All Articles Tagged "Black Hollywood"
On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Jada Pinkett Smith made a very powerful plea to Black Hollywood, but from a very corny place.
What I mean is, in this video post uploaded to her Facebook account, Smith made it known that she would not be attending or watching the Academy Awards.
More specifically she said:
“I can’t help but ask the question, is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere? I ask the question, have we come to a new time and place where we recognize that we can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgement or respect of any group? Maybe it’s time that we recognize that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way in which we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power. I’m simply asking the question.
Here’s what I believe: The Academy has the right to acknowledge whomever they choose. To invite whomever they choose. And now I think that it is our responsibility now to make the change. Maybe it is time that we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, into our programs, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit. That are just as good as the so-called ‘mainstream ones.’ I don’t know.
But here’s what I do know: Begging for acknowledgment or even asking diminishes dignity. It diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful. And let’s not forget it.
So, let’s let the Academy do them, with all grace and love. And let’s do us – differently.”
Generally speaking, I am of the firm belief that asking for help is neither undignified nor does it make one powerless. Quite the contrary. And as a people, we need to stop asking – no, demanding – that we suffer in silence for the sake of public image, a.k.a., “dignity.”
Nevertheless, this is a very powerful sentiment from one-half of Hollywood’s Black power couple. And not something that we haven’t heard countless times from those outside and inside Hollywood before. For instance, Anthony Mackie has been very vocal in his belief that Black people need to stop begging for recognition and begin creating our own.
But powerful sentiments aside, I hope that means Smith and others, including the likes of Snoop Lion and Spike Lee, who too are supporting the boycott, will keep that in mind the next time an invite comes in the mail from the NAACP Image Awards or BET Honors award shows.
And I’m serious.
In a video posted to his social media networks, Snoop Lion not only offered his support for Smith’s planned boycott but keenly noted, “I say let’s have a hood awards where we give all Black people what they due and deserve. From yesteryear, today and tomorrow.”
Googly side-eye emoticon…
But to be fair, he likely rolled up the invite and smoked it by accident.
Even still, there is something to be said for folks getting in their feelings about what these White award shows aren’t doing and how we need to “boycott,” but when Black award season rolls around, you have Terrence J and M.C. Hammer accepting an award on their behalf.
To me, that’s corny.
Also kind of corny is telling Black folks to show some dignity by not “begging” the Oscars for acceptance while previously advocating for the further integration of Essence magazine (i.e., The “if we ask our white sisters, who tend to be the guardians of the covers of mainstream magazines, to consider women of color to grace these covers, should we not offer the same consideration to white women to grace our covers?” question she posted on her Facebook page).
And if that doesn’t meet your corniness threshold, here comes the original Aunt Viv with a video of her own to point out how it wasn’t fair for Smith to ask other actors and actresses to “jeopardize” their careers. Especially when the power couple personally made millions from “the very people you talking about boycotting.” Likewise, Janet Hubert pointed out that Jada would probably have no interest in a boycott of the Academy Awards if not for her husband’s film getting a snub.
She also took a moment to, once again, remind us that Smith ain’t nothin’ but a low-down dirty dog. More accurately, the “Blackstress” said in full saturation:
“And I seem to recall that twenty-six-seven, twenty-five…I don’t seem to remember. But I remember at option time coming to you and saying, you know what Will? You’re the star of the show. Why don’t we all get together and with you, maybe we can get a little raise. Maybe the network, since the show is such a hit and you being the star of the show, your influence will help us greatly like they did on Friends; like they did on White shows. Do you remember that? I do. And your response to me was, ‘My deal is my deal and y’alls deal is y’alls deal.’
Well, karma must be a b—h because here you are…”
Aunt Viv over there sounding more like Aunt Esther.
To be fair, the Smiths have not exactly been dormant when it comes to social justice issues. In fact, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince once led a very public boycott of the 1989 Grammy Awards even though they were nominated and ultimately won an award. As noted by DJ Jazzy Jeff in an interview from 2014 with BET:
At the time, less than three decades ago, while the awards committee didn’t want to televise the category nomination for rap’s first Grammy recipients, they did ask them to perform. “It was almost like, you kind of want us to be the token,” Jeff said. “This is our contribution to hip hop on the Grammys, but it’s not big enough for us to televise the category.”
That “slap in the face” led the duo to boycott. “We didn’t know what that was going to do for our career, but at that point, in that stage of hip hop, you had people saying that hip hop is only going to be around for a certain amount of time.”
And I would be flagrant if I didn’t mention that the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation and Overbrook Entertainment has put a lot of their money behind projects. That includes the Million Man March, Justice…Or Else! and the Free Angela and All Political Prisoners documentary, as well as the film and television programs Love & Basketball, ATL and the Queen Latifah Show. And then there is Jada Pinkett Smith’s very passionate support of the campaign to end human trafficking.
So if Jada, in particular (because Will hasn’t said a thing), is only boycotting the Academy from a self-serving place, one could see how she might feel like she has earned herself some privilege.
Not to mention that this – Hollywood – is their chosen profession. And unlike other actors and actresses who like to seek change elsewhere in the world while failing to call out the injustices in their own backyard, I appreciate Jada for at least trying to use her position to push for reform. Even if she is now just waking up.
Wherever it comes from, there’s no doubt that this boycott needs to happen. Hell, it needed to happen years ago, and not just at Oscar time. There is a lot of money being made off of our image and stories while not including us. There are a lot of tax incentives (i.e., our tax dollars) going to help support Hollywood films that don’t support us. And there are a lot of good Black actors, actresses, directors, producers, writers…down to the Black gophers being denied key platforms and positions and money within a global industry needed to help us build and ensure that our own institutions flourish.
Yes, we have to build our own, but we can’t build our own in isolation. Even Tyler Perry, who has his own, answers to somebody.
And yes, we have to build our own. But building our own takes time, especially when we are attempting to build our own in a way that structurally opposes how “the man” had come to build his (i.e., through oppression, slavery, imperialism, colonialism, segregation, discrimination, etc…).
So while I fully understand the criticism of the boycott and too think the possible motivation for it is corny, I’m also thankful that one of Black Hollywood’s biggest gatekeeping couples has finally seen some parts of the light. Maybe we can finally get somewhere…
There used to be a time when the only magazines that featured Black women on their cover were Ebony, Essence, Jet, and Vibe. Well, times have changed, and Black women of all shades, ages, and sizes are showing up and showing out on a variety of mainstream magazines all over newsstands. We’re being represented just about everywhere. Let’s take a look at the top 15 covers of the year so far.
‘Tis the season for hookups and love. That’s right, as the weather changes, that means cuffing season is drawing near. With so many baes to choose from, why not shoot your shot in the direction of some of Black Hollywood’s most elite single men? Prepare to hop on the ‘gram and slide into those DMs as we look at famous fellas who are on the market.
Michael Ealy On Black Hollywood Struggles: We Raise Our Children To Want To Shine In Front Of The Camera
Fun fact: “The Perfect Guy” hits theaters today. Extra fun fact: Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy, who star in the film alongside Morris Chestnut, are also executive producers of the thriller. It’s that fact that offered great insight into the struggle of Black Hollywood which is a never ending discussion whenever a project with African American leads is released.
At a blogger luncheon in New York City September 10, Ealy and Lathan were asked whether they were cognizant of hiring Black crew members to work on the film, given the greater influence they had for “The Perfect Guy” versus prior movies. Interestingly, in answering that question, Ealy pointed out a fact about so-called Black Hollywood most aren’t aware of: There are actually more Black actors than there are Black production crew members.
“It would be Utopian to say I need at least 16 Black grips and a Black DP (director of photography),” Ealy said. “The reality is, because of access to film, you don’t have a lot of Black people who want to go behind the camera. We raise our children to want to be in front of the camera and shine, and that’s on us. We have to change that ourselves and try to inspire kids to want to be DPs. We have to inspire them to want to do things behind the cameras, be costume designers.
“I’m not saying there are none,” Ealy added in response to a comment from the crowd about there being Black people interested in production roles. “I’m just saying there’s a lot more actors and singers than there are Black costume designers, for sure.”
Speaking less about Hollywood and more about his personal life, Ealy also dropped a piece of advice almost anyone can appreciate when he was asked about keeping his relationship so private. Likening the entertainment industry to high school, Ealy says he learned as a teen it’s best to keep certain things to yourself.
“The less people who are involved in what you’re doing, the more likely it is that you’ll be successful.”
The Scandal season finale is tonight, and it promises to be one that will slay our very essence. But then again, this season has provided shocker after shocker.
Before we go any further, be warned that from here on out, it is nonstop spoiler alerts if you’re not caught up on the season. Shonda Rhimes has put damn near everyone on the cast in danger this season. Let’s take a look at 15 of Scandal‘s most shocking moments from this season.
Deepak Nope-rah: 11 Times Stars Wanted Us To Believe They Were Deep When They Actually Sounded Crazy
We’ve all had those moments when we read a celeb quote that made us roll our eyes and shake our heads because the star absolutely tried it. Thanks to social media, you can always expect a head-scratch worthy quote from a fake deep celeb. Let’s take a look at 11 times celebs did the absolute most.
Motivation comes in many forms. One motivational musical piece for me is Nina Simone’s melodious proclamation that, “In the whole world there are a billion boys and girls who are young, gifted and Black, and that’s a fact!” But if I could add an adjective to this adage it would read, “To Be Young, Gifted, Black, and Fat.”
Yes, it must be written and archived! Notated and dialogued. Black women living on the plus–er side of life are walking with more confidence than ever and taking over Hollywood and primetime television at the same time. You no longer have to “watch out for the big girl.” We are here, taking names, and cashing checks.
In an industry where thin and white is the prototype for beauty, opportunities for actresses who are Black and thicker than thick used to be non-existent unless they were playing the Mammy; and in most cases, they were muted of all beauty and sexuality. We honor those Black actresses like Hattie McDaniel for breaking down barriers in the entertainment industry so that there would be a place, time and opportunity for actresses today to share their talent with the world. We are thankful that we are able to see images of our likeness on television and in film.
Today, the list of beautiful and plump actresses is steadily growing. Writers have started to give an authentic voice to female characters who have more to love. The characters now have more depth. We are transitioning from being able to play only the maid, the mom, and the sassy best friend, to having successful lives and even having love interests.
One evening I watched Raven Goodwin in her role as Niecy Patterson on BET’s Being Mary Jane. Goodwin was standing in front of the mirror, glowing in the eminence of her beauty as she tried on clothes for a night out. She stared proudly at who she saw in that mirror and I was ecstatic about it. The brilliantly edited montage of Goodwin getting dressed in form-fitting clothing even featured a moment where she stood in her bra and panties, showing the world that size does not diminish beauty. It was a scene I’d been waiting to see for my entire life.
But BET isn’t the only network to be blessed with a voluptuous beauty on one of their shows. Millions of us tuned in every Wednesday for eight weeks straight to watch the new FOX Drama, Empire. Cookie wasn’t the only one serving fierce night after night. Gabourey Sidibe came pumping through the halls of Empire Entertainment as Becky, the loyal yet firm executive assistant to Lucious Lyon. On Empire, Sidibe is witty and fearless, and her confidence is contagious. As a plus-size woman, I can admit that I have an insecurity about wearing tops that expose my arms. I just can’t do it. So I’d often yell at the screen, “Gabby, where are your sleeves?!” But I was honestly glad to see that Sidibe didn’t care one bit and wore the hell out of every outfit!
Fox may have its suspect views on pretty much everything, but it’s clear they love us BBWs. Before Sidibe, Glee featured the beautiful Amber Riley as belting diva club member Mercedes Jones. Riley even catapulted that opportunity into a stint on Dancing With The Stars, taking home the mirrorball trophy in 2013.
What’s most heartwarming is that even in an industry where competition is seemingly inevitable, these three young women can be seen flicking it up on Instagram and hanging out together. Yes, Black women of Hollywood do support one another.
But this is just the beginning for plus-size actresses. There are more of us out there patiently waiting in the wings. We are going from overlooked to overbooked. We are beautiful, smart, sexy, and have a rightful place in film and television. “Oh but my joy of today is that we can all be proud to say, to be young, gifted, Black, and fat is where it’s at!”
In 2014, the Hollywood Black Film Festival shut down after 16 years of offering an outlet for Black filmmakers to show their films, network with Hollywood insiders, and learn more about the trade via workshops.
Needless to say many in Black Hollywood were disappointed. But with a lack of supporting sponsors, Tanya Kersey, founder and executive director of the HBFF, and programmer Jacqueline Blaylock didn’t think they could continue.
But now, after a year off the HBFF is on it’s was back for 2016. And Kersey could be more happier.
“We had so many people texting, calling, emailing saying how disappointed they were we were ending. Many said they had been planning to participate in the event,” says Kersey in a phone interview with MadameNoire. “So we felt this responsibility to the Black filmmaking community. When we started this, it was to give them a much-needed outlet. And there is still a major need for the resources we provide. So we prayed on it and decided just to set a date and move forward. If we had to scale back, we would scale back. Whatever it took we decided we were coming back in 2016.”
Kersey says this time around they may be making some changes. One thing they will be doing is utilizing a young team to run the festival. “Jacqui and I will have our daughters be more involved this year. They are both in their 20s and have handled things for HBFF in the past. But for 2016 we will be turning over more responsibility to them. Jacqui and I can’t do this forever, so we think it is time to start turning it over to the new generation.”
Kersey says they are also looking for young people to volunteer and join the team for next year’s event.
They are also changing the date. “We decided to do it in February for Black History Month, right after Sundance but before the Oscars,” says Kersey. This was a strategic business move by HBFF. “We found that at lot of people were saying they could get their company to partners with us as a sponsor if we were in Black History Month. So this way we can get on the corporate budgets for February.” It will take place February 24-28, 2016.
They may also relocate the festival from Beverly Hills to Downtown Los Angeles, as the city have started to court the event. “That area is really thriving, so if it makes sense for us business wise we will be moving as well,” says Kersey.
HBFF was founded in 1998 and since that time it screened a total of 721 independent films including 132 features, 382 shorts, 108 documentaries, 73 student films, 14 animated films and 8 music videos, from all across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and the Caribbean. It hosted 339 world premieres, 13 U.S. premieres, 91 West Coast premieres and 59 Los Angeles premieres. And it has been attended by more than 50,000 people.
Despite the numerous successful black films as of late, it is still hard for black productions to get greenlit in Hollywood, Taye Diggs said in a recent interview with the Associated Press.
According to The Best Man Holiday star, major film studios hold black film projects to an unfair set of standards. Diggs charges that studios will not proceed with black-oriented film productions unless box office numbers are favorable for other similar productions. Other films are not held up to this standard, and it’s particularly unfair to tie one black film to another when they aren’t similar.
Take Diggs’ track record, for example. Guardian Liberty Voice notes the actor was in the 1999 hit The Best Man and the 2013 sequel, The Best Man Holiday, which made about $70 million at the box office and should’ve made the decision to run with another Best Man movie an easy one. This was not the case. Instead of looking at box-office results from the second installment, film studios are comparing it to films in theaters now that are totally unrelated, such as Think Like A Man Too, before agreeing to make a third Best Man installment. The only connection between films like Think Like A Man Too and the Best Man films is that they star black actors.
Diggs, who is now starring in the new TNT series Murder In The First (he talked about that show with Hoda and Kathie Lee on Monday), says that film studios find black films too risky, even though they have proven success.
Logically, black films should be judged on their own, individual merit. But they have also shown they are revenue generating. There were 48 “black films” released theatrically in 2013 (48 out of 669 total films), according to calculations by Indie Wire. The top grossing black film domestically was Lee Daniels’ The Butler at $116 million. In fact, it was the only black film to gross over $100 million last year. “And total box office (domestic) for all 48 black films is around $670 million, or about 6.2 percent of the total 2013 box office for all films ($10.8 billion),” reports Indie Wire.
When Tanya Kersey, the founder of the Hollywood Black Film Festival, posted this on her Facebook page, I was shocked:
“Unfortunately, due to lack of financial sponsorship support, there will not be a 2014 Hollywood Black Film Festival. A full statement is forthcoming in a day or so.”
The HBFF has given opportunity to filmmakers of color seeking to show their work, giving rise to other black film festivals around the nation. Nicknamed “The Black Sundance,” the HBFF debuted in 1998. Each October the four-day celebration of black cinema has attracted the likes of legendary actor Sidney Poitier, Forest Whitaker, director John Singleton, filmmaker Spike Lee, Cedric The Entertainer, Sanaa Lathan, Loretta Devine, among countless others. So to hear that in a year when black is the new green in Hollywood, with the monetary and critical successes of such films such as 12 Years A Slave, to learn that the HBFF could not get financial support, I was dumbfounded. This should be the year when sponsors are pouring in. But Kersey says it is just the opposite.
“HBFF has suffered from lack of mainstream industry support since Day 1,” Kersey added in another FB post. “It is through sheer will, passion, determination, commitment and untold sacrifice that HBFF has been around as long as it has… The studios and networks should support us as they do the other big film festivals. I don’t know about you but I consider HBFF a big and important film festival and I think we are worthy of the same level of support. We’ve screened over 1,000 films from 25 countries!”
Needless to say, Black Hollywood has responded and a “Save HBFF” campaign has sprouted up.
Kersey tells MadameNoire via FB message that she is gladdened by the outpouring of instantaneous grassroots efforts by HBFF fans. “It wasn’t until I announced the cancellation of HBFF 2014 that I really understand the full impact the festival has had on so many lives and careers,” she wrote. “I’ve received hundreds of texts and emails of support with people asking what they can do to help save HBFF. It’s been an emotionally overwhelming show of love and support that has really touched the hearts of the entire HBFF team. As a result, we are spearheading a ‘Save HBFF’ campaign. More details will be forthcoming days.”
We will keep you updated on the “Save HBFF” campaign. We know that it will include a crowdfunding push.