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Austin Hargrave for The Hollywood Reporter

Jordan Peele, Lee Daniels, Barry Jenkins And John Singleton Trade Life Gems In 'Hollywood Reporter'

Gather 'round, listen up. 

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, directors Jordan Peele, Lee Daniels, Barry Jenkins and John Singleton gathered for the first in a candid conversation concerning Hollywood's racial politics, and dropped gems on who can tell what stories, creating a lane, and destabilizing the norm.

“Are black people gonna go see white people’s movies now that we have our own?” quipped Peele when asked about the game-changing effects of the internationally celebrated Black Panther film.

The four men, who make up the only African American director nominees in the 90-year history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, had plenty of invaluable takeaways. Here are a few that resonated loudly:

There's power not just in numbers, but in unity. I’ve met all these guys in the past couple of years, and the energy I get from all of them is this phalanx mentality where we all realize we’re exponentially stronger together than we are separately. - Peele

Find your voice, create your lane and master your craft. I learned from Francis Coppola, who had given me some advice. He said, “Try to write as many of your works as possible so that you have a singular voice.” So that’s what I was trying to do, be a writer-director. Then I got mired up in the drama where I wanted to actually explore different genres, but I felt there was a ceiling of what they wanted me to do. It’s interesting though, because I’m doing this [FX] show now, Snowfall. It’s a popular show, and I could have done it 20 years ago, but they said, “Who wants to see Boyz N the Hood on television every week?” Now, everybody wants to see Boyz N the Hood on television. -Singleton

Black stories matter. The last piece of the excuse for this sort of systemic lack of inclusion that we’ve seen, with some exceptions, was the business part of it kicking in. For so long, you’d hear this notion that the international business is not there and that black people, we’ve always watched white movies, but white people don’t come to black movies. And there are other exceptions that have inched us forward, but when Straight Outta Compton came out, it was an international blockbuster. -Peele

If you really want to be real, we could only do “black” stories. And until recently, it was, “How can black movies make money?” I don’t know if you can call it racism, maybe it’s just the business and the naivete about who our audience was. People have learned through Empire and through Black Panther and through Get Out. - Daniels

Destabilize the norm, by any means necessary. Spike [Lee] did that a lot, too. But I did feel like if [Get Out] didn’t work, it would really not work. And because I come from comedy, my whole pedigree is standing onstage trying to get everybody to laugh — everybody, not just the smart people or the dumb people or the white people or the black people. So, the premise I gave myself was this airtight box that I had to work my way out of to figure out how you make a movie where a black man kills a white family at the end of the movie and white people are going to be cheering with black people. (Laughter.) And so a lot of that was this idea of subverting what people think is about to happen. - Peele

Be responsible for your truths and do your homework. I don’t have [author Tarell Alvin McCraney’s] experience; what do I have that’s relatable to his experience? Let me go knock on somebody’s door. Let me go to a friend or a loved one who has that experience and go, “Will you share with me? And if you share with me, I promise to take the things you share and try to translate them in a way that is responsible and respectful and meaningful.” And that was what I did with Moonlight. I sat down with Tarell because Tarell lived that experience. And as an artist, I had to really have a come-to-Jesus and go, “OK, I don’t know this better than him, so I have to really inject the things he tells me.” And then from that point, we’re artists, you take authorship over the piece and you go out and you create. I do remember the scene where the two kids meet on the beach. It was so difficult because as a director, especially as a writer-director, you know, everything. And I was like, “I don’t know this shit.” I had to be really open about what I didn’t know. But I agree with Lee, it’s not black and white. It can’t be. -Jenkins

There are enough people now that you can go to, to have a conference with or to say, “I don’t understand this world, can you help me?’’ So, I’m not assailing against anybody white trying to do a black story — try it, but get someone to help you. What’s interesting when you see Black Panther is you realize it couldn’t have been directed by anybody else but Ryan Coogler. It’s a great adventure movie and it works on all those different levels as entertainment, but it has this kind of cultural through-line that is so specific that it makes it universal. - Singleton

And speaking to other directors, there’s a wide skill set needed, but nothing is more important than being the world’s foremost expert on that story and being able to impart that. - Peele

Never let 'em see you sweat. The world will be watching every move on your face, so when they mention your name, smile, and keep that same smile even if you don’t win. - Daniels

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A Billie Holiday Documentary Is Currently In The Works

A documentary about beloved jazz great Billie Holiday--appropriately titled Billie--is in the works and will reportedly feature new interviews from the icon's contemporaries.

According to The Hollywood Reporter James Erskine will helm the film and has received support from the successor to Billie Holiday's estate, Concord. The film will follow Holiday's life through the eyes of 1970's journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl.

More than 200 hours of interviews with Charles Mingus, Sarah Vaughn, Tony Bennett, Count Basie will be featured, as well as some of Holiday's classmates, her step-parents, her cellmate, her drug dealer, her pimp and even the FBI agent who arrested her will be in the documentary.

Kuehl died in 1979 without completing her book about the "Strange Fruit" singer. Her interviews will be seen for the first time in the forthcoming documentary.

Holiday, real name, Eleanora Fagan, died in 1959. Her life was brought to the big screen in 1972 in the now beloved film Lady Sings the Blues, starring Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams.

"We are thrilled to be working with the creative team of James Erskine and New Black Films, who have taken great care to produce a documentary that honors the life and work of Billie Holiday in an exciting, genre-defying way," she said in a statement.

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Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Michael Rapaport Walks Back Meek Mill "Trash" Comments

Michael Rapaport clearly doesn't want the smoke with Meek Mill because the comedian has seemingly taken back the "trash" comments he made about the "Going Bad" artist while speaking to Sway Calloway on his radio show.

Meek Mill, great story. Great look. Trash rapper. Sorry

— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) February 18, 2019

On Tuesday (Feb. 19), Rapaport further explained the comments that created beef between himself and the Philly rapper.

"I should not have used that word," the 48-year-old said, reiterating past comments about Mill's career. "He's absolutely not a trash rapper...It was wrong and it wasn't the right word. He's not a trash rapper, I can't say it. I wish I could take that word back. I'm harsh with my hip-hop opinions and it's the wrong word. It's not valid, it's not true, it's not reasonable. It was a stupid word to use."

Rapaport went on to defend the other comments he made on Twitter about Mill reminding listeners that he noticed the "Dreams and Nightmares" rapper's evolution in hip-hop and his importance to the community.

Previously, Rapaport offered his opinions about Meek Mill, calling his lack of response to Drake during their infamous beef "wack" and insinuating that he had no skill.

 

 

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Model Slick Woods poses backstage for the Savage X Fenty Fall/Winter 2018 fashion show during NYFW at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on September 12, 2018 in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty

Slick Woods Celebrates Mom's Release from Prison

After the birth of her son Saphir in September of 2018, and making headlines after walking Rihanna's Savage x Fenty A/W Show during New York Fashion Week while in labor, Slick Woods has more reasons to celebrate now that her mother has been released from prison after 17 years.

"Cried a lot," the 5'10 model wrote on her Instagram post featuring her mother. "Me n' mom, fresh out after 17 years in prison."

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Cried a lot 😳 Me n mom, fresh out after 17 years of prison 😴

A post shared by @ slickwoods on Feb 18, 2019 at 6:45pm PST

Since the age of four Woods was raised by her grandmother between Los Angeles and Minneapolis, after her mother was sentenced to prison for manslaughter. Unfortunately, Woods life at the age of seven shifted bumpier after her grandmother divorced her husband and the two found themselves spending time in cars and motels. The unofficial face of Fenty eventually became homeless and was on track to what many felt was the same path as her formerly incarcerated mother.

"I was in a place where I didn't believe in anything, so I was susceptible to evil energy," Woods said in an interview with E.S. Magazine in 2018. "I'm so easily turned. It's not something I'm proud of," she continued. "And when everyone in the world is telling you that you're going to be just like your mother, and then you're behind bars..."

Thankfully for Woods, after a stint in jail of two to three months at the age of 18, she was able to choose a different path for herself, and a year later she modeled for Kanye West in Yeezy, allowing her to one day provide for her mother once she was released from prison.

"Being a gang member, everyone expected her to not be the best mum," Woods said in an interview with Elle Magazine back in 2018. "But my mum was very hands-on with me as a child. My mummy read to me in the womb," she said. "And she's proud because she knows that everybody expected me to be exactly what she was. She went to prison when she was 19. I became a model at 19. And I can take care of my mother when she gets out."

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