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Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

pioneer Sudanese woman singer and activist during the struggle for Sudanese independence and the first woman to perform on the radio in Sudan. Born in 1905 in Kassala City in the eastern region of Sudan, Ahmad was the eldest among her seven siblings, including three brothers and four sisters. Among them was a sister Jidawiyya who played a crucial role with Ahmad in their journey as female musicians. Ahmad’s family was originally from Nigeria and migrated to Sudan in the late nineteenth century as pilgrims on their way to the holy places in Saudi Arabia. Her father, Musa Ahmad Yahiyya, was from the Fulani-Sokoto ethnic group, while her mother, Hujra, was from Hausa. Ahmad’s nickname is Aisha al-Falatiyyia, a reference to her father’s ethnic group, the Fulani, or Fallata, as they are known in Sudan.

The documented history indicates that Sudan served as a crossroads to the holy places in ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

musician and actress, was born Erica Abi Wright in Dallas, Texas, the eldest of three children born to Kolleen Maria Gipson and William Wright Jr. Young Erica's mother worked as a theatrical performer while her maternal grandmother helped to raise the Wright children. Eevin, her brother, was the youngest sibling. The Wright daughters, like their mother, embraced the arts: Koryan, her younger sister, was a singer who would later perform background for Erica under the stage name Nayrok Udab.

At the young age of four, Erica was already exhibiting theatrical and artistic tendencies and began singing and dancing with her mother at the Dallas Theater Center. She was in first grade when her appearance in a Christmas play inspired her early desire to perform onstage. Erica was introduced by her mother to a diverse array of artists who influenced her musical palate, such as Ella Fitzgerald Pink Floyd ...

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Joshunda Sanders

media mogul, model, and actress, was born Tyra Lynne Banks and grew up in Inglewood, California. Her father, Donald Banks, was a computer consultant, and her mother, Carolyn London, was a medical photographer and business manager. The couple divorced when Tyra was six years old, in 1980.

Banks attended Immaculate Heart Middle and High School, an all-girl's private school. She credited her mother's photography business and friends' encouragement with her ability to overcome a self-consciousness during her awkward adolescence that almost made her pursue another path.

“I grew three inches and lost 40 pounds in 90 days,” she told the Black Collegian in an interview about her teen years. “It was just this crazy growth spurt. I felt like a freak: people would stare at me in the grocery store.”

A friend encouraged her to try modeling during her senior year At the time several ...

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Abigail Finkelman

(b. 4 December 1973), model and talk show host. Tyra Lynne Banks was born in Los Angeles to Carolyn London, a medical photographer and business manager, and Donald Banks, a computer consultant. Her parents divorced when she was six, but their relationship remained friendly, and both parents helped manage her career. Banks attended Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girls Catholic school. She was teased, as she recalled, for being a “tall beanpole freak all the girls would laugh at” and remembered this being “a really unhappy time” (Allan). She was accepted to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Weeks before school started, she was “discovered” and began modeling at age seventeen. She said that she “didn't leave [for Paris] thinking [she] was going to be some big fashion model” and “just wanted to make money for college” (Lenord). Her first week in Paris, in 1991 she booked ...

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Peter Hudson

While Louise Bennett was not the first writer to use Jamaican dialect, the facility with which she reproduces it in her writing and performances has marked her as a pioneer. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Bennett was the daughter of baker Augustus Cornelius Bennett, who died when she was seven years old, and dressmaker Kerene Robinson. Bennett, known as Miss Lou, studied social work and Jamaican folklore at Friends' College, Highgate, Jamaica. In 1945 she received a British Council Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England.

Bennett began writing in dialect in the late 1930s, inspired by the language she heard spoken by Jamaicans on the streets of Kingston. Soon after she began writing, she staged public performances of her poems. In 1942 her first collection of poetry, Dialect Verses, was published. Starting in 1943 Bennett contributed a weekly column to ...

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Stephanie Y. Evans

actor. Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Jerome Berry, an African American hospital attendant, and Judith Hawkins Berry, a white psychiatric nurse. Leaving an abusive relationship, Judith Berry moved Halle and her older sister Heidi to the Cleveland suburb of Bedford where, despite many racist attitudes, Halle flourished in high school.

In 1985 Berry won the Miss Teen All American pageant, in 1986 she was first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, and also in 1986 she represented the United States in the Miss World competition in London. After her pageants she enrolled in Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College to study broadcast journalism. She moved to Chicago and then to Manhattan, where she managed to get small roles in several television programs.

Berry first gained widespread recognition as Vivian, a crack addict, in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever (1991), and she won roles in The ...

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Since the middle of the 1960s, soap operas have become not only Brazil's favorite television shows, but also the key element in the development of the country's television industry. Black actors have been a part of Brazilian soap opera history since the first great success, O Direito de Nascer (The Right to be Born) in 1964. But no black actor seems to have escaped playing the role of the slave or servant in this forty-year history, not even those, such as Ruth de Souza, Grande Otelo, and Zezé Motta, who had already had solid careers in the theater or cinema when they came to television.

In the soap operas produced during the 1960s, black people played only subordinate roles. Beyond repeating the stereotypes common to North American film and television, such as “Uncle Tom” and “mammy” roles, the latter most prominently represented by Isaura Bruno ...

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Philip Nanton

Radio series broadcast by the BBC between 1943 and 1950 aimed, through creative writing, at capturing the Caribbean from as many sides as possible. In the life of the programme some 400 stories and poems, along with plays and literary criticism, were broadcast. There were some 372 contributors, of whom 71 were women. The years 1946 to 1958 comprised the high point of the programme, which coincided with the editorship of Henry Swanzy (1915–2004). In any period of six months during his years as editor some 24 programmes were broadcast. They contained around 28 short stories and sketches. Thirteen programmes of this total were devoted to poetry, and the remainder of the time was allocated to critical discussion groups, called the Critics' Circle, comprising a mix of critics from the Caribbean and Britain.

The programme helped to launch the careers of many authors including a number who went ...

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Courtney Q. Shah

singer and actress. Carol Diahann Johnson was born in the Bronx, New York. As a teenager she performed as a nightclub singer and a model while attending the famous New York High School of Music and Art. She made her film debut in 1954 in Carmen Jones, working with Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge. Paired again with Dandridge, Carroll had a role in Porgy and Bess (1959). Film and television appearances continued, including an Emmy nomination in 1963 for her work in the crime drama Naked City.

In 1968 Carroll made television history by becoming the first black actress to star in her own series. NBC's Julia received both popular praise and critical acclaim, and Carroll received an Emmy nomination in its first year. Generations of African American performers remember Carroll's Julia as a turning point providing inspiration that roles for black actors ...

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Mary Krane Derr

singer, actor, and comedian, was born Nell Ruth Hardy in Birmingham, Alabama, one of nine children. Nell's parents were Edna Mae Humphrey, a homemaker, and her second husband Horace Hardy, an Army sergeant. At age two, Nell witnessed his accidental electrocution death. Deeply affected by Dinah Washington, B. B. King, and Elvis Presley records, Nell began singing in her church choir, on a local radio show called the “Y-Teens,” and on the gospel circuit. She never grew taller than four feet eleven inches but had a large, commanding voice and presence. Her show business ambitions made her a “weirdo” in a social environment where “most kids wanted to be teachers or nurses” (CNN.com, Entertainment, 23 Jan. 2003). At age 13, the Presbyterian-raised Nell discovered that one of her grandfathers probably had Jewish ancestry. Although not converting until 1983 she started ...

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Evan Mwangi

Moroccan novelist, dramatist, and radio commentator and producer, was born on 15 July 1926 in the French Moroccan town of Mazagan (present-day el-Jadida), near Casablanca. His father was a fairly liberal tea merchant who regarded European education as a vestibule to a better Moroccan society. As a young boy Chraïbi received his early education in a local qurʾanic school, but when the family moved to Casablanca a little later, he joined a French school. In 1946 he left for Paris to study chemical engineering, graduating in 1950. However, he abandoned his graduate studies in neuropsychiatry just before receiving his doctorate. He traveled across Europe and to Israel, settling in France with his first wife, Catherine Chraïbi (née Birckel), and their children.

From 1952 Chraïbi devoted himself to literature and journalism, and in 1954 he began writing for the National Radio and Television Broadcasting System Ranging from epics to comedy ...

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Stephen Bourne

Trinidadianactor and singer who settled in Britain in 1944. Two weeks after his arrival he made his debut on BBC radio in Calling the West Indies. Connor's appealing voice and charming personality endeared him to the British public, and he became a major television and radio personality. Connor saw himself as an ambassador for Trinidad and promoted Caribbean folk music and dance wherever he could. He married Pearl Nunez (also from Trinidad) in London in 1948.

For almost two decades Connor played featured roles in a number of British and American films, including Cry, the Beloved Country (1952) and Moby Dick (1956). In 1958, when Paul Robeson turned down the role of Gower in Shakespeare'sPericles for the Stratford Memorial Theatre he recommended Connor for it Connor thus became the first black actor to appear in a Shakespeare season at ...

Article

Donald Roe

comedian, actor, philanthropist. When Bill Cosby, the wealthy, well-educated, mild-mannered comedian, goes on stage and begins a monologue of funny stories relating to his poverty-stricken background, the stories are most likely true. William Henry Cosby Jr. was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, to William Henry Cosby Sr. and Anna Cosby in 1937. Known by its inhabitants as the “Jungle,” the Richard Allen housing projects, where Cosby grew up, were depressing, stylized, beige-colored, concrete housing, seemingly designed to prevent poor people from “contaminating” the rest of society.

When an IQ test confirmed that Cosby was highly intelligent his mother enrolled him in Central High School a school for gifted children However Cosby found it difficult to adjust there and transferred to Germantown High School There athletics provided a positive outlet for Cosby but his academic performance declined When school officials required him to repeat the tenth grade he ...

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Pamala S. Deane

radio, stage, and screen actor, was born in Muncie, Indiana, and raised in Hammond and, later, Anderson, Indiana. He was the eldest of nine children born to James Valley Edwards, a laborer, and Anna M. Johnson, a domestic (she would earn a degree in theology in 1949). He graduated from Anderson High School, and after a brief career as a prizefighter, earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Knoxville College in Tennessee in 1938. He was employed for a time in the department of industrial personnel at the Calumet Steel Mill and also worked for two years as a district representative for the War Production Board.

Edwards either enlisted or was drafted (his service records were later lost in a fire) in the U.S. Army sometime around 1944 starting as a private in the all black 92nd Infantry Division of the 370th ...

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Emad Abdul-Latif

playwright, was born in Egypt's Al Sharqiya governorate to a middle-class family. His father was a government employee, and his mother died when he was five years old. He completed his primary and secondary education in Alexandria, then studied English literature at the University of Farouk I (after 1952 known as the University of Alexandria). After graduating in 1949, he worked as an English teacher for six years but abandoned this work for a career in the press. In 1959 he was arrested on charges of belonging to a leftist organization and spent five years in jail. For ten years following his release, Farag served in various posts in official cultural institutions in Egypt. However, he was forced to leave Egypt in 1973 following a clash between President Muhammad Anwar al Sadat and Egyptian intellectuals Over the course of fourteen years Farag lived in various countries including ...

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Black people have a long history of appearing on British film and television screens as long as the history of the media themselves Most black people feel that neither dramatic nor documentary representations capture the diversity of contemporary or historical black British experiences Comparisons are frequently made with what is ...

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Definitions of black films and black television programmes have varied over time In the 1980s the issue was to conquer media space for distinctly black representations and cultural critics like Stuart Hall and Kobena Mercer demanded a clear political message taking the blackness of the film makers and actors for ...

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Michael Adams

actor, director, and educator, was born Albert Cornelius Freeman Jr. in San Antonio, Texas, to Albert Cornelius Freeman and Lottie Brisette Coleman Freeman. His parents divorced when Freeman was nine, leaving him to shuttle between his mother in San Antonio and his father, a jazz pianist, in Columbus, Ohio. Freeman later said that he regretted never getting to know his father, who died in 1968.

Freeman entered Los Angeles City College in 1951, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1954, and returned to college in 1954, studying theater, broadcasting, and speech. He made his stage debut in a 1954 Ebony Showcase Theatre production of Sidney Kingsley'sDetective Story. Freeman also studied acting in Los Angeles with Harold Clifton, Jeff Corey, and the legendary black actor Frank Silvera. In an interview with Ebony he joked ...

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David Koenigstein

actor, activist, producer, and director, was born in San Francisco, California, the eldest of five children born to James and Carrie Glover, lifelong postal workers and political activists in the NAACP and Postal Workers Union. As a child, Glover spent the school year with his parents, living in a government housing project in the Haight-Ashbury district. During summer vacations, however, he stayed with his grandparents on their farm in rural Louisville, Georgia, in the mid-1950s. The Glovers' ride from California across the South was always fearful, as the country was still in the grip of Jim Crow laws Upon their arrival in Georgia they would have to use the back door for restroom use and sit at separate lunch counters apart from whites These experiences stayed with Glover throughout his life and fueled his commitment to civil and human rights causes in the United ...

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Debbie Clare Olson

actor, director, and producer, was born Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. in Brooklyn, New York, to Louis Gossett, a porter, and Hellen Rebecca Wray, a maid. His parents had emigrated north from Georgia before Gossett was born. Gossett attended Abraham Lincoln High School, where he was an athlete and class president. Gossett's first acting performance was in a high school production of You Can't Take It With You. His performance elicited much praise, and Gossett next tried out for, and won, a role in the 1953 Broadway production of Take a Giant Step. He was seventeen years old.

After high school, Gossett enrolled at New York University on a basketball scholarship and became a star player. In 1958 he was drafted by the New York Knicks but after college instead of pursuing a career in pro basketball Gossett decided to study acting under John Sticks ...