Yemi Bamiro To Direct Kwame Brathwaite Doc ‘Black Is Beautiful’ For Wayfarer, Misfits Entertainment

EXCLUSIVE: Yemi Bamiro (Fight the Power) has been set to direct Black Is Beautiful: The Kwame Brathwaite Story, a documentary spotlighting the life and work of activist, cultural icon, and renowned photojournalist Kwame Brathwaite, which Wayfarer Studios (Ezra, It Ends With Us) is developing in partnership with Misfits Entertainment (McQueen, Rising Phoenix), The Creative Coalition, and The Kwame Brathwaite Archive.

A celebration of Black history, art, and culture, the film will chart Brathwaite’s rise to a position of huge influence against the backdrop of the second Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, and the evolution of modern art. A trailblazer and founding father of the “Black is Beautiful” movement, Brathwaite is perhaps best known for co-creating Grandassa Models, a group of Black female models that promoted African-inspired fashion and beauty ideals, aiming to foster a shift away from from the more traditional Eurocentric standard by highlighting a more cosmopolitan look and feel. The movement was documented through Brathwaite’s photographs of gatherings which included music, poetry readings, plays, and art in its various forms. With Grandassa Models, he was able to create an authentic and unfiltered environment where people could be themselves and embrace their natural beauty, and to this day, the group meets weekly.

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Brathwaite’s work appeared in publications including Vogue, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Essence, Blues and Soul, New York Post, New York Magazine, and National Geographic. Over the course of his career spanning more than six decades, he snapped shots of everyone from Mohammed Ali and The Jackson 5 to Nelson Mandela and Grace Jones, while giving equal focus to ordinary individuals.

In utilizing his photographic medium to spotlight the convergence of fashion, activism, music, and art on a global scale, Brathwaite captured spectacular moments in history, both big and small. His quintessential contribution to the Black aesthetic continues to inspire the next generation of photographers, celebrities and artists across all mediums, messaging, and brands.

Helping the Black Is Beautiful filmmakers in their mission of celebrating the unique life and talents of Brathwaite is the massive archive of never-before-seen materials that they were able to access through the creative’s estate. Wayfarer Studios co-founder Steve Sarowitz will exec produce the doc alongside Misfits Entertainment’s co-founder and co-owner, Andee Ryder. Producers on the pic include Wayfarer’s Justin Baldoni and Andrew Calof, Misfits Entertainment’s Ian Bonhôte and Lizzie Gillett, Robin Bronk for The Creative Coalition, and Kwame S Brathwaite on behalf of The Kwame Brathwaite Archive.

Brathwaite’s son, Kwame S. Brathwaite, shared that the process of archiving his father’s “writing, ephemera and iconic photography” has been taking place over the last few years. “We are truly excited,” he said, “about this opportunity to provide an in-depth look at the breadth and historical significance of his work.”

Bamiro stated that he came to the project as “a huge fan” of Brathwaite’s work. “To have the opportunity to shine a light on the life, work, activism and influence of such a legendary figure is a privilege,” he said.

Offered Wayfarer Studios’ President of Production and Development, Calof, “The world hasn’t heard enough about this incredibly crucial man who has influenced the Black aesthetic since the 1960’s. Images which showcased the persecution of Black people deeply impacted Kwame and as a photographer, he was compelled to change the focus and provide positive narrative to this time.”

Calof went on to emphasize that Brathwaite was “devoted to spotlighting the love, hope and beauty present within the underground movement of Black culture and he was driven to bring this into the mainstream. This greatness has resulted in tremendous impact on generations since.”

Bamiro most recently directed Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World, a PBS docuseries chronicling the birth and evolution of hip-hop, which features talents like Chuck D, Ice-T, and Run DMC. He also directed the doc One Man and His Shoes on the “social, cultural and racial significance” of Air Jordan sneakers, as well as Reggae Fever: David Rodigan, a feature doc spotlighting the career of the same-name British DJ. Other past projects include Viceland’s Hate Thy Neighbor and Prime Video’s Fever Pitch: The Rise of the Premier League.

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