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The Paley Center LA Celebrates African American TV Showrunners

By Naomi K. Bonman

These last few years have been booming with African American writers in television. From ‘Empire’, ‘Star’, ‘Power’, ‘Dear White People’, ‘Insecure’, ‘Claws’, and ‘Luke Cage’, just to name a few, these shows all have one thing in common—they are ran by an African American.

To commemorate Black History Month, the Paley Center for Media Los Angeles gathered prominent, Black showrunners, creators and executive producers to discuss the current state of the industry. I was able to attend the panel discussion which I found to be very enlightening and informative. The panelists consisted of: Cheo Hodar Coker, Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner, ‘Luke Cage’; Courtney A. Kemp, Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner, ‘Power’; Janine Sherman Barrois, Executive Producer/Showrunner, ‘Claws’; Karin Gist, Executive Producer/Showrunner, ‘Star’; Prentice Penny, Creator/Showrunner, ‘Insecure’; and Justin Simien, Creator/Executive Producer, ‘Dear White People’. The moderator for the evening was Nischelle Turner, Entertainment Tonight host.

The discussion ranged from topics surrounding the increase of more African Americans and show business who are calling the shots to the content that we choose to put out there. It is refreshing to see more of our stories told BY US.

“We can now say that ‘I want more people of color as directors’,” Barrois explains. “’I want more people of color in editing jobs. You don’t have to say if they send you all white writers, “I’m not hiring all white writers’, why would I do that?”

The industry is now becoming more diverse to where opportunities are expanding for people of color. No more are we only considered as a possible option.

To listen to the discussion, please click below:

Listen to discussion here

‘Love Jacked’ Holds as Pan African Film Festival’s Opening Night Selection

LOS ANGELES, CA- The 26th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) announced two exciting programming shifts this week, the addition of The Forgiven (Saban Films) as their new closing night selection, and the launch of their new #Talk4Reel panel series! Both moves are the perfect additions to an already must-see/must-do lineup of films, discussions, experiences and more!

“Our marquee film slate now stands anchored with the perfect beginning, middle and end,” shares PAFF  Director of Programming,  Asantewa Olatunji. ” Love Jacked” remains as our opening night, while The Forgiven gets added to closeout our festival experience. Nestled in-between is our centerpiece, which, this year, is a private screening event of 2018’s most anticipated film! Definitely not one to miss!” 

All marquee films will feature a star-studded red carpet, a full screening, an informative Q&A with filmmakers and talent, and a happening after-party.



(World Premiere – 2017/Canada/South Africa/US)

Directed By: Alfons Adetuyi

Date: Thursday, February 8

Time: 6PM Red Carpet | 7PM Screening

A warm family comedy centered around Maya, a headstrong 28-year-old with artistic ambitions and her father Ed, who wants a dutiful daughter to run the family store. Ed is shocked when Maya, asserting her independence, decides to travel to Africa for inspiration and returns with a fiancé. Stars Amber Stevens-West, Shamier Anderson, Lyriq Bent, Keith David, Mike Epps, Marla Gibbs, Angela Gibbs, Demetrius Grosse and Nicole Lyn. Cast members will be present.




Date: Wednesday, February 14

PAFF will host a private screening of 2018’s most anticipated film for PAFF founders, sponsors, partners, friends and esteemed influencers. Stay tuned to for more details!


(US Premiere – 2017/South Africa/UK)

Directed By: Roland Joffé

Date: Sunday, February 18

Time:  5:45PM Red Carpet | 6:45PM Screening 

Academy Award® winner* Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana deliver riveting performances in this tense thriller based on real events. When Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Whitaker) is appointed to head a nationwide investigation, he’s summoned to a maximum-security prison by a notorious murderer seeking clemency (Bana). Inside the brutal prison walls, Tutu is drawn into a dangerous, life-changing battle with the cunning criminal in this captivating film from Oscar® nominated director** Roland Joffé. 


Behind the Movement 


Presented by  TVOne

Directed By: Aric Avelino

Date: Friday, February 9

Time: 7PM Red Carpet | 8PM Screening

Behind the Movement is a unique and fast-paced retelling of how Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat launched the history-making Montgomery Bus Boycott. The film will reveal the untold story of how a group of everyday people decided this incident was the right time to take a stand for their civil rights and demand equal treatment.

King of the Stage: The Woodie King, Jr. Story

(World Premiere – US/Doc) 

Directed By: Juney Smith

Date:  Saturday, February 10

Time:  6PM Red Carpet | 7:15PM Screening | 9PM Lifetime Achievement Presentation

Woodie King, Jr. is an African-American director and producer of stage and screen, as well as the founding director of the New Federal Theater in New York City. The Pan African Film & Arts Festival will present him with their coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nothing Like Thanksgiving 

(World Premiere – US/Narr)

Directed By: Mark Harris

Date: Saturday, February 17

Time: 7:15PM Red Carpet | 8PM Screening

Having cancer and six months to live, sends Clayton Rockwell (William L. Johnson) a successful businessman, devoted husband and father on a journey to do the unthinkable. Clayton finds a replacement Wesley Madison (Richard Gallion) and grooms him to exactness to take over his business and family; all the while, Kenneth Swain (Darrin Henson) is working to take over his company. 

*Dates and times are subject to change. For an exhaustive list of screening events and experiences, click here:



The Pan African Film & Arts Festival has always been more than just movie screenings. It also serves as a platform to amplify the voices of industry powerhouses, community influencers, sports figures, cultural icons, thought leaders and disruptors who seek to educate, inspire and empower those who desire personal and professional elevation.

With that in mind, PAFF has officially launched its new #Talk4Reel panel series that makes necessary conversations happen… and when these conversations happen, you definitely want to be in the building! 


Nate Parker Foundation Film Premiere Event

Sat, Feb.10 at 2:00pm-4:00pm

Through cinematic arts, the Nate Parker Foundation empowers young voices of African descent to advance social justice and revolutionize culture. Two films will be screened, #Hashtag and Baggage, followed by a discussion led by Nate Parker.

TV One: Social Justice Screenings and Community Forum

Sat, Feb.10 at 5:00pm

TV One will be screening two short films, Evidence of Innocence and Two Sides, followed by an intriguing panel discussion.

UMC Presents

Sat, Feb.10 at 8:00pm

A showcase of UMC original series featuring episodes and discussions with talent and content producers for four new shows.

Seed & Spark

Sun, Feb. 11 at 1:30pm

Join Seed & Spark founder, Emily Best, for a discussion on the future of filmmaking and distribution. Seed & Spark is an innovative new streaming service changing the way films are financed and distributed — equal parts streaming network and crowd-funding platform.  Screening films: Kingsley’s Crossing, Across the Track and Matter of Black.

The Quad – Presented by BET

Sun, Feb. 11 at 4:00pm

Exclusive screening of an upcoming episode BET’s hit series followed by a discussion with the cast and crew.

Black Studio Executives Talk

Thu, Feb. 15 at 7:15pm

The gates of Hollywood finally appear open to more diversity in its business suites as well as its content. Black studio executives participate in an informative discussion on green-lighting, producing and distributing Black content in the digital age. Moderator: Effie T. Brown (Producer); Confirmed Panelist: Moira Griffin (Fox) and more to be announced.

Sports and Activism Panel – Presented By NAMIC

Thu, Feb. 15 at 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Panelist: Marc Spears (SR. NBA Writer, The Undefeated), Galen Gordon (VP, Talent Management, NFL Network), Ramona Shelburne (Sr. Writer, ESPN.com) and LZ Granderson (Sr. Writer at ESPN and ABC Contributor).

Canal Street 

Fri, Feb. 16 at 7:00pm

A modern-day thriller telling the story of a teen, Kholi Styles, trying to get by in an unwelcoming new world. After the mysterious death of a classmate, all eyes fall on Kholi, and it’s up to his father, Jackie Styles, an up-and-coming lawyer from the slums of Chicago, to defend his son in court and battle an outraged public before time runs out. Jackie fights to keep his faith and prove his son is not the monster the world has made him out to be. Screening extended clips followed by discussion with director, cast and crew.

Talk4Reel: Secret Event

Sat, Feb.17 at 3:00pm

Extended movie trailer of a highly anticipated film followed by a discussion with the director, cast and crew. This is one major motion picture exclusive you won’t want to miss!

The Chi – Presented by Showtime

Sat, Feb.17 at 6:00pm

Exclusive screening of an upcoming episode of the SHOWTIME® Original Drama Series, THE CHI, from Emmy® winner Lena Waithe and Academy Award® winner Common. 

TRAFFIK – Presented by Codeblack Films

Sat, Feb. 17 at 9:00pm

Screening select scenes of the upcoming suspense thriller movie, TRAFFIK followed by a discussion with special guests. Directed by Deon Taylor and starring Paula Patton, Omar Epps and Laz Alonso.

Black Lightning

Mon, Feb. 19 at 6:50pm

Screening followed by discussion with talent and above the line crew on the hot new CW hit series. 

The 26th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival will take place  Thursday, February 8 through Monday, February 19  at the Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres/Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza   (3650 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd)  in Los Angeles, California.

To view the full schedule and complete lineups of PAFF Institute, StudentFest, Children’s Fest, ARTFest, PAFF Spoken Word, PAFF LOL and Senior Connections, click here: https://www.paff.org/pdfs/2018/Screening_Schedule-2018-2.pdf

For more details, ticket information and group sales, log on to  www.PAFF.org !

Another Successful Year in the Bag! San Bernardino Black History Expo

By Naomi K. Bonman

It was another successful year for the annual Black History Expo in San Bernardino. The weather was excellent, the crowd showed out and the talent that performed brought it! The expo was held in Downtown San Bernardino in the Courtyard off of E and Court Street. 
In addition to the performances which included drill teams, steppers, dance teams, rappers, singers and more, guests indulged in a wide range of vendor booths where they were able to get their shop on and grub on. There were also groups that passed out information to keep our community engaged in issues that affect us. 
Each year the expo is expanding. We wonder what year four will have in store. If you missed this year’s event, please view a few photos at below. Hope to see you next year!