Today: June 16, 2024

Black Actors Celebrated At BFI

At a special event held at BFI Southbank in London with comedian Gina Yashere and DJ Norman Jay MBE, the BFI recently unveiled Black Star, the UK’s biggest ever season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors. Black Star celebrates the relationship between stars and the audiences who love them, spotlighting great performances by black actors on screen.

Heather Stewart, Creative Director of the BFI said: “Imagine cinema history without Paul Robeson, Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Pam Grier, and Samuel L Jackson – some of the greatest actors to light up our screens with their charisma and talent. Now imagine how much richer our shared memory would be, had the opportunities available to black actors matched their abilities. With Black Star we are celebrating great performances and bringing them back to the big screen for everyone to enjoy. And we are also asking searching questions, of our industry and of ourselves, driven by a passion to meet the expectations of audiences who rightly expect to see their stories and aspirations reflected on screen.”

Black Strar aims to bring strong characters and trail-blazing performances to the widest possible audience. The season will spotlight:

The leading men of classic Hollywood cinema, from Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier to Jamie Foxx and the hugely popular Samuel L Jackson.

The star as political activist; the great Paul Robeson and Lena Horne through to Danny Glover and Beyoncé.

Stars who have gone on to be major power players, who can open films, get films made, from Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith to Denzel Washington.

Powerful and glamorous female stars who have created memorable big screen icons, from Dorothy Dandridge to Oscar-winning Halle Berry.

British, home-grown talent with star power who have gained international acclaim and found significant leading roles in the US: Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Okonedo, and David Oyelowo.

The star names who have dominated music and film stories, from Sammy Davis Jnr through to Diana Ross and Motown, and Hip Hop.

The stars who have created a powerfully subversive take on the black star as entertainer; comedians including Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, and Eddie Murphy.

Black rebels and Blaxploitation icons; Mario van Peebles, Fred Williamson, and Pam Grier.

A story of new and emerging talent: John Boyega, Michael B. Jordan, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Lupita Nyongo’o.

Pioneering Afro-Caribbean stars who transformed the face of British film and television, like Earl Cameron, Carmen Munroe, Norman Beaton, and Lenny Henry.

And celebrating the stars emerging out of the fast-growing film industry and new star system of Nollywood, including Nse Ikpe-Etim.

Black Star LACK Programmer, Ashley Clark said: “Black Star shows us many stories of black stardom, on both sides of the Atlantic. From cinema’s earliest trail-blazers to today’s transatlantic stars, I’m excited for audiences to enjoy icons, heroes and heroines back on the big screen where they belong.”

Black Star will be available to audiences everywhere in the UK; in cinemas including BFI Southbank, on BBC Television, on DVD/Blu-ray and online via BFI Player from 17 October – 31 December, with further projects planned to celebrate the contribution of black practitioners working across film and TV in the coming years.

 

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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