2018

We’re Crying Already: The Trailer For If Beale Street Could Talk Is Here

by Shanice Brim | published: Sep 20, 2018

James Baldwin‘s work remains so precious because it has captured Blackness in so many ways. Through his essays that have illuminated the facts, realities, and spirits of movements. To his fiction that has captured the souls, experiences, and worlds of Black folks. His interviews that pulled no punches during which he stood in front of the world and took it to task. James Baldwin was a light in this world. A truth teller, a visionary, and a guide. Baldwin’s estate has been rightfully choosy about what is done in his name so what a blessing that we all get to be alive for the releasee of the first film based on one of his books. And who better to bring James’s vision to the masses than Barry Jenkins whose film, Moonlight, was a brilliant and visually lush study on the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Jenkins’s rendering of If Beale Street Could Talk has earned it rave reviews on the festival circuit and in this trailer you’ll get a glimpse as to why. Already you can feel James’s spirit in the room as you watch. We can’t wait to see the whole thing!

Stock up on Kleenex. If Beale Street Could Talk hits theaters November 30.

And if you haven’t read the book then do yourself a favor. I missed many a train stop while reading it.

2018

Yara Shahidi Voyages to Deauville in Short Film by Renell Medrano for Chanel

by Shantel Pass | published: Aug 25, 2018

Bronx-born photographer Renell Medrano was tapped for a project with Chanel introducing their Les Eaux De Chanel capsule. The tripartite fragrance line is inspired by Coco Chanel’s favorite places – Deauville, Biarritz, and Venice. Medrano’s lush visuals, shot on a Super8, follow the luxury label’s Brand Ambassador Yara Shahidi on an Orient Express ride to Deauville, frolicking around Marcel Proust’s historic summer estate, riding a bike through the local village and taking in some fragrance notes at a perfumery. The film evokes a gentle essence that is both light and free which playfully matches the scents’ collective “The Waters” (Les Eaux) eponym.

Medrano says collaborator Andrew Bevan “helped bring the story to life” and that they “…both wanted to portray moments of quiet and beauty within the hustle of the journey and kept referring to creating this nostalgic feeling.” Watch the elegant short film above. 

2018

Mykki Blanco Takes on Racism, Homophobia and White Supremacy in ‘Wypipo’ Short Film

by Shantel Pass | published: Aug 23, 2018

Mykki Blanco is taking on racism in his new short film titled Wypipo and he left the sugarcoating at the kiddie table for this conversation. In a direct confrontation of America’s prejudices, he plays the role of a few characters (read “real life people”) who perpetuate and sustain the hideous and harmful existence of racism, homophobia and white supremacy. In preparation for his role in “A Stump Speech,” Mykki recalls a personal moment from his childhood when he realized that he was being perceived (by white people) as a threat. From there, his role as America’s 45th president dives into the apathetic tone with which he (and most of white America) regard the police killings of Black women, men and children. Then there’s the airhead “Permit Patty” scene that takes a deep dives right into the self-absorbed and benighted (white) feminism that ignores the intersections of womanhood so brilliantly (and accurately) that it could totally be a scene from any reality TV show with an all-white cast. Patty goes from your everyday “If I were racist, would I have dated a Black guy” one-liners to eventually playing her part as the Brown-People Permit Police.

Watch Mykki discuss the luxury of obliviousness that comes with white privilege, the contradictory futility of “all lives matter” as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the invalid justification of white people’s “fear” of everyone who doesn’t look like them and America’s deeply needed institutional change in the Wypipo short above.

2018

Beyoncé Shares a Raw and Poignant Historical Interview For the September Issue of ‘Vogue’

by Samantha Callender | published: Aug 06, 2018

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Portraying raw beauty and elegance on Vogue’s coveted September Issue cover, Beyoncé gave an interview as equally poignant as her photos. Though this isn’t the first time Bey has graced the September Issue cover (the last time was in 2015), this feature still made history.

In the interview, Beyoncé spoke in depth about the importance of using her platform to spotlight up and coming talent, specifically black talent. She spoke truth to power by way of selecting photographer Tyler Mitchell to shoot the cover and editorial images for the feature, marking the first time a black photographer shot a cover story for Vogue in it’s 126 years of existence.

Another important note to make in regards to the black magic happening around Bey’s feature was that her story was told to Clover Hope, a black journalist.

“When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell. Clearly that has been proven a myth … It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter.”

Aside from reaching back and pulling up other aspiring artists, Bey spoke candidly about her own artistry and even gave audiences a rare glimpse into her personal life. She discussed her struggles with weight, sharing that during her pregnancy with daughter Blue she felt pressured to lose the baby weight immediately after giving birth, but with twins Rumi and Sir she chose to embrace the journey of loving her body as it was and not succumbing to the pressure of feeling the need to fit
inside a certain standard (or jean size).

Bey shared that her pregnancy with the twins was especially trying, and that he had suffered from toxemia and spent over a month on bed rest. After an emergency C-Section, she knew she had to give her body the time it needed to heal.

“After the C-section, my core felt different. It had been major surgery. Some of your organs are shifted temporarily, and in rare cases, removed temporarily during delivery. I am not sure everyone understands that. I needed time to heal, to recover. During my recovery, I gave myself self-love and self-care, and I embraced being curvier. I accepted what my body wanted to be.”

The interview was also groundbreaking in the way that the star shared a lot about the journey of discovering her ancestry and allowing those clues to help her figure out the woman she is today along with who she wants to become. It’s an unprecedented level of personal transparency that we haven’t seen from Bey in a while outside of music.

Opening up to fans in a whole new way, this issue helps us see Beyonce through a fresh lens. Read the full interview from this iconic issue on Vogue.com.

2018

HBO Strikes Gold with Terence Nance’s Inventive ‘Random Acts of Flyness’

by Shantel Pass | published: Aug 04, 2018

Random Acts of Flyness Promo

Last night on HBO was the series premiere of Terence Nance‘s Random Acts of Flyness and it’s definitely a statement piece for the premium network. While Hollywood continues to diversify roles, the content is still lacking and it appears Nance has the skill to change that. The inventive and still effective sketch-style series (originally described as “a fluid, stream-of-conscious response to the contemporary American mediascape“) is loud with varying representations of the Black experience by way of both comedic dramatizations as well as sobering, real-life clips. From an empowering correction of the image that comes to mind when we hear “Black face” to a hilarious commercial for a white mindset removal cream, it’s clear that Random Acts of Flyness was created to “go there” and fully intends to deliver on that goal.

Every single segment in this premiere episode promises that Nance and HBO’s collaboration will be lighthearted but intentional TV to excite – not exploit – the culture. A personal standout this week was the strikingly gorgeous images in “The Sexual Proclivities of the Black Community” which segued into an honest interview surrounding The Invisibility of the Bisexual Black Man.” If you missed it, be sure to check HBO’s re-air listings because it’s definitely a must-see. New episodes air weekly on Friday nights at midnight.

2018

Barry Jenkins Celebrates James Baldwin’s Birthday with Trailer-teaser for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’

by Shantel Pass | published: Aug 02, 2018

We’ve been anxious for new developments on Barry Jenkins‘ progress with his film adaption of James Baldwin‘s ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ and we’ve finally got something. On what would have been the unparalleled author and activist’s 94th birthday, the first official trailer-teaser was unveiled and it’s gloriously gorgeous. In a tweet reverencing this day as a usually special one, Jenkins shared the trailer-teasing saying, “For me, August 2nd has always been a day to pay tribute, so… a teaser of what’s to come. Happy Birthday, Jimmy.

Kiki Layne will star in the role as Clementine “Tish” Rivers and Stephan James will play Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt, the 1974 novel’s lead characters. In supporting roles we can expect to see Viola DavisTeyonah ParrisRegina King, and Brian Tyree Henry. While there hasn’t been a formal announcement of the film’s official release date, If Beale Street Could Talk is expected to arrive in select theaters this fall. Watch the trailer above.

2018

ICYMI: Lena Waithe Will Executive Produce HBO Comedy Series Written by Kid Fury

by Shantel Pass | published: Aug 01, 2018

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As Black people continue kicking down Hollywood’s doors, I get a little extra excited to see LGBTQ-centered content getting some steam. The latest of these is a Lena Waithe and Kid Fury production for HBO. In case you’ve been under a rock, Kid Fury is a comedian and co-host of the esteemed The Read podcast and Lena Waithe is literally a trailblazing, award-winning screenwriter, actress and producer.

Described as “dark comedy,” the untitled series “follows Greg, a 20-something sarcastic gay black man navigating adulthood and responsibility in New York City while struggling to wrap his head around his undiagnosed clinical depression,” Variety Reports. According to Lena, we can expect to see “very specific cultural references, emotions and a lot of shade.” Already ready!

Kid Fury will write and co-executive produce with Waithe who serves as the project’s Executive Producer. Other co and executive producers with contributory credit are Chloe Pisello, David Martin, Jon Thoday, and Richard Allen-Turner of Avalon Television.

Congratulations to both Kid Fury and Lena Waithe! We can’t wait to watch.

2018

Daniel Kaluuya, Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas To Create New Film, ‘Queen & Slim’

by Makeda Sandford | published: Jul 20, 2018

The very talented Melina Matsoukas is always working on artful projects to push the culture forward, and her newest creation happens to bring together two other names doing that same thing in their own way. She is on her way to directing Queen & Slim, a forthcoming film originally imagined by James Frey. The film is screen-written by Lena Waithe and will star Get Out and Black Panther‘s very own Daniel Kaluuya (who is also slated to star in upcoming McQueen film, Widows.) The team is on the lookout for a new, fresh-faced talent to play the role of Queen.

The film delves into the world of black love, with an American socio-political lens likened to a Bonnie & Clyde. The action is abrupt, as their first date goes left when they are pulled over by an officer at a traffic stop. They end up killing the officer in self-defense and fleeing to Cuba for safety. Black love is on display here as a revolutionary act.

Production will begin in January and Universal has the rights to stateside distribution. Queen & Slim will be arriving on November 27, 2019.

2018

Watch the Season 3 Extended Trailer for Issa Rae’s ‘Insecure’

by Shantel Pass | published: Jul 10, 2018

Much like this same time last year, we’re gearing up for the season premiere of Issa Rae‘s hilarious and relatable life in HBO’s hit series Insecure. News that show would return for Season 3 on August 12th had previously been shared, but now we’ve got the official and extended trailers with sneak peaks at what Issa, Molly, Tiffany and Kelli have been up to. We can expect to see Issa still between homes and it seems Molly is overcoming her unidentified situationship with Dro. It also appears to be the case that Issa and Daniel are getting close and it’ll be interesting to see if this lasts. One thing we can certainly count on, however, is this season’s soundtrack being just as amazingly curated as its two predecessors since the extended trailer, above, set to Janelle Monae‘s Pharrell collaboration “I Got the Juice” and an unreleased (maybe Leikeli47?) track.

2018

Stevona Elem-Rogers Launches First Black Women’s Literature Little Free Library in New Orleans’

by Shantel Pass | published: Jul 04, 2018

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While we’re all aware of the need for (and the current rise in) Black representation in art, it’s often forgotten how inaccessible art remains to a lot of historically marginalized communities by design. Everything from white normative curriculum, financial lack or physical location can inhibit explorative range and in response writer Stevona Elem-Rogers, in collaboration with the nonprofit behind Little Free Libraries across the country, is bridging representation and reach. In New Orleans’ historic 7th Ward is Material Life Shop, black-owned by Carla Williams. Inside houses a beautiful garden where Stevona has created and curated the first Black women-centric Little Free Library – a book nook dedicated to, and exclusively carrying literature by Black women writers. The library features a decal of “Sistren: Black Women Writers at the Inauguration of Sister President Johnetta B. Cole” (1988) by Susan J. Ross

Stevona says, “The library is a physical manifestation of a living and breathing journey and examination of how Black women come to be. My dream is that Black girls and women across socioeconomic levels have access to books that speak to our lived experiences and guide us to reimagine freedom for future generations.” She continues, “I picked a small group of Black women writers that I admire to contribute. I also asked them to share works of Black women writers that have shaped their journey to include alongside their books. For example, Nikki Giovanni donated a signed copy of Acolytes: Poems, but noted that her favorite books are Toni Morrison, Sula and Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker inside the cover. This exchange allows the library to be a collective conversation about how we shift consciousness as Black girls and women. It’s important to remember that Black people were the only group in the United States ever forbidden to become literate. This type of library is a small structure that has huge meaning for us. It’s the first of its kind in the country and I hope every neighborhood is inspired to create others in it’s likeness.”

The ‘Black Women are For Grown Ups’ Little Free Library was launched on May 19th and premiered alongside its companion piece – a short film titled “Won’t You Celebrate With Me,” shot by director Phillip M. Youmans and executive produced by Stevona herself, that gives reminiscence to literary giant Lucille Clifton’s urge to laud the intense journey that is Black womanhood. The film is set to run on site at the library’s permanent location, Material Life, through the summer.

You can view the film below along with a list of the library’s inaugural contributor listing.

Won't You Celebrate With Me from Phillip Michael Youmans on Vimeo.

Inaugural Contributor Booklist:
Nikki Giovanni, Acolytes: Poems
Sonia Sanchez, Morning Haiku, Does Your House Have Lions
In It?, and Shake Loose My Skin
Solange Knowles, A Seat At The Table (Soft Cover Art Book)
Jesmyn Ward, Where The Line Bleeds and Sing, Unburied, Sing
Rebecca Carroll, Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black
Girls in America
Roxane Gay, Difficult Women and An Untamed State
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns
Jacqueline Woodson, brown girl dreaming
Cleo Wade, Heart Talk
Morgan Jerkins, This Will Be My Undoing
Tayari Jones, An American Marriage
Aja Monet, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter
Rio Cortez, I have learned to define a field as a space between mountains
Eve Ewing, Electric Arches
Stevona Elem-Rogers, BWAFGU. Chapbook
Jessica B. Harris, My Soul Looks Back (Memoir)
Sharee Miller, Princess Hair
Tori, Chatman, Bruised But Not Broken
Angela Y. Davis, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle
Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds and Jamila Woods,
The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic
Kristina Kay Robinson, Mixed Company
Aminatta Forna, Happiness
Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater
Mwende Katwiwa, Becoming Black
Naima Coster, Halsey Street
Keenga Yamahtta Taylor, How We Get Free
Caneeka Elleanor Miller, Woven Womanhood
Ebony Stewart, Home. Girl. Hood.
Tomi Adeyemi, Children of Blood and Bone

Photography: Erica Kane

2018

Saint Heron Announces Creative Collaboration with IKEA

by Asia Burris | published: Jun 07, 2018

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Saint Heron is excited to announce an upcoming creative collaboration with IKEA, exploring architectural and design objects with multifunctional use.

Our brand, founded in 2013 is a multidisciplinary cultural hub with a focus on “building the community that we wish to see exist” through music, visual art, and performance art mediums. The hub has been centred on artist and artisan collaborations with previous works with Mickalene Thomas, Jacolby Satterwhite, Kenesha Sneed, and Phlemuns to name a few. Our founder, contemporary artist Solange Knowles and the company’s co-curator artist Armina Mussa have partnered to create original multimedia installations that creatively reflect on intersectional art and culture themes, foster thoughtful fellowship, and push the conversations of our communities to the forefront. With their help, Saint Heron immediately outgrew normalcy’s insular web of creative collaboration by hosting pop-up events in various cities, collaborating with popular festivals like FORM Arcosanti, AfroPunk Fest and Pitchfork Music Festival – and even offering curatorial music contributions to The Met and The Whitney Museum’s annual member’s parties.

We’re excited to continue to push these conversations and boundaries even further with our upcoming collaboration with IKEA. Stay tuned for more information!

2018

Issa Rae’s ‘Insecure’ Season 3 Premiere is Scheduled for August 12th

by Shanice Brim | published: Jun 04, 2018

Issa Rae has been silently working to wow fans with more and we’re ready for it. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen our friends Issa and Molly and the last we’ve seen of them, Issa moved in with Daniel and Molly was involved with a mystery man. In season 2 of HBO’s beloved Rae-create original Insecure, Lawrence and Issa had a moment of catharsis, Molly was the other woman and Kelli was involved in very strange, very public sexual dining experience. So we’re looking forward to having a few questions answered – specifically, will Molly do right? Will Issa do right? Is their bougie friend Tiffany cheating on her husband?

We won’t know until August 12th but we do know one thing: Issa is still in the mirror on her Foxy Brown ish. Watch the trailer teaser for season 3 of Insecure above.