January 03, 2013

By Brandon I. Brooks

Managing Editor

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Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx gives one his most powerful performances on the big screen with his portrayal of Django in Django Unchained. 

Foxx plays a slave turned bounty hunter, who gets the rare opportunity to seek revenge against white slavers and bad men, while searching for his captured slave-wife, Broomhilda, played by the beautiful actress Kerry Washington.  

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx (Django), Leonardo DiCaprio (Calvin Candie), Samuel L. Jackson (Stephen), Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schultz), and Washington. 

Opening second at the box office, Django Unchained has received mixed reviews since its release.  The most notable and harshest critique of the film comes from veteran movie director and writer Spike Lee, who has called for a boycott of the film.  

Lee commented on the film via twitter saying, “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them."  Lee made these comments even though he has yet to view the film.

 

Watch the Video: Jaime Foxx interviewed by Brandon I. Brooks for LA Sentinel TV (LASTV)

 

Kam Williams, Sentinel and Watts Times movie critic, is on the other end of the spectrum giving the Django Unchained four out of five stars.  Williams writes, “Slavery is reimagined as a messy splatterfest where massa gets exactly what he deserves and then some!”

Django Unchained has sparked a debate in the Black community and left many mixed feelings and it has brought to life discussions on the topic of Black slavery which is a taboo subject in American history and its educational system.

There is no mystery that Black slavery is under-analyzed by Hollywood and mainstream media.  The most memorable glimpse and realistic portrayal of Black slavery on film would be the classic mini-series Roots, starring LeVar Burton.  The Roots mini-series brought the horror of slavery into the living rooms of millions.

For the first time in recent history, the subject of Black slavery takes center stage as the backdrop of a major Hollywood picture.  Unfortunately, Tarantino’s film and Foxx’s portrayal of Django could not have come at a more critical point in American history because gun-control is once again a hot button debate in Washington.  

Because of the intense buzz surrounding Django Unchained, the Sentinel and Watts Times had to reach out to Foxx and get his take on the project.  We caught up with the superstar actor for an exclusive one-on-one interview at his home in Westlake, California.

Sitting down in his living room, Foxx shared that he first-heard about the film on the internet AND that Will Smith had the role.  Foxx said that he was upset that he didn’t get a chance to read for the part. However, soon after hearing of the movie, Foxx had a management shift and got the opportunity to read the script. 

After reading the script, Foxx said he didn’t have a knee-jerk reaction to the word “Nigga”, which is used obsessively in the film.

“Me being from Texas, I didn’t knee-jerk like someone from New York would or someone from L.A. would because when you live in Texas or you live in the south, there is a racial component that we live with,” said Foxx. 

“I love the south, but there were several moments when I was called the “N” word so I didn’t knee-jerk to that.”

Foxx chose to lock-in on the love story between Django and Broomhilda.  He shared that the heroicness at the very end of the movie, where Django actually lives, sold him on the film. 

“The slave actually picks up arms, becomes this bounty hunter, and wins in the end,” said Foxx. 

“And the other aspect, me being from Texas it was cowboys, I was riding horses.  Back when I was a kid, watching Bonanza was the thing and watching these iconic White cowboys, we never got a chance to play on a big scale.  So when I got a chance to meet with Tarantino, I shared a lot of private things that happened to me when I was a kid.” 

It’s rumored that Hollywood heavy weights such as Will Smith, Idris Elba, Terrence Howard, Anthony Mackie and Lorenz Tate were up for the role.  When Foxx met with Tarantino to discuss his opportunity to play the role, he said he knew whoever got the part would be brilliant. 

“All of these guys could have done it and that’s a testament to the amount of Black talent we have in Hollywood today,” said Foxx. 

Foxx felt he was meant for the part because he could not only play the part but the “articulation of the work afterwards.” 

 “I would hate to be in the theater watching the film and I am not in the film.”  

When asked how Black people should react to some of the atrocities captured during filming Django, Foxx said, “You are not supposed to feel good when those words are being said.   You are not supposed to feel good when a slave is being eaten by dogs; you are not supposed to feel good when a Black woman is being whipped. What I will say is this… is when you are talking about the Holocaust, every two or three years there is a movie about their history.  When you talk about slavery, it’s so taboo, it hurts so bad even to mention it, that we don’t even want to touch it.” 

“I felt like this, for what this movie can do especially for now and 10 to 20 years from now what it will do, it will open up our eyes differently.

If it’s successful that means a movie about our history at the end, you win and that can set us up for a long time to go back and talk about certain things.”

Foxx went on to say there is educational value in the film.  Most of the film took place on plantations in Greenville, Louisiana.  When Foxx met fans while filming in New Orleans and shared with them he was going to Greenville to film on actual plantations they would respond, “Where is that?”  

   Foxx had to tackle the subject with his own children as he took his two daughters (18 and four) to the set.   “My four year-old just ran, jumped and played and had a good time which is probably what a lot of young slave kids did at the time,” said Foxx.  

“They didn’t know how bad their situation was.  But my 18 year-old was stunned.  7,000 names of babies that were killed on the plantation because when a Black woman would have a baby, the slave master would say, ‘so how are you going to pick cotton?’ So he killed the baby. 

So the atrocities that you see in Django Unchained, it’s not even close to how it really was. But I think it’s necessary for us to see that.  It’s necessary for Django, at where I thought was the most difficult part of the script, was when the dogs eat the Mandingo and tear him apart but Django has to play this slaver character and be someone else (undercover).  But to see him deal with that and his partner from Germany dealing with, ‘this happens?’ And to have Django say, ‘this happens every day’.” 

The “N” word was tough to deal with on-set.  In rehearsal, Washington and Foxx asked for the word to be used.  DiCaprio who plays the slave-owner at Candyland, stopped while filming because saying the word was affecting him emotionally.  “You should feel affected by it,” said Foxx.  “You are not human if you don’t.”

 Jackson pulled DiCaprio aside and said, “Aye Mutha*****, this is just another Tuesday for us.”  Jackson and Foxx expressed to DiCaprio that if he did not go there, to be that evil person, that they did not have a movie.

“When you are doing a movie like this you go beyond Django,” said Foxx who suffered from a lack of sleep during the nine-month filming process. He and Washington became close because they had to experience the journey on and off camera. 

Music played an integral part on and off camera helping the cast push through the most difficult scenes.  Foxx helped produce a song with rap star Rick Ross titled 100 Black Coffins for the soundtrack. Foxx came up with the hook for the song while filming on set.    

When the character Broomhilda received lashes, Foxx said that he calmed the cast and crew with a hymn by gospel singer Fred Hammond that sang, “No weapons, formed against me, shall prosper, it won’t work.” It’s important to note that Washington asked to receive real lashes while filming.  They of course used a modified whip but she did however receive real whips. 

Foxx shared that he witnessed an extra onset, raise their hands to testify and then hug a nearby child.  The entire set from the grips to the lighting crew all experienced something personal during the dramatic lashing scene.  Even director Quentin Tarantino got teary-eyed while filming through the lens.  Foxx shared that he felt the “ancestors stepped-in” and allowed this to happen.

“It was a huge journey. It was tough and there was always those moments where you feel like you don’t really want to mess this up.  This was like a gymnastics routine at its highest difficulty with all the spins and all the twists. If you land it great, if you don’t, then you are in hell.”

When asked if Django is a superhero, Foxx responded by saying, “I think so.” 

He says that they will more than likely do another Django (Django Unchained Part 2) where Broomhilda will get involved with the Underground Railroad and write books in Philadelphia.  Django will move up north, where he is hiding out. All through the south there are wanted posters for Django.  But no one knows what he looks like because at that time there were no photos or pictures of Django.

“Whenever I do anything, as a Black artist, if Black folk aren’t behind it or happy about it, I feel in a certain way I failed,” said Foxx. 

“Now at the same time, I have to be challenging to my Black audience because I am moving as an artist.  But I always come back to that.  I know Black people.  I know where they sit.  I know what makes them cringe. I know what makes them cry. I know what makes them yell.”

The Los Angeles Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times would like to send a special THANK YOU to Alex Avant for coordinating the interview.  We would also like to thank Jamie Foxx, Hollywood’s Number 1 Black Actor for making himself accessible to the Sentinel/Watts Times and the Black Press of America.   

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

January 03, 2013

Associated Press

 

Bobby Womack has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member told the BBC in a recent interview the diagnosis comes after he began having difficulty remembering his songs and the names of people he's worked with.

A spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a message left by the Associated Press.

The soul singer has cut a wide path through the music business as a performer and songwriter in his 50-year career and recently launched another act with “The Bravest Man in the Universe,” the Damon Albarn-produced comeback album that recently made several best-of lists.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease characterized by memory loss. It’s the latest health problem for the 68-year-old singer, who’s also been fighting cancer and other maladies. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

January 03, 2013

ARIES

Guard your words this week, and let peace and harmony rule where they may. It’s not the time to point out the character flaws of a higher-up. You can make this a very productive week if you apply your industrious spirit to your work.  Soul Affirmation: Facing down challenges makes me feel good about myself.

TAURUS

Make a move towards that someone that you’ve had your eye on!  The timing couldn’t be more perfect!  Go slow and be subtly sweet.  Your ability to charm and attract always works in your favor.  Don’t abuse it!   Show off a new attitude.  Soul Affirmation: I let myself be the cheerful me.

GEMINI

Good deeds are in order this week.   Perform all the random acts of kindness that you can. Everything you do this week is going to come back to you in triplicate, so enjoy storing up some future blessings!  Soul Affirmation: Another week in which to rejoice is upon me. ah-h-h-h-h!

CANCER

You can help out a friend this week if you plan your schedule so that you’ve got time for kindness built in! Embrace your generous side while getting your own work finished.  You are excellent at multi-tasking! Soul Affirmation: Old love? New love? The most important thing is true love!

LEO

You may want to make this week a schmooze-fest! Whether you go out to a party or stay in with a friend, you’ll have a good time if you remember that charm is the only weapon that’ll work for you this week. Soul Affirmation: I work hard to combat envy this week.

VIRGO

People can get on your nerves, can’t they? And this week is one of those weeks. Getting through it will be a test. You can get the highest grade on the test by smiling at the stupidity of those who oppose you. They don’t know any better and this week you can’t teach them. Soul Affirmation: The winner is me. I smile for the cameras.

LIBRA

A secret may be revealed in a casual conversation. Your confidence is valued and appreciated. Take it all in! There’s no returning to what has been once you realize the gift you’ve been given. Soul Affirmation: Freedom of mind is the greatest gift for me this week.

SCORPIO

Drive the speed limit in all things this week or you could wind up with a ticket of some kind. Why rush? Serenity is available if you only stop and listen for it inside of you. Discharge your usual obligations with dignity and count your blessings. Soul Affirmation: I obey the rules this week and avoid hassles.

SAGITTARIUS

Slow down and relax your brain-energies! The universe knows how to take care of itself and of you. Give it a chance by getting your mental schemes out of the way. Sometimes it is hard but trust! Soul Affirmation: I let my luck work for me.

CAPRICORN

A friend from the past could suddenly appear in your life. This could be a highly beneficial reunion for both of you. Let bygones be bygones, and renew this friendship. Love isn’t used up just because it’s shared with many. Soul Affirmation: I love many people this week.

AQUARIUS

Be open to a new friendship that could bring public recognition, a new assignment, or a raise in income. You’ll also be pleased with romantic vibes that come from far away. Call! Someone special is waiting to hear from you. Soul Affirmation: Distant love is sometimes sweeter.

PISCES

You’ll radiate with confidence and enthusiasm this week. Important people will be impressed. Make sure you spend time in their presence. The week promises success in making new starts with old contacts. Refresh yourself by socializing just for fun.,Soul Affirmation: My spirit makes all things new.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

January 03, 2013

Associated Press

 

All the single ladies — and fellas — will have a chance to join Beyonce onstage at the upcoming Super Bowl.

Pepsi announced Friday that 100 fans will hit the stage when the Grammy-winning diva performs on Feb. 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. A contest that kicks off Saturday will allow fans to submit photos of themselves in various poses, including head bopping, feet tapping and hip shaking. Those pictures will be used in a TV ad introducing Beyonce’s halftime performance, and 50 people — along with a friend — will be selected to join the singer onstage.

The photo contest — at www.pepsi.com/halftime — ends Jan. 19, but Jan. 11 is the cut-off date for those interested in appearing onstage with Beyonce.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

January 03, 2013

By MESFIN FEKADU  Associated Press

 

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are feeling lucky about their first child together.

“It’s true,” the 32-year-old reality TV star said in a statement on her site Monday. “Kanye and I are expecting a baby. We feel so blessed and lucky and wish that in addition to both of our families, his mom and my dad could be here to celebrate this special time with us.”

Kardashian’s father, Robert Kardashian, died in 2003. West’s mother, Donda West, died in 2007.

Kardashian added in the blog post that she was “looking forward to great new beginnings in 2013 and to starting a family.”

The 35-year-old rapper revealed to a crowd of more than 5,000 in song form at a concert Sunday that his girlfriend is pregnant. Kardashian was in the crowd at Revel Resort’s Ovation Hall with her mother, Kris Jenner, and West's mentor and best friend, Jay-Z.

The news instantly went viral online, with thousands posting and commenting on the expecting couple.

Most of the Kardashian clan tweeted about the news, including Kim’s sisters. Kourtney Kardashian wrote: “Another angel to welcome to our family. Overwhelmed with excitement!”

West told concertgoers to congratulate his “baby mom” and that this was the “most amazing thing.”

Representatives for West and Kardashian didn’t immediately respond to emails about the pregnancy.

The rapper and reality TV star went public with their relationship in March.

Kardashian married NBA player Kris Humphries in August 2011 and their divorce is not finalized.

West’s Sunday-night show was his third consecutive performance at Revel. He took the stage for nearly two hours, performing hits like “Good Life,” “Jesus Walks” and “Clique” in an all-white ensemble with two bandmates. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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