People 02 March 2018
You might call Diana Madison an “It Girl." That would certainly make sense considering her high profile life as an influencer, entrepreneur, and TV personality. She walks the red carpets of Hollywood.
She hardly ever misses a major premiere. And she can often be found front and center at the hottest celeb soirees. Beauty and fashion are her first loves and now she is working side by side with one of the first ladies of beauty and fashion and all things celeb - Kim Kardashian.
They are working together on Glam Masters, a brand-new Lifetime beauty competition series. Madison and Kim Kardashian are co-creators and executive producers on the project. On each episode, beauty bloggers compete to prove they have what it takes to be a part of Kim Kardashian's “glam empire."
Madison got her start at the E! Network and on Entertainment Tonight, working her way up to doing red carpet interviews with top celebs, including Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt. She's also the co-founder of Obsev Studios - the digital media content provider behind Hollyscoop, The Fumble, Obsev Food, Obsev.com, Style Lab, and the Low Down with Diana Madison – her weekly talk show. She's also a mom or, as some folks call her, a momhustler.
Madison grew up in East Hollywood in Little Armenia. “My parents were Armenian Immigrants and came to American in pursuit of achieving the American Dream. As a kid, I always would look at the Hollywood sign in my backyard and dream about making it big in Hollywood."
As a kid, Madison says she was very outgoing.
“I have always been social and have had a large group of friends. As you get older, you realize that your circle of friends shrinks in size. You become more selective on who you want in your life and trust. As a kid I would always tell people that I was going to have my own talk show and be on television. People would laugh at me, but now I get the last laugh."
She attended a private Armenian School in Little Armenia called Rose and Alex Pilibos, and later attended the University of California Santa Barbara. Madison says she's always wanted to be a talk show host. “I started creating my own videos on YouTube which led to the creation of my digital media company, Obsev Studios. I co-founded the company with my husband, and we now produce 150 online shows a week with our properties like Hollyscoop, Fumble Sports, Obsev, Style Lab, The Lowdown with Diana Madison, and WT Food. We reached eight billion views through our syndication on AOL, Amazon Prime, Directv, Roku, YouTube, and Facebook."
Madison says that Glam Masters was created from “the idea and my belief that there were a lot of talented makeup artists in the world that needed a platform to show their skills. I would get a lot of makeup artists doing makeup for my shows saying, 'My dream is to be discovered by Kim Kardashian on Instagram and work on her glam squad.' It was to a point where every single person would say the same thing to me. I thought that there has to be a show there."
She describes Glam Masters as “a beauty competition show that showcases amazing talent. The winner gets amazing prizes, and gets to collaborate with Kim Kardashian West. Can it get any better than that?" It doesn't hurt that Laverne Cox is the host and the judges include Mario Dedivanovic, Kandee Johnson, and Zanna Roberts Rassi. “Anyone who loves makeup is the perfect audience for the show. It's inspirational and entertaining, which is a perfect combination."
The biggest challenge they faced in crafting and launching the show, Madison explains, was choosing the contestants.
“We were so blessed to have so many amazing people applying to the show. It was hard narrowing down the contestants as we had an overwhelming response of people applying to be on the show."
Despite any of the challenges, Madison explains, she is “so happy about the reaction the show is getting. I get messages every day from artists asking me if they can audition for Season 2. I also get artists thanking me for creating a platform for them to showcase their talents. The beauty community has been waiting for a show like this for a long time now."
Madison says she loves the fact that you never know what awaits you around the next bend. “That's the beauty in life, you never know what you will be working on and doing. It's always important to dream big, and work hard to make your dreams come true. Every day is filled with surprises and tiny miracles. I embrace all my blessings."
This project is an incredibly exciting one for Madison. But it's not even close to the end of the road. Madison explains, “In the next five years, I hope to take my online talk show to a major network. Oprah has always been my inspiration, and I would love to inspire people all over the world like Oprah has done with her career. In the next ten to twenty years, I hope I can still be doing what I love and inspiring people all over the world."
Her life is pretty remarkable. In fact, it looks like Madison just may have figured out to have it all. How does she do it?
“It's very difficult juggling a career with motherhood. However, as mothers, we just make it work somehow. There is a lot we sacrifice in being a working mother. But woman are great multi-takers. My best advice is to always prioritize your time for what's most important for you and your family."
Above all else, Madison says she feels very blessed to be able to do what she loves. “I am also fortunate to have a supportive husband and beautiful, healthy kids." And, she adds, despite how it may look from the outside, her life isn't all glitz and glitter. “Behind all the glamour is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. One lesson I have learned is nothing good comes easy. Although I love the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, nothing beats being at home with my husband, kids, and English bulldog."
Her secret to having it all is much simpler than it seems, she says, “Always dream big and never stop pursuing your dreams. Believe in yourself and make it happen!"
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.