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.
Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rosewill produce as well as starin a film about Shirley Chisholm, the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States.
In 1968, she became the first African-American elected to Congress.
The film was first announced in 2010 with Viola Davis attached to the project, but a producer of the project has confirmed Rose’s attachment to the project, which is currently in development.
The original mini-series “Roots” was about history, and it was history itself. Airing on ABC in January 1977, this generational saga of slavery was a kind of answer song to the 1976 Bicentennial celebration of the (white, often slave-owning) founding fathers. It reopened the books and wrote slaves and their descendants into the national narrative.
But as an event, it was also a chapter in that story. It shaped and was shaped by the racial consciousness of its era. It was a prime-time national reckoning for more than 100 million viewers. As a television drama, it was excellent. But as a television broadcast, it was epochal.
The four-night, eight-hour remake of “Roots,” beginning Memorial Day on History, A&E and Lifetime, is largely the same story, compressed in some places and expanded in others, with a lavish production and strong performances. It is every bit as worthy of attention and conversation. But it is also landing, inevitably, in a very different time.
Viewers who watched “Roots” four decades ago have since lived with racial narratives of moving forward and stepping back. They’ve seen America’s first black president elected and a presidential candidate hesitate to disavow the Ku Klux Klan.
So in timing and spirit, this is a Black Lives Matter “Roots,” optimistic in focusing on its characters’ strength, sober in recognizing that we may never stop needing reminders of whose lives matter.
The first new episode, much of it shot in South Africa, looks stunning, another sign of the cultural times. Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby, in the role made famous by LeVar Burton) is now not a humble villager but the scion of an important clan, and his home — Juffure, in Gambia — a prosperous settlement. Kunta is captured by a rival family and sold into slavery to a Virginian (James Purefoy), by way of a harrowing Middle Passage.
Mr. Kirby’s Kunta is a more regal and immediately defiant character than Mr. Burton’s. But his tragedy is the same: He rebels but fails and is beaten into accepting his slave name, Toby. The name — the loss of identity — is as much a weapon as the whip. As the overseer who beats him puts it: “You can’t buy a slave. You have to make a slave.”
Kunta stops running, but he preserves his traditions, including the practice of presenting a newborn baby to the night sky with the words, “Behold, the only thing that is greater than you.”
That theme of belonging to something larger, of the ancestral family as a character in itself, is essential to “Roots.” Although Alex Haley fictionalized the events of his novel on which the mini-series is based, his story offered black Americans what slavery was machine-tooled to erase: places, dates, names, memories. And that focus keeps the ugliness — the racial slurs, the gruesome violence — from rendering this series without hope. A person may live and die in this system, but a people can survive it.
Still, the individual stories remain heartbreaking, even in small moments, as when the slave musician Fiddler (a soulful Forest Whitaker) recognizes a Mandinka tune he overhears Kunta singing. He’s moved — and, it seems, a little frightened by what the recognition stirs in him. As much as he’s worked to efface his heritage as a survival strategy, it lingers, a few notes haunting the outskirts of his memory.
Kunta’s daughter, Kizzy (E’myri Lee Crutchfield as a child, Anika Noni Rose as an adult), is teased with the possibility of a better life; she grows up friends with the master’s daughter and learns to read. But she’s sold to Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a struggling farmer who rapes and impregnates her. Rape — there are several assaults in this series — is another weapon against identity, another way you make a slave. Ms. Rose burns with Kizzy’s determination to hang on to her sense of self.
Jussie Smollett will host the eighth season of the public television show AfroPoP: The Ultimate Exchange.The star of the hit FOX TV showEmpirewill emcee the popular show about contemporary art, life and culture across the African Diaspora as it premieres on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 18, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT onWORLD Channel.
Smollett will also be seen in the new WGN thriller Undergroundin 2016. The acclaimed entertainer is also involved in numerous humanitarian pursuits, sitting on the boards of the Black AIDS Institute, Artists for a New South Africa and the RuJohn Foundation.
Previous hosts of AfroPoP include Idris Elba, Anika Noni Rose, Wyatt Cenac, Gabourey Sidibe, Anthony Mackie and Yaya DaCosta.
“AfroPoP’s engaging, real-life tales add to the collection of rich Black stories that audiences are clamoring for and I wanted to be a part of bringing them to national attention,” said Smollett.
This week, Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, hosted a bi-coastal celebrity volunteer event. Harlem and LA Feeding America food banks are just two of the 200 food banks they have throughout the United States. In total, they help feed nearly 46 million people.
The East Coast Hope For The Holidays event went down at the Food Bank For New York City’s Community Kitchen & Pantry in Harlem. Celebrity guests began to flow in for their day of volunteering. 50 Cent, Andy Grammer, Karolina Kurkova, and Savannah Guthrie all ventured out into the brisk NYC morning to give back to the community.
Meanwhile, in L.A., Troian Bellisario, Jennie Garth and Anika Noni Rose all came out to rep the West Coast event. With one in six individuals struggling with food insecurity in the United States, it became apparent this is a cause that 50 Cent feels very passionately about. “A lot of the stuff I am involved in, people don’t actually know. I just go quietly about it,” he tells us about volunteering. “When I have time to do it, it’s cool. To be here and run into cool people who are not from my genre of music… that will create things we didn’t know about each other.”
Volunteering is such an awarding part of life, and a great way to connect with your community. But it can often become overwhelming on where to even begin. As for that, 50 Cent stated, “Look on FeedingAmerica.org and from there you can learn all about it. Around the holidays is always a great time to start.”
The Tony Nominations for 2014 were announced this morning, and the current production of the Lorraine Hansberry classic, A Raisin In The Sun, earned four, including Best Revival of A Play. Raisin‘s LaTanya Richardson Jackson was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, and Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose both were nominated in the Featured Actress category for their outstanding work in the production.
Denzel Washington, who anchors the play by reviving the Walter Younger role that garnered Sidney Poitier a Tony nomination in the original Broadway production, was overlooked in the Leading Actor category.
The spark of rebellion, the kind that makes a man stand up and fight, has almost been extinguished in Walter Lee Younger. As portrayed by Denzel Washington in Kenny Leon’s disarmingly relaxed revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun — which opened on Thursday night at the Ethel Barrymore Theater — Walter appears worn down, worn out and about ready to crawl into bed for good. Frankly, he looks a whole lot older than you probably remember him.
That’s partly because, at 59, Mr. Washington, the much laureled movie star, is about a quarter of a century older than the character he is playing, at least as written. (This production bumps Walter’s age up to 40 from 35.) But it’s also because, as this production of Raisin makes clearer than any I’ve seen before, Walter inhabits a world that ages men like him fast.
Listen to how his mama, Lena (LaTanya Richardson Jackson), describes her late husband’s existence: “I seen him, night after night, come in, and look at that rug, and then look at me, the red showing in his eyes, the veins moving in his head. I seen him grow thin and old before he was 40, working and working like somebody’s horse.”
In this engrossingly acted version of Hansberry’s epochal 1959 portrait of an African-American family, Walter is all too clearly his father’s son. Lena may tell him, shaking her head, that he is “something new, boy.” But you know that her great fear is that he is not. Small wonder she shows such smothering protectiveness to Walter’s 11-year-old son, Travis (Bryce Clyde Jenkins).
A claustrophobic fatigue pervades the cramped, South Side Chicago apartment in which A Raisin in the Sun is set. And despite its often easygoing tone, a happy ending feels far from guaranteed. As designed by Mark Thompson, the Youngers’ living room cum kitchen is a narrow corridor that keeps its three generations of inhabitants in close, erosive proximity.
The production begins with a searing vision of bone-weariness. Ruth Younger (Sophie Okonedo), Walter’s wife, stands frozen center stage in a bathrobe, amid sallow morning light. Her face is harrowed, and her arms are braced against the kitchen counter in what is almost a crucifix position. She is trying to find the strength to get through another day.
Mr. Leon relaxes that initial tautness for the scene that follows, in which the Youngers — who also include Walter’s sister, Beneatha (a first-rate Anika Noni Rose), a pre-med student — go through their usual morning rituals. And the play as a whole has a genial, conversational quality; it always holds you, but without trying to shake you.
Still, that opening scene strikes a note that will resonate. Exhaustion is pulling at the Youngers like a dangerous force of gravity. As Hansberry puts it in her stage directions, “Weariness has, in fact, won in this room.”
Just in time for Easter, the Lifetime Channel will air the small screen adaptation of Terry McMillan‘s bestseller A Day Late and a Dollar Short. The film stars Whoopi Goldberg (who also executive produced) and Ving Rhames as an estranged couple, with Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise, Tichina Arnold, and Mekhi Phifer playing their adult children.
In A Day Late and a Dollar Short, when irascible matriarch Viola Price (Goldberg) learns that her next asthma attack will likely kill her, she is determined to fix her fractured family before she leaves this world, from her relationship with her husband (Rhames), to the lives of her four children and grandchildren. While on this quest, she must contend with sibling rivalry, teen pregnancy and prescription drug addiction – and that is only one child. Additionally, her jailbird son (Phifer) needs to learn how to be a better father, her granddaughter is in bigger trouble than her daughter is willing to admit and her estranged husband needs saving from his scheming younger girlfriend. It’s the kind of meddling that the Price family hasn’t experienced from Viola in decades, and she won’t have an easy time bending her loved ones to her will.
The film was adapted for television from McMillan’s novel by Shernold Edwards and directed by Stephen Tolkin. It will premiere on April 19 at 8/7C.
Denzel Washington will star opposite Diahann Carroll in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin In The Sun. Previews begin March 8, 2014, with opening night on April 3, 2014 at the Barrymore Theatre where the original production opened 55 years ago. Set on Chicago’s South Side, A Raisin In The Sun revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee (Washington), his wife Ruth (Sophie Okonedo), his sister Beneatha (Anika Noni Rose), his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama (Carroll). Rounding out the cast are Stephen Tyrone Williams, Jason Dirden, and Stephen McKinley Henderson. Washington won a Best Actor Tony for his performance in 2010′s Fences. The Kenny Leon-directed A Raisin In The Sun is a limited engagement, running 14 weeks only through June 15, 2014. Washington currently can be seen in Universal’s action thriller 2 Guns with Mark Wahlberg which opens today.