Sunday, January 31, 2016

'Dirty Dancing' Hits The Hollywood Pantages

The Nederlander Organization announced casting for DIRTY DANCING The Classic Story On Stage. An unprecedented live experience, Dirty Dancing explodes with music played live by an eight piece onstage band, passionate romance and sensational dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this timeless love story features the hit songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the heart-stopping “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.” London’s Sunday Express says “This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot!”

Tickets for DIRTY DANCING The Classic Story On Stage are on sale now and are available for purchase at or, by phone at 800-982-2787, and at the Hollywood Pantages Box Office (6233 Hollywood Boulevard). The box office opens daily at 10am except for Holidays. Ticket prices start at $29. Groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets by visiting or by calling 866-755-3075.

DIRTY DANCING features Gillian Abbot as “Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman,” Christopher Tierney as “Johnny Castle,” Doug Carpenter as “Billy Kostecki,” Jerome Hermann-Hardeman as “Tito Suarez,” Ryan Jesse as “Neil Kellerman,” Gary Lynch as “Max Kellerman,” Scott McCreary as “Robbie Gould,” Herman Petras as “Mr. Schumacher,” Alex Scolari as “Lisa Houseman,” Margot White as “Marjorie Houseman,” Mark Elliot Wilson as “Dr. Jake Houseman” and Jenny Winton as “Penny Johnson.”

DIRTY DANCING will also feature John Antony, Rachel Marie Bell, Danielle Diniz, Jon Drake, Josh Drake, Rashaan James II, Joshua Keith, Kevin Mylrea, Katelyn Prominski, Amy Quanbeck, Alana Randall, Sean Rozanski, Adrienne Walker, and Devan Watring.

The North American tour of DIRTY DANCING The Classic Story On Stage is produced by Amber Jacobsen, NETworks Presentations LLC, Grove Entertainment and Col Joye in association with Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), the premier next generation global content leader, and Magic Hour Productions.

DIRTY DANCING The Classic Story On Stage began as an eight-week staged workshop in Manhattan in the fall of 2001. It was first performed at the Theatre Royal in Sydney, Australia in November 2004 before embarking upon a hugely successful tour of Australia and New Zealand. A new production opened at the Theater Neue Flora in Hamburg, Germany in March 2006 where it broke records for achieving the highest advance in European history.

The production began performances on London’s West End in October 2006 with an £11 million advance and went on to become the longest running show in the history of the Aldwych Theatre. It closed in July 2011 in advance of a two-year UK national tour and then returned to London for a strictly limited season at the Piccadilly Theatre.

The show has gone on to perform across the world in markets as diverse as Utrecht, Holland, Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Most recently, it has been represented by a new UK tour (which launched March 2014 in Bristol), a German tour (which launched April 2014 in Berlin) and an Italian production (which launched October 2014 in Milan). The show returned to Australia with a new tour that premiered in late 2014 in honor of the stage production’s 10th anniversary.

The performance schedule for DIRTY DANCING The Classic Story On Stage is Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Opening Night is Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 8 p.m.

DIRTY DANCING The Classic Story On Stage is recommended for ages 12 and up. (Children under 5 will not be admitted to the theatre. All patrons must have a ticket, regardless of age.)

Individual tickets for DIRTY DANCING The Classic Story On Stage start at $29. Prices are subject to change without notice.

For tickets or more information about the Los Angeles engagement of DIRTY DANCING The Classic Story On Stage please visit the official website for Hollywood Pantages Theatre: 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Joe D'Arcy Talks About His Film, 'I Am A Pencil'

Joe D'Arcy

The following is a director's statement about his film, I Am A Pencil, set to screen at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on February 9-10, 2016. 

Joe D’Arcy is the writer, director and producer of I am a Pencil (Je suis un Crayon). This film was inspired by the three million people who marched through France on January 11, 2015 in support of peace, unity and freedom of expression after the Charlie Hebdo murders. 

As I watched this unfold from the other side of the world it was evident that this was not, “just another news story. I was struck by the courage of the people from the many differing backgrounds and religions who expressed solidarity and marched collectively, defiantly, and as a unified nation of people.

Since the brutal attack on the members of Charlie Hebdo, there has been a lot of debate on 'freedom of expression' and 'the right to express' versus the rights of others who may be offended by this expression. 

Although the right to express ourselves is vital to our ongoing development as people, 'human expression' has little to do with 'rights' or 'freedom'. Expression for human beings is an innate drive and will occur whether we have been granted the 'rights' or the 'freedom' to express or not. Human beings have found ways to express themselves throughout their existence, from early cave paintings through to contemporary graffiti. Prisoners have scratched the walls of their captors with words or images under the most repressive and punitive conditions.
Expression will always occur.

Some of us are inspired to write or draw when experiencing beauty, others are driven to express when life is ironic or funny and others are driven to express in the face of hypocrisy. Like the pencil in Je suis un Crayon, we express our experience of the world 'as it is' and just as importantly we express our experience of the world as 'we see it'.

Although putting this film together took many months for our small and dedicated team, I am very happy with the result and it is my hope that anyone with five minutes spare, will take the opportunity to enjoy it. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Williams, Widow Of Tuskegee Airman, Lets It 'FLY'

Joan Williams

By Darlene Donloe

Joan Williams, the widow of Tuskegee Airman Robert Williams, whose story was brought to life in the HBO film, The Tuskegee Airmen, is sitting inside the Pasadena Playhouse watching rehearsals for FLY, a play about the legendary pilots, set to open at the theater this Sunday (Jan. 31).

The Pasadena Playhouse and Crossroads Theatre Company’s production of the West Coast premiere of FLY, by Trey Ellis and Tony Award-winner Ricardo Khan, dramatizes the historic contributions made by the Tuskegee Airmen to the desegregation of the American military and the furthering of civil rights. It tells the story of the Negro military pilots who flew over Europe and North Africa during World War II and how they demonstrated a strength and enduring spirit that was unmatched. They proved to America that courage knows no color.  Not only did they save lives, they helped win the war, earning the Tuskegee Airmen a certain level of respect.

A cancer survivor who recently finished six chemo treatments, Williams, 83, knows the story all too well. A petite, well-dressed and well coiffed woman with a quick wit and a passion for that part of history, she has some stories of her own she can share regarding that volatile time in America. She smiles that smile of pride as she talks about the accomplishments her husband made, as well as the heartaches he endured fighting for a country that lacked appreciation.

But Williams, too, had to fight racism. In 1958 when she was 27, Williams was selected as “Miss Crown City” and was supposed to ride on the city-sponsored Rose Parade float. However, when Pasadena city officials realized she was black, the city decided they couldn’t afford to sponsor a float that year. Last year, Williams received an apology from the city of Pasadena and got to ride on a float in the parade some 58 years later.

Joan Williams

I interviewed Joan Williams (JW) about FLY, her husband, whom she married in 1952, their life and her memories. She’s nattily dressed in brown boots, black pants, a black top, a chic brown and black scarf, gold earrings and gold necklace. Her memory is sharp and her resolve unwavering.

DD:  Why should people care about this story?

JW: It’s important to keep the story moving forward.  This is American history, not Black history.

DD: Your husband’s story was told in an HBO film about the Tuskegee Airmen.

JW: Yes, two weeks after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, HBO called and said they wanted to do it. It energized him. He lived five more years. He was diagnosed in 1992 and when the movie came out, he was able to enjoy doing some PR (public relations). He died in 1997.

DD: He must have been so proud.

JW:  He was fulfilled. It was a dream. He grew up in Iowa. He and his father and brother owned a plane. He knew how to fly. He enlisted with his friend who was Caucasian.

DD: I’m sure they had different experiences when they enlisted.

JW: The guy sitting behind the desk said, ‘Uncle Sam wants you, but Uncle Sam doesn’t want any niggers.’ He let it roll off his shoulders. He went on and did what he wanted to do.

DD: He must have shared some juicy stories with you.

JW: Yes, he did.  On the train to Alabama to report for duty they made them get off the train and gave their seats to German prisoners of war. And then the black fellas had to sit behind the caboose.

DD: He obviously didn’t let anything bother him.

JW: He would say, ‘Until the day I die, I will be trying to get this story out there to the public.’ He was well loved.

DD: The two of you have seen some things. What stands out for you?

JW: In 2008, I lived to see Barack Obama become president. I never thought I would see that in my lifetime. For that to happen was such a blessing. To see what’s happening in this country is mind-boggling. It’s sad. I want to emphasize to my grandchildren how they can’t give up. Get involved.

DD: Are you encouraged or discouraged about how black people have progressed in this country?

JW: I’m discouraged. I had no idea there was so much hatred in this country. Don’t know how I got blindsided by that. I’m a native Californian. Born in LA.  I remember when we first tried to buy something in Leimert Park we couldn’t because we were Negroes.

DD:  We’re talking about the Tuskegee Airmen, but you’ve also had to deal with discrimination. Last year the city of Pasadena apologized to you for an ugly incident in which the opportunity to ride in the Tournament of Roses parade was squelched due to your race. However, you recently got to ride in the Tournament of Roses Parade after being denied in 1958. Almost 60 years later – you get to ride.

JW:  Yeah, back then it happened all of a sudden. The city of Pasadena didn’t have the room for me. They didn’t have a float that year.  That’s not my problem.

DD: Given the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, is it more important for black people to see this or white people to see this?

JW: It’s important for everyone. It’s really important for white people to see it. Many whites don’t have interaction with black folks. The more they learn about us, it will help them grow. Many of them don’t read it in their history books. They aren’t taught about other cultures in school. We’re the same everywhere.

DD: Why is this story important?

JW: These young men, some were college educated by that time, they wouldn’t take ‘NO’ for an answer. They proved they had the intelligence to fly.  All of that is helpful to young people to persevere and not give up.

DD:  What was your husband like when he came home from the war?

JW: When my husband came home from being overseas, everything was fine until they moved toward the city and the city folks were getting on the bus. This person gets on the bus and says, ‘Conductor tell this boy where he’s supposed to be sitting.’  The driver asked them to move to the back of the bus.   My husband would say, ‘If we as a people let this deter us we wouldn’t have accomplished what we have.’

DD:  Your husband, Robert, sounds like a helluva guy. Describe him.

JW: Robert Williams was a wonderful husband and father, brother and family man. He had a wonderful personality. He met people everywhere, it didn’t matter who you were. He was interested in their stories. He was always telling stories about the Airmen.

The company of FLY with Dr. Roscoe Brown, Tuskegee Airman and Chief Technical Consultant for FLY. 
(l-r top) Marshall Jones, III (executive director of Crossroads Theatre Company), Terrell Wheeler, Omar Edwards, Brooks Brantley, Kelli Smith (production stage manager), Ricardo Khan (director), Dr. Roscoe Brown, Brandon Nagle, Anthony J. Goes and Ross Cowan.  Bottom row: (l-r) Sadae Marie, Desmond Newson and Damian Thompson.
  Photo by The Pasadena Playhouse

FLY, directed by Tony Award-winner Ricardo Khan and choreographed by Hope Clarke, features Brooks Brantly, Ross Cowan, Omar Edwards, Anthony J. Goes, Brandon Nagle, Desmond Newson, Damian Thompson and Terrell Wheeler.

Eight original Tuskegee Airmen: Lt. Col Theodore Lumpkin, Jerry Hodges, Levi Thornhill, Wilbert (Bill) Johnson, Reginald Ballard, Dr. Isaac Walker, Harlan Leonard, Franklin Henderson (who served as a Buffalo Soldier), are expected to be in attendance at the opening Sunday night.

FLY, Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA; January 31 through February 21, 2016; Tickets: 626-356-7529 or

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Secret Life Of Pets In Theaters July 8

For their fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day.

Comedy superstars Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart make their animated feature-film debuts in The Secret Life of Pets, which co-stars Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and Albert Brooks.  Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and his longtime collaborator Janet Healy produce the film directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2), co-directed by Yarrow Cheney and written by Brian Lynch and Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio. 

The Secret Life of Pets is in theaters July 8.

Genre: Comedy                          
Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and Albert Brooks
Directed by: Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney
Writers: Brian Lynch, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Produced by: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy

Academy Announces Presenters and Performers

Whoopi Goldberg

LOS ANGELES, CA – Oscars® producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin announced today the first slate of presenters for the 88th Oscars telecast. The Oscars, hosted by Chris Rock, will air live Oscar® Sunday, February 28, on ABC.  

The presenters and performers, including past Oscar winners and nominees, are: 

     Benicio Del Toro
     Tina Fey
     Whoopi Goldberg
     Ryan Gosling
     Kevin Hart
     Lady Gaga
     Sam Smith
     Charlize Theron
     Jacob Tremblay
     The Weeknd
     Pharrell Williams

“Each of these artists brings a wonderfully distinctive element to the Oscars stage,” said Hill and Hudlin. “Together they represent the many thrilling ways stories can be shared about the human experience, and we’re honored they will be part of the celebration.”

The 88th Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.  The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

31st Santa Barbara Film Fest To Honor Directors

Santa Barbara, CA – The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced today that Lenny Abrahamson, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Tom McCarthy, Adam McKay and George Miller will receive the 2016 Outstanding Directors of the Year award. They will each be celebrated individually for their films ROOM, THE REVENANT, SPOTLIGHT, THE BIG SHORT and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, respectively.  The individual honors will be followed by a joint conversation between the directors on their craft and the landscape of modern day filmmaking.  The ceremony will take place on Thursday, February 11th at the historic Arlington Theater.

“These directors have each made their mark on the film canon and have solidified their standing as some of the best directors of our time,” said SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.  “The fact that these films come on the heels of already illustrious and established careers makes this honor even more special.”

The Outstanding Directors of the Year award is given to directors not afraid to push the envelope in the cinematic world.  They have an eye for the picture they want to present and then do so, with an expertise that is both gracious and bold. Past recipients include Damien Chazelle (WHIPLASH), Richard Linklater (BOYHOOD), Bennett Miller (FOXCATCHER), Laura Poitras (CITIZENFOUR), Morten Tyldum (THE IMITATION GAME), David O. Russell (AMERICAN HUSTLE), Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER), and Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE).

The festival previously honored Jane Fonda (Youth) with its Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film and has announced that it will honor Johnny Depp (Black Mass) with its Maltin Modern Master Award, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams (Spotlight) as an ensemble with its American Riviera Award, and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina)O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) Géza Röhrig (Son of Saul), Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy), Joel Edgerton (Black Mass), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy) and Jacob Tremblay (Room) with its Virtuosos Award.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. SBIFF offers 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums that transforms beautiful downtown Santa Barbara, CA into a rich destination for film lovers which attract more than 90,000 attendees.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community through free programs like its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, National Film Studies Program, AppleBox Family Films, 3rdWeekend and educational seminars. In recent years SBIFF has expanded its year round presence with regular screenings and Q&As with programs like Cinema Society, The Showcase and its Wave Film Festivals.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Idris Elba Voices Chief Bogo In Disney's 'Zootopia'

IDRIS ELBA in Disney's ZOOTOPIA releasing Friday March 4!

Elba provides the voice of CHIEF BOGO, head of the Zootopia Police Department. A tough cape buffalo with 2,000 lbs of attitude, Bogo is reluctant to add Judy Hopps, Zootopia’s first bunny cop, to his squad of hardened rhinos, elephants and hippos.

The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia,” a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled,” “Bolt”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Simpsons”), and produced by Clark Spencer (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “Lilo & Stitch”) opens in theaters on March 4, 2016.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Zoe Kravitz In 'Allegiant,' Set To Open March 18

The third installment of the blockbuster Divergent series franchise, ALLEGIANT takes Tris [Shailene Woodley] and Four [Theo James] into a new world, far more dangerous than ever before.

After the earth-shattering revelations of INSURGENT, Tris must escape with Four and go beyond the wall enclosing Chicago. For the first time ever, they will leave the only city and family they have ever known. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust as a ruthless battle ignites beyond the walls of Chicago which threatens all of humanity. In order to survive, Tris will be forced to make impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

Cast:                                     Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Daniel Dae Kim, Bill Skarsgård, Rebecca Pidgeon, Xander Berkeley, Keiynan Lonsdale, Jonny Weston, Nadia Hilker, Andy Bean and Naomi Watts

Saturday, January 23, 2016

'What Of The Day' To Be Screened At PAFF In LA

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- On Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, during Black History Month, "What Of The Day" ( will make its World Premiere at the Pan African Film Festival, Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills, 4020 Marlton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. 90008 at 7 p.m. The feature length documentary, commissioned and produced by Jonathan A. Mason, Sr., International President and the General Board of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., in association with With Grace Productions, traces the history of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., ( Skillfully narrated by television and movie actor, Malik Yoba and written and produced by Anthony A. Samad, Ph.D., the film tells the story of the significance of the black fraternity movement in America, and chronicles Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. activities, as it prepared to celebrate its 100th Anniversary.

"This is an opportunity for the greater society to understand the prestige, power and relevance of the black fraternity movement, by chronicling one fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, during its Centennial celebration. Its members have left an indelible footprint on American society," remarked Anthony A. Samad, Ph.D. 

Founded at Howard University on January 9, 1914, the fraternity of such civil rights and cultural icons as James Weldon Johnson, Alain Leroy Locke, Asa Phillip Randolph, John Lewis, Hosea Williams, James Foreman, Huey P. Newton, Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, Harry Belafonte and a host of others, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was part of every social change movement of the 20th Century, and begun making its mark on civil, political and human rights in the 21st Century. The film documents the charges and challenges that it faced in turning a century old.

"This documentary is a keepsake for every living 'Sigma Man,'" enthused Jonathan A. Mason, Sr., International President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. "We are elated to premiere this documentary at The Pan African Film Festival, one of the most prestigious festivals in the film industry," Mason added.

The story of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. is the union of spirit and commitment to serve, with a firm foundation of learning and a genuine interest in the wellbeing of others. This is crystallized in Sigma's motto: Culture for Service and Service for Humanity. With the principles, Brotherhood, Scholarship, and Service, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., an international organization of college and professional men, today is one of the leading Greek-Lettered community service entities leading the charge against social injustice in America. With its membership of over 150,000 with over 750 chapters throughout the continental United States, Switzerland, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. is always poised to address the issues of the day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

47th NAACP Image Awards Set To Air February 5

Two-Hour Special Airs Live on Friday, February 5 on TV One at 9:00 p.m. ET;
One-Hour Pre-Show Airs Live from the Red Carpet at 8:00 p.m. ET
LOS ANGELES, CA (Jan. 20, 2016) – This year the Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, Roslyn M. Brock, will present the prestigious Chairman’s Award to individuals and organizations who have used their distinct platforms to be agents of change. The recipients are Brittany Bree” Newsome; Justice League NYC; Concerned Student 1950 Collective at the University of Missouri, Columbia; The University of Mississippi NAACP College Chapter; Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III; Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley; Rev. Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant, and Jussie Smollett. The presentation will take place during the 47th NAACP Image Awards, broadcast live on Friday, February 5 (9:00 p.m. ET/PT tape-delayed) on TV One, the civil rights organization announced today.

It is a rare privilege for me to present the NAACP Chairman’s 2016 Award to an outstanding group of trailblazing leaders all under the age of 50 who have given voice and vision to the mantra that black lives matter,” stated Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. The five individuals and three organizations have raised awareness of social, educational, and economic injustice from college campuses, church pulpits and the streets, and exemplify what this award symbolizes - Courage Will Not Skip this Generation.®”

The NAACP Chairman’s Award is bestowed in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service. Past honorees include Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder, Jr., United States Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, Radio One Founder and Chairperson Cathy Hughes, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, Tyler Perry, Former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai, Aretha Franklin, Bono, then-Senator Barack Obama, The Dave Matthews Band, Danny Glover, and Forest Whitaker.

Justice League NYC 
Justice League NYC is a rapid-response criminal justice task force launched by The Gathering for Justice, a non-profit organization founded by iconic actor and activist Harry Belafonte in 2005.  The Justice League NYC has established itself as a leader in the Movement for Racial Equity, utilizing the talents and resources of its members to advocate for viable reforms to the criminal justice system.  In April 2015, Justice League NYC led a 9-day, 250-mile march from New York City to Washington, D.C. to deliver to Congress three federal bills to end racial profiling, stop the militarization of police and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.  Justice League NYC keeps public pressure on high-level city, state and federal officials, by engaging in substantive policy discussions with stakeholders, and building power on the streets with strategic community mobilization.

The University of Mississippi NAACP College Chapter
The University of Mississippi NAACP College Chapter is an organization committed to ensuring the educational, political, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The College Chapter’s leadership was a key catalyst in the student led campaign to remove the Mississippi state flag, which includes the confederate battle emblem in its upper left corner from campus grounds. Its entire executive board was responsible for the planning and execution of all dialogues, rallies, and meetings with University administrators. The Chapter issued this statement to support removal of the flag, “We the University of Mississippi NAACP can no longer tolerate the use of Confederate iconography within context of our shared academic space. We strive for inclusion of all people and believe that our state flag should represent the heritage of all of its inhabitants. Our state flag should inspire future generations to prosper in the state of Mississippi with no symbolic barriers impeding upon individual growth and one’s understanding of belonging.”

University of Missouri Concerned Student 1950 Collective
Concerned Students 1950 Collective at the University of Missouri, Columbia stood up to institutional apathy and racial hostility on the campus. The Collective organized a series of “Racism Lives Here” protest rallies that included a hunger strike by a graduate student and a pivotal boycott by its football team the Missouri Tigers that resulted in the resignations of the University of Missouri System President and the Chancellor. The group's name, Concerned Student 1950, highlights the year the University of Missouri admitted its first black student. United together for change, the group recited a line from an Assata Shakur poem, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” The campus activism led by the Concerned Students 1950 Collective inspired similar protests on college campuses across the nation.
Brittany “Bree” Newsome
Bree Newsome has always been sensitive to the essential role that art and symbols play in shaping culture and consciousness.  As she watched the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of 9 people slaughtered in the name of white supremacy at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, she recognized the message being communicated clearly by the US flag and the SC state flag at half-mast while the Confederate flag remained fully furled. Refusing to accept the premise of this image – that white supremacy is supreme, untouchable and invincible – she scaled the 30-foot flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse and removed the stars and bars” boldly declaring, This flag comes down today!”  The image of Bree with the Confederate flag in hand has become a touchstone of empowerment for disenfranchised people around the globe.

Jussie Smollett
Widely recognized as Empire’s Jamal Lyon, actor-singer-songwriter Jussie Smollett is a longtime activist who has actively stood up for civil rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and more social justice causes since age 15. Smollett volunteers with such nonprofits as the Black AIDS Institute, Artists for a New South Africa, and United Negro College Fund, among others. Jussie is an outspoken advocate for LGBT issues and extremely active in GLAAD. Recently he interrupted his performance at the BET Awards to speak out about the Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.

Rev. Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant
Time magazine has identified Jamal Harrison Bryant as one of the key figures of this hour to move the generation forward. His training and tutelage emanated from his time serving as National Youth and College Director of the NAACP where he organized a national “Stop The Violence Start the Love” campaign to counter the violence that claimed the lives of thousands of young African Americans. As pastor of 10,000 millennials, he has fused spirituality with social responsibility registering more voters than any church in the state of Maryland. His on the ground social justice commentary and leadership were exhibited during the uprisings in Baltimore in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray, and Trayvon Martin.

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Ill., Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III is a preacher, activist, author and culture critic; with an eye toward justice and equality, as evidenced through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. Moss regularly provides biblical context and theological support to a myriad of groups and causes.  This “new millennial” preacher is committed to preaching prophetically that the message of love and justice are inseparable companions. As part of his community engagement through Trinity United Church of Christ, Dr. Moss led the team that came up with the “My Life Matters” curriculum; which includes the viral video “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival,” created in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri police. He recently addressed the Congressional Black Caucus during its annual legislative conference prayer breakfast on “Accept Your Desert Assignment,” where he provided a religious framework for the Black Lives Matter movement. Dr. Moss often uses various types of music and media to reach multi-generational audiences.

Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley
Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, a biblical scholar and arguably one of the greatest orators of our generation, is the much sought after, gifted, anointed, and dynamic pastor of the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, whose history dates back more than 200 years. Under the helm of this powerful visionary, teacher and social justice leader, Alfred Street Baptist Church is the first and only faith-based organization to date to donate $1 million to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Not afraid to take on social and political issues, Rev. Wesley led community protest marches against the New York grand jury’s decision not to indict in the death of Eric Garner. His sermon, When the Verdict Hurts,” was acknowledged in Time magazine’s July 29, 2013 cover story, After Trayvon” as one of the best sermons preached in the United States following the not guilty” verdict in State of Florida v. George Zimmerman. Three of Dr. Wesley’s sermons, When the Verdict Hurts,” “A Rizpah Response,” (along with the black hoodie he donned while preaching this sermon), and Tell Your Own Story,” will all be archived in the NMAAHC’s faith-based collection.

The NAACP Image Awards celebrates the accomplishment of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.  The multi-cultural show is one of the most respected events of its kind and is well attended by many of the top names in the entertainment industry. Winners will be voted upon by NAACP members and announced when the envelopes are opened on Thursday, February 4 during the Awards Ceremony for non-televised categories. The remaining categories will be announced LIVE on stage during the two-hour star-studded TV One telecast on Friday, February 5 (9:00 p.m. ET/PT tape-delayed).  The telecast will also include a one-hour pre-show airing LIVE from the red carpet (8:00 p.m. ET/PT tape-delayed).

The 47th NAACP Image Awards is sponsored by AMC, AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, Chrysler/UAW, FedEx, Ford Motor Company, Hyundai Motors America, The Walt Disney Company, and Wells Fargo.