Allison Samuels

Stories by Allison Samuels

  • Q&A With Rep. James Clyburn

    When the House of Representatives made the unusual move to pass a "resolution of disapproval" against Joe Wilson after his outburst during the president's speech on health care, it was House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina who led the charge. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Allison Samuels. Excerpts: ...
  • Jada Pinkett Smith Plays Nurse

    On a set in Inglewood, Calif., will Smith busts out of his trailer door and yells at the top of his lungs, "Woman, come rub my feet!" He's speaking, loudly and in jest, to his dynamo of a wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who proceeds to dismiss him by saying, "Don't pay that fool any attention—he has no sense." She should know. She is his boss. In a bit of role reversal, Smith is working on the set of his wife's new project, Hawthorne, a TNT drama about a nurse in your typically (make that stereotypically) chaotic urban hospital. Pinkett Smith, 37, is both the show's star and co–executive producer (along with Will). If the show succeeds, she will arguably become the most powerful black woman in prime-time TV. Before Hawthorne and HBO's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency debuted a few months ago (starring Jill Scott), it had been 35 years since an African-American woman was the lead in a TV drama (Teresa Graves in Get Christie Love!). (Story continued below...)None of this history is lost...
  • Travel: The Slave Castle of Ghana

    It takes four hours on an un-air-conditioned minibus called a tro-tros to get from Accra, the capital of Ghana, to the town of Elmina. The drive is lovely, especially when the road dances above the beautiful Cape Coast and when it enters Elmina's twisty streets lined with palm trees and hundreds of people trading fish like we buy hamburgers at McDonald's. The town's main attraction is a huge white castle that sits on top of a hill. From the road it appears so suddenly, it takes your breath away. The Elmina Castle, with its enormous white walls and red-tile roofs peering out onto the Indian Ocean, could easily be confused for some decaying Mediterranean resort. Such a pretty building—for a hellhole. Elmina Castle is actually one of 20 buildings running along the Ghanaian coast that housed African captives before they were shipped off to the New World. Which is why these buildings are more commonly, and oxymoronically, known as slave castles.The Portuguese built Elmina Castle in 1482...
  • What Michelle Obama Means to Us

    We've never had a First Lady quite like Michelle Obama. How she'll change the world's image of African-American women—and the way we see ourselves.
  • Q&A: Quincy Jones

    Quincy Jones—musician, producer, Oprah's BFF—has put his life (including his school report cards) into a coffee-table book: "The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey and Passions.'' He spoke to Allison Samuels: ...
  • Jamie Foxx: Radio Star, Obama Booster

    Jamie Foxx—actor, singer, comedian—has his fingerprints all over Hollywood. His latest gig: Sirius Radio's "The Foxxhole." He spoke with Allison Samuels. ...
  • A New Color Clash On the Catwalk

    Chanel Iman Robinson, a 17-year-old model from Los Angeles, is celebrated enough in the industry to drop her last name, in the style of Naomi, Cindy and Tyra. But she still gets passed over for jobs. "I will fly to London for what is supposed to be 20 casting calls and won't get but 15 because the other five designers don't want black models," she says. "That's not going to happen to white models. It's upsetting and insulting and totally backwards.''In a year when Donatella Versace dedicated her men's spring-summer collection to Barack Obama, others in the fashion world are lamenting the absence of black faces on runways. "This is not the conversation I thought I would have to have at this point,'' says model Naomi Campbell. "You think you've broken the barriers and then the game changes. So you have to fight all over again.'' Campbell, along with black supermodels Beverly Johnson, Iman and Tyra Banks, gained worldwide fame in the 1980s and 1990s. But after Banks left for TV and...
  • MLK Jr.: A Man, Not a Monument

    Since Martin's death, there isn't a day or two that goes by that someone doesn't ask me, what would Martin say about this or that,'' says Clarence B. Jones, lawyer and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. You can imagine how often that gets asked at the moment. Not only because we've just seen the 40th anniversary of the assassination, but because of the emergence of Barack Obama as the first viable, African-American presidential candidate. Jones waited all these years to write a book, "What Would Martin Say?" But he is one of several authors who are now examining, into a contemporary context, the life and legacy of one of the most important leaders our country has ever had.Perhaps the most revisionist, and surprising, new book is "April 4, 1968'' by Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson argues that King has been largely reduced to uplifting one-liners and oversimplified social ideas on race. But Dyson describes King's last few years as filled with intense bouts of deep depression. "It's time that...
  • Obama: Race Trumps Gender

    A few of my more socially progressive girlfriends have expressed surprise and dismay that, as a woman, I seem to feel no particular allegiance to Hillary Clinton and her quest to become the first female president. They question my sisterhood and my support for women attaining real power. I'd like to say their accusations bother me, but they don't.I come from an African-American family of women born and raised in the Deep South of Augusta, Ga., a place where my grandmother, equipped with just a fifth-grade education, sent each of her eight daughters to college (and beyond) even after the death of my grandfather in the late '50s. In her world, being a woman in control wasn't something she had the luxury of deciding to fight for. She just was. I doubt if she knew there was a feminist movement or ever heard the name Gloria Steinem.But she most certainly knew what it meant to sit in the back of the bus, drink from colored-only water fountains and work for little or no pay. In her...
  • Daring to Touch the Third Rail

    Barack Obama avoids talking about the 'race issue,' but his wife doesn't. How Michelle is becoming the point person for African-American votes.
  • Nas's Controversial 'N Word' Album

    Rappers have never been accused of being politically correct, but Nas has somehow managed to cross a line. You might call the album he's releasing next month "The N Word," except that he's insisted on spelling out the slur, hardcore. NEWSWEEK's Allison Samuels asked him: why? ...
  • Lost In the Obama Era

    Jesse Jackson can still get a crowd going—when he can find one. He appeared at a Los Angeles restaurant this fall, primed to discuss school dropout rates and home foreclosures. But only eight people showed up, mostly reporters. It's no longer Reverend Jackson's day in the sun, or any other black leader's whose name isn't Barack Obama. So where does that leave the leaders to whom black America has long turned in times of crisis—Jackson, and the Revs. Andrew Young and Al Sharpton? At times they can seem like jealous, cranky old men, as in December when Young suggested Bill Clinton was "every bit as black as Barack." Or when Jackson said Obama was "acting white'' by skipping a giant rally for the Jena Six.But it's not just jealousy. They are also frustrated by mainstream voters' eager embrace of an African-American raised without a traditional African-American experience—who's not, in other words, an "angry black man." Reared in Hawaii by white grandparents, Obama didn't have a family...
  • Movies: Washington University

    'The Great Debaters': Denzel and a sharp young cast help a standard underdog picture sit up and speak.
  • Can Oprah Help Obama in Dixie?

    They bonded during a flight from Chicago to Houston, musing over their odd-sounding names that begin with "O." It was a light-hearted moment between Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama during an otherwise serious mission in 2005 to comfort victims of Hurricane Katrina. "I think she saw his giving spirit and that really touched her," says Winfrey's friend, music legend Quincy Jones. "You can't fake the funk in those horrible circumstances."There's no faking that things are a bit funky for Obama lately. The Illinois senator's numbers have improved in recent weeks—he's ahead in some Iowa polls—but he continues to trail Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and South Carolina. That's why Oprah is making a campaign swing through the three states: the hope is that her star power will attract female voters—especially black women in South Carolina, who are leaning toward Clinton, according to polls. "While Oprah's support doesn't guarantee anyone else's support, it's going to be a big turnout," says...
  • Regina King on Child Stardom

    Regina King has been everything from a child star to a single mom—and played everything from a Raylette to a nine-year-old boy.
  • Talking With Rapper Chamillionaire

    Hip-hop star Chamillionaire, with a new album in hand, says good rap is not about clichés about guns, girls and money—it's about telling good stories.
  • Players Speak Out On NBA Ref Scandal

    The Donaghy case is a disaster for the NBA. But for some of the league's disgruntled players, it's something more: A vindication.
  • Q&A With Rapper T.I.

    On the low, while the mainstream wasn't watching, 26-year-old Atlanta native “T.I.” (a.k.a. Clifford Harris) quietly and confidently stole the show from the more notable names in the rap game. His last album, “King,'' bowed only second to Jay Z's offering of “Kingdom Come” in sales and because of his steely good looks and no nonsense stance, Denzel Washington handpicked him to play a pivotal role in “American Gangster,'' the actor's next big film. But don't let Harris's innocent schoolboy profile fool you. In his latest album, “T.I. vs T.I.P.,'' the rapper boldly addresses what he considers to be the dual personalities that reside within him—and boy do they conflict. T.I. is the savvy businessman with major endorsements with car dealerships, a 2006 Grammy and two-picture deal with the film company New Line. On the other hand, “T.I.P.,” a nickname he acquired from his paternal great grandfather, is something of a hothead. At the ESPY awards pre-party in Los Angeles on Wednesday night...
  • Isaiah Washington Speaks His Mind

    It’s a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, and Isaiah Washington is on the set of the independent film "The Least of These.’’ Washington plays a priest in the movie, and he’s dressed in full-on black on black with a sliver of white at his collar. He greets his guests with a gentle smile and an extended hand. Sitting in his small trailer filled with the scent of myrrh incense, he seems at peace—until he starts talking. Washington can’t stop himself from doing what he’s been doing a lot lately: explaining away a situation that has already cost him a beloved job and could ultimately cost him much more.Last fall, Washington, by his own admission, picked a fight with Patrick Dempsey, one his costars on the ABC hospital drama "Grey’s Anatomy." Fighting with a co-worker is never smart, but Washington took it even further by using an offensive term to refer to a gay cast member during the altercation. "Patrick and I had a philosophical disagreement that got out of hand and that I regret a great...