Magazine article Black Enterprise

Now's the Time for Black Hollywood to Rise

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Now's the Time for Black Hollywood to Rise

Article excerpt

This is the time of year when theaters are flooded with Oscar contenders. Only a handful of films that will receive consideration have a black lead actor; even fewer were produced or directed by African Americans. So why hasn't Hollywood embraced black films despite their box office and critical successes? The commercial entertainment industry continues to be a hostile environment for African Americans--a place where our talents are exploited and our images distorted, and where white executives are still the only ones with green-lighting power.

But dawn has finally broken over the horizon with the advent of various technologies that are altering the industry. Websites such as MySpace, YouTube, and Tap It FAME are creating outlets for us to showcase our creations when and how we want. Improvements in recording technology are granting entree to those who wouldn't ordinarily have access to high-quality equipment. And other technological advances are opening doors for and ushering in a new generation of writers, directors, producers, and entertainers intent on controlling and protecting the way African Americans are portrayed.

Traditional distribution streams remain limited--Hollywood studios may cherry-pick only a few black films a year--but a new crop of entertainment mavericks are circumventing the establishment by forging other avenues into the business. To combat the lack of distribution outlets, Jeff Friday, founder and CEO of Film Life, spearheaded the creation of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) to showcase black films and to attract distribution executives from major film studios. Friday took it a step further by brokering a deal with Warner Home Video to put DVDs of select ABFF movies in Wal-Mart and Blockbuster locations.

In this issue we look at some of the fresh faces that are finding ways to disseminate images of blacks that we can be proud of--not just through film but on Broadway, in music videos, in books, and on television. …

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