*The number of black churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has surged more than 80 percent in the last decade to 3,400 U.S. congregations, says BCNN1.com.
However, the number of African American missionaries remains tiny: Only 27 of the SBC’s 4,900 international missionaries are black.
Jerry Seinfeld, Nicole Byer
*In a recent interview, it was pointed out to Jerry Seinfeld that his Crackle series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which has the standup comic interviewing fellow comedians as he chauffeurs them to various coffee spots, has had just two black guests in its three seasons. (Chris Rock and Mario Joyner)
Similar to the backlash “SNL” faced last year, the 59-year-old award-winning actor has also faced scrutiny stemming from what many viewed as a lack of race and gender featured on his popular 90s series, “Seinfeld.”
Annoyed with the entire topic, Jerry addressed critics on Monday during an interview on “BuzzFeed Brews with CBS This Morning.”
The cast of ‘Kinky Boots’
*From the Broadway and Off-Broadway revivals of Romeo and Juliet, to The Trip to Bountiful, Fun Home, Here Lies Love, Kinky Boots and Awake and Sing!, 2013 was a year of diversity in song and story on the New York stage.
New York City — boasting to be a cultural melting pot — wouldn’t be the epicenter of theatrical arts without a diverse range of shows on and off The Great White Way.
The 2013 calendar year saw what could be some of the most ambitious offerings of diversity to ever tread the boards; from a Cicely Tyson-fronted version of Horton Foote‘s classic The Trip to Bountiful and a nod to traditional Hebrew culture and its brief dalliance with rock music (Soul Doctor), to the “theatre event” Here Lies Love that was David Byrne and Fatboy Slim‘s surprising hit and an all-female take on Othello. There seems to have been something for just about everyone.
Broadway, with its glitzy star power and limitless marketing reach, saw a splash of color — the rainbow flag kind — when Harvey Fierstein‘s latest tuner Kinky Boots, arrived in the spring. Based on the 2006 indie drama, which helped launch the career of 2014 Oscar hopeful Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years A Slave”), the musical adaptation featured the direction and choreography of Jerry Mitchell, the songs of Grammy Award-winning pop music veteran Cyndi Lauper and the big return of underrated dynamo Billy Porter, making a triumphant comeback to The Great White Way after nearly 15 years.
Read MORE of this Karu Daniels report at Playbill.
*Color is in this season of fashion, and we’re not talking threads.
Earlier this year, diversity on the runway was a hot button topic. It looks like more brands and designers are heeding to the public cry for more color on stage.
At the Victoria’s Secret fashion show earlier this week, we couldn’t help but notice the various hues of brown, modeling the lingerie brand’s finest designs.
Among the stars, were returning supermodels, Joan Smalls and Jasmine Tookes, who both participated in last year’s extravaganza.
Victoria’s Secret also blessed us with the a diverse group of Black women, of different hues, including French model, Cindy Bruna, who’s mother hails from Congo.
Maria Borges, a stunning 5’11” beauty strutted down the runway like she owned it. This fabulous Ford Supermodel comes from Angola is represents well.
Making headlines, Kenyan-born biracial model, Malaika Firth also made her Victoria Secret Fashion Show debut. This 19-year-old beauty made waves when she became the first model since Naomi Campbell in ‘94 to be the front-runner for a Prada ad.
You go girl.
The show was very exciting and pleasing because we saw women from all over the world. Brazilian model Lais Ribeiro stole it when she came out and Ming Xi, a hotly sought after Asian model brought the line up full circle.
Victoria’s Secret made it happen this year.
Actress Bresha Webb of TV One’s “Love That Girl,” one of the black women who auditioned for “Saturday Night Live” on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles, attends the premiere of Fox Searchlight Pictures “Baggage Claim” at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on September 25, 2013 in Los Angeles
*Addressing criticism over its lack of African American women in the cast, NBC‘s “Saturday Night Live” held an audition for black comediennes at The Groundlings in Los Angeles earlier this month, according to Deadline.com.
The show holds showcase/auditions for potential new talent with some regularity in various locations. But this one attracted more media attention than usual because it was set up for black female hopefuls. It took place a few months after the NBC late night series announced its lineup of new hires – not one of them an African American woman.
Adding to the slight were comments from two black male cast members in response to the controversy. Jay Pharoah told website The Grio he hoped the show would add a black woman, “like they said they were going to do last year,” and Kenan Thompson told TV Guide the problem is “they never find ones [black comediennes] that are ready.”
According to Deadline, one of the women who participated in the December 1 audition, Bresha Webb of TV One’s “Love That Girl,” told blogger Jasmine Brand she’d had the opportunity to audition for “SNL” last summer, but it conflicted with her schedule on “Love That Girl.”
“We were just happy that some new black women in comedy were being considered and given a shot. We even held hands, prayed after the showcase,” she is quoted as saying; her interview was accompanied by a photo of about a dozen black women together backstage.
*The hottest TV show this side of “Scandal” just released a 30-second teaser trailer for its anticipated fourth season.
“Downton Abbey” returns Jan. 5 to PBS with the show’s aristocratic family and their servants entering the jazz age, as evidenced by the program’s first black character – a charming and charismatic jazz singer named Jack Ross (Gary Carr).
The clip opens with Dowager Countess Violet (Maggie Smith) telling a bereaved Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), “You have a straightforward choice before you. You must choose either death or life.”
The teaser yields nothing in terms of future storylines, but we do see a glimpse of Jack on the dance floor.
At the Television Critics Association Press Tour in August, producer Gareth Neame said the casting of Carr was not in response to criticism over the show’s lack of diversity. His goal, instead, was to introduce more minority characters if he could do so in a manner that was “historically believable.” Listen below.
Season four of “Downton Abbey” airs in the U.S. starting at 9 p.m. Jan. 5 on PBS. Watch the new teaser below.