The BIPOC Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Also Inventors – Essence

The BIPOC Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Also Inventors

There have been millions of patents approved over the years.

From Albert Einstein to George Washington Carver, inventors have quite literally changed the way the world works. However, the most useful technologies don’t always come by way of a renowned scientist or career inventor–they are created by some of our BIPOC favorite entertainers.

From Michael Jackson to Nicole Ari Parker, some of the celebs who grace the glossy covers of our favorite magazines are also making innovative strides that ultimately make our lives easier with their creative minds.


Micheal Jackson

We all know the King of Pop is not only one of the best entertainers in the history of music, but did you know he’s also an inventor? Among his many hits, in 1988 he released the groundbreaking music video Smooth Criminal which left watchers wondering how he was able to pull off one particular move. In the video, Jackson and his dancers are seen performing a gravity-defying lean that wouldn’t have been possible without his creative genius. The move left his body leaning over about 45 degrees forward without toppling over and then returning back to his original upright position.

The amazing feat was due to a shoe designed by Jackson and two of his associates, Michael Bush and Dennis Tumpkin, according to reports.

The Anti-Gravity Shoe was awarded a patent in October 1993, unsurprisingly due to its ingenuity. The shoes consist of rods rising from the stage floor that provide ankle support and cut-out heels, that are fitted over the stage rods.



Paula Abdul

The legendary singer, dancer, and songwriter spent years on the stage performing for her fans, then later at the American Idol Judges’ table helping to make aspiring stars’ dreams come true. Little do many of us know, she also changed the way entertainers connect with their audience while performing.

After noticing limited mobility while utilizing the traditionally flat-based microphone stand, she came up with a more aerodynamic design. According to Google Patents, her design was officially stamped as her own in 2009. Described as a dynamic microphone support apparatus, it acts as a Weeble Wobble, in that the base is a spherical shape that supports the weight of a flexible rod and allows the performer to sway in different directions while using it.



If you’ve ever seen the likes of Stevie Wonder or Mick Jaggers using a cool keyboard/guitar-like instrument AKA a keytar, you may have Prince to thank for that.

The prolific singer, songwriter, arranger and composer was a musical savant that played several instruments. In an effort to challenge himself, it was reported he designed his own form of the keytar called a Purpleaxxe that was a fit to his purple royalty brand. He was awarded a patent in 1994 and played the instrument on stage for some years.


Nicole Ari Parker

Known for her memorable roles on Soul Food the series, Brown Sugar, and most recently And Just Like That…Nicole Ari Parker’s talent and beauty has been lighting up screens for years. A fitness enthusiast, she said she ran into challenges maintaining her hairstyles while filming due to rigorous workout that would leave her mane sweaty. This the idea for the GymWrap was born. In an interview with Women’s Health, she shared “I was trying to solve a very personal problem, as a Black woman who invests so much in her hair,” she says of the motivation behind her sweat-wicking headband, Gymwrap. She patented the design, which is made with EvapoTECH™, a patented revolutionary process that provides maximum sweat absorption through a unique blend of fabrics, which allows heat to escape while letting cool air in, as described on the Gym Wrap’s website.

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