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John Lamparski

Viola Davis To Play First Black Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm In Amazon Biopic

Davis will star and produce the forthcoming  biopic. 

Viola Davis has reportedly been cast as Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, in an upcoming biopic, The Huffington Post reports. The historic film, The Fighting Shirley Chisholm, has reportedly been ordered to Amazon Studios.

The biographical picture will follow the political icon's heroic journey. Chisholm was the first black woman elected to the United States Congress in 1968, representing New York's 12th congressional district for seven terms. She later became the first black candidate for a major party's nomination for President and the first woman to run for the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party in 1972.

Davis will star and produce the film alongside her company JuVee Productions, which she co-owns with her husband Julius Tennon. The biopic will serve as the first project to be released under their new feature film deal with Amazon.

"JuVee Productions is beyond excited about our new relationship with Amazon Studios. We share the same vision of creating a vast and rich array of narratives that are inclusive and reflective of our world," Davis said in a statement. "We started this company with a fierce commitment to integrity and the encouragement of emerging and/or established artists who have the courage and talent to be disruptors. We are thrilled that we can continue to share our vision on a global scale alongside Amazon Studios. It is our legacy."

The Fighting Shirley Chisholm does not have a premiere date at this time.

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Mark Makela

Bill Cosby Receives Backlash For "America's Dad" Father's Day Post

Bill Cosby caused quite the frenzy on social media this past Father's Day (June 16). Although the comedian and actor is currently sitting behind bars, he managed to make a number of people upset with his latest Twitter message.

"Hey, Hey, Hey…It’s America’s Dad," he tweeted. "I know it’s late, but to all of the Dads… It’s an honor to be called a Father, so let’s make today a renewed oath to fulfilling our purpose —strengthening our families and communities. #HappyFathersDay #RenewedOathToOurFamily"

Many Twitter users took issue with Cosby labeling himself, "America's Dad." While he has previously been considered as such due to his pivotal role on The Cosby Show, many felt it was inappropriate due to the countless accusations of rape and sexual assault made by more than 60 women throughout his career. Furthermore, Cosby is currently serving a three to 10-year prison sentence for three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

So, between Cosby's Father's Day post and O.J. Simpson's newly-launched account, it's turning out to be a weird month for Twitter. Check out Cosby's full message and the reactions below.

Hey, Hey, Hey...It’s America’s Dad...I know it’s late, but to all of the Dads... It’s an honor to be called a Father, so let’s make today a renewed oath to fulfilling our purpose —strengthening our families and communities.#HappyFathersDay#RenewedOathToOurFamily pic.twitter.com/6EGrF87t6G

— Bill Cosby (@BillCosby) June 17, 2019

Bill Cosby, disgraced father and husband, still in denial that he got busted. Maybe he and OJ could get a shared account.

— Fif de Florence (@DrFifiRx) June 17, 2019

https://twitter.com/kevonareed/status/1140607803855384576

https://twitter.com/wannahiketheat/status/1140607451722596354

pic.twitter.com/DJD397emHl

— Michael Peters (@peteydallas) June 17, 2019

pic.twitter.com/PWkqBiMZ9p

— Posa (@justposa) June 17, 2019

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Mike Coppola

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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