Category: Media/Internet

OPINION: Why I’m Here For the Badass Black Women of San Diego Comic-Con 2018

by Maeve Richardson

As GBN’s resident biracial, millennial nerd, I place a lot of importance on diversity at Comic Con and in the entertainment industry.

Pop culture has the power to influence how people see the world around them, and, thankfully, there are people in the entertainment industry who understand this and work to make content that showcases the positive aspects of diversity and uniqueness.

A prime example of this content is Steven Universe, an out-of-this-world show that isn’t afraid to show just how diverse this planet really is.

On the surface, Steven Universe is a cartoon about a boy trying to save the world. But on a deeper level it’s a show about love and friendship, and a show that teaches kids lessons about healthy relationships, anxiety, and how important it is to be true to yourself. Estelle, who plays Garnet (the fierce leader of the Crystal gems and fusion of LGBTQ+ couple Ruby and Sapphire), killed it at the Superheroes of Body Positivity Panel this Comic Con.

Estelle, along with the rest of the Crewniverse (people who work on Steven Universe) recently participated in Dove’s Self Esteem Project. Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe and Estelle joined Dove on the Panel to talk about body positivity and open up about their own experiences with body image. “My body works, it’s gorgeous. It gets me from point A to point B. If someone, doesn’t like my body, that’s too bad,” Estelle explained.

Another show featured at Comic-Con was Black Lightning, a badass superhero show that celebrates Black Americans. Series co-creator Mara Brock Akil took the stage to express that “celebrating our culture is important to remind us that we are also a part of the fabric of American culture. Tracking our history and our path is important.”

Amandla Stenberg (photo by Gage Skidmore)

Then there are the women of the Women Who Kick Ass Panel. Amandla Stenberg, who I’ve been a fan of since their portrayal of Rue in The Hunger Games, said “The topic of ‘strong female roles’ is tricky. There’s an awareness I have. I create representation because of the accessibility I have. When it comes to roles there is a give and take time. We continue to sacrifice in order to see the representation we want.” I will definitely be purchasing a ticket for their new movie The Darkest Minds.

And of course, there’s Regina King, who will be starring in HBO’s new Watchmen series. “There weren’t many like me kicking ass. I was a Lynda Carter fan. Even though Wonder Woman was wearing a skimpy outfit, she had ownership and confidence that exuded female strength,” Regina King explained about her own experiences with superheroes.

For me, cartoons and superheroes have shaped core aspects of my personality and morality, so it means a lot to me to see so many badass women of color involved in so many amazing projects share their experiences.

Rihanna Becomes 1st Black Woman to Land Cover of British Vogue’s September Issue

photos via eveningstandard.com

by Andrea Park via cbsnews.com

Rihanna made history by becoming the first black woman to appear on the cover of British Vogue‘s September issue. Like the publication’s U.S. edition, the September issue is the most prestigious edition of the fashion magazine.

Rihanna shared her cover photo on Instagram. She’s wearing a hot pink Prada dress, Savage x Fenty gloves, a flower headdress and thin, drawn-on eyebrows a la Marlene Dietrich. The “Wild Thoughts” singer also posted photos from inside the issue, in which she dons different oversized floral headpieces.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, styled the cover and photo shoot, and Nick Knight served as photographer. Enninful wrote in his editor’s letter that he knew he wanted the singer on the cover for the magazine’s September issue.

“I always knew it had to be Rihanna,” he wrote. “A fearless music-industry icon and businesswoman, when it comes to that potent mix of fashion and celebrity, nobody does it quite like her. No matter how haute the styling goes, or experimental the mood, you never lose her in the imagery. She is always Rihanna. There’s a lesson for us all in that. Whichever way you choose to dress the new season, take a leaf out of her book and be yourself.”

Enninful wrote that the two talked about diversity and Rihanna’s life as a diva for the accompanying profile.

British Vogue’s September issue hits newsstands today.

Source: https://www-cbsnews-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/rihanna-becomes-first-black-woman-to-cover-british-vogues-september-issue/

Beyoncé Hires Tyler Mitchell, 23, to Shoot Her September 2018 Vogue Cover, 1st Black Photographer in Magazine’s 126-Year History

Tyler Mitchell (photo via crybabyzine.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to huffingtonpost.com, musical icon Beyoncé received unprecedented control over the cover of the upcoming September issue of Vogue magazine, and in turn hired Tyler Mitchell, 23, to be her photographer. Mitchell will become the first black photographer to shoot a cover in the publication’s 126-year history.

Vogue, according to two sources who are familiar with the agreement between Vogue and Beyoncé, is contractually obligated to give Beyoncé full control over the cover, the photos of her inside the magazine and the captions, which she has written herself and are in long-form. Beyoncé is also not granting Vogue a sit-down interview for the September 2018 issue, as is typical of its cover subjects.

Mitchell, a New York University graduate from Atlanta, quickly became a recognized name in the art world through his work in Cuba and his featured work on Instagram.

The New York Times’ “Up Next” series featured Mitchell in December.  Huffingtonpost.com writes that 23-year-old first gained attention in 2015 with his self-published book of photos, El Paquete, which focused on Cuban skate culture and architecture. Mitchell captured the book’s 108 photos while in Cuba for six weeks as part of a documentary photography program, according to the Times.

Mitchell also photographed Parkland shooting survivors including Sarah Chadwick, Nza-Ari Khepra, Emma Gonzalez and Jaclyn Corin for Teen Vogue’s piece on the #NeverAgain gun control movement.

“I depict black people and people of color in a really real and pure way,” Mitchell told The New York Times in December. “There is an honest gaze to my photos.”

Octavia Spencer, LeBron James Limited Series About Madam C.J. Walker Lands at Netflix

Octavia Spencer/LeBron James (photo via variety.com)

by Debra Birnbaum via Variety.com

It’s official: Octavia Spencer and LeBron James’ limited series about entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker has landed at Netflix. The streaming outlet made the announcement at its Television Critics Assn. press tour session Sunday.

The project is executive produced by Spencer and James. Spencer will star in the eight-episode series, which is based on the book “On Our Own Ground” by A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, who will also serve as a consultant.

The series will recount the untold story of how Walker, a black hair care pioneer and mogul, overcame hostile turn-of-the-century America, epic rivalries, tumultuous marriages and some trifling family to become America’s first black, self-made female millionaire.

Walker, the daughter of slaves, was orphaned at age seven, married at 14, and widowed at 20. She spent two decades laboring as a washerwoman, earning $1.50 a week. Everything changed, though, following Walker’s discovery of a revolutionary hair care formula for black women. By the time she died in 1919, she had built a beauty empire from the ground up, amassing wealth unprecedented among black women.

“Black Nativity” directory Kasi Lemmons will direct the pilot and also executive produce, and Nicole Asher will write. Janine Sherman Barrois and Elle Johnson will also serve as executive producers, along with SpringHill’s Maverick Carter, and Zero Gravity’s Mark Holder and Christine Holder.

The Holders optioned the book from Bundles in early 2016, and Spencer pursued the part aggressively once she learned of it. With the Oscar winner attached, William Morris Endeavor Agency pitched the series to James as his production company’s entryway into prestige TV.

“It’s so exciting for all of us to keep building SpringHill, see it mature, and continue to find its voice. We are really focused on growing with authenticity and substance,” Carter said. “For us, this is totally about great stories and great partners. Partnering with Octavia to tell the story of Madam C.J. Walker is the ideal first project for SpringHill to take an important step into scripted drama.”

Source: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/octavia-spencer-lebron-james-madam-cj-walker-netflix-limited-series-1202889368/

‘The Chi’ Creator Lena Waithe Sets First-Look Deal at Showtime for Hillman Grad Productions

Lena Waithe
Emmy Winner Lena Waithe (CREDIT: JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

by Joe Otterton via Variety.com

Lena Waithe has signed a first-look deal with Showtime, the premium cabler announced Tuesday. Under the deal, Waithe will develop comedy and drama projects for Showtime that she will both write and produce through her company Hillman Grad Productions.

“I have been a fan of Showtime for as long as I can remember,” said Waithe. “They make shows that most networks wouldn’t touch and they’ve never been afraid of taking risks. I look forward to introducing my Showtime family to fresh and exciting new voices. I want to make content that will challenge audiences and take them places they never thought TV could go. It’s going to be a fun ride.”

Waithe most recently created and executive produces the Showtime drama “The Chi,” which was renewed for a second season in January.

“We fell in love with Lena’s voice when we ordered her pilot for ‘The Chi’ three years ago, and we have watched in awe at her powerful impact on our industry and our culture,” said Gary Levine, Showtime’s president of programming. “Lena is a creative force of nature and we are delighted that the force will be with us as she makes Showtime her creative home.”

“The Chi” was Showtime’s biggest launch for a drama series in two years and grew its audience in consecutive weeks.

The debut of that series came on the heels of Waithe winning the Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series for the “Master of None” episode “Thanksgiving” that she co-wrote. The episode adapted Waithe’s personal experience as a queer black woman coming out to herself and her family into the character of Denise, whom Waithe played.

It was recently announced that her latest script, “Queen & Slim,” will go into production in January starring Daniel Kaluuya for Universal. Waithe also serves as executive producer and writer of the upcoming series “Twenties” at TBS.

Her producing credits include the films “Step Sisters” and “Dear White People,” which later became a Netflix series in which she guest starred. She was also named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential People of 2018.

Source: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/lena-waithe-the-chi-showtime-deal-1202882463/

American Black Film Festival’s Greenlighters Academy Returns to Los Angeles for 2nd Year July 22-25 to Help Train Future Filmmakers

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

ABFF Ventures, parent company of the American Black Film Festival, recently announced the current class of student fellows accepted into its 2018 ABFF Greenlighters Academy. The second annual event, sponsored by Turner, is a pipeline program designed to give students of color with an interest in the executive track, a firsthand look inside the corporate footprint of the film and television industry.

The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is a three-day intensive boot camp, where five students will attend sessions with top artists and industry executives. The program includes “Day in the Life” seminars, Power Lunch sessions, and “Ask Me Anything” roundtable discussions, as well as visits to corporate headquarters of film and television studios and talent agencies. Additionally, the program’s laser-interviews are designed to prepare students for summer internships.

“The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is another extension of our company’s 22-year commitment to fostering diversity in Hollywood. We could not be more pleased to partner with Turner, a major festival supporter, on this effort to usher in the next generation of industry executives,” states Nicole Friday, General Manager of ABFF Ventures, LLC.

“Diversity fuels our stories and more importantly, our future,” says Danette Johnson, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for Turner.  “We are proud to partner with ABFF’s Greenlighters Academy to invest in these talented students who will help shape Turner’s future as we seek to become an even better reflection of our audiences and build deeper connections with our fans.”

The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is open to sophomore students and above, matriculated in a four-year bachelor degree program at an accredited college or university, with a minimum GPA of 3.0.  This years’ fellows listed below were selected from over 100 submissions representing a wide-range of colleges and universities across the country.

Kiana Chambers, Howard University
Zontre City, Loyola University
Jazmin Johnson, Florida A&M
Jordan Landy, Drexel University
Stevee-Rayne Warren, Southern University and A&M College

Last year’s participants were able to secure internships and employment with companies including Viceland, Facebook Watch and Full Sail University.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

ABFF Ventures L.L.C. (ABFFV) is a leading entertainment company producing live events, film and television primarily targeted to African American audiences.  The company’s mission is to produce global platforms that showcase the work of people of African heritage and promote camaraderie among multicultural artists in Hollywood. Its tentpole properties are the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), cited by MovieMaker magazine as “One of the Coolest Festivals in the World,” and ABFF Honors, an award season gala saluting excellence in Hollywood. Together, they represent two of the most prestigious events in the Black community and parallel the Sundance Film Festival and the Golden Globes.  In creating ABFF Ventures, CEO Jeff Friday channeled his discomfort with the under-representation of people of color in Hollywood into an organization that has become a highly respected enterprise, generating goodwill throughout the industry at large.

Michelle Obama Launches New Voter Registration Campaign #WhenWeAllVote

Michelle Obama (screenshot via twitter.com)

via essence.com

While Michelle Obama has no plans to run for office, this doesn’t mean she won’t get involved behind the scenes.

The former first lady is teaming up with several celebrities to launch a new voter registration initiative ahead of this year’s midterm elections. The new nonprofit, “When We All Vote,” is a nonpartisan organization with the goal to get more voters registered.

“Voting is the only way to ensure that our values and priorities are represented in the halls of power,” Obama said in a statement “And it’s not enough to just vote for president every four years. We all have to vote in every single election: for mayor, governor, school board, state legislature and Congress. The leaders we elect to these offices help determine just about every aspect of our lives and our democracy.”

According to Politico, the initiative is scheduled to be launched on Thursday and will also involve several other high-profile names, including actor Tom Hanks, singer Janelle Monae, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.

Also, former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett will serve as president of the board. The initiative is its own non-profit entity and will operate independently of the Obama Foundation, the personal offices of Barack and Michelle Obama, and Citizen 44.

Source: https://www.essence.com/news/michelle-obama-voter-registration-campaign-midterms

Chance The Rapper Buys Media Outlet Chicagoist to Combat Racism and Promote Local Journalism

Chance the Rapper (photo by Santiago Bluguermann / Getty Images)

by Selena Hill via blackenterprise.com

Chance the Rapper dropped a new single on Wednesday boasting about his recent purchase of a news website in order to run “racists b—–s out of business.”

The 25-year-old Chicago native announced in a song titled “I Might Need Security” that he now owns the Chicagoist.com, a local news, food, and culture outlet, rapping:

“I got a hit-list so long I don’t know how to finish, I bought the Chicagoist just to run you racist b—-s out of business.”

In the politically charged song, Chance raps over a vocal loop of Jamie Foxx repeatedly singing “f–k you” and calls for the resignation of Chicago’s embattled mayor, Rahm Emanuel. The entertainer also accuses Emanuel of granting paid suspensions to police officers who’ve fatally shot unarmed black people.

According to the Chicagoist’s sister site the Gothamist, Chance’s newly formed company, Social Media LLC, purchased the site from New York Public Radio’s WNYC station, which acquired both the Chicagoist and the Gothmaist as well as the other -ist network of sites in February. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“I’m extremely excited to be continuing the work of the Chicagoist, an integral local platform for Chicago news, events and entertainment,” said Chance in a statement. “WNYC’s commitment to finding homes for the -ist brands, including Chicagoist, was an essential part of continuing the legacy and integrity of the site. I look forward to relaunching it and bringing the people of Chicago an independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content.”

Laura Walker, the president and CEO of New York Public Radio, also released a statement, saying:

“We are delighted that the Chicagoist assets are finding a new home in the hands of a proud Chicagoan. WNYC has a strong commitment to local journalism and building community, and we are pleased that these assets will be used to support local coverage in the great city of Chicago.”

In addition to combatting racism, Chance’s nonprofit SocialWorks has helped the homeless, empowered Chicago public school students learning how to code, and funded college-bound high school students. Now, with Social Media LLC, Chance promises to promote local investigative journalism, diversity, and representation for people of color in the media.

Source: http://www.blackenterprise.com/chance-the-rapper-media-racism/

Marvel to Launch ‘Black Panther’ Comic Book Series Spinoff ‘Shuri’ in October

(Image via hollywoodreporter.com)

by Graeme Sullivan via hollywoodreporter.com

Marvel Entertainment is preparing to launch a new comic book series centered around T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, months after the character stole the show in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther movie.

As revealed at Bustle, the new series — to be called, simply, Shuri — will be written by award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor, who penned the digital comic series Black Panther: Long Live the King for Marvel, with art by Hawkeye artist Leonardo Romero.

“[Shuri is] an African young woman of genius level intelligence who is obsessed with technology and has traveled spiritually so far into the past that she’s seen Wakanda before it was Wakanda. The Ancestors call her Ancient Future. And she’s super ambitious. What do I love about her? Alllll that and more,” Okorafor is quoted as saying.

The series will fit into the continuity of Ta-Nehisi CoatesBlack Panther comic book series, where T’Challa has moved into space to explore the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, leaving the actual nation without a leader…which means that Shuri, as the next in line to the throne, has to step up as monarch, whether or not she likes it.

The series will launch in October.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/shuri-comic-book-will-spinoff-black-panther-1127689

Queen Latifah Partners with Procter & Gamble to Launch the Queen Collective – a Program for Women Filmmakers

Queen Latifah (PHOTO: PAUL ARCHULETA/FILMMAGIC)

by Suzy Byrne via huffingtonpost.com

Award-winning actress and singer Queen Latifah recently announced the Queen Collective to help women make films — or, as she tells Yahoo Entertainment, to ensure “that the queens have an opportunity.” In a partnership with Procter & Gamble, the initiative will find two unknown and diverse female directors, give them all the resources they need to tell their stories “from A to Z,” and then distribute the films.

“There are just not enough female directors,” the star of films from Girls Trip” to “Chicago” says of her push to bolster gender equality in the film business. “This is a small part of what we’d like to do to help change the disparity that we see out there in terms of all the dollars that are given to male directors, all the support that’s given to male directors, and everything we see, yet we’re at least half of who’s watching these movies and buying these products. So we want to make sure women have an opportunity… that the queens have an opportunity. The Queen Collective will make sure that happens.”

Being a voice for women isn’t new for Queen Latifah, who was among the founders of We Do It Together, the celebrity-backed, female-centric, non-profit production company focusing on female empowerment in films, TV, and other media. Her commitment can actually be traced back to her teen years as a young rapper.

“I try to support anything I can in terms of making sure women have an opportunity,” she says. “That’s just who I am. Before I really knew what a feminist was, I was already helping to promote the feminist cause. I was just a 15-year-old rapper. I had no idea that the fact that I wanted to be looked at with respect and treated as such — and that I wrote about that in my rhymes and made records about it that people heard — was really pushing that forward, affecting other young girls and women who felt the same way, and giving other women a voice who felt that they were a little voiceless in hip-hop at that time. Finally, there was someone that was speaking their language.”

Since Queen Latifah, 48, started rapping about female issues in the ’80s — “All Hail the Queen” came out in 1989, when she was 19 — isn’t she frustrated that she still has to fight so hard just so women’s voices can be heard?

“I would say it’s frustrating — it can be to a point — but we are talking about thousands of years of male patriarchy,” she says. “So I can’t be mad because I started rapping about it in the late ’80s and early ’90s that everything hasn’t changed in a few decades. We have a lot of ideas to bring down the walls of, if you will. I think actually we’ve made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. But the more we bring it to the attention of the public, the more people fight behind the scenes and make sure this is seen in front of the scenes, then we will affect every element of how people see the world.”

She wants to see the world represented equally — and realistically.

“We are fighting to make sure everyone is represented in an equal way — and for who they truly are, not some stereotype of who you are. This is something I had to fight against as a rapper: Every rapper is from the ghetto and went through hell and got shot sometimes. No, we didn’t. I went to Catholic school from third to ninth grade,” the East Orange, N.J., native laughs.

“I didn’t have a lot of money, but this was my experience, and I know many people who lived like that. I listened to rock-and-roll growing up — and so did a lot of my homeboys. Why? ‘Cause we’re from New Jersey, and we love Bon Jovi and Springsteen. We like hip-hop too. But if you let the media tell you, its ‘black people don’t listen to rock-and-roll; they just like R&B and rap.’” She predicts that “millennials will have a big part of changing all these ideas that have been pumped down our throats in our day.”

Queen Latifah says the encouragement she has received through the years by female fans has encouraged her in turn to continue to try to be a trailblazer for women.

“I would run into them along the way, and they had no idea the encouragement they gave me to continue to speak in that way, to feel confident about moving in that way, and moving my career in that way,” says Latifah, who made the jump to TV in the early ’90s, followed later by the jump to film. “All throughout the years I’ve been encouraged by young girls… And not just girls, but girls with different bodies. Just becoming a CoverGirl made them feel different about what they can accomplish. Or being someone who is bigger than a size 10 thinks, ‘Oh, I can be a successful singer because Queen Latifah did it.’ I had no idea I could influence other people.”

She continues: “So this Queen Collective is really important because there’s something special about seeing a woman who comes up with her own idea, who is able to take that idea, hire her own crew, make sure that idea is shot and done and edited and comes to the public eye, and they have a chance to see her vision. She will inspire so many other people by making that happen… This is what you need to be able to show in order to inspire other people, particularly the young girls and men, and let them know this is a normal thing and this is OK. This should not be an anomaly. This should be the norm.”

Read more: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/queen-latifah-helping-women-make-movies_us_5b438393e4b048036ea0ffad?a8j%3Futm_hp_ref=black-voices&ir=Black%2BVoices