BET ANNOUNCES GROUNDBREAKING FOUR-PART ORIGINAL PRIMETIME DOCUMENTARY SERIES "BLACK + ICONIC" EXPLORING THE PROFOUND IMPACT AND LASTING INFLUENCE OF SEMINAL BLACK ICONS IN FASHION, MUSIC, FILM, AND DANCE
FROM EMMY AWARD©-WINNING EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
STANLEY NELSON AND FIRELIGHT FILMS COMES THE FIRST TWO-HOUR FILM FROM THE FRANCHISE, "BLACK + ICONIC: STYLE GODS," WILL PREMIERE SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 AT 8 PM ET/PT ON BET, BET+, BET HER, AND VH1
EMMY(R), TONY(R), AND GRAMMY(R) AWARD-WINNING ACTOR, SINGER, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER AND ACTIVIST BILLY PORTER TAPPED TO NARRATE THE INAUGURAL DOC "STYLE GODS"
NEW YORK, NY - January 27, 2023 - Today, BET announced its new four-part, eight-hour documentary film series from Emmy Award©-winning Executive Producer Stanley Nelson and Firelight Films. The groundbreaking BET original franchise, "Black + Iconic" celebrates Black cultural icons, pioneers, and activists and their impact, influence and legacies in fashion, music, film, and dance. "Black + Iconic" examines of the momentous achievements of Black people across various fields while celebrating the power of Black cultural innovators. Executive producers Connie Orlando and Jason Samuels developed "Black + Iconic" for BET, along with senior supervising producer Steven Ramey.
Directed by Lynne Robinson, the inaugural film in the series, "Black X Iconic: Style Gods," has signed on Emmy(R), Tony(R), and Grammy(R) Award-winning and Golden Globe(R)-nominated actor, singer, director, producer and activist Billy Porter to narrate, host, and serve as executive producer for the groundbreaking doc. "Black + Iconic: Style Gods" premieres on Saturday, February 18 at 8 PM ET/PT on BET, BET Her, BET+, and VH1.
"We're thrilled to be working with BET again after the success of our first project together, 'Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama,'" said Stanley Nelson, co-founder of Firelight Films and Executive Producer of the "Black + Iconic" series. "I couldn't think of a better home for this series celebrating Black icons via the numerous mediums through which Black creatives have made an indelible mark on the culture."
"With this definitive and original documentary franchise, we look forward to giving some of the amazing Black icons who have shaped and continue to influence popular culture their well-deserved recognition," said Connie Orlando, EVP, Specials, Music Programming, Music Strategy and News. "We are proud to partner with Firelight Films and Stanley Nelson again, a pillar in the creative and documentary communities, and Firelight Films on this groundbreaking series. We loved having Billy Porter perform at last year's BET Awards, and we are honored to have one of the most recognizable entertainers, trailblazing forces, and a style icon in his own right, narrate 'Style Gods.' We hope 'Black + Iconic' inspires our viewers while reinforcing how Black people are both the source and the driving force of what is cool and next in culture."
Following in the footsteps of previous award-winning BET original documentaries "ALI: The People's Champ" and "Katrina 10 Years Later: Through Hell and High Water," the first project in the franchise kicks off with a two-hour film on fashion. Weaving dazzling archival footage and original interviews with legendary Black models, fashion designers, and style icons, "Black + Iconic: Style Gods" explores the myriad of ways Black people have overcome racism to ultimately blaze an undeniable trail from the streets through the most exclusive runways of high fashion.
BET, a unit of Paramount (NASDAQ: PARAA; PARA; PARAP), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African American audience. The primary BET channel is in 125 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience; BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks - BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, a growing BET festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.
About Stanley Nelson
Stanley Nelson is the foremost chronicler of the African American experience working in nonfiction film today. His documentary films, many of which have aired on PBS, combine compelling narratives with rich and deeply- researched historical detail, shining new light on both familiar and under-explored aspects of the American past. A MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, Nelson was awarded a Peabody in 2016 for his body of work . He has received numerous honors over the course of his career, including the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts Sciences. In 2013, President Barack Obama presented Nelson with the National Medal in the Humanities.
About Firelight Films
Founded by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Firelight Films produces documentaries by and about communities of color. Firelight Films productions have garnered multiple Primetime Emmy, Peabody, IDA, and Sundance awards. Among them are the feature films "Becoming Frederick Douglass" and "Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom"; "Attica," which was nominated for an Academy Award; "Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre"; "Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy"; "Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool"; "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution"; "The Murder of Emmett Till"; and "The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords." Firelight Films has also produced notable short films including, "The Story of Access," which was commissioned by Starbucks in 2017 for a mandatory anti-bias employee training program, and "Commemorate and Celebrate Freedom," commissioned by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture for its opening night in 2015. Upcoming Firelight Films productions include "Sound of the Police" for ABC News Studios and "Creating the New World: The Transatlantic Slave Trade," a four-part documentary series for PBS.
About Billy Porter
Billy Porter is an award-winning actor, singer, director, producer, composer, and playwright. He won the Emmy Award for Lead Actor for his appearance in FX's Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated drama Pose and earned three Emmy nominations total for his role in the series. A Hollywood Walk of Fame inductee, Porter has numerous theater credits, including the role of "Lola" in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, which he originated in 2013 and for which he won the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards, as well as the Grammy for best musical-theat er album. He won his second Tony Award in 2022 for "Best Musical" as a producer on A Strange Loop. Recently, Porter appeared in the third season of FX's Pose, Amazon's Cinderella re-make, the second season of CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, and narrated HBO Max's Equal. Upcoming, he will star in Our Son alongside Luke Evans, direct a queer teen comedy from Gabrielle Union's I'll Have Another Productions titled To Be Real, and star in the Paramount comedy 80 For Brady alongside Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Lily Tomlin, and Sally Field. He also recently directed an episode of Fox's forthcoming anthology series Accused. His feature directorial debut "Anything's Possible," a coming-of age film written by Ximena García Lecuona, was released in July 2022 on Prime Video. Porter released his first literary project, Unprotected, in October 2021, which was published by Abrams Press. As a recording artist, Porter most recently released his single "Stranger Things" under his record deal with Island Records (UK) and Republic Records (US).