News Brief

John Boyega Adds Another Project: Kathryn Bigelow’s Film on the 1967 Detroit Riots

Boyega announced the news on Twitter Tuesday.

Week before last, news broke that the John Boyega signed on to co-produce under his production company Upper Room Productions as well as play Idris Elba’s son in the sequel to sci-fi blockbuster Pacific Rim.


Then Tuesday afternoon, Hollywood’s rising star announced that he’s adding another project to what looks like an already stacked plate.

Boyega has been cast in Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow’s unnamed crime drama centering on the 1967 Detroit race riots incited by police brutality, segregated housing and mounting black unemployment. Sound familiar? It devastated the Motor City and is considered one of the most violent urban insurrections of the 20th century.

Not much is known about the character Boyega will portray, but what we do know is a summer shoot in Detroit and Boston are planned, according to the Hollywood Reporter. A 2017 release is possible, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the race riots.

He also has The Circle with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in the works.

It’s great to see that Boyega has been able to capitalize on his breakout role as stormtrooper, Finn, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (he’s currently shooting the follow-up) and is solidifying himself as an in-demand Hollywood actor.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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