Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hallelujah, Nina!



















Hi Ladies,
More SYB Black History Month trivia! As many of you know, I'm a total film geek (seriously, I can recall who won the major Oscars in 1934 faster than I can remember my social security number). As such, I can tell you that Dorothy Dandridge was not the first black movie star. Neither was Lena Horne. The actress with that distinction was actually Nina Mae McKinney, a staggeringly gorgeous and talented Triple Threat from South Carolina.

As a teen in the Roaring 1920's, she sang and danced her way through Harlem's chicest nightclubs, eventually landing a role in the Broadway musical, "Blackbirds." Legendary Hollywood director King Vidor happened to be in the audience one night, and quickly cast her in his groundbreaking 1929 film,Hallelujah!" --which was the first all-black sound musical in cinema history (making 17-year-old Nina the very first black actress to perform in a talkie!). She played "Chick," the honky-tonk vixen who lures a sweet sharecropper into a tawdry life of sin! Miss MicKinney was so fab that MGM offered her a 5-year contract, hailing her as the "Black Garbo" and the "Sepia Stunner," but sadly, The Suits had no idea what do do with her (too sexy, too black, too TOO). She ended up playing domestics and wild jungle women in crazy racist Tarzan-esque B movies. So, in the '40s, she pulled a Josephine and hightailed it to Europe, where she promptly became a hit in fancy Parisian cafes (surprise!). She died in 1967, at only 54--but a decade later, she was inducted into the Black Filmakers Hall of Fame.

Ladies, I think it's truly a tragedy that this wildly charismatic, talented-to-death performer has disappeared into obscurity, don't you? I think we should make it a point to spread the word about Nina, and make sure her legacy lives on! Don't laugh, but I SO joined her Myspace page, which has rare footage of Nina Mae performing!


I believe Nina would want us to get to the beauty, so here we go. Lately, my highlights have been feeling quite brassy, dull and uninspired. Stylists are always raving about color conditioners, but in all my beauty years I've never really believed the hype (slash, I've never noticed a difference from the ones I've tried). Desperate, I buckled down and tried Aveda Clove Color Conditioner ($16), which is formulated to coax out all the original shine and twinkle from faded, brunette-toned highlights. I don't know if it's the coffee extract or the organically-grown cloves that made my honey-ish streaks pop, but I don't really care--it actually WORKED! Don't get me wrong, the effect is definitely subtle...but I know the difference. Not only is my color totally regenerated, my hair feels softer than ever. And the conditioner somehow warmed up the old-dye-job brassiness that I find so unattractive. Aveda rocks.

xoxo,
Tia

16 Comments:

Anonymous Pumps And Gloss said...

Interesting story. I have been watching a lot of old movies lately. I would love to see some of her movies or recordings of her voice.

Thanks for the post!

10:39 PM  
Blogger Live Fabulously said...

thank you for posting about nina. she was very beautiful and talented.

and i love aveda's rosemary mint line. the smell always makes me happy.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Dollfaced Rebel said...

Great post! My highlights have been a bit dim lately, I'll have to give that product a try.

7:51 AM  
Blogger (vixenchick) said...

Shes beautiful

10:01 AM  
Blogger P.S. I love this... said...

Thank you for sharing about Nina. I had never heard of her.

10:31 AM  
Blogger BeautyChick101 said...

Nina sounds incredible. I'm so happy to have learned about her through your blog!

11:21 AM  
Blogger Elle* said...

Love it! I'm a total Black Diva-dom history junkie, lol. I'm off to join the myspace!

12:54 PM  
Blogger B_More BAP Life said...

Thanks for that. That was sooo need to know information, as it pertains to our history :-) It's strange, as you said, to not know about so many fab SYB divas of our past.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood
by Donald Bogle is a great book to check out! It references all of old black hollywood.

Stefanie
htt://noirediary.blogspot.com

4:37 PM  
Blogger Lipgloss Luvah! said...

What a wonderful post! I love old Hollywood, especially when it involves women like Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge, and other greats. I love that you mentioned an "unsung hero", so to speak! How inspiring!

I also have a question about Dominican blowouts: I'm a DIY girl because I believe it saves money, as opposed to getting someone to totally pamper me. I want to get a Dominican blowout, but I'm weird about hairdressers, so I want them to do as little as possible to my hair. Should I perm my hair beforehand, afterwards, or what? I kind of want to perm my own hair. Thanks!

4:56 PM  
Blogger divasoul said...

How cool is she?! I have never heard of her, but I'm definitely interested now!

7:32 PM  
Anonymous shimmerliciousdiva said...

I absolutely ADORE Nina ever since I saw her in Hallelujah- she way ahead of her time. I love watching old movies, the actresses always remind me of what goddesses each of us are and can be.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Can you clarify "first black movie star"? I was under the impression that there were a number of all-black 19-teens era movies featuring black women, so who later made it big.

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