TFATWS specifically saw a man beat someone to death with one of the most iconic symbols in Marvel history, which came alongside a number of instances featuring blood and violence. Despite this, in an unprecedented move, Disney has gone back and edited the patriotic series to remove one of its darker scenes.
Brought to the attention of The Direct by Caleb Steel, eagle-eyed Reddit user u/MooninMoulin noticed that Disney has edited/censored The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, switching out a couple of bloody scenes with more family-friendly edits.
The first of these comes from the death of Hydra scientist Wilfred Nagel in Episode 3 of the series. Where there was once blood painted on Nagel’s face and shirt, there is now nothing. Also, instead of Nagel’s eyes remaining open, confirming his death, they are now closed.
Another altered shot focuses on a bounty hunter who, in the original edit, gets a pipe stabbed into her shoulder after Bucky Barnes throws it in her direction, thus pinning her to a shipping container. However, in the new version, that pipe bounces off the goon and goes flying, no longer piercing her flesh and the steel door behind her.
When you think ofSesame Street, you might envision a place where everyone’s singing and dancing without a care in the world, and nothing ever goes wrong.
This is a utopian land that’s far from the realities of many kids in real life, and over the years, the long-running children’s series has set out to rewrite its stories so younger viewers would find a character or experience they can connect with.
The newest muppet on the block is Ameera, an eight-year-old green puppet who has a spinal cord injury and now gets around with a wheelchair or crutches.
In spite of physical restrictions, Ameera continues to play basketball, one of her favorite sports. Being passionate about science, she’s also possibly one of the smartest kids in the neighborhood.
Ameera is witty and inquisitive, according to Sesame Workshop, Sesame Street’s educational nonprofit. “She’s everyone’s favorite comedian, and her great sense of humor serves her well as a natural leader who encourages others with her bright personality,” it adds. “Sometimes, Ameera gets too wrapped up in her own ideas and forgets to notice everyone else’s, but she always remembers that play and learning are most fun when she includes her friends’ ideas too.”
Sesame Workshop endeavors to provide early childhood education to kids affected by global crises. As such, Ameera will first appear on Ahlan Simsim (or Welcome Sesame), the Middle Eastern and North African edition of the show.
On a broader scale, Ameera will serve as a character that 240 million children with disabilities worldwide can look up to, in addition to encouraging young girls to get into STEM careers. And although she is not a refugee, she will shed light on the everyday experiences of displaced children, including Rohingya Sesame Street muppets Noor and Aziz.
Ameera’s character came to life with the help of inclusivity and disability advisors from the Middle East and the US, as reported by Mashable. Among them are occupational therapists, inclusive early educational experts, disability technical specialists, and people with disabilities.
A decade ago, K-pop had already established itself as a force in Asia and found niche audiences around the world. But it was soon turned into a truly global phenomenon after Psy’s YouTube-breaking “Gangnam Style” went viral in the summer of 2012. Powered by a galloping dance and bonkers music video, K-pop became a buzz word that even your American parents suddenly knew about.
Six months earlier in 2012, though, a very different effort at introducing Korean pop to Western audiences had played out in the form of a made-for-TV movie, starring a septet who’d actually marked K-pop’s debut on the Billboard Hot 100 three years earlier.
The Wonder Girls was a 40-minute film starring the Korean group of the same name, co-produced by K-pop company JYP Entertainment and Nick Cannon’s N’Credible company, which premiered on the TeenNick channel in February 2012. The story follows the outfit on their first tour of the United States, with the Wonder Girls — at the time consisting of Kim Yu-bin, Park Ye-eun, Woo Hye-rim, Ahn So-hee and Min Sun-ye, on top of Korean entertainment after a string of hit singles and equally big across Asia — exploring New York city and getting into assorted hijinks. It culminates with them entering a talent competition at the Apollo Theater (where they face off against an American group called School Gyrls, from a different Cannon-produced movie). It’s a fish-out-of-water story geared towards younger audiences.
The TV movie became a K-pop curio, an obscure bit of trivia for fans. Yet a decade later, as K-pop has grown into a major entertainment force in the U.S., The Wonder Girls special seems more like an important moment in the history of Korean entertainment trying to break America, and one hinting at how future groups and companies would vault to the top of music and social media charts.
“The whole point of this was to introduce American audiences to K-pop,” The Wonder Girls writer Krystal M. Harris tells Billboard. “The Wonder Girls were super huge, can’t-walk-down-the-street celebrities at the time in Korea – but over here, not so much…”
K-pop heavyweights had attempted to cross over into the States before Wonder Girls, but with little success. The singer Rain embarked on an ultimately doomed North American tour in 2007, while ‘00s superstar BoA released an English-language album in 2009, complete with hype-generating music videos, but was met with middling sales outside of her home region.
Wonder Girls had debuted in 2006 as the first girl group in Park Jin-young’s eponymous JYP Entertainment stable. They quickly gained popularity, before the 2008 retro-tinged number “Nobody” turned them into a greater regional force. Their ambitions grew.
“It was about January 2009 when we were invited to JYP’s U.S. concert as the opening guest, and we heard that people loved our performance,” former Wonder Girls’ member Kim Yu-bin, better known as Yubin, says via email to Billboard. “That’s when we started trying to enter the U.S. market.
The quintet became the first K-pop group to mount a serious push into the U.S. market. They signed with Creative Artists Agency and, in a preview of how Korean artists would come to use U.S. talk shows as a launch pad, appeared on The Wendy Williams Show to perform a song and quickly introduce themselves. Most notably, they served as one of the opening acts for The Jonas Brothers, then at the peak of their Disney-pop superstardom, on their 2009 U.S. tour.
It all would have just been a nice memory if Wonder Girls didn’t make history in the process. Propelled by the Jonas Brothers tour, “Nobody” debuted at number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100. That was the first time a K-pop artist ever appeared on the chart. “Towards the end of the tour, JYP told us we would be starring in a movie,” Yubin says.
The film needed a director, and it found one in music video director Ethan Ladern – who previously worked with artists such as B.o.B, OneRepublic and Bruno Mars. A producer he knew worked closely with Cannon, and he eventually was brought on to direct. “We were doing a grand introduction of the Wonder Girls to the States,” Ladder tells Billboard. It was obviously important that we wanted to show off their singing skills and their talent, and it was about making them really fun.”
Harris, meanwhile, had previously worked with Lader on music videos, and came on board initially as a cast director. First, though, everyone involved needed a first draft of the script to come in. “The script was…a bit offensive,” Harris says. “We were putting Koreans into America, and the script was relying on stereotypical jokes.” She stepped up and volunteered to take a look at it.
She cleaned up the rough bits – which, beyond racist gags, also included the main American character and love interest of member Yenny being named “DJ Nuts, or something relating to a man’s parts.” She changed his name to DJ Skillz, and tightened everything else up, all without losing the TeenNick vibe. “I didn’t have a huge background in anything Korean, but I know when something is a bit insensitive,” she says.
The Wonder Girls earned Harris her first professional writing credit. She still had to cast the film too, which presented further challenges. “It was a non-union film, so that means my talent pool was going to be a lot of green actors,” Harris says. She describes many auditions as “very, very interesting” – but with some diamonds present, such as Wes Aderhold, who was cast as DJ Skillz. “He just knew how to smolder in the right teen way.”
At the time, Aderhold was a fledgling actor based in Los Angeles with only a few credits to his name. “I obviously wanted to portray a DJ authentically, so I watched countless videos of DJs and went to my friends who spin and mix, and watch them,” Aderhold tells Billboard of how he prepared for shooting, alongside working with his acting coach at the time.
The Wonder Girls prepped too, for what would be one of their first forays into acting. “We took acting classes as a group and worked on our English pronunciation and language skills,” Woo Hye-rim, better known as Lim, tells Billboard through email. “Thankfully, our characters were based on our real-life personalities, so it wasn’t that hard to get into the character.”
Language, though, loomed as a challenge. Prior to shooting The Wonder Girls, the group had only needed to use English in a handful of promotional situations, like their aforementioned TV appearances (though Yubin spent part of high school in San Jose). “It was hard enough to act in Korean, but to act in English was even more challenging,” Yubin says. “There was a scene where we had to argue, and that was the most challenging for us. Just imagine having a serious argument with broken English. That was hilarious. It was really hard to keep a straight face.”
Lader, on the other hand, doesn’t remember there being many hurdles for the group – recalling early takes coming off as dry, but with everyone finding their rhythm gradually. “Actually, what I remember was during dress rehearsals, the girls already knowing everything by heart,” he says. “They came prepared and were ready to take the challenge.” Aderhold noticed the same professionalism while acting with them. “I don’t believe any of the girls had acted before. So there was this excitement of doing something for the first time and realizing they were really good at it. That was fun energy to play off of.”
Everyone interviewed about the actual filming of The Wonder Girls recalls it being fun, albeit frantic to finish everything in a short amount of time. Visual gags happened in the moment — including JYP, playing the role of overprotective manager, opting to wear silly pajamas and an eye mask in one scene — while unforeseen challenges like filming above a kickboxing gym added unforeseen stress (“Everytime the ‘ding’ happened between rounds, that’s when we shoot scenes,” Lader says).
“I want to say the Wonder Girls got like three hours of sleep, because they were shooting with us for 12, 15 hours, and then they’d rehearse their dance sequences and then they’d have to be back on set early in the morning,” Harris says.
Some of the fond memories stem from The Wonder Girls’ off-set freedom. Harris recalls the crew talking about making plans to go out, “and the girls were so excited about it because nobody was going to know who they were. They weren’t going to be hounded like they usually were when they went out. For this one moment in time, they were able to just be young women, having fun.”
The film premiered in February 2012, at a time when K-pop was taking more serious strides into the U.S. market. At the same time as The Wonder Girls, compatriots Girls’ Generation promoted their English-language release “The Boys” on American TV shows, including a somewhat surreal performance on The David Letterman Show with Bill Murray and Regis Philbin watching on. In July of that year, Wonder Girls shared their big swing at the English-language markets (and a number previewed in their movie), “Like Money,” featuring Akon and a video directed by Lader, featuring the Wonder Girls reimagined as cyborgs. While performing well on Korean charts, the song largely breezed by the intended American audiences.
Five days after that clip debuted, though, “Gangnam Style” appeared on YouTube. Its soon-to-be mega-success underlined something the K-pop industry had actually taken advantage of before and what would become necessary moving forward – easy access online. The Wonder Girls could only be viewed when TeenNick broadcast it (or through illegal streaming sites) in 2012. Currently, the best place to view it is on YouTube via fan uploads.
“I often watch the clips on YouTube — the movie makes me feel refreshed,” Yubin says, while Hyerim also says she revisits it via these unofficial uploads.
The lack of access hurt its overall reach, but The Wonder Girls did foreshadow an approach that would become crucial in K-pop’s future promotion — creating a shared bond between fan and performer. “Just like the message we give in the movie, we wanted to share our journey with our fans; the journey to success in the U.S. as a foreign idol group from South Korea,” Hyerim says.
Despite being scripted, the movie aimed to show new viewers who the members of this group were, while also giving existing fans a different perspective on their favorites. This approach is commonplace today, whether through social media or more slice-of-life offerings like Blackpink’s Netflix documentary or aespa’s New York trip diary (including a chat with Nick Cannon).
“In my experience, they were really the first time time a group came out like, ”I want to go to the States. I want to plant our flag, and have K-pop be recognized for how amazing it is,” Lader says. “Now flash forward to someone like BTS, and if there aren’t those forebearers leading the way, they don’t get the same opportunity.”
Lader is still directing music videos, for artists such as David Guetta and NLE Choppa, while working on other projects. Aderhold recently moved to New York to pursue artistic ambitions, and says that the last time he saw the movie “was two or three years ago…my friends put it on the big screen, while we were having mimosas.” Harris kept in touch with The Wonder Girls via Facebook for a bit after, and focused on her acting and writing career.
The Wonder Girls marked the first serious effort to introduce K-pop into the United States, a process that has paid off in recent years. Yet for Yubin, there’s something more personal to it: “The most fabulous thing is that the movie allowed me to reminisce about our time in the U.S. The people that I met during shooting the film and the experience that I was on the scene are unforgettably precious to me.”
The Wonder Girls never pushed too much into the U.S. market after 2012, and the group disbanded in 2017. While not held up as an important step in K-pop’s push into the United States, The Wonder Girls marked the moment of an industry’s ambitions becoming much more serious.
“It was a brand new market not only for our group, but for a K-pop group to debut in the U.S.,” Hyerim recalls. “Regardless of the result, I enjoyed the challenge as I believe it made our group stronger as a team and also left us with such a special memory. If I could turn back time, I would do the same without a doubt.”
In the final clip, Shawn Cotton continued speaking on his investments in unknown artists and admitted that most turn out to be a waste of money for him. He confirmed having a 70 percent loss rate when signing new artists before offering his thoughts on Post Malone’s rise. Check out the rest of the clip to hear DJ Vlad and Shawn Cotton discuss how they’ve been able to remain consistent amongst their peers.
In this clip, Kevin Samuels talked about why divorce rates are low among more affluent couples as opposed to more working-class people. Vlad described how he reinvented himself and became what Kevin would describe as a high-value man and how much things have changed for him as a result. Kevin also detailed why he doesn’t consider professional athletes and entertainers high-value men despite them being wealthy.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Rizo.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started? It all started when I was just a little kid. I loved getting up early to watch all the Saturday morning Cartoons and reading the newspaper comic strips that my dad would bring. My family is a very creative bunch and have always been supportive in the arts, so it was no surprise that I started to become interested in drawing. I was always drawing on any kind of paper I could get my hands-on like receipts, accidental print paper, napkins at restaurants while we waited for our food or getting in trouble at school for doodling animals on the math homework. My mom would take my sister and I often to the library and it was then when I discovered “how to draw” books. I couldn’t believe there was a book that could teach you how to draw animals and people. I was always leaving the library with too many books that my little body could carry, I mean I was just so excited! It was one particular trip to the library that I came across one of my first “art of” books. It was a wide landscape book that was popping out of the bookshelf, it caught my eye and I pulled it out. It was Tarzan art of book, I felt like I had just found gold. As I flipped through the pages, I was inspired by all the beautiful art that the book was filled with, from Character Design, Background paintings and visual development. Then I saw these very expressive animated drawings that Glen Kean had drawn, it read that he was a character animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios. That’s when I knew that I wanted to work in animation!
As I got older graduating from Highschool in 2010, I headed to Orange Coast Community College. My goal was to finish my GED and transfer to an art school or university. During this time, I learned about the college’s Narrative illustration program and the art center on campus. It was really awesome because that is where I met some of my closest friends and created such a fun art community. We each realized that we had the same goals of wanting to improve, work hard and do as much drawing as we could. Since we all wanted to up our skills and portfolios for art school, we started to attend CTN (Creative Talent Network) back in 2013. It was such a great time to meet artist that inspired us and get feedback on our work. Once I had a portfolio ready and GED done, I was accepted to Laguna college of art and Design. It was the closest art school in southern California and found that their animation program was great. Though I was thankful for some scholarships that I was able to receive, I still had to take on a big loan for the next four years. Being a first-generation Mexican- American, I have been fortunate to have love and support from my family the moment I knew I wanted to become an artist and of course, they were worried of the challenges that I would have to face but they were and have been always cheering me on. So, I felt that this was too much of a debt to take. I knew that a lot of these classes I could take Online and at community college. I wanted to make my parents proud and still get an education but with an affordable budget, we could manage.
I returned to Orange Coast to finish the Narrative Illustration program. Once I started this art journey, I knew I had to work a lot more in finding different kinds of resources to expand my knowledge of the fundamentals in animation and the industry. I was still keeping in touch with my close art friends and one of them ( Victor Calleja) had been attending Cal State Fullerton and they told me about a club called PMC (pencil Mileage club) The club would bring in speakers once a week, who have been working in animation/ illustration/ Entertainment and share their experience and journey. So, I would sneak into these events and take as much notes as I could, to just absorb as much knowledge. In 2015- 2016, I finished the Narrative illustration program and was thinking about the next step to take. I was still working on my portfolio and applying to any jobs or internships but all I got was rejection letters. Though I felt defeated, I knew that I had to keep pushing and work harder, I kept attending CTN every year and there I learned about Schoolsim courses run by Bobby Chiu. They were great because they offered classes with instructors who have worked in the animation industry at an affordable price! I also came across Chris Oatley Academy as well, what I loved about his courses was that he didn’t teach you how to draw but it was more about understanding the animation pipeline and expanding your knowledge in storytelling. Then Eva Lacy reached out to me on Instagram to see if I was interested in participating at her pop-up event called The Artist Lodge. She had seen my work and felt that I would be a good fit for it. I was nervous about it because I didn’t think people would be interested in buying my work but I took the chance and went for it. It was a great experience and gave me a lot of confidence and motivation to share more of my work on Instagram. As I kept posting my art online and shared my work, it leads an awesome opportunity to do some Freelance Character Design work on Unikitty T.V show at Warner Bros. Andrea Fernandez had found my art and passed my work along to Lyn Wang. I was thrilled they had reached out! Even though it was only for a short amount of time, it was a great experience and learned so much on the job.
At this time, I was working at Starbucks during the day and freelance at Night. Even though I was getting a taste of what it was like to work for a studio as a freelancer, my goal was to work at a studio full time. One-night PMC had a special alumni speaker event and had some really awesome artists to talk about their journey. One of them was Matt Roberts, a recruiter for Walt Disney. After that wonderful talk, I decided to introduce myself and share a visual development art book my partner and I made. He thought it was awesome and liked to work and kept it. We thought it was awesome and didn’t think much of it after that night. Time passed and one day Matt reached out to me and asked if I was interested in applying towards the storyboard apprenticeship program. I was happy he had reached out but also conflicted because I was focused on character Design and not story. But I took the “Leap of faith” and said yes. I had about 1-2omths to work on a storyboard portfolio. I was freaking out and stressed, for the next few weeks I did everything I could to learn about boards, references and thing of a story to tell for my portfolio. Once I wrapped that up, I applied and hoped for the best. A couple of weeks later, I was told I was accepted for an interview at the studio, and after that I received a call asking if I wanted to be part of the program and I said YES. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.
I joined the program in 2018 and it lasted a yearlong and it was the most fun and exciting experience. Though I felt like I was thrown at the deep end of the pool, I wasn’t alone. I got to work with such talented artists in the program with me, Allen Ostergar, Alishea Gibson, Hillary Bradfield and Morin Halperin. I learned so much from each of them and it was awesome to see a diverse group with different backgrounds pushing each other to learn as much as we could about storytelling. Also, some of the most talented and well-known artists became our mentors. Michael Herrera was my mentor and taught me so much. He pushed me to do my best and always was so encouraging and patient with me. After a year of training, the apprenticeship wrapped up in 2019 and it was time for my next adventure.
I was unemployed for about three months, but it wasn’t long till Sony reached out to me about a possible job opportunity working as a story artist. I had always admired Sony animation films and loved how fun and animated their stories so I was very excited. I later find out that the position was for the sequel on Spider-Verse! I owe many thanks for Miguel Jiron for passing my work along and be part of the Spidey team. I was so thrilled to be working with some incredible people like our Directors Justin Thompson and Joaquim Dos Santos, the story crew and art department have been such an inspiration and I am learning so much with this incredible team. I still can’t believe I have been so lucky to experience so much in such little time. I am very thankful for all the support I have had along the way from my friends, family, mentors, instructors who have been pushing me to do my best. I am forever grateful for everyone who has had faith in me becoming an artist because if it wasn’t for their endless support and motivation, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect? The challenges came from the choices I made from the get go. Since I didn’t take the traditional art school path, I had to find my own sources, community and classes. Post-Graduation, I started to work at Starbucks as a barista. I really enjoyed that time there because I was able to expand my communication skills and customer service. Though I enjoyed making latte foam art on customer drinks, I would daydream and wish I was at home drawing, working on my portfolio. There were days where I just felt defeated and time was just passing me by. I would spiral to think that perhaps it was a mistake that I didn’t attend Art school and things would have been easier? I kept feeling this pressure from my parents to make them proud even though they have been supportive of my career path, I still didn’t want to let them down.
What really helped to keep myself motivated was attending Speaker events, whether it be at Cal State Fullerton or gallery events and Workshops. As things started to look up when I started the Story Apprentice program at Disney, it was another challenge. Since I started college, my goal was to work as a Character Designer, I mean I really liked every aspect of the animation pipeline but creating characters was my sweet spot. So, when this opportunity came to me, it felt like I was thrown into the deep end of the pool. I had only learned how to “float” and there was so much for me to learn about being a Story artist. I feel very fortunate to have had a great mentor along the way to help me understand and have a voice with my art. I feel very blessed to have these opportunities come my way, but I will say that each one comes with their own challenges and obstacles that help us learn and grow as artists.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work? I am a Character Designer and Story artist working in the Animation industry for Film & T.V.
I specialize in creating Character Design and Stories that have emotion, energy and giving characters life. I like to exaggerate emotions with drawings and it’s fun to see how people connect with these designs.
I am known for drawing lots of animal character designs and illustrations. I have a lot of fun learning about animals and creating characters, whether it be that they are drinking coffee or skateboarding.
I am most proud of how far along I’ve come. Being a First-Generation Queer Mexican-American Women, I feel blessed to have these opportunities come my way. I am always so great full for those who have believed in me and that my work has impacted them in some kind of way.
Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us? I would say the most important thing I have learned along my journey is taking that “leap of faith”. There were times that I was just afraid of failing or not trying something because I felt that I was not ready for it. It is not easy but you have to follow that gut feeling.
In the latest clip, BG Knocc Out offered his thoughts on the multiple incidents of anti-Asian violence occurring in the United States. He started by remembering the death of Latasha Harlins, whose death at the hands of a Korean store owner sparked the anger that eventually led to the Rodney King riots. BG Knocc Out spoke out against today’s anti-Asian violence and talked about a time where he defended two Asian kids in juvenile hall. To hear more, check out the above clip.
Famed comedian Godfrey opened up to VladTV about the media seemingly choosing to focus on one black comedian at a time. He explained that it definitely seems that way in the industry, and Godfrey added that he’s even asked to be more like Kevin Hart or Chris Rock when he goes out for auditions.
During the conversation, Godfrey also spoke about black female comedians not getting any respect in the industry, and being tired of people saying that black comedians are bitter.
To hear more, including growing up in Chicago, hit the above clip.
In this clip, Vlad explains to Godfrey why Jewish people have historically held jobs like lawyers and doctors throughout history and across regions. Later, Godfrey tells why he thinks Nick Cannon did the right thing by apologizing for his antisemitic comments and how the black community ultimately needs to establish self-sustaining communities like the Jews.
In this clip, Faizon Love and Vlad continued their discussion about Bruce Lee and Michael Jai White. Faizon reiterated that martial arts is more about skill and technique than brute strength, which he thinks would pose an impediment for Michael if he were to fight someone like Bruce Lee. Faizon also pointed out that Bruce Lee deserves his respect for teaching martial arts in Oakland during the height of the Black Power era which wasn’t the environment for someone who couldn’t hold their own.