All Press Releases for September 28, 2015

Daily Show Correspondent Jessica Williams and Veteran Entertainer Ebony Jo-Ann to Receive the Inaugural Reel Sisters Hattie McDaniel Award Oct. 25, 2015

Closing ceremonies of the 18th Annual Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival to hold its first presentation of this esteemed honor

"Actress Hattie McDaniel was the Viola Davis of her day -- she used the limited roles given her to open doors for women of color to gain access to characters with greater depth and complexity."

    BROOKLYN, NY, September 28, 2015 /24-7PressRelease/ -- On Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, 6:30 pm, Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series will present the first Reel Sisters Hattie McDaniel Award to honorees Jessica Williams, the beloved correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Ebony Jo-Ann, award-winning actress noted for her role as Ma Rainey in August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Popular comedy sketch troupe American Candy will perform at the gala. Nancy Giles, the Emmy award-winning commentator CBS Sunday Morning, will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies. Tickets: $35.

The celebration will be held at Kumble Theater, LIU Brooklyn campus, on Flatbush Ave. between DeKalb Ave. and Willoughby St. The awards ceremony comes at the end of a weekend exhibition of more than 30 films produced, directed and written by women of color. For complete schedule and tickets visit or 212-865-2982/718-488-1624.

"Actress Hattie McDaniel was the Viola Davis of her day -- she used the limited roles given her to open doors for women of color to gain access to characters with greater depth and complexity," said Carolyn A. Butts, Reel Sisters founder. "As Viola recently stated 'you cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.' Hattie's acting career was defined by Hollywood's failure to cast African-American women beyond stereotypical roles but she persevered carving out a successful career in theater, film, radio and television."

In the 18-year history of this annual festival, Reel Sisters has taken the monumental step to rename the Pioneer Award to honor this true pioneer. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American woman to receive an Oscar. Her stellar performance in the role of Mammy in Gone With the Wind earned her an Academy Award for supporting actress. Black audiences harshly criticized Hattie for portraying menial and stereotypical characters in films. McDaniel's ability to add her own flair to her characters caused her to stand out when hired in the limited roles--in number and scope--that were available in Hollywood. Born Joanna Rose, Hattie was a talented singer-songwriter and comedienne who continued working in television and theater after her Oscar win, procuring her legacy.

Previous Reel Sisters award winners include Issa Rae, Margot B., Neema Barnette, Julie Dash, Michelle Materre, Pearl Bowser, Shola Lynch, Lonette McKee, Mahen Bonetti, Mable Haddock and Moikgantsi Kgama.

"Hattie McDaniel was a pioneer and powerful voice in making sure our images were present in the world of film and television," stated Butts. "We are proud to use her name in presenting our honorees with the first Reel Sisters Hattie McDaniel Award for their contributions."

Honorees and Mistress of Ceremonies bios:

Jessica Williams is a young writer/performer out of Los Angeles' UCB system and a former cast member in The UCB Sketch pilot for Comedy Central. She grew up in Torrance, CA and starred in the Nickelodeon show Just For Kicks as a teenager. While she was studying Film and English at Cal State Long Beach and doing improv as a member of "ComedySportz: The College Team," she landed the role as the newest correspondent for Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Recently, she was featured on Variety's "Top 10 Comics To Watch" and this year will recur in the upcoming third season of HBO's Girls. She recently starred in director Dax Brooks' short film Tap Shoes & Violins (Trailer:

Ebony Jo-Ann, an award winning actress and acclaimed vocalist from New York to South Africa, just released her latest CD Please Save Your Love For Me. She has a unique dynamic singing and performing style, which draws capacity crowds wherever she appears.

Ms Jo-Ann is the proud recipient of six Vivian Robinson AUDELCO Awards. As well as the National Action Network's Women of Excellence Award 2014 for her continuing and outstanding dedication through her artistic talents as well as her contributions to civil and human rights. Ms. Jo-Ann appeared in the role of Mama Ronzoni in Adam Sandler's blockbuster movie GROWN UPS as well as the sequel Grown Ups 2. Other released films are Noise with Tim Robbins, Kate & Leopold, Marci X, The Orphan King, Pootie Tang with Chris Rock, Eddie with Whoopi Goldberg, The Other Brother, Our Time At Last (African Burial Ground Museum) and Frederick Douglass: An American Life, in the role of Harriet Tubman.

Nancy Giles is a writer and contributor to the Emmy Award-winning CBS News Sunday Morning. This has provided the largest audience yet for her unique blend of laugh-out-loud humor and common sense wisdom. Whether she's recalling the first rapper she ever heard (Robert Preston doing "Trouble" in The Music Man), celebrating Black History Month (as a schoolgirl she only had "Negro History Week," and her mother, "Colored People Hour") or decrying America's obsession with Botox and plastic surgery ("when I stop having visible signs of aging, that'll mean that I'm dead,"), Giles brings vibrant energy and a hip alternative feel that helps distinguish the program from others. She is currently a regular social commentator on MSNBC, where she discusses a wide range of topics from video games to politics.

On film, Giles' crucial expositional roles include parts in True Crime (Clint Eastwood), Angie, New York Stories (Woody Allen's Oedipus Wrecks), Working Girl, Big, Joshua and Superheroes; plus the indies Loverboy (Kevin Bacon) and Everything's Jake.

About Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series

A Brooklyn-based film festival founded by African Voices magazine and LIU Brooklyn Campus, Reel Sisters was founded to support women of color in the film industry. Since 1997, Reel Sisters has showcased over 900 films produced, directed and written by women filmmakers in every genre. Reel Sisters attracts more than 1,200 film lovers from across the nation and globe including California, Chicago, Florida to as far away as Britain, Germany, Africa and India. The festival screens over 25 films each year. Reel Sisters also provides scholarships to emerging women filmmakers and offers other resources for women filmmakers.

The Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival is supported, in part, by Council members Laurie Cumbo (35 C.D.) and Jumaane Williams (45 C.D.), New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Centric/BET Networks, Brooklyn Arts Council and Brooklyn ALOFT Hotel.

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A Skype interview conducted by Hampton U. interns with Jennica Carmona, the director of Millie & The Lords.