‘Moonlight,’ ‘Fences,’ ‘Hidden Figures’ and Actors of Color Make Oscar History

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actors Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris, director Barry Jenkins, actors Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae and Mahershala Ali of 'Moonlight,' winner of Best Motion Picture - Drama, pose in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actors Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris, director Barry Jenkins, actors Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae and Mahershala Ali of ‘Moonlight,’ winner of Best Motion Picture – Drama, pose in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Reversing course from last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and other people of color-centered works with Oscar nominations today (January 24).

The three films, each of which features a predominantly Black cast, compete in the “Best Picture” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” categories. Actresses Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) also square off for best “Actress in a Supporting Role.”

“Moonlight”‘s eight nominations are the most of any film this year besides the musical “La La Land.” They include “Best Director” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” for Barry Jenkins, and “Actor in a Supporting Role” for Mahershala Ali.

“Fences” star and director Denzel Washington received a best “Actor in a Leading Role” nomination. Playwright August Wilson‘s script, based on his original 1983 play, earned him a posthumous “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” nod.

Other acting nominees of color include Ruth Negga (“Loving”) for “Actress in a Leading Role” and Dev Patel (“Lion”) for “Actor in a Supporting Role.” Patel is the first performer of South Asian descent to receive an acting Oscar nomination since Ben Kingsley for 2000’s “Sexy Beast.”

Ava DuVernay‘s “13th,” Raoul Peck‘s “I Am Not Your Negro” and Ezra Edelman‘s “O.J.: Made in America” each received Documentary (Feature) nominations. The category also includes another Black director’s work: Roger Ross Williams“Life, Animated,” and Joi McMillon became the first black female to be nominated in the Editing category for “Moonlight.”

This year’s nominations are far more diverse overall than last year’s, and NBC News reports that this year’s acting nominee pool is the most diverse in Oscar history.

To read more, go to: http://www.colorlines.com/articles/moonlight-fences-and-actors-color-make-oscar-history

Ava DuVernay’s Mass Incarceration Documentary “13th” Opens to Standing Ovation at New York Film Festival

New York Film Festival 2016 opening

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay (GREGORY PACE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Gordon Cox via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay’s “13th” opened the 54th New York Film Festival with a jolt of topical urgency, shaking up tradition as the first documentary to kick off the festival and addressing head-on the issue of mass incarceration and its historical roots. The crowd at the premiere screening rose to its feet when the credits rolled — and then did it a couple more times after that: once when the lights came up on the filmmakers, activists and academics involved in the film, and again when DuVernay appeared for a brief talkback after the movie.

Heightened security measures, a reaction to the Sept. 17 bombing in Chelsea, made the opening the first in recent memory to involve bomb-sniffing dogs and security wands. Famous faces including Oprah WinfreyCommon and Don Lemon turned out for the film, which confronts issues at the forefront of the current political conversation: race, inequality, the fallout of slavery, police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

“This moment, this Black Lives Matter moment, it’s not a moment. It’s a movement,” said DuVernay on the red carpet before the film’s world premiere (in words she would later echo when she addressed the crowd in the theater). “People thought, ‘Oh, will it last?’ Well, it has lasted. It’s changed things. It’s forced candidates to talk about things that they did not talk about in previous elections. It’s opened people’s minds. It’s changed art-making. It’s changed music. People are seeing things through a different filter now.”

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/new-york-film-festival-2016-opening-13th-ava-duvernay-1201875308/

Oprah Winfrey Joins Ava Duvernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” Adaptation for Disney

Oprah Winfrey Ava Duvernay

Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duvernay (DAVE ALLOCCA/STARPIX/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Oprah Winfrey is in final negotiations to join the cast of Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” adaptation that Ava Duvernay is on board to direct.

Jennifer Lee, who wrote and co-directed “Frozen” with Chris Buck, is penning the adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s book for Disney. The story follows children as they travel through time and visit strange worlds in order to find their missing scientist father.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is the first book in L’Engle’s “Time Quartet” series, which includes “A Wind in the Door,” “Many Waters” and “A Swiftly Tilting Planet.”

Winfrey will play Mrs. Which, one of the three Mrs. Ws that helps guide the children along their journey.

Winfrey and Duvernay have a relationship going back to “Selma,” which Winfrey appeared in and Duvernay directed. Sources say Duvernay always had Winfrey in mind for one of the three Mrs. Ws.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/oprah-winfrey-a-wrinkle-in-time-movie-1201823788/

OWN is Now the Highest-Rated Cable Network among African-American Women

Oprah Winfrey on stage during her An Evening With Oprah tour on December 12, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images).

Oprah Winfrey on stage during her An Evening With Oprah tour on December 12, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

article via thegrio.com

Since the OWN cable network debuted in 2011, its popularity has skyrocketed among African-American women, particularly in the last two years.

At a time when many cable networks have been experiencing declines in their viewership, OWN’s average prime-time viewership has grown roughly 30%, climbing to 537,000 in the past two years, as many network have suffered significant declines. According to The Wall Street Journal, the network’s new lineup has resonated strongly with women and black audiences.

OWN is now the highest rated cable network among African American women entertainment screen shot 2016 03 23 at 4 10 11 pm

Since signing on writer-producer Tyler Perry in 2012, who has four shows on the network now, and adding recent shows like Ava DuVernay’s “Queen Sugar” and the megachurch drama “Greenleaf,” OWN has been able to grow its viewership and visibility.

OWN is now the highest-rated cable network among African-American women, and it is also in the top 20 for all women, according to Discovery.

It remains to be seen whether or not OWN can keep up its momentum while at the same time battling the problems of recent economic pressures as well as the rise of Internet-based television.

Read more: http://thegrio.com/2016/03/23/oprah-winfrey-network-african-american-women/

Ava DuVernay to Direct “The Battle Of Versailles” for HBO Films

Image (1) AvaDuVernay__130711182034.jpg for post 539182

Director Ava DuVernay (photo via deadline.com)

article by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com

The story of the 1973 Palace of Versailles fashion show that put American designers and black models on the map is the subject of The Battle Of Versailles, an HBO Films movie co-written and directed by Selma helmer Ava DuVernay.

She is co-writing the project, now in development, with Michael Starrbury (The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete). It is based on the 2015 book The Battle Of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled Into The Spotlight And Made History by fashion journalist Robin Givhan.

battleofversaillesThe movie will chronicle the November 28, 1973 fashion show that took place at the Palace of Versailles. A fundraiser for the restoration of King Louis XIV’s palace, it pitted the top five French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior) against five then-unknown Americans (Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, Stephen Burrows and Anne Klein, who brought along her then-assistant Donna Karan) in front of an audience of the world’s social elite. By the end of the night, American fashion would be born, racial barriers broken, and the industry would be left forever transformed.

The French designers kicked off the evening with a big-budget, two-hour extravaganza featuring elaborate set pieces and a live orchestra playing classical music. The Americans followed with a 35-minute show to a pre-recorded Al Green soundtrack, backed by a simple line drawing of the Eiffel Towel. Against all odds, the Americans emerged victorious, hailed for the energy of their presentation, with a lot of the credit going to the fearless 30 models, 10 of whom, in a groundbreaking move, were African American.

The event was also chronicled in Deborah Riley Draper’s 2012 feature documentary Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution.

DuVernay recently signed on to direct A Wrinkle In Time for Disney. In TV, she is writing, directing and executive producing the upcoming OWN drama series Queen Sugar, which she co-created with Oprah Winfrey.

To read more, go to: http://deadline.com/2016/03/ava-duvernay-battle-of-versailles-hbo-films-1201722419/

 

Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes Join Essence to Celebrate Black Women in Hollywood, Honor Debbie Allen

Honoree Debbie Allen and family (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

article by Sandy Cohen, AP via blackamericaweb.com

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Oscar host Chris Rock, producer Reginald Hudlin and film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took an afternoon off from Academy Awards preparations to celebrate black women in Hollywood.

Rock, Hudlin and Boone Isaacs were among the guests at Essence magazine’s ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rock and Boone Isaacs didn’t speak publicly; Hudlin took the stage to present an award to legendary entertainer Debbie Allen.

The annual Essence event celebrates the achievements of black women in entertainment. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw and filmmaker Thais Francis were also recognized.

Francis thanked the magazine “for creating a platform of visibility.”

“A lot of us in this audience know the importance of visibility, especially during a time, in a society, in a world, in an industry that’s telling us that we’re invisible,” she said.

Shonda Rhimes, who introduced Allen as the new producing director of “Grey’s Anatomy,” called the writer-director-choreographer-performer “a force of nature.”

Producer/writer Shonda Rhimes attends the Essence 9th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

Shonda Rhimes (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

“Debbie blows through an environment and changes the landscape forever,” Rhimes said.

As Allen accepted the Legend Award, she said she felt like she was in church, preaching to her sisters.

“The only plate I’m going to pass is the plate of purpose,” she said, urging the women in the audience to make real connections with each other — not just to meet up for drinks, but to work on ways of changing the world.

Shaw gave similar advice as she accepted the Power Award. The attorney for such entertainers as Laurence Fishburne, Lupita Nyong’o and Ava DuVernay was introduced by Nick Cannon and Channing Dungey, who became the first African-American to head a broadcast network when she was named president of ABC Entertainment last week.

“If you are a woman who wants to be empowered, then empower other women,” Shaw said.

“Black-ish” star Ross, accompanied by her father and older sister, Rhonda, accepted the Fierce and Fearless award. Ross said she had been sick for the past week and worried she wouldn’t be able to attend the luncheon.

“I got dressed in the car,” she said. “I’m unclear if what I’m wearing is see-through. If it is, I’m sorry.”  She said the recognition from Essence “is truly one of the proudest moments I’ve experienced.”

Oprah Winfrey opened the program, which will air Saturday on OWN.

To read more, go to: http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/02/26/oprah-winfrey-shonda-rhimes-join-essence-to-celebrate-black-women-in-hollywood-honor-debbie-allen/

Janelle Monae, Jesse Williams, Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler to Headline #JUSTICEFORFLINT Benefit on Feb. 28

Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler in Hollywood on Dec. 14, 2015. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for Disney)

article by Jaimie Etkin via buzzfeed.com

On Feb. 28, comedian Hannibal BuressCreed director and co-writer Ryan Coogler, singer Janelle MonaeGrey’s Anatomy star Jesse WilliamsSelma director Ava DuVernay, and other entertainment notables will be joining forces onstage for a free event in Flint, Michigan, BuzzFeed News can exclusively reveal. The Buress-hosted gathering, dubbed #JUSTICEFORFLINT, is open to the public and presented by Blackout for Human Rights, an activist collective founded by Coogler which is devoted to addressing human rights violations in the U.S.

For almost two years, Flint’s residents — many of whom are black and impoverished — have been subjected to massive lead and bacterial contamination in Genesee County’s water supply, and forced to avoid tap water.

#JUSTICEFORFLINT will take place at the Whiting Auditorium (1241 E. Kearsley St.) on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET to raise both awareness and funds for those affected by the water crisis. It will also be live-streamed via revolt.tv, and donations will be collected at the event and via text. Along with all the star power, organizers have also invited members of the Flint community to share their stories with the audience.

“With the #JUSTICEFORFLINT benefit event we will give a voice to the members of the community who were the victims of the choices of people in power who are paid to protect them, as well as provide them with a night of entertainment, unity, and emotional healing,” Ryan Coogler told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “Through the live stream we will also give a chance for people around the world to participate, and to donate funds to programs for Flint’s youth.”

Though the event does coincide with the Academy Awards — which largely snubbed Creed in nominations and did the same with DuVernay’s Selma last year  Coogler said Feb. 28 was chosen because it fell on the final weekend of Black History Month, and that the date overlap was a coincidence.

The idea for #JUSTICEFORFLINT emerged at Blackout’s last event #MLKNOW held on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 28), which took place at Riverside Church in Harlem and drew more than 2,200 attendees and nearly half a million views online.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jaimieetkin/ryan-coogler-justice-for-flint-event?utm_term=.yt20eLa7#.wo7RP0QW

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