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I Am Not Your Negro – Review

James Baldwin, Associated Press.

James Baldwin, Associated Press.

The Oscar-nominated “I Am Not Your Negro” is a piercing film about writer, poet, and social critic James Baldwin. He was one of our most critical advocates for equality, and his work holds an essential place in the canon of American literature. The film finds its structure from Baldwin’s own words. Read by Samuel Jackson in the most understated performance of his career, those words have a renewed relevance today.  Back-to-back shows have run at the Film Forum this month. It’s one of the most important films you’ll see all year. Read More

“Try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity.

Take up the battle.

Take it up.

It’s yours.

This is your life.  This is your world.

I’ll be leaving it long before you under the ordinary set of circumstances. You make your own choices. You can decide life isn’t worth living, and that would be the worst thing you can do. How do you know, so far?

Try it. See.

So pick it up. Pick up the battle, and make it a better world.

Just where you are.

Yes, and it can be better, and it must be better, but it is up to us.”

–Thank you, Dr Angelou.

“Maya Angelou” Oprah Presents Master Class. OWN, 2011.

Dr Maya Angelou and me in her home in Winston Salem, NC in 2010. Photo by Bob Richman.

Dr Maya Angelou and me in her home in Winston Salem, NC in 2010. Photo by Bob Richman.

On the eve of the memorial service for Dr Angelou, I’m reposting this essay about producing her autobiographical Master Class episode for OWN.

Though my heart is heavy and full, it was an honor to know her even for a moment.  Rest in Peace, Phenomenal Woman.

 

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Maya Angelou, “Calypso Heat Wave” Columbia Pictures, 1957

Last year I had the amazing good fortune to produce the flagship series “Oprah’s Master Class” for the new network OWN. It was a privilege to dive deep into the lives of such accomplished people.  I have just learned that it was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Series. (Feb 17, 2012 UPDATE:  Master Class wins NAACP Image Award!)

I’ve heard it said many times that in order to grow, we need to stretch ourselves, and this series pulled me in so many directions.  At times I was jumping among as many as 5 edit rooms at once and crisscrossing the country to grab interviews as we told the stories of Diane Sawyer, Jay Z, Sidney Poitier and Oprah herself. Putting together 10 hours of television for a brand new network was not easy, and it required the effort of a lot of smart, talented people on the MC team.

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