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."

Listen to 10 Great Songs From Johnny Clegg

Here are some of the best songs to remember South Africa's son of the soil.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that South African musician, Johnny Clegg, passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Understandably, heartfelt tributes have been pouring in ever since. Long before it was cool (or even legal) to be in close proximity to blackness and anything attached to it in South Africa, Clegg, a white man, was doing just that. That is exactly why he was given the endearing title of South Africa's "son of the soil."

Growing up during Apartheid, Clegg was taught how to speak the Zulu language by a domestic worker named Charlie Mzila. In his teenage years, his appreciation for the Zulu culture continued and he soon learnt the traditional dance styles known as isishameni and also learnt how to play the Maskandi guitar. Clegg's music was a beacon of light during a very dark time in South Africa's history and his songs about Nelson Mandela (at a time where songs were banned for merely mentioning the name of the late statesman and other key struggle activists) brought the country together.

It is irrefutable that a music giant has fallen. However, Clegg leaves behind a wealth of music featuring other great South African artists and groups such as Zakwe, Brenda Fassie, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Juluka/Suvuka, among several others. His music undeniably brought South Africans and people all around the world together.

We've picked ten of our favorite songs from the late musician's discography in honor of a life that was lived to the fullest.

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Stonebwoy in "Tuff Seed"

The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Stonebwoy, Mahmoud Ahmed, Tiwa Savage x Zlatan, Africa Express, Juls x Mr Eazi and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Beyoncé Wore These 2 African Designers in Her Music Video for 'Spirit'

Queen Bey continues to include and give a nod to African talent in her visuals.

As we draw even closer to Disney's The Lion King opening in theaters this week, Beyoncé continues to lead the way with her new music video for "Spirit"—the first single off of the film's album she produced and curated, The Lion King: The Gift.

Shot in the Havasu Falls in Arizona's Grand Canyon, Beyoncé and her legion of beautiful dancers are one with nature and its various elements as she beckons us to be brave and hear the calling of spirit. As we noted when she announced the album, the track opens with a call and response in Swahili that translates to "Long live the king": Uishi kwa mda mrefu mfalme—uishi kwa.

Keeping our eyes peeled for African influences in the music video, it's evident that is seen in the choreography. We even spotted our extended fam with the afrobeats moves—the AVO Boys: Stephen Ojo and Caleb Bonney—as two of her dancers in the video.

Beyoncé continues to also give a nod to African talent through the looks she donned in "Spirit" styled by her mainstay, Zerina Akers.

Take a look at the two African designers she wore in the video below.

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