At a time when most corporations are downsizing their charitable donations to community based organizations, Ford Motor Company Fund returned as the sole sponsor of the 10th Annual NAACP Image Award Symposium with the title, ‘Moving Forward: The State of the Industry‘.
More than 300 people, including Hollywood entertainers, NAACP board members, members of the NAACP Image Awards’ committee and television academy, as well as film and television students from local colleges and universities convened at the beautiful Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California for an evening of networking and conversation about the film industry.
With the growing influence of Black filmmakers, including an increased number of black film directors and actors starring in lead roles, as well as gripping feature films backed by moving historical pieces, the film entertainment industry set a record with box office receipts totaling $11 billion last year.
Angela H. Polk, Program Manager of Community Development for Ford Motor Company Fund, presented a $10,000 grant to Director Bill Duke, founder and CEO of Duke Media Foundation.
“Ford is proud to be working again with the NAACP Hollywood Bureau Symposium to showcase a renaissance in black film at all levels,” said Pamela Alexander, Director of Community Development of Ford Motor Company Fund. “We congratulate the award-winning Bill Duke and Duke Media Foundation for their work in developing media and financial literacy programs to prepare inner-city and gifted high school students for the new digital media age.”
The Bill Duke Media Arts Foundation is located in Los Angeles, California and is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation of which the legendary actor/director/producer Mr. Bill Duke is the founder and CEO. Mr. Duke is a multi-talented mega force in entertainment, with acting credits stretching back to Car Wash, Predator, Menace To Society, X-Men III, American Gigalo and Get Rich or Die Trying. As a director his credits include Deep Cover, A Rage in Harlem, Sister Act II, Hoodlin and Not Easily Broken.
Through his foundation he provides media training for kids from grade school through high school in collaboration with Educating Young Minds Learning Center, another not-for-profit organization. Moreover, his foundation supports fundraising and educational efforts surrounding foster care, HIV and AIDS, nutritional education, financial literacy, as well as gang intervention.
Mr. Bill Duke was, also, part of the panel discussion that included Creative Artists Agency agent, Cameron Mitchell; Senior Vice President of Production for Columbia/Tristar Pictures, Mr. Devon Franklin; and author/producer, Flo McAfee. The discussion looked behind the curtain to speak on how the roles and characters of Blacks have evolved over the years, but also shed light on the work that still needs to be done to make certain Blacks continue to move forward.
From film funding and how Blacks are viewed in Hollywood to the possibility of seeing a Black woman play both the lead and love interest in a major studio film, the questions from the audience covered it all and the panel did their very best to provide answers that challenged, encouraged and inspired the aspiring film makers.
According to the NAACP website, “In 1999, the networks signed a landmark memorandum of understanding with the NAACP and the Grand Coalition greatly advancing the cause of diversity in the entertainment industry and creating a milestone by which we can measure future progress in Hollywood. Today, the NAACP through its Hollywood Bureau, and support of its membership, continues to monitor offensive and defamatory images in film and television, and its campaign for greater minority participation in the entertainment industry.”
The Hollywood Bureau 10th Annual Symposium is one of many events taking place during NAACP Image Awards Week in Los Angeles.
~ Written by Louis “Kengi” Carr | Photo: Louis “Kengi” Carr Photography