Larsen’s novel explores the practice of passing as a race different from one’s own. “Passing” focuses on childhood friends, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry, who reconnect in adulthood. Kendry passes as White, but longs for connection with Redfield and her life in Harlem’s Black community. The friends’ obsession with one another pushes their lives together in ways that prove risky for both women.
The critical acclaim that “Passing” earned after its 1929 publication cemented Larson’s legacy among the most celebrated authors of the Harlem Renaissance.
While Spike Lee’s upcoming BlacKkKlansmanmovie has already received critical acclaim ahead of its August 10th release, viewers are in for a treat at the end of the movie when a Prince song plays; something the award-winning director believes was meant to be.
Lee spoke to Rolling Stone about the Prince cover of the Negro spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep” that plays at the end of the movie. Lee said that the song was perhaps a divine sign from the deceased singer.
“I knew that I needed an end-credits song. I’ve become very close with Troy Carter, one of the executives at Spotify [and a Prince estate advisor],” said Lee. “So, I invited Troy to a private screening. And after, he said, ‘Spike, I got the song.’ And that was ‘Mary Don’t You Weep,’ which had been recorded on cassette in the mid-Eighties.”
“Prince wanted me to have that song, I don’t care what nobody says. My brother Prince wanted me to have that song, for this film,” he says emphatically.
“There’s no other explanation to me. This cassette is in the back of the vaults. In Paisley Park. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it’s discovered? Nah-ah. That ain’t an accident.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, during the world premiere of BlacKkKlansman at the Cannes film festival, the audience broke out in applause about a half-dozen times during the movie. And they were so moved by the end of the film, that they clapped for four minutes during the credits and then stood up for a six-minute standing ovation.
Making this feature even more timely and culturally significant is the fact that Lee has decided to release it on August 10th, the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville, Va., white nationalist rally. Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington, portrays the movie’s lead character, Ron Stallworth. The movie is based on a true story.
Here’s part of his Rolling Stone interview.
On Jordan Peele’s initial BlacKkKlansman script and what was missing:
“They acquired Ron Stallworth’s book and felt it needed more flava. And that’s what I brought. I was grateful for the opportunity because I had never heard of Stallworth. I didn’t know his story. People say, “That is too unbelievable to be true.” And that’s what makes it such a great story.”
On deciding to include footage from the Charlottesville riots:
“We started shooting in September. When Charlottesville happened, I knew that was going to be the ending. I first needed to ask Ms. Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, for permission. This is someone whose daughter has been murdered in an American act of terrorism — homegrown, apple-pie, hot-dog, baseball, cotton-candy Americana. Mrs. Bro no longer has a daughter because an American terrorist drove that car down that crowded street. And even people who know that thing is coming, when they see it, it’s like, very quiet.”
On if he saw any of Denzel Washington in John David Washington:
“John David is amazing in this movie. That phrase ‘the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree’ — there’s a reason people say that. He is Denzel Washington’s first son. That’s a big, big burden. But he’s also his own man. I have a history with him. His first film was Malcolm X. At the end of the movie, when the kids say, “My name is Malcolm X!” He’s one of the kids. He was about six years old.”
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 PositivityPanel 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.”
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.
Shuri may have new company as a Disney princess with Disney having acquired a live-action fairytale film pitch.
Titled Sadé, the live-action fairytale is about an African Princess and is based on an original concept by Ola Shokunbi and Lindsey Reed Palmer, with Rick Famuyiwa attached to the project as a producer. Famuyiwa is known for his directorial work such as Our Family Wedding, Confirmation and Dope.
The film is set to tell the story of a:
“…young African girl named Sadé who, when her kingdom is threatened by a mysterious evil force, accepts her newly discovered magical warrior powers to protect herself and her people.With the help of the kingdom’s prince, Sadé embarks on an adventure that will allow her to embrace what makes her special and save the kingdom.”
Disney introduced its first black princess in 2009 with the animated film The Princess and The Frog. Voiced by Anika Noni Rose, the film set in New Orleans explored voodoo, love, and culture through magic and music.
Sadé is to be written by Shokunbi and Palmer, with Scott Falconer set to executive produce the project. A director and cast are yet to be announced.
ABFF Ventures, parent company of the American Black Film Festival, recently announced the current class of student fellows accepted into its 2018ABFF 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.
“Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya is set to lead the independent romance drama “Queen & Slim,” written by Lena Waithe. “Insecure” and “Master of None” helmer Melina Matsoukas is making her feature directorial debut.
Waithe, known for her work on “Master of None” and “The Chi,” wrote the script based on an original idea and treatment from bestselling author James Frey (“A Million Little Pieces”) and a story by Frey and Waithe. “Queen & Slim” will go into pre-production this October with production commencing in January. Matsoukas and Waithe are still searching for a fresh face for the role of Queen.
“Queen & Slim” is an exploration of America’s social and political climate through the lens of a genre-defying love story. The film centers on a black man and black woman who go on a first date that goes awry after the two are pulled over by a police officer at a traffic stop. They kill the police officer in self-defense and rather than turn themselves in, they go on the run.
Waithe is producing the film through her company, Hillman Grad Productions, along with Matsoukas’ production company De La Revolución Films and Frey’s 3BlackDot. Andrew Coles and Michelle Knudsen are also producing. “To me, this is protest art,” said Waithe. “It’s about being black and trying to fall in love in a world that’s burning down around you.”
Matsoukas said, “It’s a film that defines black love as a revolutionary act. It shows that our union is the greatest weapon against the assault on black people in America.”
“Queen & Slim” will be distributed by Universal Pictures worldwide with eOne handling distribution in select territories including the U.K. and Canada. The film will be released in North America on Nov. 27, 2019.
This is the first film greenlit under Makeready’s recently announced distribution deal with Universal. eOne is Makeready’s lead investor. Brad Weston’s production company, Makeready, is financing the film, along with 3BlackDot.
Kaluuya, who received a best actor nomination at the Oscars for “Get Out,” most recently appeared as W’Kabi in “Black Panther.” In 2017, Lena Waithe became the first black woman to win a comedy writing Emmy for the “Thanksgiving” episode of “Master of None.”
Mastoukas is a two-time Grammy Award winner for her “We Found Love” and Beyonce’s “Formation” music videos.
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.”
According to Variety.com, New Line Cinema has purchased “The Come Up,” an original comedy screenplay pitch from “Sorry to Bother You” co-star Jermaine Fowler. Fowler, who also starred in the CBS series “Superior Donuts,” will star and also serve as executive producer.
The project will also feature Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out,” “Uncle Drew” and the upcoming Fox series “Rel”) and brothers Keith Lucas and Kenneth Lucas as co-stars. The screenplay will be written by Michael Starrbury (“The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete” and “Central Park Five”).
“I am excited to be collaborating with New Line Cinema, Wrigley Pictures and our screenwriter Michael Starburry on ‘The Come Up’ – a project I have been passionate about for years now,” Fowler said in a statement. “Since bringing the concept to them it’s been nothing but synergy and raw excitement. As an actor, it is a dream come true to be working opposite my comedy brothers, Lil Rel Howery and The Lucas Brothers. I am grateful they’ve come on board to tell this hilarious and inspiring story with me.”
The official trailer has been released for the docuseries Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story.
The docuseries, produced by Jay Z, has been in the works for about a year. The Trayvon Martin Story comes after the Jay Z-produced Time: The Kalief Browder Story, which debuted on Spike. This new docu-series will air on Paramount Network, the recently-rebranded Spike.
Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story is based on the life and legacy of Trayvon Martin. The six-part non-scripted documentary series will be the definitive look at one of the most talked-about and controversial events in the last decade that spurred the impactful worldwide Black Lives Matter movement.
Executive producers for the series include Shawn Carter, Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin, Chachi Senior, Michael Gasparro, Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason and Nick Sandow. Furst and Nason will serve as co-directors on the project.
Will Smith is the native son of West Philadelphia and the city that raised the mega movie star paid homage with the painting of a mural by British artist Richard Wilson.
Wilson reportedly envisioned Smith’s painting in the light of Kehinde Wiley’s presidential portrait of Barack Obama, except that Smith has on more casual attire.
Smith, said it was humbling to learn that Wilson, a renowned artist chose him as his subject to paint a mural which lives on the wall of Gevurtz Furniture store on Girard Ave in the city. “The idea that there would be a mural of me on the side of a school in West Philadelphia just wrecked me,” said an emotional Smith, wiping away tears in a video about the mural.
Will Smith’s mom, Caroline Bright, also was at a loss for words when she came to see the mural firsthand. Even Smith’s close friend and former bodyguard Charlie Mack, complimented Wilson on getting Smith’s protruding ears just perfect.
Dr. Naomi Booker, CEO of Global Leadership Academy was moved knowing that her school sits near the giant mural and her students can take a page from Smith’s book and dream big. “This man is an icon and he’s looking at GLA (Global Leadership Academy) so my kids everyday will see this image and know that you can be whatever you want to be,” Booker said according to Philly.com.
“This is a man who grew up in Philadelphia, went to Overbrook High School up the street was a part of this world, that he now is looking at us,” she said about the mural facing the school.
Smith hasn’t yet see the mural in person but reportedly plans a visit to the city to check it out. In the meanwhile, he’s launched a fundraiser and is selling merchandise where 100% of proceeds will go to West Philadelphia’s Global Leadership Academy Charter School and artist Richard Wilson.