Celebrity stories were front and center in 2017. Beyoncé and Jay-Z continued their reign as the music industry’s No. 1 power couple and also welcomed twins. “Girl’s Trip” broke box office records and a movie about African-Americans won Best Picture. Entertainers like Bill Cosby and R. Kelly were under fire, while Meghan Markle prepared for a fairy tale life. The Defender looks back at the top stories.
The year of Bey
Beyoncé stayed in the entertainment news, from being declared the richest female entertainer to selling out stadiums. But nothing captured fans’ hearts like the newest additions to her family. On June 13, Beyoncé and Jay-Z welcomed twins, a boy and a girl named Sir and Rumi. A few days later, it was reported that the babies were born premature and were “under the lights,” which likely refers to the phototherapy that’s used on babies who have jaundice. The kids, however, are fine. Beyoncé finally confirmed the births herself with an epic Instagram post on July 13.
‘Girls Trip’ breaks box office
“Girls Trip” emerged as a summer standout. The film featured Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish as four long-time friends on a road trip to the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, which celebrates African-American culture. The movie has since made $100.1 million at the American box office, making it the highest grossing live action comedy of the year. “Girls Trip” was a standout for having a great marketing campaign, a solid ensemble cast and for delivering a “fun and satisfying moviegoing experience,” said one media analyst.
‘Get Out’ stuns industry
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, “Get Out,” was another surprise movie hit, making more than $111 million – a whopping sum compared to the film’s extremely modest $4.5 million budget. It’s an especially impressive feat for a first-time director who cast relative unknown Daniel Kaluuya in a leading role. The movie, which Peele also wrote, is about a Black man who discovers a horrifying family secret while visiting his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time.
Blacks at award shows
After being snubbed in 2016, artists of colors made a comeback in 2017. Sisters Beyoncé and Solange were among Blacks who won Grammys. Viola Davis took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal in “Fences,” becoming the first Black woman to win an Oscar, Tony and Emmy for acting. Mahershala Ali became the first African-American Muslim to win an Oscar when he won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Moonlight.” The film also won Best Picture. Donald Glover (“Atlanta”), Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us”) and Lena Waithe (“Master of None” writer) won Emmys. As the year closed, for the first time in the history of the Grammys, all of the lead artists nominated for record of the year were people of color. Jay Z, Cardi B, Bruno Mars, and Kendrick Lamar were among artists up for awards.
Celebs help hurricane effort
Celebrities opened their wallets and donated hefty sums to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Tyler Perry pledged to donate $1 million to relief efforts in Houston. Drake joined his friend J.J. Watt and donated $200,000 to the football star’s fundraiser. Kevin Hart name-checked several famous friends on Instagram and “challenged” them to donate $25,000 to relief efforts. He ultimately donated $50,000. DJ Khaled accepted Hart’s challenge and donated $25,000 to Hart’s fundraising page for relief efforts. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Nicki Minaj, TI, Jamie Foxx, Bun B and Beyoncé also stepped up to the plate.
Bill Cosby on trial
The high-profile sexual assault trial in which Bill Cosby faced off against one of his dozens of accusers ended in a mistrial on June 17 after a Pennsylvania jury stayed hopelessly deadlocked, unable to come to a unanimous decision. The jury deliberated for six days before a judge announced the mistrial (reports claimed that two of the 12 jurors could not find him guilty). In the middle of all of this, the defense asked for a mistrial, but the judge refused to grant one and told the jury to keep talking it out to try to reach a “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict. The legendary funnyman, whose reputation is all but shot, was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand. He now faces a retrial in spring 2018.
- Kelly controversy
- Kelly was accused of holding women against their will and running an abusive sex “cult,” according to an investigative report by BuzzFeed News. The music star denied the claim. On July 17, a story was published alleging that R. Kelly, no stranger to bizarre stories, was housing half a dozen young women in properties in Chicago and Atlanta. Several women, supposedly part of the singer’s former inner circle, spoke about strict rules they had to follow. One woman, Joycelyn Savage, insisted she was not being held hostage and told her father to stop speaking about her to the media.
Kevin Hart scandal
Kevin Hart found himself on the wrong end of a cheating scandal in September after he was accused of being unfaithful to his pregnant second wife, Eniko Parrish. Without admitting it, he implied it was true. The whole thing went public after someone tried to extort Hart of $10 million to keep the cheating allegations – and a mysterious video – from seeing the light of day. Hart’s wife, who gave birth months after the scandal, stood by his side.
Janet Jackson has busy year
It was a whirlwind of a year for Janet Jackson, for better and for worse. On Jan. 3, she welcomed son Eissa. However, a mere three months later in early April, it was reported that Jackson and her husband of nearly five years, Wissam Al Mana, had split. Friends say the cultural differences between her and Wissam became even more obvious after the birth of their child. Janet was raised in the Jehovah’s Witness faith, while Wissam follows Islam. She started her “State of the World” tour in September.
Meghan Markle engaged
The world’s most eligible bachelor is officially no longer available. On Nov. 27, Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got engaged. The wedding will be in May 2018 at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The day the engagement was announced, Harry and Markle spoke together for the first time, telling the BBC that the proposal occurred at a cottage in Kensington Palace. The engagement sparked some racist backlash because Markle is a half-Black actress, a divorcee and three years older than the prince.