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While promoting his Amazon Prime film Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse in late April, Michael B. Jordan put a Kryptonite pin in any rumors that he might suit up as Warner Bros.’ next Superman. “I’m flattered that people have me in that conversation,” Jordan told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s definitely a compliment, but I’m just watching on this one.”
With that, a whole new guessing game has kicked off centered on who will play the Man of Steel. And arguably more pressing: Who will direct? Sources say J.J. Abrams, who is producing the film, is not among the many possibilities being considered. When Warners announced in February that celebrated author Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing the screenplay and Abrams is producing, it did not address the matter of helming. But insiders say Warners and DC are committed to hiring a Black director to tackle what will be the first cinematic incarnation of Superman featuring a Black actor, with one source adding that putting Abrams at the helm would be “tone-deaf.”
In a fitting twist, the director search is pitting DC against none other than Marvel. As Warners looks to fill its Superman vacancy, Marvel is on the hunt for a Blade helmer and is combing through the same list. But the question will come down to what kind of filmmaker Bad Robot and Warners want: an up-and-comer who can be backed by Abrams, who knows his way around tentpoles and franchises? Or an established filmmaker like a Barry Jenkins or a Ryan Coogler?
The former list can include Creed II’s Steven Caple Jr., J.D. Dillard, Regina King — who got raves for her drama One Night in Miami — and Shaka King, who is popular at Warners thanks to best picture Oscar nominee Judas and the Black Messiah. Some potential directors have met with both studios for both films, even as one agent said the process was “phenomenally early.” Meanwhile, Coogler may be a nonstarter for either assignment given that he will be occupied with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which releases July 8, 2022.
Coates isn’t expected to deliver his Superman script until mid-December. Likewise, Marvel isn’t rushing with Blade, whose start date was pushed from this September to July 2022, so that the studio can spend time working on the Stacy Osei-Kuffour-penned script.
While the next Superman will likely land with a name director, the star could be a relative unknown, as was the case when Brandon Routh suited up for Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns and Henry Cavill donned the cape for Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. Neither Superman Returns nor Man of Steel lived up to outsized expectations, with the former earning $391 million worldwide and the latter taking in $668 million. By contrast, James Wan’s Aquaman nabbed $1.15 billion in 2018 and Todd Phillips’ Joker scored $1.07 billion (and multiple Oscars).
Click here to read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter.
For more than 100 years, teaching has run through Hillary-Rhys Richard’s family.
Growing up in Katy, Texas, Rhys, as he’s known to his friends, listened to his mother, Astrya Richard, tell stories of her ancestors — four generations of educators who saw teaching as a calling, and learning as a tool for change.
By the end of high school, Rhys had never had a Black male teacher, and that absence, along with his family’s deep connection to education, helped steer him to follow in their footsteps.
This week, Rhys, 18, will complete his freshman year remotely as part of the inaugural class of the African American Male Teacher Initiative at Huston-Tillotson University. The first-of-its-kind program was created in partnership with Apple as part of the company’s ongoing and deep commitment to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Apple’s multiyear partnership with Huston-Tillotson complements other engagements the company has established through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, working alongside the HBCU community to develop curricula and provide new learning and workforce opportunities.
At Huston-Tillotson, Apple is providing scholarships for the program’s students, called Pre-Ed Scholars, as well as hardware, software, and professional-development courses for students and faculty.
“Every student should have the chance to be taught by someone who represents them,” Rhys wrote in his application essay to Huston-Tillotson. “In order to build strong children, we need strong male teachers to forge a path through being the example for students. The baton has to be passed for us to continue pushing forward. I stand ready to run my leg of the race.”
Currently, only 2 percent of all US teachers are Black men, something the program at Huston-Tillotson seeks to change. When Black students are taught by a Black teacher, they are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college.
Huston-Tillotson President Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has witnessed the power of that relationship firsthand. Her son had a Black male teacher in the fifth grade, and it transformed his education.
“It just really did something magical for him,” says Dr. Burnette. “So this is personal for me because of my own experience raising an African American male. It’s my mission to be able to get these young Black men in classrooms, so they can pour into other vessels like themselves because they have shared experiences. And there’s nothing like being taught by someone who has a shared experience.”
It’s the reason Dr. Burnette prioritized the creation of the African American Male Teacher Initiative and sought out a partner in Apple.
Click here to read the full article on Apple Newsroom.
Country music singer Mickey Guyton will make history Sunday when she hosts the Academy of Country Music Awards with Keith Urban.
The 37-year-old singer from Arlington, Texas, will be the first Black woman to host the awards ceremony.
And this isn’t Guyton’s first time making history in the country music world. In September 2020, she became the first Black female solo artist to sing her own song at the ACMAs. And in March, she became the first Black solo female artist to earn a Grammy nomination in a country music category. At the ceremony, she performed “Black Like Me,” her song that address the discrimination she has experienced as a Black woman. The song was released just eight days after George Floyd was killed.
The door to country music has long been closed to many Black artists, with just a handful of exceptions. Starting in the 1920s, record labels deliberately marketed what was once called “hillbilly music” as the music of the rural White South, historians say.
But the thumbprints of African American culture are stamped on virtually every facet of country music, including its vocal harmonies, instrumentations, and some of its most popular songs. Black artists helped build country music.
Click here to read the full article on CNN Business.
Beyonce has made history at the 2021 NAACP Image Awards.
The music icon now has the most NAACP Image Awards in history after she racked up four awards for the 52nd event, NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson announced on Saturday.
The NAACP Image Awards hosted a series of non-televised virtual events recognizing winners in over 60 categories in the five days leading up to its televised ceremony on Saturday. The two-hour virtual event, which was hosted by Anthony Anderson, aired live across ViacomCBS networks including BET and CBS.
Beyonce took home wins in the Outstanding Female Artist, Outstanding Hip Hop/Rap Song, Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration (Traditional), and Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration (Contemporary) categories during a virtual event on Thursday.
Johnson celebrated Beyoncé’s achievement on Twitter, writing, “Congratulations
@Beyonce on winning the most #NAACPImageAwards in history!”
Representatives for the NAACP Image Awards did not immediately return requests to confirm Beyoncé’s total tally of wins, but the “Black Parade” artist has won at least 20 Image Awards as a solo artist since the 2004 ceremony when she first won the Entertainer of the Year award. She won that award again in 2019. Her former group, Destiny’s Child, racked up a handful of wins in the Outstanding Duo or Group category in the early to mid-2000s.
Beyoncé has already made music award history this month.
She won four awards at the Grammys on March 14, bringing her total wins to 28 ― the most Grammys won by a female artist.
Nashville can be a lonely place for a Black woman breaking into the country music scene. And Miko Marks knows this firsthand.
The Oakland singer, who recorded two well-regarded albums during a Tennessee sojourn in the mid-aughts, said she found a warm welcome just about everywhere she performed except for the home of country music itself.
“I was always open to wherever my path would lead, but things did not work out in Nashville,” Marks said, noting that she felt fitting in required tamping down her identity.
Music City may not have been ready for Marks, but she helped clear a country music trail for other Black women, and now she’s getting back on the horse with her first new album in 14 years. Working closely with the creative team at the recently launched East Palo Alto label Redtone Records, Marks recorded “Our Country,” a rollicking, gospel music-infused session that thrums to the justice-seeking frequency of Black Lives Matter.
“These songs were made out of the experience we’re going through right now,” said Marks, who celebrates the album’s Friday, March 26, release with an acoustic performance that will be live-streamed on her YouTube channel and Facebook page. “The music is there to speak to the times.”
The album grew out of a vivid dream Marks had, but not in the sense of fulfilling a long-held ambition. Rather, late in the summer of 2019, she literally dreamed about musicians she hadn’t worked with for more than a decade. A quick phone call put her back in touch with Justin Phipps and Steve Wyreman, the Redtone Records founders who perform together as the Resurrectors.
Phipps and Wyreman were excited to get back in touch with Marks and realized a song they’d recently written, “Goodnight America,” would be ideal for her rich contralto. An elegy for a country headed in the wrong direction, “it didn’t fit anyone we were currently working with,” Phipps said. “When Miko reached out, we sent it to her and she sat with it for a while. Ultimately, she felt it resonated with where she was and where she wanted to be going.”
When Marks released the song as a video last year, a few weeks before the pandemic lockdown, it was definitely a departure from where she’d been. Before “Goodnight America,” she’d always avoided taking a political stance in her music, preferring to focus on personal themes. With “Our Country,” she’s jumped into the fray.
“I definitely feel like there’s a conversation being had that’s long overdue,” Marks said. “I am hopeful. I feel that the times are different than when I started out.”
Marks grew up with gospel music, singing in church in Flint, Mich., “but I was always drawn to country music,” she said. “Loretta and Patsy, Kenny Rogers and ‘Hee Haw’ were huge in my household. It was a normal thing. It wasn’t until I was older that there was this line clearly drawn, but country music has its roots in Black music. Even the banjo is from Africa.”
She met her San Francisco-raised husband David Hawkins when they were students at Grambling State University in Louisiana, and by 1996 the couple settled in the Bay Area. Though she loved singing, Marks said she wouldn’t have pursued a career in music without Hawkins’ encouragement, and after recording a Jeffrey Wood-produced demo at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, she decided to give up her day job in San Francisco as a legal secretary and try her luck in Nashville.
Working with producer Ron Cornelius at Mirrome Records, she released her debut album, “Freeway Bound,” in 2005 and followed it up with 2007’s “It Feels Good.” Both albums featured first-call studio talent that caught the attention of mainstream country music audiences. And yet, while the sessions were well received, the indie label couldn’t break Marks into country radio and it became clear that Nashville didn’t really know what to do with her.
In 2006, the Bay Area welcomed her back. Marks became one of the region’s most visible country music singers, performing everywhere from the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo and San Francisco’s Pier 23 to the Saddle Rack in Fremont and Oakland’s Overland (the latter two permanently shuttered during the pandemic).
After her amazing performance as LaKeisha on the Starz show Power, LaLa Anthony has now landed a major new role alongside Power producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, on an upcoming drama. Inspired by true events, Black Mafia Family will tell the story of two brothers from 1980’s Detroit who started one of the most influential crime family in the country.
LaLa Anthony will plat Markaisha Taylor, the wife to flamboyant drug dealer and head of the family Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory.
She is also best friend to her husband’s brother and fellow boss Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, which will make for some interesting dynamics as family loyalty is called into question.
The brothers’ vision is to take their business beyond the drug trade and into the world of hip-hop to become global icons.
Meanwhile, Markaisha has her own plan to harness Terry’s seriousness and sense of purpose to make herself rich.
As the two grow closer and ultimately intimate, their relationship will mean the demise of Markaisha’s marriage as well as Terry’s reputation on the streets.
Snoop Dogg has also joined the cast as Pastor Swift, the Flenory family’s spiritual advisor.
His character description reads: “He’s a man of The Word, with the aura of an ex-con.”
“The Pastor believes in the power of the Lord, and does his best to keep Meech and Terry in good graces.”
He will eventually make his way into the family and become a close confidant, although “Meech and Terry’s father resents all the attention the Pastor showers over the Flenory’s family, but no one can deny all the good the Pastor does for them.”
Joining the show is also Serayah, who will play Demetrius’s girlfriend, Lori Walker.
She is a smart, driven, yet naive college athlete who fell for Meech’s bad boy charm when the couple was younger.
After having a daughter with him, Lori is now more mature and clear-eyed.
Her world centres more around her daughter, and she expects less out of Meech, which makes him want her more.
Click here to read the full article on Express UK.
Atlanta business and civic leader Milton H. Jones, Jr. has been elected Chair of the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Board of Directors, becoming the first African American to hold that position.
Jones succeeds William F. Stasior, Sr., retired Chairman and CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton, who served as UNCF’s Chair for 11 years. Former Chairs of the UNCF board include: John D. Rockefeller, III; former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo’s International Food and Beverage Division Michael H. Jordan and former Revlon President and CEO Jack Stahl.
“Since 1944, UNCF has played an integral role in changing the life trajectory for each student it has served, and l look forward to continuing that legacy,” said Milton Jones. “Our member institutions and students remain the focus of our collective efforts. As we progress each year, we will grow our organization by building upon the strong foundation laid at UNCF’s inception and strengthened throughout its history.”
“All of us at UNCF are excited to have Milton become our new Board Chair,” said UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax, who has known and worked with Jones for more than four decades. “Milton brings a wealth of business knowledge and a thoughtful and collaborative leadership approach that will help us thrive and continue to drive UNCF’s and our HBUCs’ impact and growth.”
Angela Webb, founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners said, “We are incredibly proud of Milton as he assumes this role with UNCF. Milton’s life and career are a testament to his devout commitment to helping others and serving the community. We know he will do excellent things and leave a legacy that inspires others to support and revere our country’s HBCUs.”
Walter Davis, founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners said, “Milton has been an indispensable member of our team at Peachtree Providence Partners, so I am certain his time leading with UNCF will prove to be fruitful and inspiring to the young people the organization serves. I look forward to supporting Milton as he advocates for the students and institutions that change the fabric of our nation.”
In this role, Jones will work to grow the UNCF endowment, benefiting the 37 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) belonging to the UNCF network of member institutions.
Prior to his election as Board Chair, Jones served as Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Finance Committee. He has been a member of the UNCF Board since 2005.
Jones is a founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners Holding Company, LLC. In this role, he advises and collaborates with CEOs in key sectors that include financial services, healthcare, technology, government, and higher education. For more than 32 years while at Bank of America, he held a series of senior executive positions with global responsibilities including roles reporting directly to the Chairman and CEO.
Jones is vice chairman of the Meharry Medical College Board of Trustees; treasurer and a board member of 100 Black Men of America; co-chair of the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors and serves on the advisory boards of the Metro Atlanta YMCA, Boy Scouts and the Commerce Club. He is a member of the Downtown Atlanta Rotary Club and is a member and past chairman of The Atlanta Business League and of 100 Black Men of Atlanta.
The recent highlighting of Historically Black Colleges and Universities has led many to learn that most of these schools were founded on land grants provided by the government during the Reconstruction Era. Realizing this has motivated Master P to take matters into his own hands to change the future.
Master P took to Instagram where he revealed his life goal has now changed.
“I used to want to own an NBA team but now I want to own a HBCU,” opens his video’s caption.
“This message is all about educating our people,” Master P said in the video. “Anybody that’s listening to this and has a business, I want y’all to join this movement with me. We need to make sure our kids get educated the way other the cultures are educated.”
The spotlight has been refocused on HBCUs in recent years. Michael B. Jordan created a basketball invitational to showcase talent at the institutions and the NBA has put an emphasis on supporting them. During the NBA All-Star Game, the league generated $3 million that will be used to promote these colleges and universities.
“It was part of the reason why we’re here in Atlanta,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, per CNN. Atlanta is home to a host of HBCUs including the acclaimed Atlanta University Center (AUC) which consists of legendary schools Morehouse College, Spellman College, and Clark Atlanta University. “This was an opportunity to focus on the HBCUs,” Silver added.
Master P wanted to extend this goal on his own. He explained in his IG caption that HBCUs graduate more women than any other league of higher education. This includes the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, who graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Click here to read the full article on HBCU Connect
The host kept his jokes to a minimum while introducing a very different version of music’s biggest night amid the pandemic era of awards shows.
Trevor Noah kicked off a very intimate Grammy Awards show on Sunday, using his opening monologue to tour viewers around the CBS telecast’s COVID-safe, indoor-outdoor set.
Opening the night outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, Noah explained that the nominees were seated in a tented limited audience outside the venue, while the artists would be taking the stage for the night’s performances inside the nearly empty convention center. While he quipped about hot-button topics like COVID-19, the U.S. Capitol insurrection and the royals, his opener was intended to set-up the different-seeming and yet hopeful night.
“Tonight’s about bringing us all together as only music can. I mean — music and vaccines,” said the Daily Show host in an introduction fit for the pandemic-era of awards shows.
Good evening, everyone. And welcome to the 63rd annual Grammy Awards. My name is Trevor Noah and I’ll be your host tonight as we celebrate the last 10 years of music that got us through the last 10 years of coronavirus. I know it’s been one year, but it feels like 10.
As you can see, this year, people, we have made the decision to socially distance from the Staples Center, but we’re still broadcasting to you from the heart of downtown Los Angeles. This is not a Zoom background, alright? This is real. My uncle isn’t going to walk behind me naked even though I told him I was having an important meeting. That’s not going to happen tonight.
Tonight, we’re going to celebrate some of the fantastic music that has touched our lives and saved our souls over this unprecedented year. And as you can see, we are outside. Meaning, we get to enjoy the great Los Angeles air — which I know maybe as dangerous as COVID, but we’re willing to take the risk.
Tonight is going to be the biggest outdoor event this year besides the storming of the Capitol. Because, you see, right here in this elegant, open-air tent, we will be presenting the most prestigious, sought-after, peer-voted trophies in music, giving out shiny new Grammy awards live throughout the evening. But we have to do it quickly because tomorrow this tent is reserved for an outdoor wedding in Malibu and I do not want to lose my security deposit.
Click here to read Trevor Noah’s full monologue transcript on The Hollywood Reporter
Michelle Obama returns to Netflix this month. The former first lady will appear in a children’s series called “Waffles + Mochi,” which is part of a multi-year producing deal that she and her husband, Barack Obama, have with the streaming service.
The 10-episode cooking show features Obama alongside a couple of friendly puppet pals as they discover, cook and eat food from around the world. The series debuts March 16.
Additionally, “Waffles + Mochi” is collaborating with Partnership for a Healthier America, where Obama serves as honorary chair, to provide fresh ingredients to families during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
This children’s program is the latest release from the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground Productions, as part of its partnership with Netflix that started in 2018. The couple has launched several documentaries, “American Factory,” “Crip Camp” and “Becoming,” on the streaming service.
Signing the Obamas nearly three years ago is part of Netflix’s ongoing strategy of securing exclusive deals with top content creators. Netflix has a long list of these partnerships that includes contracts with Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes, Kevin Hart, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and Kenya Barris.
It’s unknown how much the Obamas’ Netflix agreement is worth or how long it is contracted to last.
Last week, Netflix and Higher Ground Productions detailed a slate of programming in development for the streaming service. The projects, which span multiple genres, are set to be released over the next few years:
“Exit West” is a feature film based on Mohsin Hamid’s novel of the same name.
“Satellite” is a science fiction film written by Ola Shokunbi and produced by Kiri Hart and Stephen Feder for Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman’s T Street.
“Tenzing” is a film based on the true story of Tenzing Norgay, the first man to reach the summit of Everest.
“The Young Wife” is a film from writer and director Tayarisha Poe.
“Firekeeper’s Daughter” is a series based on Angeline Boulley’s debut novel, which is set to publish this spring.
“Great National Parks” is a natural history docuseries that explores national parks around the world.
“Ada Twist, Scientist” is an animated preschool series based on the book series by Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts.
“The G Word with Adam Conover” is a comedy series hosted by Adam Conover that is based on “The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy” by Michael Lewis.
Tracing over 400 years of black music, an ambitious new museum in Nashville celebrates artists we all know and those whose work remains under the radar
In 1967, Jimi Hendrix accidentally cracked his guitar before a concert. Seeing it was pretty much broken, he decided to destroy it on stage.
When he did, the audience went wild.
Destroying guitars became a regular part of his act. Hendrix destroyed dozens of guitars over his career and one that was salvaged and saved can now be seen in Nashville.
The guitar is on view at the new National Museum of African American Music, which opened on Martin Luther King Jr Day. Tracing over 400 years of black music, from gospel to jazz and R&B, it pays long overdue tributes to musicians like Ma Rainey and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, among others.
Over 1,500 items are in the collection, from Hendrix’s guitar, to Whitney Houston’s outfits, Ella Fitzgerald’s coat, vintage photos, mixtapes and LPs in the 56,000-sq-ft museum. “We say that black music now has a home,” said the museum’s president and chief executive Henry Beecher Hicks III.
“We didn’t feel like there was a cultural institution on a national scale that celebrated African American contributions to American music,” he added. “There are places that deal with a label, a genre or an artist, but no place that really tells the story of how rich and robust this tradition really is.”
The museum is divided into seven sections, from jazz to gospel to hip-hop. There is rare memorabilia, personal artifacts and state-of-the-art technology to tell the story of African American music and history, which is both celebrated and preserved.
It all started 23 years ago when Hicks and his team conceived the idea of the museum. “It took a long time to get here,” he said. “It was a lot of twists and turns; three location changes, a flood, a tornado, two recessions, a pandemic, all of it.”