Aisha Tyler, B: September 18, 1970
“Sweetly wicked”. I love that description of Aisha Tyler from Esquire magazine… I am scanning her accomplishments and appointments thus far in her 45 years of life, and my mouth has dropped. When did this happen?? Busy doesn’t even begin to describe the whirlwind rise of this woman’s career. I remember ramen noodle era stand-up comedy Aisha; razor-sharp witted Aisha; hungry Aisha, hosting lame game shows and Talk Soup and laughing at all of it in her adorably smarmy way; smart as a whip, Dartmouth-educated Aisha– and the camera has always been in love with her… I always wonder if you can lose yourself after the graduation of cramming secondhand IKEA stuff you get on Craigslist and lugging it home in your Jeep, to having your assistant procure the lovely little mid-century modern settee you won at a private auction in Milan last week. I don’t watch TV, but I’m sorta aware of this ‘The Talk’ thing Aisha’s a part of these days– a bunch of yammering chicks discussing ‘fascinating’ topics like Kylie Jenner’s new ombre’d hair or Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner’s divorce vacation practices [did I guess right?? quick! I’m about to pass out from holding my breath!] all of the other carefully engineered appearances with the ‘right’ people sharing the screen. In some of the more recent pictures I notice every now & then, an unmoving forehead, a tightening here & there… I suppose one must do what one must to stay on top of one’s game in a sea of 20- & 30- somethings clamoring for the same position – all of that is so not Aisha! She’d be the one making fun of all of that lovely mess.
Aisha’s no longer a struggling comedienne performing in some dank club where her cut of the haul that night may have included a rebuffed polyester shirted, gold-chained, doused in Drakkar Noir, grope. She’s even done proper act-y stuff on proper TV shows, that I’ve clearly missed. She’s paid her dues, but I just hope Aisha hasn’t forgotten her roots, and that freshness with which she’d approach & deliver her material. The right eyes have recognized that talent, and she’s run with it, and keeps running – in fact she’s sprouted wings! big graceful wings to match her 6’0” statuesque awesomeness! She’s even still doing stand-up. Surely the venues have changed, and her audience has expanded, but the Funny is still there. We won’t get Amy Schumer or Whitney Cummings [maybe a little Whitney-ish] material, but the edge, while a tad more smoothed out appropriately, is still there.
Back in the 90s Aisha was the kind of chick I’d get some lunch with, and we’d have each other laughing the whole time… the 2016 scenario? well, if I made it past the studio, a couple lawyers and a team of assistants, then*maybe* – waivers for sure would be involved… and no pictures please. Such is the price of becoming a household name. Still adore her, and these days I especially adore her voice work for Archer, a pretty ‘wicked’ hardly ever ‘sweet’, brilliant animation currently in production, the 7th season due to be out at the end of March. Every now & then I hear bits of the old Aisha in Lana Kane’s voice, and I sigh with relief. We haven’t lost her yet!
“Am I going to complain about being typecast as smart? I don’t think so.”
Now look, I don’t know WHO this woman is… I didn’t even bother looking her up when I discovered her pic last year. This was enough. Utter. Perfection.
Got nothing else to say but ‘Enjoy’ [I suppose this could be her quote too] …and I’ll go head to a corner to weep, contemplate the universe & question my attractiveness… toodles… ;D
Mae Jemison, B: October 17, 1956
Hurray for the Science Girls! Hurray for being the first black woman in space! It seems by the time we hit puberty, even if a little girl has a ‘leaning’, mysteriously it gets abandoned for something else a bit less challenging. Why is that? Mae Carol Jemison could have been one of those girls, but she was always wanting to learn, always inquisitive. There were big plans in the works for her, but there were obstacles. There are always obstacles… from the classic misguided advice of a shortsighted teacher– Kindergarten Mae: I want to be a scientist! Teacher: don’t you mean a nurse sweetie? and of course, nursing is a noble profession [please! my sister’s a nurse, a good one! plus she looks like Mae! now THERE’s your twist!] but Mae wanted what she wanted, and nothing was stopping her. Then later, at Stanford while pursuing engineering, if she wasn’t completely ignored, she would get the classic, ‘well that’s a dumb question’ reaction from her professors, then young Jimmy would ask the very same thing thing a few weeks later, with the response of ‘well that’s a very astute observation young man’. Yeah, sounds like a bad 80s movie… but it happens, toss in a little racial discrimination and it’s a party.
But do you see Mae in her orange astronaut uniform tho! Nothing stopped this woman. Cornell for her Doctor of Medicine degree, travels to Cuba, Kenya and Thailand, Peace Corp volunteering, and throughout all of this, there was also dance, her passion from an early age. Her mother once told her that while she could always dance and be a doctor, she really couldn’t really doctor if she was a dancer. Moms are the best… So dancing was Mae’s outlet throughout all of it—the rejection, the awkward moments, the adulation. Also, remember how Nichelle Nichols had inspired tons of women & little girls? Mae was one of those little girls! She was always fascinated by space travel, and after Sally Ride’s flight in 1983, Dr. [thank you very much] Jemison took the opportunity, this glorious opening, as a chance to apply to the Program at NASA. There was a bit of a hiccup after the Challenger crash in ’86 but this only fueled her desire to participate. The rest of her career was really uneventful, Mae simply accomplished what she wanted to and nothing would stop her. All the fuss & bother of first this and first that was nice enough, but being a very smart woman, she knew it didn’t stop there. After retiring in ’93 she carried on — professor at Cornell University & Dartmouth College, forming her own corporations, foundations, all of which she combines technology with practical medical science – always looking forward to the future & what it has in store for us.
“People always think of technology as something having silicon in it. But a pencil is technology. Any language is technology. Technology is a tool we use to accomplish a particular task and when one talks about appropriate technology in developing countries, appropriate may mean anything from fire to solar electricity.”