.:: Supporting African-American Film Makers ::. .:: Community Night ::. .:: ShortFilms Selected ::.


Lifetime Achievement Award – Dr. Mayme Clayton, Founder, Western States Black Research and Education Center
Ivan Dixon Award of Achievement Award– F. Gary Gray, Director
President’s Award – Rev. Ferroll Robins
2003 Award of Excellence Honorees – Ruby Ford, Hairstylist; Zara Taylor, Director of Employment Access, WGA; Joseph Wilcots, Director

Los Angeles, CA, November 18, 2003 – The BHERC has announced the 2003 recipients of several awards of distinction to black pioneers in the film industry. The awards will be presented on Friday, November 21, 2003, during the Opening Ceremony of its 10th Annual African American Film Marketplace and Short Film Showcase, to be held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“So often we forget those who came before us,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, BHERC President. “These awards allow us to pay tribute to the black pioneering filmmakers – both in front of and behind the camera. If we do not remember those who have come before us, and their great sacrifices, their legacy may well be lost forever.”

Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. Mayme Clayton, Founder, Western States Black Research and Education Center

Dr. Mayme A. Clayton is a collector of the highest order. While many collect knick knacks-from salt and pepper shakers to dolls-Clayton has devoted her life to collecting and preserving black history and turned her garage into a shrine to that collection of artifacts. Clayton, a librarian since 1952 who spent 15 years with UCLA's law library, began collecting rare and out-of-print documents related to African Americans. In 1972, she founded the Western States Black Research and Education Center, a nonprofit organization designed to preserve as well as showcase the collection.

The WSBREC collection is a treasure font of African American history. The collection contains more than 20,000 books, including a rare 1773, signed copy of "Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral," written by former slave Phillis Wheatley, and signed first editions of the works of folklorist Zora Neale Hurston and essayist W.E.B. DuBois. Also included in this historic collection are more than 10,000 rare 33 and 78 records, music from the earliest sound recordings by African Americans like Mamie Smith. The collection also contains old movie and jazz stills, magazines, sheet music, videos and pamphlets. The collection also boasts a note typed by Josephine Baker and a handwritten letter from George Washington Carver of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.

The WSBREC collection contains an extensive library of films by and about African Americans. Clayton and WSBREC have also provided invaluable research to a variety of clients including the "Sinbad Show," Dick Clark Productions, American Film Institute and Eastman Kodak Company.

Ivan Dixon Award of achievement
F. Gary Gray, Director

F. Gary Gray solidified his place in Hollywood with the critical hits “The Negotiator,” starring Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson and “Set It Off,” which featured Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Vivica A. Fox. “The Negotiator,” won the Best Film

and Best Director Awards at the Acapulco Film Festival. His most recent film before “The Italian Job” was the action drama, “A Man Apart” starring Vin Diesel. Gray’s motion picture directorial debut was “Friday,” starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, which was produced for $2 million. The hit comedy was one of the most profitable pictures in 1995 -- grossing more than 15 times its cost -- and spawned an extremely successful film franchise. For television, Gray executive produced and directed the pilot episode of Fox Television’s “Ryan Caulfield: Year One,” which debuted in May 1999.

Gray began his career as a freelance cameraman and simultaneously directed short films with the money he saved and with equipment borrowed from friends and associates. Reel in hand, he segued into music videos where he quickly became a pioneer by introducing storytelling into the genre. Gray earned more than 30 Billboard and MTV Awards (and numerous Grammy nominations) for clips for top recording artists Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige and TLC, and helped provide mainstream exposure for such artists as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Coolio. His credits include the landmark video for TLC’s “Waterfalls,” a multiple MTV Video Music Award-winner; Dr. Dre’s “Keep Their Heads Ringin,” MTV’s Best Rap Video of 1995; and Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day,” which was included in Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 100 Best Videos of All Time. Gray was also nominated for Grammy Awards for directing Stevie Wonder’s and Babyface’s “How Come How Long” and Outkast’s “Miss Jackson.”

Gray helped launch the careers of several of today’s leading motion picture talents. He cast Chris Tucker, Queen Latifah and Kimberly Elise in their first starring roles, and featured Bernie Mac long before he became a household name. At 34, Gray has established himself as a major talent in the film and music video worlds. With each new project, he showcases his ability to tell captivating stories with dynamic visuals, nuanced performances, warmth and humor.

The President's award
Reverend Ferroll Robins

Ferroll Robins, a native of Southern California, devotes her time and efforts to serving the community. Rev. Robins is Executive Director of Loved Ones, a victim's assistance agency, as well as a Chaplain with the Los Angeles Police Department. She is on 24-hour emergency call for LAPD officers and homicide crime scenes, where she offers comfort and support to families and friends of homicide victims. Rev. Robins is Chairperson for the Reserve Chaplin, LAPD, a member of the Community Police Advisory Board, and a volunteer for the LAPD Critical Incident Response Team.

Certified in Crisis Response Team Training, Rev. Robins has been highly involved in crisis response for many high-profile tragedies as a member of the LAPD Critical Incidence Response Team and the Red Cross SAIR Team, including the Alaska Air, Singapore Air, and Aztec Colorado air disasters, the September 11 terrorist strikes, and the Echo Park building collapse.

Rev. Robins also is a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is a regular speaker for the Christian Ministry Training Association. She has developed many seminars, including "Ministry and Law Enforcement Officers" and "Inner Healing".
Among Rev. Robins' numerous awards, honors and certificates are the "1998 Reserve of the Year" for the 77th Division and South Bureau and "2001 Reserve of the Year" for the 77th Division; the St. Michael Award for Chaplain; a Citation from Assemblyman Rod Wright's Office; a Letter of Appreciation from the Captain of 77th Area Police Department; an Award of Appreciation from the 77th Division Clergy Council; a Community Award from the Volunteer Center of Los Angeles; and a 2001 award from the City Attorney's Office.

The 2002 awards of excellence recepients are

Ruby Ford, Hairstylist

Ruby Ford has been spurred on by travel and adventure throughout her life and career. She began her career in Lompoc, Calif., in the early 1960's, after graduating from Sanders School of Beauty. Ruby moved to Los Angeles, with her two children, while her husband served in Vietnam. She learned of a job opening for a black hairstylist at 20th Century Fox Studios, applied for the job, was referred to Bud Look, the Department Head in the make-up department at CBS, and was immediately hired at CBS. At CBS, Ruby was hairstylist for many stars, including Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, Sonny and Cher, The Jackson 5, and Glen Campbell on the "Young and the Restless." After six years at CBS, she was promoted to a journeyman in the Motion Pictures Department, and later to Head Stylist, with control of her own crew. Ruby says she owes her success at CBS to Barbara Lorenzo, a mentor and friend.

Ruby's major feature film credits include, but are not limited to "Emergency," with Richard Donner; "Sparkle"; "BladeRunner"; "The Swarm"; "Cocaine and Ole Blue Eyes," with O.J. Simpson; "Cooley High"; "Mammies"; "What's Love Got to Do With It"; and "Bulworth," with Halle Berry and Warren Beatty. Ruby served as a stylist on Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, was on "Soul Train" for 18 years, and on the sitcom "Amen" for five years. She has also worked on "Saturday Night Live," the KCET special "Raisin In the Sun," and "The Awards KTTV Special." In 1997, Ruby was nominated for an award for her work on "Star Trek" and in 1998 for "Voyager Killing 1-2" at Paramount Studios.

Ruby would like to share her award with all of the people that she has worked with in the make-up and hair industry. Specifically, she would like to recognize Edie Panda and Barbara Lorenzo for their continued friendship and support.
Although semi-retired, Ruby is still as active, operating her own non-profit center in inner-city Los Angeles, offering education, medical and computer training.

Zara Buggs Taylor,
Director, Employment Access & Human Resources, Writers Guild of America, West, Inc.

Zara Buggs Taylor, an attorney, has filled the Employment Access position for nearly ten years. She came to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) after ten years as Senior Staff Consultant with the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. In her position as Director of Employment Access at the WGA, Taylor is responsible for creating a number innovative employment access programs, events and initiatives that have served to open up opportunities for protected class writers in film and television. In her position as Director of Human Resources at the WGA, Taylor ensures that the Guild workforce is diversified and that there are growth opportunities for employees. She meets regularly with executives and decision makers at the studios, networks and production companies to discuss their hiring records and to negotiate affirmative action programs for women writers, writers of color, over-40 writers, Gay & Lesbian writers and writers with disabilities.

Under her leadership, the WGA’s Employment Access Department has designed and developed a number of highly successful activities, including workshops and networking events for writers at the Guild as well as CBS, Disney/ABC Universal Pictures, among others. Taylor regularly serves as a panelist on the issues on diversity in the media and has appeared on several television and radio talk shows in the Los Angeles area, as well as national news shows.

Taylor believes that “unless and until ALL America’s diverse voices are heard - until ALL our stories are told by ALL of America’s storytellers - we will not have true freedom of expression. We must all work harder and more effectively if true equality of opportunity is to be realized in Hollywood.”

Joseph Wilcots, Director/Director of Photography

After nearly 30 years as a director, Joseph M. Wilcots, a member of the Directors Guild of America, has amassed an impressive collection of credits as well as awards for his work in the motion picture and television industry. Wilcots has served as director of photography for a number of historic television productions, including "Roots" and "Roots: The Next Generation," award-winning series which aired on ABC-TV, as well as ABC's "Palmerstown USA" and the Oprah Winfrey series "Brewster Place." His work on "Roots," his first job as director of photography, earned him two Emmy awards nominations by both the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Local Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 1977, the Local Academy awarded Wilcots a citation for "Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming," for both "Roots" and "Roots: The Next Generation."

Wilcots has also directed a number of award-winning commercials, documentaries and music videos, including "Disco in Africa" and "Festival in Africa" for Coca Cola; the documentaries "Simple Justice: Story of Thurgood Marshall" (PBS) and "The Last POW: Story of Bobby Garwood" (NBC); and the Michael Jackson videos "The Making of Scream" and "The Making of Ghost."

Wilcots also has a host of feature films to his credit, among them "Where the Red Fern Grows II," "The White Girl," "The Aurora Encounter," and "J.D. and the Salt Flat Kid." Wilcots was awarded a Clio for "Star Friends," a television commercial for the Department of Transportation, under the theme 'If you drink, don't drive." Wilcots, a Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame inductee, was also awarded a "Bronze Cindy" award by The Information Film Producers of America. He also received "Pioneers" awards from the City of Los Angeles and the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. One of Wilcots' prized awards is a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the United States Congress, honoring him for his "outstanding professionalism as a director of photography."

Wilcots is also an accomplished writer and editor. A graduate of Des Moines Technical School, where he majored in commercial arts and minored in motion picture and still photography, Wilcots also attended the Naval School of Photography and served four years in the U.S. Navy in the field of photography in Pensacola, Florida.

Founded in 1996, the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center is a nonprofit, public benefit organization designed to advocate, educate, research, develop, and preserve the history and future of Blacks in film and television. The Center's commitment to the development of future filmmakers - performers, directors, and behind-the-scenes technicians and workers - is realized not only through film festivals but through innovative educational and outreach programs, such as Artistry in Motion, a seminar to introduce middle and high school students to the magical world of animation and The First Weekend Club.

BHERC’s 10th Annual Film Marketplace and Short Film Showcase takes place from November 20-23. The film festival will showcase over 25 short films, by today’s finest emerging African-American filmmakers. The Film Festival will be held at Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave. Festival Weekend Passes are $100.00. All-Day passes are $25.00. For complete details, visit www.bherc.org or call 323.957.4747.

For interviews, artwork and general inquiries, contact: Tiffany Morrison, Lane Marketing, 4859 W. Slauson Ave, #177, LA, CA 90056, 323.293.5617, 323.298.5433, fax, tiffany@lanemktg.com

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