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Black History Captured on Film: Gordon Parks An Undeniable Force in the Arts

written by Betti Halsell

Gordon Parks was the first Black director to produce a major film under a mainstream studio label, he’s also highlighted for composing music, writing poetry, and mastering different genres of photography.

“There’s nothing, to tell you the truth, that I haven’t done. I wish that I can do everything I’ve done better. I wish I can compose better music, I wish I can take better photographs, I wish I can write better poetry, and write better novels. That’s all I wish for.” – Gordon Parks (Gordon Parks interview, 2000)

A multifaceted man, critically acclaimed for composing and writing music, directing and producing films, and taking photos in multiple different genres– wished that he could do everything better. Parks became the first Black director to produce a film under a mainstream studio company, but that was only a nod to the countless works he created. Through his lens, he battled racism and laid the groundwork for many Black artists, who followed his vision of equality of talent and to be an undeniable force.

Parks was born November 30, 1912 in Fort Scott, Kansas, in a family of 15 siblings. Many different energies and interests lived within his household, which may have contributed to his number of fascinations to various mediums of self-expression. Among his arsenal of artistry, Parks is considered a master in photography, however, he didn’t pick up his first camera until he was 25. During an interview, the visionary credits his work ethic to the motivation of knowing he would have a meal the next day.

Before his eagle-eye view of the world that he captured on camera, one would find Parks cruising in the music scene. He started off as a jazz pianist in a brothel, traveling with a band. Parks had been playing piano by ear since he was young and with his type focus, he was able to compose and write his own music before he learned the standardized style. This seed of talent would eventually blossom in other mediums of his work.

Gordon Parks’ American Gothic

Parks used his channels of art as “choice weapons,” through his range of creativity, Parks was able to capture the spirit of his subject. Some of his ingenious visual artwork include: American Gothic (1942), Grease Plant Workers (1944), and Harlem Gang Leader (1948), Parks did a deep dive in each of these works as an artist; providing more than 1,000 words in each picture.

The Renaissance man became the first Black photographer at Life Magazine, he would then move on to contribute to Glamour, Vogue, and help build a positive narration around Black Beauty within Essence Magazine. In 1969, Parks had already published a book, “The Learning Tree,” that later Warner Bros. Studio would green light into production. He scored, directed, wrote the screenplay, and produced the film under Warner Bros. As a director he produced other iconic movies, such as “Shaft ,”(1971).

Researching Parks has proven to be its own rabbit hole of information, the list of what he did is as eternal as his energy he had for work. Parks brought new awareness around Black talent and to the perspective in which an underrepresented community sees the world. There is so much richness and a velvet flow of Parks career, he is encapsulated skills that would take multiple lifetimes to master, and used them as his weapon of choice to fight for a saturation in diversity, in a time of prevalent limits stacked on top a particular race, seen only through a lens of black and white.

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Film & Television

Meghan Markle To Release Her Debut Children’s Book

The soon-to-be mother of two will also narrate the audiobook version

The actress-turned-duchess is adding a new title to her post-royal résumé. Markle is releasing her debut children’s book, The Bench.

Inspired by her husband Prince Harry and baby Archie, the book will reportedly focus on the special bond between a father and son, viewed through a mother’s eyes.

The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born,” the new author shared in a statement. “That poem became this story. Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens. My hope is that The Bench resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine.”

Published by Random House Children’s Books, the book is illustrated by award-winning artist Christian Robinson.

The Bench will be published on June 8.

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Film & Television

‘Lupin’ Part 2: Release Date, First Look Photos & Trailer

The French heist drama returns with five new episodes

Netflix recently released the first look images from Lupin season 2. The photos give viewers a glance at the upcoming episodes, set to release on Netflix, reportedly, in summer 2021.

The French heist drama stars Omar Sy as Assane Diop, a man inspired by the life and dealings of a fictional character, a thief named Arsène Lupin. The series follows Assane’s quest to expose the wealthy and powerful Pellegrini family after its patriarch, Hubert, framed Assane’s father, who later ended up dead in jail. Lupin also focuses on Assane’s relationship with his son and his ex-wife as he tries to salvage it while executing his mission.

Here are the first look images for part 2.

According to Netflix’s data, Lupin part 1 was the most-watched French original series on the platform. Seventy million households reportedly viewed the show in the first four weeks of its release.

Lupin Part 2 doesn’t have an official release date yet, but it’s expected to premiere this summer. Watch the official teaser below.

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Film & Television

Will Smith’s Body Transformation Will Be Documented In A New Youtube Series

Will Smith broke the internet earlier this week by posting a picture that some would consider unflattering and others could very much relate to. The caption read, “I’m gonna be real wit yall – I’m in the worst shape of my life.”

Looking at the shared image, from Smith’s outfit to his physique, one could assume that the I am Legend actor was simply sharing the outcome of his quarantine lifestyle.

Earlier today, however, in another social media post, Smith revealed that the image was just a teaser of what’s to come.

It turns out the actor is teaming up with YouTube for a fitness and wellness series intended to document the 52-year-old’s journey.

“This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” he captioned his latest post. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better. No more midnight muffins…this is it! Imma get in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!!!!!”

No further details were disclosed as of yet. We can’t wait to follow this transformation journey!

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