Category Archives: reel sistas

reelsistas.com presents “Free Angela and ALL Political Prisoners”

reelsistas.com is hosting our 1st movie screening next month!!!!

We’d like your support in bringing a wonderful critically acclaimed documentary about Angela Davis, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners to Charlotte on May 21st at 7:30 pm at AMC Carolina Pavilion 22 theater (located at 9541 South Boulevard, Charlotte, NC, 28273).

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All you need to do is reserve your tickets by May 14. Here’s the link to reserve your ticket:  http://www.tugg.com/events/3774
(share the link with a friend or two!). We MUST presale 84 tickets in order for this to event to happen.  If we no not reach our number, your card will NOT be charged.  See?  No worries.

We are presenting this event in conjunction with Tugg.com.  Tugg is a new service that allows members of the community to bring important films to theaters based on the communities demand, so reserve your tickets tickets today! Below is information about the film.

Synopsis
Free Angela is a documentary that chronicles the life of young college professor Angela Davis, and how her social activism implicates her in a botched kidnapping attempt that ends with a shootout, four dead, and her name on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. The high stakes crime, political movement, and trial that catapults the 26 year-old newly appointed philosophy professor at the University of California at Los Angeles into a seventies revolutionary political icon. Nearly forty years later, and for the first time, Angela Davis speaks frankly about the actions that branded her as a terrorist and simultaneously spurred a worldwide political movement for her freedom.

Watch the trailer here:

Looks awesome, right?

Thank you in advance for your support!  I know TOGETHER we can make this event a SUCCESS.

 

Sister to Sister: Three Great Dynamic Duos

The Paley Center for Media and the ABC network recently teamed up to countdown TV’s Most Dynamic Duos. The list featured such fan favorites as Lavern and Shirley, Jack and Karen and Cliff and Clair Huxtable. The list also contained some questionable choices (Beavis and Butthead…seriously?). In addition to some noticeably absent favorites (uh… remember Andy and Barney?), the list was a little light on women of color. So, inspired by their oversight, I decided to pay tribute to three of my favorite dynamic duos.

Florida and Willona on Good Times (Esther Rolle and Ja’net DuBois):

Florida was the matriarch of the Evans clan and Willona Woods was her outgoing and generous neighbor and best friend. After the death of her husband James, Willona became a great presence and moral support for Florida. What I love most about this dynamic duo is that they were always honest with each other. Willona didn’t hesitate to set Florida straight when she was being unreasonable. And likewise Florida was always there when Willonda needed advice on her love life or job problems. An honorary member of the Evans family, Willona became a mother figure to the Evans siblings when Florida left town with her new husband Carl. But in the end, they always remained friends and neighbors even when they left the projects behind in the final episode.

 

Whitley and Kim on A Different World (Jasmine Guy and Charnelle Brown):

Kim Reese was a pre-med college freshman and Whitley Gilbert her saddity upperclassman college roommate when they first met. Over the course of the series these two supported each other through parental issues, pregnancy scares, break-ups, make-ups and all the other dramas that pop up on a college campus.  I loved that Kim never really took any crap from Whitley.  She was always there to tell her the truth and give it to her straight.  And Whitley always wanted the best for her Kimmy.  What I love most about these two is that their relationship was genuine.  They argued, got on each other’s nerves and almost came to blows (Check out the video for the Sister to Sister pledging episode:Kim and Whitley become sisters ).  But in  the end they always made up and continued to support each other as the sisters that they grew to be.


Gina and Pam on Martin (Tisha Campbell-Martin and Tichina Arnold):

Gina Waters (later Payne) and Pamela James were true BFFs.  They  worked and played together and got into some trouble along the way.  But they always had each other’s back.  Pam was always in Gina’s corner when it came to matters of the heart and dealing with the wild and crazy antics of Martin.  She was always there to bring Martin down a notch with a jab about his height. Pam even tried to hook Gina up with her cousin (who could forget the Reverend Leon Lonnie Love?).   And Gina supported Pam through the ups and downs of her life as well.  Not even Martin and his “Beady Bee” hair jokes could come between Pam and her friend Gina.  Their bond was true. And above all else, when these to were on screen together, it was pure comedy!

Who are your favorite dynamic duos?

Guess who is back???

It’s me! I’ve been quiet on this blog for too long. Well I’m back. I will be posting on here really soon. But in the meantime, check me out on these sites:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/reelsistas
Tumblr: www.reelsistas.tumblr.com

You can also search “Reel Sistas” on Facebook and Google + to connect.

or listen to me on Cinema in Noir on Blogtalkradio on Sundays at 6 PM at www.blogtalkradio.com/cinemainnoir
Whew! I’m all over the place, right? Let’s chat.

It’s Oscar Night!!

In honor of tonight’s 80th Annual Academy Awards, I thought I would give a little shout out to the reel sistas who have been recognized for there work as Leading Actress.Dorothy Dandridge
The first African-American actress to be Oscar-nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role,” for her work in 1954’s “Carmen Jones.” Dorothy was also considered for the role of “Billie Holliday” in a movie; however, the project didn’t materialize in her lifetime. When the movie did come to pass, the role was portrayed by Diana Ross.

Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson
In 1972 Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson were both nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” Oscars. This was only the second time in the history of the Academy Awards that African-American actresses were nominated in the “Best Actress” Oscar category. Diana was nominated for her first film role playing Billie Holliday in “Lady Sings the Blues.” Cicely Tyson was nominated for her work in the film “Sounder.”
Diahann Carroll
The next reel sista to grab a “Best Actress in a Leading Role” was Diahann Carroll. She garnered a nomination for her work in the 1974 film “Claudine”
Whoopi Goldberg
It would be 10 years before another reel sista was nominated for the top honor, but it came in 1985 when Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for her work in the film adaptation of Alice Walker’s classic novel The Color Purple. Whoopi would later go on to win a “Best Supporting Actress” Oscar for her role in “Ghost”
Angela Bassett
For her dead on performance as Tina Turner in the 1993 biopic “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” Angela Basset was nominated for a “Best Actress in a Leading Role.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years later Angela turned down the role that led the 7th African-American Actress nominated for the “Best Actress in a Leading Role” Oscar.

Halle Berry
In 2002, reel sista Halle Berry made history y becoming the first African American woman to win the Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Leading Role.” Halle won for the role of Letecia Musgrove in the film “Monster’s Ball.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although many have criticized the film for it’s portrayal of the black woman, Halle’s win was historic and she will forever be a part of Oscar history.

For those who missed it, here is the text from her acceptance speech:

Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I’m sorry. This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. Thank you. I’m so honored. I’m so honored. And I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel for which His blessing might flow. Thank you.

I want to thank my manager, Vincent Cirrincione. He’s been with me for twelve long years and you fought every fight and you’ve loved me when I’ve been up, but more importantly you’ve loved me when I’ve been down. You have been a manager, a friend, and the only father I’ve ever known. Really. And I love you very much.

I want to thank my mom who’s given me the strength to fight every single day, to be who I want to be and given me the courage to dream, that this dream might be happening and possible for me. I love you, Mom, so much. Thank you. My husband, who is just a joy of my life, and India, thank you for giving me peace because only with the peace that you’ve brought me have I been allowed to go to places that I never even knew I could go. Thank you. I love you and India with all my heart.

I want to thank Lions Gate. Thank you. Mike Paseornek, Tom Ortenberg for making sure everybody knew about this little tiny movie. Thank you for believing in me. Our director Marc Forster, you’re a genius. You’re a genius. This moviemaking experience was magical for me because of you. You believed in me; you trusted me and you gently guided me to very scary places. I thank you. I want to thank Ivana Chubic. I could have never figured out who the heck this lady was without you. I love you. Thank you. I want to thank Lee Daniels, our producer. Thank you for giving me this chance, for believing that I could do it. And now tonight I have this. Thank you.

I want to thank my agents — CAA, Josh Lieberman especially. I have to thank my agents — Kevin Huvane, thank you. Thank you for never kicking me out and sending me somewhere else. Thank you. I, I, I, who else? I have so many people that I know I need to thank. My lawyers — Neil Meyer, thank you. Okay, wait a minute. I got to take…seventy-four years here!! Ok. I got to take this time! I got to thank my lawyer, Neil Meyer, for making this deal. Doug Stone. I need to thank lastly and not leastly, I have to thank Spike Lee for putting me in my very first film and believing in me. Oprah Winfrey for being the best role model any girl can have. Joel Silver, thank you. And thank you to Warren Beatty. Thank you so much for being my mentors and believing in me.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I hope that in the next 80 years of the Oscars, more and more reel sistas will get the recognition the receive.

Keep Shining!

2008…A New Beginning

Hello All,

I just wanted to let you all know that Reel Sistas will be back in early 2008. My goal is to relaunch the site. Because of my hectic schedule, posts will be made weekly. Reel Sistas vision and goal is the same…to provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information on Black actresses: past, present and future.

So have a happy holiday and I will see you in 2008.

Cheers!
Khay

In the Beginning: The Story of Madame Sul-Te-Wan

“We never did discover the origin of her name. No one was bold enough to ask.” – Actress Lillian Gish.

The mystery of Madame Sul-Te-Wan is one that has intrigued many film aficionados for decades. Madame Sul-Te-Wan is the ORIGINAL REEL SISTA. Born Nellie Crawford on March 7, 1873 in Louisville, Kentucky, the woman who became Madame Sul-Te-Wan was the first black actor/performer, to sign a film contract and be a featured performer.

Madame’s parents, Silas and Cleo De Lonsa were freed slaves. After, her father left the family, Cleo worked as a domestic for an actress in Louisville. When she was older, Madame moved to Cincinnati and joined a theatre company, Three Black Cloaks. At the time, she performed as Creole Nell.

Madame married a man by the name of Robert Conley and the two had three sons. When Robert abandoned the family shortly after the birth of their third son, Madame approached director D.W. Griffith about appearing in his latest film, ‘Birth of a Nation.’ The two struck up a friendship that defied convention. Griffith was very loyal to Madame and her to him. Rumors and questions circulated regarding the true nature of the relationship, but nothing illicit was ever substantiated.

After adopting the name Madame Sul-Te-Wan, she worked consistently throughout the 1910s until the 1940s. However, as a black woman in a segregated America, she was often relegated to small roles. Some speculated that she chose the name ‘Madame’ to demand the respect she knew she deserved. Because of her race and sex, Madame often played the role of domestic servant. However she appeared in many films, such as ‘The Children Pay’ (1916), “Stage Struck” (1917), ‘College’ (1927), ‘Queen Kelly’ (1929), and ‘King Kong’ (1933). Madame Sul-Te-Wan garnered critical praise for her work in the 1937 film ‘Maid of Salem.’ In the film she played the character “Tituba.”

In 1954, after over 40 years of playing domestics, Madame Sul-Te-Wan was able to break type when she was cast in ‘Carmen Jones’ opposite reel sistas Dorothy Dandridge and Olga James, as well as the legendary Harry Belafonte. In the film Madame Sul-Te-Wan played Dorothy’s grandmother, leaving many to believe that the two actresses were related in real life. They were not. Madame Sul-Te-Wan’s last screen appearance came in the 1958. She had a part in the film ‘The Buccaneer.’

On February 1, 1959, Madame Sul-Te-Wan died in Hollywood, CA. In 1986, Madame Sul-Te-Wan was inducted into The Black Filmmaker’s Hall of Fame.

I had never heard of Madame Sul-Te-Wan until I read Donald Bogles’s book Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood. Once, I learned of her story, I was inspired to start this blog. Madame Sul-Te-Wan is the prime example of a black woman whose story deserves to be told. Today, the legacy of Madame Sul-Te-Wan lives on in the careers of the numerous reel sistas who truly love the art of acting, and filmmaking and work hard at their craft. Many of her roles were uncredited, but Madame Sul-Te-Wan persevered in Hollywood for over five decades, doing what she loved. Madame Sul-Te-Wan is the inception of Black Hollywood. And to her, I say thank you.

Lights, Camera, ACTION! reelsistas.com is LIVE!

Welcome to reelsistas.com.

This blog is my tribute to the sistas of cinema who constantly do their thing in front of and behind the silver screen. I absolutely love movies, more specifically black movies. I am fascinated by story of black Hollywood and its formation. I am a fanatic when it comes to black celebrity and can spend hours at Barnes and Nobles or Borders scouring the pages of Essence, Ebony, Jet, Jewel, and Sister 2 Sister for information about the lives of my favorite black stars. I watch Entertainment Tonight, E! and search countless blogs and websites for every tidbit of information that I can gather.

Diahann Carroll 1

I am also a womanist and scholar intrigued by the portrayals of black women in American society. I have studied the images that the media would have us believe reflect what it is to be a black woman in America. Recently, while perusing the biography section of Barnes and Nobles, I realized that of the 772 titles, only 17 were about black women (that comes out to be less that 3%). So I got to thinking about the countless black women whose stories weren’t reflected on that shelf. I thought about the politicians, the activists, the teachers and singer. Then, I thought about all the sistas I had seen through the years on film and on television. These were the women I had searched high and low for information about. However, for some reasons (several which will be discussed in this blog) these women do not get the media attention and respect that they deserve. Did none of these women have stories of value?

reelsistas.com

So fueled by my desire to tell the stories of my sistas coupled with my insatiable appetite for entertainment news and pop culture, reelsistas.com is born.

My decision to launch reelsistas.com on Labor Day is not accidental. Labor Day is one of the few national holidays dedicated to all people. The holiday is devoted to no man or group, to no sect, nor race. Today, the world celebrates the millions of people who work everyday to make their community a better place. Today, I celebrate the reel sistas who work everyday to create a better media image of black women. This blog is designed to honor and acknowledge the strength and esprit de corps of the circle of the black women who have worked and continue to work to change the face of sistas in cinema.

Being black and a woman in an industry and country that is both racist and sexist is no easy feat. Often times the industry and the media try to pit sistas against each other or herald one above the rest. One of my favorite reel sistas, Gabrielle Union, said it best when she said “I think about Halle [Berry] and [Queen] Latifah, and they are the only two black actresses that work consistently. It scares me.”

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Black actresses have to fight for a handful of good roles and only a few more not-so good roles. Additionally more and more other ethnic types are taking the roles as the girlfriend of the brother or the best friend. Black actresses have to battle more and more for fewer and fewer roles. Behind the lens, the state of black women is not much better. Black women screenwriters, directors and producers are few and far between.

Throughout the history of filmmaking in America, black women have contributed significantly to the world of film. In fact, it was a black woman, Madame Sul-Te-Wan, who gave birth to what would become Black Hollywood. Desperate to make a living to provide for her family, Madame introduced herself to famed director D.W. Griffith and a long-standing working relationship and friendship was forged. This same perseverance and desire to entertain has been the motivating force behind the journeys of many black actresses. So, in the words of writer Pearl Cleage, I speak the names of those legends who have paved the way for all reel sistas. This is for Madame Sul-Te-Wan, Hattie McDaniel, and Fredi Washington.

reelsistas.com seeks to bridge the gap between the reel sistas and the real sistas who want to see themselves, their mothers, their sisters, their daughters and their friends reflected on the big screen. This blog is a celebration of all that it means to be a black woman in film. This site will highlight women of color both in front of and behind the lens. It will spotlight the stars of yesterday, today and tomorrow. This blog will also shed a light on the black actresses, directors, producers and screenwriters whose names you may not know; women who are slowly, but surely changing the face of Hollywood. This blog will feature movie reviews and commentaries on the classic and contemporary films that star reel sistas. This blog will be a premiere source of information and entertainment.

So welcome and I look forward to your comments as I travel on this journey.