Artist Chelle Barbour’s first solo show, You Is Pretty!, at Band of Vices gallery in the West Adams district of L.A. through Oct. 13, is a photo montage series examining portrayals of African-American women in media. And if you look closely at the curator credits, one very famous name jumps out: Angela Bassett.
Longtime friend and fan of gallerist Terrell Tilford, Bassett, who serves as co-curator of Barbour’s show, frequented his gallery throughout the aughts when it was called Tilford Art Group. After closing in 2010, he rebranded as Band of Vices in 2015 and reached out to Bassett about playing a larger part. “I’ve been a lover of art for many, many years, so it was just a new venture for me. And when he introduced me to Chelle’s work, I was excited about it as well, about this young artist that I heretofore wasn’t familiar with but found her work to be really strong and really striking in many ways,” Bassett explains.
Barbour’s practice includes painting, digital video, photography, writing and curating. She collaborated on projects with Black Lives Matter at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in 2016; and has participated in a number of group shows. But to have Bassett play a part in her first solo show is just too much, she quips.
“When I saw her name as a curator, I was like, ‘What?!?” Barbour explains. “I have been a fan of hers for years. I’m pleased that she likes the work, that she’s seen it. Her endorsement just leaves me speechless.”
With You Is Pretty!, Barbour poses questions about agency and beauty by layering visual metaphors over imagery of black women to evoke what writer and essayist Amiri Baraka called Afro-Surrealism. The women in her collages are alluring and confident, the opposite of more common depictions emphasizing a lack of economic value, or worse, irrelevance. By incorporating motifs like butterflies, flower petals and industrial machinery, she conjures archetypes of strength and potential.
“Chelle’s work explores that notion of the other or the alien or the marginalization, but she uses the black woman as her muse,” offers Bassett. “When I, as an artist, look out into the world, I find those voices, whether it be art or music or narration, that celebrate our beauty, our being different, as a strength, as something positive.”
In a defining moment for Hollywood, Disney and Marvel Studios‘ Black Pantherexploded at the Presidents Day box office, bounding to a record-shattering estimate of $192 million for the three-day weekend and a projected $218 million-plus for the four-day holiday frame.
The Ryan Coogler-directed movie — unprecedented in being a big-budget studio tentpole featuring a virtually all-black cast — secured the fifth-biggest domestic opening of all time after blasting past all expectations. It’s also the best launch of any superhero film behind fellow Marvel title The Avengers (2012), which earned $207.4 million in its first three days, not accounting for inflation.
The weekend isn’t over, however, and Black Panther could climb even higher. Many rival studios show a four-day total of $222 million to $225 million, as well as a higher three-day total in the $195 million range.
Other records broken include that of the biggest opening for an African-American director, the top-scoring superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes (97 percent) and the biggest February bow, supplanting previous champ Deadpool, which took in $152.2 million over the four-day Presidents Day weekend in 2016.
Playing in 4,020 theaters, Black Panther was fueled by a diverse audience. According to comScore, 37 percent of ticket buyers were African-American. Caucasians made up the next largest group (35 percent), followed by Hispanics (18 percent). That sort of demographic breakdown is unheard of for a marquee superhero tentpole. On average, African-Americans make up about 15 percent of the audience for such fare.
“There are seven billion people on this planet and they come from all walks of life. Audiences deserve to see themselves reflected on the big screen. Beyond being the right thing to do, it makes for richer storytelling,” says Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis.
Adds Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster, “Representation matters. Get Out, Wonder Woman, Coco and now Black Panther show Hollywood that authenticity and inclusiveness wins.”
Black Panther, which cost $200 million to make before marketing, was a bold move on the part of Disney and Marvel’s Kevin Feige.
In the film, Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa/Black Panther alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. The story, described as a tale of black power and black pride in addition to its superhero themes, follows T’Challa as he is sworn in as king of Wakanda, a cloaked, technologically advanced nation in Africa that is home to the exotic metal vibranium, the source of Black Panther’s powers.
Audiences bestowed Black Panther with an A+ CinemaScore (the only other Marvel title to earn the mark was Avengers).
Black Panther hits theaters almost a year after Jordan Peele‘s maverick horror film Get Out transformed into a box-office sensation, although that was a genre pic. And in summer 2017, filmmaker Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, featuring a female protagonist, became the highest-grossing live-action film from a female director.
Overseas — where American films with a black cast can face challenges — Black Panther opened in virtually every major market save for Russia (Feb. 22), Japan (March 1) and China (March 9). The movie earned a mighty $169 million for an estimated global bow of $387 million through Monday, including a hefty $52 million from Imax locations around the world.
Black Panther came in ahead of expectations overseas, but certainly not to the extent it did in North America. Still, it secured the fifteenth-biggest international opening of all time, opening No. 1 in almost every territory. South Korea led with $25.3 million, the fifth-biggest start ever for a Western title. The U.K./Ireland followed with a $24.8 million launch, the best showing of any Marvel title behind Avengers: Age of Ultron and eclipsing the entire runs of Justice League, Ant-Man and the first installments in the Captain America and Thor franchises.
In North America, the only movies that dared to open nationwide opposite Black Panther were Lionsgate and Aardman Animation’s family film Early Man and PureFlix’s faith-based pic Samson. Early Man placed No. 7 with an estimated four-day gross of $4.2 million from 2,492 theaters, while Samson came in No. 11 with an estimated $2.4 million from 1,249 cinemas.
Chadwick Boseman struggled to catch his breath after he was cast as Black Panther. When he first tried on his spandex suit for 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” it felt too restricting. “It was suffocating,” recalls Boseman. “Literally, it closed off every possibility of air getting to you. I was in it, put the mask on. I said, ‘Hey, you got to get me out of this!’” By the time he headlined his own movie, as the first black Marvel superhero with his name on the poster, Boseman was more comfortable in his re-engineered costume. “I think it begins to feel like skin after a while,” says the 41-year-old actor. “But it takes time to get to that place.”
The same can be said for Disney’s long-awaited tentpole “Black Panther,” which opens in theaters on Feb. 16. For decades, actors, directors, producers and fans have wondered why Hollywood was so slow to bring black superheroes to the big screen. It’s not that there weren’t attempts along the way. In the ’90s, Warner Bros. had originally tapped Marlon Wayans to portray Robin in a “Batman” movie, before Chris O’Donnell landed the sidekick role. Wesley Snipes starred in the vampire superhero franchise “Blade,” which spawned two sequels. In 2004, Halle Berry headlined “Catwoman,” which was ridiculed by critics and tanked at the box office. And 12 years later, Will Smith, the co-star of the juggernaut “Men in Black,” popped up in “Suicide Squad” as the under-seen assassin Deadshot.
“Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler, is a movie that doubles as a movement, or at least a moment that feels groundbreaking in the same way that last year’s runaway hit “Wonder Woman” inspired millions of women. “Panther” marks the first time that a major studio has greenlit a black superhero movie with an African-American director and a primarily black cast, including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright as Shuri, the princess of the fictional African country Wakanda.
The reality of this milestone isn’t lost on Coogler, the 31-year-old director of the Sundance darling “Fruitvale Station” and the “Rocky” sequel “Creed.” “I think progress comes in ebbs and flows,” Coogler says. “I hope things continue to open up. As more content gets made, more opportunities like ours can come about for folks. But you’ve got to put your foot on the gas when it comes to that or things can go back to where they were.”
“Black Panther” chronicles an origin story for a Marvel character who first made his debut in the comic books in 1966. On the big screen, he’s a warrior named T’Challa, who returns home to an Afro-futuristic country to inherit the throne as king. The release of the movie coincides with a crossroads in America. Racial tensions are heightened as a result of a president who continually makes reprehensible remarks about immigrants from nonwhite countries. “Black Panther” also arrives on the heels of #OscarsSoWhite, the two consecutive years (2015 and 2016) that the Motion Picture Academy failed to nominate any actors of color for awards.
Anticipation for the release of “Black Panther” is much higher than for the last outings from Batman and Thor. In May 2016, the hashtag #BlackPantherSoLIT started trending on Twitter as casting details around the movie emerged. “Panther” is poised to break box office records for February, a typically quieter time as audiences catch up on romantic comedies around Valentine’s Day. Marvel’s latest crown jewel is tracking to gross an estimated $150 million on its opening weekend. Strong business for “Black Panther,” which cost nearly $200 million to produce and roughly $150 million more to market, would send a clear message to the movie industry that certain communities are still widely underserved. While domestic ticket sales plummeted last year, the number of frequent African-American moviegoers nearly doubled to 5.6 million in 2016, according to a survey by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
Some are paying attention. “Representation matters,” says Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, which owns Marvel. “It’s a powerful and important thing for people to know they are seen and to see themselves reflected in our films and the stories we tell.” Horn believes that “Black Panther” is part of a wave of change. “In terms of gender diversity, we’ve done very well,” he says, pointing to his studio’s own roster that includes “Beauty and the Beast,” “Coco” and the upcoming live-action “Mulan.” “When it comes to diversity reflecting color and ethnicity, I’d say yes, you will see more.” Continue reading “Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler on How ‘Black Panther’ Makes History | Variety”→
“American Horror Story” star Angela Bassett has joined Marvel’s “Black Panther,” playing the mother of the title character.
Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o and “The Walking Dead’s” Danai Gurira are also part of the ensemble cast. “Creed” helmer Ryan Coogler will direct.
Chadwick Boseman will play T’Challa, the prince of the African nation of Wakanda, who must take over the throne after his father’s murder. Marvel unveiled the character in “Captain America: Civil War” last May and his standalone film hits theaters on Feb. 16, 2018.
Production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2017. Joe Robert Cole is co-penning the script with Coogler. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is producing the movie.
This marks Bassett’s second turn down the comic book avenue having previously appeared in DC’s “Green Latern” movie starring Ryan Reynolds.
Bassett recently reprised her role as Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs in “London Has Fallen.” On the small screen, she was just seen on “American Horror Story: Roanoke.”
Angela Bassett has been acting for over three decades, but one thing is constant: she looks great while doing it. From her body to her skin, the wife and mother are always looking fresh in her films and appearances. But behind the scenes, Bassett struggled with skin issues.
So, the actress has teamed up with Dr. Barbara Sturm, her friend and a well-known skincare expert, to launch a skin-care line that addresses the specific needs of women with darker complexions.
Bassett has struggled with skin issues herself, she told WWD. Initially, she used Sturm’s original line to treat her breakouts and irritations, but she realized it didn’t address skin issues that darker women deal with, such as hyperpigmentation. That’s when they decided to extend the line and after two years of research, Darker Skin Tones by Dr. Barbara Sturm came into reality.
Hyperpigmentation is characterized by a darkening of an area of skin caused by the overproduction of a pigment in the skin known as melanin.
Hyperpigmentation is the result of either of two occurrences: an abnormally high concentration of melanocytes produce melanin or when melanocytes are hyperactive. For instance, sun exposure stimulates the production of melanin. Although it can affect anyone, this condition is more prevalent among African-Americans and those of Latin descent.
Hyperpigmentation can affect any part of the body including the face, hands, and neck.
Bassett said that she wants to bring more awareness to skin care and for people, “to see what is good for it and ingredients that are helpful — not invasive or irritating. I like them to be pleased when they look in the mirror, to feel good about themselves and the condition of their complexion.”
The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations were announced today, and it’s clear that diverse casting in television is finally impacting more than ratings. Eighteen African-American actors and actresses were acknowledged by the Television Academy for their work on the small screen this past season, including best actress in a drama nominees Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) and Viola Davis (“How To Get Away With Murder”), Queen Latifah for the HBO movie “Bessie”, Angela Bassett for limited series “American Horror Story” and Cicely Tyson for her guest turn on “How To Get Away With Murder.”
Other acting nominees include David Oyelowo for the limited series “Nightingale”, Anthony Anderson and Don Cheadle for their respective comedy leads in “Black-ish” and “House of Lies”, Uzo Aduba for “Orange Is The New Black”, Khandi Alexander for her guest role on “Scandal”, Andre Braugher for his supporting role in the comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, Keegan-Michael Key for his comedy sketch show “Key & Peele” Niecy Nash for her supporting role in “Getting On”, Tituss Burgess for his supporting comedic role in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” , Michael Kenneth Williams for his supporting dramatic role in “Bessie”, Regina King for “American Crime”, Mo’Nique for her portrayal of Ma Rainey in “Bessie”, Tituss Burgess and Reg E. Cathey for his guest role on “House Of Cards.”
Additionally, Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley (“12 Years A Slave”) scored big with 10 nominations for his critically-acclaimed ABC series “American Crime”, including Best Limited Series and Writing for a Limited Series. Additionally, writer/director Dee Rees (“Pariah”) is nominated for writing as well as directing for “Bessie.”
More writing nods went to Key and Jordan Peele for “Key & Peele” and the “Key & Peele Super Bowl Special”. Key & Peele were also acknowledged in the Short-Form Live Action category for “Key & Peele Presents Van And Mike: The Ascension”. Beyoncé continues to dominate all media with a nod in the Special Class Program category for “Beyoncé and Jay Z On The Run.”
Astrophysicist-turned-television personality and host Neil deGrasse Tyson was rewarded for his ventures into the entertainment space with two nominations: one as narrator for “Hubble’s Cosmic Journey” and the other for his nascent talk show “Star Talk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.”
The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards will be held on September 20, hosted by Andy Samberg and broadcast live on Fox from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
To see a full list of all the nominees, click here.
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon Studios says it has acquired Spike Lee‘s new film as its first Amazon Original Movie.
The film, with the working title “Chi-Raq,” features a cast including Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson and Teyonah Parris, as well as D.B. Sweeney, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris and Angela Bassett, plus John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.
“Chi-Raq” was shot entirely in Chicago and wrapped last week. Directed by Lee, it was co-written by Lee and Kevin Willmott. It focuses on violence in inner-city Chicago.
Amazon Studios’ Ted Hope said, “It would be impossible to find a better filmmaker” than Lee to launch the studio with.
Amazon Original Movies, announced in January, was formed to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release as well as distribution to its Amazon Prime members.
I received a press release this morning with the following:
“Marvel and Stephen King are proud to announce the next chapter in the bold epic Dark Tower series. Coming this September, THE DARK TOWER: THE DRAWING OF THE THREE –THE LADY OF SHADOWS #1 continues the epic story through the eyes of one of the series fan-favorite characters [Odetta Holmes]. Perfect for new and old fans alike, the rich and vibrant world of the Dark Tower series comes alive like never before! New York Times Bestselling writers Peter David & Robin Furth alongside rising star artist Jonathan Marks bring the action from Mid-World to our world in this exciting new installment! The Gunslinger Roland and his companion Eddie Dean, the troubled young man with the ability to open doors to other worlds are now united. Together, they will find the Dark Tower. But first they must locate the 3rd member of their ka-tet, residing in our world. Enter Odetta Holmes, a wealthy Civil Rights activist living in the South. But Odetta has a dark secret, and a darker side. To uncover that secret, we’ll have to go back to the beginning…A bold new chapter begins as Odetta Holmes makes her entrance into this landmark series. Don’t miss Stephen King’s THE DARK TOWER: THE DRAWING OF THE THREE –THE LADY OF SHADOWS #1, when it comes to comic shops and digital devices this September!”
This is obviously a comic book/graphic novel adaptation of the literary series – the second book in the novel series is titled “The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three” – so don’t get too excited. But I mention it because there is a film adaptation of the massive “Dark Tower” series that’s been in some form of development for at least 4 years (I recall writing about it on the old S&A site, prior to 2011). Most recently, earlier this year, Sony Pictures has announced that it had teamed with MRC (the a diversified global media company) to co-finance the film adaptation of the first book in the series, with plans for more, which Sony will distribute, along with a TV series based on the novels.
Also, as fans of the book series will already know, the Odetta Holmes mentioned in the above breakdown of the upcoming new installment, happens to be one of the alternate personalities of Susannah Dean – the paraplegic with multiple personalities, who, by the way, also happens to be a black woman. Odetta was the original name that she was born with – a civil rights activist though more of a pacifist, in contrast to Detta Walker, the other personality. During her time as Odetta, Susannah was the daughter of Daniel and Alice Holmes, a wealthy black couple, living in New York City. At the age of five, the serial killer Jack Mort dropped a brick from a high balcony on Odetta’s head, placing her in a coma. Out of this traumatizing incident, Odetta’s damaged mind created a completely separate, second personality named Detta Walker.
The disparity between Odetta’s two personalities approaches the level of polar opposites. Odetta is a morally righteous intellectual with a significant level of education and class who participates in civil-rights protests. Detta is a violent, base individual ruled by sexual desire and fueled by hatred towards the white people Odetta passively resists. The two personalities are completely unaware of each other’s existence – at least initially. Eventually, Odetta and Detta are forced to recognize each other’s existence, and they then combine to create the singular personality of Susannah Dean.
Initially, years ago, Universal Pictures initially planned to turn Stephen King’s mammoth novel series “The Dark Tower” into a feature film trilogy, as well as a network TV series, with Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman, to direct (Howard), produce (Grazer) and write (Goldsman) respectively.
However, Universal later dropped the project over budget concerns, and word on the street was that Warner Bros picked up where Universal left off, with the 3-headed monster (Howard, Graze, Goldsman) still very much spearheading the thing.
Skip to 2012, when it was revealed that Goldsman would soon be delivering an amended draft of the script to Warners, which addressed the budget issues, and if the studio OK’d what he delivered, the project would be good to go.
And adding to excitement that the project seemed to be getting closer to becoming a reality was word that Russell Crowe would be replacing Javier Bardem, who had long been attached to play the lead role of gunslinger Roland Deschain – which wasn’t a big surprise, since Crowe, Howard and Grazer have worked together at least twice in the past.
But the one character we are most interested in, in all this, who also happens to be one of the key characters in the sprawling epic work, is obviously Susannah Dean/Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker, who will apparently be at the center of the next chapter in the book series.
The “Dark Tower” series, which King himself considers his magnum opus, is a cross-genre work, including elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror and western, with 8 novels in the series, published between 1982 and 2012.
Here’s a plot summary: In the story, Roland Deschain is the last living member of a knightly order known as gunslingers and the last of the line of “Arthur Eld”, his world’s analogue of King Arthur. Politically organized along the lines of a feudal society, it shares technological and social characteristics with the American Old West but is also magical. Many of the magical aspects have vanished from Mid-World, but traces remain as do relics from a technologically advanced society. Roland’s quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland’s world is said to have “moved on”, and it appears to be coming apart at the seams. Mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish without a trace and time does not flow in an orderly fashion. Even the sun sometimes rises in the north and sets in the east. As the series opens, Roland’s motives, goals and age are unclear, though later installments shed light on these mysteries. Along his journey to the Dark Tower, Roland meets a great number of both friends and enemies. For most of the way he is accompanied by a group of people who together with him form the Ka-tet of the Nineteen and Ninety-nine, consisting of Jake Chambers, Eddie and Susannah Dean, and Oy.
And so the question I’ve always had is, who should play Susannah Dean?
Music legend Patti LaBelle is joining the cast of FX’s critically acclaimed series, American Horror Story. LaBelle joins existing cast members Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates for American Horror Story Season 4, which will focus on the last American freak show and will be set in Jupiter, Florida, in the 1950’s.
LaBelle will play Sidibe’s mother, a local townie, who begins to unravel the deadly secrets of Twisty the clown killer.
LaBelle is the second music icon to appear on the series. Stevie Nicks guest starred as herself and appeared on two episodes on Coven, the third installment of American Horror Story.
American Horror Story: Freak Show debuts in October on FX.
Academy-Award nominated actress Angela Bassett is bringing sexy back, and at the age of 55 it looks better than ever!
In her new feature photo shoot for the beauty and fashion magazine Violet Grey, Angela goes bold in sexy black lingerie and talks about what it takes to be a woman of strength. But being the star she is, she opens up about her most vulnerable times and how she see herself when she looks in the mirror.
Check out some of the highlights and more pics below:
On what she sees when she looks in the mirror:
A passionate woman who knows what she loves and has been blessed to be able to do it…and continue to do it!
On when she’s most vulnerable:
When I’m told I can’t do something. When I’m told I’m not good enough, that I can’t have something, can’t go somewhere, especially because of the color of my skin.
On being a strong woman and if she always comes out on top:
Not with everything, but that’s when you stick out your chest and you gather your strength. I was raised by my mother, and she taught me how! You can’t be in this industry if you’re afraid of a little rejection.
Her advice for aspiring actors:
It’s the same with everything: You have to study your craft. Actresses make it look easy because that’s the way it should look—effortless. When a great actor does their job they’re leaving a piece of their soul in the room. It takes a little out of you, but that’s okay. Life will take a little out of you, love will take a little out of you. We’re talking about demonstrating the best and worst of the human experience.
On the best date to have to an event:
A friend or a sister. I mean, the husband is always great, but there is something about a girlfriend…