News Brief

Issa Rae's ColorCreative Lands Deal with Columbia Pictures To Boost Diverse Screenwriters

This unique opportunity contributes to the entertainment industry shifting to develop more projects that give emerging talent the platform they deserve.

Issa Rae is making serious year-end moves with her production company, ColorCreative.

Her platform has locked in a multi-picture production deal with Columbia Pictures, Variety reports. Under the agreement, ColorCreative will be backing projects from emerging and diverse screenwriters.


This is a unique opportunity and it comes as no surprise that Rae will be one of many in the entertainment industry helming its shift to develop and back more films and shows that give diverse talent the platform they deserve—in front of and behind the camera.

Variety notes that despite Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians' success at the box office this year, a recent report from USC says that only 29.3 percent of characters in the top 100 grossing movies of 2017 were from communities of color. This deal with Rae's ColorCreative to amplify authentic voices will not just be an anomaly—hopefully.

Participants will be announced in 2019 and will work with Rae and the production company to develop and write features based on the participants' original concepts.

Bryan Smiley, VP of production at Columbia Pictures, spearheaded the deal and will oversee production and development with ColorCreative. Sara Rastogi, ColorCreative's new VP of production will also help shepherd the deal for the company with ColorCreative's COO, Deniese Davis.

"Working with Bryan Smiley and Columbia Pictures to further the mission ColorCreative set out to achieve four years ago in creating access for underrepresented writers, has been a dream come true," Rae says in a statement. "All of the projects we are working on are fresh and promising and we can't wait to continue the work. We hope to set a precedent and inspire the industry at large to invest in undiscovered talent, original IP, and fresh stories and perspectives."

She continues:

"Sara's commitment to discovering and elevating budding voices along with her out-of-the-box thinking has made her a perfect and insightful addition to our team."

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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Style
Image: David Omigie, creative director of Daltimore, wears a contrast-panel, overlap leather jacket from Daltimore

How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.

Backstage at her first live performance at the Big Brother Naija eviction show in July, Mavin's music starlet Ayra Starr posed for Instagram wearing a custom, ivory two-piece outfit. The 19-year-old posed wearing a slinky bandeau crop top with a metallic accent, and high waist baggy pants paired with opera fingerless gloves. The outfit is reminiscent of the same chic, carnal athleticism seen in Ayra's video for Bad Samaritan, where she wears both a custom fur coat and a monochromatic red leather outfit. Both looks are the work of Nigerian streetwear brand Daltimore.

These moments of fashion aren't happening in isolation. Streetwear has a stronghold on Nigerian youth culture, especially in Lagos, often troping around the resurgence of Y2K aesthetics that have begun to influence the buzzing profiles of Gen Z artists, fashion influencers, and entertainers. Bucket hats, crop tops, baguette bags, baggy jeans, mini skirts, and so on. Enter Daltimore, seizing the moment by signposting how these cultural pulses are intersecting. At first, the brand didn't eschew streetwear's disruptive tendencies when founded by its creative director David Omigie in 2015. The brand name is significant for David, to immortalize his late brother. Baltimore was his nickname back in high school.

This isn't the only familial death David has experienced to inspire the Daltimore footprint. The debut collection embraced simple, conservative tailoring, dashiki tunics, and shift dresses that stayed slightly loose on the body. Blending in casual touches like jeans and sneakers to keep it modern, the collection in hindsight appeared to be foreshadowing possibilities in streetwear. With a wave of terrorist attacks in Northern Nigeria and the unfair stereotyping of the region as violent and hostile, Daltimore shifted focus to the region's culture and iconography to dispel media narratives for its 2018 collection.

Translating the aridity of the North into invigorating brown close to the shade of pecan, Daltimore's 2018 collection featured clothes columned into long skirts, sleeveless kaftans with large white patch pockets, and head wraps. In finding its own design language, the brand has created a tension that sits between tradition and modernity. To that end, cowries on a zip-up leather jacket illustrate this intermingling or basketweave embellishment on a tote bag. Embracing the broader, aggressive aspects of streetwear was only a matter of time. Look at a Daltimore ensemble and there would typically be a harness looping around the wearer, vests and bomber jackets in neon colors, bags with sling chains, and velcro straps. And lots of leather.

From 2Baba, Blaqbonez, Joeboy, Fireboy DML, Dremo, Lady Donli to Toke Makinwa, Dare Art-Alade, Ric Hassani, Oxlade, Daltimore has accrued an impressive list of celebrity fans in a relatively short time. In this OkayAfrica interview, David shares his motivation for going into fashion, how he's been navigating the industry, and defines streetwear from his vantage point.

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Photos courtesy of Damilola and Odunayo

Damilola Odufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi Are Bringing African Discovery To the World

We spoke with the Nigerian tech gurus about their app Backdrop and how to make it on the continent and sell to the world.

Have you ever wished you had the resources to easily find picture-perfect, photo-worthy spots in any and every new city you visit? If you said, 'No', you're lying. If you said 'Yes', then, welcome.

A rather nice problem that many travel lovers run into is not knowing where to take beautiful pictures and most importantly, what to do with them if you're not a fan of photo-sharing apps that already exist. With the world opening back up for travel and adventure, the eagerness to go out and experience and capture something different is palpable.

Well, while some have spent their time creating Pinterest boards of #vacationgoals, Timi Ajiboye, Damilola Odufuwa, and Odunayo Eweniyi were using their resources to create new ways for us to enjoy beautiful things, namely their new app Backdrop.

The Nigerian crypto, tech, and digital media successes banded together to create Backdrop; a photo-sharing social media app dedicated to travel, discovery, and creating memories through photography. It can't be denied that social media has changed the way in which we connect and share our lives with the world around us. Aesthetically pleasing and conversation-provoking images and videos are how we take part in the global village and allows us to witness the creativity and world experiences from millions across the world - all from the comfort of our smartphones.

The app focuses on discovering new places - abroad or in your own home city - and merges tech, social media, and travel to do so. Above and beyond the desire to get users to romanticize their lives and escapades, the app gives space to local restaurants, store-fronts, and attractions and their abilities to create buzz around themselves through positive user experiences and intentionally picturesque establishments. The app is free, easy, and solely focused on travel, making it a go-to travel companion.

Through their love for travel, education, real-world experiences, and expertise in their respective fields, the 3 long-time friends have curated a space eager to find a country's coolest photo spots, and your own hometown may surprise you.

We spoke to 2 out of the 3 minds behind the app about being African women in tech, their new app development, and how they plan to use Backdrop to serve a specific niche in the market.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Blood & Water is Khosi Ngema's Moment - and She’s Enjoying It

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