Tag Archives: Diana Ross

Happy Birthday Ms. Ross!

Happy Birthday Ms Ross!

In my world, March 26th is an unofficial holiday. Every year, in honor of this special day,   I like to pay tribute to Diana Ross, the singer, the actress, the legend. Although her film and television credits are few in comparison to her music credits, they are all memorable.

Happy Birthday Ms. Ross

Ross received critical acclaim in 1972 for her first film performance as Billie Holiday in the film Lady Sings the Blues. In his review of the film, famed critic Roger Ebert praised Ross for her willingness to transform herself for the role:

“As a gangly adolescent set out to work as a maid in a whorehouse, the diva Ross somehow manages to actually look gangly and adolescent. When she is transformed into a great beauty later in the film, it is a transformation, because she was brave enough and good enough, to really look awful at first.”

For her efforts, Ross earned a Golden Globe and received an Academy Award nomination.

Happy Birthday Diana Ross

Ross’ next two film roles in Mahogany and The Wiz did not garner the same critical acclaim as Lady Sings the Blues.  But both films are fan favorites. In Mahogany, Ross plays Tracy, an aspiring fashion designer who has to choose between career and love. The film is full of great fashion and great music. And Tracy and Brian (Billy Dee Williams) are one of my favorite movie couple of all time.

Directed by the late, great Sidney Lumet, The Wiz is a classic in my house. The all-black version of The Wizard of Oz  is considered to be one of the great financial film disasters of the time, but fans love it.

The all-star cast includes Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne. Visually, The Wiz is colorful and exuberant. When paired with the vibrant dance numbers and the soulful music, what’s not to love about it?

Happy Birthday Diana

The Wiz marked the end of Ross’ big screen career. However, she gave an amazing performance in the 1994 made for television movie Out of Darkness in which she portrayed a woman battling schizophrenia.

Here is a scene from Out of Darkness:

The movie is one of my favorite made for television movies. Ross was nominated for another Golden Globe Award for her performance.

Happy Birthday Ms. Ross

I am a huge Diana Ross fan and saw her perform live in concert last year.  Undoubtedly, she will go down in history as a legendary singer and performer. But I think Diana Ross is an equally talented actor. She once said,

“I’m not really a songwriter – I’m an interpreter. So in a sense, I am an actress first and foremost. I act out the songs, and I lead with my heart.”

I agree with her 100%. So to celebrate the life of the living legend, I challenge you all to take a Diana Ross Twirl Break and seize the day! Do it for Ms. Ross!

Happy Birthday, Ms. Ross

Cinema in Noir – Best On-Screen Couples and The Musical Biopics We Want to See

In today’s edition of Cinema in Noir we celebrate love and music. First, in honor of St. Valentine’s day this week, we shared out favorite on-screen couples. We also talked about couples we want to see paired on the big screen.

Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams
Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams in Mahogany
Sharon Leal and Morris Chestnitt would be great in a Mahogany remake
Sharon Leal and Morris Chestnutt would be great in a Mahogany remake

And in honor to the Grammy Awards, we listed the musical biopics we most want to see.

Mariah, En Vogue, Minnie Ripperton, and Tammi Terrell all have compelling stories that would make great biopics
Mariah, En Vogue, Minnie Ripperton, and Tammi Terrell all have compelling stories that would make great biopics

As always, we covered the latest casting and film news and recapped the NAACP Image Award and BAFTA Award winners.

LISTEN HERE:

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Happy Birthday Diana Ross!

Happy Birthday Diana Ross!! In honor of this special day,  I decided to pay tribute to Diana Ross, the actress. Although her film and television credits are few in comparison to her music credits, they are all memorable.

Happy Birthday Diana

Born March 26, 1944, Diana Ernestine Earle Ross grew up in Detroit, Michigan. At age 15 she formed the group that would eventually evolve into The Supremes. After achieving major success in music, Ross transitioned into acting in the late 1960s with guest appearances on the television series Tarzan and Make Room for Granddaddy.

Ross received critical acclaim in 1972 for her first film performance as Billie Holiday in the film Lady Sings the Blues. At the time, Ross seemed like an odd choice to play the legendary Holiday. But she managed to pull off the performance convincingly.

Happy Birthday Diana Ross

In his review of the film, famed critic Roger Ebert praised Ross for her willingness to transform herself for the role: “As a gangly adolescent set out to work as a maid in a whorehouse, the diva Ross somehow manages to actually look gangly and adolescent. When she is transformed into a great beauty later in the film, it is a transformation, because she was brave enough, and good enough, to really look awful at first.” For her efforts, Ross was awarded a Golden Globe and received an Academy Award nomination.

Ross’ next two film roles in Mahogany and The Wiz did not garner the same critical acclaim as Lady Sings the Blues, but both are fan favorites. In Mahogany, Ross plays Tracy, an aspiring fashion designer who has to choose between career and love. Although the film has its flaws, it’s full of great fashion and great music. And Tracy and Brian (Billy Dee Williams) are one of my favorite movie couple of all time.

Directed by the late, great Sidney Lumet, The Wiz is a classic in my house. The all-black version of The Wizard of Oz was panned by critics and is considered to be one of the great financial film disasters of the time, but I love it.

The all-star cast includes Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne. Visually, The Wiz is colorful and exuberant. Paired with the vibrant dance numbers and the soulful music, what’s not to love about it?

Happy Birthday Diana

The Wiz marked the end of Ross’ big screen career. However, she gave an amazing performance in the 1994 made for television movie Out of Darkness in which she portrayed a woman battling schizophrenia.

Here is a scene from Out of Darkness:

The movie is one of my favorite made for television movies. Ross was nominated for another Golden Globe Award for her performance. Ross’ last acting role was in 1999. She starred in the television movie Double Platinum starring Brandy.

I am a huge Diana Ross fan. And although her last acting gig was more than a decade ago, I hope that she returns to acting, at least, one more time during her career.  Undoubtedly, she will go down in history as a legendary singer and performer, but I think Diana Ross is an equally talented actor. She once said, “I’m not really a songwriter – I’m an interpreter. So in a sense, I am an actress first and foremost. I act out the songs, and I lead with my heart.” I agree with her 100%

Happy Birthday, Diana!!

My Five Favorite Movie Couples

Since Valentine’s Day is upon us, I thought I would be fun to share some of my favorite black couples in film. It’s so rare that we see black people being affectionate with and loving one another. So, I want to acknowledge the films that do so unabashedly.


1. Nicole and Brian in All About You (Renee Goldsberry and Terron Brooks) : All About You is one of my favorite movies ever. The small, independent film was written and directed by Christine Swanson. In the film, Nicole and Brian are both running from their past when they end up sharing an apartment. Nicole is vulnerable. Brian is unsure of who he is. He tells her: “You have to leave room for surprises.” What I love about them as a couple it that they complement each other so well. In my favorite scene, they realize just how they feel about each other while singing at a wedding. It’s a magical cinematic moment.


2. Tracy and Brian in Mahogany (Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams) : I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this movie. From their first meeting, you are rooting for Tracy and Brian. And when Brian uttered those famous words, “success is nothing without someone you love to share it with” you feel his love for Tracy. You believe him. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the music. ‘Do You Know Where You’re Going To’ aka the ‘Theme from Mahogany’ is an amazing love song. The music makes you love Tracy and Brian that much more.


3. Fatima and Alex in She Hate Me (Kerry Washington and Dania Ramirez): She Hate Me is one of my favorite Spike Lee joints. The film is flawed, but I am willing to overlook many of the problems mainly because of the strength of the cast, namely Washington, Ramirez, and lead actor Anthony Mackie. It is rare that we get to see a loving and sexual lesbian relationship between women of color. Therefore, the image of Fatima and Alex together is an important one and one that I think was handled well. What I like most about Fatima and Alex is that despite their drama, you can tell they genuinely love each other.


4. Nina and Darius in Love Jones (Nia Long and Larenz Tate): Heralded by many as the definitive black love story, over a decade after its release, Love Jones is now a classic. The love story between Nina and Darius is iconic. Sparks fly immediately, but it’s complicated. As they work to determine the status of their relationship (are they in love or just kicking it?) we are taken along on their journey. Watching Nina and Darius, you immediately become invested.

5. Eva and Ray in Deliver Us From Eva (Gabrielle Union and LL Cool J): I absolutely LOVE Deliver Us From Eva. If it’s on TV, I’m watching. What I love most is the chemistry between Eva and Ray. Even though she initially resists, his charm softens her seemingly impenetrable exterior and he grows to love the real Eva. And let’s be honest, they are arguably two of the most beautiful people on the planet.

Who are your  favorite  movie couples?

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!

Reel Singing Sistas

Multitasking is nothing new for the sistas. So in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Grammy Awards, I have decided to show some love to 10 Reel Sistas who had success in the music world before taking the big screen by storm.

PEARL BAILEY

At the age of 15 Pearl quit school for a career as a singer and dancer. She sang in cafés and nightclubs and recorded with Cootie Williams and Count Basie. She appeared in her first film, “Variety Girl,” in 1947.

At age 67, Pearl graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in theology. Pearl died in 1990 from heart failure.
EARTHA KITT
The self-proclaimed “Original Material Girl,” Eartha is the talented singer with the distinctive voice. Her hits include “Just an Old Fashioned Girl”, “Monotonous”, and her most recognizable hit, “Santa Baby.” She is fluent in French and has always been wildley popular in Europe. Eartha went on to appear in films including “Anna Lucasta” in 1959. In 1967, Eartha became an indeliable fixture in popular culture when she took on the role of Catwoman on the Batman television series. Her signature “puurr” solidified her star status.
Today Eartha, who turned 80 last year, continues to perform. For more on Eartha click here
LENA HORN
Lena Horne is a consummate singer with numerous Grammys and other awards. She began her career at age 16 singing at the Cotton Club in Harlem. Under the guidance of such greats as Lena transitioned from the small stage to the big screen.
Horne became the first African American performer to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio. She made her debut with MGM in 1942’s “Panama Hattie” and also starred in 1943’s “Stormy Weather” and “Cabin in the Sky,” widely regarded as her best theatrical performance.
Lena now resides in New York and no longer makes public appearances. Recently, it was announced that Alicia Keys (also on this list) was hand picked by producer Oprah Winfrey to play Lena in an upcoming biopic.
DIANA ROSS
 Diana Ross rose to fame and is best known for being the lead singer of the most popular girl group of all time, The Supremes.
After leaving the group to pursue a solo career, Diana also pursued acting. In 1972 she won the starring role in the biopic “Lady Sings the Blues.” Diana was nominated for an Academy Award for the film. Diana also starred in “Mahogany” and “The Wiz” before refocusung her career on her music.

AALIYAH

Aaliyah Houghton burst onto the music scene in 1994 1ith the release of hwe debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. At only 15, Aaliyah found success with the single “Back and Forth.” She went on to record two more records and had several top ten hits.

She appeared in her first film, “Romeo Must Die” in 2000. Following her success in the film, Aaliyah was tapped to star in the film adaptation of the Anne Rice novel “The Queen of the Damned.”
She had just completed work on her second film and was slated to play the lead in the film “Honey” (the role later went to Jessica Alba) as well as the two “Matrix” sequels when sadly, Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in August of 2001.

QUEEN LATIFAH

Queen Latifah, born Dana Owens, started her career in entertainment as one of the most successful female rappers in history. She scored numerous number one hits and a Grammy for her song “U.N.I.T.Y”
Recently, She has also recorded two jazz influenced soul albums.
As an actress, Queen Latifah was received acclaim from audiences and critics alike. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film Chicago. In addition to acting, Queen Latifah has serves a producer on several of her films and co-own Flavor Unit Productions.

ALICIA KEYS


Alicia Keys started acting at age 5 with a bit role on The Cosby Show. At age 7 she began piano lessons and the rest in history. The classically trained pianist and singer has garnered huge success including Grammys and number one singles and albums.

Alicia returned to acting in the 2006 film “Smoking Aces.”
Alicia is currently filming “The Secret Life of Bees” with fellow reel sistas Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson.

BEYONCE KNOWLES

As a founder member of the multi-platinum girl group Destinys Child, Beyonce Knowles conquered the music industry before he age of 20.In 2002 Beyonce made her feature film debut opposite Mike Myers in “Austin Myers in Goldmember.” In 2006 she got “role of her life.” Beyonce was selected to play Deena Jones in the big screen adaptation of the 1980’s mega musical “Dreamgirls”
Next, Beyonce will play Etta James in the film “Cadillac Records.”

 

JANET JACKSON

Before dominating the music industry for much of the late 80s and early 90’s, Janet Jackson was known for her small screen characters Penny on Good Times and Charlene on Diff’rent Strokes. In 1986 with help of mega producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet released the album Control.

Janet made her film debut in 199’s “Poetic Justice” starring opposite the late Tupac Shakur. She can currently be seen on Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” which will be out on DVD in February of 2008.

JILL SCOTT
In 2000, Jill Scott released her poular debut Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounnds Volume 1. The platinum selling artist went on to win two Grammy Awards for her works as a singer.
In 2007, Jill received critical praise in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married.” Next, she will be seen in “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” due out later this year.