(Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King, Janelle Monae, Yara Shahidi (photo via shadowandact.com)
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)
Essence, the nation’s preeminent brand for African-American women, will commemorate the 10th anniversary of its “Black Women in Hollywood Awards” by shifting from a daytime luncheon to an evening gala for the first time.
The Awards & Gala will honor Hollywood’s “Next Generation”— young women who are excelling and elevating their crafts—including actress/musician Janelle Monáe (Breakthrough Award); groundbreaking “Insecure” actress/writer/producer Issa Rae (Vanguard Award); “How To Get Away With Murder” Yale-educated actress Aja Naomi King (Lincoln Shining Star Award); and “Black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi (Generation Next).
Actress/Producer Gabrielle Union will serve as the program’s host and the red carpet ceremony will be held at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, CA, on Thursday, February 23, 2017.
“For the past decade, the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards” have paid homage to our modern image-makers—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” said Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “This past year has been an exceptional one for diversity in film and television, and with the incredible contributions of Janelle, Issa, Aja and Yara, it is fitting that our 10th anniversary will honor the future of Hollywood and its continued steps on the path to inclusion.”
Also for the first time, internationally acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker Mickalene Thomas will be infusing the event with her elaborate imagery celebrating the power of female beauty as a facet of women’s empowerment.
To check out highlights and behind-the-scenes access to the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards & Gala,” go to Essence.com, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @essence #BlackWomeninHollywood.
Filmmaker Nate Parker as Nat Turner in upcoming film “The Birth of a Nation” (photo via deadline.com)
article by Erik Pedersen via deadline.com
The Birth of a Nation was the talk of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and now the nonprofit behind the annual Park City event is celebrating the pic’s director-star. The Sundance Institute said today that Nate Parker will receive its Vanguard Award.
Parker, who also wrote the screenplay, will be honored August 11 at Night Before Next, a summer celebration benefiting the Institute and its artists on the eve of Sundance Next Fest at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
The Birth of a Nation, which Fox Searchlight acquired for a festival-record $17.5M at Sundance, centers on Nat Turner (Parker), a literate, enslaved man and preacher whose financially strapped owner (Armie Hammer) accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities — against himself and his fellow slaves — Turner orchestrates an uprising in the hope of leading his people to freedom. The film also stars Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Aunjanue Ellis, Mark Boone Junior and Aja Naomi King.
Fox Searchlight opens the films in the awards-season sweet spot of October 7.
Nicole Ari Parker (photo via deadline.com)
Nicole Ari Parker has landed a role in A Meyers Christmas, Universal’s comedy starring Danny Glover and Gabrielle Union. It revolves around an estranged family that is brought together for the holidays for the first time since the mother’s death. Parker will play Sonya, the loving wife of Jackson and mother of his two kids. Mo’Nique, Kimberly Elise and Jessie T. Usher co-star in the pic, which is set to open November 11, 2016.
David E. Talbert (Baggage Claim) wrote and will direct A Meyers Christmas, which is produced by Will Packer and his Universal-based Will Packer Productions. Talbert also is executive producing alongside Lyn Sisson-Talbert, James F. Lopez, Union and Jeff Morrone. SVP Production Kristin Lowe and Creative Executive Chloe Yellin will oversee A Meyers Christmas for the studio.
Parker recurs as Katt on Fox’s freshman drama Rosewood starring Morris Chestnut and co-hosted the daytime summer talk show The Boris & Nicole Show.
article by Erik Pedersen via deadline.com
Jill Scott, Regina Hall and Eve will be on a race to the alter for their upcoming Lifetime movie.
The network announced this week that it will be producing a romantic comedy aimed at black women titled With This Ring, Shadow And Act reports. The story centers on three girlfriends that make a pact to get married within a year after another one of their friends ties the knot!
With all of the biopics that Lifetime will be rolling out, we’re shocked they still know how to make anything else. There’s no word on who will play the bride just yet, but we’re interested to see who takes on the role.
Gabrielle Union has been attached to the project, but she probably won’t be appearing on screen. She’s signed on as an executive producer for With This Ring alongside Tracey Edmonds and Sheila Ducksworth.
Production for With This Ring, which is being directed by Nzingha Stewart, is slated to begin next month.
article by Sonya Eskridge via hellobeautiful.com
Lupita Nyong’o. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)
Lupita Nyong’o is having a banner year. Almost a month after winning the Academy Award, Nyong’o has landed a big-time beauty endorsement deal with Lancôme and is now the new face of the cosmetics line. The deal marks a milestone moment that acknowledges Nyong’o as the beauty brand’s first black ambassador.
“I am truly honored to join the Maison Lancôme, a brand with such a prestigious history and that I have always loved,” the 31-year-old said in a statement. “I am particularly proud to represent its unique vision for women and the idea that beauty should not be dictated, but should instead be an expression of a woman’s freedom to be herself.”
The Hollywood “It” girl now joins a roster of other big celebrities who have signed on as a Lancome brand ambassador, such as Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts and Penelope Cruz.
But perhaps the more significant league of women Nyong’o now joins is the small but growing group of black women whose beauty has also attracted the lure of billion-dollar cosmetic companies.
Halle Berry was one of the most notable women to first land a lucrative beauty endorsement in 2004 – a deal she made shortly after winning the Oscar that year. Beyoncé, Queen Latifah, Janelle Monae, Rihanna, Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union are just a few other names of beautiful black women who have signed on to similar deals.
These women represent a growing number of African-American females whose allure has advocated for these brands’ premiere products. Nyong’o is now one of these few yet celebrated women. She has been praised for her delectable taste in fashion and stunning looks which reflect a unique combination often not seen nor praised enough in mainstream America.
article by Lilly Workneh via thegrio.com
Chris Rock has recruited Gabrielle Union to be the female lead in his upcoming film, Finally Famous, reports show. The actress will play Rock’s “popular reality TV star fiancée. Rock, who wrote and directed the film, plays a comedian-turned-film-star itching to be taken seriously by his peers in the acting world. He’s also a recovering alcoholic who owes his sobriety to his fiancée (Union). Her character, eager to be more famous, tries to convince Rock to get married on her show.
Rosario Dawson, who has been known to melt a heart or two in her own right, plays a journalist assigned to interview Rock’s character for a New York magazine. As time passes, their relationship builds, and sparks begin to fly. Here’s the project’s official synopsis:
Andre Allen is a comedian turned film star who, despite the expectations of his millions of fans, is determined to reinvent himself as a “serious” actor. Although his latest pretentiously historical film project is tanking, his upcoming television wedding to pretty, popular reality star, Erica Long, is the biggest media event of the year. In the midst of all the frenzy leading up to his televised nuptials, Andre agrees to be interviewed for the New Yorker by Chelsea Brown, a gorgeous but no-frills young woman with a sharp intelligence that matches his own. It’s a feisty, funny, no-holds-barred interaction that may well change the course of both their lives.
article by Cory Alexander Haywood via eurweb.com
Creator of ‘Being Mary Jane’ Mara Brock Akil (right) with moderator entertainment journalist Kelly L Carter (Photo courtesy of BET Networks photographer Dave Tulis)
Atlanta lived up to its reputation as the Hollywood of the South on Saturday with the advance screening of BET’s upcoming film Being Mary Jane. The movie, starring Gabrielle Union, debuts on the cable channel on July 2 at 10:30 pm. The hour-long production will serve as a teaser for the anticipated Being Mary Jane series scheduled to hit the screens in January 2014. It is just one of a handful of shows drawing attention to BET’s newfound shift towards original programming.
A protagonist who is far from perfect
Being Mary Jane, which was shot in Atlanta, revolves around the main protagonist Mary Jane Paul (played by Union), a successful talk show host, who on the surface has an enviable lifestyle. Still, her life is far from perfect.
“It’s in her [Mary Jane Paul’s] low moments where she most expresses her humanity,” said creator Mara Brock Akil in a Q&A with entertainment journalist Kelly L. Carter after the screening at the stylish W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta.