THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – When Aldis Hodge DM’d artist Harmonia Rosales on Instagram to compliment her paintings, he never expected to kick off a collaboration. But the Hidden Figures actor, 31 — who next stars opposite Kevin Bacon in Showtime police pilot City on a Hill — showed Rosales some of his paintings, and she told him they held a beautiful sadness. “I was surprised someone responded to my work in that way who was not named ‘Mom,'” he says. Now the duo are bowing two new works via the Simard Bilodeau gallery at the L.A. Art Show, Jan.?10 to 14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Chicago-based Rosales, 33, had a viral moment in May after, at Hodge’s urging, she Instagrammed her painting The Creation of God — a take on Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam with black women as both figures. There was a backlash, including racist attacks directed at her. “There’s a lot of hypocrisy in religion, but when you’re talking about God as a representation of love and as a representation of all of us, we should all be able to see God as ourselves,” says Hodge. “So there’s nothing wrong with the image at all.” The incident made fans of stars like Willow Smith and drew the attention of Eve-Marie Bilodeau, who with husband Guy Simard runs Simard Bilodeau. Samuel L. Jackson purchased “Black Imaginary to Counter Hegemony (B.I.T.C.H.),” a piece by Rosales, from the gallery’s September show of paintings.
“I’m so glad we have this collaboration, because I don’t like talking about my work,” says Rosales of working with Hodge. “I just like painting, I just like color, but [talking] is his strong suit, so it’s great.” In their series, “Through the Looking Glass,” Rosales paints figures — like a woman named Adeelah, in hijab and carrying a baby swaddled in an American flag. “I want them to be familiar, regardless of who you are,” she says of her subjects. Hodge paints the backdrop with words like “equal” and “survivor,” then distresses them, sometimes with a technique using fire. “It’s a subtle reminder that no matter what her culture is, what her religion is, she can still be American,” says Hodge of Adeelah. “She’s American-American just like I’m American-American. I know my culture, and my culture’s equally American as anything else.”
Sorry for the delay on these events!
FORBES – John Legend is publicly renewing his efforts to save Underground, the ground-breaking, recently-cancelled series that humanizes and tells the stories behind the Underground Railroad. A popular social media and ratings darling, Underground aired on WGN America until Sinclair Broadcast Group made a bid for Tribune Media three months ago. Meanwhile, as the potential merger of the two companies was reviewed by the FCC, the two-year-old drama was deep sized. The series told the not-told-enough stories of the people who tried mightily to help the enslaved escape to freedom in the north United States and in Canada. Legend is an executive producer.
Since the cancellation, fans have tried to persuade OWN, Netflix and other networks (or streaming services) to host the series, which clocks in at around $4.5-million an episode and was selected as an inaugural public program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. No network has bitten yet (that we know of) and Legend took to Twitter to distribute an open letter discussing his thoughts on the matter. He castigates Sinclair Media’s choices in programming, saying the “far right” network turned away from high quality scripted shows to “cheaper unscripted entertainment.”
I hope Aldis has had a wonderful birthday!
EBONY – Molding and defining the African-American image on screen has been a complex task; particularly in the ever-changing entertainment space. In the midst of unimaginable racial injustice and unequal treatment, Sir Sidney Poitier demanded excellence not just from himself but from an industry that had historically cast Black and brown faces aside. With a career stretching over 70 years, Sir Poitier’s character, grace and profound integrity have helped mold the Black movie star, setting the blueprint for all of the men and women that would grace the screens and stages after him.
It was not simply Sir Poitier’s iconic roles in Porgy and Bess and The Defiant Ones that would thrust him into the spotlight. His commanding presence made him one of the biggest box-office draws in the 1960s with a plethora of films including, A Raisin in the Sun, Paris Blues, To Sir, with Love, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and In the Heat of the Night. Before Sir Poitier, the leading Black male was something of a myth. There certainly weren’t any Black male sex symbols before the Academy Award winner stepped on the scene, taking only roles that garnered a sense of dignity and class.
In celebration of Sir Poitier’s extensive career and legacy, Lexus and ICON MANN™ have teamed up to #SaluteALegend. The legendary Louis Gossett Jr., prolific filmmaker John Singleton and critically acclaimed actors, Aldis Hodge and Terrence Howard among others have joined the campaign in celebration of Sir Poitier’s 90th year. “We owe everything that we’re doing now, and will do, to the career that he has had,” Singleton said of the foundation Poitier has laid.
ET – Underground tackles a very serious subject, but sometimes the actors have to let loose!
ET has an exclusive sneak peek at the show’s season two gag reel, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making the Civil War drama — forgotten lines, laughter and all!
I think these must have been done at Sundance since he’s wearing the same hooded sweater as he is in some of those pics. Thanks to Carol for these.
EW – Following two years of sharp criticism and back-to-back ceremonies with an all-white slate of acting nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts & Sciences has taken some big steps in 2017 toward including more women and people of color in the Oscars’ selection process. Last week, a record 774 new members from 57 countries around the world were asked to join the organization’s ranks. Of that group, 39 percent are women, and if all accept their invitation, the total number of female participants overall will jump from 27 percent to 28 percent; under similar circumstances, the freshman class of 2017 could also see the number of racial minorities in the 8,427-strong institution rise from 11 percent to 13 percent.
As the Academy heads into what could be its most inclusive annual cycle to date, EW chatted with nine new members about AMPAS’ ongoing push for racial and gender equality: actors Priyanka Chopra, Phylicia Rashad, Rinko Kikuchi, Aldis Hodge, Sanaa Lathan, Terry Crews, Colman Domingo, and Anna Deavere Smith, and Colombian filmmaker Patricia Cardoso — all of whom accepted their invitations. Read on to find out what they feel still needs to change about the Academy, the dangers of Oscar campaigning, how they think AMPAS has evolved in a post-#OscarsSoWhite arena, why Moonlight‘s historic best picture victory signals a changing of the guard, what the future holds for women in the Academy, and the potential impact their fellow invitees will have on 2018 Oscar voting (spoiler alert: Get Out and Wonder Woman should probably be on your early predictions list in multiple categories).
On the Academy’s evolving identity regarding racial and gender inclusion
ALDIS HODGE (Straight Outta Compton): The Academy has more power and influence than it really understands. Sometimes it sets the tone for how we’re received, culturally, all over the world. Even if they don’t understand the movies or the language, people pay attention to the Oscars all over the world. It looks like an example to follow when the Academy is saying, Hey look, this is not okay, and we have an entire population that isn’t being represented… The #OscarsSoWhite controversy opened their eyes to what was really going on. It wasn’t a targeted effort against women and people of color, but it was a naïve and neglected effort… When you say “diversity,” the term has been denigrated over the years, because it has been used as a crutch… you get into these executive offices and people say, Oh, we have this project, wait a minute guys, we need diversity, let’s choose a black actor for this, let’s choose a Hispanic actor for this, instead of saying, That’s not diverse, that’s just normal. That’s what makes up America… Diversity is giving people of color another label… that’s giving people of different gender and sexual preferences another label, another box that separates us from the majority.
The Academy woke up to their negligence and said, Look at all these gems we’ve been missing… That’s a systemic issue in the industry. In fact, I read a script the other day and I said no, I can’t do it because it was supposedly addressing police brutality, but the black character was written so very stereotypically. The police were written so sympathetically, where you didn’t feel they were doing anything wrong. Right now, this is a cultural issue where people are going off… I couldn’t even finish the script. I told them no… I couldn’t even take the meeting. We have a responsibility to represent the times well. There are a lot of people who have not experienced the reality that some other cultures have, so they’re going to continue to speak a different way… as an Academy that represents artists and the world, you do have to do the work, and right now the Academy is trying to do the work. So as long as they do the work, we’ll be able to do our work.
On the Academy’s responsibility to gender and racial representation
HODGE: If the Academy is going to be the hub of prestige for skills and the fine-tuning of your craft, we need all artists represented, so we need the Oscars to be the leader and the example in that way. They have a responsibility, as does every studio. You don’t just have one particular type of audience watching your work, shows, or films. That’s not to say every single project has to be wildly inclusive, because not every subject matter allows for that. Diversity, at its root, means different, right? Inclusion means including that which is already there. So for me, to include women and include cultures and people of different colors, that’s not diversity because it’s not different. This country is not built on one culture alone. We all make up this industry. If you look at the crews, the crews alone are so intermixed culturally, and these people, the crews, are the blood, sweat, and tears of the set… so when you think about who really contributes to keeping this machine going, you have a massive responsibility to represent these people.