March 09, 2017
By Brittany K. Jackson
Recently, EBONY Magazine and iTunes Movies collaborated for its 2nd Annual Pre-Oscars Celebration, this time to honor storytellers who have transformed Hollywood cinema and the Black entertainment culture. The night brought out a slew of celebrities, producers, directors and actors who shared in the support of industry game changers like Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, and John Singleton, filmmakers who’ve worked tirelessly to change the narrative of Black Hollywood.
One of the nights’ honorees included Raoul Peck, filmmaker of the Oscar-nominated film, “I Am Not Your Negro”, who said that while he’s happy about the nomination, he’s happier for James Baldwin, who stood alongside his good friends Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers in the fight for racial equality in America.
“Finally I hope he will be recognized for the great man, and the greater writer that he is,” Peck stated. The Haitian director said that that we still have a lot of catching up to do. “The film industry, the Hollywood story has never been ours and we have so many stories that we need to tell, and we need to catch our narrative back,” Peck declared.
Peck said that it was reading Baldwin’s book “The Fire Next Time” that ultimately changed the scope of his life. “That was my first book and he basically changed my life, he never left me since then, and he was a very important figure in my life,” Peck continued.
Singer, actress and businesswoman LeToya Luckett also made an appearance at the event. The “Single Ladies” star says EBONY Magazine has always played an integral role in inspiring her and the women who look like her to be great. “Who else is going to tell our story but us? Who’s going to do it better? We have to continue it, and we have to even go deeper, we have to dig deeper and not be afraid and walk in fear that somebody might think a certain way or we’re not being politically correct,” Luckett said. “We need to tell our stories the way we need to tell our stories to the depths and the core of who we are,” she added.
“Closer” singer Goapele also stopped by to share news of her role in the short film “Where Is Beauty”, which taps into multicultural identity, self-love and the woman’s experience of beauty in the 21st century. In the film, directed by Angela McCrae, Goapele delves deep into how “we’re looking to social media for reflections of ourselves” and how to find love within without compromise. As it pertains to our representation in Hollywood, the singer says she’s just “happy that there’s more stories, more variety out there right now”.