Review: ‘Alice’ (2022), starring Keke Palmer, Common, Gaius Charles, Alicia Witt, Jonny Lee Miller and Natasha Yvette Williams

January 24, 2022

by Carla Hay

Keke Palmer in “Alice” (Photo by Eliza Morse/Vertical Entertainment/Roadside Attractions)

“Alice” (2022)

Directed by Krystin Ver Linden

Culture Representation: Taking place in Georgia, the dramatic film “Alice” features a cast of African American and white characters (with some Latinos) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A young woman who has lived life as a slave in the 1800s antebellum South escapes from her plantation into a world where it’s 1973.

Culture Audience: “Alice” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in movies about slavery and civil rights in the U.S., but the movie is a poorly made story that terribly bungles its social justice intentions.

Keke Palmer and Common in “Alice” (Photo by Eliza Morse/Vertical Entertainment/Roadside Attractions)

“Alice” might have been intended to be a passionate social justice movie, but it’s racial exploitation junk that’s tone-deaf, cringe-inducing and downright insulting to African Americans. Because of a certain twist in the movie’s awful plot, “Alice” is going to get inevitable comparisons to the 2020 horror misfire “Antebellum.” Both movies are about a young African American woman who wants to escape from a slave plantation, and she finds out that her life isn’t what she thought it was. And both movies are bottom-of-the-barrel garbage.

Written and directed by Krystin Ver Linden, “Alice” is a slow-moving train wreck of a film that spends the first third showing repetitive scenes of slaves enduring abuse. “Alice” claims to be based on true events, but slavery abuse is the only realistic thing about this trashy sham of a film. “Alice” had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and it’s proof that even a prestigious festival such as Sundance can sometimes choose crappy movies to showcase. At least “Alice” showed some restraint in the violent scenes, compared to “Antebellum,” which seemed to revel in showing scenes of slaves getting beaten, raped, strangled, and viciously murdered.

The title character in “Alice” is a house slave in Georgia who is shown getting secretly married to another slave named Joseph (played by Gaius Charles) in an early scene in the movie. Alice (played by Keke Palmer), who’s as feisty as she can be under these enslaved conditions, wants to lead an escape plan for the plantation’s slaves who want to run away. It’s exactly like what the female protagonist in “Antebellum” planned too. The opening scene of “Alice” actually shows Alice running away in the woods, where she stops and then lets out a scream. The movie then circles back by showing this scene again after viewers see what led up to this escape.

Alice wants to escape, but some of the other slaves on the plantation are more hesitant, including Joseph’s mother Ruth (played by Natasha Yvette Williams), who warns Alice that there are white men stationed everywhere who are ready to catch and possibly murder runaway slaves. Everything about the plantation is run like it’s sometime in the early 1800s, when slavery was legal in the U.S., and electricity hadn’t been invented yet. The plantation owner is a predictably cruel and sadistic racist named Paul Bennet (played by Jonny Lee Miller), who rapes Alice and forces her to read to him. Paul tells Alice that her reading duties are the only reason why he’s allowed her to know how to read.

Paul’s ailing mother Mrs. Bennet (played by Madelon Curtis) lives in the same house, where she’s often bedridden. She doesn’t have a first name in the movie, and she’s a useless character. The only memorable thing that happens with Mrs. Bennet is when Alice goes in Mrs. Bennet’s room and asks her in a fearful voice, “What’s out there?” Mrs. Bennet replies, “The whole world. Don’t you see?” Paul also has a son named Daniel (played by Jaxon Goldenberg), who’s about 8 or 9 years old, and an ex-wife named Rachel (played by Alicia Witt), who is not seen until much later in the movie.

Alice and Joseph are both brutally punished on separate occasions for various things. Paul has a right-hand man named Aaron (played by Craig Stark), who carries out a lot of the torture. At one point, Alice is tied up and her head is placed in a muzzle. You can bet that this punishment will be enacted again on someone else later in the movie. It’s all so predictable.

The plantation is all that Alice and the other slaves have experienced of the world. However, there’s a major clue that there’s something different about this plantation. The clue is revealed when Alice goes by herself to dig in the woods, as if she’s looking for something buried there.

She finds a jacket and a cigarette lighter buried in these woods. This cigarette lighter is one of the movie’s biggest clues indicating there’s going to be a “time-traveling” part of the story. A more subtle clue is a scene in the house, where Alice picks up the Leo Tolstoy novel “Anna Karenina” and looks at the cover. “Anna Karenina” was first published in 1878, which was 15 years after the Emancipation Proclamation that made slavery illegal in the United States.

After Alice escapes from the plantation, she finds herself running out of the woods into the middle of an expressway, where she almost gets hit by a delivery truck. The driver’s name is Frank (played by Common), who works with his brother at a farm that they co-founded named Florence Farms, in Springfield, Georgia. Frank stops and helps a terrified Alice into his truck. He says he’ll take her to a nearby hospital when he finds out that Alice seems very confused by her surroundings.

Frank tells Alice that she’s in Georgia, and that the year is 1973. And so, there’s a long stretch of the movie where Alice is frightened or curious about why she ended up in a future century. Alice has no last name and no birth certificate. But she hasn’t forgotten about the past and the people she left behind.

In the hospital waiting room, Alice sees Jet magazine with Pam Grier on the cover and Rolling Stone magazine with Diana Ross on the cover. Grier and Ross both have Afro hairstyles in these photos. Guess who’s going to change her hair into an Afro later in the movie? It’s a scene that looks as phony as the Afro wig that Palmer wears when Alice decides she wants to be the next Angela Davis.

Because, yes, this movie is about a slave who becomes a 1973 Black Power warrior. And it’s depicted in the most heavy-handed and ludicrous ways possible. When Frank finds out that the hospital is going to send Alice to a psychiatric facility, he takes her instead to the house that used to be owned by his late mother. And what a coincidence: His mother spent time in a psychiatric facility too, so Frank tells Alice that it’s definitely not the “happy place” that the hospital described it as.

And what do you know: Frank and his mother were civil rights activists. And so, the house is filled with books, magazines and newspapers where Alice can get caught up on what’s been happening to African Americans in the 100+ years that she skipped on the way to almost being hit by Frank’s truck and not knowing that slavery was abolished. Palmer does some melodrama acting when Alice cries after finding out about the Emancipation Proclamation.

And somehow, when Alice turns on the TV, she just happens to see a montage of clips of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and Davis giving passionate speeches about black people’s empowerment. Alice also learns to use a phone, which leads to one of the dumbest parts of the movie: Alice goes through the phone book to try to find someone from her past who would be long dead if Alice really thought that she came from the 1800s.

This “Alice” movie has a semi-obsession with showing Grier as the prototype of what Alice is supposed to look like, because there are images of Grier throughout the film that almost fetishize her. The first time that Alice and Frank go to a movie, it’s to see Grier’s 1973 blaxploitation action film “Coffy.” Clips from the movie are shown of gun-toting Grier going on a rampage in revealing clothing and snarling about how she’s going to go after white people.

Not surprisingly, at one point in the movie, Afroed Alice is shown ripping up her slave dress and then strutting in the type of midriff-baring top and tight leather pants that Grier would wear in one of the many blaxploitation action flicks starring Grier in the 1970s. This movie is so badly written, if it had any subtlety, Alice would stomp all over it in her 1973 platform heels.

While all of this is happening in Alice’s “transformation,” music that’s supposed to sound like funky 1970s black music keeps playing as part of the movie’s soundtrack. An exception is a scene where Alice changes her hair into an Afro. In this scene, the music soundtrack blares Diana Ross & the Supremes’ 1966 hit “Reflections,” as a “too on the nose” emphasis pointing out that Alice is a woman without a home and seemingly without an identity, but she’s a Strong Black Woman who’s going to find her identity and a way back home. (A line in the song’s chorus is “Reflections of the way life used to be.”)

As soon as Alice tells Frank she wants to go back to the plantation to rescue her husband and the other slaves, you know where this horrendous dreck is going. And just like in “Antebellum,” there’s a scene involving fire as part of a revenge plot. “Alice” is such an idiotic movie, there’s a scene with a raging fire that’s rapidly spreading, but people just stand around and don’t try to escape.

Palmer and Common look like they’re making sincere efforts to be convincing in the “thriller” aspects of the movie, but there’s no thrill to be found when everything is telegraphed in such a clumsy and racially condescending way. The other cast members in the movie either play caricatures or have characters with no real personalities. Alice is not even written as a fully developed person. She’s just a stereotypical avatar for what racially condescending filmmakers think African American women are supposed to be like when confronting oppression and racism.

The atrocious dialogue in this movie would be almost laughable if it wasn’t in a movie that’s supposed to be about a very serious subject. For example, Alice declares to Frank at one point: “Just so you know: Doing the right thing is never wrong.” In another scene, Alice confronts slave master Paul’s racist ex-wife Rachel, who screams at Alice: “You’ll never understand freedom!” Alice shouts back, “I am freedom!”

Usually when a movie badly mishandles the issues of slavery or racism against black people, it’s because the production team consists mostly of people who aren’t black. The filmmakers’ hiring practices also show that they don’t care about working with enough black people on a project that is about racism against black people. That’s definitely the case with “Alice.”

“Alice” writer/director Ver Linden and nearly all of the behind-the-scenes crew she hired for “Alice” are white. Most of the black people hired for the movie were actors playing slaves. “Alice” star Palmer has the title of executive producer, which is a title given to someone who might have some creative input but not any say in how the movie was financed or who got to direct the project. That’s the job of someone with the title of producer. And for “Alice,” the only person with the producer title is a white man named Peter Lawson.

Normally, it would not be necessary to point out the race of the filmmakers in a movie review. But in this case, when slavery and racism against black people are being used in a story to sell this horrible film, it’s important for audiences to know who’s responsible for this racially exploitative mess. Everyone involved in making “Alice” should be ashamed of themselves.

Some people might automatically think that any movie that condemns racism has to be a good movie. Some people might think they’ll get Black Lives Matter credibility if they recommend seeing a movie like “Alice.” The problem is that “Alice” is neither a good movie, nor is it a movie that genuinely cares about treating issues about racial equality and civil rights with any real respect. “Alice” is just a tacky cash grab that uses the trauma of slavery and racism as a way for filmmakers to make money from black people’s real-life pain.

Vertical Entertainment and Roadside Attractions will release “Alice” in select U.S. cinemas on March 18, 2022.

Review: ‘The Informer’ (2020), starring Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Common, Ana de Armas and Clive Owen

November 14, 2020

by Carla Hay

Joel Kinnaman in “The Informer” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

“The Informer”

Directed by Andrea Di Stefano

Culture Representation: Taking place in primarily in New York City, the crime drama “The Informer” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and Latinos) representing the middle-class and criminal underground.

Culture Clash: An ex-convict who’s become a confidential informant to the FBI gets caught up in a power struggle between the FBI, the New York Police Department and a drug kingpin when an undercover NYPD officer gets murdered during a botched drug deal.

Culture Audience: “Informer” will appeal primarily to people who like formulaic and generic movies about drug smuggling and undercover investigations.

Clive Owen, Rosamund Pike and Joel Kinnaman in “The Informer” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

There are times when people watching a movie have to suspend disbelief when they have to think to themselves, “It’s only a movie,” because the world created in the movie is not supposed to be a reflection of the real world. But when a gritty crime drama like “The Informer” invests so much of the story’s credibility in trying to be as realistic possible, it’s fair to judge the movie’s merits on how well the movie depicts “the real world.” Although the “The Informer” has moments of action-filled suspense, too much of the movie looks recycled from other better-made films, and some of the scenes are almost laughably unrealistic.

Directed by Andrea Di Stefano, “The Informer” is based on the 2009 Swedish novel “Three Seconds” by Anders Rosland and Börge Lennart Hellström. Di Stefano, Matt Cook and Rowan Joffe adapted “Three Seconds” into the mediocre and cliché-ridden screenplay for “The Informer.” The movie changes the setting of the story (it’s Sweden in the book, New York City in the movie) but the premise is essentially the same: An ex-con who’s an informant tries not to killed in a dangerous double-cross game as he deals with law enforcement and criminals.

In “The Informer,” Joel Kinnaman plays Pete Koslow, a Gulf War veteran who spent time in the fictional Bale Hill Prison for killing a man in a bar fight while defending his wife Sofia (played by Ana de Armas) from the sleazy guy who was harassing her in the bar. Now a heavily tattooed ex-con, Pete (who has post-traumatic stress disorder) lives in New York City with Sofia and their 8-year-old daughter Anna (played by Karma Meyer). Pete has stayed out of trouble since his release from prison, but he has a secret: He’s a confidential informant for the FBI to bust a major drug ring that has been importing and selling fentanyl.

The Polish kingpin who’s the leader of this drug-dealing operation is Rysard Klimek (played by Eugene Lipinski), who’s nicknamed The General. Pete is an American of Polish descent who can speak fluent Polish, and most of The General’s gang members are also Polish. Therefore, Pete has been chosen to help the FBI in busting The General and his drug-smuggling crew.

Pete has been able to infiltrate The General’s gang and gain their trust. The person he is closest to in the gang is an impulsive hothead named Stazek Cusik (played by Mateusz Kosciukiewicz), who sets off a chain of events that will test Pete’s loyalties and put Pete and his family in possibly fatal danger. With Pete’s help, the FBI is ready to do a huge drug bust to arrest The General and his gang.

Pete has been working directly with FBI agent Erica Wilcox (played by Rosamund Pike), and they have meticulously planned how the drug bust will go. Erica has instructed the FBI to “go easy” on Pete when the drug bust happens because he is one of the FBI’s informants. Erica has assured Pete that during the drug bust, he will be taken away safely in an unmarked vehicle.

But things go horribly wrong. Unbeknownst to the FBI, the New York Police Department has been trying to bust The General and his gang too. And the NYPD sent an undercover officer named Daniel Gomez (played by Arturo Castro), who’s been using the alias Carlos Herrera, to pose as a major drug buyer from Mexico. Stazek tells a nervous Pete that there’s been a last-minute change of plans since this “new buyer” named Carlos Herrera has shown in interest in making a big purchase.

During the meeting with “Carlos,” an argument erupts, he reveals he works for the NYPD, and Stazek shoots him in the head. A stunned Pete knows this has completely ruined the drug bust that the FBI had planned for that night. And sure enough, the FBI calls off the plans, and Erica cancels the backup that was supposed rescue Pete. Meanwhile, Stazek and some of his cronies dismember the murdered NYPD officer’s body and throw it into the river at a nearby dock.

Erica’s corrupt supervisor Agent Montgomery (played by Clive Owen) blames her and Pete for the botched drug bust and wants to cut Pete loose from the informant program. Erica begs Montgomery to give her and Pete a little more time to set up another drug bust. Montgomery says that officially the FBI is done with Pete and can’t give her the authority to continue dealing with him. But unofficially, Montgomery tells Erica that if she still wants to pursue the drug bust with Pete’s help, she’s free to do so but she has to inform him of what she’s doing. However, if things go wrong again, she will be forced to take full responsibility and she’ll probably get fired.

Meanwhile, the General is furious over the botched drug deal that got a NYPD officer killed, and he says that Pete owes his life to Stazek. The General orders Pete to get himself arrested so that he can be incarcerated again at Bale Hill Prison, where Pete is supposed to take over the drug operation there. Pete tells Sofia about his secret life as an informant for the FBI and how he’s now being coerced to do what The General wants.

It’s around this time that Pete has a meeting with Erica and Montgomery, who tell Pete that he can redeem himself with the FBI if Pete gets the names of all of The General’s drug operators in Bale Hill Prison. And so, Pete and Sofia stage a domestic violence incident that sends Pete back to Bale Hill Prison faster than you can say “stupid plot development.”

Meanwhile, the NYPD is investigating the murder of Officer Gomez, whose partner Detective Edward Grens (played by Common) is on a personal revenge mission to catch the killer. At first, he suspects Pete of committing the murder. Detective Grens eventually figures out that Pete is an informant for the FBI, so he confronts Erica and Montgomery, who deny knowing anything about Pete, even though Detective Grens has uncovered video surveillance and other evidence that Erica has been in contact with Pete.

Detective Grens decides that the FBI is covering up something, so he makes it known that if the NYPD has to go to war with the FBI, so be it. Detective Grens eventually goes to Sofia (who owns an aquarium shop) to ask for her help, but she has a hard time trusting him. She tells Detective Grens that ever since Pete got arrested for that deadly bar fight, whenever someone has offered to help, the person ends up doing the opposite and Pete gets in more trouble.

And so, with Pete feeling pressure from the FBI, the NYPD and The General who all have their own agendas, this is how the movie sets up dilemmas for Pete on whom he should trust and whom he should betray. The scenes of Pete in prison have the predictable elements that have been seen in many other dramas with prison scenes. Unoriginal stereotypes abound, including typical violent fights between inmates; a corrupt corrections officer named Slewett (played by Sam Spruell), who’s in on the prison’s drug trade; and a prison chief name Warden Leinart (played by Matthew Marsh), who looks the other way at the illegal activities that he knows goes on in his prison.

One of the dumbest scenes in “The Informer” is when Pete makes a desperate phone call from prison to FBI agent Erica, who is officially not supposed to be in contact with Pete at this point in the story. Apparently, the filmmakers want viewers to forget or not know that all inmate phone calls in prison are recorded. Someone who works for the FBI should know this too. It’s unfortunate that the filmmakers have made this FBI agent look so inept.

During Pete and Erica’s phone conversation, Erica and Pete say enough incriminating things in the conversation that would expose their “secret” plans to people in the prison, which is crawling with corrupt corrections officers, and word would get back to Slewett, who’s working with The General. This phone conversation from prison would also then get Pete branded as a snitch, which could make the inmates turn against him too. But the filmmakers cover up this massive plot hole, which completely ruins whatever credibility this movie was trying to grasp.

And then “The Informer” just turns into complete garbage with a very unrealistic prison hostage scene where viewers are supposed to believe that the hostage taker, who is just one person, is able to hold off a small army of law enforcement officers (including a S.W.A.T team) that come to the rescue. The hostage scenes exist only so that the movie can have more violence, such as shootouts, an explosion and a gross-out scene where the hostage taker plunges a pair of scissors into someone’s ear.

Although Kinnaman’s role in the movie requires a lot of physical prowess, his character is the typical tough, brooding, misunderstood loner that we’ve seen so many times before in movies about ex-cons who become confidential informants. Pike’s Erica character is problematic because she’s supposed to be morally conflicted, but the reality is that this FBI agent is just incredibly incompetent. Owen’s Montgomery character is a stereotypical callous bureaucrat, while de Armas has yet another role as a “worried wife/love partner,” which is the type of character she has in a lot of her movies.

“The Informer” director Di Stefano and cinematographer Daniel Katz occasionally try to make the movie look a little artsier than most cheesy crime dramas of this ilk. For example, the scene with Sofia and Detective Grens in her aquarium shop is lit with the blue-ish glow of the aquariums, not by overhead room lights. It’s as if to convey that Sofia is untouched by all the grime and sleaze that has ensnared her husband. However, as much as this one scene was trying to show the beauty amongst all the corruption and violence, it’s still not enough to compensate for the shoddily written screenplay.

When the FBI or a big city’s police department (such as the NYPD) is trying to bust a large drug operation in an undercover sting, there are things that these professionals are trained not to do, so that they won’t blow their cover. And yet, the numskulls in “The Informer” do a lot of dumb things to blow their cover that no self-respecting law enforcement official or street-smart informant would do in an undercover investigation. “The Informer” is ultimately for people who just want to see some forgettable fight scenes and other mindless violence amid a lot of plot holes. This movie is not for people who want to see a compelling and well-written crime drama.

Vertical Entertainment released “The Informer” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on November 6, 2020. The movie was released in several countries in Europe and Asia in 2019.

2020 Grammy Awards: John Legend, Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Camila Cabello among artists set for all-star collaborations

January 23, 2020

The following is a press release from the Recording Academy and CBS:

In keeping with the tradition of presenting signature “Grammy Moments,” CBS and the Recording Academy® have announced two special segments to take place on the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards The first, “Old Town Road All-Stars,” will feature current nominees Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, joined by BTS, Diplo, Mason Ramsey and other surprise guests. In the past year, “Old Town Road” has been the subject of mixes and mashups, which inspired bringing together various acts who have performed it to create a one-of-a-kind performance.

Additionally, to acknowledge the importance of music education in schools by both the longtime Grammy executive producer Ken Ehrlich and the Recording Academy, artists associated with Ehrlich’s 40-year career will gather to perform “I Sing the Body Electric” from the film “Fame.” The performance will feature current nominees Camila Cabello, Gary Clark Jr. and John Legend, joined by Debbie Allen, Joshua Bell, Common, Misty Copeland, Lang Lang, Cyndi Lauper, Ben Platt and the War and Treaty.

“To bring high-caliber artists like Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Common, Misty Copeland, Debbie Allen, Ben Platt, Gary Clark Jr., Joshua Bell and Lang Lang together on one stage fulfills a dream of mine,” said Ehrlich, who is completing his 40th and final Grammy Awards as producer. “To be able to do this on the Grammy stage makes it unforgettable for me.”

Hosted by Alicia Keys, the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast live from Staples Center in HDTV and 5.1 surround sound Sunday, Jan. 26 (8:00-11:30 PM, live ET/5:00-8:30 PM, live PT) on the CBS Television Network and streaming on CBS All Access. Previously announced performers include Aerosmith; Camila Cabello; Brandi Carlile; Billie Eilish; Kirk Franklin; Ariana Grande; H.E.R.; Jonas Brothers; DJ Khaled; John Legend; Lizzo; Demi Lovato; Meek Mill; Roddy Ricch; Rosalía; Run-D.M.C.; Blake Shelton; Gwen Stefani; Tanya Tucker; Tyler, The Creator; Charlie Wilson; and YG.

Grammy winner Gary Clark Jr. is nominated for Best Rock Performance (“This Land”), Best Rock Song (“This Land”), Best Contemporary Blues Album (This Land), and Best Music Video (“This Land”).

Current Grammy nominee Billy Ray Cyrus is nominated with Lil Nas X for Record Of The Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (“Old Town Road”) and Best Music Video (“Old Town Road [Official Movie]”).

Ten-time Grammy winner and current nominee John Legend (Best Rap/Sung Performance [“Higher”]) and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (A Legendary Christmas).

First-time Grammy nominee Lil Nas X is nominated for Record Of The Year with Billy Ray Cyrus (“Old Town Road”), Album Of The Year (7), Best New Artist, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Billy Ray Cyrus (“Old Town Road”), Best Rap/Sung Performance (“Panini”), and Best Music Video (“Old Town Road [Official Movie]”).

About the Recording Academy

The Recording Academy® represents the voices of performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and all music professionals. Dedicated to ensuring the recording arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, the Academy honors music’s history while investing in its future through the Grammy Museum®, advocates on behalf of music creators, supports music people in times of need through MusiCares®, and celebrates artistic excellence through the Grammy Awards – music’s only peer-recognized accolade and highest achievement. As the world’s leading society of music professionals, we work year-round to foster a more inspiring world for creators.

January 24, 2020 UPDATE: 

CBS and the Recording Academy have confirmed the final slate of performers for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. Previously announced Gary Clark Jr. will be joined by The Roots to perform Clark’s Grammy-nominated song “This Land”; Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty will unite to honor those we have lost this year in a touching “In Memoriam” tribute; and Sheila E. will take the stage with Usher for an exciting Grammy Salute to Prince.

This year’s presenters include Common, Ava DuVernay, Cynthia Erivo, Jim Gaffigan, Dua Lipa, Trevor Noah, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Porter, Bebe Rexha, Smokey Robinson, Shania Twain, Keith Urban and Stevie Wonder.

Recording Academy names diversity task force members, including Sheryl Crow, Common, Cam, Andra Day, Jimmy Jam

May 9, 2018

The following is a press release from the Recording Academy:

Tina Tchen, Chair of the Recording Academy™’s newly formed task force on diversity and inclusion, announced the names of the 16 members joining her in examining barriers and biases affecting women and other underrepresented voices in the music industry and, specifically, the Recording Academy.

Since her appointment, Tchen has spent weeks meeting with and listening to constituents across the music community, using that feedback to assemble a task force that is balanced in perspectives and interests to ensure that the group is independent and focused on making progress in the industry. All members will volunteer their time and expertise, and none are employed by the Recording Academy or hold any position on its Board. The task force includes the following music creators, executives, academic scholars, and thought leaders in gender equality and diversity:

  • Stephanie Alexa, vice president of finance and licensing administration, ATO Records
  • Michele Anthony, executive vice president and executive management board member, Universal Music Group
  • Cam, GRAMMY®-nominated artist
  • Common, GRAMMY-winning artist
  • Sheryl Crow, GRAMMY-winning artist
  • Andra Day, GRAMMY-nominated artist
  • Giselle Fernandez, award-winning television journalist
  • Jimmy Jam, GRAMMY-winning artist
  • Beth Laird, CEO and co-owner, Creative Nation
  • Debra Lee, chairman and CEO, BET Networks
  • Rebeca Leon, co-founder and CEO, Lionfish Entertainment
  • Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP
  • Dr. Stacy L. Smith, founder and director, USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative
  • Ty Stiklorius, founder and CEO, Friends At Work
  • Julie Swidler, executive vice president of business affairs and general counsel, Sony Music
  • Dean Wilson, CEO, SEVEN20

“I’m honored to lead such an esteemed group of visionaries who possess the experience and passion needed to drive real change in building a more inclusive and equitable music community,” said Tchen. “This is an important first step made possible by the Recording Academy’s leadership, which recognizes the benefit of examining these issues with fresh eyes.”

The task force is set to meet shortly to begin its work with a review of Recording Academy operations and policies across the areas of corporate governance, hiring and promotion, membership, awards, and the GRAMMY Awards® telecast. As Chair, Tchen will develop an operational roadmap for the task force and update the Recording Academy on the group’s progress on an ongoing basis throughout the year.​

“This is an extremely important initiative for us,” said John Poppo, Chair of the Recording Academy Board of Trustees. “The Board takes seriously any role the Recording Academy can play in serving our music community, and certainly one that could facilitate increased diversity and inclusion. We are inspired by the prospect of what this task force might accomplish, and we’re grateful to Tina and the group’s esteemed members for graciously agreeing to partner with us in this effort.”

As one of its first orders of business, the task force has established a feedback tool to collect public input and suggestions for the group’s review and consideration. Anyone interested in providing suggestions for the task force can do so by visiting www.grammy.com/taskforcefeedback.

“The Recording Academy prides itself on being a thoughtful organization, and is committed to being responsive to those we represent in the creative community,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “Today, there’s an opportunity for us to effect historic change in attitudes and practices within our industry. We embrace that opportunity in full. With a leader like Tina at the helm and a group of such high caliber, this task force is primed to have a meaningful impact on building a music community that is inclusive, welcoming, and open to all.”

Bios and headshots for task force members can be found at https://grammy.box.com/v/recordingacademytaskforceinfo.

ABOUT THE RECORDING ACADEMY

The Recording Academy represents the voices of performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and all music professionals. Dedicated to ensuring the recording arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, the Academy honors music’s history while investing in its future through the GRAMMY Museum®, advocates on behalf of music creators, supports music people in times of need through MusiCares®, and celebrates artistic excellence through the GRAMMY Awards®—music’s only peer-recognized accolade and highest achievement. As the world’s leading society of music professionals, we work year-round to foster a more inspiring world for creators.

For more information about the Academy, please visit www.GRAMMY.com. For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @RecordingAcad on Twitter, “like” Recording Academy on Facebook, and join the Recording Academy’s social communities on Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube.

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