By Bill Vaughan
Nate Parker, the leading man (“The Great Debaters,” “Red Tails,” “Beyond The Lights”) whose directorial debut “Birth of a Nation,” set acquisition records and won the 2016 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, has returned with a film as potentially explosive as that depiction of Nat Turner’s 1831 rebellion.
“American Skin” is described as a layered story that follows a Black Iraqi War veteran, who after being denied a fair trial following the shooting death of his teenage son (his only child) by a white police officer, desperately seeks justice and accountability for his son’s death.
The writer/director’s statement points to a 2014 trip to Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown in which he hoped to gain a better understanding of the tensions between law enforcement and young men and women of color, as a launching point of inspiration.
“From one side came yells of ‘Justice for Mike Brown’ and on the other ‘Support Our Police,’” Parker said. “It became clear to me, instantly, the disconnect in our understanding of citizenship, law enforcement, and our responsibility to preserve American life.”
“As an American citizen, father, brother, son and artist, I felt compelled to use my platform as a filmmaker to respond to this crisis in a way that could not only promote social equity but initiate a global culture shift that can result in the preservation of lives. If saving one life is the only thing this film achieves, it will have served its core purpose.”
He adds: “In response to many of these injustices and growing divisions happening in our country, I have developed a piece that I hope will challenge systems of oppression by promoting a much-needed dialogue between law enforcement and community members of color.”
Parker believes that this project should generate the results of “truth, healing and reconciliation.”
“America, as a nation, may appear to be down, but we are not out,” he said. “By tackling difficult issues such as race, fear, and cultural division, we can set a course toward genuine racial healing. One that, if successful, can become a model for addressing other systemic issues in America and across the world.”
Omari Hardwick (“Power,” “Spell”), Beau Knapp (“Black and Blue”), Theo Rossi (“Sons of Anarchy”), Shane Paul McGhie (“Deputy”), Milauna Jackson (“How To Get Away With Murder”), Mo McRae (“Empire”) and Michael Warren (“Hill Street Blues”) round out the cast of the Spike Lee presentation available to view on demand via Vertical Entertainment beginning Jan. 15.
TASTY QUIP: “I predict it is going to set a trend for all young women all over the world, are going to dress like Kamala Harris. Not everyone evolves wishing to be a screen star, or a music vixen, or a Kardashian beauty empress. There are girls who will see in this cover, something wonderful. Black photographer @tylersphotos, comes from a universe that is new. His work must be seen through the prism of 2021. We are after all dealing with serious issues: the global pandemic, the sudden horror of domestic terrorism. Both the digital and the print covers are superb. Knitting controversy is utterly ridiculous.” – ANDRE LEON TALLEY on the uproar over Vogue’s covers featuring the Vice President-elect.
EVENTFUL: The inaugural International Peace Honors will take place on Jan. 17 with this year’s honorees to include Dr. Anthony Fauci, Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi, activist performer Ricky Martin and more. Sting, Stephen Curry, Eva Longoria and Alejandro Sanz are slated to make special appearances on the show hosted by Grammy winner Natalia Jiménez. Register to watch the 5 p.m. event for free at internationalpeacehonors.org.
Also that day, New Federal Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary with a virtual gala honoring Phylicia Rashad, Glynn Turman, S. Epatha Merkerson, Oz Scott, Cliff Frazier, Ron Himes, Ed Pitt, Beth Turner and Douglas Turner Ward. RSVP for the free event at newfederaltheatre.com.
TASTY QUIP: “There is a larger, cultural context here. Vogue has a history of not representing Black women in the best light, literally and figuratively. So there isn’t an innate trust within this community. The problem is, what we’ve come to expect from a Vogue cover when they’re covering a presidential person is regal, elevated, sophistication. … I think this was Vogue’s attempt at refreshing, modernizing, staying with the times, but I think Black folks haven’t seen ourselves like this on the cover. … And I think a lot of people go, Vogue, they didn’t get it here.” – Former Teen Vogue Editor-In-Chief and current “The Talk” co-host ELAINE WELTEROTH on the Vogue/Kamala Harris controversy.
TC ON TV: Jan. 15 – “One Night in Miami” (Amazon): Regina King’s directorial feature debut depicts a fictional account of that evening of Feb. 25, 1964 when icons Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) got together. “Servant” (AppleTV+): A second season of M. Night Shyamalan’s creepy domestic drama. “Outside The Wire” (Netflix): Anthony Mackie (“Altered Carbon,” “Captain America”) and Damson Idris (“Snowfall”) star in this futuristic sci-fi action thriller pairing a drone pilot with an android officer to stop a nuclear attack. “Wandavision” (Disney+): The Marvel movies spin-off stars Elizabeth Olson and Paul Bettany returning to their roles of the Scarlet Witch and Vision with Teyonah Parris, Randall Park and Kat Dennings also featured. “The View” (ABC): George Lopez “The Wrong Mr. Right” (LMN): Vivica A. Fox strikes again! “In Concert at The Hollywood Bowl” (PBS): Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell lead “Musicals and the Movies” with the L.A. Phil. “Ready to Love” (OWN): Part one of the reunion special reveals who really connected and who may have been pregnant while looking for a hookup.
Jan. 16 – “Austin City Limits” (PBS): The War and Treaty, Ruthie Foster
Jan. 17 – “Batwoman” (CW): Javicia Leslie takes over for the departing Ruby Rose making her the first Black woman to wear the Batsuit.
Jan. 18 – “9-1-1” (Fox): The 118 races to save lives when the Hollywood Reservoir Dam breaks on the fourth season premiere. “All American” (CW): Michael Schultz (“Car Wash”) directs the third season premiere of the L.A. high school football drama starring Daniel Ezra, Bre-Z and Taye Diggs. “Unsung Presents: Music & The Movement” (TV1): A documentary special remembering the artists and songs that have provided the soundtrack to the fight for justice and equality with commentary from Erica Campbell, Big Gipp, Raheem DeVaughn, Rev. Al Sharpton, DJ Kemit, Ronda Racha Penrice, Dyana Williams, Kenny Gamble and more. “American Masters” (PBS): “How It Feels To Be Free” features iconic performers Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier. “Local, USA” (World): “Metcalfe Park: Black Vote Rising” follows a Milwaukee, WI mother-daughter activist team as they organize their community to prepare for the 2020 presidential election and its challenges.
Jan. 19 – “Finding Your Roots” (PBS) The seventh season opens with professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. digging into the past of Glenn Close and John Waters. “Black Women Own The Conversation” (OWN): Intimate talks about issues from relationships to wellness. “America ReFramed” (World): “The Area” presents the five-year odyssey of a South Side Chicago neighborhood, where hundreds of Black American families are being expelled from their homes by a multi-billion-dollar freight company.
Jan. 20 – “Live with Kelly & Ryan” (ABC): Lenny Kravitz
Jan. 21 – “Selena + Chef” (HBO MAX): Selena Gomez continues her cooking adventures with a new roster of all-star chefs including Aarti Sequeira, Curtis Stone, Graham Elliot, JJ Johnson, José Andrés, Kelis Rogers and Marcus Samuelsson. “Grown-ish” (Freeform): Rapper Saweetie makes her acting debut in the winter season premiere.
TASTY QUIP: “One habit that we must break is feeling beholden to what other people perceive as “dream” anything: dream job, dream relationship. If in your spirit it doesn’t serve you, if it doesn’t make you happy, if it’s no longer fulfilling to you, you have to examine that for yourself. You have to pay attention to that little nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach, centered around something that perhaps was once a dream of yours, something that you once worked very hard toward.” – BEVY SMITH, Author of “Bevelations: Lessons from a Mutha, Auntie, Bestie,” to The Cut.
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at email@example.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.