John Legend and Jesse Williams are working on a documentary that will look at the 1968 Black Power salute seen around the world. More than four decades before Colin Kaepernick took a knee in silent protest of police brutality and racial injustice, Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a statement with raised fists during the Summer Olympic games in Mexico City.
The documentary, With Drawn Arms, is executive produced by Williams and Legend, along with the Grammy and Oscar winning singer’s partners from his Get Lifted Film Co., Deadline reports. Smith is the focus of the documentary. The former sprinter and NFL wide received took home the gold medal at the 1968 games after completing the 200-meter dash, while Carlos earned the bronze medal. Both men were suspended for raising their fists during the medal ceremony, stripped of their credentials, and given 48 hours to leave Olympic Village.
With Drawn Arms is currently in production in Los Angeles and is co-directed by Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi, who is the father of Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi, and worked as one of Prince’s personal photographers. “Tommie Smith is more than an iconic poster or risky act of defiance that inspires people the world over,” Williams said in a statement noting that Smith is a “living man, whose incredible journey is worthy of examination.” He added, “I couldn’t be more excited to join forces with this team of filmmakers, to share his reality and challenge our notions of heroism in the process.”
Taraji P. Henson has been tapped to host BET’s 2017 Black Girls Rock Awards honoring “Insecure” creator, writer and star Issa Rae, “Black-ish” star Yara Shahidi and others. The ceremony will take place on Aug. 5 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Rae is set to receive the Star Power Award while actress/activist Shahidi will take home the Young Gifted and Black honor.
Other honorees include singer Roberta Flack (Living Legend Award); financier Suzanne Shank (Shot Caller Award); and community organizers Derrica Wilson and Natalie Wilson of The Black & Missing Foundation (Community Change Agent Award).
The 2017 Black Girls Rock Awards will air on BET on Aug. 20.
Freeform has greenly the “Black-ish’” college-set spinoff series, starring Yara Shahidi. The spinoff is titled “College-ish” and will center around Shahidi’s character Zoey Johnson, as she heads off to college and quickly discovers that not everything goes her way once she leaves the nest.
The show is set to debut with a 13-episode season in early 2018. “College-ish” is described as a contemporary take on the current issues facing both students and administrators in the world of higher education. Deon Cole will co-star with Shahidi, reprising his “Black-ish” role of Charlie, who moonlights as an adjunct marketing professor.
The rest of the core cast will be new characters and actors, not seen in the flagship series, both in the administration and student body who all reflect the complex and hilarious points of views on college campuses.
The spinoff was developed at ABC, which airs “Black-ish,” and aired as a planted pilot this spring. After ABC passed on the project, its sister network Freeform scooped it up. Insiders say the series was too young for ABC, which made it a perfect fit for the young-skewing cable network.
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.
The image above is a powerful one. This black power salute is embedded in our history. In 1968 Olympics athletes Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) made history during the Olympic games in Mexico City. With the world watching the sprinters stood on the medal podium and raised their black-gloved fists in the air in silent protest for human rights and for black Americans to stand in solidarity.
It’s that powerful image that was the inspiration for Puma’s capsule collection honoring Tommie Smith and Black History Month. What I didn’t realize is that gold medalist Tommie Smith removed his suede Pumas right before he stepped onto the podium shoeless in black socks, to represent poverty and slavery. After that subtle statement, he then raised his fist. With that unmistakable gesture, Tommie Smith altered the course of history and dedicated his life to change. Emblazoned with Tommie Smith’s silhouette, with fist raised, the Black History Month Pack honors a legacy on the track and off. I must applaud Puma for honoring this hero.
Check out Puma’s Black History Month Collection here:
Last night’s NAACP Image Awards was nothing but pure glam. Celebrities slayed on the red carpet while host Anthony Anderson kept the crowd laughing all night. But it was the winners who had us buzzing.
After being snubbed in the Academy Award race, Selma was the clear-cut winner in the film categories, snagging the award for Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (David Oyelowo), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Common) and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Carmen Ejogo).
“We did this movie because we wanted to tell their story—our story,” said Selma producer Oprah Winfrey in her acceptance speech.
Meanwhile, “Blackish” swept the television categories, taking home all the top honors for comedy series, beating out shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Lies.” The show won Best Comedy Series as well as the awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series (Anthony Anderson), Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (Tracee Ellis Ross), Oustanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy (Laurence Fishburne) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Yara Shahidi).
Shonda Rhimes‘ “How to Get Away with Murder” won for Outstanding Drama Series, and its star, Viola Davis, won for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series.
In the music categories, Pharrell Williams won for Outstanding Male Artist while Beyoncé won for Outstanding Female Artist. Taraji P. Henson took home the Image Award for Oustanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in No Good Deed, and Belle won for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture.