“The Year Disney Started to Take Diversity Seriously”

“Mira Nair didn’t know it, but for years, she lived just 15 minutes away from the subject of her next film—chess champion Phiona Mutesi, a prodigy from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. It took the attention of one particularly dedicated Disney executive, Tendo Nagenda, to introduce Mutesi and Nair, then shepherd through the studio a film: Queen of Katwe, a movie that looked almost nothing like anything else from the company that brings you Avengers, jedis, and pirates.

“I’ve never had a guardian angel in any film in a studio,” Nair tellsVanity Fair. “[Tendo] is truly one because he made it happen.”

Katwe is a film about a young African girl, with essentially no speaking roles for white characters, directed by an Indian woman. It’s an anomaly even in an industry that prides itself on having an imagination. But it’s also one of many examples of how Disney is diversifying its array of upcoming films, presenting more inclusive visions of everything from classic musicals to a galaxy far, far away.

In the near future, we’ll have a Christmas movie starring Kevin Hart as Santa Claus, an adaptation of The Nutcracker starring Misty Copeland and Morgan Freeman, and a surprising reimagining of The Rocketeer starring a young black girl. Ice Cube is working on a hip-hop version of Oliver Twist. Moana, Disney’s first Polynesian princess movie, is set for a Thanksgiving-week release. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Disney’s latest go-to music man, who also penned songs for Moana) will co-star in a Mary Poppins sequel.

The upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story presents an intergalactic rebellion from the likes ofForest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, and Donnie Yen—and all led by a woman, Felicity Jones. Between 2016 and 2018, about 24 percent of the studio’s live-action releases will feature ethnic minority leads, Disney says…”

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/11/disney-films-inclusive

“‘Luke Cage’ Season 2 Release Date: 7 Things We Want To See In The Second Season”

“The first season of Luke Cage ended on a really sad note. The Harlem hero parted ways with his new lady, Claire Temple, and headed back to Seagate Prison. Even though Cottonmouth is out of the picture, Black Mariah and Shades are still running the streets. Even more of a threat is Diamondback, who last we saw, was in Dr. Burstein’s hands. Luke Cage Season 1 took care of Power Man’s origins, but there’s still a lot more story to tell in Season 2. Here’s seven things we’re expecting to see.

Coffee With Claire Temple

Since we’ll see Luke again before the next season of his solo series, (maybe in Iron Fist but definitely in The Defenders ), it’s safe to say Claire is tagging along. Not only could The Defenders use someone to patch their wounds, she’s Luke’s only trusted ally at this point. Last we saw her, she was already working on getting Luke out of prison.

She’s also the first person he’s going to call once he gets out. In fact, that’s what we could be seeing in recently released The Defenders set photoswhere Claire and Luke passionately embrace against a chain-linked fence. It could be the first time they’ve seen each other since that night in the hospital where they shared their first kiss and Luke was taken away by police.

Misty Knight ‘got coffee’ with Luke in the first episode of Luke Cage. Jessica Jones and Luke also ‘got coffee ’ in Jessica Jones Season 1. It’s only right we’ll see him and Claire ‘get coffee’ in The Defenders. Jessica being part of the team does throw a wrench in things, especially since she and Luke haven’t spoken since the whole Kilgrave ordeal that killed Reva. Jessica and Luke end up having a baby together in the comics, but this is Marvel-Netflix and they’re known to switch things up. The history between Luke and Jessica may end up being too painful to work past…”

http://www.idigitaltimes.com/luke-cage-season-2-release-date-7-things-we-want-see-second-season-570039

“Tilda Swinton: ‘Doctor Strange’ Whitewashing Controversy Is Bigger Than Just One Movie”

““Doctor Strange,” the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, follows eponymous hero Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he navigates his way through an unlikely origin story that heavily involves the teachings of an enlightened elder – known as The Ancient One – who sets him on the path to both righteousness and cape-clad ass-kicking. In the original comics, The Ancient One is portrayed as an older gentleman of Tibetan descent. In director Scott Derrickson’s film, the character is played by Tilda Swinton.

Unsurprisingly, the project has faced continued criticism for its casting of Swinton as the character, though Marvel brass and the film’s creative team have long maintained that their casting choice came after the character was already changed with the express purpose to avoid racist undertones. As Swinton explained to IndieWire in a recent interview, the “Doctor Strange” team aimed to circumvent the original character by radically changing many of his trademark attributes.

“Scott [Derrickson] will tell you that he made this very clear decision with Kevin Feige and the whole team to change The Ancient One from the rather, what they considered, offensive racial stereotype in the comic books,” Swinton explained. “This kind of Fu Manchu, ancient man sitting on top of a mountain called The Ancient One. They made this decision to not perpetuate those racial stereotypes.”

Those changes made it possible to cast someone like Swinton – a white woman – ostensibly in hopes that by radically changing the character, it would not be perceived as racist. That’s not what happened, though Swinton’s recollection of the controversy is different.

“As far as I understand it, and I wasn’t completely up to speed on it, but I’m told that when my casting was announced, everyone was pretty stoked about it and there wasn’t an outcry at all,” Swinton said. “And then there was the first trailer, which people were also supportive of.”

When Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One was announced back in May of 2015, fans were mostly excited about yet another talented performer joining the MCU fray, though there was some initial confusion about how she would play a role originally imagined as a male Tibetan mystic…”

http://www.indiewire.com/2016/11/tilda-swinton-doctor-strange-whitewashing-controversy-ghost-in-the-shell-1201742228/

“Riz Ahmed Talks His ‘Rogue One’ Character, Says ‘Star Wars’ Is ‘Leading the Way’ for Hollywood Diversity”

 

Riz Ahmed, whose breakout role was in this year’s HBO drama The Night Of, stars in December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The new movie has the most diverse cast of any Star Wars film to date, also starring Forest Whitaker, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna, and Sharon Duncan-Brewster, to name just a few. Ahmed spoke about this diversity in a recent interview, and also provided some insight into his cargo pilot-turned-rebel character Bodhi.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about The Night Of and Rogue One, Ahmed talked a bit about how he approached his character for the new Star Wars movie and gave him a pretty fantastic background story.

Bodhi is someone who’s been running away his whole life. His planet gets occupied, so he goes, ‘How do I get out of here?’ And the way was by becoming a long-distance cargo pilot. But, of course, that comes with guilt. If you look down and you’re wearing the same Imperial uniform with the same insignia that the people occupying your planet are wearing, it’s guilt and a lot of running away. I had the idea that this character is jittery. He’s jumpy. There’s a restlessness to him. This comes from the trauma and guilt.

THR then asked him how he felt about the fact that this is the most diverse cast of any Star Wars movie ever, to which he replied that he feels extremely positive.

I feel like Star Wars is leading the way. I like to think we are all heading in this direction. Some people are kicking and screaming or dragging their feet. Some people are sprinting. It’s really a credit to [Lucasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy and the team there that they want to embrace the future and the reality of a global film market. It feels contemporary, it feels global. Culture is a space for us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, so why don’t we just have as many different kinds of shoes as possible..?”

http://screencrush.com/riz-ahmed-rogue-one-diversity/

“Everything You Need to Know About X-23, and Why Her Appearance in Logan Is So Important”

“The first trailer for Logan dropped [recently], giving us confirmation of the long-standing rumor that comic book hero Laura Kinney—a.k.a. X-23—will be in the movie. If that name doesn’t ring a bell for you, we’re here to help: it’s because little Laura could end up being the key to the future of Wolverine on the big screen.

To put it simply, Laura is a female clone of Wolverine, first introduced in the comics in early 2004. She was actually first created for two episodes of the animated series X-Men: Evolution’s third season by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, before Marvel decided to bring the character over to their comics. Her first comics series, NYX, showcased the teen X-23 in action with no details on her mysterious past, which wouldn’t be fully unveiled until she got her own self-titled miniseries in 2006 and 2011, X-23: Target X and X-23: Innocence Lost.

In the comics, ever since Wolverine escaped the Weapon X project, there were attempts to recreate the successes that lead to his adamantium-encased bone, but they all failed. Martin Sutter, the head of the original Weapon X program, recruited a mutant geneticist named Sarah Kinney to lead a new version of the project—one that, instead of simply trying to bond adamantium to a live test subject, would instead simply clone Weapon X’s biggest successes.

Kinney faced a problem, though. The project’s last sample of Logan’s DNA was heavily damaged, and attempts to make a male clone failed 22 times. Kinney suggested to Sutter that a female clone be created out of what was left of Wolverine’s material—eventually he agreed, leading to the birth of X-23. (Long story short, when Sutter refused at first, Kinney defied him and made a female clone anyway, which led Sutter’s sadistic protege Zander Rice to force Kinney to be impregnated with the clone as “punishment” for defying Sutter…).”

http://io9.gizmodo.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-x-23-and-why-her-app-1788023907

“All About Auli’i Cravalho, the Amazing 16-Year-Old Voice of Disney’s Moana”

“Before you get to know Auli’i Cravalho, the amazing 16-year-old voice of Disney’s new heroine Moana, it’s probably best you learn how to pronounce her name.

“It’s ‘ow,’ like you stubbed your toe. ‘Lee,’ like Bruce Lee. Then, you add an ‘e.’ Auli’i Cravalho,” she explains (with bonus pantomimes) to PEOPLE in the above video.

 The Hawaiian native, who turned 16 on Tuesday (the day before her new movie premieres!), was born on the Big Island and now lives in Mililani on the island of Oahu with her mom, Puanani. The rising star was discovered almost by accident, when Disney talent scouts saw her sing in a YouTube video.

Cravalho, a member of her school’s glee club, gives props to her mom for her strong pipes. “I credit my singing to my mom because she didn’t give me a binky when I was a baby. I cried and screamed for the first six months — my mom would say four years of my life — and I developed wonderful lungs,” she says.

For the first-time actress, performing in the privacy of a sound booth was a welcome introduction to the big screen. “I really like it because when I’m in the studio, I kind of just close my eyes. I don’t have to worry about what I look like too much, and I don’t have to worry about perhaps not moving my eyebrows in the right direction to look sad or something,” she explains.

Plus, when it comes to acting with her voice, Cravalho is a natural. “I’m kind of an animated person,” she adds. “I was given this really big blessing that my voice just kind of carries the emotion.”

In the film, Cravalho plays Moana Waialiki, the high-spirited daughter of the chief of a mystical Polynesian island, who sets sail to an island with a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) to help save her family from disaster. The story is full of Disney fantasy, but Cravalho says her character’s journey toward self-discovery — and the fact that she makes that journey alone — is relatable to everyone…”

http://people.com/movies/all-about-aulii-cravalho-the-amazing-16-year-old-voice-behind-moana/

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“Angela Bassett Joins Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’”

Angela Bassett has joined the cast of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther. She will play Ramonda, the mother of T’Challa, aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) in the Marvel mythology. Marvel just made the announcement.

The Oscar nominee joins Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke and Florence Kasumba in the cast. The superhero made his debut in Disney’s Marvel Universe movies this summer in Captain America: Civil War.

In the comic series, Ramonda was the stepmother to T’Challa, whose actual mother died while giving birth to him. Ramonda was thought to have run away, but it was later discovered she had been kidnapped.

Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, hits theaters February 16, 2018. Coogler and Joe Robert Cole are writing the script.

Bassett has been busy in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story anthology series (she was Emmy nominated for roles in 2014 and 2015). She also made her directorial debut with Lifetime’s Whitney Houston biopic Whitney last year.

http://deadline.com/2016/11/angela-bassett-black-panther-ramonda-tchalla-mother-1201858360/