Showing posts from 2017

Fancasting Alessandro de' Medici

A major part of this blog and community involves fancasting would be films or series. Because there are so many stories that can be told, casting these potential movies with the actors of our choice has become a fun pastime. I spent some time trying to find an actor that could portray Alessandro de' Medici accurately. The great thing about this fancasting is that we have  portraits and written descriptions of him. I looked for actors that not only have a similar look as Alessandro and  talent enough to carry the role. 

Here is my list in no particular order.
1) Regé-Jean Page
The first role I saw Regé-Jean Page in was Chicken George in the 2016 re-imagined Roots. He was amazingly captivating and I am certain he would make a great Alessandro. He did a great job with the accent and I am sure he could do the same to sound like an Italian ruler. It must be noted that although the show takes place in Italy, Italian accents are not required. 
2) Elliot Knight 
Elliot Knight has the won…

The Black Prince of Florence a Review

Book: The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici  Author: Catherine Fletcher 
If I had to describe this book in one word, I would use the word BALANCED. Throughout the entire biography we get a balanced look at the life and times of Alessandro de' Medici, arguably the first black head of state. This is the first biography about the head of state, and unless new information about Alessandro is unearthed, I don’t see how any biographies that follow Fletcher’s will top it. The information provided, the pacing, and the structure of the biography are all excellently done.

In the opening pages of the book, there are family trees detailing selected members of the junior and senior branches of the Medici family as well as a glossary of names. These features come in handy while reading. This is especially true for readers that are new to this period and these historical figures. The useful glossary is symbolic of Catherine Fletch…

Alessandro de' Medici: An Introduction

Today is the 480th year anniversary of the assassination of Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence. This event is relevant to the blog as Alessandro is considered by many to be the first black head of state in Europe. This is said because evidence points toward his mother (Simonetta da Collevecchio) being a servant of African descent. There is some debate over whether his father was Lorenzo II de' Medici or Giulio de' Medici (later Pope Clement VII). Alessandro was ruler of Florence from from 1531 until 1537.

I first came across Alessandro de' Medici by way of a portrait. When I saw the picture, I knew I had to do more research on the man. Fortunately, there was an amazing book to help me along. The book The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici is by Catherine Fletcher historian and author. My interest in the man was further heightened by the Medici: Masters of Florence television series.

I have decided to …

White Water (2015) - A Review

Water White is based on the 2011 children’s book which was co-authored by Michael Bandy and Eric Stein. The film is based on a childhood experience of author Bandy and tells the story of a boy in 1963 Alabama who is obsessed with drinking water from the “Whites Only” fountain. I was drawn to this movie premise because my grandfather told me about his experience as a child in 1950’s Georgia wanting to drink from the white fountain. Like Michael, my grandfather found that the water wasn’t all he thought it would be.

The narrative style and tone of the film fit perfectly as it is from the point of view of a 7 year old little boy. Watching the shenanigans that Michael and his older cousin Red get into was hilarious. Amir and Amari O'Neil were perfectly cast as Michael. Although twins they played the character in the same way. I was not even aware that Michael was being played by twins until I looked up the trailer to write this review. I was also impressed by the acting of Zhane Hall…

On This Day: Nov 15, 1979 Rosa Parks was awarded the NAACP Springarn Medal.

Rosa Parks was played most notably by Angela Bassett in the 2002 film The Rosa Parks Story. The Rosa Parks Story was written by Paris Qualles and directed by Julie Dash. It was broadcast by CBS on February 24, 2002.

Clearly attention was paid to clothing. I really appreciate when filmmakers look at photographs of their subjects and do their best to recreate the photos. Many photos of Rosa Parks are engraved in the minds of many. Having the look of the film match the image engraved in the public's mind is crucial to believably.  For lesser known public figures (think the ladies of Hidden Figures) the outfits did not have to be exact replications; only historically accurate. But because Rosa Parks is so well known, the filmmakers had an image to live up to. The film was beautifully done. 

Have you seen The Rosa Parks Story? What did you think?

Zendaya to Star in and Produce an Anita Hemmings Thriller!

According to Deadine, Zendaya will be playing a white passing woman in a film called 'A White Lie'. The film is an adaptation of the Karin Tanabe novel, The Gilded Years. The novel is a thriller based on the true story of Anita Hemmings time passing as white at a prestige school at the turn of the century.

Anita Florence Hemmings (born June 8, 1872 in Boston) became the first Black woman to graduate from Vassar College in 1897. She was only able to attend because no one knew she was Black. Interestingly, when the school found out there were not any real repercussions for Anita. She still participated in her graduation festivities and received her diploma without much trouble. I haven't read the novel so it might happen differently in the film.

Anita was an "exotic beauty" who saw all sorts of attention from Harvard and Yale men. Her roommate was so jealous of amorous Anita that she had her father dig up the proverbial "dirt" on her coveted counterpart:…

The Greatest Showman Official Trailer 2

In this trailer we get to see more of the Zendaya as Anne Wheeler. Clearly, she'll be bringing her signature star power to the role of Annie. Visually, the film looks amazing so far. I'm also happy to see other black characters in the film besides Zendaya and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (as WD Wheeler). I'm looking forward to actual musical numbers from the film.

What do you think of trailer 2 for The Greatest Showman?

Oney Judge Film in the Works!

The news about an adaption of Oney Judge’s life has made me extremely happy. According to (news site) the film will be based on author and historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s book titled, Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. I’ve heard about this brave woman on multiple occasions and have always thought a film or series about her life (if done correctly) would be awesome. The book was optioned by Lisa Ellis of Provenance Media and Richard Abate of 3 Arts Entertainment and they will co-produce the film.

Oney Judge’s Story: Born on January 1, 1773, Oney "Ona" Judge was a mixed-race slave on George Washington's plantation, Mount Vernon, in Virginia. Ona stands out because she was a favored slave of the first president’s wife Martha. Additionally, she ran away from bondage and was never caught. Her being born to a white indentured servant named Andrew Judge and an enslaved black woman named Betty Davis adds additional layers…

Jussie Smollett as Langston Hughes in a possible Hughes biopic!!

Some exciting news about Jussie Smollett and his role as Langston Hughes as developed! In an interview with ESSENCE's Yes Girl podcast, Jussie Smollett says that he'll be portraying Langston Hughes in a future biopic for the poet and activist.

Had to go butt faced to become the great #LangstonHughes in the upcoming film #Marshall. Thank you @reggiehudlin for the opportunity. It's been a dream. 🙏🏿 A post shared by Jussie Smollett (@jussiesmollett) on Jun 8, 2016 at 6:36pm PDT
He says: "I was doing a tribute to John Legend at the NAACP Image Awards —not this past one but the year before— and Reginald (Hudlin, the director of Marshall) came up to me and said, 'You favor Langston Hughes so much. I just want to know if you'd be down to do a cameo in Marshall as Langston Hughes?'" Smollett said he told the director, "I'll do it on one condition —that within three years, we do the full Langston Hughes movie," to which he responded, "Done…

Juneteenth: the Black-ish Musical Episode

On the season 4 premiere of Black-ish, we are treated with a musical (Hamilton inspired) based on the oft-forgotten holiday Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19ththat the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. (source)

Episode Summary: After getting upset by the twins' Columbus Day school play, Dre decides to take matters into his own hands with a Juneteenth musical.  One of the musical numbers 'I Am A Slave' performed by The Roots was accompanied by Schoolhouse Rock-esque animation on why Juneteenth is celebrated.

The musical numbers "We Built It" and "Freedom" portray the Johnson family as slaves. "We Built It" comes first, with the elder Johnsons explaining to the younger one that it was slaves who built Chapel Hill, …

Contraband Camp at Harpers Ferry: A Reenactment

One chapter in history that I'd like to see more of in film is that of the contraband camps of the American Civil War. Below is a brief history lesson on "contraband" and the camps they lived in.

"Contraband was a term commonly used in the United States military during the American Civil War to describe a new status for certain escaped slaves or those who affiliated with Union forces. The Army (and the United States Congress) determined that the US would not return escaped slaves who went to Union lines and classified them as contraband. They used many as laborers to support Union efforts and soon began to pay them wages. The former slaves set up camps near Union forces, and the Army helped support and educate both adults and children among the refugees. Thousands of men from these camps enlisted in the United States Colored Troops when recruitment started in 1863. At war's end, more than 100 contraband camps existed in the South, including the Freedmen's Co…

New drama series based on Lawrence Otis Graham's book, 'Our Kind of People'

FOX has a script order out for a drama series based on the book Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class. The series will be "a multi-generational family drama uncovering the lives of America’s black upper class by chronicling a dazzling Chicago dynasty with a dark secret threatening to rip it apart." (source)

Book Blurb "Debutante cotillions. Million-dollar homes. Summers in Martha's Vineyard. Membership in the Links, Jack & Jill, Deltas, Boule, and AKAs. An obsession with the right schools, families, social clubs, and skin complexion. This is the world of the black upper class and the focus of the first book written about the black elite by a member of this hard-to-penetrate group.

Author and TV commentator Lawrence Otis Graham, one of the nation's most prominent spokesmen on race and class, spent six years interviewing the wealthiest black families in America. He includes historical photos of a people that made their first millions in the 187…

On the Screen: Frederick Douglass

Today (September the 3rd) is the anniversary of Frederick Douglass' 1838 escape to freedom. On September 3, 1838 Douglass escaped bondage with the help of free woman, Anna Murray (his wife-to-be). According to IMDB there have been 43 portrayals of Douglass in film and in series. In honor of the abolitionist and orator's escape we will highlight a few of these film and series portrayals. 

Glory (1989)  Played by Raymond St. Jacques

Copper (2013) Episode: Aileen Aroon 

Played by Eamonn Walker

American Experience (2013) Part 1, 2, and 3  Played by Richard Brooks / Anthony Michael Hobbs (as Young Frederick Douglass) / Leiv Clegg (as Teenaged Frederick Douglass)

Drunk History (2010)  Vol. 5: Featuring Will Ferrell 
Played by Don Cheadle (as Fredrick Douglass)

North and South (1985) Book I - (6 episodes)
Played by Robert Guillaume

Underground (2017)  Episode: Whiteface
Played by John Legend 

Frederick Douglass: Pathway from Slavery to Freedom (2010)  Played by Jamie Hector / Malik Goeth…

Across the Tracks - A Short Film Trailer

Two African American sisters grow up in racially charged 1960s Georgia, but one is born with fair skin. And when schools integrate in their small town, she decides to change her destiny - by passing for white.
Across The Tracks Official Trailer from Mike Cooke on Vimeo.

The story begins with the sisters older and living very separate lives. The death of their mother brings them together again in the small town of their youth. As they lay their mother to rest, the past rises up to meet them and we witness the moment that tore their family apart. This short film tackles issues of identity, colorism, peer pressure and bullying and explores the damage that one momentary lapse in judgment can have on an entire life.

Cast Brynn Crosby as Young Tara
Berkeley Clayborne as Young Ella
Thursday Farrar as TaraCarla McCullough as Ella
E. Roger Mitchell as Daddy
Nicky Buggs as Mama
Don Battee as Walter Lee

This short film was honored at The African Movie Academy Awards in 2016/2017, honored at …

Stephanie St. Clair Film in the Works at HBO Films

Tim Story (The Story Company) and Mark Holder and Christine Holder (Zero Gravity Management) are developing a film a Stephanie St. Clair At HBO Films. The film will be scripted by Nicole Asher, the writer behind Octavia Spencer's Madame CJ Walker series. The HBO film will be based on the book The World of Stephanie St. Clair: An Entrepreneur, Race Woman and Outlaw in the Early Twentieth Century Harlem by Shirley Stewart.

Stephanie St. Clair known as “Madame Queenie” or just “Queenie” , was a 1920s African American numbers runner. Clair fought and won the fight against the Mafia to remain an independent bushiness. Clair led an eventful life that is perfect for film or a miniseries. I suggest reading up on her, because there are too many things to mention here. Suffice it to say Nicole Asher has a lot of material to draw from. The film could show her young life as a 15 year old maid in Martinique. Her as a 23 year old immigrating from Marseille to the United States (she learned Eng…

LeBron James to Produce the Octavia Spencer led Madam C.J. Walker Series

We previously posted about this limited series featuring Octavia Spencer here and here on our tumblr page. Now that we are getting even more information I think it is the perfect time to post something about this exciting project here.

According to Variety the series is going to be picked up by Netflix; as they showed interest in it. The series is based on the book “On Her Own Ground” which was written by Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles. Bundles is also serving as a consultant on the series, which is very encouraging. With James’ production company (SpringHill Entertainment) producing it things are looking good for this series. Netflix hasn't made a comment, but I'll update if they do.

I must say that I LOVE the casting of Spencer as Walker, and can't wait to see her in the amazing outfits.