Entertainment

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

There’s a new live-action stage version of Disney’s 1997 animated film “Hercules” at the Public Theater in New York City — and Hercules is Black as hell

In 1997, San Francisco Gate’s Peter Sack described the film as, “The great old Greek is turned into a ’90s-style athlete who gets endorsements, sandals named after him and a chance to stand tall among nymphs and muses.”

Sound familiar to you? Lest we not forget this was the same era that Michael Jordan did Space Jam and Shaquille O’Neal did Kazaam. The original animated film took inspiration from major athletes of the time and thus, it inevitably heavily references Black and hood ’90s culture. If you watch it now the sneakers, the gospel music, the humor, it probably seems so obvious. 

One might wonder with all these references to the Black popular culture of the ’90s, why didn’t the creators just make Hercules Black? Well, they finally have.

The story of Hercules.  

While most of us were forced to read and re-read Hercules in secondary school, not everyone may know the story. Hercules is the son of the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera. When a prophecy foretells that he will eventually defeat the god of the underworld, Hades, Hercules is kidnapped as an infant. Unable to kill him, Hades is able to take his immortality away but not his strength. The baby Hercules is raised by a mortal couple. At 18 he figures out his real origins and is determined to become a hero so that he can return to Mount Olympus with the gods.

Meet your new Hercules.

Hercules at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, through The Public Theater’s Public Works Program is based on the 1997 animated film, and has kept Alan Menken’s musical score. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also created the music for Disney’s Aladdin. Jelani Alladin stars as the demi-god Hercules. Krysta Rodriguez plays his love interest Megara.

The difference between the stage musical and the film is that Disney has finally chosen to embrace their story’s Blackness. Rather than simply coding their narrative as one with allusions to Black culture, they’ve put that Blackness at the forefront and center. That’s what we call growth! Everybody loves Black culture, it’s time we start loving the people who make it. 

Danielle C. Belton of The Root describes the original as having flirted with African-American culture, while this new version embraces a multicultural cast. 

“While the film Hercules only flirted with African-American music and culture—the muses who were the “Greek chorus” throughout the film were patterned after classic, Motown-style Black ‘50s girl groups,” she writes. “This version of ancient Greece and the Greco-Roman gods features quite a few Black, Asian and Latinx people, including Jelani Alladin as the titular teenaged Hercules, and, of course—all five of the doo-wopping muses are…sistas with voices.”

How Hercules gave nods to Black culture. 

Hercules is something of a hood icon. It was the first time many kids probably saw Black women portrayed as the muses and Greek chorus. This gaggle of doo-wopping muses sang the funky, soulful Hercules theme. There were also pivotal aspects of hood culture, some of it is even social commentary. Hercules’s character is parallel to the superstar basketball players of the ’90s, their rabid fans, and endorsement deals. The creators, Ron Clements and John Musker, even referred to Hercules as the Michael Jordan of his time. 

In the movie, we see a young Hercules’ as he rises to fame for being a demi-God with some serious strength. When the hero-worship begins, he snags a sweet endorsement deal — but these aren’t Nike Jordans — they’re fresh to death Hercules sandals called Air-Hercs. When the villain Hades sees that one of his minions is rocking the Hercules sandals his response is simple and iconic: what are those?The phrase has now become a popular meme on Black Twitter going so far as being referenced in the “Black Panther” movieThe hero even has his own version of a Gatorade sponsorship, the drink is called “Herculade.”

A Latinx Megara embraces feminism.

Unlike other Disney women of the era, Megara was never waiting to be saved. She was sarcastic, witty, and pretty unimpressed with Hercules’ attempts to holler at her. Krysa Rodriguez’ Megara puts feminism at the forefront — again we see subtle codes made explicit. 

“In a new song, a pants-clad Meg imagines a world without men, envisioning it as a utopia where she could do as she pleases. A dopey, lovestruck Hercules, seeking to demonstrate his feminist credentials, replies clumsily, ‘My mom’s a woman,’” writes Adrienne Westenfeld for Esquire.

Diversity is always an improvement. We live in a multicultural world, there is never anything wrong with reflecting that in the stories we tell. After all, it’s the stories we tell that teach us who we are and who we will become. For Hercules that is learning the truth about his traumatic past to create a better future — for America, well, it’s no different.

‘Roma’ Star Aparicio Is Named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador And Will Advocate For The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

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‘Roma’ Star Aparicio Is Named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador And Will Advocate For The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

Within a matter of just a year, Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio has made a name for herself as both an artist and an activist. Earlier this year, the 25-year-old actress, born in Tlaxiaco, Mexico, made history as the first indigenous actor nominated for the best actress award at the Academy Awards for her breakout role in the film “Roma.” In the months after the film came out, the actress has worked hard to display her Mixteco language and heritage, financially support Oaxan students from her hometown, and combat any stereotypes or ignorant impressions you might have of indigenous people. For her work, the young actress is, once again, being honored. 

This time, it’s with a wonderful new role with the United Nations’ cultural agency United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a goodwill ambassador for indigenous people.

On Friday, UNESCO— a Paris-based organization— announced that they had appointed Aparicio to help them advocate for gender equality and indigenous rights. 

yalitzaapariciomtz / Instagram

In an interview about her newest role, Aparicio said that she felt “proud to be an indigenous woman” and would like to aim “to go hand in hand with UNESCO in the best way, to be able to support these indigenous communities.”

According to NBC News, the young actress also said that it was her hope that she would pass on the traditional wisdom of indigenous communities as well as combat racism. “As my grandparents used to say: ‘You have to take care of the land because you eat it.’ So hopefully we learn this part,” she said.

During her announcement of her new role, Aparicio said that it would also be her goal to shed light on the various legal complications that indigenous people face in the government systems around the world. 

yalitzaapariciomtz/ Instagram

“There are several cases where there are indigenous people who are judged in a foreign language, without the right to have a translator and I think it’s something that we should take action on”, she said.

There’s no doubt that based on the year Aparicio has had that she is a woman who understands first hand why advocacy for indigenous people is so important. 

yalitzaapariciomtz / Instagram

The Academy Award-nominated actress Yalitza Aparicio became the first Mexican woman to receive such an honor. However, despite the respect and esteem, she should have earned, it wasn’t uncommon for her to receive unwarranted racism from her community of actors in Mexico. At one point, telenovela star Sergio Goyri used racist slurs to say that he didn’t feel Yalitza Aparicio deserved an Oscar nomination. In a video posted to the veteran actor’s Instagram, he  commented that Aparicio should not have received a nomination for an Academy Award saying  in Spanish “Que metan a nominar a una pinche india que dice, ‘sí señora, no señora’, y que la metan a una terna a la mejor actriz del Oscar.

In English, his offensive and vulgar language translate to “That they nominate an Indian click that says, ‘Yes ma’am, no ma’am’, and that they put it in a shortlist for the best Oscar actress.”

Later the actor apologizes saying that it was “never my intent to offend anyone. I apologize to Yalitza, who deserves [the Oscar nomination] and much more,” the 60-year-old said on Instagram. “For me, it is an honor to see a Mexican be nominated for an Oscar.”

Staying above it all like always, Aparicio responded to Goyri’s offensive remarks by stating that she was proud of who she is and where she is from. 

“I am proud to be an Oaxacan indigenous woman, and it saddens me that there are people who do not know the correct meaning of words,” Aparicio said in a statement to The Guardian.

“Roma” director, Alfonso Cuarón, also came to the defense of Aparicio this week by saying that Goyri’s words should be a broader discussion as to why people, particularly in Mexico, have those feelings, and also why the media perpetuates stereotypes.

With all that Aparicio has experienced, we’re excited to see what she does for Indigenous people in her newest role.

Aparicio has continued to prove this year that she is nothing but a rising star on the scene. Despite the fact that English was not a language she knew fluently when she took up her first Hollywood film (and first film!) she continues to be the face of international success and proof that anyone can come from any circumstance and get to the top. We hope that her new role she will outshine any ignorance and cruelty that might come her way and that she will continue the fight for freedom for Indigenous people everywhere.

The Trailer For Harley Quinn’s Spin-Off ‘Birds Of Prey’ Dropped And We’re Loving The Diversity of The All-Female Super Hero Troupe

Entertainment

The Trailer For Harley Quinn’s Spin-Off ‘Birds Of Prey’ Dropped And We’re Loving The Diversity of The All-Female Super Hero Troupe

DC Films

Harley Quinn is back and she’s Joker-free in the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad’ spin-off. The first full trailer for DC’s ‘Birds of Prey And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn’ dropped this week and we’re loving everything about it. The film is set to be released early 2020 and when it does, it will feature a pretty diverse cast of badass ladies.

Most details of ‘Birds of Prey’ had been kept under wraps, except for a little sneak peak shared by Dr. Harleen Quinzel herself.

credit instagram @margotrobbie

Aside from the sneak-peek we got in January in the form of an Instagram post from Miss Harley Quinn herself, captioned “Miss me? 💋HQ”, and a tiny teaser trailer, most details of ‘Birds of Prey’ had remained under wraps. But after watching the first full official trailer we have enough details to piece the plot together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjpsGw7YlU8

In ‘Birds of Prey’ Harley gathers a group of uncongenial super-powered ladies to search for revenge.

credit Instagram @jurneebell

Birds of Prey is originally a DC Comics series based around an ever-changing line-up of female heroes, villains, and anti-heroes. The trailer for the movie opens with a drunk Harley Quinn pointing out that “a harlequin’s role is to serve; it’s nothing without a master.” She goes on to explain that her relationship with the Joker is through, and she’s looking for a “fresh start”, but as it turns out, Harley  “wasn’t the only dame in Gotham looking for emancipation.” After the breakup and naturally, a post heartbreak haircut, Harley puts together a group of uncongenial anti-heroines with similar motives, looking for revenge.

The team of iconic DC Comic ladies includes Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), from the Gotham City Police Department; the Black Canary/Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who gave us a hint of her super-powered voice while singing in a club in the trailer; the crossbow-wielding Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead); and perhaps the DC Universe’s most lethal set of hands, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).

Margot Robbie is the person behind Harley Quinn’s own spin-off movie and she wanted to make sure to get a diverse team on-screen and behind the camera.

During an interview with Yahoo!, to promote her movie Terminal, actor turned producer, Margot Robbie, talked about how important it was for her to make sure to cast diverse leads. “real life isn’t so one specific image,” said Robbie, “We’ve got to reflect that onscreen.”

Television and film are supposed to depict our realities, right? That should mean showcasing characters of all races, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, etc. as thought-out and well-developed characters, instead of relying on tactless stereotypes for laughs. Who we see on the screen needs to mirror the diverse world we live in. And while there has been a slight improvement in the last couple of years, the industry has still got a long way to go and it’s crucial that we begin to see diverse casts, directors, writers, producers, and film crews. 

Margot Robbie, the person behind Harley Quinn’s spin-off,  worked hard to build a diverse team for this movie, both in front of the camera and behind it. Robbie describes ‘Birds of Prey’ as an “R-rated girl gang film”. “I was like, Harley needs friends, Harley loves interacting with people, so don’t ever make her do a standalone film,” she said about her pitch during an interview with Collider. “She’s got to be with other people, it should be a girl gang. I wasn’t seeing enough girl gangs on screen, especially in the action space. So that was always a big part of it.” 

Just watching the trailer and seeing the group of diverse anti-heroes and women of color playing strong badass action-driven characters has us counting the days until the premiere. A study by the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) says that films with more diverse casts perform better at the box office than less diverse ones —Confirming what people and actors of color have been saying for years!

For the film, Robbie casted women with vastly different backgrounds and secured a female director and screenplay writer.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtPH_6lFgTG/

The “Birds of Prey” are all women with different and vast backgrounds. Jurnee Smollett-Bell who’s playing Black Canary has described herself as “Blewish” aka black and Jewish and is 100% proud of her biracial ancestry. Rosie Perez (who plays Renee Montoya), was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but considers herself Puerto Rican fist and foremost and has shown the world her pride for her heritage in the documentary “I’m Boricua, Just So You Know“. 

When “Birds of Prey” debuts in theaters next year, so will Ella Jay Basco. Bringing the character Cassandra Cain to life will be the young actress of Korean and Filipino ancestry’s big-screen debut. “I really want to represent the Asian community – that alone inspires me to act because representation and diversity in the industry is super important to me.” Basco revealed in an interview with A Book Of.

instagram @ellajaybasco

Director Cathy Yan has reportedly been tabbed to direct the movie, marking her first Asian female director to helm a DC movie. “…And then, of course, having a female director to tell that story,” Robbie said to Yahoo! “And giving a female director the chance to do big budget stuff, they always get ‘Here’s the tiny little film’… I was like, ‘I love action. I love action films. I’m a girl. What, are we meant to only like a specific thing’? So it was a hugely important to find a female director for this, if possible. But at the end of the day — male, female — the best director gets the job and Cathy was the best director.” she continued. The screenplay was written by Christina Hodson, who also wrote the Transformers sequel ‘Bumblebee’ starring Hailee Steinfeld, and who will also be writing DC’s “Batgirl” movie. 

“Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of a One Harley Quinn” is set to release on February 7, 2020. Other upcoming DC Extended Universe films include Wonder Woman 2, Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps.