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Multiracial Mixed Woman

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SWIRL KITCHEN: EASY PULLED PORK TACOS


Easy Pulled Pork Tacos:

Beautiful image via Pinterest

Beautiful image via Pinterest

  • White corn tortillas (fresher, the better)
  • Trader Joe's Pulled Pork (cooked according to package directions)
  • Freshly chopped Cilantro
  • Pico de gallo or Mango Salsa

Assemble. Add queso fresco and/or avocado as a tasty garnish.

Done!

Beautiful image via Pinterest

Beautiful image via Pinterest


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SWIRL KITCHEN: VEGAN TACO SALAD


I love most kinds of food, but I definitely find myself craving the flavors and different options that ethnic foods offer. My world has really only recently been opened to ethnic food, but so far it has been a magical journey full of delicious foods. I’ve only scratched the surface of my ethnic food options, but I also don’t live in a very ethnically diverse area that demands quality food. Of all the foods I love though, my go-to for cooking myself is Mexican (or what we Americans call Mexican).

 

About two years ago I decided to try eating a vegan diet. I have digestive issues and I was told I was lactose intolerant many years ago (I chose to ignore it for a long time, but the older I get, the harder it is to ignore). Alas, a few weeks after cutting out dairy and meat, my stomach was already feeling better. Since then, I’ve done my best to stick with it and the easiest meal to make is usually some sort of Mexican dish. Basically, you can put a bunch of veggies, beans and rice together with some guacamole in a bowl, some tacos, or a burrito and you have yourself a delicious meal.

 

Recently, I was craving guacamole (which I do pretty much every day), but was also in the mood for salad. I decided to try my hand at a taco salad and was not disappointed. The salad quickly rose to the top of my Mexican dish list and I will probably make it once a week for several weeks in a row. I didn’t follow any exact recipe and you can find some really good ones out there on the interwebs, but here’s basically what I did:

  • ½ red pepper - diced into ¼ inch squares or in strips
  • ½ yellow pepper
  • ½ green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bag of baby spinach or whatever greens you like
  • A bit of your favorite salsa or some pico de gallo
  • 1 bag Beyond Meat Feisty “Beef” Crumbles (or you can use a 15oz can of black beans or 1lb of hamburger meat or chicken)
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (it’s also pretty easy to find a recipe to make a healthier version yourself)
  • ½ cup of Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing - I used about ¾ cup of vegan mayonnaise instead of cashews and added a bit more smoked paprika and a bit more cumin. Just add little pinches and keep tasting it. To be honest, the dressing doesn’t taste that great by itself, but mixed with the other ingredients, it takes the salad to another level. Another very delicious level! You can also use a different dressing like a Southwest Ranch or an Avocado Lime. Both would be amazing!

In a large pan, saute all the veggies together with some olive oil. Once they are soft sprinkle a bit of the taco seasoning on them until they are evenly coated to your liking.

In the other pan, make the Feisty Crumbles according the the directions. Once they are heated through, add about ¾ of the taco seasoning and ½ cup water. Cook for about 5-7 more minutes until the water is absorbed. If using beans, drain and rinse them first. Then cook for a few minutes and add ½ the packet of seasoning or less depending on what you like. If using meat, brown or cook thoroughly. Then following the directions on the seasoning.  

Put a layer of greens down, then meat, then veggies, salsa, avocado and dressing. Voila! A delicious taco salad that satisfies the Mexican and salad cravings wonderfully!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!! Enjoy!!


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BACON WRAPPED CHEESY JALAPENOS


Photo from Sally's Baking Addiction, click photo for original recipe. 

Photo from Sally's Baking Addiction, click photo for original recipe. 

I love bacon. I actually don’t really trust anyone who doesn’t love bacon. Now that I eat ketogenic (high fat, moderate protein, and low carbs) I have to get a little bit creative with my Cinco De Mayo choices, but I can eat all the bacon I want so I present you with Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers! I found this recipe on Pinterest originally and tweaked it a little bit, it is super easy and super delicious!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 fresh jalapeño peppers
  • 2tbsp cream cheese (softened to room temperature or I used whipped cream cheese)
  • 1tbsp of shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
  • 3 slices of bacon cut in half
  • 6 toothpicks

 

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

 

Cut the stems off of the jalapenos and then slice the peppers in half. Clean out the ribs and all of the seeds.

 

Mix the cream cheese and shredded cheese together and stuff the peppers. Take ½ a slice of bacon and wrap it around the pepper and secure with a toothpick. You could probably actually use a whole piece of bacon and really wrap that pepper up! 

 

Place them in a baking dish (I used a square glass pan) and bake them for about 30 minutes or until the bacon looks crispy.

 


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SWIRL MUSIC: PRINCE AND BEYONCE


This week we're all sharing our favorite Prince moments in memory of the icon's passing. 

I had my own Prince moment about 15 years ago. My friend Staci and I were dancing at a club in Denver called The Church when all of a sudden a man with gold plated ears (yes, seriously...) came up and tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for us to go with him. For whatever reason we trusted this strange man lol and we followed him up to the balcony and when we got there Prince was standing there. I don't even remember if we talked to him, but I do remember him spending the majority of the night talking to a guy a in a wheelchair and he seemed like a really kind person. I'm glad I at least got to share the same air with him that night. 57 is definitely too soon to go. 

Enjoy a week full of some of the moments in his life we are most obsessed with. I am starting with Prince and Beyonce, because of course I am obsessed with Bey and the two of them together were incredible. 


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SWIRL STYLE: AFRICAN INSPIRED SWIMSUITS


Getting cheeky with it!

Getting cheeky with it!

It’s swimsuit season! This might not be exciting to everyone, but I live at the beach and if I could I would only wear swimsuits 24/7. A lot of people like a classic swimsuit, but I love color and prints. Some of my favorite prints come from designers like Trina Turk, Nanette Lepore, Mara Hoffman, and Maaji.


Many of them have an North African, specifically Moroccan, influence to the prints and colors. Nordstrom has some really beautiful ones right now. I probably have 30 swimsuits in my closet right now, but I can always use a few more:)

Btw as I was putting this post together a couple weeks ago I was pretty disappointed that Nordstrom didn't have much diversity in their swimsuit models. I think diversity in skin tone as well as body type would be a very welcome change in my opinion. As went and looked again today I found a couple new suits that still fit the theme with more diverse models you can see below! Now we just need some curvy bodies in there! I feel like fashion thinks everyone is either stick thin or plus size, but most of us are actually somewhere in between! 

What's your favorite swimsuit trend?


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SWIRL SKIN: EMINENCE CLEAN SKIN PROBIOTIC MASK


I love pampering my skin. There is nothing like a good facial mask to make me feel and look refreshed.

One of my favorite skin care brands is Eminence. They are an organic line that has been around since 1958. Obviously, with that many years of experience, they know their shit.

Their skin products are handmade and free of parabens, animal by-products, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfates, harmful colorants and fragrances, mineral oils, petroleum, and other harsh cosmetic chemicals. You could probably eat their stuff - but don't.

I love their Clean Skin Probiotic Mask. Probiotics are great for your body so why not your face? Plus, my Hapa skin doesn't break out from it! Key ingredients include Yogurt, Cucumber, Marigold, Kaolin Clay, Stone Crop,Tea Tree Oil, and BioComplex™: a booster of antioxidants, vitamins, Coenzyme Q10, and Alpha Lipoic Acid.

In my opinion, it's an amazing mask! It has done wonders for my complexion.


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SWIRL HAIR: THANK YOU DRY BAR


DryBar Plano, TX to be specific...

I’m sure I’ve mentioned DryBar in previous post. DryBar, oh how I love thee!  Let me count the ways:

My stylist Deandra! 

My stylist Deandra! 

1.       Décor (beadboard, grey/white/yellow color scheme, tufting, vintage photos of glamorous women)

2.       Girly movies always on cue (Bridesmaids, Mean Girls, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, etc.)

3.       You open at 7 a.m. (I can get a blowout before work)

4.       Champagne, tea, water, and other refreshments on tap

5.       The scalp massage

6.       Efficiency

7.       The cost is worth it (Your time and sanity will be sooooo appreciative)

8.       My girl, Deandra…


My hair in its natural state...


Below are some tips and tricks for blowing out highly textured (fancy for nappy) hair.

 

Stylist/Miracle Worker: Deandra

·       Separate hair into sections

·       Comb out sections before you go in with brush

·       Start with front, work your way back

·       Make sure you work product evenly through hair, her favorites include Velvet Hammer Smoothing Cream and 100 Proof Treatment Oil (she mixes them together) with a wet brush

·       After working product through, twist each section to hold the moisture

·       Use a boar-bristle brush when blowing out the hair

·       Get the hair as straight as possible with the dryer

·       Smooth, curl, and add shine with a flatiron

The finished product...


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SWIRL HAIR: CURL CONTROL


SWIRL HAIR CURL CONTROL via Swirl Nation Blog

My hair is weird. I used to have long straight hair as a child. Then it decided to start waving up and frizzing. Now it's a cross between a loose curl and wave. WTF, is that even? Can we all say #HapaProblems?  Luckily, there are hair products to help. Hallelujah. 

I'm big on Deva Curl and Miss Jessie's. Both products are 100% no sulfate, parables, and no animal testing. 

What's the difference you might ask? Deva Curl is much more of a process and can take longer to style your hair. The results are worth it. However, with Miss Jessie's you can throw the product in and go. I love Miss Jessie's during the summertime when I don't want to use a diffuser. Either product is a great choice, and they both offer a variety of products for your specific curl type! 

SWIRL HAIR CURL CONTROL via Swirl Nation Blog

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CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN FLATS FOR EVERY SKIN TONE

For Spring 2016, Christian Louboutin introduces a pointy-toe ballet flat for every skin tone.

Christian Louboutin Pointy Flats For All Skin Tones by Swirl Nation Blog

Big cheers to designer Christian Louboutin for his new line of flats in a line of nude tones that encompass a wide range of skin tones from "porcelain Nude #1" and "deep chocolate Nude #7." In total there are seven shades and three styles to choose from; the shoes went on sale this week.

"The expansive collection ensures that every woman can find a nude perfectly suited to her complexion," the company first announced in a statement in January.

Like the brand's other shoes, the new nude colors don't come cheap. The pointy-toe ballet flat Solasofia, for example, is priced at $595. I haven't tried them on yet so I can't speak to their comfort, but I will always applaud inclusiveness especially in the world of fashion where it is often lacking. I agree completely with this Facebook fan:

"Designers often treat nude like it's a synonym for light tan, thereby excluding women of color," one Facebook user wrote. "So it's good news that Christian Louboutin has expanded its nudes collection, adding a larger spectrum of skin-tone shades to ensure that no matter what your ethnicity, you can find a shoe to match your complexion."

Who else is running out to buy them?!

Christian Louboutin Pointy Flats For All Skin Tones by Swirl Nation Blog

 

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SWIRL STYLE: MARA HOFFMAN'S MEXICAN INFLUENCE


SWIRL STYLE MARA HOFFMAN'S MEXICAN INFLUENCE via Swirl Nation Blog
SWIRL STYLE MARA HOFFMAN'S MEXICAN INFLUENCE via Swirl Nation Blog

I love color and long dresses so when I saw Mara Hoffman’s new Spring line I was instantly in love. One small problem is that in my experience Mara’s clothes are made for women with zero boobs so for now I will just admire the pictures. The campaign was shot in Mexico and you can see the Mexican influence in the prints and colors she chose for the collection. Makes me want to pack my bags and head to Tulum!


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DIVERSE TV PICKS: EMPIRE


My biggest guilty pleasure on television, aside from my all-time favorite show New Girl, has got to be Fox’s Empire. I love this show for several reasons and the easiest way to explain is with a list. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, but be warned; if you have never watched and want to be surprised, you might want to read with caution.

  • First, and most importantly, I love the diversity of the cast. You have this powerful African American family, which is fantastic. Then, one of the sons, Andre, is married to a white woman (Kaitlin Doubleday) and the main character, Lucious, was going to marry a mixed race woman (Grace Gealey). The supporting cast is also diverse with Cookie’s Hispanic love interest (Adam Rodriguez) and Marisa Tomei plays Lucious’ high-powered business partner, Mimi. In the first part of season two, Hakeem’s love interest is also Hispanic. I really feel that the writers are trying their best to accurately portray the diverse world that we live in today. I think it’s fantastic and makes for very entertaining television because it seems so real.

  • The show also deals with a variety of really tough issues that also make it incredibly relatable. One of Lucious’ sons is gay and homophobia is a big issue in the African American community. I love that the writers take the time to play out the dynamic between Lucious and Jamal and that they show their past struggles. The writers also bring in the issue of mental illness with Andre’s huge breakdown and I think it is incredibly important for audiences to see. In my opinion, mental illness isn’t dealt with very well in this country and I really appreciate when mainstream shows use their characters to showcase just how damaging it can be and how it can happen to anyone.

  • Despite some of it’s cheesy, over-the-top drama, the show is highly entertaining. I am not usually one to continually watch shows every week, but this one I can’t stop watching. I always want to know what is going to happen to the Lyon family!

  • The music is pretty great and I’ve even found myself listening to the soundtrack on Pandora. Jussie Smollett can sing!!

  • The celebrity guest appearances are also pretty great. They’ve had Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, and Jennifer Hudson, to name a few, and it really adds an interesting and exciting layer to the show.

  • And lastly, Cookie Lyon. She is, hands down, my favorite character. She is brave, outspoken and fiercely loyal. She is also strong, confident and passionate, but always goes out of her way to help others. I love her colorful outfits and that she just doesn’t take shit from anyone. She always has a plan that usually revolves around making sure that her sons become the artists and people that they want to be. The writers wrote an incredible character and Taraji P. Henson, does an amazing job bringing her to life.

 

Without sounding as though Fox paid me to write this (which they did not), I have to say that it really is a great show. The writers and producers have crafted a unique story and done a great job with casting a diverse set of talented actors and actresses.


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DIVERSE TV PICKS: BANSHEE


DIVERSE TV PICKS BANSHEE via Swirl Nation Blog

You might tune in to the Cinemax crime drama Banshee for the high-octane fight scenes featuring its usually shirtless leading man, Antony Starr. But you should stay for Job, the cross-dressing hairstylist-turned-computer hacker played by actor Hoon Lee. Landing somewhere between fierce and fearsome, the character gives the dark series.  

Hoon Lee (born 1973 in Plymouth, Massachusetts) is an American actor who currently plays the role of Job on the Cinemax series Banshee and voices Hamato Yoshi / Splinter in the animated Nickelodeon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and plays the role of the King in The King and I on Broadway.

Lee graduated from Harvard University in 1994. He appeared in 2001 in the Broadway production of Urinetown. He played many roles over the years until he was cast as Rosencrantz in a musical version of Hamlet. In 2008, Lee won a Theatre World Award for Distinguished Performance in Yellow Face.

In television, Lee got his first role as Dr. Mao in an episode of Sex and the City in 2003. He also made guest appearances in Law & Order, Fringe, Royal Pains, White Collar and other series. He also had small roles in movies such as Saving Face, We Own the Night and The Oranges.

In early 2012, Lee made a cameo in Premium Rush. In March 2012, he was cast as Job, a crossdressing computer hacker, in Banshee.

On June 18, 2015, it was announced that Lee will succeed Jose Llana in the role of the King of Siam in Lincoln Center's Tony-winning revival of The King and I. Lee formally joined the cast on September 29, 2015.

The Cinemax action series Banshee tells the story of Lucas Hood (Antony Starr), an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, PA.  It’s the perfect cover for him to try to win back the love of his life (Ivana Milicevic) and hide out from the dangerous gangster (Ben Cross) that they both betrayed years earlier, while attempting not to get into too much more trouble.

During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actor Hoon Lee – who plays the bad-ass transvestite computer hacker named Job (truly one of the best new characters on television), that assists Lucas in his criminal enterprises – talked about what attracted him to the very unique role, how the look for the character came about, doing action scenes in heels, Job’s great dialogue, his favorite episodes this season, and the courage in Job’s lifestyle and choices.  He also talked about voicing Splinter for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Collider:  When this character was presented to you, did you have any idea just how fabulous he would be?
HOON LEE:  I liked the character, right away.  There’s a lot happening with him and there’s just so many places to explore.  That’s not something you always find in a role.  If it’s something that you look at and it’s very easily understood, on the first pass, there’s a good chance it could be kind of flat.  So, when you look at a character and you’re like, “Wow, that’s really unexplored terrain for me and there’s a lot happening here and different angles to him,” and you’re not sure what his motives are, you’ve got a good shot at working towards something interesting.  
How was Job described on paper, when you got the character description?
LEE:  I got a couple different descriptions.  I think the one that really stuck out to me, at the beginning, was the one that said, “A beautiful Asian woman who we don’t realize is a man until he speaks.”  That was the bit that had me speaking to my agent and asking him, “They know what I look like, right?  I know some men who make really beautiful women, and that’s not me.”  But, they had a sense of the attitude they wanted from the character and the combination of fierce and strong, but also something really intriguing and different.  That’s what I fastened onto the most.  In the various descriptions that were floated to me, that’s really what started to emerge, more and more.  They wanted a character that really had a ferocity and a core of strength, to be coupled with this more feminine and technical presentation.   
How did the look for this character come about?
LEE:  The design team, as a whole, and Patia Prouty, specifically, who was our lead costume designer, have really co-authored this character.  We explored a lot of it together, over a period of time, and we’re still doing that.  I think we’ve got a much better read than when we first started, for what the character is going to be like, visually.   It was really exciting to be able to collaborate on that.  
Do you ever worry about hurting yourself while doing action scenes in the wardrobe and shoes?
LEE:  Oh, god, yes!  I have no idea how women do it!  I don’t know how they regularly walk around in heels, to be honest.  It’s such a precarious thing, but the team is always very safety first.  In general, there’s a lot of concern from the production side about your safety and well being, and it’s the actors who go, “No, we can do it!  Just go!”  They’re careful about how the fights are choreographed, so I would always have the opportunity to look out for my own safety, and that was great.  So, I never felt in danger.  It was really more of a question of a certain level of comfort in the outfit itself.  That’s something I’m working on.  Hopefully, we’ll all be better off, in future episodes.  
Did they want to see what you’d look like in wardrobe, at any point during the audition process?
LEE:  No, they never asked me for that.  Maybe other people feel differently than I do, but I always feel like, when you go into an audition, your best chance at success is to be as comfortable as you can be.  Some people I know, who went after this role, who were friends of mine, did present in drag or in make-up.  If that’s how they feel connected to the character, then that’s what works for them.  But, I know for myself that I often feel like I can’t second-guess the way that they are envisioning the character.  I don’t know what the character looks like to them, so if I take a guess at it, I could be 180 degrees in the wrong way.  So, it’s generally more helpful for me to just be confident and comfortable, going into the audition.  Hopefully, I’ll give them enough that they can imagine the rest.  
Is Job an easy character to get into the mind-set of, or does the wardrobe help?
LEE:  It’s really complimentary.  There’s a back-and-forth in the development of the character.  It really does start with the script.  I’m very, very thankful and grateful to the writers, Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler, and also the executive team, as a whole, with Greg [Yaitanes], Alan [Ball] and Peter [Macdissi], ‘cause they put something down on the page that was really exciting and interesting, and then they were open enough to allow me to have a conversation about that.  So, it really starts on the page, but I felt like the writers wrote a character that has a lot of runway.  As we started to develop looks, and tried endless hair and make-up tests, it started to inform the performance.  And as the performance started to become clearer in my mind, that started to lead to more concrete ideas for the presentation.  
Was there extra thought given to how Job would look, the first time viewers got to see him?
LEE:  Oh, yeah, definitely!  There’s a real drama to the character.  The character is a showman, or a showgirl, on several levels.  He’s very conscious about his appearance and his presentation.  It’s an extremely extroverted presentation.  It never felt like it was simply, “This is what I feel.”  As with drag queens, not to generalize, but there’s often a performance quality, which is often why they do it or how they get involved, a lot of the time.  So, there is a performance quality to Job and it’s part of his identity as a renegade and an outlier.  
Will viewers learn how Job got connected to Lucas Hood (Antony Starr) and Rabbit (Ben Cross)?
LEE:  I think so.  I can’t be sure because the storytelling aspect of it is something best left to the writers, directors and editors.  Being a new show, it’s something that is an evolving process for people.  I do think they have a very strong point of view on it, with when to use the flashbacks, and how much to reveal when.  I’d be leary about commenting with any certainty about what the end result will be, over the course of the season, but the central theme of Banshee, to a large extent, is that nothing is as it seems.  In a lot of ways, it is a very classic, modern American story.  The flashbacks will be informative because it’s a thematic of the show that you will learn new and surprising information about these characters that maybe is counter to what you think you know about them.  
You’ve had some great lines on this show.  Is all of that scripted, or do you ever improvise any of it?
LEE:  I’m biased, clearly, but I feel like Job has a lot of the good lines.  There’s a lot of great interaction with him and Sugar (Frankie Faison), in particular.  I wish I could take credit, but the writers are so good that it would be foolish of me.  Then they would actually make me improvise.  They’d be like, “You think you’re so smart?  You do it!”  They certainly are extremely accommodating and open to collaboration and conversation.  I think we’ve got a collection of smart actors that are able to help the scenes along.  It’s a very self-sacrificing bunch, as well.  You often take your cue from your leads, and Antony [Starr] is the first one to say, “You know what?  Maybe we should give this line to Job.  This doesn’t seem like something Lucas needs to say.”  I think that that’s all a great tribute to the fact that everybody is driving towards the best product possible.  I’m just hoping that the writers continue to enjoy writing for job ‘cause that’s what I feel, coming across the page.  They have a good time writing for him.  
Do you have a favorite episode from this season?
LEE:  It’s tough to say, really.  We had this great opportunity, which sometimes is considered a luxury, in that we had a lot of our scripts, early in the process, and the writers had a good handle on the full season, right from the beginning.  On the one hand, that was great for us because it gave us the opportunity to think in a larger arc.  Particularly with new material, a new show and new characters, it would have been very easy to get trapped in a moment-to-moment mentality.  But, on the other hand, as a result, I feel like each episode really slots in like a puzzle piece, so it’s hard to pick out one that I feel is my favorite.  Even the ones that I’m not in, I really enjoyed hearing about them and reading the scripts and dropping by and seeing what was happening because there are set-ups for the things that come later and pay-offs for the things that have come before.  I think that Episodes 9 and 10, which is our season finale, are just going to be really spectacular.  They’re going to answer a lot of questions, but it’s very much the pay-off for the season.  They were really amazingly fun to shoot, and it’s where a lot of the characters come together, some for the first time.  It was great to be able to work in that environment and feel like we were all coming together.  
If everybody manages to make it through the season in one piece, is this a character that you’re looking forward to getting to explore some more in Season 2?
LEE:  Oh, absolutely!  I hope it’s somebody that people feel resonates with them and that they can identify with, for different reasons.  I certainly feel that way.  I don’t consider myself, in real life, to be a mirror of Job, but Job is somebody that I think, in a lot of ways, is forging his own reality in the world, and that’s something that a lot of us struggle with.  There’s a courage to his lifestyle and his choices that I think a lot of us wish we could make.  That doesn’t necessarily have to do with his appearance, his gender-bending, or anything else.  He’s just saying, “This is who I am and I’m going to put that out there.”  To a certain extent, he’s also saying, “This is who I think I am today, and I’m going to put that out there.  Tomorrow it might be different.”  I find that quality really admirable.  He’s certainly just a blast to play.  But, I think it’s a character that’s going to polarize a lot of people, too.  At the end of the day, if someone looks at a character like Job and can say, “There’s something there that I really understand,” than that would be great.  That’s somewhat the point.  
What’s it been like to also voice Splinter on the Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles animated series?
LEE:  This past year was such a blessing, in so many ways.  I grew up with comic books and cartoons and action movies.  To find myself in the position to do work in these mediums, and to work with a character like Job that does feel unique and like someone I can make my own, is just an opportunity I couldn’t have even asked for.  It’s just pure luck, really.  When we went to Comic-Con with  Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles, the turn-out was so great that I was like, “Oh, okay, this is going to do all right.”  It just was so clear that people had grown up with these characters and loved them.  I did, too, but I wasn’t sure if people had outgrown it.  But, I’m glad we haven’t.  I’m glad we’re all immature together.

Banshee airs on Friday nights on Cinemax.

Interview by Christina Radish www.collider.com


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DIVERSE TV PICKS: THE WALKING DEAD


When I choose films or TV to watch, I tend to lean towards the survival genre.  It gets my blood pumping and my brain thinking, “what would I do in that situation?” I’m not a dooms day prepper, but I do want Lasik and a gun.  I know, super random, but both would increase my chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse… Which brings me to my favorite show on television: The Walking Dead. 

DIVERSE TV PICKS THE WALKING DEAD via Swirl Nation Blog

After the initial season, you realize zombies are not as much of a threat.  I mean, these aren’t sprinting, agile, World War Z zombies.  World War Z zombies are scary.  The Walking Dead zombies are remnants of once-humans, decaying flesh, no brain functioning, slow, bumbling, basically, you can get around them.  Once you realize this, you understand that the other surviving humans are the real threat.  The show questions good, bad, who is a leader, surviving vs. living.  The main cast is very diverse and next to Shonda Rhimes’ shows, must employ the most actors of color.

I love the theme of surviving vs. living.  The survivors of the show are constantly looking over their shoulder, utilizing their “fight or flight” senses.  They are constantly seeing loved ones die and other humans doing very bad things.  They are also always making actual life-or-death decisions.  It must be like how the first humans lived; however, the first humans didn’t have a life of cell phones, cars, and grocery stores to compare to before they had to survive.  Is surviving living?  If your whole family is dead, who are you building the new world for, and why?  The show gets you thinking in this way and I love it.

The first seasons of the Walking Dead are available on Netflix and make for great binge-watching.  Let us know what you think of the show.


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DIVERSE TV PICKS! ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Oh Brook, We Love You Soso


Jessica Miglio/Netflix

Jessica Miglio/Netflix

...Okay, maybe not love love, but let’s just say I finally relate to Brook Soso after Season 3 of “Orange is the New Black,” which came out last June for all of our Netflix junkie viewing pleasure. I’m not going to lie, instead of eating lunch with my work buddies, I would sneak off to power through an episode. Yes, this post is a little late on the TV front, but one exchange from this season stuck with me. Well, two if you count, “Trust no bitch,” but I’m going to lay out the one that really stuck with me.

 

The episode I really enjoyed in Season 3 was “Ching Chong Chang,” despite the title, maybe because of the title, I’m on the fence about it since the whole show is a series of stereotypes and no one, not even the white people, get spared. So maybe it gets a pass. Also I was really excited to see Chang get her own episode. But anyway, the exchange that stuck is one that takes place between Chang (Lori Tan Chinn), and her cellmate, Soso (Kimiko Glenn)... I should also mention that both of these actors are pretty phenomenal.

 

Soso: “You know what sucks? Belonging to a race that doesn’t commit enough low value crimes to be relevant in a place like this. Where’s my big Asian prison family?”
Chang: “You Scottish.”
Soso: “Not to white people I’m not. One drop of ethnic blood and bam I’m basically made in China like you and my toothbrush.”
Chang: “You Scottish.”

 

I usually try not to laugh out loud when I’ve got headphones on and I’m hiding from my fellow employees during my lunch hour, but this brief conversation made me break my rule about laughing. It was just so unexpected--up until this point in “Orange is the New Black,” the only remarks about Soso have been related to her ethnic and racial ambiguity, how smelly she is, or her “Asian-ness” for lack of a better term. But in this scene, Chang’s rejection of Soso as a fellow Asian is so blunt, matter-of-fact, and complete. Frankly, I was surprised that the writers were insightful enough to throw this issue into the ring. Even briefly.

 

As a person of mixed Asian and white heritage, I’ve been caught in these sorts of situations. You know, the type where you try to fit in and you feel like you identify with your Asian roots and/or your white roots and then suddenly someone slams the door in your face and essentially tells you, “No, you’re not part of this club.” I’ve heard experiences like this echo over the mixed airwaves both in real life and social media, but this is the first time I’ve seen it done in the mainstream world of film and television.

 

In fact, Soso might be a first for mainstream media. Because let’s face it--usually, if there is a person of mixed Asian descent in a movie or on TV, their heritage is not a topic of discussion and they’re going to be playing a character who is supposed to be only Asian… Or they’re on the SyFy channel on some show where part Asian people are considered the “future.” Surprise, we’re already here.

 

Initially it was difficult for me to jump on board the Brook Soso train because I was so excited to finally see a character on TV who might, just might, have a similar background to me and they were even acknowledging that background on the show… And then she turned out to be really annoying. It wasn’t just her overly enthusiastic personality, but her whole schtick about protesting and the fact that she was basically a spoof of twenty-something college-educated kids around my age. You know, the “socially responsible” ones who like to recycle, save the earth, and go to Coachella (no offense). My hopes for a half Asian character who made people think a little harder about ethnic and racial identity were crushed.

 

But then Season 3 happened. And finally, we see her not just as a caricature or a stereotype, which is how most of the characters on “Orange is the New Black” tend to appear at first glance, but as a person. A person with a deep-seated need to be liked and accepted, so much so that she becomes mired in a pervasive, life threatening depression when no one will befriend her. And though at first glance it doesn’t seem to have to do so much with her ethnic background as it does her personality, I can’t help but feel like the former does play a large role.

 

The inmates and even the prison’s employees can’t figure out how to categorize her: they expect her to fit into Asian stereotypes, like being quiet and submissive or smart and sneaky. And on the flip side, Chang thinks of Soso as just another white inmate. Soso’s lack of belonging makes it impossible to form any initial connections that might lead to friendships. And it’s heartbreaking. Because I get it.

 

Just from my own experience of meeting new people, I can’t help but have an underlying feeling of anxiety that sort of goes like this if I were to put it into words: “Are they going to ask me what I am? If I tell them, will they try to make me speak Japanese? Should I not tell them at all? Do I have the energy to defend myself? Do I even want to? What if they’re right?”

 

We, being people of mixed roots, don’t typically have the luxury of a common cultural background to help us form friendships. Oftentimes, we’re stuck trying to over explain ourselves and failing to get through to anyone. And even if there happened to be a group of mixed people to hang out with, we’re never going to be all the same mix, though it can be easier to find commonalities in our experiences to bond over. But seeing a mixed character like Soso put in a prison where race pretty much defines all of the character’s friendships amplifies the tension that I think a lot of mixed people feel on a daily daily basis.

 

So where do we belong? I’m going to be honest, I’m still trying to work it out. I think other people are too, and that might be why it’s finally getting a little acknowledgment in mainstream media, like on “Orange is the New Black.” It’s exciting to see that this show has invested time into telling a mixed character’s story and that it’s finally giving her more dimension in this latest season. Brook Soso isn’t the most adeptly written character ever, with her strange last name that sounds sort of Asian but really isn’t and that flashback to her piano playing days with her stereotypical Asian mother (let’s leave those topics for a later date), but I do think she is soso a step in the right direction.








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DIVERSE TV PICKS: QUANTICO


One of my favorite new shows is Quantico. Quantico is about a bunch of sexy, young FBI recruits who have come to the base for special agent training. They are all super accomplished, but of course, they are also all full of secrets. The premise is that one of the recruits was actually the mastermind behind 911 and the show tries to figure out who is the terrorist.

DIVERSE TV PICKS QUANTICO via Swirl Nation Blog

The cast is very diverse, which I love. There are gay and straight characters. There are black, white, south asian and middle eastern characters. There are muslim and mormon characters. The diversity opens up a lot of compelling storylines.

DIVERSE TV PICKS QUANTICO via Swirl Nation Blog

The star of the show is Priyanka Chopra, who plays Alex Parish. Priyanka is drop dead gorgeous, which makes sense because she is a former beauty queen and a huge Bollywood star. She is actually the first South Asian woman to headline an American network series (crazy right?!).

Overall the show is full of drama, romance and friction. Kind of like a Shonda Rhimes show, but set at an FBI training camp. In fact The Washington Post called the show “if a Shonda Rhimes series hooked up with a paranoid ‘70s political thriller”. Very accurate, worth a watch!











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SWIRL FAMILY TRADITIONS: DOL OR DOLJANCHI


Dol or doljanchi is a Korean tradition that celebrates the first birthday of a baby. This ceremony blesses the child with a prosperous future and has taken on great significance in Korea. The birthday babies wear a hanbok and a traditional hat: a jobawi or gulle for baby girls and a bokgeon or hogeon for baby boys.

SWIRL FAMILY TRADITIONS: DOL OR DOLJANCHI via Swirl Nation Blog

In the past, the death rates for children were high and many children died before their first birthday, so it was an important milestone for the baby and parents. The whole village used to celebrate a baby's first birthday, sharing food and wishing for long life and fortune for the baby.

The highlight of the dol is a ritual where the child is placed in front of a table of foods and objects such as string, brushes, ink and money. The child is then urged to pick up an object from the table. It is believed the one selected will foretell the child's future. For example, if the child picks up a brush or book, he/she is destined to be smart. If he/she picks up money he/she will be wealthy; If he/she picks up food that means he/she will not be hungry. If the child picks up the thread, it is believed he/she will live a long life. The types of objects placed on the table for the baby to choose has evolved over time, as a reflection of society's evolving perception of successful occupations. However, many parents remain more traditional in their selection of objects to place on the table. This is followed by feasting, singing and playing with the toddler. Most often, guests will present gifts of money, clothes, or gold rings to the parents for the child at this time.

At home family members give thanks to Samshin (three gods who are believed to take care of the baby's life while growing up) by serving plain rice, seaweed soup, and rice cakes. For the party, parents prepare a special 'Dol' table, where food is stacked high to symbolize a life of prosperity for the baby. The table is set mainly with a rice cake of pretty rainbow layers, seaweed soup, and fruits. Miyeok guk (seaweed soup) is served on every birthday after the first birthday to remind people of what their mother went through to bring them into the world.

The celebration is usually held in buffet restaurants or wedding halls. Parents prepare some prizes for guests and upon entering the party, everyone gets a piece of paper on which a number is written. During the party guests who correctly answer a question about the baby win a prize. The host of the party, or an entertainer, also calls out a number randomly, and the person who has that number receives a prize.

 

This tradition is special to me, as I have been fortunate enough to attend each of my three nephews’ Dol. As I’m based in LA and my nephews in NYC, any time I spend with them is special, but a Dol is quite a spectacular birthday celebration that I hope to experience when I have children.

SWIRL FAMILY TRADITIONS: DOL OR DOLJANCHI via Swirl Nation Blog




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SWIRL FAMILY TRADITIONS: NORWEGIAN BAKING


My Grandma Betty and I circa 1980:) 

My Grandma Betty and I circa 1980:) 

This week we’re sharing a cultural tradition or event we each appreciate. Whenever I think of my upbringing I always think of Norwegian baking. My Grandma Betty was always baking something and my mom has carried on some of her recipes during the holidays.

 

The three treats that always show up to holiday meals are: 

  • Sandbakkels

  • Lefse

  • Rosettes

 

 

SANDBAKKELS

My favorites are Sandbakkels, which are delicious Norwegian cookies that are made in miniature tins. I’ve never made them, but I love to eat them! I would describe them as almond cookie tartlets.

My mom uses a recipe from an old Minnesota cookbook. She uses “Helga Hagen’s” recipe as seen in the photo below.

You can fill the tartlets with whatever you want. We usually keep it simple and put homemade whipped cream with fruit inside (blueberries and raspberries usually), but you can get creative! 

 

LEFSE

http://adamturman.blogspot.com/2008/06/yeah-sure-youbetcha-lets-have-lefse.html

http://adamturman.blogspot.com/2008/06/yeah-sure-youbetcha-lets-have-lefse.html

I think every Scandinavian family probably has lefse on their table. I always describe it as something between a tortilla and a crepe. It is made with potatoes. My Grandma Betty always made her own, but my mom buys it. She used to buy it from some women in her hometown of Fairmont, MN but now she buys it at AJ’s Fine Food near her house in Arizona.

Then my mom whips up a butter sugar mixture to spread on the inside. My daughter loves that part and she helps spread it on all the lefse and then rolls them up. The end result is a plate stacked high with yummy lefse!

Here is a cute video of a Norwegian-American couple making lefse. Uff da! 

SWIRL FAMILY TRADITIONS NORWEGIAN BAKING via Swirl Nation Blog
 

ROSETTES

Rosettes are beautiful! They look like fried snowflakes that you sprinkle granulated or powdered sugar on top of at the end. These cookies are made in many different cultures, it’s not just a Scandinavian thing. I know in Mexico they are called Buñuelos, and I have read that in Asia they often use coconut milk instead of regular milk. Universally yummy! Here is a video on how to make them.

Enjoy! Let me know if you've tried any of these treats before! 






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SWIRL BEAUTY: COTTON BALL EYELASH TRICK


I have a small head and small eyes.  False eyelashes look heavy on me and I can never apply them correctly.  False eyelashes either droop, irritate my contacts, or fall off; so you can probably understand my eagerness to tryHuda Beauty’s cotton ball eyelash trick.

So this is less of a “fave” post as it is mostly a “test” post.

What you need:

  1. Cotton Ball
  2. “Spoolie” (same as a mascara wand)
  3. Mascara (I’ve used Dior Show since I could afford it, so about 12 years)

Step 1: Apply mascara

Step 2: Break open a cotton ball

Step 3: With the spoolie, pull out the “innards” of the cotton ball

Step 4: Brush through eyelashes with cotton ball-fiber-laden spoolie

Step 5: Apply another coat of mascara

Step 6: Repeat until desired volume/length of lashes are achieved

I tried it and I only made one pass because I was short on time and paranoid about the fibers irritating my contacts.  I saw a slight difference.  I definitely suggest watching the video and trying it yourself.  Please let us know how your attempts went in the comments.  Happy Hacking J!


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SWIRL BEAUTY: KOREAN CAT EYE


Lately Korean Beauty is all the rage. I don't tend to jump on the bandwagon right away. I came to the contouring game way late. Even now, my version of contour is very basic. However, I am loving the new "cat eye" fresh off the boat from Korea. Ladies (and gents) the puppy eye. 


Unlike the normal cat eye we all love, there is no "wing". The object is to make one's eyes appear larger, by only partially outlining your eye and by following the exact shape of it on the outside. 

Items you will need: Eye Liner ( I prefer Nars Long Lasting Pencil

SWIRL BEAUTY KOREAN CAT EYE via Swirl Nation Blog

Black eyeshadow and a thin angled brush. I love Urban Decay's Creep

SWIRL BEAUTY KOREAN CAT EYE via Swirl Nation Blog

Simply line your eyes with a pencil.

Put on your fav mascara, and voila stupid simple and easy to master. 

SWIRL BEAUTY KOREAN CAT EYE via Swirl Nation Blog


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SWIRL BEAUTY: SHIMMER BRICK


SWIRL BEAUTY SHIMMER BRICK via Swirl Nation Blog

We’re sharing our favorite makeup tips with you this week! I love buying makeup, but honestly I don’t wear a ton of it. Most of the products I own just sit in a drawer or a case. But one product I use almost every single day is a shimmer brick.

I usually use it as an eyeshadow and then at night I also use it on my temples and above my cheekbones as a highlighter. The best part about any shimmer brick is that they last FOREVER! The first one I ever owned was by Bobbi Brown and now I’ve been using a MAC one for a long time. Since I am a beach girl, the shimmer is perfect with my tan in the summer but I use it all year around.

Bobbi Brown makes a lot of different shades so there is one for every skin type. It is just a perfect product to add some all around glowy-ness!

All hail J.Lo, the QUEEN of shimmer! 

All hail J.Lo, the QUEEN of shimmer! 

This was last week in Vegas with my girl Monique. Definitely needed lots of shimmer in Vegas! 

This was last week in Vegas with my girl Monique. Definitely needed lots of shimmer in Vegas! 


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