Connect with us

Film & Television

‘They’ve Gotta Have Us’ Is a Lesson On Black Cinema We All Needed!

written by Kimberly Jones

They’ve Gotta Have Us created by director Simon Frederick is a three-part docuseries that tells the story and history of black filmmakers and actors in Hollywood. Now available on Netflix, it is just in time for Black History Month. The series provides the audience with an in-depth behind the scenes look at the many struggles that black artists and filmmakers faced and the events that led to Black Hollywood as we know it today.

The documentary opens with a scene from the 2017 Oscars ceremony in which the winner for Best Picture was incorrectly announced as La La Land but the trophy belonged to Moonlight. It was this moment that stuck out to creator Simon Frederick; this pivotal moment and win for Moonlight (which had an all-black cast) had been overshadowed by this mistake. Once again black artists were taking a backseat to their colleagues and not given the full moment of celebration that they deserved.

Image: Getty

Frederick shot the docuseries in three parts. The first focused on the pioneers of the black film industry. Harry Belafonte gives some of his very candid accounts of how difficult it was to become a lead in a film and to also be a love interest of a white actor. Belafonte broke industry barriers in the movie Island in the Sun. When the film came out in 1957, it was not accepted for the interracial relationship displayed on the big screen. Other pioneers who paved the way include Hattie McDaniel who in 1939 became the first black actor to win an Oscar for her role in Gone with the Wind. In 1964 Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win Best Actor in a lead role for Lillies in the Field. The late Diahann Carroll, who was also featured in the documentary, received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for the 1974 film Claudine. The movie highlighted the stories and daily struggles of black women on screen for the first time.

Among the innovators of Black film are Robert Townsend, Spike Lee, and the late John Singleton. After growing exhausted of the roadblocks he had faced in the industry, Townsend produced his first independent film Hollywood Shuffle in 1987 – a comedy about the stereotypes black actors faced in the film industry. Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee took the industry to the next level with his groundbreaking films including She’s Gotta Have It (1986), School Daze (1988) and Malcolm X (1992). John Singleton’s coming of age film Boyz n the Hood earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director making him the first black and youngest person to have received a nomination for directing. Most of the time the producers had a small budget and often struggled to get funding, but their films had box office success. This sent a clear message to Hollywood – black films were in demand and people wanted to see them. The innovators of the 80s and 90s had a very different approach to filmmaking. By taking matters into their own hands these producers created timeless masterpieces that generations to come could enjoy.

British actor John Boyega became the first black actor to be cast as a lead in the Star Wars franchise – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Boyega’s role, however, was not accepted well by everyone. In China, for example, on the promotional posters for the film, Boyega’s picture was reduced significantly in size compared to his counterparts. Boyega didn’t let that discourage him, however, he knew he got the leading role based on his talent, not skin color.

Selma (2014), directed by Ava DuVernay and starring David Oyelowo, was a historical drama based on the 1954 voting march from Selma to Montgomery. The film focuses on Martin Luther King Jr, the significant role he and his associates along with his wife Coretta Scott King played in the march, as well as the events that led to it. Before DuVernay got on board as the director, the films’ focus was on President Lyndon B. Johnson, which really did not make sense to Oyelowo and other cast members. DuVernay used her vision to tell a more detailed story of the black people involved in this historic day. This fact goes back to the running theme of the documentary – the importance of having black writers, producers, and directors to tell black stories.

‘They’ve Gotta Have Us’, Netflix

Moonlight (2016) written and directed by Barry Jenkins followed the journey of a young black boy into adulthood. Throughout the film, the main character deals with a drug-addicted mother, struggles with sexuality and searches for his rightful place in the world. Moonlight opened a new chapter for black films – it was the first movie with an all-black cast and also the first LGBTQ film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Jenkins is considered a trailblazer because of the doors he opened for future artists.

The future of black cinema seems to be bright largely because black artists have taken creative control over the black stories being told in Hollywood. With more up-and-coming black writers and directors black films are starting to get the recognition they deserve. There are more doors opening for creators to tell their stories. Actor Jessie Williams made a valid point about the creative freedom white artists have. He stated, “I lost my dog, here’s a little independent movie of me going to find it and how it reminds me of my mother. And it’s not even good.” Williams’ point was that all artists have the right to create their art, regardless of race. They’ve Gotta Have Us provides a necessary history lesson, shows how far the black film industry has come and excites with what is yet to come.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Film & Television

(Exclusive)’David Makes Man’ Star Arlen Escarpeta Talks Joining Season 2, Black Masculinity, and Working with Director Tarell Alvine McCraney

by Betti Halsell

No one could have painted a picture of Black masculinity more accurately than Oprah Winfrey Network’s (OWN)  TV drama David Makes Man. The series encapsulates the quality of life and its aftermath surrounding men in the Black Community.

Narrated through the lens of a brilliant male character, the audience digests a visual dissertation of unspoken experiences that shape young boys into men. Arlen Escarpeta plays JG, the younger brother of the protagonist. The Oath actor breaks down the message behind the series and the strength of silent love that happens within the masculine gender. 

David Makes Man first streamed on HBO max, but OWN has picked up season two. Director Tarell Alvine McCraney (Moonlight) grasped the eerie tones of movies like A Beautiful Mind and Six Sense, and concocted the internal struggle of a caged life as a young minority, raised below the poverty line. The viewers meet David (Kwame Patterson) as a young adult, a silent and solemn adolescent, but his thoughts are amplified enough to take over his reality. 

Jonathan Greg nicknamed J.G. (Escarpeta) has a different level of mental compression and unwavering love for his brother. He is the peaceful flute playing above the overpowering orchestra that is David’s mind. Escarpeta breaks down that love, and the slew of unspoken nuances that are carefully placed throughout the series, to alert the audience: more was said than just words. 

David Makes Man — 201 — “Barrel of Oranges” — Photo Credit: Rod Millington

David Makes Man is a story of a young adult with no visual assurance of making out of his situation alive, coming into the power of his mind, and then aligning himself with success. The audience has a personal view of one’s personal struggle with their gifts and the application of their power after it’s gained. David battles many versions of himself in hopes of finding peace in his internal war. 

JG (Escarpeta) represents another angle of warfare, one that includes him and his projection of life to other people. The local cop is currently at a crossroads in his love life. Catching up with an old flame brings out his organic nature. However, he already created a sanctity with his wife and teenage daughter. Escarpeta’s character is metaphorically facing a three-headed beast that breathes fire. Between his wife, daughter, and the old flame, someone is guaranteed to be burned by his next decision. 

David Makes Man so far has won the Peabody Award of Entertainment. Full episodes are available on OWN’s streaming service, with new episodes out on Tuesdays, 9/8c. 

Continue Reading

Film & Television

Sex and the City revival adds Nicole Ari Parker, Karen Pittman, and Sarita Choudhury

And Just Like That, HBO’s upcoming Sex and The City revival is bringing new characters into the world of Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte. Nicole Ari Parker, Karen Pittman, and Sarita Choudhury have joined the cast.

According to EW, Parker (Empire, Chicago P.D.) will play Lisa Todd Wexley, a Park Avenue mother of three. Choudhury (Mississippi Masala) will play Seema Patel, a single, self-made powerhouse Manhattan real estate broker. And Pittman (The Morning Show) will appear as Dr. Nya Wallace, a brilliant, yet challenging Columbia Law professor.

The decision to add the trio was made by HBO’s chief Casey Bloys, producer/star Sara Jessica Parker and showrunner Michael Patrick King. Bloys told TV Line earlier this year they did not want “to tell a story with all-white writers or an all-white cast,” and the creators “being very, very conscious about understanding that [the show’s] New York has to reflect the way New York looks today.”

The And Just Like That cast also includes Sex and The City‘s Chris Noth, David Eigenberg, Mario Cantone, Willie Garson, and Evan Handler.

The revival is currently in production in New York. HBO Max has not yet set a premiere date.

Continue Reading

Film & Television

Vivica A. Fox, Clifton Powell, and Christina Cooper To Star In Mann Robinson’s New Series ‘On Ten’

Atlanta, GA. – Director and producer Mann Robinson is teaming up with multi-talented actress and TV personality Torrei Hart on a one-of-a-kind drama series titled On Ten.

The series cannot be compared to any other show on television. The audience is introduced to Osaris Warlock, a gifted young man who sees the truest potential of his urban surroundings. He goes to business school to hone his innate ability to grow an empire.

The goal he sets out for himself is to turn his hood into the next Black Wall Street. He enlists his longtime girlfriend, Ebony (played by Christina Cooper), as his right hand and starts to buy the block back. However, The closer the couple gets to the goal, the more challenging it becomes. They both soon find out that you also have to be a killer to be effective.

Warlock’s master plan stems from watching his mother struggle with having a lack of resources, which fell adjacent to him recently learning about the massacre in Tulsa, OK. As a result, the young man is now hellbent on growing a strong financial structure for his community by riding the fine line between illegal and legitimized business practices.

NAACP Image Awards winner Vivica A. Fox was tapped for this project as Mayor Brown. Her schedule has been tightly woven, as she also headlines two FOX SOUL shows – Cocktails With Queens on Mondays and FOX SOUL’s The Screening Room.

Another heavyweight, ABFF winner Clifton Powell, has joined the cast. He will assume the role of Agent Morphan.

Talented newcomer Cooper will portray Ebony, Warlock’s girlfriend. This will mark her first official series as a regular. The actress is taking Hollywood by storm, working in multiple areas of filmmaking. In 2019, the Los Angeles native directed and produced South Central Love, a visual message calling for an end to gun violence – a cause close to her heart, as she pulled from her experiences growing up in South Central LA.

Cooper is also a model and entrepreneur. She owns a women’s wear collection inspired by her Jamaican roots called Island Gal

The cast of On Ten‘s debut season will also include Sean Blakemore (Motives), E. Roger Mitchell (Full Count) and Michael Emory, Reality TV star and attorney Phaedra Parks, Instagram influencer and entrepreneur Jayda Wayda, acting legend Darius McCrary, and many more.

Robinson fortified his talents as a filmmaker and is well known in the Black entertainment circuit for his most recent projects: Super TurntFruits of the Heart, and Troubled Waters (which aired on BET her & BET Plus). The director’s debut film K.A.R.M.A. was released in the early 2000s. Soon after, he dived into producing hit independent films and series. By 2012, Robinson began to put together the strategy to direct On Ten, his TV drama, in multiple locations – Detroit, New York, and Atlanta. 

Director Mann Robinson

The bulk of the upcoming series will be filmed in Atlanta, where Robinson has built a 20,000 square ft space – Mann Robinson Studios – a fully-equipped creative space, a central hub for high-quality projects produced in Georgia.

Robinson’s co-producer, Hart, who will also star in the series, has been building her career as a comedian, writer, producer, and beauty business mogul. She launched her Youtube comedy channel, “PrettyFunnyFish,” in 2012, which had rocket-fueled growth in popularity. 

Hart’s production company is vetted under the same name and captured the attention of business tycoon Russell Simmons. In partnership with Simmons, Hart has contributed creative content for All Def’s digital platform while starring and co-writing in her short films. 

Producer Torrei Hart

Hart also cooperated with Zeus Network to develop the raw and unscripted talk show Talkin Sh%t while simultaneously having a reoccurring chair on Dish Nation.

The upcoming TV series will not be Robinson and Hart’s first collaboration. Both have previously worked on a drama titled TURNT and its sequel, Super Turnt.

On Ten is scheduled to go into production this summer.  The dates of the season one premiere have yet to be disclosed.


Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 Hollywood Melanin