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TV One announces 'Unsung Hollywood'; Pam Grier featured in premiere episode

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Fresh off their popular series “Unsung” that features the stories of some of the most interesting names in music, TV One has announced a new series, “Unsung Hollywood.” This all-new series reflects on the life and careers of Hollywood’s African American entertainment stars of film and television. In its first season, the series will feature such artists as Dick Gregory, Sheryl Underwood, comedians Robin Harris and Flip Wilson, kicking off the series with a feature on Pam Grier. “Unsung Hollywood” premieres February 26th on TV One.

Grier, a Golden Globe nominee for her comeback role in the 1997 Quentin Tarantino film “Jackie Brown,” met with reporters at the TV One portion of the Television Critics Winter Press Tour to reflect on her lengthy career and on why shows like “Unsung Hollywood” are so important.

Highlights from the panel:

Grier on being a strong woman and how it’s shaped her life and career – Her strong feminist values originate from her family, dating back to her grandfather who wanted the girls in the family to do everything that the boys did. The actress also reflects on the sexual revolution in the early stages of her career.

“It was equality that was the real purpose for me,” said Grier. “I translated that to film and I wanted to do with film at the time, because Gloria Steinem was my mentor, there was the sexual revolution, is that I brought a political voice to sexuality for women.”

On why a show like “Unsung Hollywood” is so important – Grier sees the show as a way to have an historical narrative to share with the public and is thankful to TV One for providing such an outlet. “Thank you for wanting to establish an historical narrative so that you can share that with the public that often goes unnoticed,” said Grier. “When I’m not doing a film, I’m doing theater but people don’t know that.”

On why John Travolta’s and Samuel Jackson’s careers explodes after appearing in Tarantino films and hers didn’t after “Jackie Brown -- Grier feels that it’s different for her as a female because audiences watch stars for certain reasons, of sexuality attraction, for the acceptance of being strong and intelligent. She also notes that she carefully chooses her roles. “I chose not to do a lot of roles because they didn’t interest me,” she said. “…because they were victimization and I just don’t want to do them. But would I have done the roles that Meryl Streep did? No, they were going to have Meryl Streep do those roles. So there’s certain dynamics called box office. And so if you can fill the seats – it’s a business. It’s not about art or politics, it really is a business.”

The actress also notes that Hollywood is mostly about the huge box office. “Women, we do have a very strong dynamic to be physical and do stunts and be attractive. There’s so many elements to why a woman is going to be in a role. And a lot of women don’t do all the roles because they can’t do stunts or its religious, dogmas that they don’t enjoy. So it’s what’s ever out there. And they write if they know they that they’re going to have a huge box office. Now will I bring that? No, I’m marginalized. But right now we try to not think of being black or white, just a female who brings craft. So that’s what I try to do"

“Unsung Hollywood” premieres February 26th at 10:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on TV One.

To read more articles with actors from your favorite shows and movies, check out my pages at Daytime TV Examiner, Classic TV Examiner and Animation Examiner. Also, follow me on Twitter at @Phyllis_Thomas

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