Entertainment

A Studio Executive Wanted Julia Roberts To Play Harriet Tubman In A Biopic

Gregory Allen Howard, the screenwriter, and producer of Harriet, a historical drama based on Harriet Tubman’s life starring Cynthia Erivo, said in 1994 when he began working on the project, a studio executive wanted Julia Roberts to take on the title role. 

The obvious issue being that Harriet Tubman is one of the most celebrated black women in American history — she almost made it on the twenty-dollar bill before Donald Trump came along — and Roberts is a white woman. The executive didn’t think anyone would notice. 

Allen recalled in a Q&A how different Hollywood was 25 years ago when he first began writing Harriet.

“I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,’” Howard explained. “When someone pointed out that Roberts couldn’t be Harriet, the executive responded, ‘It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.’”

Howard retold the story in a recent essay for the Los Angeles Times. He noted that there was a sole black person in the room when the incident happened.

“Fortunately, there was a single black person in that studio meeting 25 years ago who told him that Harriet Tubman was a black woman,” Howard wrote. “The president replied, ‘That was so long ago. No one will know that.’”

It’s no surprise it would take Howard 25 years to get his Harriot Tubman script told the way he wanted. The screenwriter credited the recent blockbusters starring black icons for paving the way for his film to finally get made. 

“When 12 Years a Slave became a hit and did a couple hundred million dollars worldwide, I told my agent, ‘You can’t say this kind of story won’t make money now.’ Then Black Panther really blew the doors open,” Howard said.

Tubman lived a full life despite being born into slavery. She died at 90 years old, a free woman having liberated at least 700 slaves, and as an America hero. Harriet took her last breath in 1913, thus the idea that viewers wouldn’t remember her is moot. 

Many Twitter users of color took this anecdote as an opportunity to lament about Hollywood’s constant white-washing.

Sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen shared four photos in response. One of Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Afro-Cuban Mariane Pearl, Mike Meyers as an Indian guru, Jake Gyllenhaal as a Persian, and Johnny Depp as a Native American. All are white characters playing a different race, while opportunities and roles for people of those races remain few and far between. 

“Julie Roberts as Harriet Tubman? Rebel Wilson is writing and producing a teen K-pop movie. Meanwhile, me and my friends can’t put two nickels together to get our indy features made or seen,” another user commented. 

Some users roasted the scenario by putting images of Julia Roberts on twenty-dollar bills or claiming they could possibly play Roberts in a film despite being a person of color. 

“I just heard that Chiwetel Ejiofor only got the part in 12 Years a Slave because Julia Roberts turned it down. Damn,” another user joked. 

Jordan Crucchiola, the associate editor of Vulture, decided to look on the bright side: an incident like this should stop anyone’s imposter syndrome short. 

“If you’re chasing a Hollywood dream and feel doubtful you’ll ever make it, remember there are executives getting paid shit loads of money to suggest JULIA ROBERTS should play Harriet Tubman. A jar of cockroaches is more qualified than some of these people so DON’T GIVE UP,” Crucchiola wrote on Twitter. 

Howard documented his struggle to get Harriet made in his LA Times essay.

https://twitter.com/RoxyCottenCandy/status/1197228986977284096

Howard is perhaps best known for writing the screenplay for Disney’s Remember the Titans, but Harriet was always his passion project. 

“I wanted to turn Harriet Tubman’s life, which I’d studied in college, into an action-adventure movie. The climate in Hollywood, however, was very different back then,” Howard told Focus Features.

The screenwriter suggested that Hollywood executives were unable to see stories about black people or starring black leads as profitable. 

“The number of doors slammed in my face, the number of passes, the number of unreturned phone calls, canceled meetings, abandonments, racist rejections, the number of producing partners who bailed, are too many to list,” Howard wrote. “And later I foolishly used my status as a commercial screenwriter to get meetings and then sneaked in a pitch for Harriet Tubman’s story. Bait and switch.” 

With marginalized voices breaking barriers in Hollywood, Howard was finally able to get his film made. 

“As someone who has been in this business for decades, I am enjoying the warmth of the Hollywood climate change, and the diverse stories that are bathing in that sunlight, happy that Harriet’s other journey is now finally complete,” he wrote. 

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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All The Fun Streams Available On Netflix Starting In April

Entertainment

All The Fun Streams Available On Netflix Starting In April

Spring is officially here and sweeping in with a new bundle of shows and films to binge and watch on Netflix. From the much-anticipated adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone series to a new David Attenborough docuseries, there are tons of shows to look forward to watching this April.

That’s right, spring into action gang, this April has a world of great streams!

April 1

  • 2012
  • Cop Out
  • Friends with Benefits
  • Insidious
  • Legally Blonde
  • Leprechaun
  • Magical Andes: Season 2
  • The Pianist
  • The Possession
  • Prank Encounters: Season 2
  • Secrets of Great British Castles: Season 1
  • Tersanjung the Movie
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family
  • White Boy
  • Worn Stories
  • Yes Man

April 2

  • Concrete Cowboy
  • Just Say Yes
  • Madame Claude
  • The Serpent
  • Sky High

April 3

  • Escape from Planet Earth

April 4

  • What Lies Below

April 5

  • Coded Bias
  • Family Reunion: Part 3

April 6

  • The Last Kids on Earth: Happy Apocalypse to You

April 7

  • The Big Day: Collection 2
  • Dolly Parton: A MusiCares Tribute
  • Snabba Cash
  • This Is A Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist
  • The Wedding Coach

April 8

  • The Way of the Househusband

April 9

  • Have You Ever Seen Fireflies?
  • Night in Paradise
  • Thunder Force

April 10

  • The Stand-In

April 11

  • Diana: The Interview that Shook the World

April 12

  • New Gods: Nezha Reborn
  • Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn: Seasons 1-4

April 13

  • The Baker and the Beauty: Season 1
  • Mighty Express: Season 3
  • My Love: Six Stories of True Love

April 14

  • Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!
  • The Circle: Season 2
  • Law School
  • The Soul
  • Why Did You Kill Me?

April 15

  • Dark City Beneath the Beat
  • The Master
  • Ride or Die

April 16

  • Arlo the Alligator Boy
  • Ajeeb Daastaans
  • Barbie & Chelsea The Lost Birthday
  • Crimson Peak
  • Fast & Furious Spy Racers: Season 4: Mexico
  • Into the Beat
  • Rush
  • Synchronic
  • Why Are You Like This
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife

April 18

  • Luis Miguel – The Series: Season 2

April 19

  • Miss Sloane
  • PJ Masks: Season 3

April 20

  • Izzy’s Koala World: Season 2

April 21

  • Zero

April 22

  • Life in Color with David Attenborough
  • Stowaway

April 23

  • Heroes: Silence and Rock & Roll
  • Shadow and Bone
  • Tell Me When

April 27

  • August: Osage County
  • Battle of Los Angeles
  • Fatma
  • Go! Go! Cory Carson: Season 4

April 28

  • Sexify
  • Headspace Guide to Sleep

April 29

  • Things Heard & Seen
  • Yasuke

April 30

  • The Innocent
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines
  • Pet Stars
  • The Unremarkable Juanquini: Season 2

Leaving Netflix in April

April 2

  • Honey: Rise Up and Dance

April 4

  • Backfire

April 11

  • Time Trap

April 12

  • Married at First Sight: Season 9
  • Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning: Season 1

April 13

  • Antidote

April 14

  • Eddie Murphy: Delirious
  • The New Romantic
  • Once Upon a Time in London
  • Thor: Tales of Asgard

April 15

  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

April 19

  • Carol
  • The Vatican Tapes

April 20

  • The Last Resort

April 21

  • The Great British Baking Show: Masterclass: Seasons 1-3

April 22

  • Liv and Maddie: Seasons 1-4

April 23

  • Mirror Mirror

April 24

  • Django Unchained

April 26

  • The Sapphires

April 27

  • Ghost Rider (2007)

April 27

  • The Car
  • Doom

April 28

  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop

April 30

  • 17 Again
  • Blackfish
  • Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Den of Thieves
  • How to Be a Latin Lover
  • I Am Legend
  • Jumping the Broom
  • Kingdom: Seasons 1-3
  • Knock Knock
  • Palm Trees in the Snow
  • Platoon
  • Runaway Bride
  • Snowpiercer
  • The Green Hornet
  • The Indian in the Cupboard
  • Waiting

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