Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY to Build a New Theater

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By: Amadi Taylor

Back at the 2010 Sundance Film festival, Ava DuVernay launched a distribution company, ARRAY. Now the company is a multimedia empire, that contains distribution, arts, and advocacy collective ARRAY, post-production facilities and the ‘Queen Sugar’ writers’ room.

 When DuVernay launched ARRAY (then known as the African American Film Festival Releasing Movement, or AFFRM), her goal was to put movies by black filmmakers (including her debut, “I Will Follow”) in front of audiences. Since then, ARRAY has released 22 titles — many of which, without ARRAY, might never have seen theaters. Before its acquisition of Andrew Dosunmu’s “Restless City,” the film sat on the shelf for over a year after its 2011 Sundance Film Festival premiere.

 According to Indiewire, the next step is a state-of-the-art, 50-seat theater that will screen the six ARRAY titles it plans to release this year and work by local artists, and will be made available for rental. 

 The ARRAY library is an eclectic selection of independent films, many of which were directed by women and/or people of color, united by singular visions and themes of social justice — a template that mainstream distributors often dismiss out of hand. For DuVernay, who worked as a movie marketer and publicist for more than 14 years, this represented an opportunity.

 “It’s about not only ownership, but also access,” ARRAY VP Tilane Jones said, “We are really trying to honor the theatrical tradition, so our audience has access to work they may not see elsewhere, effectively changing the mindset of what they believe should or should not be on the big screen.”

 Even as DuVernay moves into the DC Universe with her next film, “The New Gods,” ARRAY’s plans remain firmly grassrooted. Last year, it partnered with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and producer Dan Lin to launch the Evolve Entertainment Fund, which provides promotion, grants, and gap financing for communities historically excluded from the entertainment industry.

 And nonprofit arm ARRAY Alliance plans to create grants for African American, Latino and Asian American film festivals, societies and clubs, as well as support the screenings, curriculum, and teacher training that will help young audiences learn the value of art, independent film, and social justice.

Lionsgate Partners With Howard University To Bring More Diversity Into Hollywood

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Howard University students are getting a chance to learn the entertainment business through paid internship programs. Lionsgate is the first entertainment company to join forces with Howard University to start the educational institute’s program that will allow six to 12 students to learn the filmmaking and television businesses.

 2020 presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris, who is a Howard alumna thought of the idea and mentioned to Lionsgate that intern programs with higher education could increase diversity across the entertainment business.

 “Howard University has produced several graduates from film, law, business, and theater who have paved their own paths into Hollywood through their persistence, however, there is more work to do before the entertainment industry reflects the diverse audiences it serves,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick in a statement to Deadline. “I applaud our partners at Lionsgate for building a bridge from higher education to the workplace which will help diversify Hollywood behind the camera and create a new generation of executives.”

HBCU higher education institutions were established before the 1964 Civil Rights Act with the primary intention of serving African-American communities. Howard University is one of the highest-ranking HBCU in this nation.

 The students are undergrads placed in companies for 20 to 25 hours in paid internships at roughly $13 to $15 an hour.

 Lionsgate employed three interns motion picture, production, worldwide TV/digital distribution and talent acquisition. One of the interns has already been hired for an entry-level position at the company. They are also recruiting and will be hiring more interns this summer.

 “Greater diversity and inclusion makes our industry stronger and our films and television series better,” Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns told Deadline.

Beyoncé’s Homecoming Concert Makes History

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By: Amadi Taylor

I actually stayed up to watch the release of Beyoncé’s documentary on Netflix, Homecoming. It was the perfect mix of intimate details as well as her Coachella performance. Beyoncé was the first Black woman to headline Coachella in 2018 and gave a historic performance.

 During the two-hour set, the pop queen sang more than 25 songs and had multiple costume changes in a tribute to homecoming performances at historically black colleges. About 100 musicians and dancers filled the ‘Beychella’ stage during the performance, including brass and string players, a drum line and a baton twirler.

 I could relate to Beyoncé’s performance on many levels, I’m from ‘The South’ and watching different marching bands was a favorite pastime. I also graduated from Howard University, one of the top HBCUs in the nation. I was proud to see Black culture displayed gracefully and in such a rich manner, I couldn’t stop smiling. She showed unity in HBCUs, her family, and Black people overall.

 

Beyoncé shared with us her pregnancy in her September issue of Vogue and mentioned in this documentary, the struggles she went through with having her twins. On the road to Coachella, she discusses being a working mom and having a hard time separating her mind from her children.

 

The editing and transitions of the two weekends and into the behind-the-scenes were amazing. I could feel the energy through the screen and it seemed as if I was watching one show. Beyoncé picked every single part of this performance and directed it as well and it shows. We are able to see her passion for musicality, and that she loves what she does.

 

Homecoming was everything I wanted it to be. Homecoming is out now on Netflix.

Insecure Not Returning Until 2020

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In an interview with Vulture’s Josef Adalian, HBO programming chief Casey Bloys confirmed that Insecure won’t be back for its fourth season until 2020, mostly because its star and creator Issa Rae has been booked and busy.

“Well, Issa became a big movie star!” Bloys said of the actress, who’s currently starring in Littlealongside Regina Hall and Marsai Martin. “We’re not the first place to deal with this, but when you’re in business with very creative and talented people, there are a lot more opportunities for people to do things. Issa, I think, partly wanted a break to come back to it fresh.”

Bloys assured viewers Rae's busy schedule has not led HBO to shelve Insecurepermanently, but they know that Rae will need a break before committing herself to the series. Bloys thinks this brief departure will allow award shows to give Insecure the recognition it deserves.

"It wasn’t exactly random that we ended up [scheduling the show] in the spring, right before Emmys," Bloys said. "So that the show should get the Emmy love that it has deserved."

 

By: Amadi Taylor