The PBS film Stay Close highlights race and adversity as it explores the success of Keeth Smart being a black man in the sport of fencing.
What We Know:
- Keeth Smart, an African-American male, became the first American to reach No. 1 in the world in saber fencing and later won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics.
- The 19-minute-documentary shows the inspiring story of Smart dominating his chosen field in the face of adversity.
- Using a combination of black and white animation, raw family footage, and interviews, Stay Close shines a light on Smart’s journey from a small West Indies community in Brooklyn to a sport black people rarely know about, let alone competing and succeeding in.
- “We didn’t know why we wanted to do the film until we saw Keeth’s family footage,” Luther Clement, co-director and former fencer, said. “It was then we knew that everything went through the parents, and we were guided by that principle.”
- Smart’s mother immigrated from Jamaica. Her and his father were determined to send their children to college. When his father came across an article about the Peter Westbrook Foundation, named after the first African American fencer to win an Olympic medal in the 1984 Games, he insisted his children take the sport up. The foundation just so happened to be based in Manhattan and it aimed to teach inner-city kids the sport of fencing.
- The documentary premiered at the Sundance Festival and received awesome reviews. It has been short-listed for Oscar consideration in the best documentary short subject category. The nominees will be announced January 13.
Stay Close debuts Monday night on the PBS Series POV Sports, but can be viewed online here.
T.I.’s Daughter, Zonnique, Announces Pregnancy
Former OMG Girlz singer, Zonnique Pullins, is pregnant – for real this time!
What we Know:
- Zonnique Pullins and boyfriend Bandhunta Izzy, legally known as Israel James, are expecting their first child, and, according to Zonnique, it’s a girl! The two started dating after a mutual connection linked them, and they hit it off via Instagram.
- The 24-year-old made quite the announcement following weeks of ongoing speculation in her Instagram comments. On her newest show, The Mix, on which she is one of the hosts, Zonnique surprised her step-father, rapper T.I., with the news that she is expecting. T.I., not taking it so well, ultimately showed his support for his eldest daughter’s new venture.
- In addition to her announcement on the new foxsoul.tv show, Zonnique did an exclusive photoshoot and interview with People Magazine announcing the big news. According to her interview, the singer is about 5 months in and has had a fairly easy pregnancy thus far. Admitting that she initially wanted a boy, she says that she is now excited about having a girl. “I’m most excited about her being able to go with me everywhere, honestly. We can go get our nails and stuff done,” she states. She goes on to say, “Everybody probably thinks I’d be excited to dress her up and stuff, but she’ll probably be dressed like a little boy, knowing me. Big T-shirts, like how I am.”
- Although her fan-base was shocked, they had already been somewhat suspicious. It just so happens that Zonnique has gotten these inquires of alleged pregnancy almost consistently for the past three years and have always denied them, including the most current ones. She expressed to her fans that if she were pregnant, it would be her news to tell the world and not theirs or their allegations. Initially denying the claims, after the truth was revealed, she reminisced, “Literally every year, probably for the past three years, this same rumor had come out. This time I actually am pregnant. It’s weird!”
- Her mother, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, is as excited as ever to be an “O.G.”, as she would like to be called by her granddaughter. In a special appearance on The Mix, of which she is the executive producer, she shared her excitement for Zonnique’s bundle of joy. However, Tiny has quickly made it clear that she will not accept anything other than support for her baby’s baby. After taking her excitement to Instagram, someone made a comment saying, “Finally? Why not teach ya “baby” not to be another [BABY MAMA] but to be a WIFE.” Tiny was quick to shut down the hate.
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- In a virtual interview on Thursday, Zonnique made it very clear that a wedding aisle is looking a bit too far ahead for her right now. “I feel like at my age, I don’t really want to get married right now. I feel like that’s an even bigger commitment. I hate to say that’s even a bigger commitment than a baby, but getting married just seems like so much. So right now, that’s not really what I want to do.”
- The same doesn’t seem to apply to her loving and supportive boyfriend Bandhunta Izzy. Zonnique was quick to say, “My boyfriend is way more into the whole getting married topic but I told him, ‘I just don’t know about that yet!” The 23-year-old rapper is already a father of two children, a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, and was excited to find out, with Zonnique, that he will be expecting another girl. The Baltimore native has several posts on his Instagram alluding to making Zonnique his wife, however, it appears he is willing to wait till she is just as ready as he is.
Congratulations to the expecting parents! We look forward to meeting your beautiful baby girl.
Honorees announced for 2nd Annual AAFCA TV Honors
In the 2nd annual African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) TV Honors, many notable figures will be celebrated for their work, including Kenya Barris, Viola Davis, and Sterling K. Brown. The virtual edition will take place on August 22.
What We Know
- The African American Film Critics Association is the largest collection of Black film critics that grant distinct awards and honors to quality television and film.
“The creation of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) represents a united stance by film journalists of African descent and brings greater recognition to the work of writers, directors and actors of color in the powerful medium of film.”
– Melvin Van Peebles (American actor)
- AAFCA event is a private celebration, and tickets are available for purchase. The virtual ceremony will honor the best in television “who continue to change the game, drive culture, and authentically portray our stories.”
- This year’s AAFCA will be hosted by Aida Rodriguez and American comedian best known for appearance on Last Comic Standing. The African American Film Critics Association announced the recipients on Wednesday (Aug. 5.)
- Kenya Barris will be honored as TV Icon for his work on Black-ish and #blackAF. Viola Davis will be honored as Best Actress for her work on ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder. Sterling K. Brown will be honored as Best Actor in his work on NBC’s This Is Us. A full honoree list can be found on Deadline.
A portion of the proceeds made from the private AAFCA event will be allocated to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Lizzo Lands First-Look TV Deal with Amazon Studios
“Truth Hurts” singer Lizzo signed a first-look television deal with Amazon Studios.
What We Know:
- Under the deal, 3-time Grammy-winning Lizzo will work with Amazon Studios to develop and produce television projects that will air exclusively with Amazon Prime Video. The musician hinted that she already has some content ideas ready for production. “I’m so excited to partner with the amazing team at Amazon,” Lizzo said. “Thank you to Jen Salke and the rest of the team for making this dream come true. I can’t wait to get started and share my vision with the world.”
- Jen Salke, head of Amazon Studios, shared the excitement for the deal was mutual. “Lizzo is one of the most exciting, creative, joyful artists in the industry, and it is such a pleasure to announce this new deal with her,” Salke said. “She has such a unique perspective and we’re so excited to hear her ideas for new content that our Prime Video customers are sure to love.”
- Lizzo won her three Grammy Awards this year at the 2020 awards show for the hits on her debut platinum-selling album. To date, her music has reached over 4 billion global streams with hit songs like 5-times Platinum “Truth Hurts,” the 3-times Platinum “Good As Hell,” and the Platinum “Juice”. Her album CUZ I LOVE YOU was released in April of 2019 and debuted at #6 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. It then went to spend the next 24 consecutive weeks in the chart’s Top 10.
- Lizzo starred in the feature film Hustlers and voiced a character in UglyDolls, but this marks her first major move in television. On her Instagram Story, Lizzo celebrated the big news with a short and impassioned message for her fans. “Let the empire begin,” she captioned the post.
There is currently no word on what type of projects Lizzo will be developing, but we look forward to seeing what the Grammy-winning musician can bring to television.
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