Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to Winnie movie: I wasn’t consulted

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of legendary activist and former-South African president Nelson Mandela, told CNN’s Nadia Bilchik that she was never consulted about the biopic, “Winnie.” Ms. Madikizela-Mandela made it clear that she has nothing against the Oscar-winning star Jennifer Hudson (who is playing the title role).

Click image to find out more about Winnie Mandikizela-Mandela

According to CNN’s Marquee blog: “Hudson never met with Mandela, but a rep for the actress told CNN that it wasn’t because Hudson didn’t want to…(she) would have loved to meet the activist, her rep said, but the producers thought she shouldn’t.”

As the IBWFF reported last year, the production already received flak from the Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUS) who prompted a boycott of the film because the producers weren’t hiring South African actors –including the lead role of Winnie Mandela.

Director Darrell Roodt (“Cry, the Beloved Country”) has described the film as “the ultimate women’s movie,” although Ms. Mandikizela-Mandela is not amused.

Read more on the Marquee

The Game creaters sign new deal with BET

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Salim and Mara Brock Akil, executive producers of The Game, have signed a multiyear development deal with BET through their Akil Productions.

Mara created The Game, which premiered to 7.7 million viewers in January, becoming the No. 1 sitcom in ad-supported cable TV history.

Kitschy The Muppets movie in-production

If you’re “of a certain age,” then you remember the meteoric –yet confusing– rise of The Muppets. Spun off from the creative mind of Jim Henson’s puppet-themed “Sesame Street,” The Muppets were saucier, crazier and in some cases, higher, than your average muppet.

The muppets on “Sesame Street” were never actually called “muppets” –at least not to their face– but that’s what they were. The term came as a blending between your everyday hand puppets and the wire workings of an articulate marionette (Marionette + Puppet = “Muppet”).

In the 70’s and 80’s everyone loved “The Muppet Show” and The Muppets because they played out very real adult emotions in ridiculous characters like, the neurotic Gonzo, the calm yet self-effacing Kermit the Frog, the self centered dramatic diva Miss Piggy, the judgmental judges whose job it was to bring everyone down a notch, and other lovable characters.

Implied drug use was even inserted into some of the jokes when Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem flopped onto the set half distracted, always hungry and half comatose.

The Muppets even had a movie! (Go figure; it was the 70’s.) As a matter of fact, they had eleven movies. And The Muppets were no schleps. They had A-list performers on their show, including Orson Welles, Liza Minnelli, Harry Belafonte, Rita Moreno, and others.

Since the movie business is sputtering away under the heat of CGI, repeat casting, and remake hell, I guess Hollywood decided to go with a winner…this time.

The Muppet Movie is being remade into The Muppets!

(Actually, it’s just titled The Muppets, but I do like the exclamation point to give it a sense of excitement… like The Aristocrats! Anyway…)

Normally, this wouldn’t be news, but IBWFF-favorite Rashida Jones (“The Office,” “Parks & Recreation,” The Social Network) is set to star in The Muppets.

This time, The Muppets haul out the old winner plot: They put on a show to save their old theater.

Now if that doesn’t make you warm and fuzzy inside, I don’t know what will.

The Muppets is set for release in November 2011.



Paula Patton to star in Mission Impossible franchise


Actress Paula Patton

Actress Paula Patton (Precious) will star alongside A-list actor Tom Cruise in the latest installment in the Mission Impossible franchise: “Mission:Impossible – Ghost Protocol”.

“Mission:Impossible” apparently is one of the few franchises left that will actually hire Black actresses, so when they do feature us, our careers sky rocket. (Remember when Thandie Newton’s career went off like a bottle rocket after starring in the franchise?)

Hopefully, this film will set her back on track, especially given her knock out performance in the award-winning film, “Precious.”

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is set for release December 16, 2011.

Presto-Change-o! Who are you? Being Human on SyFy

I am a die-hard Being Human fan. Let’s start there.

I’m not talking about the American version on the SyFy channel, but the real, hardcore, original version from the U.K.’s BBC.  I’ve been a vampire movie genre fan since I read Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice while I was a freshman in high school. Of course, the latest manifestations of vampires appear to be a battalion of pout-mouthed, cherry lipped, 17-year old Duran Duran rejects who were turned while still in high school. (That gives a whole new meaning to bullying.) All of the new vampires look like they borrowed they’re girlfriend’s Bonnie Bell Cherry lip gloss –you know, because vampire lips get so chapped.

Then came along a much hunkier, manlier, raven-haired, man-candy, U.K. version of a televised vampire –Mitchell. (I have a co-worker who clued me in to this special, and, needless to say, Mitchell [played by the Irish-born Aidan Turner] apparently gets a thumbs up from large swath of middle-aged African American women. Make sure to watch last season’s episode where they flash back to the 1960’s –hottie alert!)

Aside from the incredibly imaginative writing and spot-on acting, I was also hooked on the fact that the resident ghost –of an ensemble of a werewolf, vampire and ghost–  was an actress of obvious Black heritage!  Annie (played by the beautiful Trinidadian and English actress Lenora Crichlow) is an awesome actress and perfectly fits in the ensemble!

Even though the British got the whole monarchy thing wrong —and I can say that because I’m a direct descendant of King Edward I of England, Joan of Arce, et al… no joke– the one thing they seem to get right all the time is the casting of Black actors. (Think: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Sophie Okonedo, et al.)

Not only was Annie a resident ghost living with a vampire and a werewolf, she was cast as a third actor in an ensemble piece, not as “The Black Ghost” who makes sure to roll her neck/pop her gum/give a good sturdy, Hmmph!/smack her lips/put her hands on her hips before she manifests or disappears. She’s just one of the lead actors! Brilliant.

Believe it or not, Annie the Ghost also has a comparable number of storylines to the other leading actors –both of whom are white. Being Human (UK) has kept me enthralled every season with their great acting and writing.

Then SyFy makes a big announcement in January 2011 that they’re making an American version (read: sucks) of Being Human.

What?! Are you people on crack? That was my first thought. Then I got angry.

Oh please, oh please, don’t mess this up! I kept my fingers crossed and silently fumed at the thought of an American version of yet another BBC series. (Let’s not forget Da Ali G Show, Celebrity Fit Club, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, and American Idol. I think the only one we got right was Three’s Company.)

Let me state now that I don’t hate American television.

I just hate it when a network gets soooooo lazy that they have to import shows that have well-produced, intelligent storylines. I’m sure there are thousands of screenwriters out there who have imaginative, thoughtful, and smart scripts that are just waiting to be discovered in Hollywood…but apparently they’re no tgetting hired –especially in television. It usually takes a premium cable channel like HBO (Deadwood, The Sopranos, The Wire, Rome) or Showtime (Dexter, Weeds) to present excellent programming. But I digress…

So SyFy produces their own version of Being Human. I’m peeved off and intrigued at the same time. First, the whole copying thing just got to me. And second, I was really interested on who they would select to play the role of the ghost. (Let’s be frank, I’m sure they don’t plan on putting to white male actors out of work in a remake, so I’m just worried about the role of Annie.)

The commercials had me a bit concerned, but I stuck it out and decided to give it a chance.

The U.S. version of Being Human is pretty good –but not as good as the U.K. version. (Please catch the U.K. version! They just started the 3rd Season!) It’s passable, though. So far, a lot of people like this show…I’m sure it’s because they’ve never seen the original.

One big gripe I have about this show. Who in the hell cast the role of the ghost?

I was worried about that role because I’m very aware of the trivial casting of Black women in any role in the United States. The role of the ghost is played by Meaghan Rath. Um, she’s Canadian. Let me just get that out of the way.

I’m sure the gorgeous Ms. Rath is a wonderful person and a wonderful actress; however, I’m protective of my show and the role of Annie (named Sally in the U.S. version). Granted I don’t have any stock or personal finances involved with Being Human (U.K.), but I still like to think that as a fan, I have some creative license over the remake of the show –as crazy as that sounds.

Get to the Point

I’ve already harped on the significance of the ghost being played by an obviously Black/bi-racial woman and not having her race as a central figure to her character, but come on.

I was holding out for a thread of hope that the role of Annie would be somewhat in tact and that the role would be a fantastic vehicle for an African American actress. Now, there’s no reason to request that SyFy make some sort of statement that Sally the ghost is Black (or some variation, thereof), but there does need to be some statement as to why they chose a Canadian actress who the average American audience would assume is Latina, Middle Eastern or “swarthy”… i.e., anything but obviously Black. Granted, I’ve got a good nose for finding out who’s Black (a hobby of mine), but the average person doesn’t know and they definitely don’t care. I mean, one less role given to an African American actress means nothing to many people who think it doesn’t matter, but then again, few of them can name three movies with a competent, intellectual, Black woman character.

Lenora Crichlow plays Annie in the U.K. version of "Being Human"

So my spidey senses are really tingling now because I need some sort of explanation from SyFy –like, a backstory, an acknowledgment that they changed the character on purpose, etc. I mean, for what reason did they feel the need to go with a woman of inexplicable racial background and downplay any obvious semblance of being Black ? (I’m talking about the character, not her.)

I don’t need a genealogical chart or a census form, but I do need some acknowledgment that they’ve stayed true to the intent and background of the character.

The other two characters are still obviously white, right?

In episode three (“Something to Watch Over Me”), we get a bit of a backstory on the mysterious ghost Sally. They show her headstone and her name is —Sally Malik? Now, I’m not arguing that she’s “not Black”. I don’t go into those territories because I understand identity, multi-racialism, etc., and I can probably name off everything she’s mixed with. What I’m saying is that to an American audience that is still struggling with racial expression, racial dialogue, and racial understanding, I found her role to be a poor choice in 2011. SyFy is not making some big statement other than going with the status quo.

I don’t know who they actually auditioned, but I can think of six African American actresses off the bat who could have played the role, namely: Raven Symone (That So Raven), Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Katerina Graham (Vampire Diaries), Meagan Good (Cold Case, The Unborn), Heather Hemmens (“Hellcats”) and Tia Mowry (The Game).

So, for whatever it’s worth, I say watch the original Being Human series on BBC and see if you feel the same way about the casting choices. And if you get anything out of this posting, understand that intelligent, meaty roles for African American women are few and far between and it’s up to us (who care) to let television stations know by asking some pertinent questions, do some critical thinking, getting stations to respond to your concerns, or just not watching it.

Shadow & Act’s Exclusive Interview with “For Colored Girls…”Nzingha Stewart

In light of all the conversation/debate we’ve had on this blog recently about Tyler Perry’s adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem, For Colored Girls Who Have Considred Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf – specifically on his recent casting announcements, and the furor over assumptions of how he may or may not have taken over the project from

writer/director Nzingha Stewart – I thought I’d reach out to Nzingha, who, by the way, is a fan of this blog, and see what I can learn; but not only to find out what’s going on with the For Colored Girls… project (because she’s not at liberty to speak freely about it in detail), but also, I wanted to find out about her, Nzingha Stewart, the person and the filmmaker – subjects, it seems, have been mostly ignored, as the blogosphere has instead chosen to focus almost solely on the Tyler Perry fiasco.

Read the entire interview at Shadow and Act…

Teen pregnancy! Public drunkeness! Manslaughter! Adultery! Season 11 of Dancing with the Stars…

The new cast lineup for Season 11 of “Dancing with the Stars” is all confirmed and ready to go. This year –as with most– the lineup of “dancers” gets more and more interesting. However, the shows producers must have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor because this year’s line up closely resembles the cast of any Seth McFarlane cartoon.
BEL AIR, CA - JULY 12: Singer Brandy attends professional tennis player Serena Williams' Pre-ESPYs House Party held at a private residence on July 12, 2010 in Bel Air, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for SW)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 05: Actress Florence Henderson arrives at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' 3rd Annual Academy Honors at the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 5, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)44198, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Monday August 30 2010. Bristol Palin, the daughter of former US vice-presidential hopeful Sarah, joins the rest of her Dancing With The Stars castmates at STK. Photograph:  Hellmuth Dominguez, PacificCoastNews.comAug. 29, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - MIKE ''the SITUATION'' SORRENTINO .filming the ''Jersey Shore'' in Seaside Height New Jersey 8-29-2010 . 2010..K66211JBB. © Red Carpet Pictures05 May 2010 - New York, NY - Margaret Cho. The 2010 A&E Upfront at the IAC Building on May 5, 2010 in New York City. Photo Credit: Paul Zimmerman/AdMedia

With the current mix of reality and real stars (some are just reality blips, not stars) I’m waiting for the first ever on stage brawl or at least “call out”. Or maybe I’d just settle for slight mayhem.

“Dancing with the Stars” has become a creepy mea culpa comeback show for those trying to get out of the dog house, or at least trying to get their careers back on track. Some “stars” are really dancers, or at least make a concerted effort. Others, not so much. (Remember Kate Gosling?)

This year’s lineup includes singer and stunt driver and recently re-anointed reality star, Brandy. For those who remember, she was the bright and sunny, up-and-coming R&B/pop singer from the 90’s whose hit song, “I Wanna Be Down”, shot up the charts.  She was a bright spot for a lagging R&B industry and later sang a duet with fellow ingenue Monica, and often gave guest appearances in her videos to her brother, Ray J –now star of his own stupid reality show, “For the Love of Ray J.” (Yeah, I don’t watch that show –can you tell?)

Well, Brandy has some stiff competition on DWTS, starting with “Jersey Shore”‘s own Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s hair and abs.

You know who else doesn’t have abs of steel? Me and Bristol Palin, but she had a baby at 17 for her abs. She’ll be on the show, too.

Comedian and actress Margaret Cho will also be on the show, alongside Florence “I-Like-‘Em-Young” Henderson.

For a complete line-up, visit “Dancing with the Stars“.

Tyra’s Casting for Cycle 16 of America’s Next Top Model – DEADLINE Aug. 18th!

Okay, ladies. Get your photographs and attitudes on because media mogul Tyra Banks is casting for Cycle 16 of “America’s Next Top Model”!

If you ever watch the show, you know that it can be inspirational… or a big hot steaming pile of mess. Either way, it’s always fun and entertaining!

According to Tyra:

“Here’s what I need from you. You need to be:

* 18 – 27 years old

* a U.S. Citizen

* Apply by Midnight on August 18th!”

Sign up today at!

ANNOUNCEMENT: ProducHer Beats Looking for Talent

DISCLAIMER: This event is NOT sponsored or hosted by the IBWFF. This is a re-post. As with any audition or casting call announcement, you are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment in attending an audition or casting call. It is your responsibility to contact local authorities if you suspect illegal activities, exploitation or violence from the hosts, attendees or other parties in attendance

PSA: Calling all Talent!!

ProducHer Beats is co-hosting a radio show on for upcoming talent everyweek, Monday and Wednesday. They are looking for rock pop R&B songwriters anyone musically inclined.

Please send them your info and what you do. They will have people come on the show or they can beam you in over the Internet.

Send your info to!!!

On Facebook: Producherbeats

DISCLAIMER: This event is NOT sponsored or hosted by the IBWFF. This is a re-post. As with any audition or casting call announcement, you are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment in attending an audition or casting call. It is your responsibility to contact local authorities if you suspect illegal activities, exploitation or violence from the hosts, attendees or other parties in attendance

South African Union Threatens to Boycott Jennifer Hudson


Last month Jennifer Hudson announced that she will play Winnie Manikizela-Mandela in the Equinoxe Film WINNIE (due out in 2011). The Creative Workers Union of South Africa (CWUSA) promptly issued a statement to South African newspaper The Citizen protesting the fact that a South African was not cast in the role, and locals haven’t been sought to star in or work on the film. The union is composed on South African creatives, including filmmakers, actors and musicians. Renowned South African theater actor John Kani pointed out that, “the problem was not Hudson playing Madikizela-Mandela, but the lack of respect and acknowledgment for local creatives.”
Ms. Hudson’s casting also highlights a recent trend toward casting entertainers and singers as actors. Actress Nia Long –in response to Beyonce Knowles starring in yet another film– even went as far to state, “It’s just not about how talented you are anymore. It’s about, ‘How much box-office revenue will this person generate?’ ” But Ms. Hudson is not alone in the push toward entertainers, especially African American entertainers. She’s one of many in a long line that includes Ludacris (CRASH, GAMER), Alicia Keyes (THE NANNIE DIARIES, SECRET LIVES OF BEES), Ice Cube (FRIDAY, BARBERSHOP), Eve (BARBERSHOP, TRANSPORTER 3), and a host of others.
This brings up several issues that have been plaguing Africans/African Americans in film: 1) The right to accurate representation, 2) the dearth of roles for Blacks, and 3) trivializing the “craft” of acting. The movie industry in the United States is focused on the business of show business, and rarely do African Americans have the luxury to present “art” that doesn’t “make money.”  If African Americans in film can’t bring in an audience, then Hollywood –and some Blacks in film– will not bother to cast them in other films, or back films starring them. This is part of the reason why Hollywood continually brings in entertainers, and not actors.

Middle-America more readily recognizes Ludacris than it does Ruby Dee.

However, the entertainer-as-actor is not new to Hollywood. Many films have starred “entertainers” in non-musical films just to attract audiences. Nat King Cole in ST. LOUIS BLUES, Diahann Carroll in CLAUDINE, Eartha Kitt in ANNA LUCASTA, etc. Granted, all of the aforementioned –other than Nat King Cole– were also stage performers, and have starred in plays. Some will argue that Ms. Hudson received an Oscar® for DREAMGIRLS. Others will argue that the role wasn’t a stretch since it was about an R&B singer who doesn’t fit the mold of a successful lead singer of a girl group.

In regards to representation, African Americans have been battling Hollywood for decades. How we’re presented in film impacts how we’re received in public. Image and media strongly impact perception. A “repeated” image can destroy self-esteem, social gains and cultural acceptance. Starting with such films as D.W. Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION, Blacks have understood the power of the moving image. Many of the roles in BIRTH OF A NATION were white actors in “blackface” –a demeaning and intentionally hurtful practice of “blackening” an actors face with burnt cork or shoe polish and acting out Black stereotypes for entertainment. It was in part due to the lack of accurate representation that such filmmakers as Oscar Micheaux and Tressie Sauders filmed their own films starring Black actors in human, believable –and even comical– stories.

When the Civil Rights Movement gained steam in the United States in the 1960’s, African Americans took representation even further. Diversity in how actors looked was pushed (no more “paper bag tests” for Black actresses), and “authenticity” was expected (see Abbey Lincoln and Ivan Dixon in NOTHING BUT A MAN).

During the Black filmmaker renaissance in the late-1980’s and early-1990’s, the deluge of Black directors, actors and films, were the norm.

Children raised, or born, during this time period have always assumed that’s how Hollywood looked. Jennifer Hudson is one of those young adults. She would have been an adolescent when the Black filmmaker renaissance blossomed.  In regards to her role as an actress, it will require her to look deep and dark into the recesses of human indignity and violence to truly understand the impact of apartheid-era South Africa. Hopefully, she’s grown beyond her comments that she “didn’t know who the BeeGees” were when she was asked to sing their songs on “American Idol.” The Bee Gees? Really? I also hope that she breaks the acceptance of many young adults to totally disregard any history that pre-dates their adolescence.

Growing up, I was always aware of things that pre-dated me–including music, performers, film, etc. It wasn’t something I considered as “old,” and, therefore, negligible –like clothing. If she and Hollywood are going to stand by their decision to cast her in the role, then let’s hope that she takes the role seriously, and makes a concerted effort to improve her craft by researching Ms. Madizikela’s history, her life, and the era (and country) that produced her. And most importantly, let’s hope that Hollywood and Equinoxe Films respect Black actors in South Africa enough to heavily involve them in the process.

For Colored Girls; Rumored for the big screen

Post-“Precious” there’s another rumor circulating about the dynamic duo producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry: They will be producing a screen version of radical poet Ntozake Shange’s Obie Award-winning choreopoem, “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.”

Rumors are also circulating that superstars Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield, Angela Bassett, and Jill Scott will star. There are even murmurings that the queen herself –no, not First Lady Michelle Obama– will star in the production. Oprah Winfrey is not new to the big screen, and her repertoire and film roles have only grown increasingly intense with each new film.

Who will deliver this ginormous project? Lionsgate. It would only make sense considering that the Wonder Twins jumped on the “Precious” train, and catapulted the indie-film to new heights.

Halle Berry attends Keep A Child Alive’s 6th Annual Black Ball hosted by Alicia Keys and Padma Lakshmi at Hammerstein Ballroom on October 15, 2009 in New York Cityjillscott

Can they do it for such a raw, real piece of work like “For Colored Girls”? Again, the casting seems a little off, but apparently that’s what it takes for a film to have any chance for survival. Big names, and bigger supporters.

The poem doesn’t give any wiggle room for glamor, perfect hair or guarded emotions. If you remember the poem, it deals with serious issues surrounding Black women, including infanticide, and other hot-button issues.

Hopefully, this project will come to fruition and whomever is selected to star will bring the same unpretty grittiness that the original poem demanded.

Twilight Series Finale Breaking Dawn Hiring for Extras

DISCLAIMER: This event is NOT sponsored or hosted by the IBWFF. This is a re-post. As with any audition or casting call announcement, you are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment in attending an audition or casting call. It is your responsibility to contact local authorities if you suspect illegal activities, exploitation or violence from the hosts, attendees or other parties in attendance.

According to an ad in the New York Times online, Explore Talent is now casting for all roles, including extras and principals. (IBWFF can’t vouch for the service, and you are strongly encouraged to always check out feedback for any talent acquisition company. To check out any business, charity or service, visit the Better Business Bureau at:

“Precious” Executive Producer Lisa Cortés Interviewed in The Root

With all of the talk and marketing around the phenomenal hit indie movie “Precious,” it’s easy to overlook some of the other contributors outside of the realm of stars and heavy-hitters.

LisaCortesThe Root columnist Felicia Pride interviews former Def Jam music insider and Yale graduate Lisa Cortés about her role in bringing “Precious” to the screen. According to Ms. Cortés:

The transformative power of the film is on so many levels. Precious is quite real. Even if you’ve haven’t been a victim of abuse, you can open your heart and see the type of engagement that you have with precious girls and boys, for abuse isn’t limited to young women. There’s also the recognition of humanity that’s so important.

Read the full story on The Root

Read more about Precious coverage

Sesame Street’s 40th Anniversary

If you’re younger than 45 years old, then PBS perennial “Sesame Street” is probably a huge part of your youth. “Sesame Street” was a huge change from

19th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards

Sesame Street alumna Tatyana Ali

Raul Julia

Sesame Street alumnus Raul Julia

baby-boomer children shows in that: 1) It was set in the inner-city, and not the suburbs; 2) children of every hue were represented; and 3) the neighbors on “Sesame Street” looked like the integrated neighborhoods that most post-integration Americans were looking for.

Desiree Casado

Desiree Casado

"Sesame Street" 40th Anniversary Temporary Street Renaming

Sonia Manzano

Sesame Workshop's 7th Annual Benefit Gala

Sesame Street alumnus Roscoe Orman

“Sesame Street” was also one of the first children’s shows to feature African American, Puerto Rican, and Caribbean kids and adults in the 1970’s who weren’t junkies, living in violence-plagued communities, or cracking jokes about “honkies.” People on this show actually spoke to one another, shared front stoops, and sang happy songs that anyone was welcomed to sing with them.

So here’s those vanguard neighbors who helped to usher in Elmo, Takalani, and others who brightened our day… especially the ever hopeful and sensitive Big Bird!

CASTING CALL: 10/17/09 for film, Ghetto Magnolia

ccallDISCLAIMER: This event is NOT sponsored or hosted by the IBWFF. This is a re-post. As with any audition or casting call announcement, you are strongly encouraged to use your best judgment in attending an audition or casting call. It is your responsibility to contact local authorities if you suspect illegal activities, exploitation or violence from the hosts, attendees or other parties in attendance.

ATTENTION: Calling African American Females 20-50, Children ages 2-6, Males 40-60

Title of Production:  Ghetto Magnolia
Location:  Oakland, CA
Time: 10-3pm
Date: 10/17/09
Contact Person Name: Farai
Contact Telephone: (510) 551-5273
Casting Call Description: African American Females 20-50, Children ages 2-6, Males 40-60

CASTING CALL: Gap (for Kids 0-10)

The Gap is searching for the next faces of babyGap and GapKids. DEADLINE IS OCTOBER 22, 2009!!

Winners will receive:

  • Professional Gap photo shoot
  • Their photo in Gap stores nationwide
  • $1,000 Gap GiftCard redeemable for a babyGap or GapKids wardrobe
  • VIP vacation to see Disney’s THE LION KING in New York or Las Vegas

Click here to register today!

Rosario Dawson to Star as Velvet Von Black

Retro, horror king Rob Zombie has just completed his animated film The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, due for release in 2009. The animated feature will star Rosario Dawson –star of Seven Pounds with Will Smith– who gets top billing as the voice of Velvet Von Black.Paul Giamatti will play Dr. Satan.

In usual Rob Zombie-style, his wife Sheri Moon Zombie is cast as El Superbeasto’s sidekick and sister, Suzi X. It should be another freakfest, given Zombie’s past forays into horror, namely, House of a 1,000 Corpses, and The Devil’s Rejects. Yeah, just lose one afternoon watching either of these films so you can ask your friends, “What in the hell did I just watch?”


Cast Away: Alicia Keys as Lena Horne

If you keep up with any kind of celebrity news, you’ll always hear about some future movie where they’ve already snagged someone to play the lead. The lead is usually someone who’s “hot” at the moment, but do they always fit the role or the character? Um, usually, not.

I frequently receive press releases, etc., with crazy proclamations that one star, or another, is set to play the biopic of someone who’s recently passed. It serves two purposes: 1) To give the star a “serious” role, and 2) to cash in on a recent death. Sometimes it works (Ray), and sometimes it just fizzles.

In 2005, MTV Films/Paramount PIctures blasted everyone with a press release about Mary J. Blige playing the magnificent Nina Simone. My first reaction was: They’re kidding, right? They weren’t.

I just couldn’t reconcile the Mary J. Blige I’d seen on stage and in videos, with the proudly Black and political Nina Simone. I even wrote a blurb on this site and in the e-newsletter railing against the casting. The problem is that I actually know who Nina Simone is. The majority of folks who now watch MTV don’t know who the hell she is: but they know who Mary J. Blige is!

Nina Simone was always fabulously proud of her African heritage, and always made sure that what was on her head reflected what was in her brain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mary J. Blige without her hair flat-ironed and glued to the side of her head. Okay, hair aside, Nina Simone was a classically trained pianist, who attended the Julliard School of Music, earned her doctorate and never let the public dictate her look, sound, or personal life.

Unfortunately, Ms. Blige has always been portrayed by the media as the perpetual “victim” who repeatedly makes bad mistakes and is always striving “over come.” Nina Simone would never allow that, and she would tell such. She also never let anyone make her “feel” that she was less than them, nor would she ever present herself as such. She wasn’t commercial, and had a self-imposed exile to France because her outspokenness resulted in a considerable, political backlash.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re both fabulous singers and entertainers, but I hate miscasting, especially when it comes to African Americans. People still don’t “get it.”

We should be more conscientious about how we allow others to interpret and present us. To ignore intrinsic circumstances and nuances that make someone who they are, is to discredit the person. They can “overcome” these circumstances and issues, but did those circumstances and issues happen to them because of what they represents, or because of how they adapted to them?

For example, to cast a lighter-skinned actor in a role about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is to negate the issues he outlined in his autobiography, specifically, issues surrounding color discrimination from other African Americans in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, while growing up. To cast a darker-skinned man in the role of W.E.B. DuBois is to dismiss the privilege that often accompanied his upper-middle class background, which was overwhelmingly made up of lighter-skinned African Americans. We may not like the history, but there it is.

Now, when I heard the rumor that Oprah Winfrey had picked the real (and ethereal) Alicia Keys to play the legendary Lena Horne, it made more sense to me. I had to ask myself why, considering that Lena Horne is from an “old family” in Atlanta, Georgia, and Alicia Keys is from the inner-city. Not only do they “resemble” one another, but they’re both entertainers. Granted, Alicia Keys is bi-racial, and Ms. Lena Horne is not, but Alicia Keys’ place in 1920’s black society in Georgia would be more historically accurate. Sad, but true.

When individuals who are so unfamiliar with African American culture begin casting us in certain roles, part of the story can be easily lost. (I didn’t “buy” Margaret Avery in the role of Shug Avery in The Color Purple…especially since I had read the book. I was more for Alice Walker’s original choice of Tina Turner, though that was stretching the casting a bit from the book.)

Some actors can excel beyond our expectations regardless of limitations, and that’s in fairness to the actor and director. However, we need to demand better accuracy and representation in how we’re portrayed in film: that goes for men and women. Images in film have an incredible impact on the viewer, and there are very few members of the public who will seek out information beyond the movie screen.

So, here’s cheers to Ms. Oprah Winfrey for actually thinking through on her casting. Given Ms. Keys recent turn in The Secret Life of Bees, I’m sure she will deliver beyond our expectations.

(For the record, who would I have preferred to play Nina Simone? Well, pre-crazy Lauryn Hill, for starters…if ya’ll had asked her in 2005, she’d probably be doing much better now. I’m just sayin’.)

Who Would You Pick to Play Nina Simone? Lena Horne?