“Now with Natalie”: An Ode to Identity and Self-Worth

“Now with Natalie”: An Ode to Identity and Self-Worth

Natalie Manuel Lee, a California native, fashion stylist/influencer, is the executive producer and host of Hillsong Channel’s newest series, “Now with Natalie,” premiering on March 3. The series is a fresh, relevant, and necessary examination into the depths of the Christian millennial experience. Featuring guests such as Kelly Rowland, Tyson Chandler, and Hailey Bieber, the series focuses on purpose and identity, the blessing and curse that is social media, and staying grounded in a culture that glamorizes status over self-care. With its countercultural “it’s not what you think” approach, “Now with Natalie” is sure to set a precedent in the modern Christian narrative. Ahead of the premier, Urban Faith sat down with Natalie to find out more about her new series, what inspired the idea, and her personal journey of staying grounded in a hustle and bustle society.

WHAT INSPIRED “NOW WITH NATALIE”?

I saw a need. A plight of this generation is to glorify the one in a position instead of seeing the purpose behind that position. The idea behind the show is to dismantle counterfeit definitions of identity and purpose and to pull back the veil of false narratives that culture tends to push. What we do and what we have cannot define our worth and value. Our identity should be rooted in who we are and whose we are. I personally have wrestled with these concepts before and wanted to have authentic conversations to shed light on this.

WHAT TOPICS DO YOU FOCUS ON IN “NOW WITH NATALIE”?

The show will focus almost exclusively on the topics of purpose and identity. Because it is such a deep and pervasive wound, the series will focus on dissecting these topics from different perspectives and experiences.

WHICH INTERVIEWS ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT?

Honestly, I am excited about all of them. Each episode serves a different purpose. You will hear about experiences ranging from the music industry, professional athletes, professionals in the area of cognitive neuroscience, and more. Each episode is enlightening and is intended to make you feel more free after watching.

WHAT IMPACT DO YOU BELIEVE SOCIAL MEDIA HAS ON SELF WORTH?

Social media can be the greatest blessing, but also the biggest curse. When misused, social media can fuel inadequacy. As humans, we tend to compare and want to compete based off what we scroll through on these highlight reels. A lot of our thoughts come from what we see and, for some, this level of comparison has peaked the epidemic of depression and anxiety. I always advocate taking periodic social media fasts, and just deleting the apps when needed.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE HAPPINESS?

As a mental perspective. When you truly know who you are and what you’re defined by, happiness will arrive. I think about happiness as joy, and the joy of the Lord is my strength. I constantly revert back to the truth of who I am, and the truth of who God is. Happiness and joy align with those truths.

WHAT IS YOUR WORK-LIFE BALANCE ROUTINE?

I start my mornings still. I give myself time in the morning, and spend time with God. The biggest lesson I have learned in the last decade is to not abort the process God is putting me through, and to keep my eyes fixed on the bigger picture. God created us each with a very specific and unique life blueprint, and He has equipped us to navigate it without looking to the left or to the right in comparison. God graces each of us to run our own unique race.

“Now with Natalie” premiers on Sunday, March 03, 2019 on the Hillsong Channel. 

Mahershala Ali on ‘Green Book’: ‘It’s a legitimate offering’

Mahershala Ali on ‘Green Book’: ‘It’s a legitimate offering’

Video Courtesy of The View


Mahershala Ali’s life changed in more ways than one the week of the 2017 Oscars. Four days before he won best supporting actor for his performance in “Moonlight,” his wife, Amatus-Sami Karim, gave birth to their first child.

“When I won, all I could think about was: I just want to get home,” Ali says, grinning.

It wasn’t just Ali’s soulful, tender performance as a drug dealer in Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” that illuminated Ali to audiences. It was his incredible poise through awards season, where he became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. At the Screen Actors Guild Awards, during the outcry over Donald Trump’s ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries, he eloquently spoke about “Moonlight” and acceptance: “We see what happens when you persecute people. They fold into themselves.”

It was clear enough: Here was no flash-in-the-pan. Here was a journeyman actor of uncommon grace and dignity. And Ali’s phone started ringing.

“It changed the trajectory of my career,” Ali, 44, said in a recent interview over tea in midtown Manhattan. “It gives you permission in some way to not dream bigger but dream deeper. Like: What type of work do you really want to do?”

Ali still harbors larger aspirations, like playing boxer Jack Johnson, but this fall has provided some of the answer. Ali stars in Peter Farrelly’s road-trip drama “Green Book” and headlines the upcoming third season of HBO’s “True Detective.” And “Green Book,” now in theaters, has again catapulted Ali to the top of the supporting-actor contenders. Many believe he’s in line for another Oscar.

But this time, the road has been rockier. “Green Book,” brisk and modest, has won raves from some critics and many audiences as a feel-good story about the real-life friendship that developed when the refined concert pianist Don Shirley (Ali) hired a racist Bronx bouncer, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), to drive him on a 1962 tour of the Deep South. But the film has been criticized by some as an outdated, sentimentalized kind of movie, one that trades on racial tropes , perpetuates the “white savior” cliche and isn’t deserving of its namesake (a travel-survival guide for African-Americans in the Jim Crow South).

Ali grants “Green Book” is a portrait of race in America unlike one by Jenkins or Amma Asante or Ava DuVernay. But he believes the film’s uplifting approach has value.

“It’s approached in a way that’s perhaps more palatable than some of those other projects. But I think it’s a legitimate offering. Don Shirley is really complex considering it’s 1962. He’s the one in power in that car. He doesn’t have to go on that trip. I think embodied in him is somebody that we haven’t seen. That alone makes the story worthy of being told,” says Ali. “Anytime, whether it’s white writers or black writers, I can play a character with dimensionality, that’s attractive to me.”

“Green Book” was hailed as an irresistible crowd-pleaser and a major Oscar contender after its September premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the festival’s audience award . (And every film in the last decade to win that prize has ended up a best picture nominee.) But the $23 million-film has struggled to take off at the box office, earning $8.3 million in two weeks. Universal Pictures still has high hopes. Audiences gave it an A-plus CinemaScore and the National Board of Review on Tuesday named it the year’s best film .

Still, along the way, Ali has heard the complaints about “Green Book.” He disagrees.

“A couple of times I’ve seen ‘white savior’ comments and I don’t think that’s true. Or the ‘reverse “Driving Miss Daisy'” thing, I don’t agree with,” he says. “If you were to call this film a ‘reverse “Driving Miss Daisy,'” then you would have to reverse the history of slavery and colonialism. It would have to be all black presidents and all white slaves.”

Yet the debates over “Green Book” have put Ali in a plainly awkward position, particularly when Mortensen used the n-word at a Q&A for the film while discussing the slur’s prevalence in 1962. Mortensen quickly apologized , saying he had no right, in any context to use the word. Ali issued a statement, too, in support of Mortensen while firmly noting the word’s wrongness.

“It was challenging, especially being the lone black presence in the film and feeling responsible to address that publicly,” says Ali. “There’s a difference between racist and lacking awareness. And I think he lacked awareness in that moment of the inappropriateness of the word, even within an intellectual context like that. There’s a mini explosion that happens whenever a non-black person says that in a public setting.”

“But I love him,” Ali adds. “And we’ve talked about it more. He’s a great dude and he’s going to continue to be a great dude.”

Ali first got to know Mortensen on the awards circuit two years ago, when Mortensen was nominated for “Captain Fantastic.” The film rests on their relationship; that it works so well is a testament to their chemistry together. When cast, Mortensen’s first question to Farrelly was who was going to play Shirley.

“When Pete said Mahershala Ali, I said, ‘Well you can’t do better than that,'” Mortensen said by phone. “He’s very sensitive and extremely intelligent and thoughtful and has a real awareness of himself in any space. He’s at ease with himself. My sense of him is that he’s meticulous as an artist. There was a dynamic there based on each of us trying to help the other guy doing the best possible job that he could. It was beautiful.”

Ali grants he shares Shirley’s own fastidious nature (“I would say within reason,” he says, smiling). Farrelly adds that Ali’s precision had a hugely positive effect on “Green Book,” especially in shaping the portrayal of Shirley. “I wanted to make sure Don Shirley was equally if not more empowered,” Ali says. The actor suggested tweaks and changes to deepen the pianist’s pain at, like Nina Simone, being denied a career in classical music.

“And he did a bunch of those. He was very hands on in a good way,” Farrelly said by phone. “He and Viggo are a great balance. They’re such perfectionists in their work.”

Farrelly, best known for his broader comedies with his brother Bobby (“There’s Something About Mary”), also defended his film.

“I’m getting some crap from people saying it’s a rosy picture of race, but, you know, it’s just a rosy picture of that relationship, not all race relationships,” said Farrelly. “And it’s the truth of what happened to these two men. And that is the thing that really drew me to the project. I’m a hopeful guy. I know we’re in a dark period right now in race relations but I am hopeful.”

Ali has his own kind of optimism for “Green Book” and its place in a larger conversation.

“The disease of racism and bigotry and discrimination — there are a myriad of ways to tackle that,” Ali says. “And you need all of them.”

A TV God for the age of anxiety

A TV God for the age of anxiety

Joe Morton, left, and Brandon Micheal Hall star in “God Friended Me,” in which Hall’s character, Miles Finer — the atheist son of an Episcopal priest, played by Morton — receives a friend request from God on social media. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Wenk/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Even in our present “golden age” of television, with the number of scripted programs on network, cable and streaming channels expected to top 500 this year, shows that feature religion or faith are scarce.

Rarer still are spiritually themed series that successfully find an audience, if not critical acclaim, amid the thrum of hundreds of other viewing options.

Those shows seem to come along perhaps once a decade — “7th Heaven” in the 2000s, “Touched by an Angel” in the ’90s, “Highway to Heaven” in the ’80s, “The Flying Nun” in the late ’60s through the early ’70s.

Then this fall, the new CBS hourlong dramedy “God Friended Me” premiered to such impressive ratings that the network gave a full-season order for it after only three episodes. Its surprise success has caused some media watchers to wonder whether we’re on the cusp of a religion renaissance on the small screen.

“It’s cyclical,” said Jeffrey Mahan, a professor of religion and communication at Iliff School of Theology in Denver and author of “Media, Religion and Culture: An Introduction.” “It’s not random. We get them in response to something.”

After 9/11 came shows such as “Survivor,” “Fear Factor” and “Lost,” which reflected the existential crises and angst experienced by many Americans, said Craig Detweiler, president of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and author of several books about the intersection of faith and culture, including “A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture.”

“Now we have so much existential dread generated by the fear industry that is network news and is thriving in the Trump era — they’re pushing that fear button every day — that we have shows that have to wrestle with despair and ultimate questions,” Detweiler said.

The wildly popular apocalyptic visions of “The Walking Dead,” for instance, are a “perfectly rational response” to what feels like a kill-or-be-killed era, Detweiler said. “Or the visions of the afterlife that started with a show like ‘The Leftovers’ on HBO and that continue with ‘The Good Place’ or ‘Forever’ in a more accessible way. The questions are still the same: Are we living in hell? Do things get better?”

In the face of societal anxiety, Mahan believes, TV shows that depict divine or supernatural intervention are a comfort. “The genre … says God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world, God is attentive, God is jerking people back from in front of the subway train, God has a partner for you,” he said.

Whether for dramatic or comedic effect (and with varying degrees of artistry and efficacy), in troubled times, mainstream television seems to experience an uptick in programs featuring celestial or superhuman beings interacting with humankind, or mere mortals wrestling with eternal conundrums.

Since the 2016 presidential election, for instance, shows such as “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” “Living Biblically” and “Lucifer” have come and gone from network television (although after Fox canceled “Lucifer” in May, Netflix has picked it up for a fourth season to air next year.)

Cable and myriad streaming channels have proffered grittier shows with spiritual themes and settings to slake an audience’s thirst for metaphysical solace or intrigue, including “The Path” on Hulu, “The Leftovers” and “The Young Pope” on HBO, “Preacher” on AMC, “Call the Midwife” on PBS and “Greenleaf” on Oprah’s OWN network.

For the last decade or two, spiritual and religious content in mainstream television programming, while certainly remaining a minority, has run the genre gamut from the serious (“Big Love,” “Joan of Arcadia,” “Saving Grace”) to the silly (“Jane the Virgin,” “John from Cincinnati,” “Impastor,” “GCB,” “The O’Neals”) and the earnest-if-twee heavenly-hosts oeuvre (“Touched…” “Highway…” “7th…”).

Most never find an audience robust enough to keep them on the air for more than a season or two. But sometimes a dark-horse show appears in the right place at the right time.

From left to right: Violett Beane as Cara Bloom, Brandon Micheal Hall as Miles Finer and Suraj Sharma as Rakesh Singh appear in an episode of “God Friended Me.” Photo courtesy of Michele Crowe/CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Over at CBS this fall, God is having a moment.

“God Friended Me” chronicles the adventures of the atheist son of an Episcopal priest who’s dispatched by a Facebook user who goes by the handle “God” to rescue perfect strangers. The supporting cast includes Jewish, Hindu and Muslim characters. Its Sept. 30 debut earned a 1.4 Nielsen rating and drew 10.4 million viewers — noteworthy, particularly given the show’s subject matter: faith, doubt and the nature of the divine (if it does, in fact, exist).

It’s an unorthodox programming mix for mainstream TV, for sure, and it’s also one of the most highly rated new dramas on television.

For more nuanced and robust exploration of those themes, Mahan said he looks to popular shows that dip into the faith arena for an episode or two, or in the secondary story arc of a larger narrative.

Think of Kathryn Hahn’s character, Rabbi Raquel Fein, and the various Pfefferman family members’ wrestling with Judaism and the nature of faith itself in Amazon Studios’ “Transparent,” or the earthy faith of Jenifer Lewis’ sassy grandmother character Ruby Johnson — “Black Jesus, Black Jesus!” — on ABC’s “Black-ish,” which dedicated a whole episode to the Johnson family’s experiences at a white hipster evangelical church.

Or the multi-seasonal storyline on “The Americans” when the teenage daughter of Russian spies living in Washington, D.C., rebels by becoming a born-again Christian and sharing the family secret with her youth pastor.

“I think we tend to get better episodic dealing with religion than we get from the shows that have a big commitment to proving that religion, particularly Christian religion, is good,” Mahan said.

What you rarely find are series that revolve around a religious community (although “Call the Midwife,” set in part among the nurse-midwives and members of an Anglican religious order in 1960s London, is a notable exception) or with a lead character or characters who are clergypersons or for whom faith is the grounding motivation for how they live.

The million-dollar question, then, is why not?

“It just doesn’t rate — not a big enough audience,” said Julie Piepenkotter, executive vice president of research for FX Networks. “And it certainly goes against the edgier fare that seems so popular now…. Nobody sets out to make a mediocre-rated show. It’s hard enough to do with shows that aren’t hampered by treacliness that is not in vogue.”

Shows that attempt to put a relentlessly positive spin on religion or faith in general will find it nearly impossible to find purchase in the era of “Under His Eye” and the dystopian nightmares of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” she said.

Jonathan Bock, founder and CEO of Grace Hill Media, which specializes in marketing faith-based content in film and television, places part of the blame for the dearth of artful, thoughtful spiritual content on TV on the audience itself.

“For the most part right now, American Christians like the world portrayed as it should be, not as it is,” Bock said. “That’s why you have a lot of ‘Christian’ movies where a nice person becomes nicer, and it works because it’s only 90 minutes…. But on television that’s hard to sustain” without sex, violence and moral quandaries that make some Christians uncomfortable.

They don’t want messy. They don’t want moral ambiguity. But what makes one group of the faithful nervous is precisely what most intrigues another.

“What I’d like to see is progressive religiosity that thinks that faith matters, that having a ritualized or a spiritual practice is sustaining in the midst of a life where God is not in control of everything and bad stuff happens,” Mahan said. “Whether there’s any kind market for a story like that is a whole other question.”

For a spiritually themed TV show to succeed, Piepenkotter said, it would need to go deeper than superficial niceties and be controversial. Ultimately, that is up to the people who create the character and the narrative.

“You have to find the writers who want to tell those stories and have the ability to tell them well, with multilayered characters, complex characters, relationships and execution,” she said. “I want to see what’s behind that curtain. I want to see a level of hypocrisy that I see from the outside looking in.… That’s probably a really interesting show.”

Tauren Wells wins 4, including new artist, at Dove Awards

Tauren Wells wins 4, including new artist, at Dove Awards


Video Courtesy of Tauren Wells


Christian artist Tauren Wells won four awards including new artist and contemporary Christian artist of the year at the 49th annual Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.

Wells, who was the former lead singer for Christian rock group Royal Tailor, performed “Known” from his solo debut album, “Hills and Valleys,” during Thursday’s award show from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Wells also won awards for pop/contemporary album of the year and also got an award for being a featured artist on the rap/hip hop recorded song of the year with Social Club Misfits.

Wells accepted new artist of the year slightly out of breath, explaining that he had been backstage changing clothes when the award was announced and rushed to get to the stage without even knowing what award he had won.

“I am so grateful – what award is this?” Wells said. “New artist of the year?! Woah!”

Backstage after the show, Wells said that “Known” was about one of the God’s lessons for him about image.

“While it’s great to pose for all these pictures and getting to hold all these trophies, this doesn’t matter as much as what is happening inside our hearts,” Wells said.

Cory Asbury, a worship pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan, rode the success of his No. 1 Christian single “Reckless Love” to three awards for song of the year, worship song of the year and worship album of the year. He said the song has connected to a lot of people through church services and on the radio.

“I’ve been hearing crazy testimonies of people that say ‘I was suicidal and I was going to take my own life, and I heard this song and I felt the love of God for the first time,'” Asbury said. “Stories like that are why any of us do this.”

Songwriter Colby Wedgeworth also won three awards, including songwriter of the year, non-artist, for working with Wells on the “Hills and Valleys” record and for co-writing the pop/contemporary recorded song of the year, “Old Church Choir.”

Zach Williams won artist of the year and pop/contemporary recorded song of the year for his song “Old Church Choir,” and Tasha Cobb Leonard won gospel artist of the year and urban worship album.

Rap duo Social Club Misfits from Florida won rap/hip hop recorded song of the year for their song “War Cry,” a song they wrote after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“We feel like anything that happens to our generation, we take it personally, so this song came from a place of just wanting to rally a generation,” said Martin Lorenzo Santiago, who goes by the stage name Marty, in the duo.

The show featured a couple of cross genre collaborations, including pop singer Tori Kelly singing with Kirk Franklin and country group Rascal Flatts singing with Jason Crabb. The show will air October 21 on TBN.

Fans mourn Aretha Franklin at gospel-infused public viewing

Video Courtesy of Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV


Mourners began pouring into Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Tuesday to pay their final respects to Aretha Franklin.

They approached her gold-plated casket to the sounds of her gospel recordings. She was in repose, dressed in red from head to high-heeled shoes, legs crossed at the ankles.

As they approached, people who came from as far away as Las Vegas and Miami cried, crossed themselves, bowed their heads or blew kisses.

Museum board member Kelly Major Green said the goal was to create a dignified and respectful environment akin to a church, the place where Franklin got her start.

“What we wanted to do is be reflective of the Queen,” Green said. “It’s beautiful. She’s beautiful.”

Aretha Franklin lies in her casket at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History during a public visitation in Detroit, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018. Franklin died Aug. 16, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, Pool)

With her legs crossed at the ankles, Green said Franklin communicates both power and comfort, as she did in life.

The shoes, in particular, show “The Queen of Soul is diva to the end,” Green said.

Tammy Gibson, 49, of Chicago said she arrived about 5:30 a.m. She came alone but made fast friends with others who sang and reminisced.

Growing up, Gibson said she heard Franklin’s music “playing all the time” by her parents, who “told me to go to bed — it’s an adult party.”

Outside the museum, she said: “I know people are sad, but it’s just celebrating — people dancing and singing her music.”

Franklin has been a constant in her life.

“I saw the gold-plated casket — it dawned on me: She’s gone, but her legacy and her music will live on forever.”

The setting for the two days of public viewings could not be more fitting, according to Paula Marie Seniors, an associate professor of Africana studies at Virginia Tech.

“I think it’s incredibly significant — she is being honored almost like a queen at one of the most important black museums in the United States,” said Seniors, who visited the museum several years ago when she was in Detroit doing research.

The Queen of Soul, Seniors said, was “a singer of the universe.” Yet she added that Franklin, who died Aug. 16 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76, also was “so unapologetically black — she was so proud of being a black woman.”

To be sure, Franklin did not consider herself a catalyst for the women’s movement or on the front lines of the fight for civil rights. But she represented and pushed for both in ways big and small — none, perhaps, more prominently or simultaneously as her mold-breaking take on the Otis Redding song, “Respect.” She later said that with her interpretation — which even Redding acknowledged became the standard — sought to convey a message about the need to respect women, people of color, children and all people.

The museum, which had been the largest black museum in the U.S. until the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, D.C., in 2016, also hosted similar viewings for civil rights icon Rosa Parks after her 2005 death. In further symbolic symmetry, Franklin sang at Parks’ funeral, which was held at the same Detroit church as Franklin’s, and the singer will be entombed in the same cemetery as Parks.

The women came to their activism from different places and used different techniques, but “in the long run, they were both fighting for the same cause, which is freedom,” Seniors said.

Seniors said if she could attend the viewings, she would bring her 8-year-old daughter, Shakeila, who has sung along with Franklin’s videos.

“I want my daughter to know anything and everything about African-American culture and history,” said Seniors, whose father, Clarence Henry Seniors, was roommates at Morehouse College with Franklin’s brother, Cecil. “I would want my daughter to know of the people like Aretha Franklin — to be able to listen to that voice … and hear that there is something special about it.”

‘Black Panther’ costume designer celebrated in retrospective

‘Black Panther’ costume designer celebrated in retrospective

Video Courtesy of Collider Videos


For more than 30 years, costume designer Ruth E. Carter’s creations have brought the African-American experience to life on the big screen, from 19th century slave ships in “Amistad” to 1980s Brooklyn in “Do the Right Thing,” to the Afrofuturistic land of Wakanda in “Black Panther.” Now, she’s bringing the spectrum of her work to Pittsburgh for a new exhibit called “Heroes & Sheroes: The Art & Influence of Ruth E. Carter in Black Cinema.”

The show opens Saturday at the Senator John Heinz History Center, showcasing more than 40 costumes from nine movies, and runs through Dec. 2.

“I’d been thinking about doing a retrospective for some time, and I really do love Pittsburgh, so it seemed like a comfortable place to test the waters for the exhibit,” Carter said in a recent phone interview.

Carter has worked on more than 50 films since she made the switch from designing for theater companies and dance troupes in the early 1980s, when Spike Lee hired her as a costume designer on “School Daze.” They’ve since collaborated on more than a dozen movies.

She’s also earned two Academy Award nominations for best costume design, first for Lee’s “Malcolm X” in 1993 — which made her the first African-American nominated in that category — and for Steven Spielberg’s historical slave ship drama “Amistad” in 1998. She also was nominated for an Emmy for the 2016 reboot of “Roots.”

The exhibit will celebrate her extensive career, and showcase sketches and movie clips alongside the costumes from films including “Amistad,” ”Sparkle,” ”What’s Love Got to do With It,” ”The Butler,” ”Malcolm X,” ”Selma,” ”Do the Right Thing” and of course “Black Panther.”

“I think that costume design is somewhat of a mystery to people, and this is an opportunity to learn about the costume designer as an artist and a storyteller,” Carter said. “In the 35 years that I have been doing costumes, I’ve found there is a narrative and a voice to my creative process and the films that I have done, which have lined up to tell the story of African-Americans in this country.”

Carter was approached about bringing a retrospective to Pittsburgh by Demeatria Boccella, whose organization FashionAFRICANA focuses on art and fashion in the African diaspora for shows around the city. She learned about Carter from their mutual friend, the late actor Bill Nunn, who broke through in Spike Lee movies in the late 1980s.

“I was just so impressed with her; she’s done so much work in the industry, and the depth of that work is really amazing,” Boccella said.

Nunn, who died of cancer in 2016, was a longtime Pittsburgh resident who appeared in “Do the Right Thing” as Radio Raheem, who dies when choked by police during a street brawl in Brooklyn.

Carter said that among her favorite pieces in the retrospective is Radio Raheem’s hand-painted “Bed-Stuy Do or Die” T-shirt.

For Boccella, bringing Carter’s work to Pittsburgh was twofold: to honor the designer and to inspire young visitors.

Boccella said she knew she wanted to get into the fashion industry ever since she was a child, but couldn’t find fellow African-American role models in her community.

“I wanted to see people who looked like me, doing work I aspired to do and it was very hard,” she said. “It is my passion and part of my journey to create and present those opportunities for the next generation.”

Carter says she hopes visitors take away from the exhibit something they didn’t know before, and perhaps find inspiration from her own personal backstory.

“It’s the story of a girl who had a dream and she pursed her dream and went all the way, and look what she was able to create from a single-parent household,” she said. “If I can do it, they can do it. You can live out your dream.”