Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Richard's Rant Heard Roun' The World

Richard Sherman sure was hyped following the NFC Championship Game last weekend. The post rant fallout hasn't been nearly as fun however.

In the last couple of years the loquacious cornerback, Sherman, has gained a bit of a reputation for getting in to people's faces and not being afraid to make a point. He did it to Tom Brady. He did it to offensive tackle Trent Williams and received a parting shot by way of a right hook. Neither of these two previous episodes received the attention of Sherman's latest post game faux pas.

Here's the video for those who might have missed it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

When A Role Overtakes an Actor

If anyone ever wondered whether certain roles can wear on an actor, they can look no further than this clip featuring actor Michael K. Williams.

In a recent appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show, Williams, who had a small part in the film "12 Years A Slave," speaks on a particularly emotional scene that was not shown in theaters. In it, Williams describes being dragged on a slave ship, and after reenacting the painful event a few times, how he breaks down screaming and crying. Take a look.

I witnessed a similar event while on a film set a few years ago.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Remembering Juanita Moore

Photo by the AP
In 1960 Juanita Moore would become only the third African American to earn an Academy Award nomination. That would be the highlight of her career.

Juanita Moore was born in Mississippi in 1914 and passed away on January 1st of this year. She worked her way up from nightclub dancer, to background actress, to earning an Academy Award nomination for her role in the 1959 film "Imitation of Life."

Following the nomination, work was not necessarily any easier to come by. Moore remarked that she actually got more jobs before the Oscar nomination because now casting directors couldn't see her taking on any more maid/servant roles. It was an uncomfortable plight similar to what Dorothy Dandridge experienced.

In the years after her Oscar nod, Juanita Moore would continue to work in television and on Broadway. She was 99-years-old.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Harry Belafonte on Race & Cinema

This is from a speech made by the legendary artist Harry Belafonte at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards last week.

"... The power of cinema is an uncontainable thing and it's truly remarkable, in its capacity for emotional evolution. When I was first watching the world of cinema, there was a film that stunned the world, with all its aspects and art form. They did a lot, at that time. The film was done by D.W. Griffith, and it was called The Birth of a Nation, and it talked about America's story, its identity, and its place in the universe of nations. And that film depicted the struggles of this country with passion and power and great human abuse. Its depiction of black people was carried with great cruelty. And the power of cinema styled this nation, after the release of the film, to riot and to pillage and to burn and to murder black citizens. The power of film.
At the age of five, in 1932, I had the great thrill of going to the cinema. It was a great relief for those of us who were born into poverty, a way we tried to get away from the misery. One of the films they made for us, the first film I saw, was Tarzan of the Apes. [Ed note: The movie is called Tarzan the Ape Man.] In that film, [we] looked to see the human beauty of Johnny Weissmuller swinging through the trees, jump off, and there spring to life, while the rest were depicted as grossly subhuman, who were ignorant, who did not know their way around the elements, living in forests with wild animals. Not until Johnny Weissmuller stepped into a scene did we know who we were, according to cinema.
Throughout the rest of my life ... on my birth certificate, it said "colored." Not long after that, I became "Negro." Not too long after that, I became "black." Most recently, I am now "African-American." I spent the better part of almost a century just in search of, seeking, "Who am I? What am I? What am I to be called? What do I say? Who do I appeal to? Who should I be cautious of?" In this life, when we walk into the world of cinema, we use the instrument that is our ability to try to give another impression of who and what we were as a people, and what we meant to this great nation called America. I'm glad that Sidney Poitier should step into this space right after the Second World War, and new images of what we are as people, certainly as men.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Zora Neale Hurston

I first heard about Zora Neale Hurston while taking an African American literature class back in college, and since that time have grown only more enamored with her work. Hurston was born in 1891 and spent much of her early years living in Eatonville, Florida, before departing for New York where she would become one of the more well known figures of the Harlem Renaissance Movement. Below is a short video biography of Hurston and an audio clip of Hurston's life narrated by Vanessa Williams.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Solomon Northup's Descendants Speak On His Legacy

By now, most people have probably heard of Solomon Northup due to the release of the film "12 Years A Slave" last October. Well, on January 3, 1853, Solomon gained his freedom. Now more then 160 years later, we get to see Solomon's diverse descendants speak on their very famous relative.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Remembering James Avery

James Avery, the actor best known for his role as 'Uncle Phil' in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, passed away on New Years Eve. He was 68-years-old.

Mr. Avery had been an actor for some time before The Fresh Prince, but it was in the role of 'Uncle Phil' that he became known throughout living rooms across America. Below is one of his more memorable scenes with Will Smith. R.I.P James Avery.