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NAACP IMAGE AWARDS NOMINEES: ‘HARRIETT’ SCORES THE MOST NOMINATIONS

Harriet is leading the nominees’ list with a total of 10 nods, including best soundtrack, outstanding motion picture, best actress (Cynthia Erivo), supporting actor (Leslie Odom Jr.), and supporting actress (Janelle Monae) among others.

Jordan Peele‘s Us, Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name, Melina Matsoukas‘ Queen & Slim, and Michael B. Jordan-starrer Just Mercy are also up for multiple awards.

The ceremony will air on Saturday Feb.22 on BET. Check out the full list of nominees below!

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
• Angela Basset
• Billy Porter
• Lizzo
• Regina King
• Tyler Perry

TELEVISION CATEGORIES
Outstanding Comedy Series
• “Ballers” (HBO)
• “black-ish” (ABC)
• “Dear White People” (Netflix)
• “grown-ish” (Freeform)
• “the Neighborhood” (CBS)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series
• Anthony Anderson – “black-ish” (ABC)
• Cedric The Entertainer – “the Neighborhood” (CBS)
• Don Cheadle – “Black Monday” (Showtime)
• Dwayne Johnson – “Ballers” (HBO)
• Tracy Morgan – “The Last O.G.” (TBS)
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series
• Logan Browning – “Dear White People” (Netflix)
• Jill Scott – “First Wives Club” (BET+)
• Tiffany Haddish – “The Last O.G.” (TBS)
• Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish ” (ABC)
• Yara Shahidi – “grown-ish” (Freeform)
         
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
• Andre Braugher – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC)
• Deon Cole – “black-ish” (ABC)
• Laurence Fishburne – “black-ish” (ABC)
• T erry Crews – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC)
• Tituss Burgess – “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
• Halle Bailey – “grown-ish” (Freeform)
• Loretta Devine – “Family Reunion” (Netflix)
• Marsai Martin – “black-ish” (ABC)
• Regina Hall – “Black Monday” (Showtime)
• Tichina Arnold – “the Neighborhood” (CBS)

Outstanding Drama Series
• “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX)
• “Greenleaf” (OWN)
• “Queen Sugar” (OWN)
• “The Chi” (Showtime)
• “Watchmen” (HBO)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
• Billy Porter – “Pose” (FX Networks)
• Forest Whitaker – “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX)
• Kofi Siriboe – “Queen Sugar” (OWN)
• Omari Hardwick – “Power” (Starz)
• Sterling K. Brown – “This Is Us” (NBC)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
• Angela Bassett – “9-1-1” (FOX)
• Regina King – “Watchmen” (HBO)
• Rutina Wesley – “Queen Sugar” (OWN)
• Simone Missick – “All Rise” (CBS)
• Viola Davis – “How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
• Delroy Lindo – “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access)
• Giancarlo Esposito – “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX)
• Harold Perrineau – “Claws” (TNT)
• Nigél Thatch – “Godfather of Harlem” (EPIX)
• Wendell Pierce – “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” (Prime Video)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
• CCH Pounder – “NCIS: New Orleans” (CBS)
• Lynn Whitfield – “Greenleaf” (OWN)
• Lyric Ross – “This Is Us” (NBC)
• Susan Kelechi Watson – “This Is Us” (NBC)
• Tina Lifford – “Queen Sugar” (OWN)

Outstanding Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
• American Son (Netflix)
• Being Mary Jane (BET Networks)
• Native Son (HBO)
• True Detective (HBO)
• When They See Us (Netflix)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
• Caleel Harris – “When They See Us” (Netflix)
• Ethan Henru Herisse – “When They See Us” (Netflix)
• Idris Elba – “Luther” (BBC America)
• Jharrel Jerome – “When They See Us” (Netflix)
• Mahershala Ali – “True Detective” (HBO)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special
• Aunjanue Ellis – “When They See Us” (Netflix)
• Gabrielle Union – “Being Mary Jane” (BET Networks)
• Kerry Washington – “American Son” (Netflix)
• Niecy Nash – “When They See Us” (Netflix)
• Octavia Spencer – “Truth Be Told” (Apple TV+)

Outstanding News/Information (Series or Special)
• PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (PBS)
• Surviving R. Kelly (Lifetime)
• The Breakfast Club (REVOLT)
• The Story of God with Morgan Freeman (National Geographic)
• Unsung (TV One)

Outstanding Talk Series
• “Red Table Talk” (Facebook Watch)
• “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)
• “The Real” (Syndicated)
• “The Shop: Uninterrupted” (HBO)
• “The Tamron Hall Show” (Syndicated)

Outstanding Reality Program/Reality Competition Series/Game Show
• “Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN)
• “Lip Sync Battle” (Paramount Network)
• “Rhythm + Flow” (Netflix)
• “Sunday Best” (BET Networks)
• “The Voice” (NBC)

Outstanding Variety (Series or Special)
• “2019 Black Girls Rock!” (BET Networks)
• “Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones” (Netflix)
• “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” (Netflix)
• “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
• “Wanda Sykes: Not Normal” (Netflix)

Outstanding Children’s Program
• “Doc McStuffins” (Disney Junior)
• “Family Reunion” (Netflix)
• “Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History” (Netflix)
• “Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest” (Disney XD)
• “Motown Magic” (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited-Series)
• Caleel Harris – “When They See Us” (Netflix)
• Lonnie Chavis – “This Is Us” (NBC)
• Lyric Ross – “This Is Us” (NBC)
• Marsai Martin – “black-ish” (ABC)
• Miles Brown – “black-ish” (ABC)

Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble
• Angela Rye – “Young Gifted and Broke: A BET Town Hall” (BET Networks)
• Jada Pinkett Smith – “Red Table Talk” (Facebook Watch)
• Lester Holt – “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” (NBC)
• Trevor Noah – “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)
• Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Meghan McCain, Abby Huntsman, Ana Navarro – “The View” (ABC)

Outstanding Host in a Reality/Reality Competition, Game Show or Variety (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble
• Iyanla Vanzant – “Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN)
• LL Cool J – “Lip Sync Battle” (Paramount Network)
• Regina Hall – “2019 BET Awards” (BET Networks)
• Steve Harvey – “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC)
• Wayne Brady – “Let’s Make A Deal” (CBS)

Outstanding Guest Performance in a Comedy or Drama Series
• Blair Underwood – “Dear White People” ( Netflix)
• David Alan Grier – “Queen Sugar” (OWN)
• Kelly Rowland – “American Soul” (BET Networks)
• MAJOR. – “STAR” (FOX)
• Sanaa Lathan – “The Affair” (Showtime)

RECORDING CATEGORIES
 Outstanding Album
• “Cuz I Love You” – Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)
• “Homecoming: The Live Album” – Beyoncé (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia
Records)
• “I Used To Know H.E.R.” – H.E.R. (RCA Records)
• “Sketchbook” – Fantasia (Rock Soul Inc./BMG)
• “Worthy” – India.Arie (India.Arie Inc./BMG)

Outstanding New Artist
• Ari Lennox (Dreamville/Interscope Records)
• Lil Nas X (Columbia Records)
• Lucky Daye (Keep Cool/RCA Records)
• Mahalia (Burkmar/Warner Music UK)
• Mykal Kilgore (Affective Music)

Outstanding Male Artist
• Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records)
• Khalid (RCA Records)
• Lil Nas X (Columbia Records)
• MAJOR. (BOE Music Group/EMPIRE)
• PJ Morton (Morton Records)

Outstanding Female Artist
• Beyoncé (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
• Fantasia (Rock Soul Inc./BMG)
• H.E.R. (RCA Records)
• India.Arie (India.Arie Inc./BMG)
• Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)

Outstanding Song – Traditional
• “Enough” – Fantasia (Rock Soul Inc./BMG)
• “Jerome” – Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)
• “SPIRIT” – Beyoncé (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
• “Stand Up” – Cynthia Erivo (Back Lot Music)
• “Steady Love” – India.Arie (India.Arie Inc./BMG)

Outstanding Song – Contemporary
• “Before I Let Go” – Beyoncé (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
• “Hard Place” – H.E.R. (RCA Records)
• “Juice” – Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)
• “Talk” – Khalid (RCA Records)
• “Motivation” – Normani (Keep Cool/RCA Records)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration
• “Brown Skin Girl” – Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, Beyoncé & WizKiD (Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)
• “No Guidance” – Chris Brown feat. Drake (Chris Brown Entertainment/RCA Records)
• “Say So” – PJ Morton feat. JoJo (Morton Records/EMPIRE)
• “Shea Butter Baby” – Ari Lennox feat. J. Cole (Dreamville/Interscope Records)
• “Show Me Love” – Alicia Keys feat. Miguel (RCA Records)

Outstanding Jazz Album
• “Carib” – David Sanchez (Ropeadope)
• “Center of The Heart” – Najee (Shanachie)
• “Love & Liberation” – Jazzmeia Horn (Concord Jazz)
• “SoulMate” – Nathan Mitchell (Enm Music Group)
• “The Dream Is You: Vanessa Rubin Sings Tadd Dameron” – Vanessa Rubin
(Vanessa Rubin)

Outstanding Gospel/Christian Song (Traditional or Contemporary)
• “I Made It Out” – John P. Kee feat. Zacardi Cortez (Kee Music Group/Entertainment One)
• “Laughter” – Bebe Winans feat. Korean Soul (Regimen Records)
• “Love Theory” – Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul Records/RCA Records)
• “Not Yet” – Donnie McClurkin (Camdon Music/RCA Inspiration)
• “Victory” – The Clark Sisters (Karew Records/Motown Gospel/Capitol CMG)

Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album
• “Hard Place” – H.E.R. (RCA Records)
• “Juice” – Lizzo (Nice Life Records/Atlantic Records)
• “No Guidance” – Chris Brown feat. Drake (Chris Brown Entertainment/RCA
Records)
• “Steady Love” – India.Arie (India.Arie Inc./BMG)
• “Talk” – Khalid (RCA Records)

Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album
• “Harriet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – Terence Blanchard (Back Lot Music)
• “Queen & Slim The Soundtrack” – Various Artists (Motown Records)
• “The Lion King: The Gift” – Beyoncé w/Various Artists (Parkwood
Entertainment/Columbia Records)
• “The Lion King Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” – Various Artists (Walt Disney
Records)
• “Us (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” – Michael Abels (Back Lot Music)

LITERATURE CATEGORIES
Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction
• “New Daughters of Africa” – Margaret Busby (HarperCollins Publishers)
• “Out of Darkness, Shining Light” – Petina Gappah (Simon and Schuster)
• “Red at the Bone” – Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead Books PRH)
• “The Revisioners” – Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counter Point Press)
• “The Water Dancer” – Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World)

Outstanding Literary Work – Nonfiction
• “Breathe: A Letter to My Sons” – Dr. Imani Perry (Beacon Press)
• “STONY THE ROAD: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim
Crow” – Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Penguin Press)
• “The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations” –
Toni Morrison (Alfred A. Knopf)
• “The Yellow House” – Sarah M. Broom (Grove Atlantic)
• “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays” – Damon Young
(HarperCollins Publishers)

Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author
“American Spy” – Lauren Wilkinson (Random House)
• “I Am Dance: Words and Images of the Black Dancer” – Hal Banfield (Author),
Javier Vasquez (Illustrator), (Literary Revolutionary)
• “More Than Pretty: Doing The Soul Work To Uncover Your True Beauty ” – Erica
Campbell (Howard Books)
• “Such A Fun Age” – Kiley Reid (Penguin Publishing Group)
• “The Farm” – Joanne Ramos (Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography
• “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System” – Cyntoia Brown-Long (Atria Books)
• “Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward” – Valerie Jarrett (Viking Press)
• “More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)” – Elaine Welteroth (Viking Press)
• “My Name Is Prince” – Randee St. Nicholas (HarperCollins Publishers)
• “The Beautiful Ones” – Prince (Author), Dan Piepenbring (Edited by), (Random
House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional
• “Inspire Your Home: Easy, Affordable Ideas to Make Every Room Glamorous” – Farah Merhi (Tiller Press)
• “Letters to the Finishers (who struggle to finish)” – Candace E. Wilkins (New Season Books)
• “More Than Pretty: Doing the Soul Work that Uncovers Your True Beauty” – Erica Campbell (Howard Books)
• “Vegetables Unleashed” – José Andres (HarperCollins Publishers)
• “Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, And Opportunity For Black Women In America” – Karen Arrington (Author), Joanna Price (Illustrator), Sheryl Taylor (Forward) (Mango Publishing)

Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry
• “A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland” – DaMaris B. Hill (Bloomsbury Publishing)
• “Felon: Poems” – Reginald Dwayne Betts (W.W. Norton Company)
• “Honeyfish” – Lauren K. Alleyne (New Issues Poetry and Prose)
• “Mistress” – Chet’la Sebree (New Issue Poetry and Prose)
• “The Tradition” – Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)

Outstanding Literary Work – Children
• “A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation” – Barry Wittenstein (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator), (Penguin Random House)
• “Hair Love” – Matthew A. Cherry (Author), Vashti Harrison (Illustrator), (Kokila)
• “Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment” – Parker Curry (Author), Jessica
Curry (Author), Brittany Jackson (Illustrator), (Aladdin Books)
• “Ruby Finds a Worry” – Tom Percival (Bloomsbury Publishing)
• “Sulwe” – Lupita Nyong’o (Author), Vashti Harrison (Illustrator), (Simon &
Schuster, BFYR)

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens
• “Around Harvard Square” – C.J. Farley (Akashic Books)
• “Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk” – Meredith Davis
(Author), Rebeka Uwitonze (Author), (Scholastic Inc.)
• “Hot Comb” – Ebony Flowers (Author), Ebony Flowers (Illustrator), (Drawn and
Quarterly)
• “I’m Not Dying with You Tonight” – Gilly Segal (Author), Kimberly Jones (Author),
(Sourcebooks Fire)
• “The Forgotten Girl” – India Hill Brown (Scholastic Inc.)

MOTION PICTURE CATEGORIES
Outstanding Motion Picture
• “Dolemite is My Name” (Netflix)
• “Harriet” (Focus Features)
• “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• “Queen & Slim” (Universal Pictures)
• “Us” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
• Chadwick Boseman – “21 Bridges” (STX Films)
• Daniel Kaluuya – “Queen & Slim” (Universal Pictures)
• Eddie Murphy – “Dolemite is My Name” (Netflix)
• Michael B. Jordan – “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Winston Duke – “Us” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
• Alfre Woodard – “Clemency” (Neon)
• Cynthia Erivo – “Harriet” (Focus Features)
• Jodie Turner-Smith – “Queen & Slim” (Universal Pictures)
• Lupita Nyong’o – “Us” (Universal Pictures)
• Naomie Harris – “Black and Blue” (Screen Gems/Sony Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
• Jamie Foxx – “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Leslie Odom, Jr. – “Harriet” (Focus Features)
• Sterling K. Brown – “Waves” (A24)
• Tituss Burgess – “Dolemite Is My Name” (Netflix)
• Wesley Snipes – “Dolemite Is My Name” (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
• Da’Vine Joy Randolph – “Dolemite is My Name” (Netflix)
• Janelle Monáe – “Harriet” (Focus Features)
• Jennifer Lopez – “Hustlers” (STX Films)
• Marsai Martin – “Little” (Universal Pictures)
• Octavia Spencer – “Luce” (Neon)

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in Motion Picture
• Cynthia Erivo – “Harriet” (Focus Features)
• Jodie Turner-Smith – “Queen & Slim” (Universal Pictures)
• Marsai Martin – “Little” (Universal Pictures)
• Rob Morgan – “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Shahadi Wright Joseph – “Us” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture
• “Dolemite is My Name” (Netflix)
• “Harriet” (Focus Features)
• “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• “Queen & Slim” (Universal Pictures)
• “Us” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
• “Clemency” (Neon)
• “Dolemite is My Name” (Netflix)
• “Luce” (Neon)
• “Queen & Slim” (Universal Pictures)
• “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” (Netflix)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (Television or Film)
• Alfre Woodard – “The Lion King” (Walt Disney Studios)
• Donald Glover – “The Lion King” (Walt Disney Studios)
• James Earl Jones – “The Lion King” (Walt Disney Studios)
• Lupita Nyong’o – “Serengeti” (Discovery Channel)
• Sterling K. Brown – “Frozen II” (Walt Disney Studios)

DOCUMENTARY CATEGORIES
Outstanding Documentary (Film)
• “Miles Davis: Birth Of The Cool” (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
• “The Black Godfather” (Netflix)
• “The Apollo” (HBO)
• “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” (Magnolia Pictures)
• “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality” (HBO)

Outstanding Documentary (Television – Series or Special)
• “Free Meek” (Prime Video)
• “Hitsville: The Making of Motown” (Showtime)
• “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” (Netflix)
• “Martin: The Legacy of A King” (BET Networks)
• “ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke” (Netflix)

WRITING CATEGORIES
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
• Cord Jefferson – “The Good Place” – Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy (NBC)
• Gloria Calderon Kellett, Mike Royce – “One Day at a Time” – Ghosts (Netflix)
• Jason Kim – “Barry” – Past=Present x Future Over Yesterday (HBO)
• Karen Gist, Peter Saji – “Mixed-ish” – Let Your Hair Down (ABC)
• Trevor Noah – “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” – Steve King’s Comments
Meet Trevor Noah: Racism Detective (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series
• Ava DuVernay, Michael Starrbury – “When They See Us” – Part Four (Netflix)
• Damon Lindelof, Cord Jefferson – “Watchmen” – The Extraordinary Being (HBO)
• Nichelle Tramble Spellman – “Truth Be Told” – Monster (Apple TV+)
• Nkechi Okoro Carroll – “All American” – Hussle & Motivate (The CW)
• Pat Charles – “Black Lightning” – The Book of Secrets: Chapter One: Prodigal
       Son (The CW)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Television)
• Cas Sigers-Beedles – “Twas the Chaos Before Christmas” (BET)
• Melissa Bustamante – “A Christmas Winter Song” (Lifetime)
• Patrik-Ian Polk – “Being Mary Jane” (BET Networks)
• Suzan-Lori Parks – “Native Son” (HBO)
• Yvette Nicole Brown – “Always a Bridesmaid” (BET Networks)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Film)
• Chinonye Chukwu – “Clemency” (Neon)
• Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham – “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Doug Atchison – “Brian Banks” (Bleeker Street and ShivHans)
• Jordan Peele – “Us” (Universal Pictures)
• Kasi Lemmons, Gregory Allen Howard – “Harriet” (Focus Features)

DIRECTING CATEGORIES
Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series
• Anya Adams – “GLOW” – Outward Bound (Netflix)
• Justin Tipping – “Black Monday” -7042 (Showtime)
• Ken Whittingham – “Atypical” – Road Rage Paige (Netflix)
• Randall Winston – “Grace and Frankie” – The Pharmacy (Netflix)
• Shaka King – “Shrill” – Pool (Hulu)

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
• Ava DuVernay – “When They See Us” – Part Four (Netflix)
• Carl H. Seaton, Jr. – “Snowfall” – Hedgehogs (FX Networks)
• Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson – “Power” – Forgot About Dre (STARZ)
• Debbie Allen – “Grey’s Anatomy” – Silent All These Years (ABC)
• Jet Wilkinson – “The Chi” – The Scorpion and the Frog (Showtime)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Television)
• Codie Elaine Oliver – “Black Love” (OWN)
• Janice Cooke – “I Am Sombody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story (Lifetime)
• Kenny Leon – “American Son” (Netflix)
• Rashid Johnson – “Native Son (HBO)
• Russ Parr – “The Bobby Debarge Story” (TV One)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Film)
• Chiwetel Ejiofor – “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” (Netflix)
• Jordan Peele – “Us” (Universal Pictures)
• Kasi Lemmons – “Harriet” (Focus Features)
• Mati Diop – “Atlantics” (Les Films du Bal Presente en Co-Production avec
Cinekap et Frakas Productions en Co-Production avec Arte France Cinema et
Canal+ International for Netflix) 
• Reginald Hudlin – “The Black Godfather” (Netflix)

Film & Television

‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’ Review

by Betti Halsell

In The United States Vs. Billie Holiday the audience is thrown into a war zone. Viewers stare at the social terrain with world-renowned Jazz legend Billie Holiday, as she climbs through trenches of trauma, addiction, love, betrayal, and corruption, ultimately leaving some of her best men behind.

Holiday, played by Andra Day, encapsulated the current state of events happening to Black Americans with a simple string of verses over a solemn melody. Her song Strange Fruit paints a vivid picture of events that took place during her time – lynchings in the 1930’s that were happening with no reprimand. The melancholic melody still hits home today, as if America is still singing the same song, with a different tune.

Holiday bellowed with her smoldering voice,

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.”

The recording and performance of Strange Fruit stood out like a thorn protruding from the rosey lens the rest of America looked through, causing a problem for those in “high places”. So they created a suffocating smoke around the singer’s life, following her to her final resting place.

The movie focuses on the unsolicited surveillance from federal and local law enforcement because of the pressure that came with the iconic song. It touches on a reoccurring theme happening in newly released biographic films, uncovering people within the Black community supplying incriminating intel to the federal government.

Andra Day as Billie Holiday|The United States vs Billie Holiday, HULU

This confirms the involvement of federal sources, but also the lack of trust happening within the collective community. The film was as explicit as the song itself, telling an unbiased truth of an Artist caught in a war that went far beyond her talent.

Directed by Lee Daniels and written by Pulitzer prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks and Johann Harri, the movie depicts Holiday as an undeniable force – she was feminine and sensual, yet she held a sense of masculine ownership over her life. Although the 1900s were set in gender roles and confined social placement, Holiday was outspoken and knew she had a level of power. The salute to her self-awareness may have beckoned from her childhood. The film exposed Holiday’s early surroundings, which included the power in sexuality and a sense of liberty for women when she was young.

However, there are two sides to every coin. The trauma in her childhood may have given her the soul that is found in her voice and a sense of empowerment, but it also left her damaged. The movie captured her dependency on strong stimulants, to mange her mental state. The singer’s upbringing left her without a true vision of her reflection. The feature focused on nostalgic transitions and captured an unfiltered story of Holiday’s flaws as a friend and lover.

Andra Day as Billie Holiday and Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher |The United States vs Billie Holiday, HULU

In The United States vs Billie Holiday, Day is joined by Trevante Rhodes (Birdbox) who played Jimmy Fletcher, the first Black FBN agent and Garrett Hedlund (Four Brothers) as Harry Aslinger, Chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

Rendering the critiques from Rotten Tomatoes, the story was labeled “sloppy” and “over-characterized.” However, most of those inferential opinions came from predominantly White men. This leaves the opportunity that they may have been missed; the concept of struggle in being a Black woman, while fighting multiple layers of internal and external battles and combating different perspectives of self-worth.

America is still singing about the strange fruit that holds a rotten core, the Anti-lynching Bill was passed last year. A back-breaking victory, countless marches, too many lives lost, all for roughly 100 years of “consideration.”

The strange fruit from those times left seeds, a new harvest of injustice is ripening. Thanks to Holiday’s strong will to keep performing the truth, others have joined the choir for change. The nation is still singing about the obscurities found in racism. It’s all the same song, just a different tune. Stream The United States Vs. Billie Holiday on Hulu starting February 26.

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Film & Television

Black History Caught on Film: Actress Theresa Harris Deserves All the Credit

by Betti Halsell

The acknowledgment gives artists their purpose. During the early development of motion picture, African American roles were set to subservient levels, and even when the acting was outstanding, Black talent did not see their names in the rolling credits. However, phenomenal actors and actresses like Theresa Harris still pushed for their name to be recognized and for their talent to be acknowledged.

It was New Years’ Eve, the turn of 1906, a star was born to Isaiah and Mable Harris. They were former sharecroppers from Louisiana. Harris was 11-years-old when her family migrated west, to Southern California. She attended Jefferson High School and studied at UCLA Conservatory of Music. Finding her passion in the arts, Harris connected with the “Lafayette Players,” a theatre group that performed comedic musicals.

In 1929, she was attracted to the spotlight, making her debut in the movie Thunderbolt, her voice carrying the soothing remedy to a restless audience, stealing every scene she was in. Harris presented her singing talent as her character of a jazz singer, she serenaded the viewers with, “Daddy won’t you please come home,” no one could take their eyes off of her. Other songs she christened included the “St. Luis Blues,” a masterful piece, showcasing her range and endurance.

Theresa Harris in Baby Face

Although she pushed for more leading roles, Harris was commonly cast as a maid, or in her words “a stooge or servant.” None the less Harris kept acting, with 18 different appearances, Harris played crucial assisting roles to some of the most iconic actresses that were highlighted during that time, yet for most of her acting career, she received zero credit.

Quoting her from IMDb, Harris stated, “I never felt the chance to rise above the role of a maid in Hollywood movies. My color was against me. The fact that I was not ‘hot’ stamped me as either an uppity ‘Negress’ or relegated me to the eternal role of stooge or servant. I can sing but so can hundreds of other girls. My ambitions are to be an actress. Hollywood had no parts for me.”

Harris continued to perform for over two decades, until her last appearance in 1958. For a young Black actress, her personal life (that’s recorded) was pretty traditional, she married only once, to a doctor and lived comfortably into retirement from the investment money she made while acting. To watch Mrs. Harris in her prime was enchanting and impeccable; Harris deserves all the credit and more for her cadence, style, and unmatched talent.

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Film & Television

Lupita Nyong’o Award-Winning Children’s Book “Sulwe” Becomes Animated Musical on Netflix

by Betti Halsell

Netflix announced a new animated musical production that focuses on different shades of beauty. The movie, “Sulwe” is coming to life from its original paperback form. Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o created the children’s book to bring awareness to the judgment of skin color happening an early age and to “encourage children to love the skin they are in and see the beauty that radiates from within.”

The bestselling children’s book by Nyong’o includes illustrations by Vashti Harrison, the story is about a young child who has skin that is darker than anyone else’s. According to Deadline, the book begins with “Sulwe was born the color of midnight,” the reader follows Sulwe’s adventure to self discovery and finding her own beauty. 

Rendering information from Entertainment Weekly, the story follows a 5-year-old Kenyen girl struggling to love the skin she’s in, she wants to be like her friends at school and family at home who are lighter-skinned. The young girl is swept into an adventure in the night skies, which helps her see the beauty in darker shades. Sulwe in Swahili means “star.” 

This book is an ode Nyong’o personal challenge of seeing her own beauty within her shade of skin, the publication captured her struggle. However, this book-turned-movie speaks volumes about the change that is happening on a larger scale. Nyong’o’s voice harmonizes with the illustrations; creating a unique perspective. 

A statement found on Kirkus reviews stated Nyong’o shared with Netflix, she said, “The story of Sulwe is one that is very close to my heart. Growing up, I was uncomfortable in my dark skin. I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in the aspirational pages of books and magazines, or even on TV. It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love.” The book is looking to foster the journey to self beauty for young minds. 

There is a revolutionary change with each turn of the page, “Sulwe” carries a message with gentleness; designing a safe space for all ages to self-reflect. The subject of colorism can be easily talked about in a family setting; either by reading the book or watching the movie, these are the conversations that every household needs to have with the future generation. 

The picture book was released in 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, making its way to New York’s Times Bestseller list. Nyong’o will be working with Netflix to produce an animated musical based on her original tale of the story. Emphasizing information from the news source listed above, “Sulwe” is an award-winning book; It received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children Last year and Nyong’o also is recorded reading the book, which is available on Netflix’s “Bookmarks.” The musical will sure to reach thousands of young hearts that share a similar story. 

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