Hudlin Entertainment

‘The Hunger Games’ Actor Dayo Okeniyi To Star In Historical Drama ‘Emperor’

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gregory Pace/REX/Shutterstock (8458104bj)
Dayo Okeniyi
‘Shades of Blue’ TV Series Season 2 premiere, Arrivals, New York, USA – 01 Mar 2017

EXCLUSIVEDayo Okeniyi, best known for his role in The Hunger Games as well as NBC’s Shades of Blue, has been tapped as the lead in Emperor, a Civil War-era historical drama from Sobini Films. Former Lionsgate exec and Sobini founder Mark Amin is directing the pic.

Written by Amin and Pat Charles, the screenplay is inspired by the story of Shields Green who, in 1859, escaped from a plantation and made a daring journey north where he met Frederick Douglass and John Brown. With the opportunity to continue to freedom in Canada, Green instead chose to fight to end slavery. The raid at Harpers Ferry is considered one of the sparks that led to the Civil War.

Reginald Hudlin is producing the project via Hudlin Entertainment alongside Amin and Cami Winikoff for Sobini, while Tyler Boehm will serve executive producer. Filming is expected to commence in June in Savannah, Georgia. UTA is handling domestic sales.

Okeniyi will co-star in the third and final season of the Jennifer Lopez-Ray Liotta police drama Shades of Blue, which will begin June 17. Other film credits include The Spectacular Now and Terminator Genisys. Okeniyi is repped by UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and McKuin Frankel Whitehead.

Amin has produced a number of films including the Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead, directed by and starring Don Cheadle and Good Kill with Ethan Hawke. His forthcoming slate includes Mary Shelley starring Elle Fanning, and the Justin Kelly-directed JT Leroy pic starring Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, and Diane Kruger.  Amin is repped by UTA.

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Will Shuri Be In ‘Avengers 4’? ‘Black Panther’ Fans Would Love To See Her Take Charge

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Avengers: Infinity War didn’t end the way anyone expected it to. It was like an old-school Shakespearean tragedy broke out in the middle of our fun candy-colored Marvel film. The losses at the end of the film were stunning and called into question everything fans had assumed about Phase IV of Marvel’s long-term movie series. In fact, they called into question just who might return for The Still Untitled Next Avengers Installment. For instance, will Shuri be in Avengers 4? Viewers never even saw her ultimate fate. Warning: Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follow.

At the end of the film, fans watched in horror as Thanos’ plan went into effect. Half the universe’s population was deleted at random, dissipating before the eyes of the survivors. In Wakanda, it seemed like everyone was dissipating before the eyes of M’Baku, who was left in a semi-empty field. Okeyo reached for T’Challa but he turned to dust.

But what about Shuri? The movie didn’t pan back to her lab to show us whether she survived or not. But the rule in Marvel is “if they don’t show the character dying, they’re probably alive.” That means there’s a good chance Shuri didn’t dissipate, or they would have shown it.

And that means that T’Challa has an heir.

Not that fans believe the way things are left at the end of Infinity War will stay that way. There is hope for the future, buried in Dr. Strange’s statement that this was “the only way.” (Remember he only saw one way to win out of 14,000,605. He never said winning the battle on Titan won them the war.) But as things stand, when The Still Untitled Next Avengers Installment opens, things will be in the current state for at least most of the film.

With T’Challa at least temporarily gone, that leaves the teenage whiz kid from Wakanda as the heir to the Black Panther mantle. She’s held the position before, in the pages of the comics. In fact, that was the whole point in her creation. Unlike T’Challa, who first appeared in 1967, Shuri wasn’t created until 2005. Writer Reginald Hudlin, who came up with her, pointed out that T’Challa’s only child status was not believable. Ruling families have kids in pairs: heirs and spares.* The movie should honor that legacy and show audiences at least a short snippet of her reign before everything is undone.

(*He’s not wrong either, think about the British royal family. Princess Margaret was the spare to Elizabeth, Andrew was spare to Charles, Harry was spare to William and now Charlotte is spare to George.)

Fans are already gunning for Shuri’s moment to shine.

Moreover, Marvel has been slow to embrace diversity in both race and sex in their films. Back in Phase I, the best a female character could hope for was to be an Agent Carter and at worst and Jane Foster. Say what you will about the DCEU (and there’s been plenty of ink spilled on it), but they nailed Wonder Woman out of the gate, and now Marvel is the one hurrying to play catch up. The set up for next year’s Captain Marvel in Infinity War’s bumper scene looks promising. The search for a female director for Black Widow suggests that Marvel has taken the lessons of Wonder Woman to heart.

But the MCU and Disney have another chance here to reinforce that they are committed to gender equality going into Phase IV by elevating the first black woman (one not painted green) to a major superhero title, and a ruling position, even if it is only temporary. Personally, I hope they take it.

The Still Untitled Next Avengers Installment arrives May 3, 2019.

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Money Making Conversations with Reginald Hudlin

Money Making Conversations is a weekly podcast hosted by Emmy Award winning TV producer and the Architect who developed the Steve Harvey Global Media Brand, Rushion McDonald. The show features one-on-one career advice to callers, contributions from corporate leaders, successful entrepreneurs, celebrity interviews regarding their business ventures, social media branding, financial planning and information to empower small businesses to a path of success!

Appearing on this episode is Reginald Hudlin, known for “House Party”, “Django Unchained” and EP of “Showtime at the Apollo” & “NAACP Image Awards”.

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