Smithsonian Channel and Comcast Premieres Black in Space– A Documentary about the First Black Astronauts

This post about Smithsonian Channel’s Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier is a sponsored post brought to you by Comcast. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

The Smithsonian Channel, Comcast, and the John Heinz History Center welcomed dozens of guests on February 10 for the premiere screening of Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier.

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The race to get to space is long over, but buried in time is the revelatory story of the world’s first black astronauts. For many Americans, the 20th-century Space Race was a Cold War competition over rocketry and technological feats, but the world’s two superpowers were also engaged in another high-stakes race – one whose impact is still being felt today.

BLACK IN SPACE: BREAKING THE COLOR BARRIER examines the crucial moment when America’s history of racial prejudice became a critical vulnerability in the effort to win hearts and minds around the globe. Confronting a Soviet foe determined to show that communism was the face of the future, the U.S. would need a new generation of astronauts. 

The hour-long documentary is a learning lesson for all ages.  But, for someone like me who was too young to experience the turbulent times of racial integration, it was eye opening.

During Black History Month, many students crack open the history books with a specific goal in mind– to learn about the contributions and rich history of African Americans. But, Black In Space: Breaking the Color Barrier is a visual piece for students to seamlessly learn about Black astronauts.

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After the screening, KDKA Anchor/Reporter Lisa Washington lead a panel discussion with Kelli Herod, VP of Post Production, Smithsonian Channel, and Major General Charles F. Bolden Jr., USMC (Ret.), 12th NASA Administrator. Panelists discussed how the documentary was made, and the future of Black astronauts with NASA.

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Photo by Brian Cook, Golden Sky Media

The 2017 NASA Astronaut Class graduated last month.  The 13-member class includes one Black woman, Dr. Jessica Watkins.

BLACK IN SPACE: BREAKING THE COLOR BARRIER will premiere on Monday, February 24th at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.

The Hot Zone Passes

Starring Golden Globe and Emmy award winner Julianna Margulies as Dr. Nancy Jaax, The Hot Zone is based on the eponymous international best-seller by Richard Preston. It is inspired by a true story about the origins of Ebola, a highly infectious and deadly virus from the central African rainforest and its arrival on US soil in 1989. When this killer suddenly appeared in monkeys in a scientific research lab in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., there was no known cure. A heroic U.S. Army scientist (Dr. Nancy Jaax) working with a secret military specialized team put her life on the line to head off the outbreak before it spread to the human population.

Please join Movie Scene Queen for a special screening of the first two episodes on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 in the Waterfront. Comment below with your interest.

Much Love,

 

Movie Scene Queen

Muting R. Kelly is the only choice, says the Courier’s Merecedes J. Williams

One of R&B’s biggest stars is under fire after a damaging documentary sparked off the new year. R. Kelly has released 12 albums, sold over 75 million records, and earned three Grammys. We’ve all been to a gathering where his hit song, “Step in the Name of Love” was on the playlist, and “I Believe I Can Fly” was a moment of inspiration. But, even in the midst of all that success, seven women came forward in Lifetime’s heartbreaking six-part docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly.”

“Surviving R. Kelly” is a never-ending horror show. It seems like there was not enough tissue for the women who reminisced on the real-life nightmares they underwent at the hands of the “Bump ‘n Grind” singer.

The nail in the coffin for me was the number of people who turned a blind eye to pedophilia, abuse, and human trafficking. R. Kelly is a monster, and it is time to silence R. Kelly indefinitely.

We need to not only “Mute R. Kelly” (#MuteRKelly is a nationwide movement), but we must strip him of every civil liberty and financial resource. Hurting his pockets and livelihood is the only way to stop a vicious predator from destroying any more lives. We need to stop buying his records and purchasing concert tickets.

Celebrities with power and influence, specifically those who have worked with R. Kelly in the past, need to denounce him as well. Similar to John Legend, who was part of the docuseries, they should publicly express their concern about his predatory behavior and refuse to work with him on any level.

Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier: Muting R. Kelly is the only choice, says the Courier’s Merecedes J. Williams

‘Respect women, especially women of color’—Homewood’s Will Feagins Jr. creates documentary, ‘The Possibility of Her’

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Homewood native Will Feagins Jr. graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1993, “only to end up working at Pizza Hut.”

Several jobs and a decade and a half later, Feagins secured a full-time graphic designer job in 2008, and the following year he relocated to Atlanta with his employer.

“The move to Atlanta helped my career by forcing me to start over as far as my network and to reinvent myself. I was primarily doing graphic design work before I relocated and was just starting to get back into videography,” said Feagins, 47.

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It was in Atlanta where he officially started wfjrFILMS. In 2014, when Feagins was creating a documentary about independent male hip-hop artists, he received a lot of feedback from women about not bring heard. So, he created “The Possibility of Her.”

Read more at the New Pittsburgh Courier: ‘Respect women, especially women of color’—Homewood’s Will Feagins Jr. creates documentary, ‘The Possibility of Her’

Top Five Is Just What We Needed From Chris Rock

Chris Rock has become a household name as legendary standup comedian, Saturday Night Live vet, and most recently, as the voice of Marty the Zebra in the Madagascar series. But, the 49-year-old has dabbled in movie production and direction too. In his latest flick, Top Five, Rock is pretty much playing himself. Andre Allen (Rock) is a big-time movie star who fears going back into the comedy world after 4 years of sobriety and a chain reaction of box office flops.

Top Five, which also stars Rosario Dawson, J.B. Smoove, and Gabrielle Union, is one of this year’s most creative and witty movies. Chris Rock, in true fashion, pushes the envelope with his racy, vulgar humor. One joke in particular involved a quick jab at JFK and the grassy knoll, so you can image the level of inappropriate hilarity.

Rapping buddies Jay Z and Kanye West serve as co-producers of the film. While the Roots’ Questlove managed the movie’s score as executive music producer. With that many musical geniuses involved, I was a little bummed to actually hear the music featured in the movie. The soundtrack was unoriginal and was filled with your everyday radio playlist.

While the music was predictable, the random listings of favorite rappers held more weight than that of the actual musical selection. The topic, specifically hip-hop, infrequently surfaced throughout the movie as characters discussed their own top rappers. This dialogue was the impromptu spice to this filmic feast.

There are so many surprise guests, both comedians and entertainers. So many wonderful, hilarious cameos that I am not willing to spoil their appearances. The obvious funny men, Cedric the Entertainer and Kevin Hart, were amongst the elite group.

Rosario Dawson’s character resonated with me personally and professionally. She played Chelsea Brown, a New York Times film critic who ghost writes under other names. I am Chelsea Brown- the journalist who wears many hats in the hopes of telling an honest story. Unlike other story chasers, we both possess the need to uncover the great, positive stories rather than dig up dirt.

This field is no easy ballpark. Between meetings some one-dimensional people and tasteless headlines, the idea of making newsworthy, well-written pieces is minimal. While there are some great perks to this work, it can get sidetracked with fame, recognition, and greed.

4 STARS: Chris Rock needed this movie. Chris Rock fans also needed this movie. Top Five is undeniably an amusing reflection of selecting and ranking who or what is most important in any given subject.

Since no one dared to show love to the ladies of hip-hop, here’s my Top Five Female Lyricists of All Time:

1.) Lauryn Hill
2.) MC Lyte
3.) Lil’ Kim
4.) Nicki Minaj
5.) Foxy Brown

Honorable Mention: Queen Latifah


Who’s in your Top Five?

Men, Women, & Children Passes

Movie Scene Queen is hosting a screening of Jason Reitman’s new film, MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN at the AMC Waterfront 22 on Tuesday, October 14 at 7PM.

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The film has an all-star cast including Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer and Ansel Elgort.  MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives.

If you are interested, please comment below with your favorite high school memory.  I’ll start with mine- Schenley High School C/O 2005.  Yes, I’ve been out of high school for ten years and I officially feel old!  But, anywho, I enjoyed the basketball games, the trophy room parties, the congested Tripper, and skipping classes to go to lunch but still managing to get on the honor roll!

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

The Good Lie Passes

After their village is destroyed and their parents killed by Northern militia, Sudanese orphans Theo, his siblings and other survivors make a difficult journey to a refugee camp in Kenya. Thirteen years later, the group get the chance to settle in the U.S. They are met in Kansas by Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon), who has been charged with finding them jobs. However, seeing how adrift they are in 20th-century America, Carrie endeavors to help them in rebuilding their shattered lives.

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There will be two screenings for The Good Lie (PG-13)…

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

AND

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 @ 7:30 pm. 

Both screenings will be held at AMC Waterfront 22.  Please comment below with your interest and what date you would like to see the movie.

Much Love,

Movie Scene Queen

Throwback Movie of the Month: Dark Girls (2012)

The paper bag and snow-and-blow tests are direct derivatives of the 1712 Willie Lynch Speech that taught White slave owners how to put African Americans against one another based off of weight, class, skin color, and age. Willie Lynch’s advice to Virginia slave owners were to use our differences as a competitive separation tactic to better control slaves. Three hundred years later, society is still popularized with social trends like #teamdarkskin and #teamlightskin. A 2012 documentary closely looks at one group of Black people whose pigmentation has been less than “fair”- Dark Girls.

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On Saturday, June 21st, Rights and Responsibility, an organization that uses film and other media to focus on human rights issues impacting people of African descent, held its first screenings in nearly 3 years. Dozens of spectators gathered at the Carnegie Library’s East Liberty Branch to watch the 70-minute documentary, Dark Girls.

Rights and Responsibility Executive Director, Dr. Aisha White, welcomed everyone and then introduced a powerful performance by Love Front Porch’s Vanessa German. Once the movie was over, a panel discussion, moderated by Demetria Bocella, included race relation experts like Dr. Stanley E. Denton, Associate Professor of Education at Point Park University, Dr. Beverly Goodwin, Professor of Psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Yolanda Covington-Ward, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, University of Pittsburgh.

The documentary, directed by D. Channsin Berry and Actor Bill Duke, has six segments: The Impact, Family, Men on Women, Women on Men, Global, and Healing. The Help star Viola Davis might be the most well-known account in Dark Girls. Davis, who is sprinkled throughout the film, gives a brief synopsis on her childhood about being dark skinned, raised in a predominantly White neighborhood and how she was too Black for her neighborhood but also, coincidentally, too Black for her “Welfare camp” also.

While Dark Girls features expert commentary from historians and psychologists, it also had distinct accounts from African American men and women. We even heard from a couple White men who like Black women. But, who we failed to hear from was- White Women. Not one White woman was featured in the documentary to give us her opinion on the Dark-skinned Black woman. I found that very interesting!

The short film made several references to Black men about how they indulge in light-skinned or White women, prefer dark skinned women, or simply did not have a preference. But the film failed to have a serious, educated rebuttal from White women. And even though light skinned women where in the documentary, it would have also been enlightening to get their feedback as well.

The behavioral dynamics between women are a huge piece of the colorism, specifically the roles non-dark girls play in the perpetuation of stigmas that shadow dark women.

This might be slightly off topic, but I hate when people say they only date a specific race, especially Black men. To make such a sensitive decision, leads me to believe that the person is naive and immature. I would never limit my opportunities by saying that I only date Black men or White men. More specifically, I would never say, “Oh, I only date light-skinned men.” It just sounds close-minded and idiotic.

Dark Girls most informative part is about family and how parents are a child’s initial reassurance and boost in understanding, development, and self-esteem. LaQualla Davis, 30, thought Dark Girls “finally shed light to an issue within the Black community that needed to be exposed.” Davis, a dark-skinned woman, attributes her high self-esteem and confidence in her early values that were instilled by her parents. She recalls her mom always calling her “beautiful” and embracing her equally regardless of her dark skin.

3.5 STARS: Dark Girls is an ideal stepping stone to start healthy dialogue about colorism, but it is not the premiere premise or remedy to the issue. It’ll take more than a few dozen stories to solve this problem. The healing process is multi-dimensional and requires historical knowledge, self-esteem, and professional guidance in order to break the barriers of colorism for all people.

Dark Girls was released on DVD in September 2013 and is currently available on Netflix and Red Box. And if you need to borrow my Netflix account, let me know!

ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR

Exclusively in IMAX and IMAX 3D Theaters Starting April 4

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ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR Behind-The-Scenes Featurette

Rated G, this family friendly documentary, narrated by Academy Award® Winner Morgan Freeman, is an incredible true story of nature’s greatest explorers—lemurs. Captured with IMAX® 3D cameras, the film takes audiences on a spectacular journey to the remote and wondrous world of Madagascar. Lemurs arrived in Madagascar as castaways millions of years ago and evolved into hundreds of diverse species but are now highly endangered. Join trailblazing scientist Dr. Patricia Wright on her lifelong mission to help these strange and adorable creatures survive in the modern world. (courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures)

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