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    Barbara O. Jones, Actress Who Brought Black Cinema to Life, Dies at 82

    Her arresting roles in movies like “Bush Mama” and “Daughters of the Dust” helped shape a generation of independent filmmakers.Barbara O. Jones, an actress whose captivating work in films like “Bush Mama” and “Daughters of the Dust” helped define the cerebral, experimental and highly influential Black cinema movement that emerged in Los Angeles in the 1970s, died on April 8 at her home in Dayton, Ohio. She was 82.Her brother Marlon Minor confirmed the death but said the cause had not been determined.Starting in the early 1970s just a few miles from Hollywood, a generation of students at the University of California, Los Angeles, began making films that pushed hard against many of the tropes of commercial moviemaking.Budding filmmakers like Charles Burnett, Julie Dash and Haile Gerima eschewed polished scripts and linear narratives in search of an authentic Black cinematic language. They relied on actors like Mrs. Jones, drawn from far outside the mainstream, to bring their work to life.Mrs. Jones was in some ways the typical Los Angeles transplant, having moved from the Midwest in search of a film career. She took acting classes, but, rather than gravitating toward Hollywood, she fell in with the politically charged, aesthetically adventurous scene around the U.C.L.A. film school, a movement that the film scholar Clyde Taylor called the L.A. Rebellion.She appeared in several short student films, including Mr. Gerima’s “Child of Resistance” (1973), in which she played an imprisoned activist loosely based on Angela Davis, and Ms. Dash’s “Diary of an African Nun” (1977), adapted from a short story by Alice Walker.Mrs. Jones in Ms. Dash’s short film “Diary of an African Nun” (1977), adapted from a story by Alice Walker.Julie DashWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Ahmed Best, the Actor Behind Jar Jar Binks, Is Proud of His ‘Star Wars’ Legacy

    Ahmed Best recalls the painful backlash to the “Phantom Menace” character that was considered a racial stereotype at the time, but is now embraced by fans.Ahmed Best is a futurist, an educator, a martial artist, a writer-director and the actor behind Jar Jar Binks, the most hated character in the “Star Wars” universe.Long-eared Jar Jar is a bipedal amphibianlike creature with an ungainly walk and a winning attitude. The groundbreaking, computer-generated goofball debuted in the first installment of George Lucas’s prequel trilogy, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” and instantly set off widespread criticism from both fans and the press.“It took almost a mortal toll on me. It was too much,” Best recently recalled. “It was the first time in my life where I couldn’t see the future. I didn’t see any hope. Here I was at 26 years old, living my dream, and my dream was over.”Now 50, Best is the picture of panache who could easily be mistaken for an off-duty rock star. He arrived at our interview riding a motorcycle and wearing a blue denim jacket, black jeans and stylish shades.Best has continued to play Jar Jar Binks in animated “Star Wars” shows and video games. “It’s big and it tends to overtake your life,” he said.Daniel Dorsa for The New York TimesIn the presence of Best’s self-assured demeanor, it’s even more shocking to learn that back in 1999 the vitriol fans flung at Jar Jar, and in turn at him, ravaged his mental health. But he revisited these memories a few weeks before the movie’s return to theaters on Friday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its release.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Review: ‘Jordans’ Tackles Race at Work at the Public Theater

    Alternating between funny and bleak, the Public Theater’s latest production tackles race and the modern workplace.The workplace in “Jordans,” an ambitious but unwieldy new play at the Public Theater, is so white that it’s a bit alarming. I don’t mean to say it’s full of white people (though it certainly is that, too), but rather that the aesthetic of the space itself catches your attention: minimalist, modern, white screens and walls. By the end of the play, however, those bright white spaces will be covered with blood.Jordan (Naomi Lorrain) is the only Black employee at Atlas Studios, a “full-service rental studio and production facility,” as she says to a potential client. She’s the one who answers the phones; she also gets the lunches, collects receipts and calls maintenance. When her boss, Hailey (Kate Walsh), decides the company’s new path to revenue involves appealing to a more “diverse” demographic, she hires a director of culture: a young Black man also named Jordan (Toby Onwumere).Though their white colleagues somehow can’t seem to tell them apart, the two Jordans find themselves at odds: She knows how to “play the game,” even if that means compromising her integrity. He (dubbed “1. Jordan” in the script) imagines another path to success — a Jay-Z level of achievement that he will then put back into the neighborhood. But as Jordan sees an opportunity to advance, the team takes on a brand launch event for a rapper that transforms into a grisly horror-movie scenario.Written by the playwright Ife Olujobi (she/they) in their Off Broadway debut, and directed by Whitney White, “Jordans” feels a little “The Other Black Girl” and a little “American Psycho.” The play tries to make a satire about race in the workplace and then, within that, gender — the differences in how Black men and Black women might act and be treated in a predominantly white workplace. But it’s also largely a grim parable about the terrors of consumer culture, including the commodification and appropriation of Black people.Lorrain, far right, gives a sharp performance as Jordan, an employee so overworked she even does most of the show’s set and prop arrangements. The cast also features, from left, Matthew Russell, Brontë England-Nelson and Walsh.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesMany of the targets of the satire feel too obvious: hip influencers, like a twerking white pop star and super-masc energy drink bros; the white boss fumbling through hollow corporate-speak about diversity; the white female colleagues bonding over how unfairly hard they work while their Black female colleague endlessly bustles around in the background.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Terry Carter, Barrier-Breaking Actor and Documentarian, Dies at 95

    He was the only Black actor on “Combat!” and “The Phil Silvers Show,” then made well regarded documentaries on luminaries like Duke Ellington and Katherine Dunham.Terry Carter, who broke color barriers onstage and on television in the 1950s and ’60s and later produced multicultural documentaries on the jazz luminary Duke Ellington and the dancer-choreographer Katherine Dunham, died on Tuesday at his home in Midtown Manhattan. He was 95. His death was confirmed by his son, Miguel Carter DeCoste.Mr. Carter was raised in a bilingual home next door to a synagogue in a predominantly Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn. His best friend was the future jazz great Cecil Taylor. In his first stage role, at 9, Mr. Carter played the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama on a voyage of discovery.And in a wayfaring six-decade career, he was a merchant seaman, a jazz pianist, a law student, a television news anchor, a familiar character on network sitcoms, an Emmy-winning documentarian, a good will ambassador to China, a longtime expatriate in Europe — and a reported dead man; in 2015, rumors that he had been killed were mistaken. It was not him but a much younger Terry Carter who had died in a hit-and-run accident in Los Angeles by a pickup truck driven by the rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight.Slightly misquoting Mark Twain, Mr. Carter posted on social media: “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”While he acted in some 30 television series and movies, Mr. Carter was best known to viewers as Sgt. Joe Broadhurst, the sidekick to Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud (Dennis Weaver) on NBC’s “McCloud” series from 1970 to 1977, and in 21 episodes of “Battlestar Galactica,” as Colonel Tigh, second-in-command of the starship fleet in ABC’s original science-fiction series in 1978-79. (The series was revived for a second run from 2004 to 2009.)Mr. Carter, right, on “McCloud” as the sidekick to Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud, played by Dennis Weaver, left. Mr. Carter appeared on the series from 1970 to 1977.via Everett CollectionWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    A Pathbreaking Singer Arrives at the Met, With Pearls and Tattoos

    Dav­óne Tines, who stars in the oratorio “El Niño,” is challenging traditions in classical music and using art to confront social problems.The bass-baritone Dav­óne Tines, wearing Dr. Martens boots, a sleeveless black shirt and six vintage pearl rings, stood on a rehearsal stage at the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan the other day and began to sing.“My soul’s above the sea and whistling a dream,” he sang, a passage from the Nativity oratorio “El Niño” by John Adams, in which Tines makes his Met debut this month. “Tell the shepherds the wind is saddling its horse.”Tines, 37, known for his raw intensity and thundering voice, has quickly become one of classical music’s brightest stars. He has won acclaim for performances of Bach, Handel and Stravinsky, and he has helped champion new music, originating roles in operas like Adams’s “Girls of the Golden West” and Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.”Tines has also used his art to confront social problems, including racism and police brutality. In 2018, he was a creator of and starred in “The Black Clown,” a searing rumination on Black history and identity inspired by a Langston Hughes poem. In 2020, he released a music video after the police killing of Breonna Taylor, calling for empathy and action.During a rehearsal break at the Met, he described his art as cathartic, saying his aim was to “pick apart the complicated, contentious existence that is knit into the American landscape.”“It’s a blessing to be a performing artist because you get an explicit place to put your feelings,” he said. “It’s the blessing of having a channel.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    ‘A Different World’ Hits the Road to Help Historically Black Colleges

    The beloved series was set at a fictional historically Black university. Now, cast members have reunited to visit and support real-life schools.Picture a pampered socialite ostentatiously putting her generational wealth on display. Or an outspoken teenage activist leading a climate change protest. Or a charismatic opportunist luring people into his latest scam.These descriptions apply equally to characters from “A Different World” — a sitcom that ran from 1987 to 1993 — and to today’s social media influencers. So it’s little wonder that the show, which streams on Amazon and Max, resonates with Gen Z.The series began as a spinoff of “The Cosby Show” centered on Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet), and it became a hit in its own right.“A Different World” broke ground by giving high visibility to an ensemble of aspirational Black young adults, following an eclectic cross-section of coeds attending Hillman College, a fictional historically Black university. There they dealt with typical collegiate growing pains — studying, partying, falling in love and stumbling into adulthood — and also with more serious subject matter, including racism, domestic abuse, gun violence, homelessness and mental health struggles.“These things mattered, and these are issues which are still relevant today,” said Darryl M. Bell, who played the Hillman huckster Ron Johnson.Now, more than three decades after the series finale, Bell and other core cast members, including Charnele Brown, Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Dawnn Lewis, Cree Summer and Glynn Turman, have reunited for a campus tour of historically Black colleges and universities. Their mission is to raise awareness and enrollment for such institutions, to establish a “Different World” scholarship fund and, of course, to give newer, younger fans a chance to see their parents’ hand-me-down TV idols in person.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    How the Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt Became a Chronicler of Black Jazz History

    Inspired by the drummer Arthur Taylor’s “Notes and Tones” collection of interviews with fellow musicians, Pelt started his own book series, “Griot.”The trumpeter Jeremy Pelt was sitting on his couch, browsing YouTube, when he decided to become an author.It was 2018, and Pelt, by then a fixture on the New York jazz scene for two decades, came across a 1994 interview with the jazz drumming great Arthur Taylor, conducted by a fellow percussionist, Warren Smith. “It could have been ‘Batman,’ or something,” Pelt recalled during a recent conversation in his Harlem apartment. “It was like an hour and 45 minutes, I remember, and I just was transfixed the whole time.”Pelt was especially taken with a section where Taylor discussed “Notes and Tones,” his landmark book of musician-to-musician interviews, first self-published in 1977 and later reissued more widely. In it, giants like Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Max Roach spoke with often bracing candor about race, the music business, their feelings about the term “jazz” and more. Pelt had first come across the book more than 20 years earlier at the Berklee College of Music library.“This is way before internet and all that,” he said, so listeners had no idea what their musical heroes’ “comportment was, how they sounded, anything. So what you have is these words that gave you this peek into their personality.”Pelt often found himself wishing for a sequel. Taylor noted in the 1993 paperback edition that he had recorded more than 200 interviews and intended to publish a follow-up; two years later, he died at 65. Watching the conversation between Taylor and Smith, Pelt made a resolution: “After wondering how come somebody hasn’t done such and such, I said, you know what? I’m going to go ahead and do it.”He started conducting interviews with elders, peers and younger artists, accelerating during the pandemic, when it was easy to reach musicians via Zoom. In 2021, he self-published the first volume of “Griot,” settling on that title after seeing the term — meaning a West African storyteller-musician who passes down the oral history of a tribe — in an old social-media handle used by the bassist Buster Williams. “I looked it up, and that’s when it hit me,” Pelt, 47, said. “That’s exactly what this project is, is really passing down the culture. It’s these stories.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Margaret Tynes, Soprano Who Soared in Verdi and Strauss, Dies at 104

    Because there were few opportunities for Black singers in the U.S., she became a powerhouse in Europe, performing in operas like “Tosca” and “Carmen.”Margaret Tynes, an American soprano who was acclaimed in Europe but neglected in the United States at a time when Black singers were newly breaking into the operatic world, died on March 7 in Silver Spring, Md. She was 104.The death was confirmed by her nephew Richard Roberts, who said Ms. Tynes died in a nursing home.In the 1960s and ’70s Ms. Tynes, with her incendiary, full-throated voice, in roles like Aida and Salomé, sang at opera houses in Vienna, Prague and Budapest, earning high praise on the continent — “an exceptional voice, intense in every coloring, vibrant and dramatic,” Milan’s Corriere della Sera newspaper wrote — even while U.S. critics were cooler. The Süddeutsche Zeitung of Munich wrote of her performance in Benjamin Britten’s “The War Requiem” that “What Britten expects of a woman’s voice can only be achieved by a singer of Margaret Tynes’s caliber.”But she did not make her Metropolitan Opera debut until 1974, when she was 55, in a run of three performances as the title role in Janacek’s “Jenufa” that began and ended her career there.Ms. Tynes, right, in 1957 with Joya Sherrill and Duke Ellington when they recorded “A Drum Is a Woman,” for which Ms. Tynes gained a measure of American fame.Everette CollectionMs. Tynes grew up in the segregated South and gained a measure of American fame in the 1950s, recording “A Drum Is a Woman” with Duke Ellington, singing heartfelt renditions of “Negro Spirituals” on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and appearing with Harry Belafonte in the musical “Sing, Man, Sing.” She also sang at the funeral of the musician W.C. Handy and toured the U.S.S.R. with Mr. Sullivan’s show in 1958.Her breakthrough in opera, the genre that defined her career, came in Europe in 1961, when she sang Salomé in Luchino Visconti’s production at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. Time magazine described her as “moving about the stage with catlike grace, her rich, ringing voice zooming with ease through the high, precarious lines,” and as a “girl with veins of fire.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More