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Enjoy These Blassics for Christmas

Much like Thanksgiving, this year Christmas is hitting a little different. Dad, Grandpas, and Uncles screaming at the same football game over Zoom. Mama, Grandmas, and Aunties are fixing dinners just for their families as everyone is social distancing. All the kids are Facetiming each other to the latest TikTok dances and doing Insta Videos on the Gram.

This doesn’t mean people are tossing aside the holiday festivities (Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa). Having a small circle of (COVID-free) friends or immediate family over is still a slim possibility with social distancing and Zoom.

This year, you can tap into the Black experience by enjoying times where family and friends could gather before social distancing. So, here are some Christmas Blassics for you to enjoy this holiday season.

This Christmas

This recent Christmas Blassic is based on the classic Donny Hathaway song of the same name. The film centers on the Whitfield family as the eldest son (played by Idris Elba) comes home for the first time in four years. But he’s return is only the tip of the iceberg as the family has to overcome secrets as Christmas approaches. Along with Elba, the film stars acting legends Loretta Devine, Delroy Lindo and Regina King as well as Lauren London, Chris Brown, Sharon Leal, Columbus Short and Laz Alonso.

Almost Christmas

Just like This Christmas, this modern Christmas Blassic centers on a dysfunctional family coming together during the Christmas season. The film follows the Meyers family as they come together for the first time since losing their matriarch. As Christmas approaches, secrets are revealed and hijinks ensue just in time for the holidays. The film stars Kimberly Elise, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, Gabrielle Union, Keri Hilson, Jessie Usher, Danny Glover, Omar Epps, John Michael Higgins, D. C. Young Fly, and Romany Malco.

The Best Man Holiday

The Christmas Blassic reunites the cast of another Blassic The Best Man over a decade later. The film sees the gang back together again as Mia Sullivan (played by Monica Calhoun) sends the letters asking them to spend Christmas with her and her husband Lance. New and old issues come up between the friends as a tragic secret looms over the gathering. Along with Calhoun, the film stars Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau, and Melissa De Sousa

Black Nativity

This modern Christmas Blassic is based on a stage musical retelling of the Nativity by celebrated Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes. The film follows a teenaged boy (played by Jacob Latimore) as he is reunited with his estranged pastor grandparents. Through a series of musical numbers and Christmas festivities, the two generations comes together in the holiday spirit. Along with Latimore, the film stars acting legends Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Vondie Curtis-Hall as well as Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, and Nas.

The Preacher’s Wife

This 1996 Christmas Blassic is remake of the 1947 film The Bishop’s Wife. The film follows an angel Dudley (played by Oscar winner Denzel Washington) as he tries to help a struggling pastor save his church as well as his family. Conflict ensues as Dudley begins getting closer to and falling for the pastor’s wife (played by the late Whitney Houston). Along with Washington and Houston, the film stars Courtney B. Vance, Loretta Devine, Gregory Hines, and Jenifer Lewis.

The Kid Who Loved Christmas

This 1990 TV film follows an adoptive father and son who fight to stay together during the Christmas season. The small family is torn apart after the tragic death of the adoptive mother. The entire family gathers to support them as the father fights Social Services to keep the little boy. The film stars Cicely Tyson, Michael Warren, Sammy Davis Jr. Sideman, Gilbert Lewis, Charles Q. Murphy, Ken Page, Ray Parker Jr., Della Reese, Esther Rolle, Ben Vereen. and Vanessa Williams.

While eating your dinner this holiday season, why not watch and reminisce over these amazing films.

Getting Afrofuturistic Spirit for Halloween

Halloween is usually a time of outrageous parties, terrifying haunted houses, and mountains of miniature candies. But given our current circumstance, many of those activities has either been scaled down, shifted to online, or completely eliminated.

This doesn’t mean people are throwing aside the spookiest day of the year. For many, this will be the first time they’ve socialized with anyone in months. Plus, everyone will be in costumes and masks – so a win win.

Whether it is face-to-face or virtually, this year ditch the scary or sexy route and delve into Afrofuturism. You can tap into the Black experience while playing with sci-fi and fantasy.

I decided to highlight some content across all media for some Afrofuturistic inspiration.

Books

The Broken Earth series (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky) by N.K. Jemisin

This Hugo Award-winning series follows Black women across multiple generations as they try to survive the “Fifth Season” after geological cataclysms.

The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

This children’s sci-fi novel follows the children of Chief of Security General Matsika – Tendai, Rita, and Kuda – as they try to escape their kidnappers in 2194 Zimbabwe.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

A blend of Afro-Caribbean culture and magical realism, this novel see Ti-Jeanne, a single mother, trying to find herself and reconnect with her heritage in a dystopian downtown Toronto.

Lilith’s Blood collection (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) by Octavia Butler

Based on Butler’s own experiences with racism, the trilogy follows a war survivor Lilith as she is torn between breeding with an alien race to survive in a dystopian future, or fight to save the human race.

Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney

Delaney’s stream-of-consciousness debut follows “The Kid” on a road trip through the city of Bellona as he tries to remember his past in a post-apocalyptic U.S.

Television and Film

Sorry to Bother You

Set in an alternative universe, a young Black telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) must adopt a white accent to succeed. He eventually becomes torn between success and standing up for what is right.

Black Panther

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to assume the throne of Wakanda. He faces challenges from the outside world including his cousin Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan).

Blade

Blade (Wesley Snipes), a Dhampir, joins his mentor Abraham Whistler and hematologist Karen Jenson as they fight against vampires led by vicious Deacon Frost.

Star Trek: Discovery

The latest TV installment of the historic franchise follows the crew of the USS Discovery across a series of adventures with Sonequa Martin-Green as series lead Michael Burnham.

Luke Cage

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) fights against crime and corruption in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen with his super strength and unbreakable skin.

Music

Janelle Monae

The multi-talented entertainer and her alter ego cyborg Cindi Mayweather explored a dystopian future of prejudice and oppression through a series of prolific albums. Check out The ArchAndroid and Electric Lady for more insight and listening pleasure.

SBTRKT

The English DJ created tribal-like dance and pop music while wearing modern interpretations of African masks. Check out his work with Sampha.

Missy Elliott

The hip-hop innovator used her visuals to explore the styles and concepts of Afrofuturism from her cover art to music videos. This has only been heightened by her stage productions and lyrics. Check out her videos and performances for more.

FKA Twigs

The singer-songwriter is known for blending genres such as R&B, avant-garde pop, and trip hop to create a unique, futuristic sound along with out-of-the-box visuals and performances. Check out her work such as EP1, EP2, and Magdalene.

Ras G

The deceased producer and DJ played with sci-fi and fantasy themes through his music production and his album titles. Check out his work such as Brotha from Another Planet and Back to the Planet.

Bittersweet Beginning

The end has finally come! This past weekend, I graduated from SCAD-Atlanta with a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing. Below are some photos and video from the event.


This is the end of an era as I transition from blogging about screenwriting to covering all facets of my creative life. I will be separating my writing from my visual work with my new blogs: Writing While Black and The Creative Grind! Watch this space for their launch. Until then, see you on the other side.

Inspiration in the Life of John Singleton

As a screenwriter and creator, I’ve studied the greats by emulating them while trying to put my own spin on narrative storytelling. There has never been a drought for finding inspiration in film and television. There have been a myriad of writers, producers, and filmmakers who’ve influenced me in some shape or form. But a pivotal figure in my life since childhood has been the recently deceased John Singleton. I’ve watched everything from Boyz in the Hood to Poetic Justice to Baby Boy (certified hood classics). So I felt compelled to attend a celebration of Singleton’s life at SCADShow.

Working and Learning at aTVFest





As my graduate journey nears the end, I’ve found myself looking for more insight into the entertainment industry. See and hear what I learned at SCAD-Atlanta’s 2019 aTVFest.

https://youtu.be/gUpui3p-vkE

Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

 

Getting Inspired at the Greenville Museum of Art

Being creative has its demands, sometimes, you need some inspiration. See what happened on my birthday trip to South Carolina did for me.

https://youtu.be/qeEFQF_xzb8

Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Working Towards the Finish Line

The finish line for my completed work came with a mixed bag of emotions. With all the pieces falling into place, my mind has been filled with endless possibilities for my future. The creative light has begun to shine brightly in the tunnel of self-doubt.

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Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

Having not stared at my screenplay for a month has been a gift and a curse. I’ve relaxed on having to smooth out and revise my work, but revisiting it so close to my thesis deadline has made me a little anxious. Hearing feedback from my professor has allowed me to move forward in my process. At this point, most of my writing has begun to focus line editing with some action streamlining and dialogue tweaking at the same time.  In the notes I received, some character interaction needed to expand upon in terms of dialogue. Some of the dialogue seemed out of character so some more context is needed. The dialogue has come off a little date in places so I’ve begun to tackle that. The action has improved as I made it easier to read and understand even though some still needs to synthesized just a little more. Besides the feedback, I’ve begun creating music for my screenplay with some outside help from more musically inclined writers. Hopefully, within the next week, I’ll have a finished screenplay. I did receive some positive notes about the unique perspective and great character development I displayed.  Sending it to a thesis committee member or two for some more feedback. In the future, an actual table reading would be the best way to hear my words as a screenwriter.

self head

As my thesis has begun to come together, I found time to get started on some other things. I continued working on my visual project for Black History Month, which kicks off Feb. 1. Along with that project, I plan on doing some more character designs for my potential shows. Working on other writing projects has crossed my mind over the past few days as I complete my thesis. On the branding side, advertising on social media has begun helping my awareness grow. On the job front, prospects seem fruitful as I continue to job search while prepping to the Career Fair next month and Out to Launch in May.

As my time at SCAD winds down, I feel a sense of anxiety and excitement as my thesis defense draws closer. My post-graduate life is staring me right in the face. For the first time in a while, I’m a little afraid of what’s around the corner.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

Finding a Groove by Moving Forward

Screenwriting has allowed many to give a voice to the voiceless on the page. Whether theatre, film or television, screenwriting became a cathartic experience as well as a creative release. With any experience, there has to be a transition that allows for progression. Working on my second act allowed me to find voices within my multi-layered world.

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Unlike last week’s writing overload, I found my groove as I begun to take on my second act. Allowing the screenplay to act as a setup has allowed me to explore this foreign yet nearby world  – the music industry. The characterization and dialogue came through me as the intensity of the second act opened up for my characters and the world around them. Human connection and relatability became the focus of writing the second act. Doing some work in the first act allowed for the second act to be more grounded in reality. I allowed influences from various areas – interviews, documentaries, musicals – to sip into the second act but with my own twist. All those years of being a music head really paid off when it came to creating conflict when the time called for it. Adding new characters to play against my leads allowed for some interaction I never saw coming during the initial stages. The second act builds upon the world created in the first act as the music moment become second nature in the writing process. Like last week, my thesis fell more in line with the intent of my original one-act play touched on. I wanted to illustrate that point while expanding into other areas for a more well-rounded story. With my second act done, the next few weeks will be about working to refine what I have and making some new twists.

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For the first time in weeks, I felt less anxious about life. I was able to enjoy some personal time by doing some self-care. Independent study went well this week as my professor and I discussed the new direction. Teaching was a little better as I became more comfortable with the students. Client work slowed down a bit, but there seems to be something around the corner. I sent out my script to be read by a film and television professor (Fingers crossed for a good critique). The visual work was scaled back this week while work and school took over my life. So far, my thesis journey has begun to fall in place.


Come back next week for more on my journey to creating my Master’s thesis.

Don’t be a stranger! Leave a comment below.

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