Black History Month: Stars Reflect on Legends Who Paved the Way
"There would be no Kerry Washington without Diahann Carroll," the actress says of the late icon
Kerry Washington Honors Diahann Carroll with Passionate Speech
"Her mere existence was proof of a world where Black Girl magic existed at the highest levels of elegance, grace, class, luxury and glamour," Washington, 43, said of the late Carroll. "My time with Ms. Carroll were always so meaningful to me. She was black Hollywood royalty. And while she never betrayed her regality, she also invited you to find and embrace your own! There would be no Olivia Pope [Washington's character in Scandal] without Dominique Deveraux [Carroll's character in Dynasty]. There would be no Kerry Washington without Diahann Carroll. She forged her own path so that we may be inspired and empowered to forge our own as well."
Mary J. Blige Says There Will Never Be Another Chaka Khan
"Chaka Khan is someone who no one can duplicate," Blige, 49, says of Khan, 66. "There cannot ever be another. Vocally, none of us can do what she did — none of us. She blew my mind when I heard her sing for the first time as a kid. When I met her during Grammys rehearsals for the Waiting to Exhale tribute, I couldn't believe it. She was motherly and felt like a family member, like I knew her all my life. For those who look up to me, I want young people to see tht nothing was given to me. Everything was super-duper hard and still is, but I keep puhsing. I keep God first and focus on positivity."
Naomi Campbell Reflects on Nelson Mandela's Everlasting Legacy
"I met him in 1993," Campbell, 49, recalls of the late Mandela. "Madiba [Mandela was affectionally called by his Xhosa clan name] explained to me that stepping down as president to help his people was more important than anything else. I cherished my amazing relationship with him for 20 years. What Mandela stood for wasn't just one country; he became a figure of hope for people globally. I want people to know the beauty of Africa. I want to help the creative people in Africa attain their goals."
Issa Rae Calls Debbie Allen a Legend
"When it comes to who paved a way for someone like me, I'd have to say Debbie Allen," Rae 35, says of Allen, 70. "She's just a legend. From directing pilots to being a performer herself, being a multi-hyphenate in the highest degree and still working now, to being the series director on Grey's Anatomy and still inspiring young dancers via the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and fundraising. I have to shout her out for all she's done. Black History Month is something I celebrate all year long."
Common Has Been Inspired by Muhammad Ali Since Childhood
"I was about 8 or 9 when I first saw a movie he was in called The Greatest," Common, 47, recalls of the late Ali. "As a kid, I looked at him as a hero. There was something electrifying and inspiring about his energy, spirit and personality. But it was bigger than himself. Every time he said, 'I am the greatest, I am black, I am beautiful,' it made me, as a little black boy, feel like, 'Oh, I can be beautiful. I am beautiful.' Meeting his was an out-of-body experience. I too want to inspire black people to move closer to themselves and to God."
Ciara Details How Missy Elliott Changed the Game
"Missy Elliott was one of the first artists I looked up to for her fearlessness and creativity," Ciara, 34, says of Elliott, 48. "To this day, there's no one like her — she created a lane of her own. The first time I met her was surreal, and we've been sisters ever since we teamed up for my single "1,2 Step." I want the younger generation to look at my journey and, despirte many setbacks, see that I never allowed the color of my skins or my gender to hold me back. For every door that closed, I found a new and better one."
Jamie Foxx Is Inspired by Sammy Davis Jr.
"Sammy Davis was just amazing because of what he did at the time," Foxx, 52, says of the late Davis Jr. "The sort of multiple talents that he possessed. He could sing, he could dance, he could play instruments, he could play the drums. So when I watched him I would go, ‘Whoo.’ I want to try to be like Sammy in the sense of being able to step into everything and try be successful in it."