WE tv and ALLBLK - Here's what happened! - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Sunday, October 2, 2022

WE tv and ALLBLK - Here's what happened!


WE tv and ALLBLK General Manager, Brett Dismuke, introduced the panelists MC Lyte (Partners In Rhyme); J. David Shanks (61st Street); Da Brat (Brat Loves Judy); Colman Domingo (FTWD, West Philly Baby); Angela Simmons (Growing Up Hip Hop); Diallo Riddle (Sherman’s Showcase); Nikki Love (SVP, Development & Production, ALLBLK). Below are sound bites from the conversation. 


Colman Domingo on why love in the Black community is special and why it’s important to highlight in TV and films:

“Because the world would usually like to deny that part of ourselves, actually. So we need more love - we need to show accurate depictions and complex depictions of our families. It is our job as creators, as people who perform these roles, I think - it’s a responsibility we didn’t ask for but we have it…we know the impact that television has, and on images and how you see us out in the world.”


What was the first TV show that you could relate to?

J. David Shank:

“I want to go back to The Righteous Apples TV show in the early 80s. It actually was on TBS. And that was the first example that I remember, of a black family, the mother, and father in the household that worked. Kids were in school, and they dealt with issues that directly affected the community. And that was the first example that I saw. That was sort of a reflection of my situation as a kid in Chicago growing up on the south side.”


Angela Simmons:

“I would say mine’s a little different of a view is ‘Run’s House,’ because I grew up on the show and I know a lot of people tell me that they looked to my family for love. But actually being on TV and being on the platform and dealing with things on the forefronts so I would say my father gave us a great example of what Black love looks like.”


MC Lyte:  

“I guess it was The Bill Cosby Show. Now that wasn't a reflection of my life at all, but it definitely gave inspiration, aspirations to want to have a family unit that spoke to all of the aspects of life. Which I think probably doesn't sound too far off from The Righteous Apples in terms of having a mother and a father, you know, just parents in the household. And that wasn't my story at all. I'm certainly happy the way that it did turn out because it made all of me who I am today. But it definitely was great to be able to see that on-screen and know that we are capable of that.”


Diallo Riddle:  

“One of the shows, one of the movies that had a huge influence on me was Coming to America. Yeah, I feel like when you mentioned diversity. People were like, oh, there's a black person that but the beauty of that movie was that no, there's diversity within the black community…Oh, they're all there's a whole spectrum of black within the black community with a big influence on a lot of people.”


Da Brat:  

“I love watching Good Times. There was love. They were going through issues with James and his jobs…it was just hilarious and it was a whole family aspect. I couldn't miss it. So I would have to say that was my number one.”


Da Brat on what the next generation of Black queer content for community and love looks like:

“I think you have to be creative and I don’t know what that is- I mean, maybe it’s me and my wife having a baby. Whatever it is, I’m willing to show it so people can relate to it and understand what it’s about.” 


On being authentic and avoiding Black stereotypes:

Angela Simmons:

“It comes with sticking to the story that really is you, not doing what people want to see. Just be yourself.”


MC Lyte:

“What we have here is a cast of people who are willing to do what’s right over what’s ‘sellable’ or ‘satiable.’”


J. David Shanks:

“There's a responsibility that we have, I take it really seriously. When we tell stories and if it doesn't ring true or if it's a poor representation of us - you have to at least have that conversation and be intentional about what images you're going to put out there.”


 J. David Shanks on his inspirations when depicting Black love in his work:

“I’ve been inspired to create what I don't see. We need to tell our stories from a place of truth and a place of the complexity of all that we are. We’re not just dope dealers, video vixens, you know that’s not our whole story. There's so much more. For me, it’s really about telling the truth in its entirety about our community.”


On navigating Black love and content taking a political slant in mainstream:

Colman Domingo:

“I like the idea of more of our work not being on the nose political. It’s political just by us being there and being complex and interesting. It’s interesting if the politics are just so subtle.”


Diallo Riddle:

“I think sometimes it's more revolutionary if race and politics aren’t at the forefront. As a Black content creator, they say ‘write what you know,’ the town or neighborhood you grew up in but sometimes… I'll put it like this: George Lucas was not an astronaut, but he wrote something in space and as a Black kid growing up, crews in space would be all white and I would just accept it. You put a Black crew in space and people are like, ‘Well, why are they all Black.’ I think part of creating the next gen of Black content is saying ‘where are some places – and spaces – that we haven't seen Black hats.’ That’s the next step.”

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