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Fresh off the success of The Clark Sisters biopic, Lifetime is preparing to release another film on a famous gospel legend. Danielle Brooks, of Orange is the Knew Black fame, is set to play gospel pioneer, Mahalia Jackson, in an upcoming film executive produced by journalist Robin Roberts, the network announced on Monday (Aug. 3).
The film, Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story, will be helmed by Tony Award-winning director, Kenny Leon, whose credits include the Lifetime remake of Steel Magnolias, featuring an all-Black cast. Brooks and Leon previously worked together on the stage production of Much Ado About Nothing.
Brooks starred as “Beatrice” in Much Ado About Nothing, and made her Broadway debut in The Color Purple, the latter of which earned her a Tony nomination.
“Having had the privilege of working with Kenny on 'Steel Magnolias' and Robin Roberts on 'Stolen by my Mother,' I am ecstatic to have them join forces to work together on this special project,” said Tanya Lopez, Lifetime’s EVP of Movies, Limited Series & Original Movie Acquisitions. “Adding Danielle Brooks as Mahalia is icing on the cake. This team is committed in celebrating the legacy of Mahalia and reintroducing her to a world that needs her spirit more than ever.”
A four-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, Jackson was born in New Orleans in 1911. She began singing at an early age and become one of the most revered gospel artists in history. Her 1947 recording of “Move On Up a Little Higher” sold eight million copies, and it wasn’t the only platinum-selling effort from the music icon. Jackson also broke multiple barriers, including becoming the first gospel act to perform at Carnegie Hall.
In addition to recording more than 30 albums over her career, Jackson was an active participant in the civil rights movement. She performed at the 1963 March on Washington, and hoped that her music would act as catalyst to “break down” racial division.
Jackson died from heart failure and complications brought on by diabetes in 1972 at the age of 60.
A slew of Black sitcoms are headed to Netflix. Moesha, Girlfriends, The Parkers, Sister, Sister and more will soon be available for streaming the company announced on Wednesday (July 29).
The new editions will begin airing next month, and are apart of Netflix’s Strong Black Lead campaign of programs that highlights the Black experience. “The goal of Strong Black Lead is to celebrate and lift up Black Hollywood. These trailblazing shows are a huge part of that story,” Jasmyn Lawson, Netflix’s Manager of Strong Black Lead and Bradley Edwards, Manager, Content Acquisition said in joint statement to Deadline.
“From the classic clown funeral episode of The Parkers to Moesha’s mind-tripping meet-up with Brandy, we’re thrilled that our members can now enjoy these amazing classics.”
The statement added, “These shows made us laugh, and cry, and sing along with those catchy theme songs. And mostly importantly, we felt like we saw ourselves on screen – in some cases for the very first time. Every week we were able to tune in to see people, families and friends that looked like us and characters whose everyday ups and downs reflected Black life in an authentic way.”
Episodes of Moesha arrive on Netflix on Aug. 1, followed by seasons 1-3 of The Game. Sister, Sister will debut on Sept. 1, while Girlfriends arrives on Sept. 11, commemorating the sitcom’s 20-year anniversary. The Parkers kicks off on Oct. 1, and will be followed up by Half & Half and One on One, both of which will debut on Oct. 15.
Watch the announcement below.
Time to pop bottles🍾🍾 The following classic shows are coming to @Netflix (US)
Moesha - Aug 1 The Game S1-3 - Aug 15 Sister Sister - Sept 1 Girlfriends - Sept 11 The Parkers - Oct 1 Half & Half - Oct 15 One on One - Oct 15
To celebrate, here's a message from your faves: pic.twitter.com/zohNPEo0rz
— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) July 29, 2020
The HBO drama Watchmen, starring Regina King, dominated the 72nd annual Emmy Awards nominations receiving 26 nods during Tuesday’s (July 28) virtual nomination ceremony. The superhero series, whose debut episode chronicled the Tulsa Race Massacre, earned nominations for Best Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series of Movie for King, and Outstanding Lead Actor for Jeremy Irons, among others.
In the category of Best Lead Actress, King will face off against Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere), Octavia Spencer (Self Made), Shira Hass (Unorthodox) and Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America).
Though Watchmen scooped up the most Emmy nominations, The Marvelous Mrs. Masel was not far behind with 20 nods, followed by Ozark, Succession, The Mandalorian, Schitt’s Creek, Saturday Night Live, and The Crown.
Elsewhere in the Watchmen cast, Louis Gusset Jr. earned an Emmy nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series/Movie, as did first-time nominee and fellow Watchmen co-stars, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Jovan Adept.
According to Variety, a record number of Black actors and actresses landed nominations this year. Black actors and actresses made up 35 of the 102 nominees (which includes Maya Rudolph receiving two nominations in the same category). Issa Rae, whose starring role on Insecure landed a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, will go up against Black-Ish star, Tracee Ellis Ross in the category.
Speaking of Insecure, Yvonne Orji was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for the HBO hit series, while the show received a eight nominations in total. In addition to earning nods for Insecure, the Rae-produced, A Black Lady Sketch Show, landed three nominations.
First-time Emmy nominee, Zendaya, earned a nod for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Euphoria. The 23 year old is the youngest, and sole Black actress, in the category. Also on the list of Black nominees are Billy Porter, Sterling K. Brown, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, and Jeremy Pope. Although Porter received another Best Actor nod for Pose after last year's historic win, trans actresses India Moore and Angelica Ross spoke out about being snubbed at this year’s ceremony. Ross did however congratulate fellow trans actresses, Laverne Cox and Rain Valdez, on their Emmy nominations.
New Jersey born comedian-actor, Ramy Youssef, became the first Muslim American to be nominated for an Emmy, which he earned for his self-titled HULU series. Actress Sandra Oh is the only actress of Asian decent to receive an Emmy nod in a leading category, and Latinx stars were also largely overlooked this year.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges facing the entertainment industry, it has been an extraordinary year for television,” Television Academy Chairman CEO Frank Scherma said in a statement. “Television has inspired, united and comforted a global audience this season. We are honored to be recognizing so many talented programs, producers, directors and craftspeople behind the remarkable storytelling that has brought us together while we remain apart.”
The 72nd annual primetime Emmy Awards air on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. EST.