Moving Ahead in 2012

Where has the time gone? It seems with each passing year time seems to move even faster.

I must say even though I did not get to blog as much as I would like this year, I am definitely enjoying the process and even small amounts of exposure. December has been a bit of a tough month for me (two wsidom teeth being removed and fighting a recent cold hasn’t helped matters) but I am certainly looking forward to more blogging and more topics come 2012. Just a taste of things I plan on discussing in the coming year: Blaxploitation films and their legacy, black journalists and the prime time dilemma, the movie ‘ A Birth of a Nation,’ the Poiter Persona, black presidents (yes, presidents with an S) and a host of other things.

For those of you who have read this blog from the outset or may have just started reading within the last month or so, I definitely want to say, Thank You. Here’s to a more a fruitful and productive next year to all of us. *Raises glass.*

Louis Gossett Jr. on Blaxploitation Films and Black Actors

 “. . . The responsibility for film imagery must be extended to the producers who come up with these scripts. The blame can’t be placed on black actors because they have to work – any place and any time they can. They have rent to pay just like everybody else.”

                                      – Louis Gossett Jr., NY Amsterdam News, 1974

Remembering Heavy D

I was shocked like many of you were to find out Dwight Myers -better known to the rest of the world as Heavy D- had died at just 44-years-old earlier this month.

Heavy D was probably best known for his 1991 hit ‘Now That We Found Love,’ which was a hell of a popular song when it dropped. I vaguely remember dancing to it as a child way back it when.

Heavy D didn’t just leave his mark on music, his talents extended into the film and television world as well. As stated in his IMDb page, Heavy D had put in more than 20 years worth of acting experience at the time of his death. His last onscreen role occurred in the recently released film ‘Tower Heist.’

If anything, Heavy D’s death is reminder that nothing is promised to us beyond the here and now. We should all seek to leave some sort of positive impact while we still have time. It is only fitting that Heavy D’s last tweet was “Be Inspired!” Heavy D certainly was that, and a lot more, while he was with us.


Overcoming Obstacles and Controlling Your Interests

“When you hit a roadblock in this business, you can give up, but I learned a lot and made relationships through those attempts. I decided, if I was willing to invest my money to gamble on a project I didn’t own, why not spend that money on something I could control?”

                                      — Bryan Barber, Director of “Idlewild,” courtesy of Shadow and Act.

Reed Between The Lines

Last Tuesday I caught two episodes of the new orignial BET series Reed Between The Lines. It looks pretty promising from what I’ve seen so far.

First, I like the emphasis on black love and the fact that Alex and Carla Reed (portrayed by Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Tracee Ellis Ross), are a married couple with a blended family. Sadly, there really aren’t too many images of African-American family life on television and I definitely applaud BET for giving us something other than mindless rap videos and sitcoms from 2002.

This show does have some remnants of The Cosbys in it, even beyond the fact that Malcolm Jamal-Warner is linked to both. The fact that Alex and Carla Reed represent a well educated black middle class couple (both hold jobs that would require a Master’s degree) is powerful indeed. He is a stay at home NYU professor and she a therapist who somehow manage to make time for each other while juggling three kids and everything else that comes between. Too often we rarely see successful black married couples on television, but this show at least attempts to portray something sorely lacking in today’s television landscape.

In the show’s second episode that premiered last week, it threw me for a bit of a loop, and I’m sure it did many viewers as well. The episode entitled, “Let’s Talk About Daddy’s Little Girl,” started with Carla and Alex’s daughter Alexis, being dropped home by a white camp counselor who said she didn’t get along well with the other kids. He even went so far to use the term ‘scary’ to describe their daughter. Naturally, I thought, “this dude just messed up bigtime.” As one would expect, Alex and Carla looked visibly upset and the familiar story pattern would be the white counselor showing some insensitivity toward their daughter based solely on her race. Only in this case, it was Alex and Carla who proved to be wrong with their own daughter. As they and the viewers would find out, Alexis’ bad behavior toward the other kids was not so much a result of her being unfairly picked out, as it was her being spoiled by her family and expecting people to wait on her hand and foot. In essence, the episode teaches that just because something may appear insensitive or mildly racist at first, that isn’t always the case and we have to be sure to look at all angles of a situation before jumping to conclusions.

Reed Between The Lines looks promising and I look forward to seeing how the shows and series progresses. The fact that Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Tracee Ross are both wearing their producer hats on this project shows that they have a vested interest in the types of characters, themes and story-lines that play out through the season. I’m definitely looking forward to this show.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Black Actors Missing in Action

It appears even the most prominent of black actors and actresses have a hard time getting recognized for their roles in TV and film. Such was the case last month for Taraji P. Henson of the new CBS show Person of Interest, who took her beef to Facebook and let the world know what was up:

     WOW!!!! TV Guide is NOT including me on the cover with my cast memebers……..I am the female lead of a 3 member cast and I’m not included on the cover!!!!!! Do you see the shit I have to deal with in this business…..I cram to understand!!!!”

We cram to understand too, Taraji. The fact that Taraji P. Henson has not been prominently featured in the ad campaign for this show is puzzling indeed. Clearly it can’t be her credentials. Afterall, Ms. Henson has been nominated for an Academy Award and an Emmy. Also, as she notes, she is the lead female actress in a show that revolves around three people. Let’s take a look at some of the posters for Person of Interest.

Now while Taraji does appear in one of the posters, it’s worth noting that the middle poster is the one CBS chose to promote the most. Here are two versions of the trailer. The 1 minute trailer and the 30 second trailer that was shortened for TV purposes:

In the first trailer we get a ‘blink and you might miss her” glance at Taraji and in the second and shorter trailer Taraji is nowhere to be found. People of color being left out of promos is nothing knew, but the fact that it continues to happen -and to an Academy Award nominated actresses no less- is just a damn shame. I’ll have more on this topic in a future post.