Through all of the difficulties, both mentally and physically, that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, many people have turned to the arts to alleviate their hardships. Here at Hampton University, there is a community of artists who continue to grace their audiences with their creations despite the pandemic.
Xavier Lamberth is a third-year Architecture major from Sedalia, North Carolina. Lamberth is a multimedia graffiti artist, as well as the owner of a hand embroidery clothing brand. When asked how he describes his craft, he called it an “undefined version of me.”
To gain insight into what pushes him to create such elaborate and exciting pieces, he was asked who and what influence his art.
“My influences are my life,” Lamberth said. “I let my art come from my feelings. However, when I was younger, my influence came from DOKE, a graffiti artist.”
During these trying times, it is easy to lose grip on the motivation needed to continue pursuing personal goals, and artists may experience difficulty tapping back into their creative side. Lamberth touched on the source of his creative block and what he does to get past it.
“Most of my creative block comes from wanting to draw,” Lamberth said. “I like to draw when I want to draw, and that allows my creativity to flow without burning myself out. These breaks allow me to overcome those creative blocks.”
Although the pandemic has created a roadblock between many artists and the perseverance needed to stay dedicated to their craft, some artists, such as Lamberth, claim that their art has benefited from the social break that the pandemic brought.
“The pandemic has allowed me to stretch my feelings beyond myself and for my people,” Lamberth said.
For many colleges and universities, the arts aren’t heavily supported, making artists feel overlooked. The North Carolina native shared his thoughts on if he believes that the arts are getting the attention it deserves and if Hampton offers enough opportunities for exposure.
“No, I do not,” Lamberth said. “I feel as if there should be more places for artists of all media forms to be accepted. With my art form being graffiti, many people don’t really hold anything to spread it, but a lot of people love it.”
Along with his inspirations, the lasting impact he hopes his art will leave pushes Lamberth to continue his craft.
“I hope my art is able to allow people to understand that you’re not alone,” Lamberth said. “People have the same story or same feelings, and it’s OK to connect with my art. Because my art allows me to express my feelings so people can relate.”
Without a doubt, Lamberth has put forth a lot of hard work and dedication into his craft.
“To be honest, I’m going to be pushing out more canvases and allowing people to have custom items done,” Lamberth said. “The clothing will also be custom made to order only.”
You can support Xavier by following his art page @mase_theartist and his clothing brand page @peaceof_me.
The thought of death weighed heavy on the mind of Christopher Wallace up until the day he died at age 24.
Wallace fell victim to gun violence on March 9, 1997, yet has left an unimaginable impact on the genre of hip-hop and music itself.
Hailing from the epicenter of New York, the Notorious B.I.G.’s legacy will forever be echoed in rap conversations across the world.
“Biggie is one of those names that is held in such high regard, but unfortunately I was born after he had already passed, so I am not so familiar with his work other than his major hits,” said Calyx Stover, a Hampton University journalism major from Boiling Springs, South Carolina.
Netflix’s Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell, which debuted on the streaming service March 1, serves as one of the many pieces of posthumous content released by the Wallace estate in recent years. The documentary spans various forms of media, including his sophomore album, Life After Death, a 2009 biopic, Notorious, and various books and documentaries.
Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell finds its uniqueness as it is constructed using previously unseen footage provided by Biggie’s lifelong friend, Damion Butler. With executive production from the MC’s mother, Voletta Wallace, and lifelong friend, Sean “Puffy” Combs, the authenticity is felt throughout the film by incorporating interviews from friends and family who knew and understood Christopher Wallace best.
I Got A Story To Tell takes the opportunity to fully flesh out and explain Wallace’s relationship with his mother. Tracing the Wallaces’ roots back to Trelanny, Jamaica, Ms. Wallace details her difficult decision of chasing the American Dream or staying in Jamaica.
“I always daydreamed of being a filthy rich lady, a lady of means with three children,” Voletta Wallace said in the documentary. “I did not see that in the country for me. That was not my life.”
Raising her son in Brooklyn as a first-generation American, Wallace found it instrumental to send Christopher to Jamaica every summer, where he would come back and share new music and dialect from his Uncle Joe.
In an attempt to build on his natural talent of art, a local saxophonist, Donald Harrison, exposed Wallace to various forms of jazz artist such as Max Roach, who would later inspire some of Wallace’s rhyme schemes.
“He was already writing,” childhood friend Hubert Sam said in the documentary. “He had different rhyme books, and we’d all link up and start doing routines.”
Although he attended a Catholic school from an early age, Wallace soon fell victim to the chaotic environment around him and began selling drugs on Fulton Street, an area notoriously known for hustlers and addicts.
Over the course of the 97-minute runtime, I Got a A Story To Tell depicts the ebbs and flows of Wallace’s double life. On one hand, he is depicted as a man who did what he felt he must do to provide for his family and those in his support system. On the other hand, he was a man who dedicated himself to a life of crime out of fear of his financial woes.
“I think this documentary was much-needed for the perception of Biggie,” Stover said. “Other hip-hop legends that have passed like Tupac have a good amount of interviews and other footage so that people could get a feel for who they were. On the contrary, besides the songs, Biggie is a complete mystery.”
In an attempt to connect the Christopher Wallace story to a younger audience, director Emmett Malloy made it his mission telling the side of Biggie that fans don’t know. Instead of focusing on the infamous East Coast vs. West Coast conflict, he makes better use of the narrative by honing in on the circumstances and relationships that made Christopher Wallace.
I Got a A Story To Tell does its best to fill in the gaps of Christopher Wallace’s story of growth through trials and tribulation. Scene after scene, viewers get an idea of the type of character that Biggie was through the use of home video clips of day-to-day activities. The same individuals from the artist’s childhood would reappear again in new roles as Wallace’s companions at his performances and live appearances.
Twenty-four years after his death, I Got a Story To Tell leaves fans with the burning question: Why was a man so talented slain so young? In an attempt to rationalize and humanize Wallace, fans are left with the cold reality of what could have been.
“Christopher Wallace certainly had a great ear,” said Faith Evans, Wallace’s wife, in the documentary. “He was super intelligent with his way of words, and he probably would have set them all up with gold and platinum albums, if they showed that that was what they wanted to do.”
Christian Ho started charting a path to success before he got to Hampton University.
Ho, aka “DatKidChris,” first made the beat to Middle Child at age 17 during his junior year in high school. He produced the song by PnB Rock and XXXTentacion.
After Middle Child’s release, it ranked No. 91 on Billboard’s Top 100 and No. 37 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop Hot 100 for the week of May 18, 2019. The song peaked in the top 10 in all of Apple Music. The music video has 62 million streams on YouTube.
Ho, now 21 and a third-year computer science major from Woolwich Township, New Jersey, was honored to work with PnB Rock.
“PnB Rock is a monumental figure in the music industry in the Philadelphia/New Jersey area,” Ho said. “I was a big fan of his work before working with him and am honored to have been a part of his project, TrapStar Turnt PopStar, which was released in May of 2019.”
That was less than a year after XXXTentacion was shot dead at age 20, according to The New York Times.
Ho believes XXXTentacion would have been one of the greatest artists of this generation.
The beats go on
Ho has worked really hard to get to this point and estimated that he has made around “3,000 beats since starting [his] musical journey in 2016.”
He also has unreleased tracks with recording artist Playboi Carti, titled Let’s Get It and Rollie. Ho hopes those songs will make Carti’s rumored deluxe version of his critically acclaimed 2020 album, Whole Lotta Red, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 in December 2020.
Ho also has a recently released project with an upcoming Philadelphia artist named Lil Bape, Neighborhood Popstar, which is available on all streaming services.
Ho’s mother is a proud Hampton alumna who is one of many who influenced his decision to attend Hampton University.
His interest in technology motivated his interest in the computer science department. He has aspirations to make his own software application that will tie both music and technology together for creators like himself. Ho wishes there were more outlets for aspiring producers/creatives like himself at the university, including more label opportunities and listening events for artists to get their names out there.
His Hampton University inspiration is DJ Envy, a prominent Hampton alumnus and host of the nationally syndicated radio station 105.1 The Breakfast Club. His other inspirations include Pi’erre Bourne, Metro Boomin and Pharrell Williams.
What separates him
Many people have asked him to collaborate and wonder why he does not work with many artists, and it is because he is very critical of his art and has to believe in an artist’s vision to work with them. He states that many people just release art, hoping that it works instead of focusing on putting the best product out there and being unique, which he believes separates him from many other creatives.
You can follow Christian Ho’s musical journey by following his social media platforms, @DatKidChrisOnDaTrack, and he encourages other fellow Hampton creatives to contact him to collaborate or for tips on how to start making music.
Since the beginning of Nintendo’s reign as one of the leading video game franchises, titles such as Super Mario, Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda have been the cornerstones for Nintendo, playing a vital role in the prestige amassed over the years. Fans worldwide are all celebrating significant anniversaries this year.
One of the biggest anniversaries on Nintendo’s list to celebrate in 2021 is The Legend of Zelda. The original NES title was released in 1986, and since then, the series has only gotten more prominent as the years progressed.
“Each Zelda title is a huge release to the fanbase and has always brought such unique concepts and gameplay with every game released,” said Janee’ Hoover, a third-year Hampton University business major from Detroit.
The latest Legend of Zelda game to be given a reboot is the Nintendo Wii installment of Skyward Sword. Dropping on July 16, it has been more than 11 years since the initial release in 2011. The game also supports button-only controls, owing to the Switch Lite’s absence of removable hand controllers.
“I was completely blown away, seeing Skyward Sword on the switch. All of those same emotions from playing this game in my childhood came flooding back in full force,” said Vincent Thomas, a fourth-year HU graphic design major from New York. “Nintendo is going crazy this year, and I’m 100% here for it.”
In addition to The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo is also focused on getting the most from each and every new retro game reboot going forward. Next to Zelda, Pokémon is the most extensive series celebrating a milestone in 2021. Primarily, the plans for this will be orchestrated by the Pokémon Company and Game Freak.
During the Pokémon anniversary live stream, the PokémonCompany announced the release of reboots for Pokémon Diamond and Pearl coming in November 2021 and titled Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. The companyalsoannounced that it is releasing a new Pokémon game unlike any other, called Pokémon Arceus. Pokémon Arceus will be an open-world, non-linear game that will combat the previous mold of all the other games released in the past.
“I love my switch, but now I feel like I’m truly getting my money’s worth with these new Pokémongames,” said Jonathan Lowe, a third-year HU marketing major from Atlanta. “I literally cannot wait until these games drop this year. So much nostalgia.”
Last but not least, the Super Mario franchise is a worldly renowned platformer adventure game released in arcades in 1983 before being ported to the SNES and NES. Not only is it one of the most iconic and influential arcade titles of its time, but it’s still vastly popular today with hundreds of games that have captivated fans for decades. It introduced so many beloved characters that have grown alongside Nintendo.
With the anniversary being celebrated year-round, Nintendo launched Super Mario Bros. 35, a free online battle game available to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, along with an exclusive Game & Watch Super Mario Bros. handheld console. When the games were announced on the 35th anniversary of Nintendo Direct, the company said all of these would be removed from sale on March 31 indefinitely. This makes them potential prized collector items.
“I’ve been a Mario fan ever since I could remember,” said Brooke Marshton, first-year HU liberal arts major from Bowie, Maryland. “All of these Nintendo releases are just adding to the everlasting love I have for Nintendo. I can’t wait to play!”
On March 7, in a two-hour-long CBS special, Oprah sat down with Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, alone to discuss adjusting to the royal life while juggling marriage, parenthood, and howMarkle was dealing with the negative publicity. Later within the special, Prince Harry joined the two to discuss their new life in America and their future plans.
Last spring, the now-former Duke and Duchess of Sussex turned down their titles and all things associated with their royal titles. Throughout the course of their marriage and even prior, Meghan Markleclaimed to be bullied by the Royal Institution and the British Press. Most feel as though it was because of her being biracial. Meghan Markle’s mother is black, and her father is white.
Markle stated that she went into the Royal marriage “naively” and did not know what to expect. In Markle’s expression, she opened up about the experience, which prompted Oprah to ask Markle, “Were you silent or were you silenced?”
“The latter,” said Markle.
At that moment, Markle revealed to Oprah and over 17.1 million viewers that the British Institution silenced her.
The Duchess of Sussex proclaimed that she did not feel “protected” from the institution, nor did she feel “supported.” The lack of regard for her well-being negatively impacted her during events, outings and she believed it was simply because of her race.
Markle also revealed that the Royal Family did not want her first child to be granted the title of prince or princess and would not receive the protection accompanied with a royal title because of “how dark his or her skin might be when they are born.” At the time, they did not know that they were having a son (Archie).
Markle was under a lot of stress and stated that she contemplated suicide.
“I just didn’t see a solution…it was all happening just because I was breathing,” said Markle. “I knew if I didn’t say it, I would do it, and I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
Markle even reached out to the Institution for help regarding her mental health but received nothing.
“I can’t believe the Institution, an organization there for her protection, offered no help to her at all,” said Laniya Sims, a second-year marketing major from Baltimore, MD. “I am so glad they found peace outside of that organization.”
In 2019, the couple left the UK and moved to Canada, intending to continue their duties for the Queen. The two moved to California recently after leaving Canada in 2019 after the Royal Family cut ties with the couple.
The couple told Oprah that they did not blindside the Queen or the Royal Family like the British media claimed. Prince Harry and Meghan wanted to “take a step back” with his family because they were not getting the help he requested.
“And what we were seeing was history repeating itself, but perhaps far more dangerous because then you add race into it and then social media in it,” said Prince Harry. “When I say history repeating itself, I’m talking about my mother.”
Prince Harry claims he was not aware of many things regarding bias until he met his wife, Meghan. He asked for “calm from the press” more than once. Today, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are thriving in their new home in California, raising their son Archie and awaiting their baby girl.
“The interview exposed that racial barriers still need to be broken globally and exposes the truth about the Royal Family that many people had prior misconceptions about,” said Aniyah Oberlton, senior strategic communications major at Hampton University.
The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the lives of many artists, and they are still coping with the restrictive reality that this “new normal” has brought.
Here at our home by the sea, we have a large community of artists, all of whom deserve to be recognized for their talents. As the wrath of the coronavirus still lingers, it is important to get insight on how these artists are staying dedicated to their work.
Promise Robinson is a second-year audio production major from Neptune, New Jersey. A musician, songwriter and producer, Robinson has produced and released a number of pieces throughout the pandemic, including productions that feature other artists at Hampton. To give a bit more insight on her artistry, Promise goes in depth with her craft.
“To describe my artistry, I’d like to think of it as baking a layered cake,” Robinson said.
“I started getting serious about music my junior year of high school, so from there I found the right resources, or ingredients, to build up my career. From getting to open up for little showcases in my city to winning those showcases, I used that as my foundation, my base, to get me to where I am now, which is best described as the second layer of the cake. I can feel myself getting closer to my goals, the top, etc., but I still got a lot more learning, teaching and reaching before it’s time to blow the candles out.”
Promise then touched on the influences that helped her step into her creativity.
“Though my list goes on forever, whenever someone asks who my influences are, I think it’s the most Jersey thing in me to say Lauryn Hill, but that’s who is a major influence on not only my life but my career,” Robinson said.
“She’s been real since she stepped on the scene, and she never steered away from showing vulnerability as an artist. I feel like music is at its purest form when it’s relatable, when you’re telling your story, and it’s not only therapeutic for you the artist, but for the people listening. And you know, I think that’s why I gravitate so close to Ms. Hill because her music is that for me, and that’s what I aspire to be for others.”
As mentioned, the coronavirus has left many in financial hardships. The heavy physical restrictions that were set in place also challenged many artists’ capabilities to support themselves by getting the equipment needed to better their craft. Promise shared how the difficulties that she ran into affected her craft.
“My biggest takeaway from the pandemic is that it taught me how to be still,” Robinson said. “I was so used to being out and spending money I didn’t really have, so because I didn’t have anywhere to go and spend all my money, I was really able to save up and ultimately invest in myself, and that started with my music equipment. I was fortunate enough to keep my summer job, and even more fortunate to have no delays when ordering things like my laptop, studio monitors and desk. Curbside pickup is a blessing!”
With the physical and financial hardships, the pandemic has lowered people’s motivation to do the tasks that were once a part of their daily lives. Promise touched on how her artistic motivation has been altered throughout the pandemic.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work on music,” Robinson said. “I loved working on music, especially working on my first love, which is music production. It was really having motivation for writing songs and gathering my thoughts for my project that wasn’t really flowing like I wanted it. However, it wasn’t until I mentally took myself to things that I’m passionate about and expanded as a songwriter. I expressed myself in ways I’ve only dreamed of, and it came down to me remembering the joy of writing isn’t just to write about where I’m at right now in life, but it’s to write about where I came from and where I’m going, too.”
Creative block is something that almost all artists are familiar with, and the pandemic creates a space for artists to be more prone to creative block. Promise explained how often she suffered from creative block throughout this pandemic and what she did to push past it.
“If I have a creative block, it always seems to happen when it doesn’t feel like the right time or place for my creativity to flow,” Robinson said.
“However, I knew I needed to figure out the best times for each of my creative processes, and that became the most effective way to get the most out of my day. Much like everybody else, I really found what works for me during this pandemic, and with that, I noticed that I work best when I make beats at night, write lyrics in the morning and record in the afternoon. It’s almost like the beat marinates in my mind overnight, and then I wake up, and the lyrics are just cooking up. It’s a super satisfying feeling, and you would be surprised how much free time I’d still have after going so hard.”
With the pandemic skewing normality, it brings about the question of how some artists have been able to keep focus on their art during this difficult time. Promise shares her difficulties with focusing, and drops gems while explaining what she did to get past distractions.
“It all came down to a matter of knowing myself, knowing where I want to be, and knowing that I didn’t want to be the same person I was coming into this pandemic when I came out!” Robinson said. “Just off personal experience, and losing my Pop-pop, cousins, uncles, etc. I realized how easy it is to fall off, rather than keep moving forward, but that would be my advice. Keep moving forward! Put good purpose behind the pain and get inspired.”
“I had to go through and find the small joys in life, dreaming, and manifesting to realize my drive can go through any obstacle that’s in my way,” Robinson continued.
“And with that I was able to drop music every month since May, including my multiple singles, three projects, two of which were my own, and one of which was executed by me, for a good friend of mine. With so much going on right now, this brings me so much joy and motivation because I found my rhythm, and I really don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
While dropping music throughout the pandemic, it goes without saying that Promise has been putting in work this year.
“I’m currently working on releasing another single called ‘Brown Sugar’ featuring two amazingly talented singers who I love dearly!” Robinson said. “This single will also be included on the deluxe version of my latest project called ‘Colors Too.’
“But in the meantime stream the non-deluxe version titled ‘Colors’ and stay tuned for more!”
Fans can support Promise Robinson by following her instagram account @Promtheproducer, where a lot of her work is featured. Her music is available on all streaming platforms.
For the past 13 years, Britney Spears has lived her career in the shadows due to a court-sanctioned conservatorship.
“Framing Britney Spears,” a documentary by The New York Times, delves into the tumultuous career and personal life of Spears.
Since 2008 at age 26, Spears has been placed in a conservatorship to her father, James “Jamie” Spears.
Now 39, the same fandom that Spears had built over the years is combating her conservators by using the hashtag #FreeBritney to bring attention to her legal battle against her father.
“I did not realize Britney Spears was trapped in a bad contract with her father. It felt like she slowly disappeared from the spotlight,”said Calyx Stover, a Hampton University journalism major from Boiling Springs, South Carolina..
According to Merriam Webster, a conservator can be defined as “a person, official or institution designed to take over and protect the interest of an incompetent.”
Usually used for the elderly, a conservator is only needed when an individual does not have the ability to take care of themselves.
As conservator of the Spears estate, James “Jamie” Spears has controlled every aspect of his daughter’s life. From her career earnings to her medical decisions, Britney is seeking to take back control of herself.
A major focus of the documentary is the re-examination of the media’s role in the descent of one of the biggest pop stars of all time.
Journalists within the film explore the idea that Spears was ridiculed due to factors such as being a woman in a male-dominated industry and the confidence she carried within herself.
Inappropriate topics such as her breast or virginity were the type of conversations that Spears dealt with from an early age.
As she matured during the boom of blogs and tabloids, Britney was forced to publicly address tabloid narratives about promiscuity and her motherhood.
The docu-series extensively showcased the overt and systemic misogyny Spears and other female performers of the early 2000s faced within the entertainment industry.
“It’s sad that this episode highlights some of the sexisim issues that women still go through in any field but especially in the entertainment industry today,” Stover said. “It left me asking myself, ‘Has anything changed?’”
The documentary features key interviews with important members of Spears’ inner circle, including family friends, marketing executives and lawyers who have worked on the conservatorship.
Although Britney Spears’ uphill battle with the media has been enlarged in part to her fame and fortune, her battle highlights the struggles that she and artists of different genders, ethnicities and genres go through on a daily basis when displaying their art.
“We’re loved and hated so much, especially in the entertainment culture,” recording artist and Hampton University alumnus Kaicash said. “We’ve already broken so many barriers and got the masses to adapt to what we create, but in hindsight, we’re still looked down upon, we’re still misunderstood, and we’re still ridiculed as well.”
As Spears’ conservatorship battles have not concluded, she is still optimistic that her fortunes will change for the better. She is hopeful to have her conservatorship transferred to a third-party institution that will keep her best interest at heart.
Both sides returned to court to determine the roles her father and the acting co-conservator, will play in handling her estate. The next hearing is scheduled for March 17.
Thirty-two years after the culture shifting film Coming to America (1988) premiered, Zamunda is still a part of Black culture, exuding royalty displayed in its highest capacity while delving deeper into traditions and a keen sense on how to bring generations together in the highly anticipated sequel, Coming 2 America.
During an HBCU roundtable interview on February 10, cast members of Coming 2 America discussed some of the highlights and gave insights into what is going on in the world of Zamunda all these years later.
The Coming 2 America roundtable discussion featured Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Tracy Morgan, Jermaine Fowler and Rotimi. Throughout the discussion, there were many prominent themes such as the unification of Black culture, women empowerment and family dynamics in the Black community.
Jermaine Fowler (Lavelle) exposes the disconnect between older and younger generations, dives deeper into his character’s story and bridges the gap between generations to move the culture forward.
Intergenerational tension is not a foreign idea by any means and Fowler considers this when he speaks highly of his own relationship with his father, in which there is deep love but a disconnect still exists.
In light of this, Fowler said there is still a responsibility to “pay it forward and pay it back to him” through this experience.
Fowler continued by sharing a personal story of how he got his dad his first therapist recently and how big the moment led to his realization that we need to respect what we’ve been through because not much has changed.
He noted that while guidance from elders is essential, there has to be ways in which the present generation can “work together for a common goal and figure out what we all do best to get things moving forward” in a culture that is full of division.
Speaking to the intergenerational power of this film, Fowler voiced his hopes for the new story to allow for fans of the original to find that same success they once experienced that will make “people to sit down and enjoy what makes them so great together” and connect them with the new audience in a way that’s interactive and conversational.
Rotimi (Pretty Iddi) shed light on what he hopes people will gain from watching the sequel.
Rotimi expressed that the powers of enjoyment and escapism are necessary to utilize as unifying tools during our present times, noting that “something nostalgic … something that’s a positive piece of Black anything is good right now.”
Rotimi looks forward to seeing how fans will react to the movie on social media.
“I’m excited to see Twitter go crazy and Instagram go crazy, and a couple memes of me, you know what I’m saying, everybody else don’t worry about anybody else,” Rotimi said. “I think that we just need to embellish on the positive. I think our culture needs something like that, the world needs to laugh, that’s really what it is.”
Eddie Murphy (King Akeem) raves about his experience coming back more than 30 years later to portray Prince Akeem in a new sense of power as king of Zamunda.
Murphy illuminated the power of venturing into “uncharted territory” by attempting to continue the story of Coming to America 32 years later. The ambitious journey was a four-to-five-year period of creative exploration that turned into a “great script” to make something special. Therein lies the joy of getting to be “doing something that’s never been done before.”
The cast is excited for all Coming to America fans to finally get to watch the sequel they put a lot of work into. The anticipated film will premiere Friday, March 5, through Amazon Prime Video.
Saturday, Feb. 6, The Hampton Script was given the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion for the upcoming film “Judas and The Black Messiah.”
Set in the late sixties to early seventies, the film follows the life of Chairman Fred Hampton and the Illinois chapter of The Black Panther Party.
With Judas and the Black Messiah affording such a young and dynamic cast of black actors and actresses such as Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Dominique Fishback and more, the opportunity was not only a showcase of their talents, but a continuation of the fight and legacy of Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party at large.
The respect and admiration that each cast member showed for one of our fallen heroes in Fred Hampton was beautiful.
During the panel discussion, I presented the question, “If Fred was not assassinated as young as he was, what do you believe he could have accomplished?” Dominique Fishback (Deborha Johnson) responded, “Sad to say for myself, I don’t know if my imagination can go as big and as wide at this point in my life to think of what Chairman Fred Hampton could have done. He was so forward thinking and was at least 50 years ahead of his time. I wouldn’t even want to sell him short with a limited idea I can think of.”
Another point of discussion was how a traumatic film such as Judas and the Black Messiah personally affected each actor. When asked if he struggled with the dichotomy of his character, Lakeith Stanfield (William O’neal) explained, “Yeah it’s a bit of a challenge, but that’s part of what it means to accurately portray someone. Sometimes you have to go outside yourself a little bit so yeah, it was a challenge, but once I got there, I developed an appreciation for characters like William O’neal.”
A common message amongst the cast was to highlight a piece of black history that is relatively misunderstood and forgotten. Numerous members used the word “blessed” to describe the feeling of working on a project in which they brought to life the love and passion for the community that the Black Panther Party represented on a daily basis.
Caption: (L-r) DARRELL BRITT-GIBSON as Bobby Rush, DANIEL KALUUYA as Chairman Fred Hampton, ALGEE SMITH as Jake Winters, ASHTON SANDERS as Jimmy Palmer and DOMINIQUE THORNE as Judy Harmon in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson
The panel discussion itself was not limited to dialogue only concerning the psychology of characters or the actors unique motivation, but the actual real world implications the film had on them and what were some of the deeper topics that can start to create conversations amongst African American youth.
When asked about how do you believe that you and your castmates’ representation in a film such as Judas and the Black Messiah can affect college students across the world, Hamptonian Darrell Britt-Gibson (Bobby Rush) said, “I hope that this film is able to start the conversation that will lead to the tangible change that we so desire and that we seek on a daily basis as both black men and women.”
The biggest takeaway from the panel discussion was that every actor wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves, each cast member made it apparent that they wanted to accurately portray the mission of racial pride and economic empowerment amongst the black community.
When asked if he felt that this was his opportunity to showcase a prominent black hero just as his colleague Chadwick Boseman, Gibson answered, “Yeah when I read the script and realized what he said and how he thought, I was like wow, I wanna be a vessel for this. This is what I’m here for. I feel like my career has been leading to this if I am being brutally honest. Anything I do for me is like who am I empowering ? Who am I making feel good?” As Black History month begins, Judas and The Black Messiah will educate, enlighten, serve as a pivotal piece in black culture for years to come.
Yes, all good things come to an end, but why Insecure? Many fans are saddened by Issa Rae’s recent announcement that the beloved HBO comedy series will end after Season 5. The first four seasons were such a hit that many didn’t anticipate the series ending one season later.
“Insecure is ending, and I don’t know how to feel about it,” said Tayliour Mart, a Hampton University first-year chemistry major from Austin, Texas. “I hope each episode is one to two hours now.”
This series put her on the map. Rae often talks about being awkward and Black in the industry, and she decided to market it. With many viewers in the African American community relating to being awkward, she introduced something to Hollywood that no one knew was needed. Rae thrives off of telling Black stories from the Black perspective. She made her own seat at the table after hearing many no’s.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl was self-written, and she also starred in it as J, a Black woman who finds herself in embarrassingly awkward positions in every area of life. The viral series lasted for two seasons. It became the foundation of the award-winning Insecure.
October 9, 2016, the hit show Insecure was born, thanks to its two creators, Rae and Larry Wilmore. The groundbreaking HBO half-hour series stars Rae and Yvonne Orji as two educated Black women living their everyday lives despite a handful of complicated Los Angeles experiences. Insecure closely follows Molly (Orji) and Issa’s friendship as they deal with their own company, insecurities, relationship troubles and the general difficulties of being adults.
The show has four great seasons with outstanding ratings. Fans took to Twitter to express their complete disbelief for the show ending when Rae announced it by retweeting her interview with Deadline.
“Very excited to film our fifth and final season!” Rae tweeted. “We couldn’t have told a complete story without the tremendous support of our audience and the faith of [HBO]. See y’all soon! #InsecureHBO.”
The show has received positive feedback and awards for its comedic relief and honest portrayal of the Black experience through Issa and Molly’s perspective. Throughout the show’s run, Rae has received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and two Golden Globe nods for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy. In Season 4, Insecure was nominated at the 2020 Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series, while Yvonne Orji was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
“I’m really sad about Insecure ending, but I know all good things come to an end with time,” said Romari Black, an HU junior journalism major from Baltimore, Maryland. “I just really hope Issa and the writers end it well and I’m not mad the last episode.”
Season 5 is tentatively scheduled to be released around May.