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Phil Branch

'Searching For Shaniqua' Examines Names And Stereotypes

The hour-long documentary features three women named Shaniqua and other notable figures dissecting the connotations of certain names.

Howard University English professor Phill Branch grew weary of hearing his fellow teachers complain about the hard-to-pronounce names of some of the students in their classes. Truth be told, Branch, a Baltimore resident, wondered why some parents chose to given their children a name that may prohibit them from future opportunities. Feeling the need to vent, Branch wrote about a blog post addressing the issue, but then decided words on the Internet just couldn't encapsulate the totality of the situation.

"I realized people needed to tell their own stories," Branch said. And from there Searching For Shaniqua the documentary was born. The hour-long film examines the stereotypes many have surrounding the name Shaniqua, as well as other names given to predominately black and brown children. However, the film wasn't an easy-peasy undertaking. Branch says he began filming in May of 2013 and wrapped nearly three years later in May 2016, along the way meeting men and women who spoke candidly about their names, their experiences and why they think some hold onto the stereotypes.

Branch's documentary has won praises from audiences everywhere, and even took home the 2016 HBO Best Documentary at Martha's Vineyard African-American Film Festival. Check out the trailer below and for New Yorkers wanting to catch the film in its entirety, it will be screened at 6pm, Sunday, (Sept. 18) during the Harlem International Film Festival located at MIST.

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Drake To Direct Upcoming ’48 Laws Of Power’ Episode On Quibi

While Drake is behind the mic laying down new verses for upcoming music, the Toronto native will also step behind the camera to direct an episode of an upcoming series. Based on Robert Greene’s best-selling book The 48 Laws of Power, the series of the same name will debut on Quibi in the near future.

Drake’s production company Dreamcrew, and Anonymous Content will helm the executive producing duties. The partnership will also receive executive direction from Dreamcrew’s co-founder Adel “Future” Nur and executive Jason Shrier. “When Drake and I sat down with Robert Greene it was incredibly inspiring,” Future said. “The laws allow for a wide range of dynamic storytelling and Quibi allows us to tell these stories in bite-sized chapters similar to the book.” The entertainment outlet will launch on mobile on Apr. 6.

Greene, who’ll be an executive producer as well, said he’s looking forward to the cinematic adaptation of his 1998 book. The passage outlines the road to success through philosophies taught by Sun-tzu, Machiavelli, and more.

"I have always thought that The 48 Laws of Power would be a perfect fit for a series, bringing to life the timeless Machiavellian game of power as portrayed in the book. But it was not until Drake and Future with Anonymous Content approached me with their unique cinematic approach to the laws that I knew I could join forces with them and go all in for a filmed interpretation of my work," Greene said. Anonymous Content will spearhead the studio.

Although music videos might be the only time you see Drake on the television screen, for now, the 33-year-old has his hands in a couple of TV projects from Netflix to HBO. On the former streaming service, Drake executive produced London's hit series Top Boy. On HBO, the first season of Euphoria, which Drake recently posted a picture of a table read on his Instagram, is headed into its second season. The production is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Kenya Barris’ ‘#blackAF’ Netflix Series Debuts New Trailer

Kenya Barris is looking to command the Netflix universe with another program for the streaming giant titled #blackAF. The series, set to premiere on Apr. 17, will depict his parenting skills and family structure in “a total reboot of the family sitcom” dynamic.

The mockumentary stars Rashida Jones, with guest spots from Nia Long, Tyler Perry, Mike Epps and more. Barris will also step into a leading role, playing a version of himself. Its description reads: “With new money and expensive tastes, Kenya Barris and his family navigate success and explore the struggles of being unapologetically black and wealthy.”

The show arrives after Barris' previous sketch comedy series, Astronomy Club, which debuted in 2019. The 45-year-old director/writer has also created hit programming including his -ish canon of black-ish, grown-ish, and mixed-ish. Barris is also responsible for writing the sequel to Coming to America.

View the trailer below.

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‘Dutch’ Trailer Features Lance Gross, Macy Gray And More

In an adaptation of Teri Woods' best-selling Dutch novel, the film of the same name will finally hit theaters in Fall 2020. The movie stars Lance Gross, Macy Gray, Melissa Williams, James Hyde and more.

The motion picture is directed by Preston Whitmore (This Christmas) and tells the story of Bernard “Dutch” James Jr., an ambitious drug dealer who has his sights set on becoming the East Coast’s top drug lord while battling a high-profile court case.

"We really got our hands on an all-star cast," says Manny Halley, producer of Dutch and founder of Imani Media Group. "Dutch is an iconic story within the urban literary genre, so we had to get every detail right—and I think we did. Fans will be looking for us to finish the trilogy with this one!"

The book "Dutch" was part of a trilogy series that first began in 2003. It was followed by "Dutch II: Angel’s Revenge," and "Dutch III: International Gangster."

View the trailer above.

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