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Kendrick Lamar, Tiffany Haddish, More Invited To Academy Membership

This year's membership intake for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reached a record number.

This year's membership intake for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reached a record number. According to Variety, the film entity invited 928 creatives within the industry to join its legion.

Given the number of invitees, Variety notes the representation of people of color jumped from 13 percent last year to 16 percent in the present time. This year's class of invitees will bring the Academy's membership roster to 9,226 if all were to say yes to the call.

A few of the entertainers include Kendrick Lamar for executive producing Black Panther's soundtrack and a song on Divergent; Tiffany Haddish for her roles in Girls Trip and Keanu; Trevante Rhodes for Moonlight and 12 Strong; and Jada Pinkett Smith for Girls Trip and Set It Off. The "Red Table Talk" host has been vocal about the Academy's lack of diversity and that actors of color shouldn't seek its approval through shiny hardware. In 2016, Pinkett-Smith said, "Begging for acknowledgment, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power - and we are a dignified people, and we are powerful. Let's not forget it."

In 2015, the #OscarsSoWhite movement began, created by editor April Reign. The hashtag brought awareness to the unbalanced racial makeup of the Academy's representatives and who they choose to nominate for awards each year. Last year's awards were seen as progress to some, with more people of color earning nominations in multiple categories. But Reign said the work wasn't done yet.

"#OscarsSoWhite is very much alive and as relevant as when I created it," Reign said in a January 2018 interview with The Los Angeles Times. "And until we are no longer lauding firsts after a 90-year history [of the film academy], until we can no longer count a traditionally underrepresented group's number of nominations in a particular category on our fingers, there will be more work to do."

View a list of some of the entertainers below.

For Music:
Kendrick Lamar
Questlove
Ester Dean
Chuck D

For Film:
Daniel Kaluuya
Tiffany Haddish
George Lopez
Dave Chappelle
Damon Wayans
Bill Bellamy
Corey Hawkins
Regina Hall
Vanessa Bell Calloway
Trevante Rhodes
Aunjanue Ellis
Amandla Stenberg
Andre Holland
Wendell Pierce
Joy Bryant
Jada Pinkett Smith
Kumali Nanjiani
Kal Penn
Tika Sumpter
Larenz Tate
Jenifer Lewis
Gina Rodriguez
Hannibal Buress
Quvenzhane Wallis
Michael K. Williams
Mekhi Phifer
Rashida Jones
Wunmi Mosaku
Taye Diggs
Omar Epps
Danai Gurira
Mindy Kaling

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Malcolm X’s Assassination To Be Reinvestigated After Docuseries Raises Questions

A documentary on Malcolm X’s assassination has prompted authorities to reexamine the case. In Who Killed Malcolm X? historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad explores the many questions surrounding the death of one of history’s most pivotal figures. The six-part series originally aired on Fusion but has been gaining popularity since appearing on Netflix.

This February will mark the 55-year anniversary of Malcolm’s murder. The former Nation of Islam leader, who left the organization and changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was gunned down inside Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965. Three members of the NOI, Mujahid Abdul Halim, Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Khalil Islam, were convicted for the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

As noted by the Innocence Project, Aziz and Islam always maintained their innocence, while Halim confessed to partaking in the fatal shooting. In 1966, Halim testified that Aziz and Islam had “nothing to do” with the murder. In 1978, Halim identified four other men as co-conspirators. His confession was supported by FBI documents obtained by civil rights lawyer William Kunstler. Prosecutors in the original trial claimed to have been unaware of the documents and New York State Supreme Court Judge Harold Rothwax ultimately rejected a motion to vacate Aziz and Islam’s convictions. Rothwax died in 1997.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has since met with representatives from the Innocence Project “and associated counsel regarding the matter,” a spokesperson for the DA’s office said in an emailed statement, per NPR.

Although Islam died in 2009, Aziz, now 81, continues to fight to clear his name. He was freed on parole in 1985. The Innocence Project joined forces with civil rights attorney David Shanies to re-investigate Azis’s conviction. “We are grateful that District Attorney Vance quickly agreed to conduct a review of the conviction of Muhammad Aziz. Given the historical importance of this case and the fact that our client is 81 years old, we are especially encouraged that Mr. Vance has assigned two highly respected prosecutors, Peter Casolaro and Charles King, to work on this re-investigation,” the Innocence Project and Shanies said in a joint statement. “We look forward to working cooperatively with them to see that justice is done.”

Casolaro worked on the case of the Exonerated Five and King is a member of the Conviction Integrity Program of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

As noted by the Innocence Project, there was no physical evidence linking Aziz or Islam to Malcolm’s murder. In fact, Aziz wasn’t even at the venue. The day of the murder, Aziz had returned home after being treated for a leg injury. He heard about Malcolm's assassination while listening to the radio that day, and has doctors and witnesses, to corroborate his story.

Watch the trailer for Who Killed Malcolm X? below.

 

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Ava DuVernay Named Director Of Nipsey Hussle Documentary For Netflix

Ava DuVernay's next cinematic feat will center on a hometown legend. According to Deadline, the acclaimed director will lead a documentary on Nipsey Hussle for streaming giant Netflix.

The announcement was made on Monday (Feb. 10), two weeks since DuVernay presented a musical tribute to the late rapper at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards. Hussle won two gramophones that evening: Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance.

In tribute to his birthday on August 15, the Emmy-award winning director shared a message on Twitter that expressed her gratitude for the interactions they had. "Grateful that he existed. Grateful we walked this vast earth at the same time," she wrote. "In the same city. Grateful that our paths crossed. Grateful for the work and wisdom he gave us."

For Nipsey. Ermias. Son. Brother. Partner. Friend. Artist. Champion. Grateful that he existed. Grateful we walked this vast earth at the same time. In the same city. Grateful that our paths crossed. Grateful for the work and wisdom he gave us. We miss you. Happy Birthday, Nip. xo pic.twitter.com/cNEZHUhiao

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 15, 2019

On March 31, 2019, Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was fatally shot outside of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles. His death rattled various communities and prompted supporters and new fans to take a look back at this trajectory within music and entrepreneurship.

According to Billboard, other streaming services in the mix included Apple and Amazon. Alongside Hussle's family, the entrepreneur's Marathon Films will also helm production duties.

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Eminem performs onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
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Eminem Performed "Lose Yourself" At The Oscars And Everyone Was Confused

When it comes to soundtrack songs, it doesn't get anymore classic than Eminem's "Lose Yourself." The song from the film 8 Mile was a huge hit, even by Eminem's superstar standards: it was his first Billboard Hot 100 single, stayed there for 12 weeks in a row, and was the first hip-hop song to win the Academy Awards' Best Original Song. After making history 17 years ago, Eminem surprised Oscars viewers with an unannounced performance of the song on Sunday (Feb. 9).

The performance was preceded by a speech that saw Lin Manuel Miranda paying homage to "examples where a song has transformed a film, and where a film has transformed a song." A montage showed clips from Risky Business, Hustle & Flow, Purple Rain and more, before ending with a clip from 8 Mile that showed Eminem's character B. Rabbit pulling up in his car and walking toward the hallway before the film's climactic final battle. Then, to viewers' surprise, Eminem took the stage to perform "Lose Yourself" with a live band.

The performance took social media off-guard – the song "Lose Yourself" or the award ceremony that gave the award aren't celebrating any particular anniversaries, and Eminem wasn't announced to appearing at the show. But that didn't stop Em from giving a pinpoint performance of the song – which is largely seen as the best in his career – or from members of the audience from singing along.

EMINEM AT THE #OSCARS 🤯pic.twitter.com/enMWCOsWif

— Complex Music (@ComplexMusic) February 10, 2020

After the performance, Eminem posted a video from the 2003 Academy Awards that saw Bette Midler announcing "Lose Yourself" as the winner for Best Original Song; Eminem didn't show up to the ceremony that year, so collaborator Luis Resto accepted the award in his place. "Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity... Thanks for having me @theacademy," Eminem captioned the photo. "Sorry it took me 18 years to get here."

 

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Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity... Thanks for having me @theacademy. Sorry it took me 18 years to get here.

A post shared by Marshall Mathers (@eminem) on Feb 9, 2020 at 6:39pm PST

Eminem also posted a photo with musical target-turned-friend Elton John, who took home an Oscar himself that night for his and songwriter Bernie Taupin's "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again," from the film Rocketman.

 

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I got to see my Uncle Elton tonight at the Oscars. Congrats on your win too, Sir! @eltonjohn

A post shared by Marshall Mathers (@eminem) on Feb 9, 2020 at 9:07pm PST

Eminem released his new surprise album, Music To Be Murdered By, in January.

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