Larry Wilmore

Larry Wilmore

The recent news that Stephen Colbert would be ending his show on Comedy Central to take over for David Letterman on CBS, left people in a frenzy. Viewers wondered if The Colbert Report would end and if so, who would take his place. After weeks of speculation, it was finally announced that Larry Wilmore would replace Colbert on Comedy Central with a new show, The Minority Report. This left many people scratching their heads and asking who exactly Larry Wilmore is.

Although Wilmore seems like a new face to most people, he’s actually been acting since the 1980s. Wilmore was even on the writing staff for popular television shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and The Jamie Fox Show. More recently however he began making regular appearances on The Daily Show as Jon Stewart’s “senior black correspondent.” This position allowed to him to explore political humor through the lens of black experience in America, something that will certainly prepare him for his own show. Wilmore’s show has been in the works for while, since Jon Stewart initially proposed it. Originally the show was meant to air right after The Daily Show and the president of Comedy Central felt it would “provide an opportunity for the underrepresented voices out there.”

The Minority Report will begin airing in January of 2015. Wilmore says he is  “beyond excited to have this chance to continue my relationships with Comedy Central and the brilliant Jon Stewart.” I’m sure we’re all excited to see what Wilmore does with the new show.

You can find Larry Wilmore on his website and on Twitter.

Steve McQueen

Director Steve McQueen

The number of directors in Hollywood that are people of color is rather low. The number of award winning people of color? Even lower. But Steve McQueen has carved out a place for himself as a talented writer and director. McQueen, not to be confused with the actor of the same name, is responsible for three award winning feature films. One of those films, 12 Years A Slave, even earned McQueen a best picture award at the Oscars.

There is no doubt that McQueen is an extraordinary man. In 2014, he was named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people. The article was written by one of the stars of 12 Years A Slave, Lupita Nyong’o. In the article, Nyong’o calls McQueen a “visionary” and a “passionate storyteller.”McQueen is known for having good relationships with his actors. McQueen and Michael Fassbender have had a long standing partnership. Fassbender has appeared in all three of McQueen’s feature films. Of McQueen Fassbender says, “The fact of the matter is, [he] changed my life […] Steve and I have a really good understanding. We are on the same page, we see things in the same light and we want to take risks and stretch boundaries.”

Steve McQueen and the cast of 12 Years A Slave. Pictured from left to right: Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Steve McQueen, Sarah Paulson, & Michael Fassbender.

All of this from a man who says he was put into a class for “manual labour, more plumbers and builders, stuff like that.” At thirteen years old, McQueen attended a school that was institutionally racist, something he speaks about more comprehensively in this interview with The Guardian. “School was scary for me because no one cared, and I wasn’t good at it because no one cared. At 13 years old, you are marked, you are dead, that’s your future.” It’s an inspiring story for any one who feels hopeless or is in the same situation.

Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes

In 2012, the ratio of men working on films to women was 5:1. Less than 20% of the writers and executive producers in Hollywood are female and the percentage is even lower for directors. It’s even harder to find successful people of color in the industry. In the last twenty years, winners in the Best Director of a Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards were 100% white. But somehow amidst all of this, Shonda Rhimes  was able to arise as an accomplished writer and producer.

Much like Mindy Kaling (another writer and producer), Shonda Rhimes attended Dartmouth University. She would later obtain a Master’s Degree from USC and was ranked at the top of her class. By 2004 Rhimes would direct her own film, pen the acting debut of Britney Spears (Crossroads) and write the sequel to The Princess Diaries. It wasn’t until 2005 that Rhimes’ career really took off. She would come to be known as the creator, executive producer and headwriter of Grey’s Anatomy, a show that is still airing.  Rhimes would also write and produce the 2012 hit show Scandal.

As of 2014, Rhimes has won a Golden Globe, five Image Awards, a WGA Award, a PGA Award and has been nominated for 3 Emmy Awards. She even has her onw production company, called Shondaland where she oversees 550 actors, writers, crew members and producers. With several new projects on the way, it’s hard to believe that Rhimes could go anywhere but up. Channing Dungey, executive vice president of the Drama Department at ABC, describes Rhimes as “incredibly important […]If she came in tomorrow and said, ‘I have a great idea,’ I would jump at it.”

You can find Shonda Rhimes on Twitter.  Grey’s Anatomy airs on Thursday nights at 9/8c on ABC.

To learn more about gender inequality in film, click here. To learn more about race inequality click here and here.

Anthony Mackie

Anthony Mackie

On April 4, 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released in the US. The film broke the record for best opening weekend in April, beating out popular movies like Fast Five and Fast and Furious (2009). Captain America is also part of the larger Marvel Universe, including films like Iron Man, Thor and The Avengers. With a prominent role in Captain America it’s pretty clear that Anthony Mackie’s career seems to have gotten its second wind.

Unlike some of the other younger faces, usually posted on this blog Mackie is no stranger to the industry. He’s been acting since 2002 and appeared in many popular films like 8 Mile and Million Dollar Baby. In Captain America Mackie plays Sam Wilson or The Falcon, a character who eventually ends up helping Captain America (Chris Evans).

Anthony Mackie as The Falcon

And there’s no doubt that Mackie is talented. He graduated from Julliard in 2001 with Lee Pace and has been in several Broadway and Off-Broadway plays. He’s been nominated several times for awards for his performances in films and plays. Macki also has several upcoming films with talented actors like Kate Winslet and Aaron Paul.

Besides being talented and a strong working actor, Mackie also supports diversity. “I feel like there should be a Latino superhero. Scarlett [Johansson] does great representation for all the other girls, but there should be a Wonder Woman movie. I don’t care if they make 20 bucks, if there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman. You know what I mean, ’cause little girls deserve that.”

Anthony Mackie can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari

Usually when I speak to people about Aziz Ansari I receive blank stares. If I mention Tom Haverford from NBC’s Parks and Recreation though, people know exactly who I’m talking about it. To me, this is problematic because Ansari is an incredibly talented actor and comedian. I first discovered Ansari through the 2009 film Funny People and later stumbled upon his stand-up comedy. Although Aziz has a steady role in Parks and Recreation, it would be nice to see him gain more exposure.

Before he became famous, Ansari was a frequent performer with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. This venue for comedy shows also housed many famous alumni like Amy Poehler, Adam Pally and Donald Glover. At the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Ansari performed both stand up and sketch comedy. Shortly after this, Ansari made his first big break in the 2007 MTV sketch comedy series, Human Giant.

Rob Huebel, Paul Christian Scheer & Aziz Ansari

As Ansari gained more recognition for his talent, he was able to carve out a very special place for himself. Ansari would be seen in a music video with Kanye West and Jay-Z. In late 2013, he was one of nine comedians who roasted James Franco. He would have guest roles in many popular television shows but still Ansari has not become a household name.

Although Ansari currently has no upcoming projects for 2014, he has been doing a lot of charity work. In 2012, he participated in an animated video for Oxfam America to encourage donations. More recently, he performed at a benefit for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings at the Wilbur Theater in Boston.

Aziz Ansari is on Tumblr, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. He is also currently doing a stand-up tour which you can buy tickets for on the Ticketmaster website.

Some Girls (BBC)

BBC Three’s Some Girls

It’s not very common for us to see televisions shows and films that focus primarily on average women. In recent years however this has started to change. Shows like HBO’s Girls and ABC’s Scandal have started to become more and more popular and pave the way for other similar shows. Now that we know shows about women can in fact be very successful, shows like the BBC Three comedy Some Girls, have room to grow.

The first thing that makes Some Girls so interesting is that the main cast is a diverse group of young women. The group consists of Viva Bennet (played by Adelayo Adedayo), Saz Kaur (Mandeep Dhillon), Holli Vavasour (Natasha Jonas) and Amber Dean (Alice Felgate). The series follows this group of friends as they navigate their adolescence. But what makes Some Girls better than other teen dramas, is the writing. The bonds these girls have formed feel realistic and the characters are incredibly relatable.

So what else makes Some Girls so special? For one thing, it is one of the few shows on television today, that promotes a healthy attitude about sex and sexuality. The main characters are never ashamed of their sexual exploits and view sex in a mature way. When one character questions her sexuality, her friends are all very supportive and it never seems like a PSA. That’s because Some Girls tackles issues that real girls deal with.

Some Girls (BBC)

In addition to being refreshingly diverse, Some Girls is also pretty funny. The show was recently picked up for a third season. The first season is available for free on Hulu. All four of the girls have twitter accounts (Alice Felgate, Adelayo Adedayo, Natasha Jonas & Mandeep Dhillon).