Tag Archives: hollywood

I’m Rooting For Everybody (Else) #Netflix

As a feminist who works in media and entertainment, the #metoo movement is about calling attention to sexual harassment perpetrated by those in power with the capacity to affect the success of others in all industries. Likewise, the #timesup movement is about rectifying the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to sexual harassment in the workplace in all industries. Neither movement is meant to be used as a weapon or scapegoat for one individual’s advancement. Mo’nique’s issue with Netflix is a business dispute based on the amount of money she was offered in comparison to the valuation of her individual brand.

Mo’nique is not a co-star in a movie or co-host on a TV show with a man who was making significantly more money than her. As a result this isn’t an issue of wage inequality or gender discrimination. 

Mo’nique airs her grievances against other blacks in the entertainment industry on social media and in interviews but doesn’t seem capable of having a face to face conversation with those individuals. She has repeatedly thrown shade at Oprah, Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and Will Packer. She has recently attacked Roland S. Martin on Twitter challenging his career long work in the black community. She talks a good game about women deserving higher wages, but when she’s in a movie the results are only an increase in her pay, not that of all the women on the cast. She also never addresses the lack of women who work as talent managers and how that impacts the wages of women of color in film and television.

 

Mo’nique’s call for a boycott against Netflix is not the equivalent to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest against police brutality towards people of color, boycotting airlines for unfair treatment and assault of paying passengers or boycotting H&M for selling racially degrading merchandise. Mo’nique was offered an amount of money that would be life changing for many people, including myself, but she decided that it wasn’t what she wanted. That’s her choice and I support her right to make that choice for herself.

 

Many platforms have and do work with people and women of color in mutually beneficial creative content capacities. Amazon Studios is releasing content by a variety of creatives, Issa Rae has opportunities inked with HBO, Tiffany Haddish had a comedy special on Showtime in late 2017 and Jamie Foxx is Executive Producer of the hit Showtime show “White Famous”, just to name a few. Some people of color have invested in and developed their own platforms as well, creating opportunities and opening doors for many to walk through….if they want to. Opportunities aren’t always given to us, so we have to go out and make our own. I know this firsthand. Many of my accomplishments, such as being a movie producer, TV producer, author and others, are a direct result of me creating opportunities instead of hoping or waiting for others to approach me. Had I sat around, I’d never have any of those achievements. The same is true of a lot of people. Hence why there are so many more opportunities available today than 10 years ago.

 

Having said that, I’m not boycotting Netflix on behalf of Mo’nique. In my opinion her issue isn’t helping the #metoo or #timesup movements create fairness or safe work environments free of sexual harassment. Her grievances aren’t about her size or age, and she’s not being bullied. Her issue is about how much she wants to be monetarily valued in and by the entertainment industry. That’s a personal business matter for her to resolve. In fact, supporting Mo’nique by boycotting Netflix would also mean boycotting content written, directed, produced by and starring several other black and brown brothers and sisters, including but not limited to “Mudbound“, which is Oscar nominated. As a member of the entertainment industry myself, that would be unfair and would harm many people of color, both men and women, who negotiated deals to build their relationships with Netflix in order to tell a variety of stories. Shonda Rhimes received a very lucrative multimillion dollar, multi-year deal with Netflix and she’s a black woman. Mo’nique must’ve missed that memo.

 

Boycotts aren’t supposed to help one person eat well while starving thousands. Boycotts are about creating fairness, and justice, not division.

 

Mo’nique has had a great career in both television and film. She is intelligent and talented. As a result she has other opportunities that she can explore outside of Netflix. For many others, Netflix is their first opportunity to have their content seen in their career. People who have never seen the kind of money that Mo’nique was offered in their entire lifetimes use Netflix to meet us on our TVs and mobile devices. They introduce themselves to us one story at a time for the price of one ticket to one movie for one person to see a major motion picture in a movie theater. They are the real MVPs.

 

Mo’nique not agreeing with the amount of money offered and therefore rejecting the Netflix deal means her team doesn’t work and that’s on her, not me or you. Mind you, turning down the opportunity also means she can’t be upset when the next person accepts it. In my capacity as an artist manager I’ve had artists turn down opportunities then get angry because another artist accepted it. Two things often follow:

  • The artist that declines offers isn’t afforded many opportunities going forward.

  • The artist that declines offers doesn’t work nearly as much or earn as much money as other artists.

In the entertainment business every opportunity doesn’t come back around. While this news was breaking I realized that there’s the possibility that Netflix isn’t the first opportunity that Mo’nique may have declined. Tiffany Haddish was the first black female stand up comic to host Saturday Night Live in 2017, yet it was reported that was partly because others declined when they were previously asked, opening the door for her to make history. Was Mo’nique someone who declined that opportunity at some point? I understand that Mo’nique has been black balled, but how much of that is a result of her rejecting opportunities more than she accepts them? After a person is said to be the type to consistently say “no”, people eventually stop asking them.

 

If Mo’nique is saying “no”, she’s making her own decision, which she has the right to do. No one can force her into a deal that she isn’t happy with. However, I can’t support others not being afforded the opportunity to also make their own decisions to work, provide jobs and provide content to the masses in order to make Mo’nique happier… or richer. Maybe she should sit down with her manager and think of a plan that gets her the amount of money she wants another way or on another platform, without hurting others who haven’t had her level of success yet and whom depend on their relationship with Netflix to further their career.

 

Mo’nique’s expectation that we all cancel our Netflix subscriptions to support her individual brand is selfish, not unifying. It isn’t a boss move and it doesn’t help anyone but her, and it might not even accomplish that to be honest. Netflix will just move on and offer someone else the money, as they should because they have a business to run, with content creators and shareholders relying on them to run the business. Selfishness of one person doesn’t bless us or move us forward as women or people of color. Netflix isn’t just here for the benefit of Mo’nique’s career or success. She’s capable of taking her talents elsewhere and securing other partnerships if she feels she deserves better. In the meantime, I wish Mo’nique the best and to paraphrase Issa Rae, I’m rooting for everybody (else) black on Netflix.

Talent in Detroit

With all of the bad news, crime statistics and potential for receivership under an Emergency Financial Manager (regardless of what Mayor Bing said in his State of the City address a few days ago), we often forget about the talent that is deeply rooted and often overlooked in the City of Detroit. Detroit receives worldwide attention for the North American International Auto Show, the government scandals and the uprise of foreclosures leading to additional blight, but Detroit doesn’t receive the same level of attention for the talent that has grown and exists here. So many people have left the arms of the City of Detroit for the softer, greener pastures of Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York (where the competition is stiffer), in an effort to become break out stars. Many of whom have achieved that goal, while others have been sent running home with their tails tucked.

As I look at all of the talented people in Detroit, I sometimes overhear people stating that they want to step out on faith, leave the city and become successful elsewhere. This makes me wonder ~ If they put the same energy into remaining and working on their craft here, as they put into their plans for exodus, how successful would they become? The same plans a person has to become successful in another city, can be implemented for them to become successful in Detroit. Don’t get me wrong, I clearly understand that Detroit is behind the eight ball in technology, infrastructure, commerce and entertainment compared to larger urban meccas like Atlanta, the bright lights of Hollywood and the always busy streets of the Big Apple. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t improve. Improvement requires people with ideas, just as much as improvements cost money. I sometimes think that we’re getting what we get from our leadership simply because we don’t demand more from them. They have cut the arts from schools, they don’t appropriate Federal funds into the community the way they should and they would rather lay people off from work than have an Emergency Financial Manager uncover their corruption. This results in people losing hope and feeling that the promised land is elsewhere instead of underneath their feet. Those are some of the same issues other large cities have. It’s the national recession. It just hits cities like Detroit harder.

This weekend I had the privilege of attending Fashion in Detroit, an event sponsored and organized by Denise Ilitch (her father is the founder, owner and business mogul behind Little Caesar’s Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers), and Joe Faris (Project Runway contestant and Michigan native); two individuals who obviously have business and creativity in their blood. The afternoon was full of beautiful fashions designed mostly by Detroiters. Yes, fashion is present and alive in The D. Have you ever heard of a talented young lady by the name of Tracey Reese? She’s a graduate of Cass Technical High School in DETROIT.  Have you heard of Kevan Hall? He also is a native Detroiter. Shoe designers Shane and Shawn are also Detroiters and graduates of Cass Technical High School. If you didn’t know this, please allow me the privilege of educating you briefly…

Detroit has been fashionable since it was named Motown.  

Then there are the big names in entertainment like Tim Allen, Jerry Bruckheimer, Ellen Burstyn, Francis Ford Coppola, Jeff Daniels, David Alan Grier, Madoon, Eminem, Tom Selleck, Kid Rock, the late Sonny Bono, the late Aaliyah, Blair Underwood, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Bill McKinney, Big Sean, J Dilla, Brandon T. Jackson, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, The Clark Sisters, The Winans, and many, many others. The list of heavy hitters in entertainer from Detroit is so long that it would take another 500 words for me to name them all. But I think you get the point. Detroit is full of talent. But we have to nurture its growth. Even if success eventually pulls people from the city, we need those people to be proud of where they came from. It doesn’t hurt for them to come back and visit sometimes. I honestly believe that if the most successful people who originated from Detroit, would occasionally show up and embrace this city as their home. and use their influence to improve the city’s image, the leadership here would be compelled to do a better job representing the community. That’s just my opinion and I could be wrong. But will anyone step up and attempt to prove me wrong with action? Worse case scenario: Detroit receives POSITIVE media attention.

I know that the city requires a lot of work to rise from the ashes of the last several years. I believe that it can be done. I”m working to do my part to change its image. But I’m just one person. And I’ve noticed that the Detroit community hasn’t quite embraced The Brand; mostly because it’s not what they are accustomed to. Michigan is a working class state. As a result, creativity is often frowned upon and viewed as mere craziness. This attitude results in talented people feeling the need to flee to other cities where they hope to be more “accepted”. I’m blessed to have the encourage of my supporters to keep me from feeling defeated by the lack of love I receive from my city. The first major publication to interview me was Rollin’ Out Magazine which is published out of Atlanta. The first talk show to contact me to make an appearance was also in Atlanta. There are a lot of opportunities for me in Atlanta, that I will take advantage of very soon. Taking those opportunities may result in me temporarily relocating, which I’ve planned for when the time comes. But my movie writing career is rooted here in Detroit (more on that forthcoming) and my business is headquartered here. These are things that will always spark me to declare that I’m Imported from Detroit. I hope that one day my city re-embraces creatives and supports the local talent more than it has over the last several years. If not, it won’t limit the opportunities for creatives elsewhere, but it will have a detrimental effect on the way the world views what was once called Motown.