels who resort to violence. Jet, whose parents were killed by the Fire Nation, attempts to flood an entire town in order to defeat a fleet of troops, but he's condemned by Avatar's protagonists.
The character arc of Hama, a Water Tribe firebender, functions as a moral lesson about the problems with violent rebellions. While imprisoned by the Fire Nation, Hama discovers bloodbending, a technique that allows the bender to control others' bodies. As an od woman, she attempts to teach it to Katara, who immediately recoils—and we soon discover that Hama has been abducting and imprisoning Fire Nation civilians as revenge.
The Life Of Hama (Avatar)www.youtube.com
The show's message is clear: While the Fire Nation's leaders might have done unfathomable damage, violence against innocent civilians is never justified. Arguably, Jet and Hama's actions exemplify the dangers of what happens when revolutionaries start using the tactics of the aggressor, fighting fire with fire.
Real revolutionary change, the show advises, has to occur within the mind and the spirit, not simply through aggressive military maneuvers. Nobody better exemplifies this lesson than Zuko, the beloved (and swoon-worthy) anti-hero whose redemption arc is arguably the lifeblood of the show.
For the first two seasons, Zuko maintains allegiance to his native Fire Nation—despite having been banished and burned by his own sadistic father. Like many Fire Nation children, who have to recite daily odes to the Fire Nation's greatness, Zuko has grown up believing his nation is the greatest in the world (sound familiar?)
Aang Infiltrates a Fire Nation School 🔥🏫 | Avatarwww.youtube.com
Determined to recapture the Avatar and regain his honor, Zuko betrays the resistance countless times. Eventually, though, the wise platitudes of his Uncle Iboh begin to alter his perspective, and he begins to realize that he does not have to blindly follow the Fire Nation. The last straw comes when he realizes that the Fire Nation intends to burn down large swaths of the Earth Kingdom in order to solidify its rule.
Zuko then confronts his father, Firelord Ozai, and says: "Growing up, we were taught that the Fire Nation was the greatest civilization in history. And somehow, the War was our way of sharing our greatness with the rest of the world. What an amazing lie that was."
In an America where all children say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, and where an ideal of American exceptionalism continues to legitimize our racism, xenophobia, and aggressive conquest of the Middle East, those words ring true with stunning relevance.
As children, we are taught that America is the land of the free, but yet it is a nation built by slavery and tormented by deep-rooted racist violence. For those of us who grew up within the system, realizing this can be jarring.
A YouTuber named Evelyn from the Internet argues that not only is America the Fire Nation, but Zuko's arc represents a journey from complicit leader to active accomplice within a corrupt system.
America Is The Fire Nationwww.youtube.com
"It interested me how Prince Zuko, next in line to the throne of the Fire Nation, the person who was actively hunting Aang, the Avatar, decided that not only is it not good enough to verbally renounce the Fire Nation or verbally renounce the actions of his nation and his people—saying 'I'm not one of the bad ones'...he had to actively assist Aang and the crew in defeating the Fire Lord," she says.
In an era when passive allyship and performativity have become the norm, Zuko's progression reveals the true meaning of resisting corruption and actively supporting revolutionary efforts. Zuko's change of heart also proves that it's possible to change and do what's right, even within the belly of the beast.
His betrayal is clearly for the best. When a governing body grows as corrupt as the Fire Nation's, even its strongest leaders are destined for collapse. At the end of Season 3, we witness the unraveling of one of the Fire Nation's most vicious leaders—Azula, Zuko's sister. A cruel, relentless military genius, Azula completely loses her composure when her two best friends abandon her to support Zuko.
As we watch America flounder around during the COVID-19 response, as we see our nation unravel, cracks that have always existed in America are growing more visible. Like Azula in the last fight scene, America's government is growing weaker and increasingly fragile, less capable of unifying the nation, more erratic and alienating even towards its closest supporters.
That means that, like Azula's Fire Nation—which barely even exists at the end of the show because she fired her entire staff—America is vulnerable, but also ripe for real, radical change. There may have been no saving Azula and Ozai at the end of the show, but her decline and Zuko's change of heart opened a space for Zuko to take the throne and for balance to be restored to the world.
Climate Change: A Consequence of the Fire Nation and America's Destructive Efforts
To be fair, the Fire Nation isn't an exact stand-in for America. Its customs differ greatly from American traditions (it's hard to imagine any Fire Nation civilian daring to not wear a mask during a pandemic).
Technically, the Fire Nation could represent any authoritarian government, any civilization willing to lay siege to another for the simple purpose of domination.
It also has clear parallels to another existential threat: climate change. There are, of course, obvious metaphors about rising atmospheric temperatures and the devastating effects of fire on the Earth.
Just as environmental destruction is connected to the Fire Nation's attempt to take too much power in Avatar, climate change is connected to American exceptionalism and Western capitalism. Climate change comes not from the wastefulness of billions but largely from the greed of a few select oil companies (never forget that there are 100 companies responsible for 70% of the world's fossil fuel release) and the politicians and infrastructures who continue to support them.
In both Avatar and our present world, the Earth and its inhabitants visibly suffer from the Fire Nation's disruption of balance and its greed and cruelty. We see infected swamps that sicken whole towns, swaths of displaced refugees, and huge landscapes that have been damaged enough to enrage the spirit world.
While there's no visible spirit world in America today (that I know of for certain), it's easy to see that there's a spiritual sickness plaguing our world (as well as the very physical illness that is COVID-19). As wildfires ravage California and hurricanes destroy coastlines–and as millions of us tune into Avatar,–it's not hard to draw parallels between the greed that motivates the Fire Nation and the greed that motivates American exceptionalism, as well as the hunger that motivates fossil fuel companies and the governments that prop them up.
Perhaps there are lessons we can draw from Avatar that might help us through these difficult times. In the show, many of its calamities stem from lack of connection and a lack of respect for the interdependent balance of the world. But what saves the world in Avatar is not Aang's power or Zuko's betrayal alone, but rather the connections between Aang, his friends, and all the people they meet along the way. Only by connecting deeply with his inner world and listening to the ancient lessons of the world around him is Aang able to finally mobilize to defeat the Fire Nation.
And of course, Aang's youthful idealism doesn't hurt. From the youth-led climate movement to the youth-led Black Lives Matter movement, we're seeing young people standing up to corrupt powers helmed by power-saturated older generations. Perhaps it makes sense that a kids' show contains one of the most revolutionary stories of our time; kids and young people are at the forefront of any real change we might hope to see, in this world and in Avatar's.
None of these are exact parallels, and each one of these issues (and their solutions) is far more complex than can be summarized here. Importantly, no Avatar or single brave hero is coming to save America, and in fact there will probably be no "saving" the world at all.
Legend of Korra, the contested sequel to Avatar, perhaps does a better job of addressing the complexity and backwardness of politics—there are no real saviors, and those who claim to fight for peace often wind up committing the worst betrayals. But Avatar advises us, perhaps optimistically, that there can be healing—and maybe we can pull America and the planet back from the brink of its own destruction.