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This Week on the Artsy Fartsy Show- Jan. 24, 2012

Listen to the Artsy Fartsy Show on WBAI 99.5FM Tuesdays at 2pm or online http://stream.wbai.org


Part 2: Color Matters

This week feature the first part of our two week feature on the African-American and African Diaspora Artistic Experience in the United States.

Last time on the Artsy Fartsy Show (1.10.12) a panelist of emerging artists who talked about their various experiences and challenges that face them.

This week we feature the Director and Producers of the new groundbreaking documentary, Dark Girls.

Dark Girls Documentary

Has anything really changed since the days of American slavery when dark-skinned Blacks were made to suffer even greater indignities than their lighter skinned counterparts? Ask today’s dark Black woman.

Dual documentary Directors/Producers D. Channsin Berry (Urban Winter Entertainment) and Bill Duke (Duke Media) took their cameras into everyday America in search of pointed, unfiltered and penetrating interviews with Black women of the darkest hues for their emotional expose’, “Dark Girls”. Two years in the making and slated to premier at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Dark Girls” pulls back our country’s curtain to reveal that the deep seated biases and hatreds of racism – within and outside of the Black American culture – remain bitterly entrenched.

Berry states of the film’s origin, “When Bill called me with the idea of a documentary about dark-skinned women, I was in right away. Being a dark-skinned Black man, like Bill, I have gone through similar traumas. Being separated and discriminated against by our own people. It stifles your self-esteem. Bill and I shared our similar experiences and immediately understood that we knew the best way to approach this.”

Duke adds, “In the late `60s a famous psychological study was done in which a young Black girl was presented with a set of dolls. Every time the she was asked to point to the one that wasn’t pretty, not smart, etc., she pointed to the Black doll that looked just like her. In her mind, she was already indoctrinated. To watch her do that was heartbreaking and infuriating. CNN did the test again recently – decades later – with little progress. As the filmmakers behind ‘Dark Girls,’ our goal is to take that little girl’s finger off that doll.”

Dark-skinned Black American women from all walks of life will be covered with a key focus trained tightly upon women struggling for upward mobility in the workplace of Corporate America. “The sickness is so crazy,” Berry continues. “These ladies broke it down to the degree that dark-skinned ‘sistas’ with ‘good’ hair vs. dark-skinned women with ‘kinky’ hair were given edges when it came time for coveted promotions.” Additional interviewees for “Dark Girls” include White men in loving intimate relationships with Black women that were passed over by “their own men,” as well as dark-skinned women of Latin and Panamanian background to bring a world perspective to the issue of dark vs. light.

Berry concludes, “The skin issue is a discussion we all need to have once and for all…so we can eradicate it.”

Bill Duke is the legendary African American Godfather of American Cinema, who recently received a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Directors Guild of America as he joined the ranks of directors Stephen Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Clint Eastwood. But what makes Bill Duke standout from these other directors is the fact that he is a director who paved the way for African Americans in cinema beginning in the early 1970’s when Spike Lee was just a teenager.

Bill is the Founder and CEO of Duke Media, formerly Yagya Productions, which has been successfully producing film and television for over 30 years. Duke Media is recognized as a world wide leader in leveraging media via the new film industry paradigm of the internet. The Bill Duke Web Network has established an international following that has proven viewers crave to be both entertained and educated. This “Edutainment” mission exemplifies Bill Duke and Duke Media.

Bill Duke serves on the Board of Trustees at the American Film Institute. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has also appointed him to the California State Film Commission Board. Bill Duke served as the Time Warner Endowed Chair in the Department of Radio Television and Film at Howard University in Washington, DC. He was then appointed to the National Endowment of the Humanities by President Bill Clinton.

Bill Duke’s directing credits include The Killing Floor, A Rage in Harlem, SisterAct 2, Deep Cover, Hoodlum, The Cemetery Club, Cover and Not Easily Broken. Currently in post production are the films Black Diamonds: The Evolution of Blacks in Baseball and Dark Girls.

Bill Duke’s acting credits include Predator, American Gigolo, Car Wash, Commando, Menace II Society, Bird on a Wire, The Limey, Get Rich or Die Trying, X-Men 3, the independent film Yellow, the soon to be released Henry’s Crime with Keanu Reeves and James Caan, and The Big Bang with Antonio Banderas.

Bill Duke is a humanitarian and activist who devotes his time to charity and not for profit organizations. Bill is on the Board of Directors of Educating Young Minds after school program with the mission to help inner city youth in the United States excel in school and life. He is also extensively involved with the United Nations UNAIDS mission to eliminate AIDS globally.

As film history has proven, Bill Duke welcomes the challenges of making films with a voice that needs to be heard by the world.

D. Channsin Berry, a modern day Renaissance man, is a filmmaker, as well as a prolific songwriter, and painter. Mr. Berry’s career has moved seamlessly through the movie and music industries. Mr. Berry started his career in New York radio at WBLS (FM) (under the leadership of mentor and friend Frankie Crocker). After spending 5 years in radio in the Bay Area. Mr. Berry moved to Los Angeles for a position in the Walt Disney Studios Feature Film Financing Division, where he honed his skills in the production and finance side of the business.

Mr. Berry, went on to expand his creative talents by writing and directing music videos for artists such as Chaka Khan and Dionne Warwick to name a few.  Mr.Berry also directed the PRAME Awards (Blacks in Advertising). Mr. Berry, then used his music talent to write songs for Pop/R&B Diva Chaka Khan, Jazz vocalist Mary Stallings, Prince/Rosie Gaines, and Jazz Legend Nancy Wilson (2006 Grammy Award Winning CD “Turned to Blue”).

In between his music endeavors, he worked in television as an Executive Producer/Director and sometimes hosts for various shows such as BET’s, NY/LA Entertainment magazine, All The People (talk show Fox-Bay Area), Shaq Jam (Hip Hop concert, Direct TV/Fox), Remixed (BET) and the Fox entertainment show “Poker Dome.”

Mr. Berry, moved on to direct independent films and documentaries such as “A Different Shade of Love,” “My Father’s Music…Jazz” (Documentary PBS/Cable) and “The Black Line…”  (A Profile of the Black Male…Parts 1, 2 and 3). He is currently working on several Film and TV projects for Urban Winter Entertainment with business partner Mark Cohen. Mr. Berry is also the founder of the D.Channsin Berry Foundation (which raises money for LUPUS awareness).


STICK FLY stars Dulé Hill (“Psych,” “The West Wing”) as Spoon (Kent) LeVay,Mekhi Phifer (“ER,” 8 Mile) as Flip (Harold) LeVay, Tracie Thoms (Rent, “Cold Case,” The Devil Wears Prada) as Taylor, Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Seven GuitarsLackawanna Blues) as Joe Levay, Rosie Benton (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Accent on Youth) as Kimber and Condola Rashad (Ruined) as Cheryl.


It was a relaxing weekend on Martha’s Vineyard … until the baggage got unpacked. Meet the LeVays.  When two adult sons independently choose to introduce their girlfriends to the parents on the same weekend, sibling rivalries flare, opinions clash, class distinctions divide and family secrets unravel.

Mekhi Phifer joins the Artsy Fartsy Show to talk about Stick Fly and the unusual provocative themes of this must-see Broadway play.

Please share your experiences as an artist of color. Please comment below.