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Nate Parker's 'Birth Of A Nation' Receives A Standing Ovation At Sundance

In lieu of this year's Oscar nominations, which have received major backlash due to the lack of diversity, film critics, actors and directors alike are all raving about Nate Parker's written and directed slave rebellion drama Birth of Nation.

The film, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, received a robust round of applause and standing ovation during the roll credits of the nearly two-hour film. When Parker--who stars as Nat Turner--took to the stage for a Q&A, audience members stood again and clapped in what The Hollywood Reporter is saying is the longest standing O in recent festival memory.

The film chronicles Turner's birth into slavery in the 1800s, all the way until he becomes a preacher, gets married and eventually spearheads a slave rebellion that leads to the death of dozens of white slave owners. During the Q&A, Parker says he gave up acting for two years to focus on the film, and spoke honestly about the hardships he encountered simply trying to receive funding for it.

"It was very difficult, for so many reasons," he said. "I think any time we're dealing with our history, specifically with slavery, I find that it has been desperately sanitized. There's a resistance to dealing with this material."

When asked what he hopes moviegoers will take from the film, Parker simply hopes it allows people to reflect upon themselves.

"I made this film for one reason, with the hope of creating change agents. That people can watch this film and be affected. That you can watch this film and see that there were systems that were in place that were corrupt and corrupted people and the legacy of that still lives with us," said Parker. "I just want you, if you are affected and you are so moved, to ask yourself, 'Are there systems in my life that need attention whether it be racial, gender?' There are a lot of injustices."

Birth of A Nation stars Being Mary Jane star Gabrielle Union, along with Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller.

Congrats Mr. Parker. Well deserved.

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Jussie Smollett's Potentially Final 'Empire' Episode Draws Low Viewership

It hasn't been revealed whether Empire will return for a sixth season. However, if the show returns, there's no word on if Jussie Smollett will reprise his role as Jamal Lyon.

Regardless of the unknown, it looks like fans weren't all the way tuned-in to what may have very well have been Smollett's last episode on the show. Per Variety, Jamal's groundbreaking wedding episode garnered low ratings for the Fox series.

"The episode, in which Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon tied the knot in TV’s first-ever black, gay wedding, returned a 1.1 rating in the key 18-49 demo and 3.8 million total viewers," reports the site. "Those numbers are a tick up on the 1.07 rating of the previous two weeks, but are still down on the season 5 average, which currently sits at around 1.4."

Smollett's character was written out of the last two episodes of the fifth season, due to his highly-publicized arrest in February for allegedly filing a false police report claiming that he was attacked physically and verbally in Chicago. All 16 charges against him were dropped in March.

Recently, his Empire family penned a letter of support for their cast member, urging the show's producers to allow him to come back for the unannounced sixth season.

"[Smollett] is kind. He is compassionate," the letter says. "He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped."

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John Singleton In Coma After Suffering Major Stroke

John Singleton is reportedly in a coma after suffering from a major stroke, TMZ reports.

The Boyz N the Hood filmmaker has reportedly been in the ICU since last weekend. According to legal documents obtained by TMZ, Singleton's mother, Sheila Ward, is asking a judge to appoint her temporary conservator of his work because he is "unable to properly provide for his personal needs for physical health, food, clothing, or shelter." Singleton was reportedly working on several projects and preparing to sign a lucrative settlement agreement at the time of his stroke, according to Ward.

As previously reported, Singleton suffered a stroke on April 17, after returning from Costa Rica. After experiencing problems with his legs, he reportedly checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where he suffered a stroke in his hospital room.

This story is developing.

 

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Goodbye Costa Rica... one of my new favorite places in the world.... so much to see so little time...

A post shared by JOHN SINGLETON (@johnsingleton) on Mar 6, 2019 at 1:07pm PST

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'Empire' Makes History By Airing First Black Gay Wedding On Network TV

Wedding bells have just made their way into the history books. Last night (April 25), FOX's Empire became the first network television show to air a black gay wedding. Jamal and his fiancé Kai (Jussie Smollett and Toby Onwumere, respectively) jump the broom and swap vows in the episode titled "Never Doubt I Love."

As an added treat, Empire even tapped the legendary Chaka Khan to perform at the fictional star-studded wedding (Mario and Wood Harris even showed up) which, as evidenced by the episode BTS video, was a moment for everyone right to the stars of the show themselves. “Today’s wedding is special and controversial,” Khan said of using her voice for this particular cameo. “But my answer to all that is just love is love.”

Cast members Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe agree that Jamal and Kai's wedding might have just become the best Empire wedding.

While this doesn't necessarily take away from the controversy still surrounding Smollett's case in Chicago, it was a cause for celebration regarding diversity and representation on television nonetheless. As Ms. Khan said, right here and right now, the most important thing to note is that love is love.

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