06-18-2018  12:23 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NEWS BRIEFS

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

CareOregon Awards $250,000 for Housing Projects

Recipients include Rogue Retreat, Bridges to Change, Luke Dorf, Transition Projects and Bridge Meadows ...

The Honorable Willie L. Brown to Receive NAACP Spingarn Medal

The award recognizes Brown’s lifelong commitment to the community, equality and civil rights ...

Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture

New Smithsonian exhibit looks at how Oprah Winfrey shaped American culture and vice versa ...

Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Black Pioneers Host ‘Celebrate History and Make a Difference Now!’ Event June 9

Representatives from local organizations will talk about how individuals can get involved in promoting social change ...

Grants Pass man, 39, drowns in Rogue River

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The Josephine County sheriff says a Grants Pass man drowned in the Rogue River.Sheriff Dave Daniel says it happened Saturday afternoon when 39-year-old James Dawson tried to swim to shore after his watercraft quit working. He was not wearing a life jacket.Crews...

Some forest trails remain closed long after 2017 wildfire

IDAHHA, Ore. (AP) — Some trails in Oregon's Willamette National Forest remain closed due to damage from a wildfire that ripped through the area last year.The Register-Guard reports the Whitewater Trail into the Jefferson Park area remains closed. Other trails, including some in the Fall...

UW to pay 7K to settle Republicans' free-speech lawsuit

SEATTLE (AP) — The University of Washington will pay 7,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after the college billed a Republican club security fees for a rally.The UW College Republicans sued, saying the bill for ,000 to cover security costs for the campus event violated free-speech and...

Old farm warehouse may be saved as part of Hanford history

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — One of Washington state's most endangered historic places is located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland. That's according to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.The long warehouse along the Columbia River was once owned by farmers Paul and Mary...

OPINION

What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit

For all its weaknesses, we are better off having had the summit than not ...

Redlining Settlement Fails to Provide Strong Penalties

A recent settlement of a federal redlining lawsuit is yet another sign that justice is still being denied ...

5 Lessons on Peace I Learned from My Cat Soleil

Dr. Jasmine Streeter takes some cues on comfort from her cat ...

Research Suggests Suicides By Racial and Ethnic Minorities are Undercounted

Sociologist Dr. Kimya Dennis describes barriers to culturally-specific suicide research and treatment ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Greece: 2 face racism charges over beatings of immigrants

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police say they have arrested one suspected extreme nationalist and are seeking a second as suspects in a pair of attacks on immigrants in Athens.A police statement issued Monday said the suspects allegedly attacked two Pakistanis on Friday, stole a mobile phone...

Redistricting changes headed to the ballot in several states

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday on redistricting lawsuits in Wisconsin and Maryland comes as several states already are considering changes to the criteria and processes that will be used to draw legislative districts after the 2020 Census.In most places, the state legislature and governor are...

States' redistricting plans facing challenges in court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to block the use of legislative districts in Wisconsin and Maryland in separate cases that had alleged unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the high court allowed lower courts to continue considering the claims.The cases are among several that...

ENTERTAINMENT

Review: 'Jurassic World 2' leans on nostalgia, contrivances

Here's the good news: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom " is more fun than "Jurassic World." It's not exactly a high bar, but still a welcome surprise. In the hands of a new director, J.A. Bayona, with Chris Pratt's high-wattage charisma on full blast and a fair amount of self-aware humor intact,...

'Incredibles 2' crushes animation record with 0 million

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The combined powers of superheroes, the Pixar brand and a drought of family-friendly films helped "Incredibles 2" become the best animated opening of all time, the biggest PG-rated launch ever and the 8th highest film launch overall.Disney estimated Sunday that the film...

AFI highlights Clooney's life of acting, activism and pranks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Clooney's Hollywood career spans more than three decades, with memorable roles including fighting vampires, playing Batman and drifting through space in "Gravity." But Clooney's other accomplishments, including directing, screenwriting and activism, led to him...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Puerto Rico struggles with jump in asthma cases post-Maria

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Shortly after he turned 2, Yadriel Hernandez started struggling to breathe....

Apple sets up iPhones to relay location for 911 calls

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is trying to drag the U.S.'s antiquated system for handling 911 calls into the...

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA (AP) — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health...

Israel PM, Jordan king meet after months of strained ties

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan's King Abdullah II and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have met after...

Geraldine McCaughrean wins Carnegie children's book prize

LONDON (AP) — British writer Geraldine McCaughrean has won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for children's...

Greek far-right lawmaker arrested on treason-linked charges

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek anti-terrorism police arrested an extreme far-right lawmaker on treason-linked...

Mahershala Ali in Free State of Jones
By Kam Williams | The Skanner News

Born in Oakland and raised in neighboring Hayward, Calif., Mahershala Ali received his bachelor of arts degree in mass communications at St. Mary's College. He made his professional debut performing with the California Shakespeare Festival in Orinda, California. Soon thereafter, he earned his Master's degree in Acting from New York University's prestigious graduate program.

Mahershala is fast becoming one of the freshest and most in-demand faces in Hollywood with his extraordinarily diverse skill set and wide-ranging background in film, television, and theater. Last fall, he wrapped Brad Pitt and Adele Romanski's independently-produced feature film, “Moonlight,” and reprised his role in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2,” alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore.

On television, Mahershala was recently cast in Netflix's “Luke Cage” in the role of Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes. He can also be seen on the award-winning Netflix original series House of Cards, where he's reprising his fan-favorite role as lobbyist and former press secretary Remy Danton.

Here, Mahershala talks about acting in “Free State of Jones,” a Civil War saga co-starring Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Keri Russell.

 

Kam Williams: Hi Mahershala, thanks for the interview.

Mahershala Ali: Thank you, Kam.

 

KW: What interested you in “Free State of Jones”?

MA: The story, first off. I had never heard of Newton Knight. So, the narrative as a whole was really attractive to me because it was a refreshing departure from the homogeneous depictions of the Civil War where the North wanted to abolish slavery while the South wanted to keep it intact. Here, you had an example of a Southerner who spoke out against slavery during the war and who later became an activist for Civil Rights and this new idea of equality for all people regardless of one's skin color, race or creed.

 

KW: What interested you in playing Moses?

MA: I had never seen a character in this time period who had such agency and mobility for someone living in the South. He had run away with a group of former slaves and was really living life on his own terms in the swamps. And he was determined to be pro-active in his people's emancipation. Also, seeing his evolution over the course of the narrative really inspired me. He's a disenfranchised, runaway slave with no education who learns to read and write and really becomes a leader and an active participant in the democratic process who mobilizes others. His were big shoes to fill, but they were ones that I was very excited to step into.

 

KW: How was it working with such an accomplished cast that included Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell and Brendan Gleeson?

MA: It was very inspiring and also humbling. It was a difficult shoot, being in the swamps in both the heat and the cold for four months, but everybody arrived ready to go, all-in and totally committed. It all started with Matthew and Gary [director Gary Ross] who had a wonderful energy and approach to the work every day that trickled down to the rest of the cast and crew. Everyone was aware of and inspired by the importance of the story we were telling, and that was another added layer that contributed to the focus that everyone had.

 

KW: And how was it being directed by a four-time Oscar-nominee in Gary Ross?

MA: Pretty phenomenal, starting with the audition process. He was very curious about my ideas in terms of fleshing out the character, and he also wanted to know my perspective as an African American and whether I felt it reflected the African American experience. And it was mind-blowing and empowering how Gary wanted to portray African Americans participating in their own liberation. So, I would work with him again at the drop of a hat.

 

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film?

MA: That the struggle for freedom continues. And if you're a person like Newt, it becomes your responsibility to empower those in close proximity to you.

 

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?

MA: “The Great White Hope.” I would love to redo that film in a way where it would be more focused on Jack Johnson.

 

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?

MA: Terrence Stamp as General Zod in the1978 version of “Superman” starring Christopher Reeve.

 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

MA: I'm not much of cook, but I cook a mean bowl of oatmeal.

 

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

MA: I remember choking on the core of an apple while being bathed in a large sink by my dad. He slapped me on the back until I coughed it up.

 

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

MA: My parents and my grandparents. My mom was extraordinarily present, but I'm so appreciate of all of them.

 

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

MA: I grew up in church. My mom's a minister, and my grandmother was an ordained minister. I was always very mindful of the presence of a greater being I call God.

 

KW: How were you affected by the passing of Muhammad Ali?

MA: I was very affected by it. He was my first hero. I was mesmerized by his photos and his presence, even though he was retiring around the time I was becoming conscious of him. He was 100 percent my first hero and idol.

 

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know: what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?

MA: Hold tight to the mentality of being a student, meaning hold on to curiosity and approach life as a student.

 

KW: What was your very first job?

MA: Working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I was apple to save up and by my first car over the course of that summer.

 

KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

MA: Commit myself to this journey of becoming an actor. It takes a lot of love and support and wonderful allies. But I don't necessarily recommend it.

 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

MA: No one ever asks me what inspires me. What inspires me today is a desire to get closer to an understanding of what my artistic capacities are with the hope of organically sharing my gifts with an audience in the most heightened way I possibly can.

 

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

MA: Granola. I never grew out of the cereal thing. As an adult, I could eat granola three times a day, if it didn't have so much sugar in it.

 

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

MA: They tend to believe in themselves and to be really impassioned. The people that I admire have a wonderful balance of self-belief and humility.

 

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

MA: To really be conscious of how long the journey is, be patient, push yourself, persevere and always be working on your craft while waiting for your break. That's what I'm still working on, having done this for 20 years now.

 

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

MA: I guess as someone who was always looking to grow and improve in all the aspects of my life, from acting to being a good family man to embracing the spiritual tenets that I choose to practice. I always hope to be a better person tomorrow than today.

 

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

MA: [Chuckles]I don't have a wallet. I carry my driver's license and a couple of credit cards in my phone. That and a money clip.

 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Mahershala, and best of luck with the film.

MA: Thanks, Kam.

Oregon Lottery
Calendar

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Lents International Farmers Market
The Skanner Report

The Skanner Foundation Scholarships