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Jason Rapp

Anderson plans Chadwick Boseman tributes

[caption id="attachment_45348" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Actor and South Carolina native Chadwick Boseman. Getty Images.[/caption]


From Entertainment Tonight:

Chadwick Boseman's hometown of Anderson is paying tribute to the late star on Thursday, after the actor died following a private battle with colon cancer. Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, before leaving to attend college at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

A representative from Mayor Terence Roberts' office tells ET that the city will be hosting a community event to honor the life of Boseman on Thursday, Sept. 3, at an outdoor amphitheater.

Click here to read the full story from ET.

Black Heroes Matter

Note: Sanford Greene, and Preach Jacobs, author of this article, received Artists' Ventures Initiative grants from the South Carolina Arts Commission in 2011. Letters of Intent for the next grant round are due January 11, 2017. Working with Luke Cage, two South Carolina natives lead an important moment in comics From The Free Times Article by Preach Jacobs Image above: Sanford Greene, an artist in residence at Marvel, sketches at his Columbia home. Photo by Daniel Hare

Marvel’s X-Men comic was first released in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the comic focused on super-powered beings called “mutants” being persecuted in a divided country. The mutants themselves were largely separated into two different factions following two powerful leaders with different theories on how to handle regular humans: Charles Xavier was a man of peace striving for mutants and humans to live together; Magneto wanted justice for humanity’s crimes against the mutants. Over the years, people have hinted that Stan Lee’s inspirations for the characters were Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Indeed, Magneto even invokes Malcolm with the phrase “by any means necessary” in the first X-Men film. Stan Lee has never confirmed the connection, but he did mention in a 2000 interview that the X-Men were “a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at the time.” Last month, 53 years after X-Men arrived,  Marvel Studios — the comic giant’s prodigious, profit-churning film and television arm — debuted the series Luke Cage on Netflix. The show features a tall, bald African-American superhero who’s indestructible. It features a black writer, director and a largely black cast, along with a score composed by Ali Shaheed Muhammad of iconic hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Episodes are named after songs by the rap duo Gang Starr. Once again, Marvel finds itself at the forefront of an important moment in the fight for civil rights. Arriving at a time when prominent, authentically black characters have become more the norm than the exception in both comics and television, Luke Cage, based on the long-running Marvel Comics character, is an affirmation of the progress made in both media, trumpeting the merits of a strong and moral black character — and one that just happens to be a wrongly accused ex-con — as racial divisions grip the country. South Carolina is no stranger to such racial tension — from the heartless slaying of nine souls at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church to Walter Scott’s high-profile death at the hands of a North Charleston Police officer, both in 2015, the state, like many, has been rocked by racially charged tragedies. So it’s appropriate that two Palmetto State exports are involved with recent, politically potent interpretations of Luke Cage. Michael Colter, the actor playing Luke Cage, hails from Columbia, where he attended Benedict College and the University of South Carolina. Sanford Greene, an artist in residence with Marvel since 2011, also attended Benedict. The Charleston native now living in Columbia is the illustrator for Power Man and Iron Fist, the most recent comic version of Cage, who sometimes fights under the Power Man moniker. In addition, the upcoming Marvel film Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman (of 42 fame), whose hometown is Anderson. Black Panther, the first black comic book character by Marvel in 1966, was introduced into the company’s film and television continuum, known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in this year’s Captain America: Civil War. The hero is the alter ego of T’Challa, the fictional leader of the African country Wakanda, a nation often abused due to its being home to the rare and nigh-unbreakable alloy vibranium — the stuff used to make Captain America’s shield. Memes circulated the internet this past year with the hashtag #BlackPantherSoLIT, displaying something rarely (if ever) seen associated with a comic book movie: an overwhelming amount of black audience excitement. Anticipated with good reason. Marvel recruited writer-director Ryan Coogler, the mastermind behind the Oscar-nominated Creed. That Rocky reboot had a reported budget of $35 million. Even though the budget for Black Panther, this year’s Captain America: Civil War boasted production costs of $250 million. If Marvel is consistent with their major films, it will be the first time a film with a predominately black cast, writer and director would have so large a budget. [caption id="attachment_28695" align="alignright" width="267"]Columbia native Mike Colter plays the title role in the Netflix series Luke Cage Columbia native Mike Colter plays the title role in the Netflix series Luke Cage[/caption] The unapologetic blackness of both the new Luke Cage comic and show — and, likely, Black Panther — can be linked directly to today’s music. More and more, the buying public for hip-hop wants artists to be socially conscious in terms of their blackness. And — given the success of Luke Cage, which was so watched upon its release that it temporarily crashed Netflix  — people want the same thing from their black superheroes. The first teaser trailer for the series featured the Ol’ Dirty Bastard song “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” as well as a cameo from Method Man. Wu-Tang is all over the show. For the fingerprints of hip-hop to be all over both a comic and series at this level is unprecedented. Greene, for one, isn’t at all surprised about the recent emergence of black comic characters on the big and silver screen. He sat down with Free Times earlier this month after getting back from New York Comic Con in support of the new Luke Cage series and comic. “In 2008, I’m at [the Savannah College of Art and Design] at a Marvel symposium,” Greene recalls, explaining that he overheard someone mention the revered hip-hop producer Pete Rock. “I took a chance, never meeting this man before, walk over to him and introduced myself. I asked the guy what was he saying about Pete Rock and the man responded, ‘He’s my favorite producer of all time.’ I literally asked the man if I could hug him. It turned out to be Axel Alonso, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.” Alonso, too, sees these current hip-hop influences as inevitable. “With a diverse catalog of characters — from Luke Cage to Ghost Rider — and a talent pool that grew up to hip-hop — like Sanford — I think Marvel has been poised for this moment,” Alonso tells Free Times. “Across all media platforms — movies, TV and print — we are expressing an ever-growing piece of our creative DNA.” In Netflix’s Luke Cage, with Harlem as the backdrop, the title character is falsely accused of crimes, battles with cops and deals with police brutality and wears a hoodie throughout the series, which show creators say pays homage to slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Music has recently embraced similar sentiments — from D’Angelo’s Black Messiah to the Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly— and Luke Cage appears to be the superhero most in tune with the conscious hip-hop that’s popular today. Qiana Whitted, an associate professor of English and African-American studies at USC, writes and teaches about race and comics. She is the author of Comics and the U.S. South. She sees Luke Cage as delivering something black audiences desperately need. “While Cage’s show should appeal to audiences of all races, the series is also an acknowledgement of the importance of developing quality programming for black viewers,” she reasons. “But perhaps more significantly, Cage’s relevance as an African-American crime fighter will resonate deeply with the growing outrage and activism against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. The racism that Luke Cage will confront in this fictional series is very real and very relevant today.” The Luke Cage character was introduced to the comic world in 1972 following the civil rights movement. Whitted says that this timing was significant. “Racism, drugs and urban poverty were urgent problems for the U.S. at the time, and while Cage’s prison background associated with him in the criminality of the blaxploitation films of the 1970s, the pride he expressed in defining his predominantly black Harlem neighborhood [away] from those problems made him the kind of hero that African-American communities could finally celebrate,” she says. “But with Cage fighting against fantastical villains as well as corrupt police, his heroism as an African-American man with bulletproof skin has always carried a distinctive kind of social and political importance.” During a recent interview on the nationally syndicated New York radio show The Breakfast Club, Michael Colter was asked about the show’s focus on social awareness in the black community and issues with social injustice. “It’s funny, we don’t have to do anything. It’s almost like if you want Trump to look like an idiot you let him speak,” Coulter responded “Right now it’s at a fever pitch. We couldn’t have timed it any better. …  So when we put this show out it just happened to be at a crucial time in society where they feel like we really needed this.” Whether it’s on the page or on the screen, in order for Marvel to do these characters justice they have to be willing and interested in portraying the authentic black experience that these characters draw on. When asked if being a black artist working for Marvel comics was ever a difficult thing because of color, Greene thinks quietly before answering. He says that being black didn’t necessarily have “anything to do with difficulties or me working there, but my experiences are ones that are the black experience, so in a way, yes. I’m influenced by hip-hop and that vibe and energy transcends into the art. You see many artists with those influences — like a Khary Randolph, Ed Piskor or even Jason Latour — and you see the hip-hop influence. You see art coming from graffiti. It influenced the way we draw. There was a time that Marvel wasn’t ready for that.” They definitely seem ready now. In addition to Luke Cage and Black Panther, Marvel recently spearheaded a concept called the Variant Covers, allowing artists to reimagine classic hip-hop album covers using superheroes as a backdrop. Sanford did two, recreating De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising cover with X-Men characters and Pete Rock & CL Smoothe’s Mecca and the Soul Brother cover with Hawkeye. Dozens of covers were made and the idea exploded with several big-time recording artists retweeting the covers, flattered by the homage. Sanford remembers speaking with Marvel when the idea was in the infant stages. “I had conversations with Marvel and told them that we had to make these covers as authentic as possible,” he says. “There’s an audience that is ready for something like this but we have to handle it with respect. We have to make sure that the people we are paying homage to support the idea.” For Charlamagne the God, co-host of The Breakfast Club and another South Carolina native, this is nothing new. “This is the thing, it’s always been happening,” he says. “When I was younger, I didn’t even realize Luke Cage was blaxploitation. I just thought it was dope that he had super strength, steel hard skin, and he was set in an environment that I could relate to. Even though I’m from Moncks Corner, South Carolina, I just connected with the backdrop of Luke Cage, not because it was the city but because Harlem was black and his super powers were how black men feel anyway.” Charlamagne also thinks that Luke Cage being bulletproof isn’t an accident when it comes to being black and strong in America. “We have to be super strong and have hard thick skin to survive in America,” he explains. “I think it’s happening now simply because Marvel is successful and if you watch the evolution of Marvel since the first Iron Man, it’s just the right time.” Greene echoes the sentiment, but thinks it’s simple reasoning: Marvel allowed these characters to develop and gave them a chance to be understood. “You can see how with things like black television how shows began to improve showing black culture,” he offers. “Shows like The Jeffersons began to show black characters in a different light and not in the hood. It’s amazing how with Luke Cage you can have a black character that’s a hero for hire and allow other characters to come into the universe like a Thor, a god, and it can actually work. When you see writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates write for Black Panther, you see Marvel’s attention to that detail. Even watching Luke Cage you realize that the show is The Wire with superheroes.” There is an underlying beauty in the Southern — and South Carolina — connection that’s involved with these pivotal black super heroes. It can’t be considered a coincidence that people with such a background are involved in the re-emergence of black Marvel characters. “What is important is the way Cage is presented in the series as a Southerner who runs away from Georgia as urgently as he flees his youth and his past incarceration,” she says. “The South is too often used in comics to convey racism, confinement and conservatism, but I hope it’s also clear that the South is as meaningful as New York in portraying Cage’s complexity as a hero who happens to be black.”

S.C. native Chad Boseman nearly passed on playing the Godfather of Soul

"Get on Up," the movie about South Carolina native James Brown, opens Aug. 1. Actor Chadwick Boseman, who is playing the Godfather of Soul, is a native of Anderson. Viola Davis, who plays Brown’s mother, is also a South Carolina native. In this interview with the Huffington Post, Boseman explains why he initially decided not to accept the role. From The Huffington Post:

Filling the shoes of "The Godfather Of Soul" James Brown for a feature-length film is not an easy task, according to actor Chadwick Boseman. This summer, the "42" star will play the lead role in Brown's highly anticipated biopic "Get On Up," alongside an all-star cast that includes Dan Aykroyd, Jill Scott, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis. Helmed by "The Help" director Tate Taylor and produced by Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, the film will chronicle Brown's early days living in poverty in Georgia, his rise to fame and his years as one of pop music's most influential icons. During a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Boseman opened up on portraying the hardest-working man in show business, and let us know what it was like to work with Mick Jagger on set. After portraying the role of Jackie Robinson in "42," was James Brown on your personal list of icons to play? It was actually something that I thought might not be a good idea to take on another person we revere as an icon. I was against it at first. But at the same time, when it rains it pours, and sometimes you gotta ride the wave of what's happening. And I meditated on it when it came to me, and asked people what they thought about it. And I just came to that decision that it was the best thing for me to do. I knew it would be a difficult thing for me to do, and it would be a challenge. But it wasn't something that I said like, "I hope this happens." It was something that came to me and I said, "Should I do it or not?" Even when I started with dance rehearsal and vocal rehearsal, I still wasn't sure, all the way up to when we started shooting. [Laughs] So it was just one of those things like, "I'm just gonna have faith that this is [the] right thing for me to do." What was it in particular that led to your reservations about the role? It was in doses. There were smaller challenges for this ... It would be something as simple as "Let me learn how to do the camel walk ... Let me learn how to do 'Mash Potatoes'" ... So it was just smaller things ... If you think about it from the perspective of "I'm James Brown every day," it's way too much. So as I got into it, I just took it apart and kept watching footage of him and read biographies. That information inspires you. So as opposed to, at first saying "I just want to do this justice," there's always that pressure, yes. And there's you wanting to do right by the family. But at a certain point, he inspires you. Like you're inspired by what this man was able to achieve, and just thankful that you get the opportunity to walk in those shoes and be the person that people look at as him for the two-hour span of the movie. It's an inspiring thing ... He had an unbreakable, undefeated spirit. And so at a certain point, if that doesn't get into you then you're not playing him. If you try to play it safe, you're not playing him. Cause that's not how he is. One of the common traits that you guys share is your South Carolina roots. What are some of your fondest memories of him, growing up in South Carolina? My earliest memories of him was just hearing his music played around the house. But I don't know if I was necessarily cognizant of the fact that he was James Brown. But at a certain point, I started to hear people say that he was from South Carolina and I actually never believed it. [Laughs] And I was like, "Where from? Barnwell? Where is that?" It's such a small place. And then you would always hear people from Georgia saying that he was from Georgia. And really both things are true. He was born in South Carolina. He lived there for a few years. He was then moved by his father to stay with his aunt in Augusta, Georgia. But I remember that argument as a kid about where he was from. What were some of the most interesting facts that you learned about him that you didn't know prior to filming? He was very cognizant of himself as a persona. So there's the "man" and then there's the "persona" of James Brown. And he knew that when he walked around that people should have to pay to see him. He wanted to give you that million-dollar persona at all times. Which reminds me of what you see a lot of hip-hop stars doing, or someone like Floyd Mayweather. It's an interesting thing ... Another thing about him is, he has all his hairdos. He would do a whole show for over an hour. Never stopped moving. And before he comes outside, he gets his hair done all over again. Rollers in the hair, dryer, everything. How would you describe your on-set experience with the film's producer, Mick Jagger? Before and during, he's been involved throughout the filming. I sat around one evening just listening to James Brown music with Mick Jagger, and just talking about what's the best recordings to use in the movie. He was very involved in the movie. He was on set as much as he could be. You mentioned that you took vocal lessons prior to and during filming. Can viewers expect hear you crooning classic James Brown hits in the film? No. A definitive no. [Laughs] There are moments when I am singing where it's part of his catalog ... Except for "Please, Please, Please." There's different versions of "Please, Please, Please" in the movie. There's one version in the movie where it's actually all my voice. But most of the catalog stuff in the movie is his voice, because obviously, we want you to hear James Brown singing. But there's other moments, say if I'm coming up with a song or I'm singing to somebody else and it's not a recording, then it's probably my voice. It's a mixture. And then sometimes you may hear a little bit of my voice in the recording for various reasons as well. The main reason the vocal lessons were there was to make that merger happen and also to make that merger more believable. And also the placement of his speaking voice. So it was for all those reasons. "Get On Up" hits theaters nationwide on Aug. 1. Image: Chadwick Boseman, star of last year's Jackie Robinsom biopic "42," will play James Brown in the upcoming film "Get On Up." | Universal

Laurel Posey

S.C. native plays Jackie Robinson in “42”

Chadwick Boseman, who plays baseball legend Jackie Robinson in the new film 42, grew up in Anderson, South Carolina, performing in school and community theatre as well as pursuing interests in the literary and visual arts. Read more about his background and work here:

Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in "42"

Boseman is paired with another South Carolinian in 42; Robinson's wife, Rachel, is played by Nicole Beharie, who was hand-picked by Robinson's widow for the role. [caption id="attachment_5668" align="alignleft" width="600"] South Carolinians Nicole Beharie and Chadwick Boseman star as Rachel and Jackie Robinson in "42."
Image source: 42movie.warnerbros.com[/caption]

Star of Jackie Robinson film is a graduate of S.C. arts education programs

In an opinion piece for The Times & Democrat, Dr. Leo Twiggs, board member for the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, discusses the success of one student who was the product of South Carolina's public school arts in education programs.

Local woman takes advantage of opportunities

April 29, 2013 2:45 am  •  By DR. LEO TWIGGS The number one movie in the box office showcases the talents of two South Carolina actors. One of whom is a graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH). SCGSAH alumnae Nicole Brown Beharie graduated from the school’s Drama program in 2003. An AP student at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, Nicole wasn’t initially encouraged to SCGSAH to continue her studies. Her mother had the tenacity to contact me, a board member for the school, to find out more about the program. Thankfully, I was able to give her the information she needed for the application, and Nicole was accepted. Attending the school afforded Nicole, as it does all students, opportunities not otherwise provided in a traditional school setting. After two years of intense study in academics and drama, her chosen artistic discipline, she was the first SCGSAH student to be accepted and attend one of the most prestigious performing arts institutions in the world, the Juilliard School for Drama. It felt fortuitous that I was on campus the day she received her acceptance letter. I knew nothing but good things would come from this amazing actress. And I was right. She was the first student to receive the prestigious Robin Williams Scholarship by unanimous vote of the Juilliard drama division faculty. Now she is playing a starring role in the country’s top ranked movie, “42.” Handpicked for the role of Jackie Robinson’s wife by Rachel Robinson herself, Nicole shines as she embodies the small-statured but strong companion to the baseball legend. Nicole’s story is one of many to come from the state-supported public arts high school. The South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities fosters artistically talented South Carolina students, no matter their race, gender or economic station in life. And it fosters growth into amazing things. So when Nicole gets her first Oscar nomination, be it for “42” or another role, she will have done so with the foundation of a South Carolina public school. A school that historically attains the third highest SAT scores in the state, without selecting its students by academic standards, and has received more than $120 million in scholarship offers since the inaugural graduating class in 2001. A school that succeeds because it provides a life-changing opportunity for every one of the students that attends. South Carolina is full of students just like Nicole, and it is our job to reach them and let them know of the opportunities provided by this great state. By supporting SCGSAH and arts education, you give a voice to these talented students and help change lives. — Dr. Leo Twiggs Artist Board Member, SCGSAH Board of Trustees Chairman, South Carolina Hall of Fame
[caption id="attachment_5642" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson in the movie "42" Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson in "42"[/caption] Via: The Times & Democrat Editor's note: Beharie is paired with another South Carolinian in "42;" Jackie Robinson is played by Anderson native Chadwick Boseman. [caption id="attachment_5668" align="alignleft" width="600"] South Carolinians Nicole Beharie and Chadwick Boseman star as Rachel and Jackie Robinson in "42."
Image source: http://42movie.warnerbros.com[/caption]