‘Black Excellence’ Docu Series About HBCUs In Works From Stephen A. Smith – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: ESPN persona Stephen A. Smith and his Mr. SAS Productions (Stephen A’s World, Why Not Us?) have teamed with Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens’ Propagate (Hulu’s Hillary) and Confluential Films (OWN’s Black Love) for Black Excellence, a documentary collection analyzing the legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Confluential Films’ Codie Elaine Oliver will direct Black Excellence, which is able to discover HBCUs’ influence throughout American politics, enterprise, tradition, sports activities and leisure. With a mixture of unique interviews, archival footage and media, the collection will take a look at outstanding figures reminiscent of Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Raphael Warnock, Stacey Abrams, Oprah, Spike Lee, Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson and lots of extra who attended HBCUs. Depicting how their experiences at HBCUs formed their careers, the collection will highlight moments in tradition the place these schools set the tone from Beyonce’s Homecoming to Ohio State Football Marching Band displays, and can spotlight HBCUs illustration in 2020’s historic elections. In addition, the collection will study the latest uptick in donations and a focus on HBCUs from celebrities reminiscent of Michael B. Jordan, Deion Sanders, Chris Paul and MacKenzie Scott and the way the donations will influence these establishments.

HBCUs performed a crucial function in facilitating the expansion of the American economic system from Reconstruction to the flip of the century as they organized round educating and coaching a newly freed slave inhabitants. For many college students, HBCUs had been the one possibility as predominantly white establishments wouldn’t allow them to in.

Smith, who graduated from Winston Salem State University in North Carolina, can relate to that. Growing up poor, “I was distracted by the streets, wondering when I was going to have meals, when I was going to have a roof over my head, and when you are preoccupied with those challenges, you are not worried as much about your education,” Smith recalled. “It led to the system stereotyping and marginalizing you, questioning what you could do and what you could be because your grades and SAT score are the only thing they had to indicate what your potential was. When I went to an HBCU, I was surrounded by people who looked like me, who shared my cultural identity, shared my challenges, my trials and tribulations, I didn’t feel alone.”

At a HBCU, “you had cheerleaders, you had mentors, you had people who held you accountable but they did so because they cared so much about uplifting you and making sure that you shine, so when it’s all said and done, No. 1, you can be successful, and No. 2, you can be in a position that I am today where you can shine a light on the challenges we face, highlighting, articulating and illuminating why that is and then you can move forward and push an agenda to showcase the talent that comes out of HBCUs and what we are truly capable of. Everywhere you turn — Athletics, Entertainment, Politics, Culture, Corporate America — there’s excellence oozing from the African-American community, despite the odds. And more often than not, there’s a connection to HBCUs along the way. Yet, somehow, we don’t hear enough about it. Quite Frankly, that needs to change”

Despite this legacy of 150 years, HBCUs are solely simply turning into a mainstay within the nationwide dialog, a course of which acquired an enormous enhance from having an HBCU alum, Harris, within the White House for the primary time. Smith acknowledged Harris’ function in elevating the visibility of HBCUs as the primary lady and the primary Black particular person to grow to be a U.S. Vice President.

“She comes from an HBCU, she wears it proudly, she makes sure to pay homage and bring notoriety and attention to what Howard University has done for her,” he mentioned.

For the previous two years, Smith has served as Brand Ambassador for the HBCU Week Foundation and has promoted HBCUs on his ESPN present First Take. He has additionally hosted HBCU Week collegiate conferences that generated on-the-spot HBCU school registration for over 2000 college students, who’ve been awarded greater than 11 million {dollars} in scholarships.

Smith will additional broaden his efforts with Black Excellence. “I’m honored to have both Propagate and Confluential Films partnering with me to tell the COMPLETE story of HBCUs once and for all,” he mentioned. “It’s about damn time!”

Oliver, a third technology Howard University alumna, will helm Black Excellence in her first directorial effort past  OWN’s Black Love, now in its fifth season, which she co-created and directs. “Without HBCUs, I would not be who I am – which is a person whose grandmother attended Wiley College and grandfather attended Howard University, whose mother and father met at Howard University and became a lawyer and a doctor, respectively,” Oliver mentioned. “I grew up with infinite opportunities thanks to my parents’ and grandparents’ HBCU education and there is nothing more deeply ingrained in me than the responsibility to celebrate and uplift the Black community. I am a 4th generation HBCU graduate and It’s an honor to be able to tell this story and put into perspective HBCUs’ contributions to all of American life.”

Oliver will government produce Black Excellence alongside her husband, filmmaker Tommy Oliver, by way of their firm Confluential Films.

Black Excellence marks Smith’s first unique work outdoors of ESPN Networks by way of his Mr. SAS Productions, which he based and runs as President and CEO, with Rushion McDonald as COO. The duo government produces Black Excellence alongside Brian Dobbins for Artists First. Owens and Silverman government produce, Valerie Idehen co-executive produces for Propagate, which made a giant foray into documentary programming with the Emmy-nominated Hillary.

“The story of HBCUs and the impact they’ve had on American society has never been told on a large scale,” mentioned Propagate founder and co-CEO Owens. “We are pleased to partner with Mr SAS Productions and Confluential Films to shine the proper spotlight on their legacy of Black excellence. It’s time we tell these important and compelling stories, and Stephen A and Codie, both prominent HBCU grads who exemplify Black excellence and influence culture, are the right voices to represent HBCUs. We can’t wait for the world to fall in love with this project and HBCUs the way we all have.”


Source Link – deadline.com

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