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Phoebe Ollerearnshaw

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Film Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Be warned: Major spoilers ahead!

To review Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) is to convey what violent grief truly means. Unless you have the artistic talents of Frances McDormand—the leading actress and protagonist of the movie—this is no easy feat. However, the headstrong messages that echo throughout the narrative scream out and refuse to be ignored—a notion that has evidently been felt by the vast majority of the movie’s attendees.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was written, produced and directed by Martin McDonagh—the charismatic and somewhat polarizing playwright-turned-filmmaker. McDonagh was raised in south London and his parents were working class Irish immigrants. His writing strongly reflects his diverse upbringing. During his early career, McDonagh dazzled the London stage with his writing, with several of his plays showing simultaneously. But the bright lights of the movie theatre were beckoning and the writer/director went on to create In Bruges (2008), a film generally regarded as a triumph. He more recently directed Seven Psychopaths (2012), which didn’t quite manage to garner the same positive response. Several critics have said that Three Billboards is McDonagh’s best film to date and is McDormand’s most poignant performance since her appearance in Fargo back in 1996.

The inspiration 

McDonagh was apparently inspired to write the dark and emotionally raw tale after travelling “somewhere down in the Georgia, Florida, Alabama corner.” The screenwriter/director saw three billboards in passing that referred to an unsolved crime in the local neighborhood. “The rage that put a bunch of billboards like that up was palpable and stayed with me,” McDonagh said. Unable to get the image out of his mind, he pondered on what could have sparked such anguish. “[…] Once I decided, in my head, that it was a mother, everything fell into place,” he remarked.

The plot

 And so, the opening scenes of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri begin. Without a word being spoken, the dank hopelessness of Ebbing, Missouri’s (a fictional place in the southern Unites States) backward community is brought into view. As the not-so-subtle name suggests, this is a town where society seems to be receding. McDormand storms onto the screen as Mildred Hayes: a fiery divorcée and mother whose young daughter was raped and killed seven months prior. As the result of their inaction and incompetence, Hayes wages war on the local police department—armed with a bandana and a tongue so sharp it could cut you to shreds.

As Hayes rides into town, she is accompanied by the soft twang of a western-esque score from Carter Burwell, who incidentally worked with McDonagh previously on In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. Hayes rents a trio of broken down hoardings on the outskirts of town, brandishing them with a message to the local sheriff, Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). Hayes’ intention is to shame and spur the officers into action and, in doing so, shine a light on the corruption that is rife within the town’s police department. The embodiment of everything that is wrong with the law system is Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), a man whose skull-cracking tendencies make him volatile and dangerous. Even in the first moments of our introduction to him, we become aware of his vindictive, racist and homophobic inclinations. We are also made aware that Dixon has recently been involved in a racist assault, although the audience are never fully given the gritty details.

As the tale of Hayes’ struggle unfolds, we come to realise that prejudice is not only engrained within the police, but also within the majority of the townsfolk. Chief Willoughby’s loyal followers remain impassive to his shortcomings, leaving Hayes to defend her cause alone to the very end. It is only the addition of a few unforeseeable events that bring any glimpse of closure for the character.

While there is a darkness that clouds the entire film, it is interlaced with a distinctive thread of satire. In McDonagh’s signature style, he manages to play comedy against violence. At several points—whether it be through Hayes’ prickly sarcasm or Dixon’s bumbling incapability to do the simplest of tasks—the audience are forced to stifle a laugh. Each joke has an unsettling undercurrent, a dark subtext that makes us wonder why we are laughing at all. McDonagh’s knack for making audiences question themselves shines through and is perhaps what makes Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri such an interesting watch.

One of the most fascinating elements of Three Billboards—whether intentional or not—is that there is no mention of the time in which the story is set. There is no assurance as to whether these circumstances are happening today or, perhaps, a decade ago. While the difference seems insignificant, one could argue that it matters. The narrative gives no real mention of social media, for example, or any other signifier of modern-day culture. And yet, the story could conceivably be set in the here-and-now. Could it be that this was McDonagh’s intention all along? Was this a ploy to have us contemplate the abundance of discrimination that remains in today’s society?

Each of the three main actors give stellar performances, in fact McDonagh admitted that he wrote the characters of Hayes and Dixon with McDormand and Rockwell in mind. However, it is McDormand who steals the show. Her knack for complete naturalism and her depiction of raw emotion makes for an enthralling experience.

The critical response

While Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has largely been applauded for its unique approach, not all reviews have been positive. A number of very important issues are raised in the movie. But, while the matter of race is brought into the story early on, it soon falls to the sideline. Concepts of racism are there but never shown outright. Could this be seen as a copout (pardon the pun)? The same goes for the central character, Dixon. We are indirectly informed of his racist attack on another town member, but by the end of the film we start to feel a tiny shred of sympathy for him. This directional choice is extremely problematic. Humanizing somebody, whose actions cannot be described as anything apart than evil, smells very much like validation. Perhaps, rather than wanting to change our view of this character, we are instead supposed to realise that everybody (even the most vile of people), have a trace of humanity within them.

The movie’s initial release in the Unites States and Canada led to a gross profit of approximately $45.3 million. Since its release in the UK and elsewhere in January 2018, the worldwide total has reached $100.9 million.

McDonagh’s fierce, tragic comedy tugs on the heartstrings; its twists and turns often make us question who and what the real focus of this film really is. Our film review in short: don’t miss it.

College Degree to be Successful

Do You Need a College Degree to be Successful?

With potential loan debts and tuition costs rising every year, it’s no wonder half the millennial population is asking: do you need a college degree to be successful? The answer isn’t simple. There is no definitive proof that a degree can secure you the job of your dreams or lead to the ultimate “success” (especially because success is in the eye of the beholder). One person’s idea of being successful may be different to another’s. But, for now, lets assume that it means you have effectively climbed to the top of your field and earn a reasonably high salary.

A career prerequisite

Before considering whether you wish to attend college, you may want to reflect on what you have a real passion for. This is almost always the thing you will excel at. From there, you should surmise whether a degree is necessary in order to enter this vocation. For many industries, a degree isn’t a prerequisite for an entry-level position. In such circumstances, some students may feel a degree would simply postpone any possible opportunities. However, a degree may be an absolute must for certain fields—the obvious ones being medicine, the sciences, engineering and architecture.

Having realistic expectations is important at this stage of your decision-making. This is not to say don’t aim high, but be honest with yourself about what you can achieve. If your objectives are ambitious, devise a plausible plan that will make your dreams a reality. You may aspire to be a professional swimmer, but you should appreciate that this profession may be slightly out of reach. Instead, becoming the best swimming instructor in the region may be more achievable. Identifying a suitable location with a gap in the market may facilitate you founding a swimming school, which could even lead to a franchise.

What’s it worth?

There are various elements that can determine the value of your college degree: the amount you will ultimately pay to attend, your desired career path and your post-graduation living situation—each can contribute to its worth. One way to determine whether your college costs will stack up against your potential income is to use the Major ROI tool on the Discover Student Loans’ website. The website covers the potential average salary for different subject majors. For industries with six figure salaries, you can afford to pay for a more expensive institution. If the rewards are low, you may wish to consider a more economic method for achieving your goals.

Let’s not forget that financial aid is still available in the form of scholarships for those who need help with offsetting the cost of a college degree. Community colleges and state universities are also options that shouldn’t be cast aside. Both can provide quality educational courses for people with a subject or occupation in mind.

Pro college degree

  • Shows passion and dedication to the field you are applying for.
  • Prepares individuals for the workplace by developing independence, introducing important connections and improving social skills.
  • Provides resources that students can tap into for in-depth insight into various topics—experienced lecturers stand as a fountain of knowledge and expertise.
  • A college degree has become the standard for which many candidates are measured—mostly due to the imbalance of the job-to-candidate ratio.
  • According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2016, earning potential and educational attainment are directly related; lower earners had completed fewer levels of academia in every category.

Pro no college degree

  • Free from debt and tuition fees.
  • Internship and apprenticeship programs can introduce young people into the workplace—securing such a position doesn’t necessarily require a college degree to be successful.
  • Fostering ambition and making valuable business connections is possible via websites such as LinkedIn and Quora.
  • Online courses and certifications provide useful self-educational tools, providing knowledge needed for the workplace or specific industry.
  • The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey 2017 reported that business owners without a four-year degree far outnumber those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

What the experts say

Several famous personalities have managed to prosper without the help of a college degree; Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Coco Chanel and Steve Jobs, to name a few. This adheres with the data produced by the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey from 2017. It found that entrepreneurs who didn’t finish or attend college outnumbered those with higher-level degrees across both genders and every age group apart from the over 65s. However, all business owners who had skipped higher level education all shared common personality traits: each had a distinct attitude of independence, determination, a great idea and the willingness to take risks.

Jacqueline Gold, founder of the Ann Summers adult retail empire is another example of a self-made businesswoman, who climbed her way to the top without a degree. “I was acutely aware when I started Ann Summers Party Plan that I had no formal business training, but what started out as a disadvantage actually turned into one of my biggest advantages. I had to rely entirely on listening to customer feedback, which led to the rapid growth of Party Plan turning over £86,000 in its first year.” While Gold believes that college is undeniably beneficial, she also champions those that follow alternative paths. “I’m excited that there are individuals that want to do something different and create their own career and get straight in to the work place.”

On the topic, Chuck Runyon—co-founder of the 24-hour gym chain Anytime Fitness—commented: “If you want to get out of college and try to hustle, it still requires a great deal of capacity.” Runyon decided to leave college after he identified a gap in the market for a gym that was always open, one whose equipment focused solely on what was most frequently used by members. “I want to make it clear: you have to work every bit as hard, if not harder.”

The brain behind Microsoft, Bill Gates, agreed with Runyon’s sentiments. In a blog post in 2015, Gates said, “Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success.” While the majority of successful entrepreneurs show that college degrees aren’t the only way to succeed in life, none seem to show a dislike for higher education, either.

Whether you decide to get a college degree or jump straight into work, it is clear that the key to succeed in life is to aim high, work your hardest, take risks, stretch your creativity, and—no matter what—follow your dreams.

Further reading: Free Courses to Boost Your Resume

Kate Nash North American Tour

Dates for Kate Nash’s North American Tour Confirmed

Dates for Kate Nash’s North American tour were confirmed yesterday, sending die-hard fans into frenzy. Beginning this spring in Vancouver, Canada, Nash will slowly make her way across the Unites States to New York. The announcement for the north American tour comes on the coattails of Nash’s new studio album, Yesterday Was Forever (to be released March 30 2018) and the premiere of her latest single Drink About You (2018).

The new single will feature within Nash’s North American tour; the song in itself has a sweet, poppy vibe and is fuelled by a soulful twang of LA-lo-fi guitars. Drink About You talks about the unhealthy attitudes and habits we develop when going through a difficult break up. In her usual quippy way, Nash relays a number of heartfelt lyrics to an upbeat tempo and a catchy-as-hell chorus. The sing-along capabilities of the tune will undoubtedly go down a treat on her North American Tour.

The album Yesterday Was Forever delves into an excerpt of Nash’s teenage diary. When asked about the compilation, she recalls being picked on as young girl for writing in a journal: “I used to be mocked for being a silly little girl writing in her diary, but these days I feel like the teenage girl is far more respected than she use to be and it’s teenage girls that have fought for that and taught people that lesson. Yesterday Was Forever is about your dreams being trapped in a time capsule, being caught in a moment for too long, and looking back through heart shaped glasses.”

Nash released her first album, Caroline’s a Victim, on vinyl back in 2007 and has steadily risen to fame ever since. Her success led to her being crowned Best Female Artist at the 2008 Brit Awards. From there, Nash used her influential position to challenge perceptions of women and inspire the upcoming generation of females musicians. This led to the launch of the Rock n Roll for Girls After School Music Club. Nash was also appointed as global ambassador of the Because I Am a Girl initiative that was forged by Plan International—a scheme issued to raise and triumph women in developing countries.

Nash’s activism has hugely influenced her melody and, undoubtedly, steered her musical comeback in 2012. Her revival saw her step away from the comfort of her piano—which formulaically underpinned the majority of her previous work—and take hold of the bass guitar. This newfound sound is distinctive in her new album and will likely speak to the younger fan base on her North American tour. Nash has gone on to DJ at London and New York Fashion Week’s most exclusive events, write music alongside Willow Smith and moonlight as music editor for the London-based breakthrough fashion magazine, Phoenix.

Aside from being a singer-songwriter and activist, Nash has also expanded her horizons by branching into the acting sphere. Starring in feature films such as Syrup (2013) and Greetings from Tim Buckley (2012), she proved her worth as an actress. As a result, Nash was chosen to join the talented cast in the Netflix original series, GLOW (2017), where she plays the loveable British wrestler Rhonda “Britannica” Richardson. The series was shot by Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch and Jenji Kohan—the three are now in the process of shooting the second season, which Nash will be starring in.

Nash and her all-female band will tour the United States for three weeks. See the dates for Nash’s North American tour below:

04/04 – Vancouver, BC – Imperial
04/05 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox
04/07 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
04/09 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
04/10 – Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre
04/12 – Santa Diego, CA – The Observatory – North Park
04/13 – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory OC
04/14 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
04/16 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
04/17 – Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre
04/19 – Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe
04/20 – Chicago, IL – Park West
04/21 – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
04/23 – Toronto, ON – Mod Club
04/24 – Montreal, QC – Theatre Fairmount
04/25 – Boston, MA – Royale
04/26 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
04/28 – Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theatre
04/29 – Charlotte, NC – The Underground
04/30 – Washington, D.C. – 9:30 Club
05/02 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza

Further reading: Ron Pope Releases Seventh Studio Album

Vero App

The Rise and Fall of the Vero App

In the past week, Vero—a little-known app that was released back in 2015—has stormed to the top of the iOS app store charts, surpassing some of the biggest contenders in the industry. However, this influx of attention has been the cause of its undoing. The Vero app has since buckled under the pressure and received a rather violent backlash from its users.

Before we go into the specifics, we sense that you may be wondering: what the hell is Vero? Vero advertises itself as a smart social platform: the better version of Instagram. The Vero app differs from Instagram largely because imagery isn’t its sole focus. Members can also share links, music, TV, books and places, for a more dynamic experience—well, that’s the sales pitch. When registering to the app, you provide your name, email address and phone number—unlike Instagram, there are no usernames. In contrast to Instagram’s new algorithm, the feed runs in chronological order. You can follow your friends, favorite brands and celebrities who are also signed up. One of the app’s most alluring features is that it doesn’t store any personal data, nor does it display any advertising.

Vero reportedly received a surge of attention after members of the cosplay community started migrating to it. An Instagram search of #vero produces thousands of photos from users requesting that their followers find them on the new platform. It also may have helped that that the first million users were offered the app for free for life, after which new users would have to pay a subscription fee. Unfortunately, the joyous feelings towards the Vero app were short-lived.

As hundreds of thousands of people began to sign up, the app became plagued with technical issues. While Vero’s technical team battled to get the app running smoothly, users flocked to Twitter to express their outrage at the efficacy of the platform. One twitter post read: “Just so everyone knows. The people behind this app are just about as awful as the app itself. #deletevero”

Vero—which is the Latin word for truth—was created by Lebanese billionaire Ayman Hariri. Before beginning his escapades as CEO for the next generation social media platform, Hariri was vice chairman of his family’s now defunct construction company, Saudi Oger. There have been reports that 31,000 complaints were filed against this company over negligence and unpaid wages before it shut down in July 2017.

What are your thoughts on the rise and fall of the Vero app? We want to hear from you.

Glee Actor Suspected Suicide

Glee Actor Mark Salling Found Dead in Suspected Suicide

Mark Salling—best known for his long running role as ‘Puck’ in the hit series, Glee (2009-2015)—has been found dead in a suspected suicide at the age of 35. The death of the actor and singer comes in the wake of a scandal he was embroiled in; one that led to him plead guilty to the possession of child abuse images.

His attorney, Michael Proctor, confirmed the news today in a statement: “I can confirm that Mark Salling passed away early this morning,” he read. “Mark was a gentle and loving person, a person of great creativity, who was doing his best to atone for some serious mistakes and errors of judgment,” Proctor added.

Salling was born in Dallas, Texas, where he was reportedly home-schooled. After graduating from high school, the Glee actor moved to California and attended the Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music in Pasadena. Salling landed his first acting role in 1996; his career steadily progressed from there.

The cause and manner of Salling’s death are still not clear. However, some reports suggest that officials suspected suicide after finding the Glee actor’s body near a park a few miles from his home in Los Angeles. Salling’s arrest in December 2015 came as a result of an apparent tipoff from an ex-girlfriend—although her identity has not yet been disclosed. After searching Salling’s house, police investigators found more than 25,000 images and 600 videos of child pornography on his computer and on encrypted hard drives. The content apparently depicted children as young as three being abused, court documents state. The same court documents also reveal that a manual was found on the actor’s laptop that instructs men “how to abuse girls who are between three and six years old”.

In the same month as his arrest, the Glee actor admitted to the charges laid against him, saying in a statement that he was: “[…] pleading guilty because I am guilty of the charges.” After pleading guilty to the possession of child pornography, Salling’s legal team reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, requiring him to serve between four and seven years in prison. This meant he would have avoided the maximum sentence of 20 years. As part of his agreement, Salling was required to pay $50,000 to any victims that came forward. The official sentencing was to be held this March, meaning that his death came weeks before the restitution of the agreement came into effect.

Fellow colleagues of the Glee actor have expressed their regret and deepest sympathies for Salling’s family. Salling’s attorney ended his statement this morning by saying: “The Salling family appreciates the support they have been receiving and asks for their privacy to be respected.”

Further reading: Cult Leader Charles Manson Dies Aged 83

Surprising Travel Destinations for 2018

6 Surprising Travel Destinations for 2018

College News explores the weird, wonderful and somewhat surprising travel destinations for 2018 that are drawing travelers in from far and wide. This year holds the possibility for new adventures, eye-opening experiences and unimaginable excitement. Take the first step and check out these travel destinations—you won’t regret it.


The first of our travel destinations is Bolivia, a landlocked country bordered by Peru, Chile and Brazil. At present, it remains one of the most overlooked countries in South America—we are here to change that. It may be a little rough around the edges, but don’t let that fool you. This country has a wealth of natural splendor that is just waiting to be discovered. The diversity of Bolivia’s landscape is overwhelming: from the expansive salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni and the intricate network of floating islands on Lake Titicaca to the bustling capital La Paz and the dusty Andean desert region. Most tourists are blown away by the expressive culture displayed by Bolivians, with parades and deity-focused celebrations a common occurrence.


Offering luscious forests, mountainous sites and colonial architecture, it goes without saying that Nicaragua is not to be missed. Nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica, this treasure trove of undeveloped land is perfect for travelers who crave to get off the beaten track. Nicaragua is also an ideal destination for activity junkies, which is why it features on our list of surprising travel destinations for 2018. Experience the ultimate rush of surfing down an active volcano, diving in underwater caves or fishing in the rivers of a dense jungle. The colorful colonial buildings of the towns and the pride of heritage displayed by the locals makes it a picturesque getaway for anybody in search of adventure.


With almost half of its surface area being covered by forest, Slovenia is a dream for those wanting to reconnect with nature. This small country in central Europe is known best for its ski resorts, tranquil lakes and quaint coastal towns. A keenness for outdoor pursuits is a must when venturing to this particular travel destination, with hiking and cycling the snow-capped mountains being a favored pastime. Slovenia is also marked for its unique cuisine: an amalgamation of Italian, Austrian and Hungarian. There is a distinct focus on fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Aside from its natural beauty, most visitors remark on the supreme openness and hospitality of the locals. 


Japan encapsulates a harmonious balance between modern living and ancient tradition. Tokyo’s neon-lit cityscape is almost reminiscent of a science fiction film: a stark contrast to the rural prefectures elsewhere. Japan is a mecca for foodies; the flavor, simplicity and quality of the cuisine is synonymous the world over. Much to the surprise of newcomers, the gastronomy is deeply varied and largely dependent on the district. The mountainous regions offer up hearty hotpots while the coasts are famous for delicate sushi. Whether you choose to relax in some of its natural hot springs, visit a site of ancient shrines or take in the iconic views, there is something for everyone in Japan.


This sliver of a country stretches along the western edge of South America, with around 6,000 kilometers of coastline. What Chile really is, is a land of extremes. In no other place could you stargaze the galaxies from the driest desert in the world—the Atacama Desert—climb the 2,000 meter Patagonian steppe of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine and visit the haunting moai monoliths of Easter Island in one trip. Even its cities have a distinct personality that resonates with tourists. Valparaiso is a key example of this: the city’s inextinguishable energy is brought to life through astonishing street art that is considered among the best in Latin America. 


Perhaps one of the most surprising travel destinations for 2018 is Bhutan—a tiny Buddhist kingdom on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. Bhutan is characterised by its preserved verdant landscapes, patchwork rice fields, magical fortresses (or dzongs) and impressive mountaintop monasteries. The Bhutanese make a point of restricting the number of yearly visitors—employing a sustainable approach to tourism, so as not to dent the environmental purity of their nation. Not only is Bhutan carbon neutral, but also at least 60 percent of its forests must remain for future generations by law. It comes as no surprise that such a place also measures their output by Gross National Happiness (GNH). Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, a few rules and regulations should be kept in mind—mainly the daily tariff for foreign visitors. While this compulsory fee covers accommodation, food and guide, it also makes it a slightly pricier venture (one worth forking out for, we think).

Which of these surprising travel destinations for 2018 would you visit and why? We want to hear about your plans for exploring the globe below!

Further reading: Mind the Gap Year

Personal growth

Pastor Touré Roberts on Personal Growth

We caught up with Touré Roberts, founder of The Potter’s House at One LA—one of the fastest growing churches in Los Angeles. Being an established pastor, self-help author, motivational speaker and thought leader, we picked his brains on a number of issues facing modern-day society and personal growth. He goes on to divulge how we can facilitate our own personal growth and gives us a taste of the key concepts included within his new book, Wholeness (2018).

College News: How do you think your upbringing and past experiences have shaped your personal growth and beliefs?

Touré Roberts: I believe I am a product of all that I have experienced including the obstacles I’ve overcome. Growing in my understanding of the “whys” and “how’s” of those experiences and gaining a healthy perspective has shaped my belief that if you don’t give up and seek understanding, all of your life’s experiences can work together for your ultimate good.

CN: What inspired you to become a thought leader/self-help author?

TR: Through my own journey of awakening and empowerment, I realized that I wasn’t alone. I recognized that there were countless people that needed to be lifted in the same way that I did. In addition to discovering that I had exceptional abilities in communicating and inspiring, I realized that the best use of these gifts was to share them with others.

CN: The One LA website provides opportunities to volunteer for various projects that help the community, why do you think such schemes are so important?

TR: I believe that one of the obligations of being human is to be humanitarian. Most people want to make a difference but don’t know where to start. We help people to connect their passions to an area of need in the world. This produces personal fulfillment and a better and happier society.

CN: Do you have any plans to expand these volunteering projects?

TR: Yes. As the world gets smaller through information and technology, there is a greater number of needs that arise. My vision is to respond to them as we are made aware, and as our resources match to those growing needs. I realize we can’t answer to all situations, but I believe we are called to support good in every way that we can.


“One of the obligations of being human is to be humanitarian”—Touré Roberts


CN: What is the secret to achieving happiness, in your opinion?

TR: I believe one of the primary secrets to happiness in life is discovering who you truly are and what you were created to contribute to this world. The best part of life is living in this fulfilled existence knowing that you are doing exactly what you were born to do. This process is a journey and doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a beautiful process of becoming, that makes living fascinating.

CN: In your new book, Wholeness, you talk about invisible boundaries that restrict our personal growth and keep us from reaching our potential. Can you provide some examples of these boundaries and what we can do to break them down?

TR: There are many limitations that hide in our blind spots that have to be identified and overcome in order to experience the realization of our life’s potential, such as insecurities, damaged perceptions of self, others and the world around us, to name a few.

Breaking through these limitations begins with truly knowing one’s self and identifying the patterns that are shaping our current life experiences. Once these patterns are recognized, we can identify what’s healthy and productive versus the ones that aren’t. At that point, we can address the ones that aren’t healthy through a systematic process and create new, healthy and productive patterns. I lay forth these processes in great detail in my book Wholeness and teach my readers how to become “traceable” so that they can become unstoppable.

CN: You have dedicated your life to imparting your wisdom and theories to others, what are the main messages you hope people come away with after reading your books?

TR: I want my readers to know that they were created to win in life. That they have the ability to overcome everything that prevents them from soaring. We should not simply settle and must be ready to do the work. There is a life and existence that is beyond what we could even pray for or imagine.

CN: In your live services you mention the “inner mirror” and how it affects personal growth and perceptions of the world around us. Can you tell to us a bit more about this concept?

TR: We all have what I call our inner “storyteller” which is what we say to ourselves everyday about everything. There is a challenge that sometimes our storyteller (inner mirror) can get distorted because of experiences that we don’t process properly and as a result, the images that our mirror projects back to us can be distorted and negative. This requires the process of qualifying the narrator or your storyteller, and in some cases going through the process of healing your inner mirror. Wholeness teaches you how to do that. One phrase from the book suggests that “the most important story in our lives is the one we tell ourselves.”

CN: Aside from being an author and pastor, you have also proved to be a philanthropist—most notably with your founding of the Artist Resource Centre in north Hollywood. Is this a cause you feel passionately about?

TR: Yes, it is. I believe that art in its various forms has the power to bring people and positive ideas together in a way that few things can. It’s a wonderful tool to unify, bring happiness and promote goodness and peace in our world. I’ll always be a supporter of positive creativity.

CN: What are your goals for the future? Do you see yourself releasing more books or expanding the reach of your church services?

TR: Yes. My goals for the future are to continue the reach of our organizations with a specific focus on leadership development. As the world continues to change, leadership is becoming more and more critical. Furthermore, I love writing and I love people so expect more helpful books from me in the future.

Further reading: Mental Health Awareness in School

Oscars 2018

The Oscars 2018: Our Predictions

As the 90th Academy Awards ceremony approaches, general murmurs of possible nomination candidates have begun to circulate within the entertainment community. The Oscars 2018 awards ceremony itself will take place on March 4, with the crème de la crème of film stars guaranteed to be in attendance. From January 5, members have been able to cast their votes online. Here, we offer our predictions and compile a list of worthy contenders for the Oscars 2018. Meanwhile, we’ll speculate which dark horses could throw a spanner in the works for the front-runners.

2017 has certainly been an interesting year for Hollywood—to put it lightly. With scandal plaguing the headlines, the spotlight has been solidly fixed on tinsel town and its residents. So what has this meant for film and cinema? Well, a great deal as it so happens. Numerous accounts of sexual misconduct that began with Harvey Weinstein have meant that topics of gender, inequality and power manipulation are top of the agenda. Since the first Academy Awards in 1929, only four women have ever been nominated for the Best Director Oscar: Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties (1975), Jane Campion for The Piano (1993), Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2003) and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2010); Bigelow is the only female director to win. This translates to a ratio of one female to 88 male directors. We believe that women—in front of and behind the camera—will have more of an opportunity to prove themselves this award’s season (although it begs the question: why has it taken so long for such an alteration to occur?). A crop of female-led and female-centric films has burst onto the scene (and about time too), which could dramatically change the landscape of the Oscar Awards. With models of directorial excellence exhibiting such as Dee Rees’ Mudbound (2017), one could assume that the lists may appear different this year—or be confounded if they don’t.

Furthermore, the scathing criticisms surrounding the Oscars that emerged last year may return with a vengeance—the #OscarsSoWhite campaign springs to mind. In 2016, the Academy was condemned for the lack of ethnic diversity shown in their decision-making. Others have directed their blame at the film industry itself. According to The Guardian, “During this century, minority actors have secured only 15 percent of the top roles (as identified by billing, critical esteem and box-office takings).” But the sharp writing from Jordan Peele’s Get Out—set in ‘post-racial’ America—surely cannot be ignored this season, right?  What we can say without any hesitation is that the Oscars 2018 will be like no other.

 The unspoken rules of Oscar nomination

Over time, the Academy has revealed certain trends in their nomination picks—whether conscious or not. We have labeled these trends in decision-making as the ‘unspoken rules’.

  • Films released early in the year are often ignored or forgotten
  • Horror films are almost never nominated (according to IMDB, the last horror film to win an Oscar was The Wolfman in 2010)
  • Technical achievement is ranked higher than storytelling
  • First time directors don’t usually triumph
  • Those that were unjustly snubbed in the past stand a better chance of receiving a nomination in the future

 Our Oscars 2018 predictions

 The Sure Bets

  1. The Post (2017)
  2. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
  3. Dunkirk (2017)

I don’t think anybody could dispute that Dunkirk deserves a place at the nominee’s table; especially taking into consideration the meticulous shooting, awe-inspiring score and groundbreaking performances that were involved in bringing it to the screen. Both critics and home-viewers alike have hedged their bets and surmised that it will be nominated for Best Picture for the Oscars 2018 ceremony. The technical components alone make the film a masterpiece to behold and could well tip the scales in director Christopher Nolan’s favor. In the past, avid fans of Nolan have felt duped at the considerably low recognition the director has received. While Inception (2010) and Memento (2000) received Oscar nominations, it is astounding that this giant in modern-day cinema has never received a win. Perhaps Dunkirk will present a more palatable genre for the committee to swallow.

Others threatening the top spot include Steven Spielberg’s The Post, Greta Gerwig’s Ladybird and Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name. Spielberg has long been recognised as a man who knows how to tell a damn good story—The Post is no exception. While Spielberg’s ode to journalism plays out beautifully, the titan reputation of the director may in fact lead to his dismissal in order to make way for other directors. Meanwhile, Call Me by Your Name brings something completely new to the table. The coming-of-age love story sees a sensuality that is so very rarely projected onto the big screen. Timothée Chalamet (Interstellar, 2014) gives a truly remarkable presentation of the young protagonist, Elio; a naive and cosmopolitan character who struggles with his sexual identity. Surely this exceptional young talent will be in with a shot for Best Supporting Actor?

The dark horses

  1. Shape of Water (2017)
  2. Mudbound
  3. *Get Out (2017)—our top pick

While some films seem solidified in the nomination’s list, there are always a few surprises. These dark horses may just steal gold—they certainly have the clout for it. Shape of Water, is one such film to watch out for and may just sneak into the nominations list. Guillermo del Toro’s aesthetic is immediately recognizable in this tale of an unlikely relationship between the mute, Eliza (played by Sally Hawkins) and a sea creature who resides in the lab in which she works. Much like his dark fantasy, Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), del Toro weaves an imaginative story that is surprising and hopelessly romantic. The music subtly nods to that of the 60s era in which it is set, and the visual effects alone should certainly receive a large amount of credit.

Netflix has been trying its damnedest to make its break with its first Oscar nomination, and before now, has failed to do so. But could this year finally see a breakthrough? Screenwriter and director Dee Rees’ latest screen adaption of Hillary Jordan’s novel, Mudbound (published in 2008), is starting to gain some traction. As the title suggests, Mudbound plants us right in the middle of the muck in the rural Mississippi delta. The film’s musical score by debut film composer Tamar-kali has received considerable praise for its authentic Southern tone and synchronization with the movie’s climactic scenes. The blues-tinged notes helps to make the story feel all the more soulful. What really gives Mudbound the dark horse status, in our book, is the phenomenal performance by superstar Mary J Blige. Rees was apparently so sure of her casting decision, that Blige was not even asked to audition. We think it was right on the money in sight of her memorable portrayal of Florence Jackson, matriarch of the Jackson family.

One of the most deliciously surprising movies released this year was Get Out. Not much could have prepared audiences for Peele’s darkly satirical social thriller. Get Out could well be the film to deviate from the Academy’s trend of overlooking the horror genre (although it encapsulates elements of several genres). If nominated, it would also contradict the Academy’s tendency to avoid first-time directors, with the film being Peele’s solo directorial debut. Rather than simply being a narrative filled with scare tactics, this clever deconstruction of society peeks under the genteel façade of American suburbia and reveals what ugliness lies beneath. Daniel Kaluuya’s gripping portrayal of the main character steals the show, which justly earned him a win for Best Actor at the Golden Globes. The performances of his costars Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford also add to the Stepford Wives-esque feel that the movie radiates. While racial alienation lies at the heart of the storyline, let’s not gloss over the genius way in which Peele decides to express this message. While it is uncertain whether Get Out will manage to win Best Director, Best Actor or Best Picture, it’s certainly got our vote.

The Overlooked

A few wondrous feats of cinema inevitably fall through the cracks when awards season comes around. Sometimes they didn’t manage to flourish at the box office or were simply outshined by more recent arrivals—but we believe they still deserve recognition. Stronger (2017) is one such example. The film is based on the true story of Jeff Bauman’s struggle to cope with the amputation of his legs after being wounded in the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. But Stronger massively deviates from the all-too-familiar formula of the “true story”: the ultra-Hollywoodized narrative where the protagonist triumphs over all obstacles unscathed, finishing with a life lesson for the spectator. Technically, the film does slot neatly into the group; however, David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, 2013) directs Bauman’s account in such a way that marks it head and shoulders above the other films within its category. There’s a real commitment to exhibiting Bauman’s perspective: his struggle with PTSD and his detachment from the hero status he earns himself. It seems highly unlikely that Stronger will make the cut on this occasion but it is worth a view for sure.

Are you excited for the Oscars 2018 awards? Give us your thoughts on our predictions—are they accurate?

Catch up on last year’s Oscar nominations: 2017 Oscar Nominations

Dating Apps Created by Women

Five Dating Apps Created by Women for Women

Apps have changed the face of dating and there seems to be no signs of them slowing down. Long gone are the days of courting a lady; instead, swiping yes or no seem to be the newest form of digital foreplay. While dating apps have made connecting to people far easier, they have received a lot of skepticism from both sexes—women, in particular. Women often feel harassed or tired of silly puns and cheesy one-liners spewed out to them by their matches. Another complaint is the lack of safety precautions. Instances of harassment are a common feature of virtual dating. The solution to this? Dating apps created by women—these outstanding dating apps have the answer (for the females at least). Take a look at our top 5 dating apps created by women for women.


Possibly the most popular and well known of the eight apps, Bumble is specifically designed with women in mind. It works on a similar premise to most dating apps with location being integral to your matches. What makes it so unique is the method in which a couple will start chatting. A male can extend an invitation to speak with a female, but in order for any flirting to commence a female needs to accept beforehand. Whitney Wolfe, CEO and creator of Bumble and cofounder of the dating app Tinder, is an American entrepreneur. The app’s immense popularity and surge in their monthly base visitors gained Wolfe a place within Forbes 2017 30 Under 30, where they credit successful young pioneers for their work.


HER’s objective is to unite members of the lesbian, bisexual and queer community of women. Their app involves free and paid features with differing perks and functions. But there is a lot more to HER than just dating, it also allows the user to make new friendship connections and read up on topical news. They even promote the sharing of LGBTQ events, providing app users with a well-rounded knowledge f how their identity group is being catered to in their local community. Robyn Exton, founder of HER, commented that “Dating for LGBTQ women used to be pretty tough. Trying to find a woman that hadn’t dated one of your friends was like trying to find a black diamond in Argos; very unlikely.” A prime example of a dating app created by women for women.

Coffee Meets Bagel

The Coffee Meets Bagel app is unlike Tinder, which uses fast-paced swiping software for a quick dating experience. Coffee Meets Bagel takes that concept and flips it on its head. Each day at noon the male users will be sent a selection of 21 matches, they can either like or pass on these. The app then curates the best potential matches for those who were liked, the girl can choose who they speak to out of the selection they receive. The more the app progresses, the more accurate the matches become. The app collates data and starts to track the significance of the users you like.


LuLu was created by Alexandra Chong as a solution to harsh dating rules. The app aims to create a safe environment for women, allowing them to remain anonymous until they feel comfortable revealing their full identity. It works in a similar way to Bumble, allowing women to make the first move with a message. What sets LuLu apart from the rest is its rating feature. The app allows you to rate exes and old acquaintances. This review covers sexual performance, hobbies, ambitions and appearance, giving a unique edge over its app opponents.


Susie Lee, CEO and cofounder of dating app Siren, disliked the swiping culture developing within the dating scene. Mindless and rather shallow use of apps is starting to make people neglect what really matters—an opinion greatly triumphed by Lee. She believed there were no genuine dating apps created by women for women—enter Siren. The app provides you with a daily question, intended to initiate thoughtful conversations that reveal more about the user’s personality. This is one of the more thoughtful apps on the market. Try to consider your answers carefully before publishing them; the pace of the app is decisively slower and more purposeful than others in the market. Lee set out to humanize the online dating scene. Durex proposed a partnership with Siren during one of their campaigns on technology and intimacy.

Further reading: Dating App Bumble is Opening its Own Bar

Louis C.K. Admits to Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

The latest celebrity to be “outed” for grossly inappropriate sexual behaviour is Louis C. K., the Emmy and Grammy award-winning comedian, producer, actor and director.

On November 10, he made a statement to the press admitting to all of the accusations of sexual misconduct made against him. This confession has followed an avalanche of revelations to hit the press recently on the topic.

In early October, Harvey Weinstein—infamous film producer and movie mogul—was accused of numerous counts of sexual harassment, assault and rape spanning three decades. The details of the abhorrent actions of the producer have shaken the industry to its very core. Rumours of manipulation and wrongdoing that have circulated for years have finally been substantiated—unveiling the dark reality behind the deceptive glimmer of “tinsel town”. The collapse of Weinstein’s career has had a catalytic effect, urging victims of other sexual predators within the industry to come forward. Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven and Oliver Stone are just a few of the names to be added to the list of shamed males. Each case has been met with varying consequences; mostly, the repercussions have been swift and visible.

Now, Louis C.K. is one of the latest celebrity figures to be dragged into the spotlight for sexual misconduct. In a report published by The New York Times on Friday, four women recounted their unsettling interactions with the Mexican-American comedian. The accusers experienced similar exchanges that included the same grotesque punch line, but in this case, nobody was laughing. One of the incidents occurred in 2002 at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Chicago. The comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov had landed their big break and were performing at the event. After the show, Louise C. K. suggested a seemingly cordial invitation to share a nightcap with the women. They were both appalled by the comedian’s request to take out his penis and his speedy removal of his clothes.

In an interview with The New York Times, Goodman described the encounter. “He proceeded to take all of his clothes off and get completely naked and started masturbating,” she said. Various other women have gone on the record, mirroring similar experiences of sexual misconduct and advances from the comedian. Each instance has involved Louis C. K. masturbating over the phone, undressing and masturbating in front of them or asking if he could masturbate in front of them.

A history of sexual misconduct ignored

Since The New York Time’s article was published, an increasing number of public figures have confirmed their long-standing knowledge of Louis C. K.’s tendencies. It appears that he has gained a notorious reputation through the years, especially within the comedic sphere. Even after gaining global acclaim, rumours of the performer’s behaviour persisted. This begs the question: If Louis C. K.’s misconduct and abuse of power was widely known, why was no action taken before? Claims are circulating that the comedy world closed ranks if anybody threatened to speak out about his behaviour.

Editor and TV writer, Nicole Silverberg, relayed her negative experience of tweeting about the comedian’s sexual misconduct. “I was told to delete a tweet I wrote about Louis C. K. abusing women before I applied to a high-profile comedy job because the people conducting the hiring process might not like it,” she remarked. Other figures have confirmed that their attempts to speak out about Louis C. K. had led to a career-threatening decision. In 2015, Jen Kirkman said on her popular podcast, I Seem Fun, “There’s a lockdown on talking about him.” Without naming Louis C. K. directly, many gathered that this conversation was in reference to him. “I’ve been told by people, ‘Well, then, say it then. Say it if it’s true.’ If I say it, my career is over.”

While Louis C. K. has admitted to accusations of sexual misconduct, many people are exceedingly unsatisfied by the mode of his address. In an open statement he said: “I want to address the stories told to The New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.” He continued, “These stories are true.” Within his almost 500-word address, Louis C. K. went on to describe his attempt to validate his actions because he had asked for permission each time. He stated that he had discovered “too late” that his requests weren’t questions; they presented a terrible predicament for the women involved. “The power I had over these women is that they admired me and I wielded that power irresponsibly.”

In light of the accusations of sexual misconduct, the distributors of Louis C. K.’s latest film, I Love You, Daddy have announced that they will no longer distribute the blockbuster. But this isn’t the only consequence to come of the idolised comic’s actions. Netflix have also announced their decision to axe all plans for a stand-up special with the comic. FX Networks—who had previously aired his show Louie in 2015—have also broken ties with Louis C. K.

A new Hollywood?

Hollywood’s landscape now appears to be shifting dramatically as a result of the brave sources that have spoken out. Since the first allegations of sexual misconduct and assault began several weeks ago, the topic has remained at the forefront of social interest. It has even sparked the #MeToo movement on social media that has been used to highlight the extent of global sexual misconduct. While the major focus is on female victims, male accounts of sexual harassment are also coming to light.

Those who had tried to uncover Louise C. K.’s secrets previously have shown contempt for the system. “Hollywood is only woke when it’s politically convenient”, comedian and journalist, Megan Koester, commented. “I feel disdain for the fact that people only started giving a sh*t about decades of allegations once women’s victimhood started trending. While I appreciate the fact that things are changing, I fear for the longevity of it,” she added.

Further reading: Quentin Tarantino on Harvey Weinstein: “I Wish I had Taken Responsibility”