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Jamie Foxx Talks Slave Role In Django Unchained: ‘Slap Me, I’m Going To Slap You Back’

The buzz surrounding Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming slave western epic Django Unchained has been explosive, to say the least. On one side is the rousing acclaim by a myriad of film and cultural critics who are hailing the Jamie Foxx vehicle as one of the year’s bravest work. Then there’s the controversy, highlighted by polarizing condemnation from right-wing conservatives who deem Django as an attack on whites and American history.

For Foxx—who stars as Django, a slave who after being freed by a German bounty hunter (Christopher Waltz) joins forces to track down and free his wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of an evil slave master (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his calculating house slave (Samuel L. Jackson)—there were some early reservations about playing such a role that has been historically displayed in a negative light throughout Hollywood history. But the Academy Award winning actor tells VIBE that Tarantino's film highlights a character that rises above old time stereotypes.

“If I’m messing with a slave film do you actually think it’s going to be goofy?” explains Foxx, who shares the December/January VIBE cover with Washington and DiCaprio. “It’s one thing to do the slave movie where the slave is docile and says, ‘Lord Jesus, God…help us’ and starts singing hymns throughout the entire film. That ain’t what we are doing here. Django Unchained is saying, ‘You slap me, I’m going to slap you back.’ By having someone like Quentin Tarantino putting his expertise on it, it really elevates it. It’s been a great experience for me to be able to find out the knowledge of just how a plantation worked and how hard it was for slaves, my people, and to look at us now and say, ‘Wow, today we have an African-American president.’”

Foxx says Django Unchained has been a surprise for many who had preconceived notions about the film. “I remember we debuted the trailer at the BET Awards and there were a lot of people who didn’t know what the picture would look like,” he states. “People flipped out. I even ran into Spike Lee and he said, ‘Oh my God. I’m not going to say anything bad about this one.’ He was blown away.”

Foxx continues: “Django Unchained is classic Quentin Tarantino. And I have to say that it’s Leonardo DiCaprio at his best. It’s Samuel Jackson at his best. Everyone is great from Kerry to Christopher Waltz. And it’s one of the toughest, truest looks at slavery that you will ever see. Just how Roots defined the 70’s generation, this will define our generation about the actual slave who wasn’t docile; the slave who fought back. It’s been a challenge and a great experience to be a part of this film.”

Django Unchained is set to hit the big screen December 25th.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)

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Yara Shahidi Cast As Tinker Bell In Live-Action ‘Peter Pan’

Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi will portray Tinker Bell in Disney's forthcoming live-action version of Peter Pan, Deadline reports. The cast of Peter Pan and Wendy, directed by David Lowery, includes Oscar-nominated actor, Jude Law, as Captain Hook.

The casting of Shahidi, who is Black and Iranian, marks the first time that a person of color has portrayed the character, previously played on the big screen by Julia Roberts in Hook, a 1991 live-action reimagining of the classic fairytale.

Peter Pan & Wendy will be Shahidi’s second major feature film behind 2019’s The Sun is Also a Star. The 20-year-old actress scored her breakout role in ABC's Black-ish prioer to landing the spin-off Grown-ish. Additionally, Shahidi has appeared on several other hits TV shows such as Scandal, Family Guy, and Wizards of Waverly Place.

The release date for Peter Pan and Wendy is unclear but the film will reportedly debut in movies theaters versus an on-demand release.

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Chris Rock, Megan Thee Stallion Sign On For ‘SNL’ Season Premiere

Chris Rock is returning to Saturday Night Live as host of the upcoming 46th season. The 55-year-old comedian will helm the season premiere next week with Meghan Thee Stallion as the musical guest, NBC announced on Thursday (Sept. 24).

Airing on Oct. 3, the season premiere marks SNL’s return to its headquarters at Rockefeller Center since March. The long-running sketch comedy show went virtual last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The show will also be Megan’s first time performing solo on the SNL stage (she previously made a guest appearance with Chance the Rapper last November).

October. [email protected] @theestallion pic.twitter.com/J8KUYWngaL

— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) September 24, 2020

Rock, who has hosted the SNL three times, was a cast member from 1990 until 1993. After SNL, Rock joined the cast of In Living Color, and embarked on a successful career in stand-up comedy.

But he's not  the only In Living Color alum heading back to SNL this season. Jim Carrey has signed on to play former Vice President and presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, on the show.

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‘Antebellum’ Star Janelle Monáe: ‘This World Owes Black Women So Much’

For us Black folk, the fight for social justice in America continues to be a long and arduous fight. Since the day our African ancestors set foot on this land, we’ve endured the chains and whips of systemic oppression and marched arm in arm for our civil and economic rights. Along the way, we’ve witnessed the senseless killing of our Black brothers and sisters at the hands of police brutality and white supremacy.

Let’s face it. Today, 400 odd years later and in the midst of an anxiety-inducing pandemic, being Black in America is still exhausting. Our Black brothers can’t go for an afternoon jog without running into the armed, confrontational, and self-appointed neighborhood watch. Or question their arrest before being handcuffed and forced to lie face-down, while gasping for air under the pressure of a police officer’s knee on their neck. The most disheartening of all is that our Black sisters can’t rest peacefully in their beds without trigger-happy police officers raiding their homes with a fatal shower of bullets.

The gut-punch of it all? Justice for Black bodies is far and in between. And the group less likely to see any form of justice? Black women. The women who’ve carried and birthed nations. The women who’ve fearlessly aided and led historic uprisings while fighting on the front lines to spark social change. In the upsetting case of Breonna Taylor, one of the officers responsible for her death has been indicted on “three counts of wanton endangerment” for endangering the lives of those in a neighboring apartment.

One activist who has been vocal about the lives of Black people in America is eight-time Grammy award-nominated artist Janelle Monáe.

“I feel like this world owes Black women so much. At the very least, it owes us peace...I have to actively fight for my own peace,” shared the actress in a recent sit-down with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. “It's tough, especially when you see your brothers and sisters, that look like you being murdered and killed, all you can really feel is rage. And when that festers in you, it's hard to shake it. It's hard for me to unwatch the videos I watched of Sandra Bland, of Trayvon Martin, of Jacob Blake, thinking about Breonna Taylor, it's difficult. So, you have to actively fight. I have to actively fight for my own peace.”

In the newly released thriller Antebellum, Monáe plays Veronica Henley, a best-selling author and outspoken sociologist. After speaking on the marginalization of Black people in America at an event in New Orleans, Veronica wakes up as Eden, an enslaved woman working on a Louisiana plantation in a Civil War era. As Veronica experiences the past life of slavery, she (Eden) finds her strength and voice to plan and lead fellow slaves to freedom. Even if she fails over and over again.

“I used to say, ‘Black women are superheroes.’ That's not what I say at all. It's not our job to be superhuman. It's not our job to clean up systemic racism or dismantle them,” pointed out Monáe.

“This film [Antebellum] is a look at what it is like for a Black woman to carry the burden of dismantling and deconstructing white supremacy every single day. We persevere through it. We are triumphant, but we shouldn't have to carry that emotional labor and that heaviness every single day.”

This same weight of responsibility can be seen in today’s oftentimes women-led social movements and calls to action in the streets of America. You can see how it’s cinematically embedded as a theme in the twisted Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz co-directed film. But there’s one thing that must take precedence during any physically and mentally demanding mission for change: rest. And those of us protesting for equality should have loved ones around to serve as a reminder of joy and lightheartedness. For self-care is an underrated superpower.

“I think that it's important to surround yourself around people that if you are doing heavy lifting, if you're out there on the front line, if you’re just having a difficult time, [you can] go watch some comedy films,” encouraged Monáe. “Just be around people that make you laugh. That's really important. I think laughter is something that we can do a lot more of together.”

Watch the full interview with Janelle Monáe above. Also, catch our chat with Antebellum's co-directors Bush and Renz where they talk about how one nightmare inspired the film’s premise.

Antebellum, co-starring Gabourey Sidibe, Kiersey Clemons, and more, is available now on premium video-on-demand platforms.

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