Category: News

Issa Rae and Columbia Pictures Sign Multi-Picture Production Deal Promoting Diverse Screenwriters

(PHOTO BY PETER YANG)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to deadline.com, creator/writer/actor Issa Rae, via her production company ColorCreative, has signed a multi-picture production deal with Columbia Pictures. ColorCreative will work primarily with and support projects from emerging, diverse screenwriters.

Globally successful, profitable films such as “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” have demonstrated the commercial appeal of movies with leads of color and from their perspective, but so far movies like these remain the exception, not the rule. A recent study from USC  stated that only 29.3% of characters in the 100 top grossing movies of 2017 were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Selected participants, to be announced in spring 2019, will work with Rae and Columbia to develop and write features based on their original ideas.

“Issa is a force of nature, and a magnet for talented people,” said Sanford Panitch, president of Columbia Pictures, in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to join her in her mission to pave the way for fresh and authentic voices.”

Bryan Smiley, VP of production at Columbia Pictures, oversaw the deal and will oversee production and development with ColorCreative for the motion picture group. Sara Rastogi, VP of production for ColorCreative, will also help guide the deal for the company along with Deniese Davis, COO of ColorCreative.

“Working with Bryan Smiley and Columbia Pictures to further the mission ColorCreative set out to achieve four years ago in creating access for underrepresented writers, has been a dream come true,” Rae said in a statement. “All of the projects we are working on are fresh and promising and we can’t wait to continue the work. We hope to set a precedent and inspire the industry at large to invest in undiscovered talent, original IP, and fresh stories and perspectives.”

Yolanda Ford Elected First African-American Mayor Of Missouri City

Yolanda Ford
New Missouri City Mayor Yolanda Ford (Source: Missouri City Mayoral Office / Yolanda Ford)

by Brandon Caldwell via myhoustonmajic.com

Missouri City native Yolanda Ford made history on Saturday as she became not only the first woman to be elected Mayor of Missouri City but the first African-American, male or female to be elected mayor.

“I am so proud that the residents of Missouri City have elected me as their mayor,” Ford said in a statement. “After having served on the city council for the past five years, and as a lifelong resident, I am deeply invested in the well-being and growth of Missouri City, and I look forward to working with citizens, the city council and others toward its betterment.”

Ford won her runoff election against incumbent mayor Allen Owen, receiving 51.9 percent of the vote. Owen had been the mayor of Missouri City since 1994.

The newly elected mayor graduated from John Foster Dulles High School. She earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Houston and a Master of Architecture degree from Prairie View A&M University. She will be sworn in on December 17.

A runoff election was mandated after no candidate received half of the vote in the November 6 election. Owen had won 36.06 percent of the vote while Ford had won 34.96 percent. Fred G. Taylor, the third candidate on the ballot came away with 28.98 percent of the vote.

via Yolanda Ford Elected First African-American Mayor Of Missouri City | Majic 102.1

Shaq-A-Claus Surprises Students at Two Georgia Schools, Gives Out Backpacks – theGrio

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 12.50.40 PM

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

Shaquille O’Neal’s one big ole’ holly, jolly good guy who spent the day doing good and giving out backpacks to kids at Eagle’s Landing Middle School in Henry County Georgia last week, WSBTV reports.

Shaq-A-Claus shared the love and surprised the school with an unplanned visit. He greeted kids in the National Junior Beta Club and congratulated them on a job well done, said school district spokesman JD Hardin.

Then he attended a pep rally and spoke to students about making good life choices, before handing out some backpacks, Hardin said.

Shaq took to Twitter to thank his partners for teaming up with him.

“Again.. I would like to Thank  all my partners for their support with Shaq A Claus 2018. This will be an awesome event for the kids Merry Christmas”

Read more via Shaq-A-Claus surprises students at two Georgia schools and gives out backpacks – theGrio

Maryland Creates New Scholarship Program for HBCUS in Honor of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, Student Murdered in Hate Crime

2nd Lt. Richard Collins III (photo via amsterdamnews.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to via jbhe.com, the state of Maryland approved a new scholarship program in memory of slain Bowie State University student, 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III. In May 2017, Collins was fatally stabbed on the University of Maryland, College Park campus just days before he was scheduled to graduate from Bowie State. Police classified the murder as a hate crime because the attacker was a White man who allegedly went after Collins because he was African American.

In an effort to honor Collins legacy, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan approved legislation to establish the 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III Leadership with Honor Scholarship, which will be funded by the state with $1 million annually. Recipients must be eligible for in-state tuition, a member of a Reserve Officer Training Corps, part of an underrepresented group in the ROTC, and must attend a historically black college or university.

The scholarship will be split between Bowie State and Maryland’s three other historically Black universities: Morgan State University, Coppin State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/11/maryland-hbcus-to-benefit-from-a-new-scholarship-honoring-a-murdered-black-student/

Meet Lena Waithe’s Black Women Who Brunch, the Next Big TV Scribes | Hollywood Reporter

splash_blackfemalewriters-thrby Rebecca Sun via hollywoodreporter.com

For The Hollywood Reporter’s largest shoot ever, members of Black Women Who Brunch, a networking group co-founded by Lena Waithe, gather to discuss how the industry can better understand black women in Hollywood: “We have to be exceptional.”

In 2014, Nkechi Okoro Carroll was an executive story editor on Bones when she met an up-and-coming scribe named Lena Waithe at a WGA Committee of Black Writers event. The two hit it off, so much so that Okoro Carroll got the future Emmy winner — whose major credit at the time was writing for the Nickelodeon series How to Rock — hired as a staff writer on her Fox procedural, making Waithe the second black woman in the room. “Aren’t you worried she’s going to take your job?” a fellow writer on staff asked Okoro Carroll.

“You should be worried she’ll take your job,” retorted Okoro Carroll, now showrunning The CW’s All American. What the duo felt was not competition but kinship: “We often felt like unicorns,” Okoro Carroll says. “When someone asked me to recommend mid-level female writers [of color] for a job, I was appalled to realize I didn’t know many names.”

Together with Erika L. Johnson, then writing for BET’s Being Mary Jane, the women decided to create a network of black female TV writers themselves. Twelve assembled for the March 2014 inaugural meeting of what came to be known as Black Women Who Brunch (BWB); today, the membership nears 80. “This group is the proof” against and antidote to “people saying, ‘We can’t find any black female writers,'” says Johnson, now a co-executive producer on NBC’s upcoming The Village.

BWB holds potlucks at Okoro Carroll’s house every few months (usually about 30 members are available at one time) to toast triumphs and troubleshoot challenges. “It’s not just a community we’re building, but a resource,” says Waithe. “We really are able to recommend eight or nine black women for certain jobs.”

In August, BWB took its first off-site trip — a weekend getaway to Palm Springs. And in November, 62 members gathered for THR‘s biggest photo shoot ever, where they revealed what they wish their colleagues knew about being a black woman in the business.

To read and see more, go to:  Meet Lena Waithe’s Black Women Who Brunch, the Next Big TV Scribes | Hollywood Reporter

They Couldn’t Find Beauty Tutorials for Dark Skin. So They Made Their Own | The New York Times

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The beauty industry often shuts out women with darker complexions, but Nyma Tang, Monica Veloz and Jackie Aina are video bloggers working to change that (Credits From left: Nyma Tang; Juan Veloz; Angela Marklew)

by Sandra E. Garcia via nytimes.com

Women are not born knowing how to do a flawless cat eye or a shadowy, smoky eye, so they often turn to makeup tutorials on YouTube. A search for “smoky eye” pulls up endless videos showing how to perfectly blend eye shadows to achieve the look.

Simple.

But what if you had dark skin and most of the videos showed lighter-skinned women applying hues that would make you look as if you had a black eye? What if you couldn’t relate to these women, because you couldn’t see yourself in them?

The answer to that is also simple: You make your own YouTube channel.

That is what Jackie Aina, 31, Monica Veloz, 26, and Nyma Tang, 27, did. The three women collectively have nearly four million YouTube subscribers, with Ms. Aina alone having over two million.

The women, all self-taught, turn on their cameras at home, and show us how to put on foundation, apply lashes and highlight our cheekbones, step by step. They teach us what tools to use and which hair products work.

“I think everyone looks for someone that looks like them,” Ms. Tang said. “I was definitely looking for that, especially on YouTube, and it was hard to find tutorials on products for women with deeper skin.”

The beauty bloggers provide darker-skinned women with something they may not have a tutorial for: the confidence to wear bold colors, to stand up to haters, and, more important, to choose how they present themselves.

They try different makeup brands to show that they do work on dark skin or, of course, that they don’t. They teach women not to be afraid of color, like red lipstick, bright yellow eye shadow or holographic highlights.

Their videos and social media posts are finding an audience of black women who are ready to spend money on beauty products, studies show, but have few choices to pick from.

“Most beauty launches never worked for me,” Ms. Tang said.

“A lot of times they don’t want to take the time to make the product,” Ms. Veloz said, adding that beauty companies often treat women with darker skin as “an afterthought.”

“Dark-skinned women are always kind of at the bottom of the totem pole,” Ms. Aina said. “I don’t understand that.”

To read more, go to: They Couldn’t Find Beauty Tutorials for Dark Skin. So They Made Their Own. – The New York Times

Viola Davis Stars As Shirley Chisholm in New Movie “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm”

viola-davis-shirley-chisholm-now-113018.pngThe first Black actress to earn a lead dramatic Emmy will bring another pioneering Black woman, Shirley Chisholm, to life on screen.

Deadline reported yesterday (November 29) that Viola Davis will produce and star in “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm.” This will be the “Widows” star’s first project under the first look deal that JuVee Productions, the company she co-heads with husband Julius Tennon, recently signed with Amazon Studios. Davis confirmed the project today (November 30) by retweeting JuVee’s tweet with one of the late Democratic politician’s quotes:

Read more via Viola Davis Stars As Shirley Chisholm in New Movie | Colorlines

Three African American Students, Lia Petrose, Anea B. Moore and Austin T. Hughes, Named 2019 Rhodes Scholars

2019 Rhodes Scholarship Recipients (l-r) Austin T. Hughes, Anea B. Moore and Lia Petrose (photos via jbhe.com)

via jbhe.com

Recently, the Rhodes Trust announced the 32 American winners of Rhodes Scholarships for graduate study at Oxford University in England. Being named a Rhodes Scholar is considered among the highest honors that can be won by a U.S. college student.

The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, an industrialist who made a vast fortune in colonial Africa. According to the will of Rhodes, applicants must have “high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.”

This year, more than 2,500 students applied to be Rhodes Scholars. A total of 880 college students were endorsed by 281 colleges or universities for consideration for a Rhodes Scholarship. Some 221 applicants from 82 colleges and universities were named finalists. Then, two Rhodes Scholars were selected from each of 16 districts across the United States. Students may apply from either the district where they reside or the district where they attend college. The 32 American Rhodes Scholars will join students from 23 other jurisdictions around the world as Rhodes Scholars. The Rhodes Trust pays all tuition and fees for scholarship winners to study at Oxford. A stipend for living and travel expenses is also provided.

In 1907 Alain LeRoy Locke, later a major philosopher and literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, was selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford University. It is generally believed that at the time of the award the Rhodes committee did not know that Locke was Black until after he had been chosen. It would be more than 50 years later, in 1962, until another African American would be named a Rhodes Scholar.

Other African Americans who have won Rhodes Scholarships include Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School, Kurt Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore, and Franklin D. Raines, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and former CEO of Fannie Mae. In 1978 Karen Stevenson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first African-American woman selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

A year ago, 10 African-Americans were among the 32 winners of Rhodes Scholarships for Americans. This was the most ever elected in a single U.S. Rhodes class. This year, there are three African Americans among the 32 Rhodes Scholars. This is a sharp reduction from a year ago. Yet, Blacks still make up 9.3 percent of all Rhodes Scholars selected this year in the United States.

Here are brief biographies of the three new African American Rhodes Scholars:

Austin T. Hughes from San Antonio, Texas, is a senior at the University of Iowa. He is triple majoring in creative writing, theatre arts, and Japanese language and literature. He is a cellist and a cross-country runner at the university. Hughes served as co-president of The English Society at the University of Iowa. In that role, he showcased student literature to the campus community and beyond. He has won numerous awards for his poetry and creative writing. At Oxford, Hughes will pursue a master’s degree in Japanese studies. Continue reading “Three African American Students, Lia Petrose, Anea B. Moore and Austin T. Hughes, Named 2019 Rhodes Scholars”

Common’s Freedom Road Productions and Lionsgate to Bring Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Barracoon’ to TV

Zora Neale Hurston (l), Cudjo Lewis (r) [photo via blackyouthproject.com]
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Deadline.com, hip hop artist and Academy-Award winner Common‘s Freedom Road Productions in conjunction with Lionsgate Entertainment, has optioned the rights to Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’, the recently discovered book by Zora Neale Hurston, to develop as a limited television event series.

Barracoon centers on 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, who Hurston identified as the last known formerly enslaved person to survive the Middle Passage.

Hurston’s book chronicles Cudjo’s time of slavery and the profound complexities of reconstruction and freedom after the Atlantic slave trade was abolished.

This is the second project to emerge from Lionsgate and Freedom Road’s TV deal. They are already developing the Saturday Night Knife and Gun Club TV adaptation starring and produced by Common.

Washington and Lee University Replaces Slaveholder’s Name On Building With John Chavis’, the 1st Black U.S. College Graduate

Bust of John Chavis at Washington & Lee University (photo via columns.wlu.edu)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the Board of Trustees at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, will make changes to two of its buildings, Robinson Hall and Lee Chapel, after a student and faculty committee issued a report on how the university’s history is represented on campus. The committee was created after White supremacists rallied at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville last year.

Robinson Hall was originally named for John Robinson, a founder of the university. When Robinson died he left his estate, farm, and 73 slaves to the college. In 1836, the college sold the slaves and used the money to build Robinson Hall.

The board decided to rename the building Chavis Hall, in honor of John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States. He graduated from the university’s predecessor – first Liberty Hall Academy, then Washington Academy – in 1799.

Additionally, the university will make changes to Lee Chapel. The university will replace the portraits of Robert E. Lee and George Washington in military uniforms with new portraits of the two men in civilian clothing.

Also, the doors to the statue chamber in Lee Chapel will be closed during university events. However, Lee Chapel will keep its name. Robert E. Lee is buried below the chapel.