*New York—Actress Yaya DaCosta, who plays the title role of Lifetime’s upcoming ‘I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story,’ hosts the public television series “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Exchange” as it returns for its seventh season.
The star will emcee the new season of the innovative documentary program on contemporary art, life and culture in the African Diaspora. “AfroPoP” is produced by National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) and co-presented by American Public Television (APT). The program premieres on WORLD Channel on Monday, January 19, at 8 pm ET/10 pm PT and runs weekly through February 16. APT will distribute AfroPoP to the full public television system in February 2015.
As the deadly Ebola virus makes headlines, Season 7 opens with a heartwarming tale of resiliency in the face of despair as a family and an African community battle to rid itself of another public health scourge—AIDS. In “The Carrier” (January 19), director Maggie Betts follows a determined Zambian woman, unwittingly involved in a polygamous marriage, the HIV virus spreading throughout the family, as she takes steps to ensure that the disease is not passed on to the baby she is carrying.
The series bounces to West Africa for “Ladies’ Turn” (January 26). Director Hélène Harder kicks it to Senegal to capture the lengths to which a team of girls and young women—struggling against misogynistic and religious sentiment—will go, to have a chance at taking to the fields for the nation’s pastime: soccer.
“AfroPoP” migrates to Sweden and Israel with Keren Shayo’s “Sound of Torture“ (February 2), a harrowing tale of Eritrean refugees who escape an oppressive regime at home only to be kidnapped, tortured and raped by Bedouin marauders as they attempt to travel to safety in Israel. Eritrean radio host and Swedish resident Meron Estefanos serves as their lifeline, broadcasting their calls from the torture camps in the Sinai Desert as they call on relatives and the public to raise large ransoms to save themselves.
The series heads to New York for “AFROPUNK Presents The Triptych” (February 9) directed by Terence Nance and Barron Claiborne. A triptych is a series of three connected works of an artistic, literary or musical nature, and this film presents three of today’s eminent visual artists: interdisciplinary artist Sanford Biggers, multimedia artist and sculptor Wangechi Mutu and photographer Barron Claiborne. Produced by AFROPUNK Pictures, the documentary provides an opportunity for each to reflect on his or her art and the culture. (The Sanford Biggers and Wangechi Mutu segments will air on public television; the Barron Claiborne segment will air online at PBS.org and blackpublicmedia.org.)
“AfroPoP” concludes with Micah Fink’s “The Abominable Crime” (February 16), which exposes gross human rights violations against homosexuals in Jamaica. Lesbian single mother Simone Edwards survives a homophobic shooting and must choose between escaping from Jamaica alone or risking everything by staying with her daughter. Jamaican human rights activist Maurice Tomlinson is forced to flee the country after being outed and receiving death threats. Will he risk everything by returning to continue the fight?
“This season of “AfroPoP” takes viewers to far-flung corners of the world: where men and women of African descent are taking the lead in human rights and public health issues; where others are pushing women in new directions; and where a new generation of top artists are being given a voice,” said NBPC Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz. “And we’re especially happy to have the lovely and talented Yaya DaCosta as our host, adding grace and intelligence to the discussions.”
DaCosta, who is of African American, Brazilian and Nigerian descent, enters an elite club of “AfroPoP“ hosts. Past hosts of the series are Idris Elba, Anika Noni Rose, Wyatt Cenac, Gabourey Sidibe and Anthony Mackie.
“AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange“ is produced by Angela Tucker and directed by Duana Butler. The series is produced with the generous support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Endowment for the Arts.
For details on “AfroPoP,” visit www.blackpublicmedia.org. To find out when and where to watch, including additional air dates for each of the episodes, check your local listings or go to www.APTonline.org.
Cheryl L. Duncan