Entertainment mogul Tyler Perry made history when he opened Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios, the first Black-owned movie and television studios, and surprised Hollywood legends Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier with soundstages named in their honor.
President-elect Barack Obama added another honor to his slew of awards when he won a Grammy for the audio version of his best-seller “The Audacity of Hope,” beating out former President Bill Clinton for his book “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.”
The five southern belles of Bravo’s hit series “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” kept us glued to our televisions every Tuesday night this fall. Divas NeNe, DeShawn, Sheree, Lisa and Kim gave cable television a healthy dose of fun, fashion and fierceness. According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the widely popular reality show averaged 1.3 million viewers over seven episodes, making it the biggest freshman series for the cable network since 2003.
We were shocked when we heard actor-comedian Eddie Murphy and television executive Tracey Edmonds had called it quits and just two weeks after exchanging wedding vows in January. The couple had begun dating in the fall of 2006, shortly after Murphy’s highly publicized breakup with former Spice Girl Melanie Brown, with whom he fathered a daughter.
The Queen B was certainly busy in 2008. After jumping the broom with hip-hop megastar Jay-Z, the Houston native made history yet again. She and her new hubby scored the number one spot on Forbes’ first annual ranking of Hollywood’s Top-Earning Couples. Thanks to an amazing year filled with music, movies, fashion and endorsement deals, Mrs. Carter and her better half collectively raked in $162 million between June 1, 2007, and June 1, 2008.
It’s hard to believe but it’s been a quarter of a century since the Huxtables entered our homes every Thursday evening, displaying for the first time in television history the example of the successful, well-rounded Black family. Breaking racial stereotypes of all accords, the NBC sitcom ran from 1984-1992 and broke ground and ratings numbers by showing a working mom and dad, both in professional occupations, equally involved in the education and development of their five children. Some believe the show had an effect on many Americans in their acceptance of President-elect Barack Obama and his family.
Although she only banked a few minutes of screen time in “American Gangster,” Ruby Dee’s portrayal as Harlem druglord Frank Lucas’s mother was so memorable that she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress—the first ever for Dee despite her decades-long career.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater marked its fiftieth anniversary with style in December. The cultural institution introduced dances rooted in Black culture that are now staples in the dance world.
You might not want gossip queen Wendy Williams around in real life, but on TV she’s the perfect companion. Her self-titled TV show did so well during a test run last summer that it was given the go-ahead for a 2009 debut.