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Yvette Lee Bowser: ‘Dear White People’ is a ‘Love Letter to the Marginalized’ [EUR Exclusive]



netflix series

(photo source: Twitter)

*Despite the backlash from mainly white trolls, “Dear White People,” which is about race and race relations at a fictional Ivy League school, earned a coveted 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, as of Tuesday.

The Netflix original series, created and executive produced by Justin Simien, premiered on the streaming platform last week. The 10-episode series is based off of Simien’s 2014 debut film of the same name and subject matter.

When Netflix dropped the teaser trailer in February, a bunch of white critics got offended and decided the show was about white genocide. They even launched a failed #BoycottNetflix campaign. Simien told EUR/Electronic Urban Report that the backlash actually helped promote his show.

EUR caught up with series executive producer Yvette Lee Bowser to discuss the backlash and cultural significance of “Dear White People.” She noted that “those who choose to be confused” are going to do things like start a social media boycott, “and they’re gonna miss out,” she said.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that some people are quick to judge something about which they know very little. Fortunately for us, Netflix supports the show 100% and they’re very excited about it.”

OTHER NEWS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Justin Simien: ‘Dear White People’ Creator Talks ‘Racist Trolls’ & ‘Magic’ Behind New Netflix Series [EUR Exclusive]

dear white people

Yvette Lee Bowser (source: Twitter)

Bowser, best known for writing and producing “Half & Half,” “Living Single,” and “A Different World,” describes “Dear White People” as a “love letter to the marginalized.”

With “Living Single,” Bowser became the first African-American woman to develop her own primetime series. As a fan of the film “Dear White People,” she didn’t hesitate to come on board as an EP after meeting with Simian. She described him as a “delightful” visionary.

“He was such a cool dude. I decided I wanted to help him. We had this instantaneous trust. I think because of my track record and also my approach to his project, which was to mentor him and to try to enhance his vision without impeding it. And that was the spirit with which I came to this project and I think that’s the spirit with which I ran the show. We both had a lot of love and respect for the material and what we were trying to do. We had a very good trusting partnership creatively.”

When EUR chatted with Simien about the project, he explained why he wanted to continue the conversation about race and identity through this series. Bowser co-signed with his idea to have “a larger, more ongoing canvas to tell stories through these characters who had, before now, not been seen really.”

“I think that’s really been kind of the formula for success for many many shows, which is kind of to fill a void — to find what stories aren’t being told and begin to tell them and hopefully pave the way for even more stories that are about people who are different and finding themselves.”

netflix series

source: Twitter

Bowser says “the emphasis for the series was the impetus of the film, which was to tell stories of those who were unseen and unheard. And dealing with the very specific situation of being a black face in a white space.”

“I went to a completely all white school, as did Justin, so the series has definitely been kind of an amalgam of our experiences in that situation,” she said.

“Justin was born weeks before I graduated from high school, so we’re definitely representing two different generations. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are several references on the show of my college experience, and that was 30 some-odd years ago. So there’s definitely things in there that are still very relevant in situations that we’re still dealing with. We’re hoping that the series will help people to continue to advance the conversation about identity and race and finding oneself during those formative years.”

“Dear White People is not a preachy film, as Bowser points out, “If you’re trying to have a conversation, preaching is the least effective way to do so. We want to advance the conversation.”

netflix series

source: Twitter

The series goes more in-depth with the main four characters from the film. And it was important to both Yvette and Justin to depict a “ride or die” friendship between black women, “because a lot of times we see ourselves just going at each other’s throats on these reality shows and other scripted programs,” she said.

“I’m that good girlfriend. I have really-really tight friendships, and so I love to depict that as well as the conflict that we have, as well as the struggles that we have supporting each other because of outside influences and stresses. It was really important to us to tell the story in a single protagonist perspective. Each episode allows us to really get inside each of these complicated, deeply flawed individuals, which I think makes it that much more engaging. The fact that we have a series makes it something that’s going to feel less cursory and more in-depth than a film can possibly be. Because we get a chance to live with these characters over, hopefully, years, and we get to see more of campus life.”

In the film, Simien takes the themes of race, relationships, sexuality and identity and uses them like ingredients in a gumbo, which he served to the masses, and they loved it. For the series, each theme is explored separately to help drive the narrative.

“I love that you used the term gumbo to describe the feel and the flavor of the show. And the beauty of the approach was Justin’s idea to take this multi-protagonist larger concept and then break it down to single protagonists,” Bowser explained.

The writing team assembled for the series were people selected “specifically because of their divergent points of view,” she revealed. “Because we feel that kind of rigorous, lively conversation is the best way to get quality episodes and to tell these particular stories.”

Continuing, “Each episode, it’s like we’re taking each ingredient and we’re defining why that ingredient is part of this gumbo. I love his approach to the show, and I think it is the thing that will further invest people in these characters. So once you’re invested in them, you’re not just watching the show, you’re experiencing the show and you’re relating to the characters and hoping that some people are gonna come to a different understanding about people who don’t necessarily look like them or live like them, and that’s what will advance the conversation.”



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The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)




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*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.

The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.

“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”

MORE NEWS/RELATED: BMEE Authors: Urgent Steps Are Necessary to Address Implicit Bias in Early Education  

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Stacey Lee, director of the Empower Me Tour. (Photo credit: UNCF)

Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”

The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.

“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”

emt offering

Source: Empower Me Tour

Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”

In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.

“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”

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Legendary rapper Bun B is a panelist at the Empower Me Tour. (Photo credit: UNCF)

Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.

“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”

Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”

Register for the virtual Empower Me Tour on November 20 & 21, 2020 here. Spring tour dates will be announced soon. For general information on the United Negro College Fund, go here.

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(Photo credit: UNCF)

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Apple News

New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’



Goodbye 2020 Jazzy Rita Shelby
Goodbye 2020 Jazzy Rita Shelby

After all that’s happened this year, it’s time to say Goodbye 2020. New single available by Jazzy Rita Shelby at most digital platforms.

*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.

“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).

It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.

Jazzy Rita Shelby Goodbye 2020 looking up - Copy

Jazzy Rita Shelby is fed up with this year and elated about her new single “Goodbye 2020.” Avail now from SB Music (Written by L. Shelby & E. Miller)

EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.

Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars.  As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.

This year has been a year like no other.  “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead.  Radio Programmers click here for adds.

MORE NEWS: THE REAL: The Ladies’ Experience With Stereotypes in Hollywood. Plus, Cheryl Hines Is Here!

“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA.  Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita.  The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture.  “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms.  Click here to listen on Spotify.


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Celebrate Halloween with ‘Spell’ Starring Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and John Beasley / WATCH




Spell - poster

*Today/TONIGHT is Halloween and what could be a more perfect way to celebrate than with the release of SPELL? Enjoy the clips below to get you in the spooky spirit!

Omari Hardwick (“Power,” Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (“Black-ish,” Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All FearsThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) star in the terrifying thriller SPELL, coming to Premium Video-On-Demand and Digital today October 30 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family.  He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.

WHOA! READ THIS: Disabled Siblings Found Living with Dead Body of Mother Decomposing Under Pile of Clothes

DIRECTED BY | Mark Tonderai


STARRING | Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley

AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS | Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, DirecTV, VUDU, Xfinity, FandangoNOW and more.

Rating | R – violence, disturbing/bloody images, and language







Paige Theall


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