Health Care Mind Mental Health Health Coronavirus Wellness

There’s nothing romantic about therapy, but I still recommend it

Essay deadlines, a global pandemic, and limited social interaction left me overwhelmed … to say the least. Throughout the pandemic, I received news of relatives or friends catching Covid-19 almost routinely. To amplify this, my second year of university had also started. Like many students across the globe, I had to readjust to virtual learning. Although I enjoyed the convenience of zoom classes, the time of socializing between lectures and seminars was now empty. The stresses and anxieties I had pushed to the back of my mind started to occupy this vacant time. 

Lucky for me, there was an increase in self-care content on social media, which encouraged me to seek therapy. As an African woman, mental well-being and therapy were never discussed in my community. So, I felt hesitant while contacting the student therapy team at my university. At the same time, I felt like the hero of my own story and looked forward to meeting the new post-therapy me. 

Unfortunately, the excitement was fleeting. Throughout my six months of sessions, I discovered that different media skewed my expectations.

I always imagined therapy to be like the scene in Disney Channel’s Freaky Friday. In which, Jamie Lee Curtis’s character (after switching bodies with her daughter) has a therapy client and keeps asking, “How does that make you feel?” 

The scene is comical, but it is what I believed attending therapy would be like. A client, lying on a sofa letting out their emotions, and a therapist, repeating the word ‘feelings.

This scene, like many in Hollywood, depicts an automatic comfortability between therapist and client. Vulnerability seems easy within the confines of the session. I soon learned this was inaccurate; I did not find being vulnerable with a stranger anything close to easy anything close to easy, no matter how friendly she was. I have never been someone who finds it easy to talk about my feelings in-depth. Yet, I thought once I was in front of a therapist, my feelings would spill out. But her title and qualification made no difference.  It took me a few sessions to become vulnerable. At the time, I thought I was doing something wrong or that therapy was not for me. But I soon recognized it was all a matter of my misconceptions. So, I started unlearning what I thought were the universal truths of therapy. 

I realized that the journey transcends the one-hour sessions. This is true in that you must be practical with whatever lessons you learn during the sessions. In addition, it is important to come prepared to be vulnerable during your sessions. I found it challenging to transition from random everyday activities into my sessions. When I was having a good day, I would come into therapy excitable and waste the hour trying to preserve my mood. And it was just that, a waste. Therapy was the perfect opportunity to talk through any troubles from my week, but I was not always prepared to do so. Through this, I found the importance of some form of a prepping routine. I began spending an hour listening to some music, jazz, or reggae, whatever felt natural. In this time, I tried to connect with my emotions and do things that made me feel at peace. I felt ready to open up once my session started.

Another preconception I had to challenge was the assumption that my therapist would be my savior or guardian angel. Countless movies use the narrative of inappropriate client-therapist relationships. For example, in Silver Linings Playbook. The main character Pat’s therapist attends his dance recital and visits his home, extending their relationship outside the office. In real life, this would be unrealistic and unethical. But it depicts the idea of a therapist as a guardian angel, always there for the precious moments of your life. 

The phrase “everyone needs therapy” is all over social media. Although well-intentioned, it fuels this idea of therapy as a saving grace and the therapist as the angel on your shoulder. I often approached my sessions as a cure-all. My therapist once mentioned that I spoke of our sessions as though they had a fixed end date. Like I was waiting for the day, I would be cleansed of all stresses. And to tell the truth, I was counting down to the day the therapy finally kicked in. 

But I learned that it was a process that relied on me nurturing whatever I discovered in each weekly session. If I had any homework from my sessions, it was my responsibility to make sure I completed it. In the sessions, it was my responsibility to be completely honest and vulnerable. Ultimately, I gained clarity about my therapist’s role as a helper and not a savior. 

The biggest thing I wish I knew before starting is that therapy does not feel good. It is self-care like spa days, face masks, and taking walks, but it is not immediately pleasant. If I could change it, I would have spoken to someone with experience. I thoroughly recommend counseling or therapy for well-being. But make sure you do not rely on the media for advice, talk to someone with experience. 

My experience was hindered by me comparing my reality to what I had thought therapy to be because of the influences around me. Even so, I hope the conversation around therapy within the film industry and social media becomes more honest.

Looking for more content like this? Follow our brand new Instagram account!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.

The Internet TV Shows Standoms Movies Pop Culture

It’s time to stop humanizing villains, and revel in who they truly are instead

Imagine you’re scrolling on TikTok. You stop to watch a video using the sound “Instructor Mooselini’s Rap.” As PaRappa The Rapper sings — “Alright, we’re here just sitting in the car. I want you to show me if you can get far! Step on the gas! Step on the brakes!” — images of villains who have received the spin-off greenlight from Disney cycle through. Maleficent, Cruella de Vil, Loki, and Gaston start the list off, but then the video dives into unchartered waters: the hunter from Bambi, Marvel’s Red Skull, and Star Wars’ Emperor Palpatine. What!?

While I made up this TikTok video, I do honestly think it could very well be a tale as old as time very soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a Disney boardroom far, far away, an exec has tossed up the hunter, Red Skull, and Emperor Palpatine as possible characters to revisit in an upcoming film or television show. This is because villain origin stories are becoming more common as film and TV content, which isn’t a bad trend. I mean, who doesn’t love villains?

One of my favorite villains of all time is Shego from Kim Possible. Shego got her start as a member of a crime-fighting quintet with her brothers. However, the more villains she fought, the more she became enamored with villainy. Ultimately, she left her brothers’ group because they were too incompetent and joined up with Dr. Drakken. One of the reasons why I like Shego is because she is confidently and unapologetically evil. Nowhere in Shego’s backstory is there any trauma or pain; she simply enjoys participating in crime.

However, Shego is starting to be in a villain minority. With the rise of origin story films and television, tragedy (“tragedy”) is becoming more commonplace. In my opinion, we’re reaching the brink of this style of content because making tragic backstories a necessity to villainy ruins the whole concept of villainy.

Cruella is probably one of the best examples of this. The online backlash to Cruella was very amusing. Many people were aghast that the writers thought a good origin story for the iconic character Cruella de Vil would be to have her mom murdered by a pack of dalmatians. It was a … choice, to put it politely.

Cruella de Vil seemed like one of the last irredeemable villains. As a character, she consistently delights in being cruel just because she could. We don’t need to empathize with Cruella, mainly because her unabashed villainy was the most fun part of her character. Disney could have given us an utterly absurd film similar to Suicide Squad in which we get to see more of Cruella de Vil being the fashionable scoundrel she is. Instead, they tried to justify her motives and actions (killing puppies!) — which isn’t always possible for villains, and that’s the way it should be.

Kuvira from The Legend of Korra received similar treatment as Cruella. During the fourth season of the show, Kuvira says, “I was cast aside by my own parents like I meant nothing to them! How could I just stand by and watch the same thing happen to my nation when it needed someone to guide it?”

In the Ruins of the Empire comic series, we learn more, finding out that Kuvira was a difficult child her parents struggled to raise and they eventually sent her away to Zaofu. While this origin story does pull on my heartstrings (more so than Cruella’s at least), this backstory makes me think the writers are setting the stage for Kuvira to start a program for abandoned kids, not become the Great Uniter.

Kuvira believed what she believed and did what she did not because she had a tragic backstory, but because she had a vision for the future of the Earth Empire. She wasn’t afraid to use any means necessary to achieve her goals, which to her meant employing fascism, imperialism, and tyranny to create order. Kuvira is a morally ambiguous villain that we do not need to empathize with to understand. I am saying this as a fully-fledged Kuvira fan. I’m not an apologist because there really is no defending Kuvira, but I do love her very much. Your fave is problematic: me.

Thanos is another morally ambiguous villain we do not need to empathize with in order to understand. And yet, I recently learned that Thanos has a “tragic” backstory in the Marvel comics. In some versions, Thanos’ mom hates him and tries to kill him; in others, she sees death in his eyes and tries to kill him.

Both versions are pretty tragic, and yet neither helps us further understand Thanos’ motives as depicted in the Avengers films. He didn’t want other planets to end up like his planet, and he thought the best solution was to eradicate half of the universe’s population. If anything, his backstory foreshadows his actions, which I think is the point.

However, some people argue villains are people to whom terrible things have happened. But that’s not always true, and that’s why I think tragic villain backstories shouldn’t be forced upon all villains. If we continue to use Thanos as an example, his goal to wipe out half of the population has nothing to do with the fact that his mom tried to kill him. But if Disney were to make a film about his origin story, the writers would probably try to make that scene a tearjerker.

It’s also frustrating because there are successful tragic villain backstories. The Joker and Killmonger both have origin stories that serve as in-depth explorations of the effects of systemic societal issues. But what systemic societal issue is Cruella trying to tackle? Not every villain has endured hardships. Sometimes villains are just evil, and that’s why we love to hate them. Trying to humanize these villains justifies behavior that shouldn’t be justified.

Real-life villains — you know the superrich, oil monopolies, major corporations, global dictators — don’t have tragic backstories (and their actions most certainly should not be justified). Jeff Bezos isn’t hoarding wealth for any other reason besides greed. Donald Trump didn’t run for president to change the U.S. for the better but to have power and status. In fiction, let villains be villains because people do bad things in real life for a variety of reasons, and it’s not always because of childhood trauma.

Like Alfred said, “Some people want to watch the world burn.” Full-stop, end of story. They want to watch the world burn, so they burn the world. I’d still watch that movie, especially if Shego was the main character.

Keep up with entertainment news and trends and follow our brand-new Pop Culture Instagram account.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

TV Shows History Pop Culture

I love history, but I can’t stand historical TV shows

I’m a big history nerd. I’m not only a history major, but someone who collects and wears historical clothes, who owns figurines of historical figures, who collects books on my favorite parts of history, and who played history games throughout my entire childhood. Studying history has always been a huge part of my identity, and one I’m still happy to include in my life today. But it’s probably time to admit it: I hate historical TV shows. As a history geek, I should love them, but it’s hard for me to stomach a single one.

These shows forget that people in the past did, in fact, have fun.

I have one main reason, and it’s that these shows are straight-up boring. The lighting is too dark, the costumes too beige and ugly, and every word of dialogue is spoken in a raspy whisper. Everything is so bleak it’s almost impossible to follow. Try watching The Medici or The Tudors. I have difficulty figuring out anything that’s going on. And don’t get me started on the lighting in The Crown. 

A disheveled white man with a beard and a loose top.
[Image Description: A dark-haired white man in a dark shirt] via BBC. This is how Da Vinci’s Demons dresses its protagonists — in dull, disheveled, and downright ugly clothing.
And trust me, I won’t hear the excuse that real life was just as bleak back then. As a keen student of historical costuming, I know that a lot of historical clothing was bright, extravagant, and sometimes just ridiculous. I admit it’s not the biggest issue, but it still rubs me the wrong way. I feel like these shows forget that people in the past did, in fact, have fun occasionally. You rarely see any entertainment or festivities in these shows, unless they’re doomed to go horribly wrong. You almost never see any characters genuinely laugh in these shows. Sure, living in the past was terrible in a lot of ways, but people still retained a sense of humor.

I’ll give you an example. I once made the horrible mistake of attempting to watch Da Vinci’s Demons, which loosely follows the life of Leonardo da Vinci, and encapsulates everything I hate about historical television. The show portrays Leonardo as a tortured, edgy womanizer, despite the fact that he was almost certainly gay and, by all accounts, a very pleasant person. Throughout the show, he almost exclusively wears dark, tattered shirts and dusty trousers, whereas the historical Leonardo wore brightly-colored tunics and tights. It might sound ridiculous to the modern viewer, but personally, I think we should acknowledge the absurdity of history. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s easier to relate to people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

A brightly colored Renaissance painting of a wealthy, finely dressed family.
[Image Description: a Renassaince painting showing a group of people dressed in beautiful costumes.]This is how people in the Renaissance actually dressed! Short tunics, leggings, bright colors…it may not be as sexy, but it’s way more fun!
There’s also a lot of unnecessary drama in historical TV shows. I’ll admit, this trend strikes me as odd because there’s already so much drama in real history. Shows like The Tudors, The Borgias, The Last Kingdom, and The Medici like to make a big deal out of political battles and sex scandals, and rarely imbue these plot lines with any humor or humanity. Drama is important for entertainment’s sake, but we can still try and make the drama seem somewhat human. Most relationships aren’t built on stolen glances and steamy affairs. Why not portray these love stories with affection, awkwardness, and a tiny bit of down-to-earth humanity?

History isn’t all epic battles and heaving bosoms, a lot of it is everyday life.

Even the grand, epic battles are a little too dramatic for my sake. They ignore the disease, the squalor, and the sheer tedium of real-life battles. It might not be fun to acknowledge the unglamorous parts of history, but it makes for better television. If we’re going to relate to these historical figures, we need to at least see them as human.


Most historical TV shows seem totally unwilling to have any fun with history. They refuse to acknowledge that along with the drama and sadness of history, there’s also comedy and absurdity and awkwardness. Historical people were real human beings. Sometimes they wore ridiculous outfits, joked around with each other, and made awkward mistakes. History isn’t all epic battles and heaving bosoms, a lot of it is everyday life. I certainly don’t think these shows are evil, but they do make history feel so much more distant and detached than it really is.

We should remember that history has plenty of dimensions, some good and some bad, some funny and some serious, some totally normal and some downright weird. It doesn’t help to glamorize or romanticize history, but it doesn’t help to dull it down either. Historical figures were people too, and our television should at least recognize them as such. Besides, it’s more fun that way anyway.

Keep up with pop culture trends and follow our brand-new Instagram account

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

I didn’t like horror movies until the pandemic — here’s why

If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I used to hate horror movies. It might be a social faux pas to say, but I didn’t see any merit in them. To me, they were just another unnecessary source of anxiety in an already anxiety-inducing world. Then the pandemic hit. Now, I don’t just like scary movies, I love them. I’d even go as far as to say I need them. But why?

I can’t quite answer that. What I do know is that horror movies have turned from a great source of anxiety for me to a kind of comfort or escape. The jump scares and ghost stories in horror movies seem so out of this world that it’s hard for me to be scared of them, especially when the real world is already so scary. It can be helpful to direct your anxiety into something not only fictional but so unworldly and absurd that you can’t imagine it happening in real life.

There’s been a pandemic outside for over a year now, and a whole host of political and human rights worries have both prolonged the pandemic, and been unearthed by it. Sometimes it’s nice to retreat into a world of haunted houses and demons from other dimensions, even if just for a moment. When I’m watching these movies, I’m more focused on ghosts than on the pandemic, and that’s a much-needed distraction.

Still, even if it’s easy to escape, it’s not always right. I think that part of the appeal of horror movies isn’t just how distant they are from the real world. They also appeal also because they represent the real world all too well. Media isn’t just a place to escape, but a place to reflect on the state of our society. We obviously can’t turn our backs on the real world forever.

For me, watching horror movies during quarantine helped me understand the world outside of me, even when I wasn’t able to experience it personally. There are clear-cut examples, such as Get Out or Us, which criticize racism and societal inequality, or Pan’s Labyrinth, which is essentially a parable for fascism. Even the ones without overt political messages can be commentaries on the state of our society. Films like It Follows and Scream are commentaries on the sexist tropes and slut-shaming present in a lot of horror flicks and turn those stereotypes on their head.

Horror movies are also very helpful for anyone dealing with isolation, anxiety, or uncertainty. Watching films like Midsommar or The Babadook, which feature women undergoing mental health crises while also encountering supernatural horrors, made me feel somewhat seen. Going through a mental health crisis can sometimes feel overwhelming and close to the supernatural. I’ll admit, seeing my struggles through the lens of a horror movie is actually really effective. Sure, it’s not realistic, but it still makes me feel less alone.

Horror movies were always unnecessarily stressful to me, and I couldn’t find any artistic value in them.  I admit that I was totally wrong. Part of me was just being pretentious, and part of me was still working through my own issues with anxiety. I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t like horror movies, because we all have our own tastes. Still,  I’m now proud to say that putting on a scary movie is comforting for me. Sometimes, the real world is confusing and scary, and watching a story about supernatural issues is easier than confronting real ones.

However, it goes deeper than just escapism. Horror movies actually help me conceptualize and challenge the real issues the world is facing. They’ve forced me to confront both my personal issues and the role I play in society. Scary movies started out as an escape and then became a wake-up call. They became a way for me to start understanding complex societal issues that were difficult to wrap my head around – to serve as a stepping stone for more nuanced discussions and ideas.

Of course, horror movies have gone above and beyond just being ‘scary’. In fact, it’s been pretty eye-opening for me. From stereotypical horror movies to ones that dissect issues like racism and feminism (I’m looking at you, Get Out and Jennifer’s Body), there truly is something for everyone – especially if by the end of the movie, you can’t sleep at night.

Keep up with entertainment news and trends and follow our brand-new Pop Culture Instagram account

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

TV Shows Pop Culture

Netflix’s Hollywood: the best way to tell a true story is to reinvent it

It’s been over a year since Hollywood released on Netflix, and I still remember beginning the show with a sense of uneasiness.  I always feel this way when I am watching period pieces because they’ve always seemed one-toned and whitewashed. For a while now, I’ve been very wary about the way that history is being represented in pop culture.

Coming from the Gulf, I am sensitive to these things because I have seen how history can be warped by others. Not much has been documented (and made public) by locals about our history, so the world sees the British documentaries with their commentary. Those kinds of images stick with you until you cannot imagine another alternative, to men in the desert swatting away flies with no woman in sight.

That’s why I feel so strongly about the way that history is presented on screen. Netflix’s Hollywood is set in the 1940s, post-World War II. Period pieces suffer from a common problem. They are so white. Even the most popular period pieces, like Little Women, Atonement, The Notebook, and of course The Great Gatsby, have an almost entirely white cast. What’s that about? 

A popular period drama director, Julian Fellowes, defended the lack of diversity with the claim that “you can’t make something untruthful.” It’s not difficult to see how dangerous this way of thinking is. If the media make it out that people of color were only recently ‘introduced’ to the main stage of society, then they’re deliberately negating all their contributions. Not just that, but for decades, period dramas have been butchering history to make it fit their ideas of romance.

Fortunately, there have been movements to ‘unwhitewash’ period pieces and tell more layered stories. That’s where Ryan Murphy’s Netflix mini-series Hollywood comes in, with its re-invention of a true story of stardom and success. 

The show begins with a relatively simple premise: a WWII veteran, Jack (David Corenswet), is trying his hand at making it onto the big screen. But he soon realizes it takes more than passion when he struggles to even be cast as an extra despite his angelic looks. Accepting a job as a gas attendant, he learns to resort to other means to make it past the iron gates of the Hollywood studios. Pimped out by his manager, he ‘services’ female customers to make ends meet and wait for his big break. Lucky for him, the gas station is full of young, attractive guys dreaming of becoming stars. 

Cue the montage of women rolling up to the gas stations and asked to be “taken to dreamland” and Jack hopping in to sleep with them. Preppy music plays in the background and I am left a little disoriented. A hollow feeling in my stomach, I can’t put a finger on why I feel this way. There is, I suppose, a kind of delight in the way that the women are expressing their sexual appetite but it is completely overshadowed by the darkness of these men’s dreams being exploited.

Still, Hollywood plays it off lightly. I understand its intent, that there is sometimes no way to break into the industry. The show makes a big point of having the actors literally sell themselves in order to pay the ‘price’ of their dream, which I hold no judgment about. Yet, this part of the plot is left behind really quickly and becomes of little significance in the following episodes. 

In that same gas station, a new hire, Archie (Jeremy Pope), is an aspiring screenplay writer with a script that has been picked up by producers. Now every actor and actress in L.A. wants a piece, but there’s a catch. Archie can’t take ownership of his work, let alone be involved in its production because he’s Black

What’s more, the producers have written his film off as a dud either way. Mainly because the new film director (Darren Criss) wants to cast Camille (Laura Harrier), a Black actress, in the lead role which Archie had written in reference to a blonde actress, Peg.

There is an inherent commentary that is woven into this decision, which I thought was really important. Are actresses interchangeable, regardless of their background? Does the role have to be retrofitted to Camille? Archie, the script’s author seems to think so, and is a little dubious about Camille’s ability to relate to the role. But in the end, the director gave us his answer to that question as he merely changed the name of the character and kept the rest the same.

As the film starts to get made, to our surprise, there are still many obstacles ahead. A feeling of dread starts to envelop me, as the audience, because I fear that everything these actors, the writer, and the director have worked for will not be able to succeed in the face of the fierce discrimination they meet at every corner. Hollywood navigates these sensitively, not shying away from exposing the deep-seated homophobia that doubles against some of the characters. 

And my predictions ring true, to some extent. White supremacist groups target the cast of their film, Meg, and even after they get a chance to wrap up filming, their film reel is burned to a crisp. Yet, somehow, by the finale, they are all granted a second chance when a copy of the film is found and it is released to wide public acclaim. Multiple cast members, including Jack, Camille, and Archie receive Oscar nominations. 

While I was delighted by how it all turned out, as I was starting to really root for the characters, all of this seemed too fast. I could feel that the show was trying to wrap itself up. I could let it slide until the abusive, predatory agent, Henry, gets a sort of redeeming moment where he apologizes before dying. To me, the ending, after such a strong start and promising climax, was disappointing. 

I understand what Hollywood and its Netflix producers were going for, a subversion of history. I am all for that. It’s an exploration of what could have been if it were not for the systematic, oppressive measures that barred the fictional movie, Meg, from ever hitting the big screen, at least for a while. 


Yet, what saves Hollywood for me, is that they managed to keep it mostly authentic to the reality of the times. It is still far from a fantasy. Underneath its pleasing 40’s aesthetic, handsome leads, and golden dream of success, there is so much to lose for each character. It is not ideal, the producers manage to keep the story grounded in reality as the characters still face troubles to reach their dreams and often have to compromise.

How I see it is that Hollywood in the ’40s, and even now sometimes, has the door closed in the faces of non-white actors trying to play roles in movies that are not about race. But here, the door is cracked the tiniest bit open to imagine what the industry could be.  The show has aged well and continues to remain a worthwhile one to catch up on while we relax after the socially distanced or online Pride parades.

Hollywood has a strong cast, large ambitions, and succeeded at changing the way we see the industry and the stories that industry creates. It’s an eye-opener to the opportunities created, the traps of the system, and the nuances in between – a unique take on a giant that’s normally difficult to access. And, most importantly, it’s a very promising start towards more diverse period dramas that we need this Pride Month.  

Keep up with entertainment news and trends and follow our brand-new Pop Culture Instagram account

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Music Life

Embracing pop music as an indie teen broke me out of my shell

I used to spend my teenage years looking down on mainstream media, content, and artists. However, when the iconic opening beats of Charli XCX’s Vroom Vroom blasted through a store at the mall, it was mostly for show that I rolled my eyes and grumbled to my friends, “This again?”

Admittedly, I couldn’t deny to myself Charli’s EP was catchy. But whenever I would catch myself mumbling the lyrics to one of her songs, I would switch the music back to something indy and familiar like the Arctic Monkey’s song “R U Mine?” 

“Hey, let’s listen to real music,” I used to say. 

I began to wonder why I resisted mainstream music so much. Was it because every song that played on the radio was so saccharine and bubbly? Was it because most pop songs seemed to be selling one thing: a normative view of femininity, relationships, and sex? Especially binary characteristics of femininity I felt I would never live up to. 

I didn’t have the words to express how I felt about the subject, so I would just groan and badger my family to turn off the radio whenever pop songs would come on. I was convinced I would only enjoy myself when the Script, Coldplay, or any other artist I decided was popular but still not pop came on. In my teenage mind, their music explored more than clichéd romances or affixations on femininity. 

However, deep down, I was training myself not to enjoy Billboard’s Top Hits. I actively tried to brand myself as indie, alternative, and unlike the rest. 

Consequently, this attitude made it harder to engage with the people around me. When they talked about their shared interests like the new season of American Horror Story or played Taylor Swift’s new single, I would quickly shut them down. “Let’s listen to real music,” I would say, not meaning to but still coming off as demeaning. 

Deep down, I was training myself not to enjoy Billboard’s Top Hits.

As a result, I was quickly becoming someone who was difficult to be around. And understandably so as it gets really old to be with someone who doesn’t try to be invested in the interests of those close to them. Once I noticed this about myself, I realized I needed to confront what animosity I really held towards popular music and culture before I became unbearable to be friends with.

So, eventually, I had to ask myself: what was this facade that I was trying to keep up? What about pop music really bothered me so much? 

At the core of it, I found I was terrified of being like “other girls.” Now, the irony in this frame of thinking is so many young girls when I was growing up were trying not to be like the rest. And steering clear of pop culture was my way of going against what it seemed was expected of me as a teenage girl.

More than that, I was afraid that if I bought into pop music, I would lose certain aspects of my personhood that made me special. My self-proclaimed “edge” over everyone else would be no more. So I pretended pop music was all beneath me and even pretended not to like any of it. However, not allowing myself to enjoy things other people enjoyed left me feeling majorly excluded.

Allowing myself to get into popular culture, has broken me out of my shell

To be clear, it’s completely fine not to be interested in popular music, shows, or movies. Just because they are popular and mainstream doesn’t mean they’re relevant nor enjoyable to everyone. Yet, to demean the value of mainstream art just because it’s popularly consumed is wrong. Plus, I knew I secretly enjoyed it all.

Last summer, I burned through the existing seasons of AHS with a couple of friends who had already seen it. They were excited to relive the feeling of being in high school and I was just joining them along for the ride. Though, episode after episode, I couldn’t believe I was denying myself such good storytelling simply to maintain some imagined act of rebellion.

So the next time I went out with my friends, I unabashedly picked a Britney Spears song to sing at Karaoke and hollered her lyrics to the amusement of my roommates. “Toxic” is now infamously known as “Amal’s go-to song” amongst those closest to me. It felt so good to just let loose and enjoy good music without having my guard up. So what if I wanted to enjoy something tens of millions of people enjoy as well? 

Allowing myself to get into popular culture, from pop music to the TV shows that everyone’s buzzing about, has really broken me out of my shell. Now, I feel less alone. The culture I had always thought was excluding me actually made me feel more included than ever. Of course, there are still pop songs that would never make it into my playlist (I won’t be shady and name them). And shows I’ll still pretend I’m watching ironically, like Gossip Girl. But I will never again be a pop culture hater.

Plus, my music taste is still pretty indie, but I am not ashamed to throw some Nicki Minaj into the mix every once in a while.

Through embracing pop music and popular culture in general, I became more in touch with those around me. I found there is actually power in sharing interests with such a global community. And at the end of the day, it’s popular culture for a reason— all of it is just so damn catchy!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Celebrities Movies Pop Culture

Here’s everything you missed from the Oscars 2021 gala

Did you miss this year’s Oscars? Nothing to fear! We have summed up all the best moments.

 The Academy Awards are usually held in the Dolby Theatre and seat almost 3400 attendees. The event is filled with a jam-packed program that includes star-studded skits and sketches, epic montages, and elaborate in-person musical performances – all with a comedian serving as host. This year’s affair, held on Sunday 25 April 2021 was noticeably more intimate.

For the 2021 gala, all of the theatrics were swapped out for a more subdued evening. Held at the Union Station, the 170 attendees were seated around tables, in the vein of the first few Oscar ceremonies. Musical performances were recorded and aired before the telecast. Skits were paired down to Lil Rel Howery quizzing Andra Day, Daniel Kaluuya, and Glenn Close, who showed off her music knowledge and dance skills. There was no host for the third time in a row, but celebrity presenters galore with Oscar-winning actress and director Regina King kicking off the evening that proved just as historic as the times it was held in.

Here is a list of our breakthroughs and firsts of the night:

1. Daniel Kaluuya makes Britain and Uganda Proud

Oscar winner, Daniel Kaluuya
[Image Description: Daniel Kaluuya poses backstage after his historic Oscar win.] Via The Academy.
As an awards season favorite winning Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA awards, it was no surprise when Daniel Kaluuya took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards. His performance as Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the Black Panther Party was a standout and his acceptance speech proved to be just as memorable.

In an embarrassing yet hilarious moment, he excitedly expressed his appreciation for life and commented, “My mum and my dad… they had sex and now I’m here!” Before that, he made sure to thank “family, friends and everyone I love from Londontown to Kampala” as he became the first Black British actor and the first actor of Ugandan descent to win an Oscar.

2. Best Actor category was the last award presented

This year's Best Actor nominees
[Image Description: The nominees in the Best Actor category at this year’s Academy Awards. From left to right: Riz Ahmed, Steven Yeun, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman and Chadwick Boseman.] Via Variety.
The Best Picture category is often the pièce de résistance of the night and the last award presented. In a rare turn of events and for the first time, the Best Actor category was the last award presented of the evening.

This definitely fueled rumors that the Academy was going to posthumously honor Chadwick Boseman for his final performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for the actor, with the honor of going to Sir Anthony Hopkins for his role in The Father.

3. Honoring the elders

Oscar-winning costume designer, Ann Roth, at work on the set of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
[Image Description: Oscar-winning costume designer Ann Roth, adjusting actress Taylour Paige on the set of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom] Via IMDB.
As previously mentioned Sir Anthon Hopkins won the Best Actor statue and became the oldest person to win in the Best Actor category at 83 years old. Proving age is just a number, Ann Roth tied in becoming the oldest woman to win an Oscar at the age of 89 for her costume design work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

4. South Africa’s first documentary win

The poster to My Octopus Teacher available on Netflix
[Image Description: Poster of My Octopus Teacher.] Via Netflix.
After winning a slew of awards during award season, My Octopus Teacher was able to wrap its tentacles around the Best Documentary Feature Oscar at the 93rd Academy Awards. In doing so, My Octopus Teacher became the first South African nature documentary to become a Netflix Original and to win an Oscar.

5. South Korea makes history again

Best Supporting Actress winner Yuh-Jung Youn
[Image Description: Yuh-Jung Youn speaking as she accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress..] Via E!
Continuing South Korea’s winning streak after Parasite, Youn Yuh-Jung became the first Korean actor to win an Oscar for her portrayal as the matriarch in one of the 2020s most talked about films, Minari. Youn Yuh-Jung won in the Best Supporting Actress category.

6. First woman of color to win Best Director

Chloe Zhao is the first woman of color to win for Best Director
[Image Description: Director Chloe Zhao accepting the Best Director Oscar for her work on Nomadland.] Via the Academy.
Chloe Zhao graciously accepted the award for Best Director for Nomadland and became the second woman to win the award after Katheryn Bigelow in 2009. She also became the first woman of color and the first Asian, specifically, Chinese woman to win in that category.

7. First time is H.E.R. lucky charm

Best Original Song winner H.E.R.
[Image Description: H.E.R.’s holding her Oscar.] Via Variety.
R&B singer H.E.R. is used to receiving music awards and parlayed that into film when she was not only nominated but won for Best Original Song on the first try. She won for the anthem, Fight for You, featured in the film, Judas and The Black Messiah. This victory also made her first black woman win in this category since Irene Cara in 1983.

8. Black women finally honored in makeup and hair

The first black women to win an Oscar for Best Hair and Makeup
[Image Description: Mia Neal (left), Jamika Wilson (center), and Sergio Lopez-Riviera (right) celebrating their historic win.] Via Variety.
Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson made history on Sunday night after becoming the first black women to receive a nomination and subsequent win in the Best Hair and Makeup category. Their amazing work alongside Sergio Lopez Riviera can be seen in Viola Davis’ transformation in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

9. First animated film to feature a Black character in the lead.

The offical poster for Pixar's laestest animated film, Soul
[Image Description: Poster for Pixar’s ‘Soul’.] Via IMDB.
“It’s been way too long, and I don’t know that we really have a good answer. We’re always looking to reflect as much of the world out there as we can, and we’re happy that it’s finally happened — that we are representing a part of the population that just hasn’t had as much voice in our films up to now.” director Pete Docter said of the why it took so long for Pixar to have a film with a black lead character.

The film is Soul and it follows the journey of Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who after an accident reverts back to his soul state. Proving that representation is necessary, the film went on to win Best Animated Feature.

10. All that glitters is not gold but Emerald

Director, writer, actress and producer Emerald Fennell wins at the Oscars
[Image Description: Triple Oscar nominee, Emerald Fennell celebrating her first Oscar win for Best Orignal Screenplay.] Via The Academy.

Having appeared on Call The Midwife and the latest season of The Crown, it is Emerald Fennell’s behind-the-scenes work that has garnered all the Academy’s attention.

Fennell’s feature film debut, Promising Young Woman, showcased Fennell’s talent as she wrote, produced, directed, and even made a cameo in the film. She was nominated in three categories, Best Picture (as a producer), Best Director (becoming the first British woman to receive the recognition), and Best Original Screenplay, which she won. She became the first woman to win in that category since 2008.

While a lot of firsts occurred at the 93rd Academy Awards, these firsts will continue to be seen as groundbreaking until the under-represented are provided equity, in front of and behind the cameras. There is still more ground to be broken in terms of diversity and inclusivity, not only in film but within the academy. Let’s hope that the Academy can continue this upward trajectory in years to come!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why your single friend always gives the best relationship advice

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.

For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.

I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.

So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?

Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.

The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.

Save $20 off pleasure products at Lora DiCarlo for Vagina Appreciation Day. Sale runs April 23rd - April 25th.

Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?


Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.

Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.

Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.

Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.

I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.

Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.

In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.

Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.

Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.

We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.

The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.

I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.

And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.

Happy dating!

Looking for more like this? Find more on our Instagram!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.

TV Shows Pop Culture

21 shows and films you need to watch to become an award-winning journalist

When I read a story or watch it on the news, I start thinking about the people involved and all that they had to deal with during the time. In such circumstances, journalism-related films, shows and documentaries have helped me better understand the scenario through the compelling characters and in-depth research of the case.

Apart from helping me visualise important events such as the Iraq war and the Vietnam war, they are also incredibly relatable on a day to day basis. Be it through the challenges that I face in the newsroom or while I am struggling to strike a work-life/ personal life balance, these shows have entertained me and kept me sane.

Whether you are a journalist or have wondered what it would like to be one, here are the best journalism-related films, shows and documentaries for you:

1. The Newsroom (2012-14)

[Image Description: Yelling The Newsroom GIF that reads, “I’m going to single-handedly fix the Internet!”] via GIPHY
The show aired on HBO in 2012 with anchor Will McAvoy played by Jeff Daniels and his team. It revolves around the day-to-day challenges that journalists face in the newsroom and on the field. It also reflects on their personal lives and how difficult it becomes for journalists to sometimes keep the work/life balance. The Newsroom has 3 seasons but you would want more of it!

2. The Post (2017)

[Image Description: Steve Carell Newspaper GIF By Saturday Night Live] via GIPHY
The film stars Meryl Street as Katherine Graham, the first female Editor-in-Chief of The Post. The film follows the American newspaper’s quest of publishing the Pentagon Papers that proved the United States’ involvement in Vietnam and the difficult decisions that Graham was forced to make in the wake of the news.

3. Control Room (2004)

[Image Description: Un Haiti GIF By Al Jazeera Fault Lines] via GIPHY
This is a documentary film was produced by Magnolia Pictures that takes you inside Al Jazeera’s coverage of the US war on Iraq. If you are a journalist and want to cover war, this is your guide!

4. The Morning Show (2019)

[Image Description: Jennifer Aniston GIF By Apple TV that reads, “I’M GETTING MY GAME FACE ON.”] via GIPHY
This show produced by Apple TV has an A-list cast that gives the viewers a tour of all that goes in the world of morning shows. It is only on its second season but has already been nominated for the Emmys.

I am loving The Morning Show these days. Makes me laugh at my own behind the scenes of working in a newsroom and handling the chaos! Apple expanded the show’s scope and incorporated the #MeToo movement into the premise: In the pilot’s opening minutes, the beloved anchor Mitch Kessler, played by Steve Carell is fired from the titular morning show because of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

 5. Spotlight (2015)

[Image Description: GIF By Amazon Prime Video UK] via GIPHY
The film is based on The Boston Globe’s Spotlight unit, the newspaper’s investigative team. Spotlight follows a series of true events that unfold allegations of molestation against a priest. In the year 2003, the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the same story.

6. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2018)

[Image Description: World Trade Center Wtc GIF] via GIPHY
Michael Moore’s remarkable documentary about the Bush Administration and the events in the aftermath of the tragic 9/11 aims to unmask the American system and gives the viewers the other side of the story to ponder upon.

7. Sharp Objects (2018)

[Image Description: Amy Adams Camille Preaker GIF By Sharp Objects] via GIPHY
This one is based on Gillian Flynn’s debut novel by the same name. The film is a psychological thriller that revolves around reported Camille Preaker who is back in her town from a psychiatric hospital to find out about two murders.

8. Frost/Nixon (2008)

[Image Description: Richard Nixon President GIFthat reads, “Well, when the President does it… That means that it is not illegal…”
The film is based on the post-Watergate interview series between the British anchor, David Frost and former US President Richard Nixon. The film was not really about Nixon or Watergate at all. I felt that it was more about human behavior, and it rises upon such tran­scendent themes as guilt and innocence, resistance and enlightenment, confession and redemption.

9. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

[Image Description: Meryl Streep GIF that reads, “IS SOMETHING FUNNY?”] via GIPHY
The film is based on the bestseller by Lauren Weisberger that is a documentation of her own experiences as an Assistant to the Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. This Anne Hathaway starter film exposes the ugly side of fashion journalism and makes you wonder just how much you’d be able to give up for your career.

10. The Bold Type (2017-2021)

[Image Description: Tv Show GIF by The Bold Type that reads, “Are we doing this? Because Rihanna’s gonna be out in ten minutes, so…”] via GIPHY

A series that skillfully crafted a media fantasy world that was based on the life of Cosmopolitan’s former Editor in Chief, Joanna Coles. The show’s central arguments may just be ideas we can all emulate: women can be fulfilled by their careers, infuse the professional with the personal and modernize an often male-dominated, occasionally stuffy industry from the inside.

11. Kill the Messenger (2014)

[Image Description: Studio Ghibli Film GIF] via GIPHY
This 2014 film was based on a true story about the San Jose Mercury News, where reporter Gary Webb goes on a mission to uncover the CIA’s secret funding through cocaine trafficking for the Nicaraguan rebels.

12. Good Night and Good Luck (2005)

[Image Description: Good Night And Good Luck Media GIF By Ari Spool] via GIPHY
The film released in the year 2005 but, it is in black and white. The story is a fictional account of renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow’s report on the then US Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist investigations prevailing inside the Congress. Director by none other than George Clooney, the film was nominated for many awards after it hit the big screen.

13. All the President’s Men (1976)

[Image Description: Applause GIF] via GIPHY
Yes, it is an old one. Yes, it is also about the Watergate scandal, but hear me out.

The journalism-related film is based on The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who brought the political scandal to attention. The film was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry, for its historical significance.

14. Being Mary Jane (2013-2019)

films shows about journalism
[Image Description: Woman challenging by saying, “BRING IT!”] via GIPHY
The main theme of the journalism-related film and show is love (or the lack of it) in a journalist’s life. Mary Jane Parker played by Gabrielle Union is successful, has a high rating show, everyone likes her but, no one loves her. But of course, we are all here for Mary Jane’s happy ending and she sure does get one. You have to watch the show to know the ending.

15. The Pelican Brief (1993)

films shows about journalism
[Image Description: Denzel Washington GIF] via GIPHY
This thriller released in 1993 and was based on the novel by John Grisham that explores a law student’s brief about the assassination of two Supreme Court justices. The student then gets into contact with an investigative reporter to help her connect the missing dots in the case.

16. The Insider (1999)

films shows about journalism
[Image Description: Al Pacino Money GIF that reads, “MY OFFER IS THIS: NOTHING.” via GIPHY
This is a fictional account of the 60 minutes report produced about Jeffrey Wigand, the whistleblower involved in the tobacco industry scandal. You have to watch the film for Al Pacino’s finest performance as an award-winning journalist, Lowell Bergman who unravels the case.

17. Nothing but the Truth (2008)

films shows about journalism
[Image Description: Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine GIF By Apple TV] vai GIPHY
As journalists, out of the many oaths that we take, one that we are sure to give our life for is protecting our sources and that is exactly what this reporter gets into trouble for.

The film stars Kate Beckinsale and reminds viewers of the real-life travails of Judith Miller, the former reporter for The New York Times who spent 85 days in jail in 2005. It adds to and pivots from the historical record, and it sharpens the difficult legal, moral and ethical issues in the Miller case.

18. His Girl Friday (1940)

films shows about journalism
[Image Description: Cary Grant I’m Just Gif’n His Judge-Y Moments Tbh GIF By Maudite] via GIPHY
Journalists have a personal life, too. This journalism-related film narrates the story of a newspaper editor who is desperate to get back his ex-wife, a reporter.

19. Good Girls Revolt (2015-2016)

films shows about journalism
[Image Description: Season 1 Success GIF By Good Girls Revolt] via GIPHY
This Amazon Prime Original series was based on the sexual discrimination case chronicled in Lynn Povich’s book and set in 1969. It revolves around young female researchers at News of the Week. All they seek is fair treatment while they are being discriminated against by not being allowed to become news reporters.

20. Bombshell (2019)

films shows about journalism
[image Description: Margot Robbie Lionsgate GIF By Bombshell Movie that reads, “I BELONG ON AIR] via GIPHY
This 2019 film was based on a true case of sexual harassment at Fox News. Bombshell celebrates the women that the news channel in the spotlight made a mockery of and gives them a voice.

21. Supergirl (2015-2021)

films shows about journalism
[Image Description: Melissa Benoist Supergirl GIF By VIASAT3] via GIPHY
This CBS show was about a journalist who wanted to spread truth and justice through the power of writing. Despite having superpowers, Kara decided to explore a new path for herself and become a reporter.

These journalism-related films and shows have all helped me in some way or the other, be it after a rough day in the newsroom or helping me plan my next move in case I feel too stuck in my routine. Now that we are all still stuck in our homes writing, they also remind us of what journalists used to (and will) look like!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Life Stories Life

Being creative doesn’t need to be performative or productive

My hesitance with being creative started with a set of simple words on my screen: “Now is the perfect time to write your book!” I encountered variations of these words on Twitter, against the scenic backdrop of a forest in an inspiration post on Instagram. They seemed to follow me everywhere I clicked. These words became a trickling of an inner voice in my head that demanded one thing: write a book. Write the book. 

At the time, we were all in our first few weeks of the world-wide lockdown. There was a wave of posts that encouraged people to look at the bright side of staying home. After all, we had the many privileges that came with being able to have our own spaces during this time. We didn’t have to share a common eating space with colleagues and we could work in our pajamas. It wasn’t all bad, right?

Not to mention, while we self-isolated and stayed inside, our schedules had significantly cleared up. These reminders and gentle pushes served as an incentive for us to sit down and do the things we said we’d do if we had more time. My current circumstance, if I would have let it, could have been inspirational. This was the time I had been waiting for, so why wasn’t I typing away? 

I imagined myself as an artist who was finally in their own element with nothing but time and energy to create. Cocooned away in blankets, frantically typing away at her next screenplay, she uses the time she would have spent commuting to work to instead perfect her craft. Or perhaps I’d relate more to a woman whose hands dance in the warm light streaming through the window. There are paint streaks on her cheeks and the coffee in her mug has gone cold.

Then, there is also the image of a struggling artist who perseveres against all odds. Their hand is shaking, but resolute, as they photograph minute details of their surrounding, working with what they have. This artist scrapes the barrel for their inspiration, regardless of the clamor outside. Fair. But we need to remind ourselves these are heavily romanticized ways of approaching creativity. 

Reading the pandemic was the perfect time to ‘write my book‘ made me feel discouraged. I felt bogged down. I was in mourning for the perfect end to my senior year that now would never be. Trapped in my room, I felt the need to escape. Writing allows me to delve deep into myself – something I could not have been bothered with before the pandemic hit. However, as any writer can tell you, it is an incredible feeling to share your work, but writing can be a terribly lonely and internal process.  

I wasn’t partaking in much leisure creativity in those early days. Even writing my college senior project, a creative fictional piece, felt like a chore. All my energy went into listening to the voices that streamed out of my laptop during the last of my online courses.

All I wanted to do was scoop out my mind and leave it in a warm tub to rest. I watched movies, listened to music, and chatted with my roommates, using up the energy I had left on reserve. I didn’t feel inspired to produce some great masterpiece. But I had all the time in the world to do it. Since I wasn’t going anywhere, why wasn’t I writing my book?

Weren’t the arts meant to be those places where we could escape from capitalist expectations of labor and product?

Over time, I felt myself spiraling. I didn’t have an idea of what I would write. I just felt like I had to make something productive out of my time. I genuinely felt I was going to disappoint myself either way, whether I chose to pick up my pen or not.

This is all sounding gloomy, but actually, there were times when I wanted to be creative. When I felt that sudden urge to set off and start working on a new piece of writing or pick up painting as a hobby. I knew when I started working I would feel good about it, but the benchmark had been set so high that I felt discouraged.

When I was packing up to move back home, I stumbled upon a product of my literary past. I had written up a small outline of a short story sometime in January. Immediately, I wanted to drop everything, move aside the boxes from my desk, and bring the story to life.

I had an epiphany- this mindset of creating perfect art was (and is) toxic. Creativity doesn’t have to be productive. Weren’t the arts meant to be an escape from capitalist expectations of labor and product?

I am not wasting my time even if nothing comes of the writing– I am perfecting a craft.

Art didn’t need to be performative either. It didn’t have to wear the fancy label of a ‘novel’ or perform for an audience. I didn’t need to parade around and place a glossy cover over the pages. Instead, I needed to give myself permission to not even have to finish whatever project was in my drafts. Ultimately, I must accept no creative pursuit is ever wasted. I am not wasting my time if nothing comes of the writing. Rather, I am perfecting a craft. As for talent, there is no wasting that unless I don’t use it. 

The sooner I realized I could follow my creative instincts without oppressive expectations, the sooner I felt creatively liberated. Whether it be through sporadically writing a scene of a story or picking up (and putting down) a paintbrush when I feel inclined, I shouldn’t have felt pressured to fully pursue my creative urges if I didn’t want to. I should be allowed to surrender to that flurry of excitement and passion to simply express myself. Then, when the passion was over, to let it go. Truly, I didn’t even have to show my creative work to anyone or look at it ever again. 

I am teaching myself creativity isn’t meant to always be translated into something productive. The funny thing is I often did return to those pieces and paintings and continued to work on them. But that was only possible when I didn’t feel the heavy benchmark of producing a bestseller or a museum-worthy mural on my shoulders.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Up and Coming Movies Pop Culture

41 new movies we’re all dying to watch in 2021

I think we can all agree films and shows played a huge role in passing the time last year. Normally I wouldn’t say this, but they were real life-savers as we were stuck home for months.

Now with the new year we are all ready for some new releases to watch and gossip about online. Lucky for you, I have a list of the top talked about movies coming out this year. I’ll try to give you as much detail as I can find, but the further away the release date, the less information there is unfortunately.

1. Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (January 15)

"The garden was small potatoes" Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway movie poster
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway movie poster from

Based off Google reviews, 87% of users liked the first movie and honestly my family was one of them. This is hopefully going to be a great family approved sequel as Peter Rabbit tries navigate life as a runaway rabbit.  

2. Malcolm & Marie (February 5)

Black and White image of Marie almost kissing Malcom
Black and White image of Marie (Zendaya) almost kissing Malcom (Washington) from Variety

Have you been craving a black and white film with Black actors as the leads? Look no further. Malcolm & Marie is about a filmmaker and his girlfriend (John David Washington and Zendaya) as they return home from a movie premiere and discuss their past relationships. I read an article likening the film to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and I thoroughly enjoyed that play so I’m more than eager to see this one.

3. Cinderella (February 5)

Cinderella written in all caps with a crown on top of the R
Cinderella 2021 movie poster from Cinemablend

You’re probably thinking, “What? Another Cinderella?” And while I totally agree with that sentiment, there’s no way I’m not going to be watching this if for no other reason to hate on it’s lack of originality. 

4. The Eternals (February 12)

Eternals in all caps with Marvel Studios written above it
Eternals Movie Poster from IMDb

Marvel couldn’t possibly stop at Avengers so we will be gifted with The Eternals this year. The idea is that this team has come to protect Earth from an ancient enemy called “The Deviants”. Additional, this film is going to be the first MCU film to feature a same-sex kiss and openly gay couple. If you’re a diehard fan, Marvel even has a countdown set up for the release day.

5. Tom and Jerry (February 26)

Tom on a skateboard in the middle of blurred traffic with Jerry on top of him holding onto Tom's eyelids
Tom & Jerry movie poster from their Twitter page

I feel like I needn’t explain why we all need to watch Tom and Jerry, but I’ll still give you all some context. Tom the cat is kicked out by his owner as is his longtime mouse rival Jerry. The pair wander the street and go their separate ways to survive. Fastforward to Jerry living his best life in the finest hotel of Manhattan and a new staff member, Kayla, is assigned the task of getting rid of the mouse that could ruin the “wedding of the century”. Kayla hires Tom to help her and thus the classic game of cat-and-mouse unfolds on screen. 

6. Masters of the Universe (March 4) 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Noah (@ncentineo)

When I say I could barely find information on this film, I mean I spent quite a while watching fan made trailers and going in circles with Google. According to Imdb, this film will star Noah Centineo. The Instagram post is supposedly him bulking up for the role since he will be playing He-Man who is the most powerful man in the universe and has to save planet Eternia from the evil Skeletor. 

7. Chaos Walking (March 5)

Chaos Walking in caps with moon and forest behind it. Half (horizontally) of Holland and Ridley's faces are on opposite sides of the poster, hers at the his at the bottom.
Chaos Walking movie poster from IMDb

This sci-fi film stars Tom Holland who plays Todd Hewitt and Daisy Ridley who plays Viola. His character finds her after she crash lands on his planet where all other women have disappeared and men’s thoughts are all put on display due to “the Noise”. Todd vows to protect Viola as they navigate through uncharted territory. I am personally very intrigued… what do men’s thoughts look like when the world is in dystopia? 

8. Raya and the Last Dragon (March 12)

Raya in her signature outfit and hat with a sword standing in a forest
Raya & the Last Dragon movie poster from IMDb

This Disney animated film is an adventure fantasy about a lone warrior named Raya who must track down the last dragon to protect the humans of Kumandra and finally stop the evil monsters known as the Druun from destroying the lands.

9.The King’s Man (March12)

Image of Ralph Fiennes opening a sword and three upperbodies of two men and a woman and in front of them is a man standing with a hat and sunglasses.
The King’s Man movie poster from their Twitter page

Action movies are always a fun time because one minute nothing is happening and the next everything is happening. This film is the prequel to the Kingsman films and if you haven’t had the privilege of enjoying those, you have a little time before this film is out. Please note, there were four different dates floating around but their twitter account states March at the moment. 

10. Bob’s Burgers: The Movie (April 7)

Bob's Burgers: The Movie movie poster with Bob looking miserable while his family have their mouths open as if singing (terribly)
Bob’s Burgers: The Movie movie poster from IMDb

There isn’t a trailer out and the plot is still kind of a mystery but this film will be an animated musical comedy based off the TV series of the same name so if you love the show and enjoy musicals, I don’t see how you could go wrong watching this. 

11. A Quiet Place Part II (April 23)

A Quiet Place Part II movie poster where a women is holding a sleeping baby in her arms and two young kids are behind her and they all seem to be in a dark cave
A Quiet Place Part II movie poster from IMDb

I never got around to watching the first film of this horror/thriller series but so many people were talking about it and now the world is being blessed with a part two. The Abbott family are still in danger as they venture into the unknown and realize that there are other creatures lurking just around the corner. 

12. Black Widow (May 7)

A big thick X in the back with Black Widow in the center
Black Widow movie poster from IMDb

You have to admire just how dedicated Marvel is at making its viewers have a look inside the life of every single one of their characters. Even the dead ones have a story to be told so this prequel about Black Widow is sure to be enlightening to say the least. 

13. Rumble (May 14)

Rumble movie poster of a huge monster (Rumble) tangled in the cables of a boxing ring with a human on his stomach holding a megaphone
Rumble movie poster from IMDb

The moment is here, a new animated film about monster wrestling being a global sport and the a human becomes a coach to an underdog monster. The film is based on the graphic novel by Rob Harrel. I don’t know about you, but I’m always down for a good underdog story. 

14. Fast & Furious 9 (May 20)

Fast & Furious 9 Movie Poster from IMDb of all the characters lined up behind each other leaning on cars with colored smoke in the background
Fast & Furious 9 Movie Poster from IMDb

If you want to have a good time with action, fast cars, and a nice heartfelt moment, the Fast & Furious series is your answer. With movie nine we see Dom and Letty have a son named Brian and want to put him first. Unfortunately, someone has come to town to wreak some havoc in their lives. Who? No other than Dom’s jealous and bitter brother. 

15. Godzilla vs. Kong (May 21)

Godzilla vs. Kong movie poster of them fighting with a neon background
Godzilla vs. Kong movie poster from IMDb

So basically if you wanna see a gorilla and kaiju fight with dramatic effect this movie is for you. I’m not going to lie, this one is hard to summarize but the two classic characters explain themselves. 

16. Infinite (May 21)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mark Wahlberg (@markwahlberg)

What would you do if the hallucinations you’ve been having are actually flashbacks of your past lives. The film is an adaptation of the novel The Reincarnationist Papers and though we usually agree the book is better than the movie, maybe this one will be an exception staring Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Dylan O’Brien.

17. Cruella (May 28)

Cruella written in red cursive
Cruella photo from IMDb

I loved Maleficent as it made us think about the villain’s side of a story. So, I’m excited to watch the live-action prequel feature film following a young Cruella de Vil, starring none other than Emma Stone.

18. The Conjuring (June 4)

Conjuring movie poster from IMDb
The Conjuring movie poster from IMDb

If you’ve seen one, you haven’t seen them all. This conjuring films is based off the files of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they looked into the murder of a young boy. What makes this different? The murder suspect claimed demonic possession as a defense for the first time in the history of the United States.

19. Vivo (June 4)

Vivo written in purple with blue and purple dots on top from IMDb
Vivo photo from IMDb

Sony Pictures Animation has created an adventure musical comedy with songs written by Lin Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton. The story is one full of adventure as the main character travels from Havana, Cuba to Miami, Florida in hopes of fulfilling his dreams.

20. In the Heights (June 18)

In The Heights movie poster from IMDb
In The Heights movie poster from IMDb

Lin-Manuel Miranda was clearly not wasting time as this is another project he worked on to share a story about a bodega owner closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic after inheriting his grandmother’s fortune. The film will be staring Anthony Ramos who played John Laurens and Philip Hamilton on Broadway. We love Into The Heights. 

21. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (June 25)

Venom: Let There Be Carnage movie poster from CinemaBlend
Venom: Let There Be Carnage movie poster from Cinema Blend

Tom Hardy is back to play Eddie Brock (Venom). The plot isn’t officially known but it seems people think Carnage, the main antagonist of the comics will make an appearance. I don’t think this is a huge leap considering the title.

22. Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 2)

Psychedelic blue and yellow circle background with Bob the Minion smiling
Minions: The Rise of Gru movie poster from Universal Pictures

The plot for this prequel is that 12 year old Gru is growing up in the suburbs and he wants to become evil enough to join the Vicious 6, a supervillain group. Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned. This series is a classic at this point so really I have nothing to add but that I’ll for sure be watching this with my younger brothers. 

23. Top Gun: Maverick (July 2)

Top Gun: Maverick Movie Poster from IMDb
Top Gun: Maverick Movie Poster from IMDb

Even though the first film came out 1986, Paramount Pictures will be distributing the sequel this year. Of course, Tom Cruise will be part of the cast, along with  Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, and Jon Hamm. It’s sure to be full of fun aerial footage. 

24. The Forever Purge (July 9)

The Forever Purge movie poster from Buzz
The Forever Purge movie poster from Buzz

The Purge was one of the best received horror films and the series hasn’t let its viewers down. The Forever Purge is said to be the fifth and last installment of the series. Let’s see if it ends the series with a bang. 

25. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings movie banner
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings movie banner from Marvel

Based off the Marvel Comics, this film will be focusing on the master of kung fu, Shang-Chi, as he confronts a past he thought he left behind until he’s dragged into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. Yay for the Asian representation in mainstream media!

26. Space Jam: A New Legacy (July 16)

Space Jam: A New Legacy photo from IMDb
Space Jam: A New Legacy photo from IMDb

The original Space Jam famously starred Michael Jordan, however, this sequel will have LeBron James instead. The premise is that LeBron James and his son Dom get trapped in a digital space. The only way out is to win a game on the court with the Looney Toon gang against the evil AI-G Rhythm. 

27. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (July 16)

Image of the sky and clouds with the waist down of Barb and Star who are in bright pink and yellow pants
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar movie banner from their Twitter page

This comedy is about a pair of best friends who leave their small town for the first time to go on a vacation to (you guessed it) Vista Del Mar but they find themselves tangled up in so much including a villain’s plans to kill everyone in town. Barb and Star are played by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig so it’s sure to have some laughs. 

28. Jungle Cruise (July 22)

Jungle Cruise movie poster from IMDb
Jungle Cruise movie poster from IMDb

Riverboat captain Frank (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) leads a scientist (Emily Blunt) and her brother through a jungle to find the elusive Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is meant to have properties that allow humans the chance of eternal youth so it’s no surprise that someone is also on the hunt for it and ready to stop them. 

29. The Suicide Squad (Aug 6)

The Suicide Squad movie poster from IMDb
The Suicide Squad movie poster from IMDb

Though this film will also have Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as the Joker, most of the other characters have been changed so this will be less of a sequel and more of an attempt two. 

30. Respect (Aug 13)

Jennifer Hudson with a fur lined top and an updo looking off camera looking fabulous
Respect movie poster from IMDb

If you love classy vibes, this biopic of Aretha Franklin staring Jennifer Hudson is going to be right up your alley. Hudson was personally picked by Franklin before her death in 2018 and if that’s not a sign this film will be one for the ages, I don’t know what is. 

31. The Boss Baby: Family Business (September 17)

Image of a baby girl and boy in suits
The Boss Baby: Family Business movie poster from Universal Pictures

This second film is about how both boys have grown up but then Tim’s youngest is now an agent for Baby Corp and she needs their help to expose the secrets of Acorn Center for Advanced Childhood school. 

32. Mission: Impossible 7 (Nov 19)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tom Cruise (@tomcruise)

With no trailer yet, it’s a wonder people are already talking about this film. Probably because of how seriously Tom Cruise takes the regulations on set due to COVID-19. I’m not here to talk about the right and wrongs of his rant but I feel like with that much passion, it’s my duty to watch the film and see how it all plays out.  

33. No Time to Die (Nov 25)

No Time to Die movie poster of Daniel Craig’s profile as he is holding a gun
No Time to Die movie poster from IMDb

The fifth and last Bond film with Daniel Craig as 007 and well it looks like a wild ride. Bond has left active service but is called upon by the CIA to look for a very important missing scientist. And of course, this is all a matter of life and death. 

34. West Side Story (Dec 10)

The two main characters looking at each other while their "gangs" are on either side
West Side Story first look photo from The Walt Disney Studios

This Spielberg directed film is an adaptation of the 1957 musical and is about a forbidden romance as the rivalry between two street gangs of different ethnicities grows. I loved the musical and am highly anticipating this film. 

35. [Untitled] Spider-Man: Far From Home sequel (Dec 17)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tom Holland (@tomholland2013)

The title is still up in the air, but down here on Earth we’re all eagerly waiting to watch the next Tom Holland Spiderman film. 


36. The Dune (Dec 18) 

Dune movie image of the title and a lunar eclipse underneath from IMDb
Dune movie poster from IMDb

Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, and many more come together for this epic sci-fi based on the best selling novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Paul Atreides is the son of an aristocratic family on the planet Caladan but then they move to planet Arrakis (aka Dune) and everything changes. 

37. Black Adam (Dec 22) 

Black Adam movie poster
Black Adam movie poster from IMDb

I would have never, and I mean never believed you if you had told me this lime last year that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would play a DC antihero. Nevertheless, here we are. 

38. Sherlock Holmes 3 (Dec 22) 

Since this film is so far from the time of writing this, I can’t tell you much but since I’m a loyal Sherlock fan I’ve added this to the list and hope ya’ll are as excited as I am. 

39. Sing 2 (Dec 22)

Image of Buster Moon the koala looking from behind the curtain of a theater stage
Sing 2 movie poster from IMDb

My brothers and I thoroughly enjoyed the first film. While I am totally into kids films, it’s rare for one to cater to all ages so well, so I’m excited to see what’s in store for the sequel. 

40. Wicked (Dec 22)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Wicked the Musical (@wicked_musical)

I’ve seen Wicked on stage twice now and it’s such a classic that I can’t imagine it going wrong. The iconic musical again plays with the concept of the villain being misunderstood is the same but with music. The main cast is still not confirmed, but the internet has been going crazy with speculations: Ariana Grande, Dove Cameron? All the possibilities… 

41. The Matrix 4 (Dec 22) 

I have a confession to make… I’ve never watched The Matrix. Despite that, even I understand just how iconic of a film it is and I couldn’t betray your trust by not adding the fourth film to the list. Hopefully it’s as good as the first. 

Honorable Mentions

With the release dates not yet official I wanted to quickly mention a few other films. There is going to be a live action Pinocchio which I think could be very interesting. Additionally, the comedy thriller titled Red Notice is coming and if it’s even half as good as Knives Out then that’ll be a win in my book. Plus, Netflix’s The Kissing Booth 3 is also coming to us, whether to hate watch or for genuine enjoyment is yet to be determined. Last, but definitely not least is “Diana: A New Musical” which will be a Broadway play about the late princess that will be recorded and added on Netflix.

All in all it seems that Dwayne Johnson, Zendaya, and Lin Manuel have been on a roll of cinematic projects since I mentioned them more than anyone else. There are also so many sequels and remakes in the works. I can only hope they turn out really well.

The only question is if we’ll be able to watch any of these films in theater, though I must confess I’m a fan of streaming in my living room while I eat an unhealthy amount of sugar in three day old sweats. And remember all these dates are subject to change, but hopefully they don’t. What movie has you most excited? 

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Up and Coming Movies Pop Culture

What movies are coming out this December?

We’ve had a good time binging The Crown’s latest season and gushing over Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen’s Gambit. But that doesn’t mean the fun is over because there are so many films scheduled for release this December. And hopefully we’ll be able get to witness the greatness in theatres soon enough.

I absolutely miss being able to have a night out with friends at the theatres; buying the overpriced snacks and walking out the dark room feeling as though I’m in an alternate reality. Well, the season’s tidings bring merry news of being able to experience it all over again!

So, if you’re a film enthusiast like me and have been anticipating these upcoming releases, sit back, enjoy the movie selection and save the date for your favorite picks!

1) Mank (December 4th)

mank poster via. IMDB
[Image Description: Movie poster for ‘Mank’ starring  Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried and Lily Collins] via IMDB
Set in the 1930’s, Hollywood takes a new form, this time we’re given the point of view of the legendary screenwriter Herman J. Mank. You can watch the enthralling black and white biography on Netflix.

2) Nomadland (December 4th)

Nomadland poster
[Image Description: Movie poster for ‘Nomadland’ in number plate style] via IMDB
Ever wonder what trekking around America would be like? Nomadland portrays exactly that. This film releases in theatres and shows the story of a woman who chooses to explore beyond life beyond everyday conventions.

3) Let Them All Talk (December 10th)

Let Them All Talk poster via. IMDB.
[Movie poster for ‘Let Them All Talk’ starring Meryl Streep] via IMDB
Who doesn’t enjoy a good self-reflection, especially when it involves a cruise and your two best friends! And where there are old friendships involved, there’s got to be drama! Tune in to Meryl Streep’s journey as an author who reconnects with her old gal pals and revives her youth. You can find out the details of what goes down exclusively on HBO Max.

4) The Prom (December 11th)

The Prom -Meryl Streep poster via. Ryan Murphy's Instagram
[Image Description: Meryl Streep ‘The Prom’ poster] via Ryan Murphy’s Instagram
Hold up… You’re telling me Meryl Streep is hitting the stage again? I couldn’t have heard better news. Ryan Murphy’s bringing back our Dancing Queen. This time she’s with Nicole Kidman and James Corden, all ready to give us a smashing prom musical style. And you can witness it courtesy of Netflix.

5) Death on the Nile (December 18th)

Death on the Nile poster via. the MovieWeb
[Image Description: Movie poster for ‘Death on the Nile’ displaying a cruise ship] via IMDB
Bump up your winter plans with a love triangle and a steamy murder mystery! Coming to theatres we have Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Letitia Wright, Emma Mackey, and Kenneth Branagh, roped into a murder motivated by love and lust. Talk about a killer cast! 

6) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (December 18th)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom movie poster
[Image Description: Movie poster for ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman] via IMDB
Revolving around a beautiful story about the earliest African-American blues singer, Ma Rainey, this Netflix film showcases the beauty in culture and music. Although that’s not all. We also get to witness the great Chadwick Boseman (may he rest in power) on the screen one last time. I already know the film will be immensely heartfelt!

7) The Midnight Sky (December 23rd)

The Midnight Sky poster via. IMDB
[Image Description: Movie poster for ‘The Midnight Sky’ starring George Clooney] via IMDB
Venture into the depths of the universe in this heart-wrenching and intense sci-fi film starring and directed by our favorite George Clooney -based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight. Exclusive on Netflix.

8) Wonder Woman 1984 (December 25th)

Wonder Woman poster via. IMDB
[Image Description: Movie poster for ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ starring Gal Gadot] via IMDB
We’ve all awaited the return of Wonder Woman. She’s back and she’s upgraded, giving the phrase ‘girl power’ a whole new meaning. You can catch her and the dreamy Steve Trevor, once again in theatres on Christmas Day. It really is a Christmas Miracle!

9) Soul (December 25th)

Soul poster via. IMDB
[Image Description: Movie poster for Disney’s ‘Soul’] via IMDB
Disney and Pixar are about to make everyone’s Christmas extra magical. Hop onto your Disney+ to stream the movie with your loved ones and find a new reason to love life. It’s exactly the kind of spirit everybody needs and this movie is here to deliver it!

10) News of the World (December 25th)

News of the World movie poster
[Image Description: Movie poster for ‘News of the World’ starring Tom Hanks] via IMDB
This heart-warming film features Tom Hanks as a non-fiction story-teller who travels across lands. His mission to care for a young girl whom he finds amidst his travels is filled with emotion. The passion in this movie is definitely going to be one you could feel whilst watching it in theatres.

11) Monster Hunter (December 25th)

Monster Hunter poster via. IMDB
[Image Description: Movie poster for ‘Monster Hunter’ starring Milla Jovovich] via IMDB
Monster Hunter is set in an alternate world filled with beasts and a battle for survival, whilst the world hangs in the balance of it all. If you’re into action-packed thrillers, you’ll want to get tickets as an early Christmas present to watch in the theatre. Did I mention it’s based upon a videogame? The graphics already look amazing!

I know my plans for December just upgraded because I’ll be spending A LOT of my time watching these films! If you missed some of November’s releases, here they are.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!