It’s Christmas Eve, y’all! I have loved Christmas since I was a kid. Celebrating the birth of Jesus and spending time with friends and family are what I look forward to the most. During this time of year, I like to watch feel good movies and transport myself into other worlds in the theater. Since the latter isn’t an option, I’m doing a lot of the former. Seriously, I’m not sure there’s a Lifetime or Netflix holiday movie I’ve missed.
This month, the playwright August Wilson has been in my atmosphere. The film adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom just dropped last week. A North Carolina private school recently expelled a boy whose mother objected to his freshman class reading Fences on the grounds that she was hostile and made the faculty feel uncomfortable. Oh the webs we weave.
This week’s list celebrates Wilson’s imagination and the creativity of Black artists, who I personally have to thank for getting me through this year. Wilson remains the only American playwright to have all 10 of his plays produced on Broadway and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice (six nominations btw).
Step into someone else’s shoes and have a very Merry Christmas!
- TO WATCH: I have been anticipating the Netflix production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom since Ruben Santiago-Hudson told me about it in an interview last year. The movie is based on the play by August Wilson which follows Ma and her Blues band into the recording studio. They are preparing to record her biggest hit, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” in Chicago and of course conflict ensues. It really is an enchanting play and a beautiful film. Chadwick Boseman and Colman Domingo really stand out for me as delivering stirring performances. From a historical perspective, Ma Rainey was a fascinating public figure who defied many odds in the first half of the 20th century. She was a sharp-tongued Blues singer, songwriter, bisexual and a glamorous boss. Though I am not crazy about Davis’ performance, I still think this is a must-see movie.
- TO EAT: I found this copycat recipe for Olive Garden chicken and gnocchi soup online. The world may have already known this, but I didn’t. This is a creamy, hearty soup and I’m happy it exists.
- TO DRINK: Get into the Christmas spirit with a glass of Trader Joe’s Winter Wassail Punch and a splash of La Marca Prosecco. It’s a refreshing and flavorful winter beverage. (You’re welcome.) If you nibble on some of those TJ’s ginger bread men with the white fudge backs, I won’t blame you.
- TO PLAY: I recently recorded an episode of the iHeart podcast her with Amena Brown. In this weekly podcast, Brown, who is a writer, spoken word poet and host, interviews Black women who do cool things. She also tells the stories behind her poems, which are so beautiful and funny. I’m so happy that she interviewed me about the year’s best TV and movies. Our laugh-filled episode publishes on Dec. 29. If you’re looking for a new podcast where you can hear some great poetry and learn about really fascinating people, get into it.
- TO READ: In the spirit of August Wilson, you should also read Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and the whole 10-play Pittsburgh cycle for that matter. Then read Dominique Morrisseau’s Detroit Trilogy and Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s Brother/Sister Plays— both of which were inspired by Wilson. I just find it icky when parents start trying to regulate curricula based on their beliefs and not in the best interest of their child’s education. Let your kids read things that scare you and talk to them about it afterward!
- *BONUS* TO SHOP: I recently purchased a candle for a friend from Young Gentry. The candles are overpriced, but the scents are great and the artist collaborations are even better. I opened the box and to my surprise, there were two candles. With it, there was a message that read: “As a treat through the end of 2020 (a dumpster fire of a year if ever there was one) we decided to turn our failures and mistakes into a special bonus for you.” I thought this was so creative and a great way of showing that what we see as failures, someone else may see as a gift.