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

written by Betti Halsell

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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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Netflix Renews The Vince Staples Show For a Second Season

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Vince Staples Show

‘The Vince Staples Show’ has been renewed for a second season. 

Created by Staples and executive produced by Kenya Barris (Black-Ish), the show follows rapper and actor Vince Staples as he navigates the challenges and surprises of everyday life in his hometown of The Beach.

The first season of the limited series debuted in February with a total of five episodes.

Also starring in the series are Vanessa Bell Calloway and Andrea Ellsworth.

“The Vince Staples Show is back!” Staples shared in a statement. “The people have spoken, and the most riveting, captivating, and polarizing show on Netflix is returning for season 2. Get ready for hijinks that only a mother can love. Thank you, Netflix!”

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Kerry Washington Confirmed To Join ‘Wake Up Dead Man: The Knives Out Mystery’

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Emmy-winning actress Kerry Washington has been confirmed to join the third installment of ‘Knives Out.’

Washington will join a star-studded cast that includes Daniel Craig, reprising his role as the enigmatic detective Benoit Blanc, Andrew Scott, Josh O’Connor, and Cailee Spaeny.

The ‘Knives Out’ series, directed by Rian Johnson, is a mix of whodunit mystery and comedy. The first film, released on Netflix in 2019, quickly became a hit among audiences and critics alike. Its success led to the announcement of a second and third film, with the third film’s title recently revealed as ‘Wake Up Dead Man: The Knives Out Mystery’.

While the plot is currently kept under wraps, the third installment is set to be a standalone mystery, not directly connected to the previous films. Washington’s addition and other new cast members suggest that the film will continue the series’ tradition of intricate, unpredictable plots and surprising twists.

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Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’

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Eddie Murphy Axel F

Eddie Murphy reprises his role as the iconic Detective Axel Foley in the new action-packed trailer for ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.’

After a nearly 30-year hiatus, Eddie Murphy is back as Axel Foley in “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F.” The new trailer reveals that Foley returns to Beverly Hills to investigate the untimely death of a long-time confidant and to protect his daughter, whose life is in danger. Along the way, he teams up with a new partner, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and reunites with old friends Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton).

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'
‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

In addition to Eddie Murphy and the original cast members returning, the new installment introduces some fresh faces to the franchise. Taylour Paige joins the cast as Axel Foley’s estranged daughter, Jane, a criminal defense attorney in Beverly Hills. Kevin Bacon stars as the Beverly Hills Police Department’s captain, Grant.

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

First introduced to audiences in 1984, “Beverly Hills Cop” quickly became a massive hit, thanks to Murphy’s charismatic portrayal of Axel Foley, a street-smart Detroit cop who finds himself in the luxurious and unfamiliar territory of Beverly Hills. Two sequels followed, in 1987 and 1994.

Eddie Murphy Returns as Axel Foley in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ /Netflix

‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ is directed by Mark Molloy and written by Will Beall, Tom Gormican, and Kevin Etten. The action comedy is based on characters created by Danilo Bach and Daniel Petrie, Jr., with a story by Beall. Jerry Bruckheimer, who has been involved with the franchise since its inception, produced the fourth installment.

The film is set to launch on Netflix on July 3, 2024.

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