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AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE MIAMI HERALD

Remembering

John Singleton 1968-2019

Barry Jenkins

Set to Direct Alvin Ailey Biopic

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

2019 ABFF Ambassador

La La Anthony Tyler Perry’s Casting Director: From Intern to Gatekeeper

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE 2019 AMERICAN BLACK FILM FESTIVAL


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MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

4. WELCOME FROM THE GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU By Connie Kinnard

LA LA ANTHONY SERVES AS 2019  ABFF AMBASSADOR By Janey Tate

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T.J. WRIGHT SHEDS LIGHT ON HIS EXPERIENCE AS A CHILD ACTOR By Kechi Okpala

7. MEET WILL PACKER: THE FILMMAKER BEHIND BILLIONDOLLAR EMPIRE By Zach Rinkins

“BELLY” WRITER ANTHONY BODDEN REFLECTS ON HIS CLASSIC FILM By Janiah Adams

8. THE ABFF REMEMBERS THE LIFE OF DIRECTOR JOHN SINGLETON

I remember the first time I watched John Singleton’s “Boyz N The Hood.” It was the summer of 1991 in Madison, Wis., where I had landed my first job as a TV reporter at NBC affiliate WMTV. I recall sitting on the second row of the sold-out theater—so close to the screen that actors Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding Jr. looked like giants. The audience was all black and, during most of the movie, fully engaged with laughter and, yes, lots of talking to the screen. That is, until Ricky, played by a young Morris Chestnut, was gunned down in a South Central Los Angeles alley by gang members driving a red 4-door sedan. Silence. From that point on in the theater, that’s all you could hear. Even the once boisterous jocks on the row behind me were

reduced to tears. It was a compelling scene that shook movie goers. Compelling because it mirrored the real lives of countless star athletes, with promising futures, whose journeys were cut short by senseless violence. In this directorial debut, Singleton became the first African American, and the youngest person, at 24, to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. Some 27 years later, until his death in April, Singleton had paved a successful path for himself in Hollywood, opening doors for so many black filmmakers and championing black characters on screen. My last time seeing Singleton was two years ago during the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) at an outdoor party in Miami. From afar, I observed him laughing with industry folks and, occasionally, indulging in conversation with aspiring actors who may have worked up the courage to interrupt him for a few precious seconds of his time. Singleton’s voice as a filmmaker and his presence at the ABFF will truly be missed. (Note: The ABFF is screening “Boyz N The Hood” on Saturday, June 15, 9 p.m., Regal Cinemas South Beach.) Russell Motley Legacy Editor-in-Chief rm@miamediagrp.com

By Christian Portilla

10. DO & DINE: Experience Overtown 11. TARELL MCCRANEY CONTINUES TO USE PLATFORM TO SHARE IMPORTANT STORIES By Janiah Adams

MISS JESSIE’S CO-FOUNDER MIKO BRANCH INTRODUCES NEW HAIR PRODUCTS, NEW AUDIO BOOK By KeChi Okpala

12. ACTOR JESSIE T. USHER TO JOIN CAST OF “SHAFT” AT ABFF RED CARPET PREMIERE

Subscribe to and view the digital version of Legacy Magazine and view additional articles at http://bitly.com/legacymagazines Facebook: Facebook.com/TheMIAMagazine Twitter and Instagram: @TheMIAMagazine

By Janey Tate

CASTING DIRECTOR RHAYVNN DRUMMER TAKES NURTURING APPROACH TO FINDING TALENT By Russell Motley

14. OSCAR-WINNING DIRECTOR BARRY JENKINS TO BRING ALVIN AILEY’S LIFE STORY TO THE BIG SCREEN By Russell Motley

#BeInformed #BeInfluential #BlackHistoryMonth CREDO OF THE BLACK PRESS

“The Black Press believes that America can best lead the world away from racial and national antagonisms when it accords to every one regardless of race, color or creed, full human and legal rights. Hating no person, fearing no person, the Black Press strives to help every person in the firm belief that all hurt as long as anyone is held back.”

15. “SHERMAN’S SHOWCASE” GOES BEYOND BOUNDARIES OF TYPICAL MUSICAL SKETCH COMEDY SHOW By Isheka Harrison

16. ALL ACCESS NABJ-South Florida’s Black Male Media Project

Member of the Black Owned Media Alliance (BOMA)

Dexter A. Bridgeman CEO & Founder Russell Motley Editor-in-Chief Yanela G. McLeod Copy Editor Shannel Escoffery Director of Operations Sabrina Moss-Solomon Graphic Designer


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GREATER MIAMI CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU

ABFF AMBASSADOR

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) is excited to partner once again with the 23rd Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF)!

La La Anthony Serves as 2019 ABFF Ambassador

The American Black Film Festival is highly regarded as the premier film and entertainment conference in the country dedicated to helping elevate persons of color in the industry and is definitely one of Miami’s premier events! It is important that all of Miami is showcased to our visitors and convention delegates. We are excited about the festivities on Miami Beach and super excited about the community day of activities scheduled at the Lyric Theater in Historic Overtown, which will be open to all registered festival participants and the general community to attend. Thanks to all of the visitors attending ABFF in Miami this week!! It is our hope that the hospitality shown while here in the city of Sun, Fun and Culture will exceed your expectations! In addition to the ABFF hashtags of #ABFF2019 #WeAreABFF, please also tag Miami in your social media post by using #FoundinMiami #MulticulturalMiami Yours Truly,

Connie W. Kinnard

Vice President, Multicultural Tourism & Development Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

T.J. Wright Sheds Light on His Experience as a Child Actor BY KECHI OKPALA

MIA magazine caught up with child actor T.J. Wright, 11, who shared the silver screen with Regina Hall in the movie “The Hate You Give.” The talented Wright talked about the filming process as a young actor and how he works to perfect his craft through each opportunity. A Miami native, Miami native and child actor T.J. Wright said he has had Wright a love for the camera since age 2, when he began as a child model. Seen in commercial print ads, Wright said he snagged his first film break at 5. Natalie Norfus, Wright’s mother, who also serves as his attorney and manager, said, “It’s great to see that this is something he wants to do because that’s the only reason we let him do it. We are constantly trying to make sure this is something he wants to do.” With a love for detail and creating characters, Wright said he aspires to be more in charge by becoming a film director. Now a preteen, Wright walked MIA magazine thru his experience as a child actor.

MIA: What tips or gems can you share with rising child actors, especially juggling school, auditions, and being a normal kid? Wright: Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid if you don’t get the role. I had to go on many auditions before getting my first acting role. You also have to stay happy. MIA: Are there any audition or hidden talents you can do on command, like cry? Wright: I can’t really cry on command as of yet, but I had to cry in the movie, “The Hate You Give.” When I started, I couldn’t stop. MIA: How was it working with the cast of “The Hate You Give” and actress Regina Hall, who played your mom? Wright: I enjoyed working with everyone on set especially Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, and Regina Hall. Regina Hall was my acting mom of whom I learned a lot from. During the filming of “The Hate You Give,” she taught me how to stay humble and helped me network on the red carpet. MIA: What do you do for fun? Wright: It could be drawing or practicing the Ukulele with my friend, but I really love to act.” Expect to see Wright in an upcoming Netflix series. He’ll be attending the 2019 American Black Film Festival.

n

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

BY JANEY TATE

She’s an actress, producer, author, and entrepreneur. And now La La Anthony can add ambassador of the 2019 American Black Film Festival to her long list of credits. Anthony joins a distinguished list of ABFF ambassadors, which have included Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina Hall, Idris Elba, Omari Hardrick, and Common to name a few. Anthony told MIA magazine that she is excited to represent the ABFF and plans to share her experience in La La Anthony the entertainment industry with all the aspiring talent at this year’s festival in South Beach. “It’s an amazing event and it really allows us to celebrate black filmmakers and actors and directors and entrepreneurs, and that’s something that I wanted to be at the center of,” said Anthony, on the phone with MIA magazine while filming ABC’s new drama “Reef Break” in Australia. “I think it’s going to be a great couple of days and a lot of fun. I think we’re going to get a chance to see some talented people get a chance to showcase their work and that’s what I’m most excited about.” Anthony, who currently plays Lakeisha Grant in the STARZ hit show “Power,” said she plans to leave her mark at the ABFF by leading panels and workshops geared toward black female entrepreneurs and creatives who hope to make it big in the entertainment industry. “I definitely want to do some panel discussions based around women in this business and women entrepreneurs,” she said. “Also, with it being the final season of “Power,” I definitely want to ...possibly show an early trailer and ... get my “Power” cast together to do something there as well. We’re still trying to figure that part out, but I definitely want to add my touch.” Anthony recently served as executive producer of the BET docuseries “Killer Curves.” She is also a New York Times best-selling author of two books, The Love Playbook and The Power Playbook. Anthony credits her longevity and success in the industry to always pushing herself to do more and to do it well. “I know for me, when something starts feeling like a job it’s time for me to do something else and figure out what my next thing will be,” Anthony explained. “I’m always pushing myself to do more and that’s why I’ve been able to be in this business as long as I have and still stay relevant.” The final season of “Power” premieres August 25, but Anthony has plenty of projects on her plate. She said she will be developing a project with Issa Rae, creator of the hit show “Insecure.” She has inked a deal with rapper and actor 50 Cent to produce a new series for STARZ, and Anthony will be producing a puppet show called “Happy Hour” with filmmaker Will Packer . To join Anthony at the ABFF, visit www.abff.com. n


MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE MIAMI HERALD

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Meet Will Packer: The Filmmaker Behind Billion-dollar Empire

Will Packer

BY ZACH RINKINS

If you don’t know Will Packer, you’ve probably enjoyed his work. The Hollywood hitmaker has achieved unparalleled success with ten number one films that generated over $1 billion. Packer’s eponymous multimedia company powered movie smashes like “Girls Trip”, “Think Like a Man”, “Night School,” to name a few. His Atlanta-based company has diversified interests that extend into television, branded content, and strategic marketing communications. Regardless of the platform, Packer’s motivation remains the same. “It starts and ends with the audience,” Packer, 45, said. “That’s who I’m making the film for.” Behind the glitz, glamor, and box office receipts lies an economic mandate to make profitable content. Packer has earned a

reputation of generating higher profits than his industry peers by producing moderately budgeted movies that overperform at the theaters. “At the end of the day, this is an industry and a business. You must understand that no matter what side of the coin within the industry you work on,” Packer said. “If you don’t understand the business side of it, then you’re going to get left behind. And, you’re not going to put yourself in the best position to succeed.” Business is good for all things Packer. The power producer helms a multimedia empire that includes Will Packer Media, Will Packer Productions, and WP Narrative. According to imdb.com, his film “Girls Trip” was budgeted at $19 million and raked in $115 million; “Night School” took $29 million to make and grossed $103 million worldwide; and “Ride Along” turned a $40 million investment into over $90 million. His Atlanta-based company has signed deals with Universal Pictures, Discovery Networks, Amazon, and many other companies. “I am a creative producer, but I have to make sure that I am delivering the returns on investment. That means what I’m spending on the content versus what the content can make. It has to make sense,” Packer said. “That doesn’t mean that some art can’t be made for art sake. But, by and large, that is not what Hollywood is here to do and is not the type of projects they support.” His companies have also produced empowering stories like the television remake of Roots. The firm is also working with award-winning writer Aaron McGruder

to develop “Black America,” a series that will explore post-slavery reparations in America on the Amazon platform. After 20 years in the industry, Packer has come a long way from peddling his first self-produced movie while studying electric engineering at Florida A&M University. His films boast superstars like Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tiffany Haddish, Idris Elba, and a host of other premier acts. The growth of content consumption on multimedia platforms, online distribution, and mobile programming has created numerous opportunities for creatives. Packer gets pitched all the time. All potential ideas go through a vetted process. “I am very analytical. I always think about whether this is something that is going to resonate with the audience. Is this something that somebody is not just going to want to see, but own,” Packer revealed. “There are too many options out there. So, it has to be something people are going to really own. Are they going to be a die-hard fan? That’s the reaction I’m looking for.” Since virtually all productions begin with a pitch, Packer offers this advice for emerging filmmakers seeking to attract creative partners. “Be prepared. I think I have people come up to me sometimes and it’s clear that they’re, they’re not prepared. They’re kind of, sort of pitching something to me,” Packer said. “Unfortunately, that is my impression of you—that you are not prepared. You don’t know what you want. And, you are not sure how you want me to help you. It is not specific.”

“What I’m really impressed by is people who have it together and are very clear and focused on what they want.” The tables recently turned when Packer had to make a pitch to one of the most recognized personalities in the business. Please believe Packer came “prepared.” “It was an awesome moment to meet Oprah. I met her at various past events. It is totally different to sit down with her and hear how she thinks about audiences was beneficial,” Packer shared. “She was very clear about the kind of risks she was willing to take and the ones she was not willing to take.” The result of that conversation greenlit “Ambitions,” a drama television series set to premiere this summer on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The veteran cast includes Robin Givens, Brian J. White, and Essence Atkins. “‘Ambitions’ is something I am very excited about. It’s a soap opera based in Atlanta,” Packer said. “It a fun show with smart, powerful, and beautiful people behaving badly. It’s the kind of fun escapism that makes for great summer television.” More than 20 years ago, Packer turned down a promising career as an electrical engineer to set his sights toward the bright lights of Tinseltown. He attributes his success to, “A lot of hard work.” “A lot of times, people will aspire to do something. They see the goal, but in between where they are now and that goal is a whole lot of stuff they don’t want to do.” Packer said. n

‘Belly’ Writer Anthony Bodden Reflects on His Classic Film BY JANIAH ADAMS

Anthony Bodden has been described as a quiet soul with a lot of talent who uses his experiences to propel him forward. “I used my life as a backdrop for my inspiration,” he said. Bodden, who hails from Hollis, Queens in New York, grew up in the same culturally popular town as heavy hitters such as Run DMC and LL Cool J. An influencer himself, Bodden wrote the popular 1998 film “Belly,” which made a significant impact of audiences. Bodden said he began writing the script in 1992. “‘Belly’ was mirroring what was going on in my life and neighborhood,” he said. “As a young writer, I was without formal training or template. I was simply

Anthony Bodden

telling my story as I saw it and experienced it. In the 80s and 90s, it was very drug-infested.” This reality was a large part of the movie’s two main characters’ lives. Sincere, played by Nas, and Buns, played by DMX, built a life of crime based on drug dealing. “While much of the youth was entertained and influenced by the music, there was heavy messaging,” Bodden said. Within the movie, he introduced elements of Islam, which Bodden said was a large part of his growing up in New York. He reflected that he was greatly

inspired by the Nation of Islam and the Five Percenters. “[Belly] spoke to the youth and it was necessary at that time,” he explained. “Drugs were ridiculous — they still are. The message was necessary … to try to at least warn them of what could possibly happen if you keep on the negative path.” Bodden continues to write and tell his story. He said he has scripts that are ready and waiting. He is also the author of “Harps & Violins,” a book that speaks of his life as a young family man. The book is available on Amazon.com. Bodden said he hopes to continue to tell his story to enlighten future generations. n


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MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

THE ABFF REMEMBERS THE LIFE OF DIRECTOR

John Singleton

Festival Promises to Keep Filmmaker’s Legacy Alive BY CHRISTIAN PORTILLA

As the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) enters its 23rd year this June, founder Jeff Friday knows it will never be the same. Friday and the creative community at large are still mourning the loss of filmmaker John Singleton who died April 28. The late Academy Award winner for Best Director was a staunch supporter of the ABFF since its inception, Friday said, and his presence and support at the festival was always welcomed. “I’ve known him for 23 years. He was one of the very first people I called to ask if they would support the festival. He attended almost every event except when he was shooting out of the country,” Friday told MIA magazine in a phone interview. “We’ve premiered his movies, and he introduced me to Taraji P. Henson. He’s taught classes and has been on ten panels and done everything I asked him to do for the last 23 years. He never told us no.” Actor Amin Joseph, one of the stars of Singleton’s

FX series “Snowfall” who plays Jerome Saint, remembers Singleton as a visionary whose secret sauce was in the details. Joseph said Singleton was on set just about every day for the three seasons of “Snowfall.” His creative style was hands-on and passionate. Joseph recalls him as a mentor and a close friend. “No man knows when their time is up, and John wasn’t walking around like his time was up. It was always about today’s work,” said Joseph. “John would always come up to me and say ‘this is what we want to do with you next.’ He was always about what we’re doing at this moment or what we’re about to do next. It was never about what he did before. It was always about where we are going. His happiness is like a kid. That’s the energy, which I relate to. He was definitely a visionary, had an unabashed voice, and wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power and had a childlike affinity for storytelling. He’s art at large.” The ABFF will pay tribute to Singleton by screening “Boyz N The Hood” on June 15. As usual, the festival has scheduled panel discussions and master classes during the day and some of the hottest industry parties at night. This year’s focus at the ABFF is unifying creative communities of color outside of its black audience and remembering a legend who helped change the way people of color see themselves in film. Friday said these efforts are a representation of the way people want to consume media and film. The ABFF will feature new programming such as About Women, a global initiative focused on empowering and inspiring women of color in the film and television industry. Friday said his reference to “women of color” instead of “black women” is intentional because the push for integration and support among communities of color is essential, especially during the current political climate. Friday said the festival is also working on its pitch to the LGBTQ community.

- Photo courtesy of Amin Joseph John Singleton with ABFF founder Jeff Friday at a previous festival.

John Singleton takes a break with actor Amin Joseph on the set of “Snowfall.”

“In 1997, when I saw it through the eyes of who I am, I started this festival to shake it up and know that there are talented people beyond people who are white. As we evolve our mission evolves,” Friday said. “This year, it’s launching as a panel, but in 2020 it will be a separate conference. Last year alone we had black and brown people come in from 17 countries outside of ours. Next year we will introduce a separate Latino section of the festival. We will be fully black and brown. Our goal is to lead diversity, not follow it.” Friday said the time is now for people to close the gaps of cultural diversity in films to be successful. Friday is also adamant about the work in Miami needed to diversify the festival with local talent. He said he wants people from all parts of the film industry to attend the festival to create relationships and networks in order to sustain a local film economy. As part of the ABFF’s partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, the festival’s role is to provide feedback and suggestions on how Miami can evolve to be a friendlier film city. Throughout the five-day ABFF, there’s no doubt that John Singleton will be on the minds of festival goers. The cast of “Snowfall” is expected to make an appearance, with Joseph and other cast members participating in a panel discussion. It’s rumored that FX president John Phillip Landgraf said it is likely that “Snowfall” will be picked up for a fourth season. The idea is to carry on Singleton’s legacy and to continue to support artists of color in film. “As a celebrity, he was never too busy to stop and take a picture with someone and always walked around [the ABFF] and engaged people,” said Friday.” During the award show on the closing night, we will be paying him a tribute. He was a really special guy, and he is part of the reason why this event was so successful.” n

John Singleton appeared at the ABFF anytime he wasn’t filming.


MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE MIAMI HERALD

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DO & DINE:

Experience Overtown

HOUSE OF WINGS MIAMI 1039 NW 3rd Avenue Miami, FL 33136 www.houseofwingsmiami.com

HISTORIC D.A. DORSEY HOUSE MUSEUM 819 NW 2nd Avenue Miami, FL 33136 www.artafricamiamifair.com

Wings, wings, wings is this establishments forte. Offering 60+ plus flavors of chicken wings with a choice of grilled or fried seafood.

The Historic D.A. Dorsey House is the former home of Dana A. Dorsey, Miami’s first black millionaire.

2 GUYS RESTAURANT 1490 NW 3rd Avenue Miami, FL 33136 Have a lunch date at 2 Guys and order from their assortment of sandwich wraps!

The downtown metropolis of Miami is a community of Heritage, Culture and Entertainment. One of the oldest black neighborhoods in downtown Miami, the district of Overtown is a place to get the true essence of black Miami. Formally known as “Colored Town” it was the place where blacks (Cubans and Bahamians alike) lived, worked, lodged and entertained during the segregation period because they were not allowed on places like Miami Beach. Fast forward 60 years or so, times have changed and people have moved on to revitalize the now historic district with art, food and fanfare for both locals and tourists to enjoy and experience. From family activities, delectable restaurants and historic tours; here’s a listing of where to go and what to do to, “Experience Overtown.”

PLACES TO EAT: JACKSON SOUL FOOD 950 NW 3rd Avenue Miami, FL 33136, United States www.jacksonsoulfood.com Established in 1946, this comfort style soul food restaurant is the one of the go to places in the Overtown community. It serves as a foundation for a lineage of first-class establishments. Their fish and grits breakfast platter is enough for two to share. LIL GREENHOUSE GRILL 1300 NW 3rd Avenue, Miami, FL 33136 www.lilgreenhousegrill.com In the heart of Overtown, this edgy neo-soul restaurant satisfies all your tastes buds especially if you are a foodie. Try their much talked about BBQ Ribs and Collard Greens. THE URBAN 1121 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33136 @TheUrbanMia www.theurban.miami The Urban is a new 58,000 square foot market place and public venue; offering soulfully curated cocktails and menu items.

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

MRS. MOORE’S BAKERY 122 NW 14th Street Miami, FL 33136 www.mrsmooresbakery.com Mrs. Moore’s Bakery is a family owned and operated bakery. Mrs. Moore started baking with her mother and offers a variety of delicious cakes and sweet potato pie.

PLACES TO GO: BLACK ARCHIVES HISTORIC LYRIC THEATRE CULTURAL COMPLEX 819 NW 2nd Avenue Miami, FL 33136 www.bahlt.org A 400-seat theater and multifaceted facility featuring high-quality performances. It is the lone survivor of the district once known as “Little Broadway,” which flourished in Overtown for almost 50 years. The theater served as a movie and vaudeville venue, and showcased more than 150 performers, including Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, B.B. King, Redd Foxx and Ella Fitzgerald. HISTORIC BLACK POLICE PRECINCT AND COURTHOUSE MUSEUM 480 NW 11th Street, Miami, FL 33136 www.historicalblackprecinct.org The Black Police Precinct was built in 1950 to provide a separate and segregated headquarters for Black officers. The building is unique as there is no other known structure in the nation that was designed, devoted to and operated as a separate station house and municipal court for Blacks. The museum is a full service facility with displays of police memorabilia, artifacts, documents, video, and word-of-mouth stories by the men and women who worked there. THE PURVIS YOUNG MURAL Metrorail Bypass 11street NW 3rd Avenue Miami, FL 33136 www.purvisyoung.com Purvis Young was a notable self-taught artist from Overtown. Often classified as a folk artist, you can find many of his artworks within Miami and at institutions like the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the High Museum of Art.

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL 1200 NW 6th Avenue Miami, FL 33136 www.btwtornadoes.org Booker T. Washington Senior High School was the first public school in South Florida to provide 12th grade education to black students. It was named after a man dedicated to educating black children. SPACE CALLED TRIBE CO-WORK AND INNOVATION LAB 937 NW 3rd Avenue Miami, FL 33136 www.spacecalledtribe.com If you have to send a quick email while touring Historic Overtown or to meet fellow entrepreneurs in the area, this is the place to be.

THINGS TO DO: THE URBAN MARKETPLACE Weekly Friday and Saturday Marketplace 1306 North Miami Avenue Miami, FL 33136 www.onthebside.com A weekly two-day (Friday & Saturday) curated event featuring local artisans, one-of-a-kind items, culinary treats, and entertainment. NEW WASHINGTON HEIGHTS FOLKLIFE FRIDAY Every First Friday of the Month 9th Street Pedestrian Mall NW 9th Street and 2nd Avenue Miami, FL 33136 LYRIC LIVE MONTHLY AMATEUR NIGHT SHOWCASE Every First Friday of the Month Historic Lyric Theatre 819 NW 2nd Avenue Miami, FL 33136 In conjunction with New Washington Heights CDC’s monthly Folklife Friday event, the Black Archives presents a monthly interactive talent showcase. The event features a local comedian as host, a live band, DJ, and the Bahamian Junkanoo serving as the sandman to usher less favored contestants off the stage with a unique Miami flair.


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Tarell McCraney Continues to Use Platform to Share Important Stories BY JANIAH ADAMS

For Tarell McCraney, being a part of the film industry has proven to be one of the best moves in his life. “It’s a family community that we make,” he said. “It’s amazing.” McCraney is a Miami native from the Liberty City community. He said he started acting when he was about 9 years old. He graduated from the New World School of the Arts then began working on short films after earning his master’s in fine arts from Yale University. “I’ve continuously worked with a lot of incredible artists who are very talented and diverse in spirit,” he said. As an accomplished writer, actor, and playwright, McCraney said he has a lot to be proud of. His community became even more proud of him once “Moonlight” hit theaters in 2016, a monumental project for which McCraney was a screenwriter. “Moonlight” tells the story of a black boy growing up in Liberty City and his journey to manhood. “Moonlight was something that was constructed by two people who were born and raised in Miami,” he explained. “Unlike a lot of movies that take place in Miami, it definitely had the DNA of Miami in it. You see things in it that you know those spots. If you’ve

Tarell McCraney

only been by the beach, you don’t know the Miami [Barry Jenkins] depicted.” McCraney worked closely with Jenkins to create the authentic experience “Moonlight” provided. The movie touched on issues including drugs, violence, and sexuality. “A lot of that has to do with Barry’s way of creating films,” McCraney said. “The scripts is great and it’s wonderful to have the inspiration and empathy, but it comes down to having someone who can capture the world around them.” McCraney’s latest project, “David Makes Man,” is his first television show and will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network in August. The pilot will be shown during the upcoming American Black Film Festival in Miami, June 12-16. The show depicts the life of a young teenager growing up in Miami. He lives in the projects but attends an affluent magnet school across town. The show follows his journey through living between these two worlds. “Doing a showing of the pilot at ABFF...is great and it will be good for it to be in Miami, especially since it takes place in Homestead,” he said. Although McCraney won’t be attending the festival this year, he said he is especially happy to leave his work for attendees to enjoy. n

Miss Jessie’s Co-founder Miko Branch

Introduces NEW HAIR PRODUCTS, NEW AUDIO BOOK BY KECHI OKPALA

Every successful business must evolve and that’s exactly what Miss Jessie’s co-founder Miko Branch is doing. Since the passing of her beloved sister and business partner Titi Branch in 2014, Miko Branch has turned a new chapter but kept the same business ethics with the relocation of the company’s headquarters from New York to Miami, a new audio book, and the addition of five new hair care products. “As a native New Yorker, South Florida gave me a contrast needed for change,” said Miko Branch. “I wanted a fresh start and a place where I don’t feel too far away.” With the change of environment, it was only fitting for Miss Jessie’s to introduce a new line of products to educate and combat the sunny South Florida weather. Miss Jessie’s new “Curls so Fresh” product is specifically designed to combat the humidity while keeping curls moisturized and in tact, said Miko Branch. “Hold Me Down” edge control is another new product that provides no hair crunch or build up but still shines.

“In 2013, my sister thought to share our story about building a business with no capital and create a product of knowledge with a book,” said Miko Branch. Since the release of the book entitled “Creating a Successful Business from Scratch,” she plans to release an audio book version so readers can have a more authentic experience. n

Miko Branch


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MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

Actor Jessie T. Usher to Join Cast of ‘Shaft’ at ABFF Red Carpet Premiere

Actor Jessie T. Usher will play John Shaft Jr. in the 2019 version of the “Shaft,” film.

BY JANEY TATE

The American Black Film Festival is known for premiering some of the biggest films of the year. This year is no different. New Line Cinema’s highly anticipated “Shaft,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, is the

festival’s opening-night film slated for June 12, at the New World Center (500 17th St., Miami Beach). Red carpet activities begin at 7 p.m. Usher, who plays John Shaft Jr., will join Jackson and the rest of the cast at the red carpet premiere. Usher, who attended the ABFF for the first time two years ago, said working with Jackson was so amazing that he’d jump at the chance to film with him again. “I’ve told people that I would do 100 percent of my projects with Sam involved if I could because he is so professional,” Usher shared. “The man’s a living legend and rightfully so. He’s extremely professional.” Usher told MIA magazine in a phone interview, “[Jackson] knows his script back and forth. He’s very much involved in the creative process. He’s very easy to work with as long as you come prepared and as long as you can take his smack talk, everything else is smooth sailing.” Usher’s role is John Shaft’s estranged son by his former lover, played by actress Regina Hall. Usher said his character’s personality is the exact opposite of Shaft’s,

but deep down inside father and son have many things in common. “So I’m playing J.J., who is John Shaft Jr.,” he explained. “His mom took him when he was really young and moved him away from Harlem and the madness and the guns and the women so he wouldn’t grow up to be like his father,” said Usher, better known for his role in Starz’s “Survivor’s Remorse.” “So what you find is this MIT [educated], really tech-savvy version of Shaft,” Usher continued, “and throughout the film you’ll see that even though he was distant from his father there’s a lot of similarities that he has with him. Throughout the course of the film you’ll see no matter how far you take Shaft away from that environment, at the end of the day he’s a Shaft.” Movie reboots can be hit or miss, but Usher said he believes the filmmakers did right by the Shaft brand — creating a storyline line old fans will appreciate and one that new fans will enjoy. “I think it’s important to pay homage to the people who were involved in the project before,” Usher reflected. “The thing that was

the major draw for me was the fact that Sam was going to be in it and Richard Roundtree was going to be a part of the project too.” Usher explained that the overall message of the film is sticking by family even when you don’t see eye to eye. “I read the script and Kenya Barris wrote it,” he said. “I love Kenya’s work. I figured the script would be good; it turned out to be amazing.” Usher said he hopes people walk away from the film having loved the action scenes, but ultimately learning a deeper lesson about family. “In this movie there is a lot of emphasis on family and to stick by family when they need you the most despite your differences,” Usher shared. “That’s kind of the plot behind all the madness that happens in the Shaft universe. At the end of the day, it’s all about this father and son connection.” After Shaft’s nationwide release on June 14, Usher said he will gear up for more projects. He is set to star in the Amazon Prime series “The Boys” as the character A-Train. Expect to also see him in the Netflix thriller “Windfall.”

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Casting Director Rhayvnn Drummer Takes Nurturing Approach to Finding Talent Currently Casting Two New Shows for Tyler Perry Studios

BY RUSSELL MOTLEY

From interning at Tyler Perry Studios fresh out of college to becoming one of the Atlanta filmmaker’s key casting directors, Rhavynn Drummer knows a thing or two about starting from the ground up. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a casting director,” Drummer told MIA magazine during a recent weekend workshop in Miami, where she schooled actors and scouted for new talent. “I really didn’t even know it was a position.” Drummer is best known for casting some of Perry’s most popular TV shows, including “Meet the Browns,” “House of Payne,” and “The Haves and the Have Nots.” In the latter dramatic series, now in its sixth season on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Drummer credits herself with discovering Atlanta-based actor Crystal R. Fox who plays lead character Hanna Young. “She’s done incredibly well,” Drummer boasted about Fox, who she revealed has landed a role in the upcoming season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

While in Miami, Drummer sat through hours of auditions—on the hunt to fill her next big roles. MIA magazine found her at the Florida Film House, a graffitied-looking warehouse tucked away on the 500 block of Northwest 26th Street in Wynwood, accessible only through an alley with a non-descript metal door. Drummer sat at a long folding table in the middle of the room, which doubles as a movie set, as about 25 actors waited patiently in their seats for their turn to recite their lines. A black female actor in her twenties, sporting a natural hairstyle, reluctantly walked to the middle of the room and stood in front of Drummer under a spotlight. A line reader sitting next to Drummer started the scene right after she shouted “Action!” This audition, however, was doomed even before the actor uttered a word. “Your audition really does begin before I say ‘action’ because I was looking at you and said to myself, ‘she’s afraid to come up to the stage,’” Drummer politely told the actor who, in turn, blamed her lackluster performance on the fact that she was tired. “It felt like someone pushed you up here. So be aware of that

Aspiring actor Amanda Tavarez (left) gets advice from casting director Rhayvnn Drummer (right) following an audition in Wynwood.

because the casting director is always looking and, honestly, if we feel you’re afraid to walk

into the room, we’re thinking, ‘she’s not about to kill this audition.’” Minutes after Drummer’s sobering critique, the woman scurried to the restroom in tears. Drummer, who has held her position for eight years, breaks the stereotype of a casting director. She’s intentionally nurturing and speaks with a calm voice. It’s a tactic that not only benefits the actor but her selection process. “I can’t see your gift through the nerves. It’s hard for me to see the craft if I’m creating an environment where you are not comfortable,” said Drummer, who has worked as a casting director for eight years. “If I get a better performance out of you, then you’ll make my top choices that I can send to the producers, then I can move on to the next role.” Drummer is currently casting two new shows for Tyler Perry Studios. She said the easiest way to contact her is on Instagram, @rhavynn, or her website, rhayvnndrummer.com. n


MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE MIAMI HERALD

ABFF COMMUNITY DAY SUNDAY JUNE 16 | 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM SPONSORED BY

The American Black Film Festival and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau partner to host Community Film screenings & discussion The Lyric Theater in Historic Overtown, 819 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33136 The event is free and open to the public

1:00 PM OFFICIAL WELCOME Jeff Friday, (ABFF Founder) and Connie Kinnard (Vice President of Multicultural Tourism, GMCVB) Hosted by multimedia entrepreneur Vanessa James

1:15 PM A CONVERSATION WITH STEVEN CAPLE, JR. DIRECTOR OF CREED II Moderated by Russell Motley Editor-in-Chief of MIA and Legacy Magazines Join us for an inspiring discussion with acclaimed director of the film CREED II (starring Michael B Jordan and Sylvester Stallone) about the business of entertainment and his personal experiences in Hollywood since winning the ABFF’s HBO Short Film Competition in 2013

2:15 PM J.U.L.E.S. - JUST USING LIFE TO END SICKLE CELL, DIRECTOR-JULIET ROMEO 2:30 PM FATHERHOOD THE FOUNDATION OF THE BLACK FAMILY. A short film compilation aimed to change the narrative of black fathers by highlighting the importance of their presence and contribution to the Black Family. Screenings will be followed by a Q& A with the directors of the films and community leaders. Amelia’s Closet - When pushed to the edge by the bullies in her class, 11-year-old Amelia retaliates by secretly stealing from her classmates and hiding the items in the back of her closet (Directed by Halima Lucas). Training Wheels - An incredibly gifted little girl uses her telepathic powers to bring her wayward father home (Directed by Sanicole). Worlds From Home - After their RV breaks down in the Mojave Desert, a father and his young son experience a series of challenges while rebuilding their relationship, including an encounter with a mysterious creature (Directed by Delmar Washington).

4:00 PM FLORIDA FILM HOUSE 1ST TAKE YOUTH FILM PROGRAM Battle Of Love - A perspective on teenage relationships through the eyes of the students (by Leland Overton Jr. and Ashley Requena) Intimacy (into-me-see) - A short film that shows the negative impact of social media in young girls lives and the importance of the parents staying actively involved with their children (by Monica Bassainthe and Beatrix Alerte). The Silence of Being Bullied - This film tells the story of a young Muslim boy immigrant from Syria’s war zone who is dealing with being bullied because of his differences (by Harold Hunter and Martin Eugene). Crimes & Charges - A film that shows us the true impact that one bad decision can have on the lives of so many. (by Alavaro Vargas and Luis Olmedo). 4:45 PM CLOSING REMARKS

ABFF.com #ABFF2019 #FOUNDINMIAMI #MULTICULTURALMIAMI

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MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

OSCAR-WINNING

DIRECTOR BARRY JENKINS to Bring Alvin Ailey’s Life Story to the

BIG SCREEN

BY RUSSELL MOTLEY

draw diverse audiences. As the demand for movie and television content grows— particularly for subscription channels such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime—Jenkins said access to affordable film and editing technology has cracked open the door for rising black directors. “The tools of filmmaking have been democratized,” said Jenkins. “Someone like me who grew up in Liberty City can still afford to just grab a camera and go tell a story. I think that’s what we’re seeing in the industry.” With his “Underground Railroad” series in full production and now an Alvin Ailey project in the works, Barry isn’t sure when he’ll return to his hometown to film again, where “Moonlight” was shot on location. However, it’s safe to say he has something up his sleeve. “I got some stuff cooking up,” said Jenkins. “I gotta come back and make something else [in Miami].”

Director Barry Jenkins is on a roll. Among countless other Hollywood nods, his last two films, “Moonlight” (2016) and “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2019) garnered an impressive stash of Academy Awards—the first movie won two Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture; the latter snagged a Best Supporting Actress trophy for Regina King. A humbled Jenkins, who grew up in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, n doesn’t take it for granted. “The Oscar stuff is always a surprise when it happens. It’s not something I expect,” said Barry, Barry Jenkins who spoke to MIA magazine at a red carpet event during a recent visit to Miami. “There’s no pressure with it. The next thing I’m doing is television so I won’t be eligible for an Oscar anyway.” Currently, Jenkins, 39, is directing his first full one-hour TV series on Amazon, based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Underground Railroad.” The series chronicles a slave named Cora who escapes a cotton plantation in Georgia for a desperate chance of freedom. “We’re in pre-production right now. We’ll be shooting it the rest of the year,” said Jenkins, who plans to film “Underground Railroad” in parts of Georgia, Ohio and New York. “It will be out next year.” Now, on the heels of his Amazon series, comes word that Jenkins will direct a film based on the life of Alvin Ailey, one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century. Fox Searchlight producers will be reportedly working closely with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Artistic Director Robert Battle, also a Miami native, and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison to bring Ailey’s story and choreography to the screen. Jenkins joins a string of elite black directors, including Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, Jordan Peele, and Spike Lee, who tell compelling black stories that “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins and screenwriter Tarell McCraney accept the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.


MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

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‘Sherman’s Showcase’ Goes Beyond Boundaries of Typical Musical Sketch Comedy Show

BY ISHEKA HARRISON

Imagine “Soul Train” meets “Saturday Night Live.” Now add unique comedic sketches, dope original music, beloved celebrities, a cadre of talented guest actors, and incredible dancing and you’ll have “Sherman’s Showcase.” The new comedy series was created by longtime friends and writing partners Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin who teamed up with music icon John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. It will begin airing July 1 on IFC. A parody of musical variety shows that were popular during the 1970s and 1980s, the series is a “show within a show” in which Salahuddin plays the show’s namesake host Sherman McDaniels, and Riddle plays his producer Dutch. The fictional show has been on the air for almost 50 years and chaos ensues. MIA magazine snagged exclusive interviews with these “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” alums who were responsible for hits like “Slow Jam, The News” and “History of Rap.” They said their latest project is anything but typical. “We watch everything and we always want to make sure that if anything seems even slightly like it’s been done before, we won’t do it,” Riddle explained. “We want to make sure everything on ‘Sherman’s Showcase’ is almost to a fault, original. When you see this show it’s not going to look like any other show.” Salahuddin added, “Some of the things that set it apart is the writing is elevated, the music is by musicians, and the faces and voices that you see can’t be found altogether in one place anywhere else. It’s a sketch comedy show, it’s a music show, and yet it’s so much more than all that.” Viewers may recognize Riddle from NBC’s hit comedy “Marlon” and Salahuddin from Netflix’s “GLOW.” The duo also had several other successful shows including web series “The Message,” and an earlier sketch variety series titled “Cleo’s Apartment.” They were the brains behind one of the very first YouTube videos to go viral in 2007, “Condi Rice Raps.” The self-proclaimed “comedy-nerd historians” met in college at Harvard in an a cappella group called “Brothers.” In addition to sharing a birthday and being raised in blue-collar families, they realized

Photo Credit: Michael Moriatis/IFC

Ne-Yo plays lead singer of Galaxia, and Diallo Riddle plays keyboardist in Season 1, Episode 2 of new IFC musical sketch variety show “Sherman’s Showcase.”

they shared a lot of commonalities and similar sense of humor. After years of struggling individually to make it in Hollywood, the friends decided to join forces. Now they have almost 30 years of experience between them, which they said makes “Sherman’s Showcase” that much richer. “I think it’s a multi-pronged attack on your senses,” Salahuddin said. “This show really is a chance for us to show off our deep education and understanding on comedy. It’s the next incarnation of our work.” “We treated our show like we were creating a black music Marvel universe,” Riddle said. “There’s really no boundaries … It’s an empowering show in that no matter what people want to do, we can do it.” Sherman’s Showcase” will feature Prince and Vanity-inspired characters, Ne-Yo portraying a lead singer of a soul R&B group, a Common and John Legend beef, Mary J. Blige and Ashley from “Fresh Prince” impersonations, and a Montell Jordan biopic spoof, just to name a few.

Other guest stars include: Tiffany Haddish, Marlon Wayans, King Bach, Mario Van Peebles, Quincy Jones, Vic Mensa, Notlim Taylor, and Bresha. “You’re going to see a lot of actors and actresses that you know from other things, but you’re going to see a whole other side of them,” Riddle said. Salahuddin and Riddle lauded IFC for giving them creative control and John Legend for trusting them to make the show funny. “I really want to credit IFC with giving us as much creative freedom as I’ve ever been given in this business,” Riddle said. “We’ve never been allowed as Black creators to do something that doesn’t speak to the times … IFC is allowing us to do a show that is not limited to that.” Salahuddin added, “When [John Legend] saw a chance to put two of his favorite things, music and comedy, together he was like I’m absolutely gonna be a part of this and he has been a champion for us.” The comedic pair emphasized the important role music plays in the show and their lives.

“Music is such a big part of our friendship,” Salahuddin explained. “It’s such a big part of our work.” Salahuddin added the songs will be available on streaming platforms. Riddle, who is also a deejay, said: “We wanted to create the songs that we wish had been created by other artists in the past. There’s pop culture from many different decades.” The duo said they are honored to screen “Sherman’s Showcase” during this year’s American Black Film Festival on June 15 at 8:30 p.m. at South Beach’s Regal Cinemas. After the screening, they will host a Q&A session with Essence editor Sydney Scott. “We couldn’t be happier,” Salahuddin said. “Diallo and I both come from big, black families so when we get around a lot of black folks, we feel like we’re at home … So for us to go down to Miami and … be able to show work we’re proud of at ABFF … we’re excited and we want them to laugh as hard as we’ve laughed.” n


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MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

ALL ACCESS

NABJ-South Florida’s Black Male Media Project

The South Florida chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ-South Florida) hosts the 3rd annual Black Male Media Project, June 1, 2019, at the Miramar Cultural Center.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Jenny Ziegler

Joshua Saunders and Darryl Forges

Udonis Haslem

Black Male Media Project panelists with moderator Layron Livingston

Jawan Strader, Paul Wilson, Udonis Haslem, Gale Nelson, Luther Campbell, Russell Motley

NBC 6 anchor Jawan Strader

(l-r) Layron Livingston, Calvin Hughes, Jawan Strader, honoree Paul Wilson, NABJ-South Florida President Russell Motley, honoree Udonis Haslem, honoree Gale Nelson, Johnny Archer, honoree Luther Campbell, Donovan Campbell

Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam and Miramar City Manager Vernon Hargray

Joseph Ellick, Isheka Harrison, Darryl Forges

Paul Wilson and Udonis Haslem


MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE MIAMI HERALD

THE NATION'S LARGEST JOURNALISM JOBS FAIR #NABJ19 CONVENTION & CAREER ER FAIR AUG. 7-11, 2019 JW MARRIOTT MIAMI TURNBERRY RESORT & SPA WWW.NABJCONVENTION.COM

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AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE MIAMI HERALD

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019

EMBRACE, ENGAGE AND REDISCOVER MIAMI’S MULTICULTURAL JEWELS The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau Congratulates The American Black Film Festival on its 23rd Anniversary June 12 - 16, 2019

MiamiandBeaches.com © Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau – The Official Destination Sales & Marketing Organization for Greater Miami and the Beaches. // CS-03085

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2019 American Black Film Festival - MIA Magazine  

2019 American Black Film Festival - MIA Magazine  

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