Sunday, November 24, 2013

Best Man Holiday Beats Expectations As A Win for 'Race Themed' Films

I found it funny how there were so many people who were "surprised" and "shocked" that the film "The Best Man Holiday" had done so well at the box office last weekend. It's as if the national media was shocked that so many black people came out to support a film where the main characters looked like them for a change. Then there was the USA Today article on "race-themed movies."

The article seemed innocuous enough, but the headline "'Holiday' nearly beats 'Thor' as race themed films soar," left me shaking my head. "Best Man Holiday" made over $30 million in its opening weekend, just behind "Thor" at $34 million, but where USA Today is wrong is labeling "Best Man Holiday" a race-themed film. Just because it's a film that features a predominately black cast doesn't make it anymore about race than the gluttony of films made up of all white casts that are never viewed as being about race.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sy Stokes and Black Male UCLA Bruins Take A Stand

College admissions have always been a tenuous process. When that process involves race and ethnicity, people become divided, temperatures rise and questions are raised.

In the case of UCLA (University of California - Los Angeles), Sy Stokes has brought national attention to the dearth of black males on campus. He brings up the statistic that black males make up only 3.3 percent of the male population at UCLA, of whom 65 percent are athletes. Stokes also addresses the fact that UCLA has made cuts to financial aid in recent years, but that hasn't stopped the university from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on flights and hotel suites.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Andrea Lewis Debuts in "Black Actress" Web Series

If we learned anything so far this year, it's that the rise of the web series is here to stay. I catch a few webisodes every now and then and recently came across "Black Actress" last week and enjoyed the debut.

Photo from blackgirllonghair
"Black Actress" stars Andrea Lewis as a struggling actress trying to make it in the industry. Andrea has spoken openly about the paucity of opportunities for black actresses within the entertainment industry, and through the first episode we follow her character on an audition. Some of you may recognize Andrea from her time on the hit Canadian show "Degrassi," where she played 'Hazel,' who was the girlfriend of some guy who has since made a name for himself in the rap game.

The series has the backing of web star Issa Rae and features appearances from some other well known black actresses like Tatyana Ali and Naturi Naughton. You can check out the first episode below.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

More Diversity for a Better Bottom Line?

According to a UCLA study released last month, television programs with more diversity tended to get higher ratings than those with more homogeneous casts and writers. Diversity is apparently good business.

Among some of the findings in the study was that shows in which minorities made up 31 to 40 percent of the cast members tended to do better with viewers, and shows with a higher percentage of minority writers benefited from increased ratings as well. Ultimately what does this mean? In essence I think studies like this show not only how we as a society are becoming more diverse, but that people want to see characters who look like them and share similar experiences as themselves. Considering the lack of diversity in television, it would behoove the producers and network honchos who greenlight these shows to really take a look at the members of their casts and the talent writing for these shows. You can check out the article here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Taking Off The Coat of Desperation

In a beautiful speech last week at the 2013 Film Independent Forum, filmmaker Ava DuVernay spoke to making do with what you have and being your own catalyst when it comes to making films. Replacing desperation with passion and putting in the work is what moves your forward. Check it out below.