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LGBTQ+ activist Connor Franta and model Flaviana Matata on fighting for inclusivity

In the spirit of inclusivity and acceptance, Interview has teamed up with Kenneth Cole’s courageous class, four pioneers with a platform who get off on giving back.

Most closeted kids dip their toes into the coming out process. They confide in a friend, maybe, or a family member. But Connor Franta had another idea. In 2014, at the age of 22, he posted a video entitled “Coming Out” on YouTube, which has now racked up nearly 12 million views. The massively popular influencer, author, and entrepreneur has since become a vital—and unapologetically vocal—figure in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Most dear to him is the organization GLSEN, which supports queer youth in K-12 schools.

As a top model, Flaviana Matata, 30, has similarly turned her platform into a way to help others. In 2011, she created the Flaviana Matata Foundation, which provides scholarships and support to schools and girls in her native Tanzania. When not walking runways or starring in major ad campaigns (including for her own nail polish line, Lavy Products), she has also donated her time to several other charities enabling education in Africa. The two powerhouse millennials spoke recently about their different passions—and what unites them.

CONNOR FRANTA: You were Miss Universe Tanzania? That’s crazy.

FLAVIANA MATATA: [laughs] It was crazy! But it got me to where I am today.

FRANTA: How did you get involved with the education of girls in Africa?

MATATA: I’d been doing charity work for quite some time, even before I started modeling. I got scouted immediately after I graduated school, and I had the option to either continue my studies or pursue modeling as a career, and I decided to pursue modeling. I started thinking about all those girls back home who just want to be in school, but can’t. Especially in Tanzania, education is just not a priority for girls. So I wanted to give back to my community and to empower these girls through education.

HARDEMAN IS REDEFINING FASHION

Photography by Emily Lipson/PAPER

WHOOPI GOLDBERG REVIEWS CHROMAT FW18

By Whoopi Goldberg Photography Eddy LeRoy Jr

Whoopi Goldberg has never been one to chase trends, and in character has worn everything from a nun’s habit to doctor’s scrubs, but in recent years Goldberg has been recharging the battery of fashion by becoming an unexpected style icon.

Dressing down in brands like Vetements and being spotted amongst the throngs of fashion’s elite on the front rows of shows for Adam Selman, Marc Jacobs and Cushnie et Ochs, she’s ideally situated to offer an authoritative opinion on the looks on parade throughout NYFW. And with her acerbic wit, we couldn’t resist asking her thoughts.

Throughout NYFW, Goldberg will be reviewing a handful of select FW18 shows. Here, she feels nothing but good vibes about Chromat’s FW18 collection—an architectural swim and athletic wear brand known for inclusivity, bold colors, and making their own rules—at Industria Studios.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: This was the most brilliant show for me because it really represented every body type, every style—the variations on color, the variations on differences of the body. This says to everyone, “I have a place for you. I have a bathing suit for you. And you can look amazing coming down any beach front.” It was thrilling.

I would wear the outfit with the pouch for Hot Cheetos everywhere. I would wear it to The View, under my clothes, so while the women were talking to me I’d be eating Hot Cheetos. They would not know where they came from, but you would know and I would know. I mean, just wonderful.

I couldn’t pick a favorite look from the show. I loved all of the looks because I pictured every family member [wearing one of these garments], all of the women in my family, who are different sizes, different shapes. I was just so happy.

I would not change one thing about this show because it’s not like you can’t find something that will work for you. You can be a pencil or you can be the biggest woman on the planet. These women look amazing in everything. It’s a reminder that no one should be dictating to us what we look like. When you see a show like this—[which is mostly] bathing suits, the thing people are the nastiest about—there’s not a bad thing you can say.

I would wear this collection all over Greece. All over Greece. I saw my body several times and I thought, “Hey, I might be able to wear swimsuits like these.” You never think of swimwear as inviting. And this is really inviting to people.

If every show at fashion week was like this, then it’d be boring, because then everybody would look the same. I love what Chromat does, because there’s nothing else like it. In any of the times that I’ve come to fashion week, I’ve never seen anything like this. I kept hitting Tom [sitting next to me] going like, “Oh my God, look, look!” It was just thrilling.

#METOO FOUNDER TARANA BURKE IS WRITING A MEMOIR

In today's Black Excellence Report, the Associated Press reports that Tarana Burke, founder of thedecades-old #MeToo movement and all-around badass, is writing a memoir for Simon & Schuster's 37 Ink imprint.

The book, Where The Light Enters is scheduled for release early 2019 and will reportedly recount Burke's "ordinary, extraordinary journey from victim to survivor to thriver." Furthermore, the book is being co-written with award-winning memoirist, journalist and poet Asha Bandele. Yes!

In a statement further detailing the project, Burke said that her aim is to "help readers understand the often historical connections of the role sexual violence plays in communities of color, specially black communities, even today."

Burke's hope is that the memoir will help a broad spectrum of sexual abuse survivors heal in a way that helps them understand that the "me too movement is more about triumph than trauma and that our wounds, though they may never fully heal, can also be the key to our survival."

In conclusion, yes and a thousand times amen to every single part of this.

KENDRICK LAMAR AND SZA EMBRACE AFROFUTURISM IN 'ALL THE STARS'

14 FEMALE DESIGNERS REIMAGINE NIKE'S MOST ICONIC SNEAKERS

Almost everything is better with a woman's touch, proved tenfold by the result Nike's new initiative to ask designers to recreate their two most-memorable styles through the female lens. Trust us, this is the kind of innovation you're going to want to write home to mom — and brag to your boyfriend — about.

Forever queens Kelsey Lu and Abra don the shoes designed by 14 different female creatives, in a reimagining of the Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1 which were both birthed by the brand in the early 80s. The Georgina James-led group, which includes colorists, materials specialists, and mainline footwear designers, were tasked with coming up with a 10 distinctly fresh takes on the iconic styles. Their only brief was to "make cool shit," according to the label's footwear director, Andy Caine.

"The genesis of creativity is diversity," he says. "From a design point of view, each of the designers has a very unique background and personality. Our theory is that when you mix diverse creative talents you realize some magic."

Janelle Monáe discovered R&B duo St. Beauty in a store basement

Photography: ROBBIE FIMMANO

Stylist: JAIME KAY WAXMAN

ALEX BELLE (TOP) AND ISIS VALENTINO IN NEW YORK, OCTOBER 2017. ON BELLE: TOP: ELLERY. BODYSUIT: WOLFORD. ON VALENTINO: COAT: TOM FORD. TURTLENECK: J. CREW.

Stylist: JAIME KAY WAXMAN

ON BELLE: COAT: ELLERY. ON VALENTINO: COAT: BURBERRY. RINGS: VALENTINO’S OWN. HAIR: HIRO + MARI FOR SALON87 USING BUMBLE AND BUMBLE/BRYAN BANTRY AGENCY. MAKEUP: LAURA STIASSNI FOR TOM FORD/THE WALL GROUP. MANICURE: TRACYLEE PERCIVAL FOR CHANEL LE VERNIS’/THE WALL GROUP. SPECIAL THANKS: SALT STUDIOS NY.

Alex Belle and Isis Valentino, who perform together as the neo-soul act St. Beauty, met five years ago while working at a vintage clothing shop in Atlanta’s College Park neighborhood. Using what was at their disposal, Belle, 23, and Valentino, 26, began putting on DIY shows in the store’s basement. In a turn of good fortune, one of them was attended by Janelle Monáe, who soon after invited the pair into her collective of emerging artists and signed them to her Wondaland record label. “Atlanta has always been a hub for creative people of color,” Valentino says of the supportive local scene. “We love 808s, we love hip-hop and all of that, but we wanted to add St. Beauty to it.”

The duo garnered wider attention in 2015 for their contribution to Wondaland Presents: The Eephus, a compilation featuring artists signed to the label (including breakout star Jidenna), and last year two of their songs were used in Issa Rae’s hit HBO series Insecure. Their debut EP, Running to the Sun, due to be released in January, is a showcase of their hard work and vision, as well as an emotionally honest portrait of the two women. “We were both going through relationship issues, getting out of those relationships, going through withdrawals, and we also had some insecurities that we were dealing with,” says Belle. “But we realized those were things most women go through and that we aren’t alone. All of that helped us write this project.”

Electro beats ground the record’s R&B tracks as Belle’s and Valentino’s vocals—at times ethereal, at times powerfully soulful—capture the drama of modern romance, as on the single “Caught”: “He was the coolest I ever known / He did me dirty so I let him go / Now everything is all right / After I said goodbye / He was getting way too comfortable / Now I’m taking back all my control.” About the album’s lyrics, Valentino says, “We talk about the struggle. We want people to trust us with their emotions and be able to relate.”

RUNNING TO THE SUN IS DUE OUT IN JANUARY 2018 VIA WONDALAND RECORDS.

JACQUEMUS GOES HOME FOR SEXY 'LA BOMBA' CAMPAIGN

Parisian designer Simon Porte, of fashion's breakout brand Jacquemus, seems to be able to do no wrong. For his latest campaign, the designer returns to his roots in the South of France to shoot his spring '18 "La Bomba," inspired by Porte's late mother.

Photographed by David Luraschi on a black sand beach in Lanzarote, the images showcase Jacquemus' earth-toned texture-heavy designs, including his non-traditional heel structures which recently caught mainstream celebrity attention via Selena Gomez. The campaign also features his now famous mini-bag, a Rihanna-staple, as well as statement drop earrings.

COACH'S SPRING '18 CAMPAIGN IS A GRITTY, GLAM ODE TO NEW YORK

LET SZA HYPNOTIZE YOU WITH SULTRY SOLANGE-DIRECTED VIDEO 'THE WEEKND'

Just when you thought Grammy-nominated songstress SZA couldn't possibly be any more magical, she dons a glitter suit for Solange and writhes atop a marble staircase for "The Weeknd." It's just too much.

Related | The 2018 Grammy Nominations Mostly Got it Right

The RnB sensation dances everywhere from a balcony to an underground carpark in a series of dreamy barely-there outfits and frankly we couldn't be more grateful. The visual is vaguely reminiscent of Solange's magnificent "Cranes in the Sky" the copious long shots of the singer in the many different locations. "The Weekend" is also here, just in case you needed any reminder, to inform you SZA has some serious moves.

Check out the video below and stay tuned for the back arch to end them all come 3.32.