Hudlin Entertainment

Reggie’s Black History Month Film Festival

Black historical stories are not and should not be uniformly depressing stories that you “must see” instead of want to see.  Here’s a list of five of my projects that will entertain the hell out of you while you learn stories you need to know. 

1. MARSHALL

I always placed Thurgood Marshall on the same pedestal that I placed Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.  Three different men who dedicated their lives to helping Black people, and in doing so, transformed America and made the world a better place.  

I never thought I would get the opportunity to make a film about his life, but it happened!  Producer Paula Wagner brought me the script, and a Chinese company financed the film after every studio in Hollywood turned it down.  I assembled a dream cast with Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown and Kate Hudson and we made a movie about Thurgood’s early years as a bold, fly and cocky lawyer who fought for justice against incredible odds.  

2. THE BLACK GODFATHER

Sometimes heroes are famous.  Sometimes their stories are lost in history, sometimes, like in the case of Clarence Avant, heroes don’t seek the spotlight.  Sometimes being famous gets in the way of getting things done. 

That’s one of the many lessons to be learned watching THE BLACK GODFATHER, where you see a man overcome one giant obstacle after the next to become a force in the entertainment business, a master negotiator, a huge supporter of political change, and a loving husband and father.  This movie is a blueprint for success.   

THE BLACK GODFATHER is available on Netflix.

3. SIDNEY

Sidney Poitier is one of the most important actors in history.  Not only was he a master thespian, his contributions on and off screen to the civil rights movement had worldwide impact. I was honored to tell his story, coming from an island with no resources except the wisdom and willpower given to him by his parents, and his ability to evolve with the times and opportunity.  

Two time Oscar winner, author, director, producer, Ambassador to Japan, father of six daughters, friends with Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Paul Newman, mentor to Denzel Washington and many more….Sidney Poitier is everything.

SIDNEY is available on Apple Plus.

4. PHAT TUESDAY

Our history isn’t just about great men, but great institutions and movements.  My docu-series PHAT TUESDAY is about the evolution of Black comedy was fostered by Black comedy clubs like The Comedy Act Theater and Phat Tuesdays, which led to a nationwide transformation of how Black comedy was brought into the mainstream, leading to more movies and TV shows.

PHAT TUESDAY has the funniest people ever in it, including Steve Harvey, Dave Chappelle, Cedric the Entertainer, Joe and Guy Torry, Bill Bellamy, Lil Rel, Tiffany Haddish, Bob Saget,  Snoop Dogg, Anthony Anderson, Regina King, Nick Cannon, JB Smoove, Kym Whitley, Flame Monoe and more.

PHAT TUESDAY is available on Amazon Prime.

5. DJANGO UNCHAINED

Unlike the other films on this list, I didn’t direct this one, but I’m very proud being a producer on this masterpiece by Quentin Tarantino.  DJANGO UNCHAINED is a fictional story, but very much grounded in true stories about that horrible era in American history.  

A lot of people complain about not wanting to watch “slave movie” and dismissing them as torture porn. I understand that complaint, but DJANGO UNCHAINED is the opposite of that.  It’s a movie that will make you laugh, cringe in horror and cheer wildly.  We need more stories like this on the big screen! 

+ Permalink

Five Black Romantic Movies to Stream

New York Times | Robert Daniels

For Valentine’s Day and Black History Month, watch these selections that brim with Black love, heartache and desire from across the diaspora.

‘Boomerang’ (1992)

Stream it on Paramount+.

The Black romantic studio pictures of the 1990s were far different from their 1970s Blaxploitation predecessors. Rather than depicting an urban milieu populated by hustlers and pushers, the films that arrived during the newer decade captured an emerging, well-educated Black middle and upper class occupying high rises and boardrooms.

In the director Reginald Hudlin’s screwball romance “Boomerang,” Eddie Murphy is Marcus Graham, a hot shot advertising executive and ladies man struggling to cope with having women like the hard-nosed Jacqueline (Robin Givens) as his boss. Though Marcus tries to seduce Jacqueline, hoping he can sleep his way to the top, he soon develops feelings for Jacqueline’s unassuming friend Angela (Halle Berry). Marcus and Angela’s whirlwind relationship teaches Marcus to love someone other than himself, making for a heart-melting finale that’s stronger than any business deal.

+ Permalink

Norman Ross to Share Historical Significance of the Hudlin Family at SIUE’s Learning Resource Center 

SIUE.EDU
ESTL Norman Ross at LRC

The list of accomplishments and contributions of the Hudin Family from East St. Louis is remarkable. From purchasing their freedom from slavery, to serving as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, to being a tennis coach to the late great Arthur Ashe, to working as Hollywood film producers, the Hudlin family’s legacy is rich and substantial. 

Norman Ross, retired executive director of the Greater East St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, will reveal interesting, impressive history about the Hudlin side of his family during a presentation at noon Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Learning Resource Center (LRC). 

“We are very proud of some of the accomplishments by our family members within the St. Louis Metropolitan Region,” said Ross, who grew up in East St. Louis. “We feel deeply inspired that they were able to enhance the positive well-being of the total community.” 

Ross’s mother is a Hudlin. “I am the oldest son of Dr. Lucille Hudlin-Ross-McClelland, the oldest child and only girl in her immediate Hudlin family of six,” said Ross. “My grandfather Edward W. Hudlin married Myrtle Johnson-Hudlin, and they had six children: Lucille, Warrington, Ervin, Russell, Richard and Edward Hudlin.” 

However, Ross begins the history of the Hudlin family with his great-great-great grandmother Sarah Hudlin. Sarah Hudlin had a son, Peter Hudlin, who purchased his freedom in the 1850s, noted Ross, who is the curator for an ancient African history educational mobile exhibit titled: “The Origin and Dynastic Chronology of Ancient Kemet (Egypt).” 

Peter Hudlin married Nancy Jane Rutledge, a Cherokee Native American, and they moved to St. Louis in 1855, where Peter Hudlin worked as a freight deliveryman. 

“This job position placed him in the perfect situation to work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad to help free slaves on their journey to northern America or Canada,” said Ross. “As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Peter worked with Owen Lovejoy, the great abolitionist minister and brother of the martyred, Elijah P. Lovejoy.” 

Peter had two brothers who escaped slavery. Samuel Hudlin fled to Canada and Joseph Hudlin traveled to Chicago, according to Hudlin. Joseph and Peter both worked as conductors on the Underground Railroad run by Owen Lovejoy. 

In other family news, Richard A. Hudlin, Ross’s great-grandfather and son of Peter Hudlin, was a graduate of Shurtleff College in Alton and worked as a school principal. He was also a Shakespearean actor, filmmaker and reporter for The St. Louis Globe-Democrat in Missouri and the Westliche Post, a German-language daily newspaper published in St. Louis. Richard Hudlin was also appointed as the postmaster in Clayton, Mo., (1843-1901) by U.S. President William McKinley, Jr. 

Ross learned several things about his grandfather, Edward Hudlin, who was the son of Richard A. Hudlin. Edward was a famous horse jockey on the Frank James Farm and Ranch in Missouri. (Frank James was the brother of Jessie James.) While Edward was a soldier in France during World War I, he learned the French-style of stone masonry. When he returned to the U.S., he began his career as a stone mason, according to Ross. 

“All stone-built homes, businesses, porches and fences with French-style green mortar trim around each stone in the East St. Louis area were built by my grandfather and his sons,” noted Ross.   

Edward Hudlin’s brother, Richard ‘Dick’ Hudlin, was a teacher at Sumner High School in St. Louis. He was also the tennis tutor of Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. Ashe won three Grand Slam single titles (U.S. Open in 1968, Australia Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975). He was the only Black man ever to win those titles. Gibson won three Grand Slam single titles (French Open in 1956, Wimbledon in 1957 and 1958, and the U.S. Open in 1957 and 1958).  She was one of the first Black athletes to cross the color line in international tennis. 

The women in the Hudlin family also did great things, according to Ross. “For instance, my mother, Dr. Lucille Hudlin-Ross-McClelland, as dean of the SIUE Nursing School, was critical in getting the nursing program accredited at the University,” he said.   

“My grandmother, Myrtle Johnson-Hudlin, was a St. Louis elementary school teacher who was attending Stowe College in St. Louis when she married my grandfather, Edward W. Hudlin,” Ross continued. “My great grandmother, Lucille Johnson-McCorkle (on my grandmother’s side of the family) was born a slave 10 years before the Civil War ended. In her last years, she lived with my grandparents in Centreville and taught Sunday School for me and other neighborhood children.” 

Other notables that Ross will share during his presentation include:

  • Warrington Hudlin, founder and owner of Hudlin Insurance Company in East St. Louis
  • Ervin Hudlin, lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and a green beret during the Vietnam War
  • Russell Hudlin, owner of two drug stores in the East St. Louis area
  • Edward Hudlin Jr., professor of philosophy at Harvard and SIUE
  • Richard Hudlin Jr., Illinois circuit judge for St. Clair County
  • Reginald Hudlin and Warrington Hudlin Jr. (The Hudlin Brothers), major Hollywood film directors, producers and media managers; some of the films they produced include the 1990s films, “House Party,” “Bebe’s Kids” and “Ride,” and later “Boomerang,” “The Great White Hype” and “Marshall.”

Ross received his bachelor’s in biology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He worked in East St. Louis as the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce from 1986-2011. He currently lives in St. Louis. 

“I enjoy history and love sharing it,” said Ross. “It is vital that we preserve and tell the important history and contributions of African Americans in East St. Louis and around the world!” 

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mr. Norman Ross for programming at the LRC in the past, and each time we meet, I am appreciative of being in his presence,” said LRC Program Coordinator Danayka Saavedra Berrocal. “He has a wealth of knowledge of the area and its history, and shares it freely. The LRC is honored to welcome Mr. Ross back on the Wyvetter H. Younge Higher Education Campus.” 

The SIUE East St. Louis Learning Resource Center (LRC) is a full-service library available to the East St. Louis and surrounding communities, as well as the SIUE East St. Louis Charter High School, SIUE East St. Louis Center staff and programs and other programs and employees on the Wyvetter H. Younge Higher Education Campus. It offers internet access with 10 public computers, a computer lab with 20 computers and a SMART Board available to on-campus classes and community groups. Career services, free library cards, free printing, copying, scanning, faxing, and Notary Public services are designed to provide inclusive access and assistance in one convenient location. LRC is sponsored by a grant from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB). 

Photo:
Norman Ross, retired executive director of the Greater East St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, will present a history on Hudlin family of East St. Louis on Feb. 14 at the SIUE East St. Louis Learning Resource Center.

+ Permalink