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Diddy, Issa Rae and Ava DuVernay Talk Diversity, Entertainment and Entrepreneurship at the 2018 AT&T Shape Event



Issa Rae, Diddy, and Ava DuVernay, the top names in entertainment today, were invited to speak at AT&T Shape, a two-day tech and entertainment expo in Los Angeles for creators, developers, and entertainment and tech professionals. 

A big part of this year's conversation was dedicated to diversity in entertainment and focused on how new technology, specifically social media, allow today's creatives greater access to better opportunities and larger audiences, something we couldn't imagine just a few years ago.

Ava DuVernay, the Oscar-nominated director, known best for Selma13th, and Wrinkle in Time, hosted the 2018 AT&T Film Awards, alongside David Christopher, the president of AT&T Mobility & Entertainment. She spoke about her journey as an aspiring filmmaker and encouraged the emerging filmmakers in the audience to keep working on their craft.  DuVernay has become an inspiration to many as the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award, as well as the first black female director to have a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. 


Issa Rae, who called Ava one of her biggest inspirations, spoke on the second day of the event. In the conversation with Khadi Don, a social media influencer, Issa reflected on her transition from YouTube to the big screen. The director, actress, and producer also touched on a few projects she is currently working on, including a feature film that will go into production this summer. She also announced that the third season of her hit TV show Insecure will air August 12th. 


Hip hop mogul Diddy, aka Love, entered the stage to speak on entrepreneurship and shared his vision on the future of African American communities.  In his interview with John Donavan, CEO of AT&T, Combs listed off his assets that include a clothing line, music label, drinks and more. But it was the recently opened school in his hometown Harlem that he seemed most proud of. And for a good reason. Diddy believes in the power of community and unity. “I think my secret is that I believe. I believe in the power of my community, I believe in us,” he said. 


Images by: AT&T Shape

Film & Television

Why Did Michaela Coel Walk Away From a $1 Million Dollar Deal with Netflix?



Michaela Coel, the star of HBO’s hit series I May Destroy You had to decline Netflix’s $1 million offer after the streaming giant refused to allow her to retain “at least 5 percent of her rights” for the show.

Coel’s success in the U.S. is largely credited to Netflix. The streamer was the U.S. distributor of Coel’s acclaimed comedy series Chewing Gum. Netflix also housed a feature musical titled Been So Long in which Coel was the lead, as well as the drama series Black Earth Rising. Coel also starred in an Emmy-winning episode of Black Mirror, also distributed by Netflix. So, naturally, Coel’s history with the streaming platform made it the premier destination for her new project. After a short negotiation with a Netflix executive, however, Coel had to find a different home for I May Destroy You in order to maintain ownership of the series.

According to Vulture, Coel recalled that Netflix made her a $1 million offer for I May Destroy You in spring 2017 but she turned it down. Why? The streamer wouldn’t allow her to retain any percentage of the copyright. Coel even discontinued her relationship with CAA after it “tried to push her to take the deal”.

I May Destry You is based on Coel’s personal experience of being sexually assaulted during the making of Chewing Gum. At the age of 32, Coel is in full creative control of the series as its showrunner, director, star, and writer. She wrote all 12 episodes and co-directed nine, stars as a young writer Arabella struggling to come to terms and process a recent assault.

The series is now streaming on HBO.

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Film & Television

Ava DuVernay and Whoopi Goldberg Elected to The Academy’s Board of Governors



The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has just elected members to its 2020-2021 Board of Governors. Among the six newly elected governors are director Ava DuVernay. EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg has been re-elected for a second three-year term.

For those not familiar with the work of the Board of Governors, here is a breakdown of how it works and what it does.

Per Oscars official website, The Board of Governors directs the Academy’s strategic vision, preserves the organization’s financial health and assures the fulfillment of its mission.

Governors attend 6-8 board meetings annually (in person or by video). Each Governor also serves on one board oversight committee and their branch’s executive committee, and they are expected to represent their branch at numerous Academy events through the year.

The Academy has a total of 18 branches, including the actors branch and directors branch, where Goldberg and DuVernay will serve. Each branch is represented by three governors who are elected for three-year terms.

Since the #OscarSoWhite campaign in 2015, the Academy has been making efforts to increase diversity across the board. After the most recent election, out of 54 governors, the number of female Academy governors increased from 25 to 26, and people of color increased from 11 to 12.

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‘The Old Guard’ Trailer: Kiki Layne and Chitewel Ejiofor Star in Netflix’s Upcoming Action Flick



The streaming giant premiered the new poster for its upcoming action-packed film The Old Guard with Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo, Matthias Schoenaerts and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Based on the comic book of the same name from Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez, The Old Guard tells the story of a group of centuries-old immortals with a supernatural ability to heal. They are forced to hide their identities to save the world. The order of things gets disrupted when they discover that another immortal has “awakened”.

If Beale Street Could Talk star plays Nile Freeman, the new immortal and a U.S. Marine, recruited by Andy (Theron), the leader of the covert group of tight-knit mercenaries. Nile discovers her supernatural powers after being killed on a mission in the Middle East.

Charlize Theron as Andy, Kiki Layne as Nile

Ejiofor plays Copley, a CIA operative and historian who has figured out the identities of the secret group.

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Copley

The superhero film is directed by Love and Basketball‘s Gina Prince-Bythewood and is set to premiere on Friday, July 10.

Watch the official trailer below.

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