As someone who's been a working journalist and video content creator for more than a decade, I want to take my storytelling to the next level, particularly when it comes to telling the stories of black women. I want to be someone who helps change the narrative. The 20th anniversary of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) seemed like the right place to cultivate creative inspiration.
If Hollywood actors and producers turned their backs on the likes of Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and Terry Richardson it would send a strong message of support to victims. And for many victims who know that the prospect of a criminal conviction is faint at best, seeing their alleged abuser publicly shamed or ostracized is the only morsel of justice they will ever be served.
As a news producer for E! News Daily in 1998, I covered the 35th anniversary VHS (!) widescreen premiere of To Killing a Mockingbird in Beverly Hills. The actors who played Atticus, Scout, Jem, Tom Robinson and Boo Radley were there -- 35 years older, but still in love with this story of young enlightenment defeating prejudice in the mid-1930s American South.
It's not easy being Leonardo DiCaprio. While preaching that fossil fuel use is triggering a global climate catastrophe, Leo hops around the world on fuel-guzzling private jets. "If we do not act together, we will surely perish," he tells the United Nations. I'll say it again: Leo has a hard time aligning his message with his actions.
The loud styling makes the film instantly iconic, especially in casting style icon Waris Ahluwahlia as Manny, the trigger-happy joker of the gang and the one daring enough to pull off neon pink and bright turquoise suits. Mehta wanted to do more than present their brash styling; she wanted to shatter stereotypes of Sikh characters who often play cabbies or doctors on screen.
Well, I recently attended the American Black Film Festival in New York City. This time, I was lucky to have a riveting conversation with four black actresses: Terri J. Vaughn, Garcelle Beauvais, Essence Atkins, and Malinda Williams. They're all starring in a T.V. movie coming out later this summer called "Girlfriends' Getaway 2."
I started to wish I was white. I didn't necessarily want to not be Chinese. I just wanted to look like the celebrities in the movies I watched. The online outrage at the casting of Quvenzhané Wallis in the titular role in Annie, and the simultaneous approval or silent passivity at that of Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead in The Prince of Persia, Rooney Mara as a Native American girl in Pan and Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese woman in Ghost in the Shell teaches people of colour that being white opens doors that'll always be closed to us. While I'm glad to see that people are more outspoken about diversity nowadays, there are bodies like the Academy that continue to try and mute their voices. This is inadequate for our multicultural society.
If you have ever watched a red carpet event, tuned into an awards show or flipped open a fashion magazine, you have most likely seen the work of the talented celebrity makeup artist and photographer, Troy Jensen. His signature style is a radiant look that goes beyond the makeup and draws attention to the woman wearing it.
For the most part red carpets are filled with sad, "hangry" stars, full of fillers and botox and empty of nourishment or self confidence. But, if you dig a little deeper you will find that every year there are a few standout women in the spotlight, who are not afraid to breakaway from the B.S. and send a more positive message.