entertainment

A new drama inspired by the musical legacy of Selena Quintanilla coming to ABC

ABC Studios, Campanario Entertainment and SB Projects have secured a development deal to bring a drama inspired by the musical legacy of Selena Quintanilla to television!

The drama, written by Miguel Nolla (Scandal), has the support of the Quintanilla family and ABC has given the development project a put pilot commitment. Nolla will act as co-executive producer.

The currently untitled series will focus on a pop star who finds herself starting all over again in her home state of Texas.

The series focuses on Alex Guerra, a chart-topping, award winning pop star who has been estranged from her family for 5 years.  She tries to pick up the pieces when a crisis forces her to return home. Alex finds herself back in Texas, juggling a love triangle, the demands of her career and the dark secrets of the family that she now desperately wants to win back.

“We are excited to come on board as producers on an ABC music driven, Latino family drama that celebrates Selena’s musical legacy with a lead character whose music and career is inspired by Selena,” said Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga.

SB Projects founder Scooter Braun also expressed his excitement about the upcoming series.

“We are thrilled to team up with Campanario and ABC Studios and highlight the complexities and family dynamics of a Latin pop superstar coming to grips with the reality of her influence especially in today’s social climate,” he said. “More importantly, we are proud to be collaborators on an incredibly timely show that focuses on a strong Latino family and represents the many Americans who we know will enjoy this series alongside us.”

“This project gives us all an opportunity to showcase a successful, aspirational Latino family in a way that is not currently represented on television,” said Jaime Davila, president of Campanario Entertainment. “Sergio, Rico and I are looking forward to creating with the team an original music-driven drama with authentic characters as multifaceted as our own families.”

Sergio Aguero, Jaime Davila, and Rico Martinez of Campanario Entertainment and Scooter Braun, Scott Manson, and James Shin of SB Projects will serve as non-writing executive producers. Simran A. Singh, and Selena Quintanilla family members Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., and Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga, will join the project as producers.

More about Campanario Entertainment and SB Projects: 

Campanario Entertainment is a North American media company that develops and produces broad appeal scripted and unscripted content driven by Latinos and Latinas in front of and behind the camera. Co-founded by Jaime Davila, former development executive at Bravo, and Jaime Davila Sr., former Televisa COO and Univision President and Chairman, Campanario Entertainment strongly supports original voices as well as adapts proven IP for both the U.S. and international television markets. Current productions include unique intellectual properties and adaptations such as FOX’s “Red Band Society,” “Bandolero” with Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical,” “Descendants”), and “Laugh Factory en Español.” Their first project, “Camelia la Texana,” premiered on Telemundo in the US and on Netflix in Mexico, and set a new standard in content and visual quality for Spanish-language programming. For more information, visit Campanario.com.

SB Projects is a diversified entertainment and media company with ventures integrating music, film, television, technology and philanthropy. Guided by the vision of founder Scott “Scooter” Braun (one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People In the World), SB Projects combines creativity, the ability to engage global audiences, and an understanding of “what’s next” to deliver innovative ideas as a leading architect of popular culture. For more information please visit, www.scooterbraun.com.

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Irene Bedard speaks to Indian Country Today about her presidential “Family Feud” role

(Photo credit: Tidal/YouTube)

One of the highlights of Jay Z’s Family Feud video, directed and conceptualized by Ava DuVernay, is the exploration of female leadership in families and, indeed, in a future America. Seeing scores of diverse women running the country, culminating in co-presidency between Irene Bedard and Omari Hardwick, only made me want to see a full-fledged drama series based around these characters and this new, Afrofuturistic and ethnofuturistic world.

Indian Country Today’s Vincent Schilling interviewed Bedard about her role and the importance of honoring female strength in relation to the nation and the world. Here are some key points from her interview.

On getting the call to star in Family Feud while at Standing Rock:

“…In the midst of all of this in Standing Rock, where reception is terrible, I got a call from my agent asking if I could be ready in three days to do a video project in New York. I got on a plane not knowing what I was doing except it was an untitled Ava DuVernay project. I love her and I knew whatever she was doing, it would be awesome. I went with complete faith.”

On hearing she was playing Madame President:

“[DuVernay] looked at me and said, ‘So, you are the President of the United States in the year 2444.’ I was like, ‘What?’ (laughs.) She said, ‘You are actually the co-President because at this time we have realized over the generations that we need to have more balance between the feminine and masculine.’… Of course this was going to done right with a director like Ava, but then to have Beyoncé and Jay-Z? I got to tell my son about this, He was like, ‘what?’ (laughs.) This project gave me some teenager cool points. (laughs.)”

On the importance of representing the matrilineal aspect of leadership:

“…Violence to Mother Earth is another representation of violence against women. Why do we do this? I feel it is because we are out of balance.

If you look at the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman, there are two men who come to her and one man wanted to own her, while the other wanted to give respect and value. The man who wanted to own her got the thunderbolt, the other who wanted to honor her received the gifts, the pipe and the people thrived.

We are lacking in intelligent discourse. I believe that we as a society are much more capable of being tolerant and loving to one another, than what might appear on the internet.”

Read the full interview at Indian Country Today.

“Star Trek: Discovery” mini-rant: What the hell?!

(Wilson Cruz as Dr. Culber on Star Trek: Discovery. Photo credit: CBS)

Each week, Monique will sound off on the current episode of Star Trek: Discovery. For more, read Monique’s Star Trek: Discovery recaps at SlashFilm. These mini-rants will contain SPOILERS–You’re warned. 

It’s been over 72 hours as of this post since I’ve seen the midseason premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, and I am still pissed. I don’t know how killing Culber will advance the story in any type of positive way. I also fear that Culber’s death is one of the breadcrumbs that will lead to Tyler ultimately sacrificing himself.

If you’ve read my latest SlashFilm recap already, you know I’ve been quite livid about seeing Culber die on screen. Supposedly, Culber’s death isn’t going to be a “Bury Your Gays” horror (even though it looks like it on the surface.) I quoted Buzzfeed’s Adam B. Vary’s interviews with Wilson Cruz and Star Trek: Discovery‘s showrunners in my recap, but I want to give a shout out to SyFy’s Swapna Krishna, who also interviewed Cruz about his character’s demise. What Cruz told her, as he told Vary, is that we’ll see Culber again.

“I can tell you that we will be seeing Dr. Culber again.

I can even tell you that as part of the longer epic love story we are planning on telling between these two characters there is a scene in this season that is my favorite thing I have ever filmed in my twenty-five years and I can’t wait for you guys to see it. So when I tell you that it’s not over, it really isn’t. There are reasons why the story has taken a turn, but I just ask that you guys trust us in the storytelling. I had conversations with the producers and there is a bigger story here to be told, and we are going to tell it.”

So, he’s telling us that we will see the continuation of Culber’s story and Culber and Stamets’ relationship. HOWEVER, I’m still mad.

Did it have to be this way, showrunners? On the one hand, I understand that if I was in the creator’s chair, I would have qualms killing characters off regardless. As someone who wishes to create her own show one day, I’ve already realized I am too mushy to kill of characters, even if the story calls for it. Perhaps that’s to my detriment. But, a part of me feels like having a dramatic death at the beginning of a premiere is beginning to be a pattern for Star Trek: Discovery. Case in point–the death of Georgiou, another death I thought wasn’t necessary because, similar to Culber’s, it felt like a bait-and-switch.

However, with as much work as Wilson Cruz has done speaking out on behalf of the LGBT community, and with the showrunners themselves running this storyline by GLAAD, I’d like to believe that this gamble will pay off. I mean, it’d better–Star Trek: Discovery’s life is on the line with this type of gamble. If the story can show a death that exists beyond trope, then maybe there’s a conversation worth having. It’s also worth pointing out that one of the showrunners, Aaron Harberts, is openly gay. Perhaps some of his own feelings about the treatment of LGBT characters in the media will make Culber’s death feel more organic and less of a trope. From what he told IndieWire’s Liz Shannon Miller, it would seem that’s the case.

“This is something we knew we wanted to do pretty much from the minute we started breaking the arc of the entire season. We wanted to have this be the first chapter for this gay couple, who we plan to make one of the most important couples on our show. So, to do that, we needed to tell some tough stories to get this couple where they need to be, and to continue to expand their importance in the fabric of the show. So, this is a first step that we knew we had to take, and we weren’t afraid to take it, because we know where it’s going.”

…“It’s absolutely essential [for Culber’s death to be organic]. It was essential that this crime not be gratuitous. It had to push the story, and it had to come from character and emotion. Culber is killed because he’s the smartest person on the ship. He’s not killed because he’s gay. He’s killed because he’s a threat to Tyler, and to what Tyler’s going through.”

I won’t say Culber’s death was entirely for shock value–I believe Harberts when he says he wanted Culber’s death to not be gratutious–but there is still a shocking element to how he died and the type of episode he died on. A midseason premiere is all about bringing eyes back to the show and attracting new eyes as well, but does a death really win more fans? At this point, from what I’ve seen on Twitter, it seems like all it’s done is piss people off–both longtime viewers and prospective viewers, some of whom are now waiting until the season is over to see how the Culber situation is handled. Regardless, for many, Culber’s death is just one more reason to keep distrusting the media’s handling of LGBT characters since they keep getting killed off or denied their right to happiness.

To be honest, killing off characters for dramatic effect has become a go-to for lots of shows nowadays, and it annoys me. The glut of great television has also made TV watchers desensitized to a certain extent–there are show many shows to watch and so little time, so people have to pick and choose what they give their attention to. Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly harder for shows to garner and maintain an audience when there’s so much competition out there. What I’ve been seeing is an increase in “Can you believe X got killed off?!” moments on TV–moments that result in tons of press and tons of online chatter and attention. Killing off a character can mean your show gets a quick boost of notoriety and promotion. The best example of this is The Walking Dead, the originator of the modern-day “Kill off important characters” tactic. At one point in time, doing such a thing was bold, risky even. But nowadays, the tactic has become stale and, in some cases, hokey. At worst, the tactic has become offensive–The Walking Dead has had a habit of killing of black characters, black men in particular. Also, Glenn, a fan favorite, was believed to have been saved by the writers, only to be brutally killed later on. The most recent kill, protagonist Rick Grimes’ son Carl, deviates from the comic book, in which Carl still lives. If I were a regular viewer of that show, I’d consider it a huge betrayal.

My point is this–what do character deaths amount to in the end? Are they entirely necessary for every story? And will Culber’s death prove to be necessary for the story Star Trek: Discovery is trying to tell or will it turn into another Georgiou moment that leaves fans frustrated? We can only wait and see as the story develops.

Regardless, the sting of seeing Culber killed goes deep. As Harberts said in his interview, we know Culber isn’t killed because he’s gay–it’ because of what he knows about Tyler and because Tyler is fighting his Klingon programming (the buried lede in this article is that Tyler is, in fact, Voq. But he’s a Voq at war with himself, because he doesn’t even remember his former life). But even with that knowledge, I hope the folks behind the show realize that there’s a large contingent of fans who might hit pause on Star Trek: Discovery, at least temporarily. After seeing so many LGBT characters treated wrongly, it’s almost second nature to become wary of any death, regardless of the underlying reasons for that death.

It’s on the show now to win back some fans’ trust and allay fears. If they can’t do that, then the show will have a big problem on its hands.

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Golden Globes 2018: Mulling over a night of solidarity, emotional whiplash, and Oprah

(The cast of “Big Little Lies” accepting their Golden Globe. Photo credit: Hollywood Foreign Press/NBC)

The Golden Globes took me on a journey this year. To be honest, I wish I wasn’t on a good 50 percent of that journey. But the parts that I stuck around for were worth it.

For instance, let’s take the theme of the night—TIME’S UP. With the Golden Globes red carpet and subsequent awards show, the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment against women in the workforce has been put in the spotlight at such a large scale that it seems virtually impossible for the industry to walk back on it or turn its face away from it. The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, spearheaded by over 300 women in entertainment, is now part of the fabric of Hollywood and will only get stronger year by year.

It goes without saying that the initiative’s birth comes from the sheer amount of women in Hollywood who shared their heartbreaking stories of harassment and abuse at the hands of producers, directors, and other Hollywood male elite. But, what also helped the initiative take shape was a message of solidarity from the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (the National Farmworker Women’s Alliance), an organization that combats the harassment female farmworkers face. As TIME’S UP’s website states, the fund partners “with leading advocates for equality and safety to improve laws, employment agreements, and corporate policies; help change the face of corporate boardrooms and the C-suite; and enable more women and men to access our legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable.” In short, the initiative hopes to help all women be protected against abuse and inequitable power structures.

The solidarity between the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas and TIME’S UP is why so many actresses brought WOC activists as their plus ones Sunday. The goal was to advocate for intersectional feminist politics and uplifting female voices and women-led organizations.  The eight activists that joined Michelle Williams, Emma Watson, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, Amy Poehler and Emma Stone were:

Tarana Burke, #MeToo movement founder and activist

Marai Larasi, Executive Director of UK-based black feminist organization Imkaan

Rosa Clemente, Afro-Latinx activist, community organizer and political commenator

Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of Caring Across Generations

Mónica Ramírez, Co-Founder of the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

Calina Lawrence, Indigenous musician/activist

Billie Jean King, legendary tennis star and activist

Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley.

Their joint statement sheds more light on why they chose the Golden Globes red carpet as the avenue to steer the conversation from one of outrage to one of action.

“As longtime organizers, activists and advocates for racial and gender justice, it gives us enormous pride to stand with the members of the TIMES UP campaign who have stood up and spoken out in this groundbreaking historical moment. We have each dedicated our lives to doing work that supports the least visible, most marginalized women in our diverse contexts. We do this work as participants in movements that seek to affirm the dignity and humanity of every person.

“Too much of the recent press attention has been focused on perpetrators and does not adequately address the systematic nature of violence including the importance of race, ethnicity and economic status in sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. Our goal in attending the Golden Globes is to shift the focus back to survivors and on systemic, lasting solutions. Each of us will be highlighting legislative, community-level and interpersonal solutions that contribute to ending violence against women in all our communities. It is our hope that in doing so, we will also help to broaden conversations about the connection to power, privilege and other systemic inequalities.”

After reading more about these women and how they utilized the red carpet as their battleground, I feel like a butt for initially thinking the act of actresses bringing these women was one of performative wokeness. Without any knowledge behind the women’s goal, it certainly has all of the appearances of a selfish act by Hollywood elite to gain brownie points and good press. Without knowing anything about the event, you could easily think the women were being tokenized. It’s easy to believe the worst of Hollywood, even at times like these.

But in this case, the opposite is true; the women involved, women who do such important work, weren’t being used, which was my fear (if you go on Twitter, you can read my misgivings and see-sawing from point to point). I was extremely protective of how these women were being perceived by Hollywood. I’m glad to feel like I was being protective for no reason. And whether or not you believe there’s still some tokenism or lack of agency happening, there is still the silver lining that the exposure opened us viewers up to just eight of the many women who do the hard work without much recognition. They do they work because it is their true calling. It’s only right that they become just popular and recognizable, if not more so, as the actresses who partnered with them.

Even when I muddled through my concerns while watching the red carpet, I was positively surprised and heartened to hear how many actresses were ready to talk about issues affecting all women, including taking E! to task—while being interviewed by E!—for their pay gap.

Where the night fell apart was how men were largely let off the hook about speaking up for women’s rights. All they really had to do was wear a “TIME’S UP” pin and a black tuxedo and smile. The actual awards show also didn’t help matters, between snubbing Dee Rees and Greta Gerwig in the Best Director category (as Natalie Portman so poignantly said, only men were nominated), snubbing Mudbound as a Best Picture contender, blocking Get Out from its expected win by putting it in the Comedy/Musical category, and awarding Kirk Douglas, James Franco, and Gary Oldman, all of whom have checkered pasts and allegations of abuse, harassment or sexual assault. 

But I was brought back by Oprah Winfrey’s rousing speech. I’ll be honest and say that Oprah had fallen off my radar in the past few years; I still watched OWN from time to time, and I still loved my memories of watching The Oprah Winfrey Show. But as for Oprah herself—I thought she’d gone extremely Hollywood. I thought she’d forgotten who she was before she became the New Age guru she is now. Sometimes, the rich begin to forget the hardships of others, and I’d sadly lumped Oprah in with that group, since it’s a luxury to be able to ponder life’s issues inn a comfy chair in the woods.

But Oprah rightfully schooled me, and everyone else in the Golden Globes audience. She gave everyone an education on what they should prioritize in this fight for equality; it’s not about what we wear or don’t wear, and it’s not about how well we speak or how much money we have. What matters is if we use the platforms we have, big or small, to speak out against bigotry, xenophobia, sexism, harassment and abuse. We need to always lift up those like Recy Taylor who never got the justice they deserved. We need to learn and re-learn our American history, so we don’t go through life not giving women like Rosa Parks, an NAACP investigator (not just a tired seamstress, as we’ve always been taught) their full due.

On a personal level, Oprah also reminded me why I got into this representation game in the first place. Too often, many of us lose our way and forget why we were called to do the things we do in the first place. I started blogging about representation in the media years ago after I realized there was a lot more I could say about film and TV than just who is cast in the new thing. There was an entire market not being addressed, and I felt I had the background and talent to address that market with intelligence and humility. However, the world of social media can make you believe that developing a cult of personality is more important than writing a meaningful post. It can make you think your work doesn’t matter because you might not be as loud or as brash or as excitedly opinionated as others. What Oprah did was inspire me the way she did when I was a child. I remembered why I write about film and TV—it’s because my voice is needed. It’s because all of our voices are needed, not just my own. We all should be able to voice our truths about our lives and experiences and lift each other up, finding commonalities in our stories and areas where we can increase our learning. In a way, Oprah did what she’s always done, including when she holds her conversations in the woods—she’s asking us to showcase vulnerable and relatable humanity to each other.

With that said, it’s kinda ridiculous that reactions to her speech has now devolved into a shouting match on Twitter about whether or not she’s qualified to run for President. Sure, I’d like a politician to run for President, but it’s not as if Oprah’s another Trump—she’s highly intelligent, she’s a humanitarian, and she understands what’s at stake with American politics and society. If Trump’s qualified to run and win, anyone’s qualified to run now. And if that means Oprah’s got a chance, then so be it. I mean, if there’s no one else running against Trump, who else are we going to vote for? There are bigger and more meaningful hills to die on than if Oprah wins the Presidency. (By the way: I didn’t see this much outrage when Dwayne Johnson said he was mulling over a presidential candidacy.) The Twittersphere going H.A.M. over Oprah’s hypothetical candidacy has left a bad taste in my mouth for sure, and it’s definitely indicative of how Twitter as a whole can miss the point of a poignant moment.

I’ll end with this: The Golden Globes were the worst and best of times. Some things happened that were deeply questionable, and other things happened that seemed sketchy at first but turned out to be fantastic. In the end, Oprah cut through the muck and proved to be the guiding light of the evening, and looking with hindsight, none of us should have been surprised at that outcome.♦

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Watch Oprah Winfrey’s amazing Golden Globes speech again!

Oprah Winfrey stole the Golden Globes show, didn’t she? During a night where genuine anger and defiance mixed with performative “wokeness,” Oprah reminded us all why she’s the most respected and revered name in Hollywood.

I’m planning on having my full thoughts on Oprah’s speech and the night as a whole later today. But for now, enjoy Oprah’s amazing speech once again via NBC’s YouTube page and start your day off on the right foot.

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4 things I hope we find out once “Star Trek: Discovery” returns

With Star Trek: Discovery around the corner, I’m reviewing some of the things I hope we find out in the second half of the season.

1. The Ash Tyler/Voq mystery will finally be put to rest

Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler (Photo credit: CBS)

I’ve written extensively about this in my SlashFilm Star Trek: Discovery recaps, but I personally think that the “Tyler is Voq” theory is past its prime because what’s the most important thing now is how will Tyler overcome the trauma he’s endured at the hands of L’Rell. Whether he’s really Voq inside is no relevance since Tyler can’t remember his former life and his bond with L’Rell anyways. Meanwhile, even though L’Rell might know everything, she’s removed Voq’s ability to consent to anything. So, sorry to say this L’Rell fans, but your girl’s a rapist.

As I wrote in my last SlashFilm review before the hiatus:

What can I say about Tyler’s graphic nightmare? First of all, it was horrific. What’s even more horrific is that Tyler’s dreams could get worse now that L’Rell is actually on board. Second, the amount of abuse Tyler suffered — and the anger towards the Klingons he’s amassed because of it — negates any credence a “Voq overtakes the Discovery as Tyler” theory. We saw how he instantly went into shock at the sight of L’Rell when he and Michael were aboard the Ship of the Dead. At this point, all Tyler wants is peace, and if anything, the hypothetical scenario of him learning he’s actually a Klingon could make him want to kill L’Rell and all Klingons even more.

How could he go from tortured soul to the newly risen Klingon leader between now and the end of the first season in 2018? With how he’s acted around the Klingons, plus him saying he’s found peace with Michael, it seems like Tyler is with the good guys, regardless of who he is underneath. In short: Tyler or Voq isn’t doing anything to Discovery except save it when push comes to shove.  Once the Discovery gets what they want out of L’Rell, he’s either going to take her down or it’ll be a battle between L’Rell and Michael over Tyler. As we have seen from Michael’s fight with Kol and her slaying of T’Kuvma, she’s good at taking down Klingons.

This opinion backs up what I originally wrote about Tyler’s situation in the “Choose Your Pain” recap:

The insinuation that Tyler has been raped repeatedly by the Klingon captain was so subtle in the dialogue between Tyler and Lorca that it’s easy to look past it, or even excuse it away as Tyler purposefully using his sex appeal to his advantage. But the way he swings at the Klingon captain tells a different story. He’s trying to throw back some of the pain she’s caused him.

Tyler’s victimhood might also go unrecognized by some viewers due to how much our society’s view of toxic masculinity keeps us from seeing men as sexual assault victims, especially when it’s at the hands of a woman. Male victims are often scorned or seen as weak. Just look to last week [at the time of writing this review], when Terry Crews revealed he had been sexually assaulted by a powerful Hollywood executive. While Crews received tons of support, there were also people — many of them men — wondering why he didn’t say anything and why he, as a man, didn’t do anything, particularly since his assailant was another man. Some people assumed Crews couldn’t be a victim just because he’s a burly man (that’s not counting the racial implications there are to this assumption).

While women are often wrongly stereotyped as “asking for it,” male victims are also stereotyped in the same way. Somehow, it’s always painted as the victim’s fault — not the perpetrator’s — for their own assault. Even worse for men is when other men might congratulate male victims for “getting lucky” if their assailant happened to be a woman.  I haven’t seen much on the internet in the way of actually recognizing Tyler’s trauma — I’ve only seen one person tweet about wanting the show to explore Tyler’s PTSD. I’ve also seen a person say Tyler ended “a relationship” with the Klingon captain? This was no relationship. Hopefully, Discovery will explore this further. After all, Star Trek has always been about using science fiction to tackle real world social, moral, and ethical questions and quandaries. It’s only right for the new show to dig deep here.

At any rate, it’s not going to achieve what some fans hope it does, which is invalidate Tyler’s relationship with Michael. Speaking of:

2. Michael and Tyler’s relationship gets taken to the next level

Shazad Latif and Sonequa Martin-Green as Tyler and Michael (Photo credit: screencap)

It’d appear that these two are already getting more serious than I initially thought they would by midseason; maybe I’m just used to shows from the ‘90s that take at least three seasons for a romance to actually get off of first base. But I’m quite excited at the prospect of a big relationship for Michael. It can only help define both her and Tyler grow in a myriad of ways.

I’d also like to bring up something that’s been poking me for a while, and that’s the paranoia I have surrounding some fans steadfastly against Michael having any romantic relationships. Perhaps I’m wrongly lumping some fans in with the fans who are so focused on Tyler being Voq just so they can trample on Tyler and Michael’s relationship. But the conflation of “Michael shouldn’t be with anyone” with “Tyler has to be Voq because of his relationship with Michael” annoys me. With some fans, these two sentiments work in tandem, and having lived through the Sleepy Hollow drama regarding Abbie and Ichabod’s OBVIOUS relationship and the show’s insistence on working against said relationship, plus the Into the Badlands drama with Veil’s death and my subsequent chat with EP Al Gough, my hackles are up. I’m ready to guard this relationship until the canon says otherwise. And even then, I might defend this relationship. That’s my position and I’m sticking to it.

3. More focus on the other bridge crew members

(L-R) Ronnie Rowe Jr. as Bryce, Emily Coutts as Detmer, Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys, Oyin Oladejo as Owosekun, Sara Mitch as Ariam. (Photo credit: CBS)

The first half of the season was to establish Michael’s story. Perhaps all of this season will be a complete beginning and end to Michael’s first chapter. But I’d like for the rest of this season and subsequent seasons to focus on the other crew members as well as Michael.

We’ve already had Saru’s character exploration episode; I’m now ready for us to get into what’s behind Owosekun, Rhys, and Bryce. I especially want to know the stories behind Airiam, the augmented human (or alien?) who mysteriously never speaks, and Detmer, who now sports ocular and cranial implants due to her injuries from the Battle of the Binary Stars.

If we were in a “standard” Star Trek series, I wouldn’t worry about if we’d ever learn more about these characters, because on every Star Trek series up until Discovery, entire episodes would be set aside to explore smaller characters, such as the Voyager episode “Warhead” featuring Ensign Harry Kim as its major character. With Discovery, the lay of the land is different. But I do hope that element of prior series remains and is explored at some point in Discovery’s lifespan.

4. More Georgiou

Michelle Yeoh as Capt. Georgiou. (Photo credit: CBS)

My biggest gripe with Discovery thus far is how little time we spent with Georgiou. With a great talent like Michelle Yeoh, it makes more sense for Discovery to feature her as much as possible. I would love to see more flashbacks with her, or maybe some alternate universe episodes featuring a still-living Georgiou. I just want Georgiou back, point blank. I’m quite sure I’m not alone in that. It has been confirmed that we’d see more of Georgiou, so that’s a bit of news we can hang our hat on.

What do you hope gets addressed during the back half of Discovery’s first season? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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“Solo: A Star Wars Story” continues the tale of brunettes in space in leaked teaser poster

The first teaser poster for Solo: A Star Wars Story has been released, and let’s just say the response hasn’t been overwhelming. Or at the very least, my response isn’t overwhelming.

I’m not sure if it’s the Photoshop treatment, the color scheme (yellow’s not my favorite color), or just how the actors don’t really seem to be nailing their looks in this image, but the whole effect is just one that screams “This movie was salvaged.” Perhaps it’s also the background drama that’s surrounded this film, what with Phil Lord and Chris Miller being fired and replaced with Ron Howard.

You can read all about Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy’s reasons for firing Lord and Miller here, but what it ultimately came down to was a lack of directorial leadership amongst Lord and Miller and a mismatch between Lucasfilm’s well-oiled machine way of doing things and Lord and Miller’s more improvisational style of directing. Innovation is great, but all that admirable innovation goes out the window if you’re someone who’s not a team player. But overall, I feel like Kennedy and Lucasfilm are probably viewing this film as the new Star Wars franchise’ first big bust.

Another thing that’s infuriating to the nth degree is how there’s another brunette woman in a Star Wars film.

With respect to Our Lady of Star Wars Carrie Fisher, we need to tally up the amount of brunettes there have been in this franchise, counting Emilia Clarke (who will play someone named Kira).

Now let’s count how many women of color have been in Star Wars leading roles, including Thandie Newton (who is in this movie as a main character, but that character is shrouded in secrecy–in this photo set, she’s shown in her role in Westworld).

In short, that’s too many brunettes and too few WOC.

I’m quite sure there’s a reason Star Wars typically casts brunettes in their films; it’s to honor the first Star Wars brunette, Princess Leia. But that odd nod to Leia is only undercutting Lucasfilm’s focus to diversity. I’ve already written at length about Star Wars’ issues with WOC representation, and I’d basically be repeating myself, so I’ll just link my post here. Basically, the problem is simple: How can you have a universe full of aliens and creatures and not have a universe equally as full with people of color, especially women of color? To alter Whitney Houston’s famous lyric, It’s not right, and it’s not okay. But we’re gonna make it anyway (because that’s what women of color do).

There are two things that give me hope for SOLO: A Star Wars Story eeking out a minor win.

1. Lucasfilm do actually use WOC writers: As profiled by The New York Times, the head of Lucasfilm’s story group is Kiri Hart, a former TV and film writer and woman of color. Again, to tout Kennedy’s feminist-centric way of running Lucasfilm, Kennedy is the one who installed Hart in this seat of power.

Hart’s first act as story group head was to give female points of view a voice, and indeed she has. She’s also given women of color particular power in an industry that aims to silence them. To quote the Times:

“Today, the Lucasfilm story group is a diverse outlier in Hollywood: five of its members are people of color, and the team includes four women and seven men. This is a rarity in 2017, where women account for 13 percent, and minorities represent 5 percent, of all writers working on the top-grossing films. In addition to maintaining the continuity of the ‘Star Wars’ universe, they aim to increase its diversity.”

I don’t know if the casting branch and the writer’s branch work together at all—it can be hard to know exactly where one set of red tape ends and where another set begins. It’s also unclear if the casting decisions were left up to Lord and Miller. But regardless, hearing that there’s diversity behind the scenes gives me hope of seeing more well-rounded women of color grace the big screen soon. It also gives me hope that other marginalized people will be represented as well. You probably already know how much I talk about Stormpilot, and it’s for a reason; it’s because the LGBT community must be represented as well as women of color. Knowing that a diverse group is behind the Star Wars writing process gives added credence to Kennedy’s assertion that the fandom pairing is actually being considered as a legitimate avenue for exploration.

2. Thandie Newton is a main character; we just don’t know who she is: What has got some Solo followers upset is the rumor that several women of color tried out for Clarke’s role, with the role ultimately going to Clarke. What many WOC Star Wars fans hoped was that the role was Sana Starros, Han Solo’s former wife, and the worry is that Clarke’s role is of a whitewashed Sana. According to The Hollywood Reporter as of 2016, it’s unclear if Clarke’s role is actually the same one the other actresses—Tessa Thompson, Adria Arjona, and Zoe Kravitz—tried out for. Also, since Lucasfilm does have one of the most diverse writers’ rooms in Hollywood right now, one would hope that they wouldn’t make this kind of mistake.

However, we just might have our first clue as to who Newton is playing. In a September set photo featuring Newton and Howard, Newton is wearing a jacket with a mysterious-looking patch. SlashFilm’s Jacob Hall has surmised that the patch just might be an Imperial one, meaning Newton could be playing none other than Imperial naval officer Rae Sloane. If that’s the case, then Newton’s character will be a much-welcomed sight in the Star Wars universe.

Granted, there’s the critique that could be made that the first prominent black diasporic woman we’ve seen in a major Star Wars role is evil. But again, we don’t know who Newton is playing for sure. For all we know, she is actually playing Sana, who just happens to be wearing an Imperial jacket as some sort of subterfuge.

This was a lot of words on a teaser poster I hate, but there you have it. What do you think about Solo: A Star Wars Story? Give your opinions below!

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Twitter drags Young Hollywood for colorist and racist comments towards “Love and Hip Hop Miami” star Amara La Negra

I’m not a watcher of any of the Love and Hip Hop franchise, but I had to take a moment out of my day to write about the controversy that flared up during the first episode of Love and Hip Hop Miami. In this clip, Dominican singer Amara La Negra face intense colorism and racism from producer Young Hollywood.

Okay. Some points:

1. WHO is Young Hollywood? Not to play that “I don’t know her” game, but I don’t know who this is, and I know a lot about pop culture. I feel like if Young Hollywood were really important in the music industry, I’d certainly know more about him than his tragic presentation of himself on Love and Hip Hop Miami. Basically, what I’m saying is that Young Hollywood doesn’t seem as popular as he wants everyone to believe.

2. How disrespectful and racist can he be? It’s as if he went out of his way to be disrespectful. First, it’s the overt colorism and anti-blackness he embodies with comments about not being glamorous with an afro, mocking the Black Power fist, and calling Amara “Afro-Latina Queen” and “Nutella Queen,” not to mention questioning the validity of the Afro-Latina identity.

3. “NUTELLA QUEEN”??? Amara played this exchange much cooler than I think would have. I’m actually not sure what I would have done, but it would definitely be something people wouldn’t expect from someone as quiet-natured as me.

4. Young Hollywood needs to check himself, because he’s a prime example of anti-blackness in the Latinx community If you needed an example of one of the biggest issues facing Afro-Latinx, look no further than Young Hollywood’s interaction with Amara.

Last year, I interviewed several Latinx content creators for my longform piece on what it’s like being Latinx in Hollywood. All of them sounded off on the colorism and anti-blackness that affects Latinx who don’t look like, as Young Hollywood hinted at in his own words to Amara, the stereotypical “Latinx” person.

“…[T]here’s obvious merit in bringing in new talent because that director could be the next person who discovers the next [big] actor. I think that’s…something that’s very important,” said Kimberly Hoyos, filmmaker and creator of The Light Leaks, a website designed to support, educate and empower female and gender non-conforming filmmakers. “Even in my Latino community, there’s a weird emphasis on how dark you are or how light you are or where you’re from. I really feel like that’s an issue that translates to the screen as well. Even though it’s women of color, it’s much more valuable in media to be light skinned than dark skinned.”

“I understand my privilege as a light-skinned afro-Boricua woman. I have to– otherwise I contribute to the continued problems of colorism in both the Latinx community and within a larger worldwide context,” wrote Desiree Rodriguez, Editorial Assistant for Lion Forge sci-fi comic book Catalyst Prime and writer for Women on Comics and The Nerds of Color, in an email interview.”By favoring women who look like me, you erase the multitude of men, women, and non-binary Latinx individuals who don’t look like me. It’s important that media reflects the actual reality of the Latinx community, which includes a wide range of races, and even religious identities.”

“By ignoring those parts of our community, media creates a distorted image of our culture, which allows the continued whitewashing of our community, ignorance regarding our identities, and contributes to a lack of empathy of our struggles,” she wrote. “It also, I personally feel, encourages some individuals within the Latinx community to reject their indigenous or black ancestry in favor of whiteness. This can, and has, further contributed to the alienation of Afro and Indigenous Latinxs within our community.”

“Gina Torres is a proud Afro-Cuban American woman who, as far as I know, never gotten a chance to play a Latina woman on screen. She’s even gone on record stating how Hollywood wants their Latinas to look Italian,” she wrote.  “If the producers of Supergirl wanted a Latina woman to play Maggie Sawyer, why not cast one? How many people know Meagan Good is part Puerto Rican? Or that Harry Shum Jr. identifies as Latino? Or that Alexis Bledel is Latina? Meagan good is Afro-Latina, Harry Shum Jr. is Asian-Latino, Alexis Bledel is a white Latina. But we don’t see this type of diversity reflected back on screen. It’s very one-sided, one-note, and done in a specific way that spreads ignorance and misinformation on the Latinx community. It is complicated, but we’re a community worth learning about, respecting, and feeling empathy for.”

“[Stereotyping is] very, very detrimental and limiting because when you think of Latin America, we’re talking about over 20 countries and yes, we’re talking about Spanish [as a language] there are other languages [as well]…so I will say that when it comes down to not just representation, but inclusion in Hollywood, a person has to be invested in learning about the culture because there’s so many different moving parts,” said Janel Martinez, founder and editor-in-chief of Ain’t I Latina, a site celebrating Afro-Latinas and Afro-Latinx culture. “You can be Latino, Latina, Latinx, but you can be black, you can be Asian, you can be white and Latino. There has to be a great understanding of the culture.”

As Francisco Herrera for Latino Rebels writes, to talk about anti-blackness and how it affects Latinx “isn’t to say that Latinos aren’t racialized and subjugated. Nor am I saying that anti-Blackness is a necessary, inevitable or inherent aspect of Latino identities.” What Herrera’s point is, he writes, “is that for a lot of us, especially non-Black Latinos, being subjugated in some ways has not precluded us from being complicit with anti-Black politics in the U.S. and throughout the Americas.”

“Destroying our complicity with anti-Black violence and making that violence impossible requires that we invest time in expanding our vocabulary about race, committing ourselves to being vulnerable with each other in service of antiracism, and holding each other accountable to practicing anti-racism every day. This everyday practice will look different for each of us but it must be guided by the fundamental idea that Black lives are fully human, deserving of our love, and that they matter. This last part is worth emphasizing again: we must all focus on turning our so-called love into daily actions that make the hate of anti-Black violence impossible.”

Amara is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, and her pride for her heritage and race makes her a positive role model for other Afro-Latina girls out there. The fact that Young Hollywood would question her beauty and her pride for her heritage, and then call her “psychotic” because she’s checking him on his bullshit, smacks of misogyny and his own insecurities about his masculinity and his racial identity. If your racial identity hinges on belittling others’ racial identities, while you’re profiting off of the same racial identity you’re belittling, you’re a fool. You can’t talk down blackness and then still try to act and sound black. Also, Young Hollywood, you’re a minority like the rest of us black and brown people. Learn your history and where blackness fits into your personal ancestry, because I’m sure it does.

5. Is Young Hollywood going to be kept around on this show just for the views? I’ve had issues with Love and Hip Hop creator Mona Scott-Young for a while, but keeping this guy around just for the drama just might be a new low.

The clapback has been real, and deservedly so; I’ve never heard of Young Hollywood, but it’s clear from this clip that he’s a racist, misogynist jerk, and that’s me being too kind. Here’s what everyone else had to say in much more colorful language.

As for the aftermath of this whole awful moment, Amara has come out on top. Not only does she have Love and Hip Hop Miami fans in her corner, but she’s also just signed a multi-album record deal with BMG and Fast Life Entertainment. According to Billboard, her first single will be out during the first quarter of 2018. Hollywood, on the other hand, is still being a butt.

I’ll end this piece with Martinez giving the last word.

What do you think about this? Are you still going to support Love and Hip Hop Miami? Are you excited about Amara’s upcoming single? And do you think Young Hollywood can change, or is he too less-than-smart to realize he needs to change? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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Get to know the POC “Star Trek: Discovery” bridge crew members in new exclusive CBS interviews

Star Trek: Discovery is coming back this Sunday, and in anticipation of the return, CBS has interviewed the bridge crew cast members. I’m excited they’ve finally given these actors a spotlight, since they act as the visual anchors for us when we’re viewing the bridge. Also, these interviews give us a better look at our three POC bridge crew castmembers— Oyin Oladejo (Lt. Junior Grade Owosekun), Ronnie Rowe Jr. (Lt. R.A. Bryce), and Patrick Kwok-Choon (Lt. Rhys). Here are some key moments from their interviews.

Oyin Oladejo | Complete interview

Photo credit: CBS

On self-care: “I was once told, ‘Don’t forget to take your medication,’ which in hindsight wasn’t the kindest thing ever said to me. However, I have reclaimed it with love, and now I never forget to take my ‘medication,’ whether it be meditation, martial arts, or reruns of Law and Order. Whatever heals your soul, that’s your medication.”

Ronnie Rowe Jr. | Complete interview

Photo credit: CBS

On his New Year’s resolution: To do better than I did in 2017.

Patrick Kwok-Choon | Complete interview

Photo credit: CBS

On his favorite Star Trek captain: “Captain Philippa Georgiou. Positive representation of people of color is important to me. Michelle Yeoh is so talented, has a heart of gold, and is a real inspiration to watch on screen.”

You can read more cast interviews at CBS.com. Star Trek: Discovery comes back to CBS All-Access Jan. 7 at 9/8c.

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Issa Rae and “Full Frontal” writer Travon Free explore bisexuality in upcoming pilot “Him Or Her”

Issa Rae has several new HBO shows on the horizon, but there’s one I’m interested in the most—a black bisexual rom-com.

Him Or Her, executive produced by Rae and Travon Free (a writer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and former writer for The Daily Show) will be, according to Shadow and Act, a “single-camera half-hour” comedy that follows “the dating life of a bisexual black man and the distinctly different worlds and relationships he finds himself in.”

Shadow and Act is right in asserting that Him Or Her might be “the first television show to center the focus on a black, LGBT male since Noah’s Arc.” What’s also great is that much of the show will be based on Free’s own experiences as a bisexual man.

As Rae told The Huffington Post in an email, “I was immediately drawn in to the concept from his initial pitch and am SO grateful that he’s trusting us with his vision.” As reported by Logo, Rae also said she has wanted to bring bisexuality into the conversation about black masculinity.

What do you think about this show? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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