For a few years now at the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, the B.L.A.C.K. Ball has been one of the most anticipated events on the schedule. B.L.A.C.K. stands for “Building a Legacy in Acting, Cinema, and Knowledge and the event is not only a celebration of Black art and Black artists but a place for the Black creative class to connect and generate more opportunity.
B.L.A.C.K. was founded by Shamier Anderson and Stephan James, actors, brothers, activists, and in 2019, they expanded the reach of their initiative, introducing the B.L.A.C.K. Ball Los Angeles Edition during Oscar week. Shamier and Stephan are two of the most exciting talents to come out of Canada, both of them former TIFF Rising Stars. Shamier will next star opposite Halle Berry in Bruised, one of the most high profile titles at TIFF this year, and has a leading role in the upcoming Stowaway, which was just acquired in a multimillion deal by Netflix. Stephan played John Lewis in Ava DuVernay’s Selma, played Jesse Owens in Race, starred in Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk, and was nominated for a Golden Globe last year for his work on Homecoming.
When asked about Selma receiving only two Oscar nominations, considered by many to be a snub, Stephan said:
“To me, I’ve always seen this film as a victory really, even before I saw the finished version. No award can amount to the way I feel about what we’ve done with this film. We’ve done something so relevant to our youth.”
This is about measuring success on your own terms and also about reframing the definition of success – and who gets to define it. With that in mind…
Shamier and Stephan announced yesterday the launch of The Black Academy:
In a press release about the launch, Shamier said that:
“Stephan and I strongly believe we have identified a glaring gap in the industry as far as the acknowledgement and celebration of Black Canadians doing exceptional things all over the world. This level of celebration is bound to breed a whole new world of Black Canadian talent doing exceptional things. We know the impact that providing an opportunity for Black talent to gain visibility and recognition will have. It breeds inspiration like no other amongst our communities. To have something for us, by us.”
“To have something for us, by us.”
One way to change the system is to build a new one.
And remember, Shamier and Stephan are still not yet 30. Consider what they’ve already done, and think of all the things to come.
Yours in gossip,