Numbering 45 million, around 15% of the United States’ population, African Americans have emerged on the pop culture scene in recent decades and have established a major presence, in fields from talk shows to music to film and more. Many big-name celebrities are black, and are popular across many demographics. Who are some of the biggest names, and how have they made their mark in the American public Sphere?
African-American Music Today
Jazz and blues were pioneered by African-Americans early in the 20th century, with figures such as Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong enrapturing the public even in a white-majority nation. This momentum has not been lost, and in recent years, black continue to enjoy a large slice of musical fame and influence in the latest entertainment. Beyonce Knowles, known by her stage name Beyonce, is one such figure. Celebrity gossip often finds itself buzzing about her, and her high-voltage career. Her net worth has grown to $450 million, and this puts her among the most successful female artists worldwide. Her fellow musician and spouse, Jay Z, is worth another $650 million, and together, they are worth just over one billion dollars. Celeb news has plenty to say about them both, with their staggering popularity and public image. Jay Z’s success even allowed him to unseat Elvis Presley for the most #1 solo artist albums, with a total of eleven to his name.
African-Americans in Cinema and Television>/h3>
In recent decades, celebrity gossip didn’t fail to pick up on blacks’ rise in fame and prominence in film. One especially popular black actors is Will Smith, the star of many movies, ranging from Independence Day (1996) to I, Robot (2004) to the trilogy. Nearly all of his films have grossed over $100 million, and he ranks among the highest-paid actors in Hollywood news. Denzel Washington also made his mark. He is the second African-American actor, after Sidney Poiter in 1963, to win an Academy Award. He holds two Oscars. Oprah Winfrey found her own great success with her televised The Oprah Winfrey Show, which ran for 25 seasons from 1986 to 2011. Black gossip has followed her with great interest during that time and ever since, and she is a prominent figure anywhere in American media.
The Statistics of Celebrity Gossip and Blacks
Pop culture is indeed popular culture, and blacks have found an ever-expanding niche in it. Black entertainment news has ballooned in recent decades, often thanks to BET, or Black Entertainment Television. Around 90 million homes around the globe tune in, and among young blacks, it was the top television network for black celebrity news as well as general culture and entertainment programming. Also, in the 12 months leading up to spring 2008, just under seven million people attended concerts for RandB, hip-hop, and rap artists in the United States. Online, the hip-hop genre of music received the most “likes” of any genre on Facebook, with a total of 314,540.
In addition, blacks haven’t been left out of the power of endorsements. If a celebrity supports a brand, then among consumers aged 18 to 36, there is enthusiastic support, while older Americans are more indifferent. According to The Root, some of the most notable African-American product endorsements have included Michael Jackson for Pepsi, M.C. Hammer for KFC, Michael Jordan and Spike Lee for Nike, and Dennis Haysbert for Allstate (the latter appearing in many Allstate insurance ads with his distinctive deep voice).