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Grammy and Emmy award-winning CEO Rikki Hughes takes producing to new heights

ROLLINGOUT — Rikki Hughes is a veteran Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning film producer and entrepreneur. As the founder of Magic Lemonade, a production company specializing in television, film and new media, Hughes has managed to successfully grow her company to sustain offices in Hollywood and Atlanta. Her company has been responsible for producing several memorable television specials and series including Kat Williams: It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’, BET’s ABFF Honors, HBO’s All Def Comedy series and most recently, Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones and Epilogue: The Punchline. In addition, Hughes has also been tapped to serve as executive producer of the 2019 Trumpet Awards hosted by Wanda Sykes, alongside David Hudson.

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Rikki Hughes (Courtesy Photo)

By Porsha Monique

Rikki Hughes is a veteran Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning film producer and entrepreneur. As the founder of Magic Lemonade, a production company specializing in television, film and new media, Hughes has managed to successfully grow her company to sustain offices in Hollywood and Atlanta. Her company has been responsible for producing several memorable television specials and series including Kat Williams: It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’, BET’s ABFF Honors, HBO’s All Def Comedy series and most recently, Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones and Epilogue: The Punchline. In addition, Hughes has also been tapped to serve as executive producer of the 2019 Trumpet Awards hosted by Wanda Sykes, alongside David Hudson.

Known as “the woman behind the laughs,” Hughes’ biggest accomplishment included making history last year as the first African American female recipient of an Emmy for “Outstanding Variety Special” for her role as producer of Chappelle’s Equanimity & The Bird Revelation specials, which she also won a Grammy for “Best Comedy Album.”

Rolling out recently spoke with the award-winning producer to find out more about her work with Dave Chappelle, her latest projects and what it takes to be a producer in today’s day and age.

You recently produced Dave Chappelle’s newest Netflix special Sticks and Stones, which was a resounding hit among fans. Do you have a magic formula for how you select new projects?

It’s really what resonates with me. I learned early what my calling was and it’s to get my arms around a voice and protect it. So, whether it’s comedy or music, I know that I’m here to create a safe space for the magic to happen.

In selecting projects, I have to believe in them and it’s not always popular. I mean, when we first started doing Dave’s show, he had been gone for 12 years, so when we got the call saying he was ready to come back, Stan Lathan and myself took the leap of faith because we believed in Dave. There was no deal on the table. We believed in him. We believed in his genius.

How did you decide to work in the comedy arena?

One, it was my entry place. Two, it’s such a relief from the world. I mean, it’s a drug that we can use and abuse as much as possible and it won’t hurt us. I think it’s an important and necessary retreat. I love to be a part of making that happen.

If a person wants to be a producer, what would you recommend?

I think you should always be of service first. If you are truly dedicated to it, do your research. Know the room that you walk into, no matter what it is. Be prepared when you walk into that room.

The second thing is to be ready to learn all you can. Find out what’s needed and identify how can you fill those needs. There’s almost no one who will say that you can’t come work for [them] for free. Decide who you want to emulate your career after or what type of projects you want to be involved in and get next to those people. Be humble. Once you get in, do your best, smile, have a good time, and always feel like everything’s possible.

Let’s talk about your latest projects. How did the vision for The Next Big Thing on BET come about and how were the judges selected?

Tina Davis had an idea for a show and she said “I’m seeing all these kids that come in and one thing that’s missing in the music industry is the development process.” We realized that 24% of the market share was in hip hop, urban music, and R&B. Yet, there was no show that really catered to that. This was how we decided to come up with the show.

We spoke to a lot of people to get the temperament right for our judges. We needed someone who was going to be brutally honest and had the pedigree. That was Dame Dash. No one else is more outspoken and brutally honest.

Zaytoven is definitely the ear to the street and can speak to a lot from R&B. Most people don’t know he’s really a church guy, so he has a strong musical background and not to mention, we know him as being the godfather of trap.

And of course, Tina, she created the show. With her background from Chris Brown to Neo to her current position it at Empire. It just made sense.

Why was it important for you to do this show in particular?

We wanted to make sure that we had something that kids in middle America could watch and understand that it’s more to just having one song that goes viral. There’s a building of a career that comes with it. We treated the show as a bit of a boot camp, so everyone could see it and say, oh, I can’t just put a record out. I need to figure out what’s my team, how am I going to have sound, or how can I perform, and all of those things that come with it.

You also have a new show coming out with viral comedic sensation Emmanuel J. Hudson: “The Mind of an EP”. Tell us more about that.

Emmanuel and Phillip Hudson are brothers that started out years ago. They’ve been on Nick Cannon’s Wild N Out and more. I’ve been managing Emmanuel for about two and a half years. No one can really understand these young Black guys from the inner city of Atlanta, having off-the-style humor that’s smart and quirky. Once again, I wrapped my arms around the creative to say guys, I’m going to create a safe environment for you to create this. I’ll give you the supporting and producing points, but I want your creative to lead. So that’s what it is. They’re poking fun at so much of what happens in our world through their lens. We’re really excited about it.

Where can people keep up with you on social media?

My website is www.magiclemonade.com and they can follow me on FaceBook at Magic Lemonade, and on Instagram at Magic_Lemonade.

This article originally appeared in RollingOut.com.

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FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From “I Am Not Your Negro” to “High on the Hog,” each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.
The post FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By The Houston Defender | Word in Black

The AFRO’s October Special Edition is all about the roots of our culture, our family lineage and the return to old ways and traditions. Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by our Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From I Am Not Your Negro to High on the Hog, each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.

#10: Attica (2021) 

In September 1971, Attica Prison became the location of one of the largest prison riots in US history, taking place just weeks after revolutionary activist George Jackson was murdered by prison guards at Rikers Island, an act that initiated the birth of Black August and the prison reform movement. The constant abject cruelty and inhumane treatment doled out to the incarcerated (who were overwhelmingly Black and Latinx) by Attica guards (all White) created the context. The riot itself, and its aftermath, are something all human beings should be required to reckon with.

#9: Quincy (2018) 

If you’re Black, it literally doesn’t matter when you were born, what generation you’re a part of, or where you’re from. You’ve been impacted by the genius of Quincy Jones. We’ve all been influenced by the genius of Quincy Jones. The music he made, the albums he produced, the artists he developed, the movies he scored, and about a gazillion other things Jones did, means, as I’ve already said, if you’re Black, Quincy has had a hand in your life. Don’t believe me. What Black person do you know who isn’t a Michael Jackson fan, who hasn’t seen The Wiz, or who doesn’t have a family member who worships jazz music? Quincy Jones had his hand in all that and so much more. Directed by one of his daughters, actress Rashida Jones, this doc is most definitely a must see.

#8: Four Little Girls (1997) 

On Sept. 15, 1963, just 18 short days after the much-celebrated March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed by four members of a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated racist group. Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, four African American girls between the ages of 11 and 14 who had been attending the church’s Sunday school, were killed in the blast, an act of White domestic terrorism that served as a horrific and sober reminder that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not enough to end the hold the myth of White supremacy had on so many. Director Spike Lee tells this powerfully compelling and important story as only he can.

#7: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (2019) 

For generations that came after the Baby Boomers, it’s hard for us to fully fathom how big a star Sam Cooke was. Think of the biggest singer of any generation. That was Sam Cooke in his heyday. And not only was he hyper-talented, but not only did he call some of the biggest names in Black history his personal friends (Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X just to name a few), Cooke was a man of the people. And he was heavily invested in the Civil Rights Movement and an advocate for Black self-determination and Black ownership. Cooke even pulled a “Prince” long before Prince—gaining ownership of his own music, something that was as rare then as it is today. This documentary chronicles Cooke’s life, rise to fame, and eventual end, though his influence never died.

#6: Thunder Soul (2010) 

Here’s a hometown entry. Thunder Soul spotlights the extraordinary alumni from Houston’s storied Kashmere High School Stage Band which the iconic Conrad Johnson led. These alums return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for the 92-year-old ‘Prof’, their beloved band leader who transformed the schools struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s. This one will have you out of your seat and dancing in the streets. Check it out.

#5: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America (2021)  

In this documentary, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson “draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.” It’s that simple, and yet that complex. And it goes without saying; it’s a must see.

#4: Jeen-Yuhs (2022) 

No matter where you score on the Love Ye / Hate Ye scale, this 2022 documentary about his rise to superstardom is beyond compelling. I mean, who thinks to chronicle their every move from the moment they start pursuing their dream until they either give up on it or see it to fruition and beyond? Who does that? No one but this negro Kanye. He may be the only human being with an ego big enough to conceive of such a project. And believe me, the scope and scale of this documentary match that galaxy-sized self-obsession brahman has that make him both insanely talented and just plain insane at the same time.

#3: I Am Not Your Negro (2016) 

This documentary by Raoul Peck, director of Exterminate All the Brutes (2021) which made the first list of must-see documentaries, introduced the brilliance and unabashed Black of James Baldwin to a whole new generation. Described as a work that imagines the completion of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House (about Baldwin’s personal reflections on and recollections of three of his personal friends who were killed during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), I Am Not Your Negro is about so much more.

#2: The Last Dance (2020) 

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to get caught up in the chronicling of the last run at an NBA championship by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls who had been told before the season began that the team would be broken up. The doc not only takes you on that 1996 Bulls’ championship ride, but it also digs deep into the past of players, coaches, and family members, spotlighting triumphs and tragedies that are part of the human story, not just the story of professional athletes.

#1: High on the Hog 

How African American Cuisine Transformed America (2021)

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for anything that celebrates our history, especially those things that connect us to our African roots and our Pan-African family. This documentary does all that and more. Because the main character is food. Our food. The stuff we grew up on. The meals many of us are eating right now, and never stopped eating since our youth. This beautifully filmed, beautifully narrated piece of art is full of both the familiar and the foreign; or rather, things we’ve come to believe are foreign to us, but are really part of our story and our heritage. And the okra on top? High on the Hog has a powerful H-Town connection. A few, in fact.

This list of documentaries based on the roots of African American culture was compiled by Word In Black.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades

NNPA NEWSWIRE — According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.
The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Black Information Network | Atlanta Daily World

A new lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) alleges that the U.S. government discriminated against Black veterans for decades.

On Monday (November 28), the suit was filed by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) on behalf of Vietnam War veteran Conley Monk Jr, whose applications for education, housing, and disability benefits have been denied since he returned home from the war, per The Hill.

According to the suit, discrimination by the VA has left Black veterans without benefits more frequently than their white counterparts.

Yale’s VLSC said the lawsuit could “provide a legal pathway for Black veterans to seek reparations from the VA.”

“This lawsuit seeks to hold the VA accountable for years of discriminatory conduct,” Adam Henderson, a law student working with the VLSC on the case, said in a statement, per the Hill.

“VA leaders knew, or should have known, that they were administering benefits in a discriminatory manner, yet they failed to address this unlawful bias,” Henderson added. “Mr. Monk — and thousands of Black veterans like him — deserve redress for the harms caused by these negligently administered programs.”

According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.

VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the agency is working to combat “institutional racism.”

“Throughout history, there have been unacceptable disparities in both VA benefits decisions and military discharge status due to racism, which have wrongly left Black veterans without access to VA care and benefits,” Hayes said. “We are actively working to right these wrongs.”

The post U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans For Decades: Lawsuit appeared first on Atlanta Daily World.

The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together, when Bennet gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday.
The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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‘A Basketball Hero is Born’ is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which aims to inspire youth to make a positive change in their communities and the world in general

Widely celebrated African American author, Jerald LeVon Hoover, is once again inspiring young people to make a positive change in their communities with the launch of a new children’s book. Titled A Basketball Hero is Born, the new children’s reading book contains colorful pictures that warm the heart and keep young readers glued to its pages.

The plot follows the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson who gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday. Affectionately naming the new basketball “Lucky,” the story unfolds as young Bennett tries to take his new best friend everywhere, including the dinner table, to school, and to bed when it is time for sleep.

Jerald L. Hoover

Jerald L. Hoover

Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into Bennett’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together. Currently available for purchase on Amazon, A Basketball Hero is Born is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which emphasizes instilling a love of sports and friendship in young readers.

About The Author

Jerald L. Hoover is a multi-talented individual with countless accomplishments in the creative, literary, and entertainment worlds. After winning an award for “The Best New Male Writer of the Year” for his fictional novel, My Friend, My Hero Jerald went on to be listed from 1994 – 1996 as a best-selling author among young Black writers in various African American publications. In 1995, he was awarded the Writers Corp Award by then-President Bill Clinton. In 1998, Jerald was inducted into the Mount Vernon Boy’s and Girl’s Club Hall of Fame. Since then, Jerald has won several other awards and is also an in-demand motivational speaker who overcame a childhood speech impediment.

The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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