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Queen Latifah To Kickstart Filmmaking Initiative For Women

“White guys have been able to tell their story in every sort of way, and unfortunately it hasn’t been that way for women."

In her 30 years in the entertainment industry, Queen Latifah has often been considered as a pioneer feminist in hip-hop. In her latest venture, Latifah will expand that legacy to the world of film by launching the Queen Collective–an initiative designed for aspiring female filmmakers.

Speaking with People, the multi-talented figure shared how the Queen Collective will seek to change the narrative in Hollywood. Filmmakers will submit their work with two stories taking the winner slots. The chosen women will then work with Latifah and the collective to curate their ideas and ensure their movie is fully financed, made and distributed.

Latifah is no stranger to the prejudice that plagues Hollywood. The Grammy-winning rapper, singer, songwriter and actor has dealt with her fair share of prejudice before reaching the pinnacles she has.

“I do not fit the typical mold of what then was looked at as an A-List actor — say size two, blonde, short, thin. They’re all out the window when it comes to me,” Latifah said. “I had to really change a lot of people’s minds and earn a lot of people. And also create my own endeavors because people just didn’t get it.”

According to Latifah, however, these small changes are not enough. Having finally found herself in the position to promote change, The Queens Collective is all about inclusion and truthfulness.

“We see a lot of stories that have been told through their lens in every way, shape and form,” Latifah said. “White guys have been able to tell their story in every sort of way, and unfortunately it hasn’t been that way for women. And it hasn’t been that way for people of other colors or genders. That’s the part that’s missing. We want to make sure that everyone is allowed to tell their story.”

Latifah also hopes the project will inspire the next batch of female directors.

“There are just not enough female directors,” she said separately to Yahoo. “This is a small part of what we’d like to do to help change the disparity that we see out there in terms of all the dollars that are given to male directors, all the support that’s given to male directors, and everything we see, yet we’re at least half of who’s watching these movies and buying these products. So we want to make sure women have an opportunity … that the queens have an opportunity. The Queen Collective will make sure that happens.”

Latifah cited her late mother Rita Ownes as a source of inspiration for the project.

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The Cast Of 'SHAFT' Talk Family Traditions, Power And The Film's Legacy

Back in 1971, Richard Roundtree became the face of the legendary crime/blaxploitation film SHAFT. His influence in the role paved the way for a new generation of black detectives filled with a gluttonous amount of swag, clever one-liners, and action-packed scenes. Samuel L. Jackson followed suit in the franchise’s 2000 installment as he took over the streets of Uptown Manhattan and Harlem filling in for Roundtree’s original character.

Fast forward to 2019, and SHAFT’s legacy has risen to higher heights, incorporating Roundtree and Jackson together with an extension of their detective prowess. Director Tim Story created a familial driven movie centered around three different generations of SHAFT men. Roundtree plays the grandfather; Jackson plays the dad—and Jessie T. Usher plays the son. All three embark on a mission that’s laced with dirty politics, Islamophobia, and highflying action in efforts to solve a seemingly homicidal death.

The dynamics between all three are hilarious and dotted with lessons learned from past paternal influences. On a recent sunny Friday afternoon at Harlem's Red Rooster, the trio shared some of the traditions and virtues the paternal figures in real life have taught them. Most of the influence passed down to them was centered on working hard.

“People say to me, ‘Why do you work so much?’” Jackson said. “Well, all the grown people went to work every day when I got up. I figured that’s what we’re supposed to be doing—get up, pay a bill, and take care of everything that’s supposed to be taken care of.”

“For my family, it was cleanliness and masculinity,” Usher added. “The guys in my family were always well put together, very responsible especially my dad.”

In spite of the SHAFT men's power, the film's story wouldn’t be what it is without Regina Hall and Alexandra Shipp’s characters. They both play strong women caught in the middle of the mayhem created by the men they care about. Both are conscious of the power they exhibit as black women off and on screen, yet are aware of the dichotomy of how that strength is perceived in the world.

“It’s very interesting because I think a lot of times as powerful black women we are seen as angry black women,” Shipp says. “So it’s hard to have that voice and that opinion because a lot of times when we voice it; it becomes a negative rather than a positive. In order to hold that power, it has to be poised. It has to be with grace, I think there is strength in a strong but graceful black woman.”

“People have an idea of what strength is and how you do it and sometimes it’s the subtleties,” Regina adds. “Sometimes our influence is so powerful and it doesn’t always have to be loud I think a lot of times how we navigate is with conviction and patience.”

VIBE chatted with the cast of SHAFT about holding power, their red flags when it comes to dating, and why the SHAFT legacy continues to live on. Watch the interviews below.

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Birdman and Benny Boom To Produce Indie Nigerian Film 'Tazmanian Devil'

Benny Boom's extension into feature films continues with help from the Cash Money honcho Bryan ‘Birdman’ Williams with the two producing Nigerian drama, Tazmanian Devil. 

According to Deadline, the project comes from Solomon Onita, Jr. The budding filmmaker previously submitted a pitch for his film to BET's ProjectCre8 Filmmaking Contest. While it didn't take the winning prize, the film will still see the light of day thanks to financial funding by Boom’s Groundwurk Studios and Williams’ Cash Money Films. Boom previously directed All Eyez On Me and episodes of Empire, Black Lighting and Tales.

The indie film centers on a young man who moves to America from Nigeria with his estranged father but the two are at odds over the student's decision to join a college fraternity. The coming of age drama will highlight the cultural differences between black lives and how fraternities are seen from unique perspectives.

Birdman expressed his excitement over the film and working with longtime collaborator Boom. "Benny and I have often discussed making films together and this project presented us with the perfect opportunity to produce a great movie," he said. The duo has worked together on other projects circling music dating back to the early 2000s, they have also collaborated on music videos for Hot Boyz, Juvenile, Big Tymers, Lil Wayne; recently Jacquees, Nicki Minaj and Drake.

"I have been creating visuals for Cash Money artists for decades and I am excited about this next phase of our collaboration," says Boom.

Groundbreaking actors/actress Abraham Attah (Beats of No Nation), Adepero Oduye (When They See Us), Ntare Gunna Mbaho Mwine (The Chi) and Kwesi Boakye (Claws) are cast to star in the film.

Birdman's first film was the documentary entitled, Before Anythang: The Cash Money Story. The film was produced out of Cash Money Film's division of Cash Money Records.

Onita Jr. also has produced two short films, Two Hand Touch (2017) and Witch Hunt (2016). He was the writer for the short film Joy (2015).

Tazmanian Devil is currently in post-production with no official release date.

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Kid Cudi Lands Role In ‘Bill & Ted Face The Music’

Kid Cudi has joined the cast of Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third installment in the film series starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Details about the Grammy winning rapper’s role have yet to be unveiled.

Cudi is building a solid list of acting roles which include HBO’s How to Make it In America, The Cleveland Show, Need for Speed, Entourage, Brooklyn 99, and the comedy, Drunk Parents starring  Salma Hayek and Alec Baldwin.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Bill & Ted Face the Music is centered around time traveling duo, Bill and Ted, as they head out on a mission to “save life as we know it” and bring universal harmony.

The first film in the series, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, was released in 1989. The sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey debuted in 1991.

Reeves and Winter announced the film threequel in March, with a video message from the Hollywood Bowl thanking fans for spearheading the project. “It is all because of you guys so we owe you a huge debt of gratitude,” said Reeves.

Bill & Ted: Face the Music is slated to hit theaters on Aug. 21, 2020.

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