When it comes to Black Enterprise these power couples come to mind. Not long ago it was virtually unheard of for Blacks to own their own production companies. Most of the big names in production companies were Paramount, Universal, and Warner Bros. In fact, the so-called “Hollywood Machine” was predominately run by non-blacks. However, that has come to an end. In an Essence article, some of these Black productions couples were mentioned. Out of the 7, Essence wrote about I chose 5.
Black Owned Production Companies Specialize In Diversity
All throughout history production companies paved the way to entertaining the masses. Television and movie productions provided entertainment as well as present world views. How many can remember stories that gripped your heart? Stories that made you feel they were telling your story. This first power couple has done just that. Salim and Mara Akil made history with the TV shows they produced. The diverse characters in each show depict life black could relate with. Also, the complexity of their characters depicted Black families, couples, in a real and authentic light. Salim and Mara paved the way that revolutionized Black Entertainment as we know it today. Personally, I think that Salim and Mara truly captured the essence of Black life.
Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil – Akil Productions
Husband-wife duo Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil have created, developed, and worked on some big shows and movies including The Game, Girlfriends, Being Mary Jane, Black Lightning, Love Is, and Jumping the Broom. In 2000, one year after the two wed, they created Akil Productions. Mara’s degree in Journalism has taken her very far. Before striking out on her own Mara worked for several years as a writer on Fox’s ‘South Central ”tv series. She then worked on the popular show “Moesha.” Mara was the lead producer on “The Jamie Foxx Show.” Later, Mara created the hit series “Girlfriends, (2000), with Kelsey Grammar, as reported by Article Bio. In 2013 Mara and her husband Salim produced BET’s tv series” Being Mary Jane. Gabrielle Union was the lead actor in the scripted show. Salim completes this dynamic team. Salim started off as a staff writer for Showtime’s “Soul Food.” Salim became an executive producer. Then Salim joined his wife as lead director and executive producer on “Girlfriends and “The Game.” In addition, Salim worked with Bishop TD Jakes on the movie “Jumping the Broom.” Also, Salim was one of the producers of the movie “Sparkle.” After leaving BET, Salim and Mara created “Love Is”, however, the show only last for one season. There was a marital difficulty between the couple. Surely, we have not seen the last of this talented couple.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith – Overbrook Entertainment
Founded in February of 1998 by Will Smith and film producer James Lassiter, Overbrook Entertainment produced the film, music, and television programs. Soon after its creation, Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, became a partner in the business and has been successfully producing projects since. Some of their films include I Am Legend, Ali, The Secret Life of Bees, I, Robot, Hitch, ATL, Bright, and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Jada Pinkett Smith is one of the most versatile actresses in Hollywood. Jada has taken her performing arts education to a level most can only dream about. Jada went to school with the late Tupac Shakur. Which coincidentally, was a famous rapper like Will Smith, Jada’s husband. Jada got her big break when she was part of the icon sitcom “A Different World (1987).” Jada then was cast in the occult classic movie, ”Menace II Society.” But it was when Jada starred alongside famous comedian/actor Eddie Murphy in “The Nutty Professor”, people began to take notice. Of course, Jada has enjoyed great success as an actor. She has acted in movies, “Woo”, “Set It Off”, Scream, The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions”, “A Low-Down Dirty Shame”, “Gotham”, “Collateral”, “Madagascar”, Magic Mike XXL, and “Girls Trip.” Also, Jada was the star of “Hawthorne.” As if that was not enough, Jada started her own Heavy Metal band “Wicked Wisdom”. Jada is multi-talented. Recently, Jada has the “Red Table Talk” on Facebook. Some of the interviews on the Facebook show have gone viral.
This brings me to her husband Will Smith. Will Smith attended and graduated from Overbrook High school. Which incidentally is the name of his and Jada’s film production company (Overbrook Entertainment). Will Smith started as a Philly rapper with DJ Jazzy Jeff in the ’80s. Will and DJ Jazzy Jeff had hit songs, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, and “Summertime”.
Will’s stage name “Fresh Prince” was used in the iconic sitcom bearing his moniker “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990).” Will and Jada met on the Fresh Prince set when she auditioned for the role of his girlfriend. However, the role went to actress Nia Long. From that point on Will became a household name. At one point in his, career Will was one of the highest-paid Black actors. Forbes named Will the most bankable star in the world, as reported by Biography. Will had leading roles in,” Six Degrees of Separation, (1993), “Bad Boys 1,2 &3”, “Independence Day”, “Men in Black”, “Enemy of the State”, Re-make of Wild Wild West”, “I Am Legend”, “After Earth”, “Collateral Beauty”, and most recently in Gemini Man. Not only are Jada and Will a power couple but they have two children Jaden and Will who are following in their footsteps.
Barack and Michelle Obama – Higher Ground Productions
In May of 2018, former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama In founded the production company Higher Ground. They immediately signed a multi-year deal with Netflix in order to produce both scripted and unscripted television projects that included American Factory and Becoming. Also under their production umbrella are podcasts and educational programming for children.
Michelle is one of the brightest black lawyers in the US. She is my forever first lady. For me what stands out the most is Michelle’s tenacity to fight alongside former President Barak. The years they spent in the White House were turbulent. There had never been a black couple as leaders of the “Free World.” Michelle wore that crown with dignity and grace. Her resilience to take the criticism and never let it stop her stride is simply phenomenal. Some would say Michelle’s resilience was instilled in her from early childhood. Michelle’s mother instilled in her commitment to family, education, and hard work, as reported by Whitehouse. Gov. I would agree.
Michelle attended one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, Harvard. She met forever president Barak. They were married in 1992. Early in her career, Michelle worked as an assistant commissioner of planning for the city of Chicago. Michelle became associate dean of student services at the University of Chicago. Also, Michele initiated the “Let’s Move”, program which was designed to help childhood obesity. During her White House years, Michelle partnered with faith-based leaders, local officials, and business leaders. The program helped to bring healthy food choices to underserved communities, especially, in the schools. In her later years at the White House, Michelle spearheaded the “Reach Higher Initiative program. This program helped students to understand job opportunities and the education skills they would need to be successful. Such programs provided students with the wherewithal to seek technical job opportunities after high school. The idea was to encourage students to enter community colleges, universities, and technical schools. Michelle wanted young women to follow their dreams without hesitation. Michelle also worked to support veterans, military personnel, and their families while serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Out of all the couples, Michelle and Barak are the most famous. And, undoubtedly the most influential. Former president, Barak’s story is one for the books. Barak won two consecutive terms in the White House. Barak made history as the first Black man to serve as president in our history. Many blacks never thought they would live to see a black man in charge. Fortunately, we have all witnessed it.
Barak’s story is a familiar story for a lot of blacks. Especially since Barak was raised by a single mom. The only difference in Barak’s story was his mother was white and his father was African. Most single-parent households in the US are headed by black single women. But Barak would still have to deal with what children of single parents households deal with daily. Barak learned about strong family ties, hard work and dedication can take you to heights you never dreamed of. Barak learned it was more important to serve others.
When Barak was elected to office in 2008 things were a mess, in my opinion. Barak was faced with changing policies that were put in place by the Republicans led by George W. and his son George H.W Bush. By the time Barak got to the office, our American Troops were at war in the middle east. Our country was in the middle of a great recession. Terrorism was at an all-time high. Barak signed three bills to stimulate the economy. He also introduced,” Obama Care” the affordable healthcare act. Needless to say, Barak was met with much opposition. And, the opposition did not just come from the Republican party but from his own people.
Unfortunately, some people still will not credit Barak with how he was able to jump-start the economy and keep it going. In addition, some would say that Barak did nothing for blacks. In general, Barak made us proud as a people. He will forever be remembered as the first Black/African American president of the US.
Since leaving the highest office of the land, Barak and Michelle are busy with their “Higher Ground Productions” film and TV production company. Although, Barak and Michelle’s production company is fairly new, already they have produced,” American Factory, “Crip Camp”, and “Becoming.” A lot of their productions are aired on Netflix. We can look forward to many projects by this phenomenal history-breaking couple.
Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett – Bassett Vance Productions
While both of these actors have had stellar on-screen careers, they decided to take a step behind the camera and create their own production company, Bassett Vance Productions. Since its inception, they have produced the dramatic comedy United States, which is based on the novel Erasure. More recently, Bassett Vance Productions is set to produce a limited series on the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, along with One Thousand Years of Slavery.
Once again, two famous actors set the tone for innovative film production company’s. Angela Bassett is a Hollywood “A” list powerhouse. Angela attended the Yale School of Drama. Angela was born in Harlem, NY. And, like former president Barak Obama, Angela was raised by a single mother. Angela admits she was inspired to act after watching legendary actor James Earl Jones in,” Of Mice and Men. We can assume that Angela’s upbringing along with her education has played very significant roles in her success. Angela had roles in,” Malcolm X, “Boyz ‘N the Hood, (1991)”, She was Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine in the made for TV movie,” The Jackson: An American Dream”, “Rosa Parks Story”, Waiting to Exhale”, “How Stella got her Groove Back”, “Contact”, Akeelah and the Bee”, “Jumping the Broom”, “Notorious Big, and” Black Panther.” Angela has starred in the Broadway production, “Lady Macbeth.” Angela has worked with her actor husband Courtney Vance in “His Girl Friday and “ER.”
Courtney B. Vance has made quite a name for himself, as well. Courtney is also a graduate of Yale School of Drama. Courtney and Angela were married in 1997. Courtney has acted in ,” Doc Johnson”, “Hamburger Hill”, “The Hunt for Red October”, “The Adventures of Huck Finn”, The Emperor’s New Clothes”, Panther”, “The Preacher’s Wife”, and “The Acting Class.” Just like his wife Angela Courtney has done some awesome TV work, assistant district attorney Ron Carver in “Law & Order.” Not to mention, Courtney appeared in Broadway productions, “A Raisin in the Sun”, and Fences, as reported by Biography.
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon – JuVee Productions
When JuVee Productions was founded in 2011 by the Emmy-winning actress Viola Davis and husband Julius Tennon, they wanted to create a platform for underrepresented voices. They have spearheaded a variety of projects in film, television, and theater. In the past decade, some of JuVee Productions’ credits include In A Man’s World, The Last Defense, Giving Voice, Troop Zero, and Paradise.
Viola Davis grew up in Rhode Island. Viola attended graduated from Juilliard School of Performing Arts. Viola made her debut in a Broadway production “Seven Guitars”, in 1996. Viola won the prestigious “Tony Award” for performances in ‘King Hedley and “Fences.”. Viola also starred alongside acting great Denzel Washington in the movie “Fences”. And, Viola acted in movies “ The Help”, “Doubt”, “Enders’s Game”, “Get on Up”, “Widows”, and Ma Raineys Black Bottom.” Viola starred in the hit series “How to get away with Murder.” Viola has acted in TV shows,” Law & Order: SVU, as well. Many people first noticed Viola as the mother of “Antione Fisher” in the movie. Even though, Viola has just a small part it was very memorable. In 2016 Viola won a Golden Globe award for her role in the movie” Fences”. She then received her first Academy Award for the Supporting Actress role of Rose Maxson.
Viola once admitted that when she met her husband Julius Tenon, “every way, anxiety went away, the fear went away, he just made my life better.”Julius was also an actor when he and Viola met. Julius was born in Austin Texas. He played football and earned a scholarship to the University of Tulsa. Julius was the first African American man to graduate from the school’s theater department. Voila mentioned that Julius was everything she had prayed for in a husband. The couple got married in 2003.