“Insecure” Actor Jay Ellis to Serve as 2018 American Black Film Festival Celebrity Ambassador; Submissions Open Until February

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The 22nd American Black Film Festival (ABFF) will include an exciting lineup of film screenings, events and innovative programming, and will return to Miami from June 13-17, 2018.  The week will include several new experiences, including Smartphone movie screenings, a master class on film financing, music-focused sessions and new networking opportunities for festival attendees.  ABFF continues to be dedicated to introducing emerging content creators of African descent to the industry at large and is recognized as one of the leading film festivals in the world.

Actor Jay Ellis will serve as the 2018 ABFF Celebrity Ambassador. Annually, the festival showcases dynamic content by and about people of African descent from around the world and consists of five competitive categories: Narrative Features, Documentaries, Short Films, Web Series and Smartphone Originals. Submissions are now open and below is a list of film submission deadlines, Awards and direct submission links:

*Narrative Features:
Regular Submissions Deadline: February 15, 2018
Early Submissions Deadline: December 31, 2017

Audience Award–Best Narrative Feature (Prize TBD)
http://www.abff.com/submissions/narrative-features/

*Documentaries:
Early Submissions Deadline: December 31, 2017
Regular Submissions Deadline: February 15, 2018
Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary (Prize TBD)
http://www.abff.com/submissions/documentaries/
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Common Brings Message of Redemption and Hope to Inmates at Folsom State Prison

Common (photo via bet.com)

by Kai Miller via bet.com

Fresh on the heels of kicking off his Hope & Redemption TourCommon is bringing his social activism to center stage. The “Glory” rapper recently paid a visit to the Folsom State Prison in California, where he treated the inmates to a concert in part with his Imagine Justice initiative.

Imagine Justice took to social media to share the photos of Common’s inspiring trip through its “Faces of Mass Incarceration” photo series. The photos capture the men captivated by the MC, smiling with raised fists as the Chi-Town native performed. Other photos show Common heading down to the crowd of inmates to greet them.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to connect with my brothers inside Folsom State Prison and perform for them to inspire them and spread a message of hope, redemption, justice, love and compassion,” the rapper wrote in an Instagram post.

The multi-hyphenate star recently documented his four-day prison tour visits in a YouTube web series titled The Hope & Redemption Tour, giving viewers the opportunity to hear the heartfelt stories of the women and men facing lengthy prison sentences and what their lives are like behind the prison walls.

To see first in series, click below:

To read more, go to: Common Visits Inmates At Folsom State Prison

Salt-N-Pepa Mentor “Girls Make Beats” DJs, Have Them Open SnP’s Pompano Beach Show in FL

Girls Make Beats Founder Tiffany Miranda (l) and three of her aspiring DJs (photo via cbsmiami.com)

by via cbsmiami.com

POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) – They are iconic – two female rappers and a DJ who made their mark on the 90s, the music industry and the “glass ceiling.” Trio Salt-N-Pepa – made of up of Cheryl James (“Salt”), Sandra Denton (“Pepa”) and Deidra Roper (“Spinderella”) – is best known for their songs “Shoop” and “Whatta Man.” They inspired a generation, including Tiffany Miranda. Miranda is a successful DJ and performer, and founder of Girls Make Beats, a nonprofit program that teaches young girls the ins and outs of music production, DJ’ing and audio engineering. “Salt-N-Pepa, they were my jam what I was growing up,” said Miranda. “I would just watch VH1 and MTV and The Box. It was all Salt-N-Pepa, all the time.”

Salt-N-Pepa give advice to young women of Girls Make Beats (image captured from cbsmiami.com)

The girls of Girls Make Beats opened for Salt-N-Pepa, who performed their classics at the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, and took time to say hello to the future DJs who look up to them. “You have to really believe in yourself and your talent,” said Salt. “You have to be strong. Salt-N-Pepa have endured a lot in the business, and there were a lot of times where we felt defeated, and like we wanted to give up, but there’s a certain energy that you have to have a woman when you’re in a male dominated field. You have to stay focused.”

Girls Make Beats partnered with the city of Pompano Beach and Ali Cultural Arts Center, with help from a Knight Foundation grant, to provide training to inner-city girls. Spinderella was thrilled to hear about the program, and said girls should use any negativity they encounter along the way to catapult them.“The women that are coming through the doors, we’d like to see, of course, more of them,” she said.  “But I’m proud as a female DJ to see the young ladies doing what they do, because they have been put into this box. They’re women, they can do anything. I say to the young girls out there, use that as your catalyst.”

To see video and read more, go to: Salt-N-Pepa Share Words Of Wisdom With Up-&-Coming DJs « CBS Miami

Essence Unveils Night-By-Night Schedule for 2017 Concert Series at Superdome this Summer

 article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The 2017 ESSENCE Festival has announced the all-star, night-by-night schedule for its concert series, from June 30 to July 2 at the Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

Single-night tickets are now on sale and are priced starting at $50 per person per night.

The concerts will feature more than 40 acts across five stages in the Superdome throughout the weekend on the festival’s renowned Mainstage and in the intimate Superlounges. Festival first-timers Diana Ross and Chance the Rapper will open and close the weekend concert series with headlining performances on Friday and Sunday night respectively – along with a special all-female Saturday night lineup, inspired by headliner Mary J. Blige’s forthcoming album Strength of A Woman.

Other well-known performers in this year’s line-up include John Legend, india.arie, Jill Scott, Chaka Khan and Solange.

Roy Wood Jr. from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” will serve as the Mainstage host for the weekend, with more surprise guest performances to be announced.

For more information about ticket sales and accommodations and for the latest news about the ESSENCE Festival®, visit www.essencefestival.com, join the festival community by following us on Twitter @essencefest #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2017 ESSENCE Festival® on Facebook.

Alex Hibbert and Jacob Piner, Youth Stars of Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” to Receive Keys to City of Miami Gardens

Alex Hibbert and Jaden Piner of “Moonlight” (photo via thegrio.com)

article by Kimberly Wilson via thegrio.com

The boys of “Moonlight” will be getting their moment.

Both 13-year-old Alex Hibbert and 12-year-old Jaden Piner, are slated to receive keys to the city of Miami Gardens, FL at this year’s Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival. The two students from Norland Middle School in Miami Gardens had starring roles in the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” with Alex playing young Chiron and Jaden playing Kevin, Chiron’s best friend.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for us to acknowledge what they’ve done at a young age, and tell them how proud we are of them,” shares Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III. “Because so often when you hear about young black kids, people don’t want to tell you the stories of these kids and areas that they excel in,” continues Mayor Gilbert. “We aren’t talking about them most times. Most times we’re talking about young black boys in a negative context, so anytime we get an opportunity to tell them how extraordinary they are, we will do it. And ‘Jazz In The Gardens’ is the biggest stage that we can offer in the city.”

The key ceremony will be just one highlight of the highly-anticipated weekend. As the staple event each year in the city of Miami Gardens, Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival is back for its 12th year, and is quickly growing beyond its borders. Hosted again by veteran comedian Rickey Smiley, the city can expect more than 70,000 music lovers from all over the United States and Caribbean Islands.

The festival will take place this upcoming weekend, March 17-19 at Hard Rock Stadium, featuring performances by Jill Scott, Esperanza Spalding, Common, and LLCoolJ.

To read more, go to: Young stars of Oscar-winning “Moonlight” to receive keys to the city of Miami Gardens | theGrio

TECH: Five STEM Programs Geared Towards Girls

(photo via blackenterprise.com)

article by Samara Lynn via blackenterprise.com

In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s focus on tomorrow’s women—today’s girls. It’s no secret; future success requires well-balanced literacy in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Girls are in danger of being left behind in a technology-first world, and this disadvantage starts in the classroom.

Studies show that, after the age of six, girls think boys are naturally smarter.That has to change, and this change can start by giving girls a head start in science and mathematics at as young an age as possible. While grown women continue the fight to equalize opportunity and advancement on the career battlefield, here are some great programs you can get your girl involved with now to make her STEM-strong.

GOALS for Girls Summer Intensive

The GOALS (Greater Opportunities Advancing Leadership and Science) for Girls Summer Intensive is a free, six-week program for eighth and ninth grade girls. Fifty girls are selected to participate in hands-on experiences, field trips, and conversations with influential women currently in STEM fields. The program focuses on aerospace science, Earth science, and engineering; providing a range of studies appealing to different interests.

Google’s MadeWithCode

Girls can jump right in online and start learning to program with MadeWithCode. The site offers an online community where girls support and learn from one another. There are also actual community MadeWithCode events listed, and parents can host a MadeWithCode party IRL, by downloading the party kit.

New York STEAM Girls Collaborative 

The NGCP (National Girls Collaborative Project)is an effort to bring together those who teach STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) courses and programs that seek to engage girls in STEAM. It publishes reports and delves into the topic of diversity in STEM. On the NGCP website, there is a drop-down menu that lets you search in all states and countries for a wide assortment of STEM/STEAM programs targeted toward girls.

Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code is 40,000 members strong. It is an international effort, with Girls Who Code groups in several countries. Parents can look for already established Girls Who Code clubs in their area, or start their own. There is also a yearly Summer Immersion Program open to girls in tenth and eleventh grade that introduces them to computer science and provides insight into the hottest tech careers.

Black Girls Code 

Black Girls Code has become synonymous with diversifying and leveling the STEM fields. It’s one of the better known STEM programs for girls, and that is, without a doubt, due to the persistence and dedication of founder Kimberly Bryant. From hackathons to events around the country, girls are sure to find instruction, access, and leadership by joining Black Girls Code.

To read original article, go to: 5 Programs to Make Your Girl STEM-Strong

Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to Headline Saturdays and Sundays at Coachella 2017

Beyoncé, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar (photo via Variety.com)

article by  via Variety.com

Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and Radiohead will headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year. The 18th annual fest will once again take place over two weekends — April 14 to 16 and April 21 to 23 — at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.

Aside from a brief surprise cameo during husband Jay Z’s headlining set in 2010, and again for little sister Solange’s appearance in 2014, Beyoncé has never played the desert festival. She will headline the second night, with returning veterans Radiohead on Friday and Lamar (who first played the fest in 2012) closing out the proceedings on Sunday.

All three artists released highly acclaimed new music in 2016.

To read more, go to: Coachella 2017 Lineup: Beyonce, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar to Headline | Variety