By Lauren Poteat, NNPA Newswire Washington Correspondent
In an effort to improve ties between the African Diaspora and the Black community in America, Nigerian filmmaker Jeta Amata teamed up with Prince Adah Obekpa, Vanessa Teemsma and Joan McCarthy to make a comedic, yet timely, film titled “The American King: As Told by an African Priestess.”
Obekpa served as an executive producer on the film, while Teemsma and McCarthy assisted as producers.
“There is no better time than now to create a narrative that showcases Africa and Africans in a different light,” said Amata, during a screening of “American King” at the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage in Northwest, Washington, D.C. “I wanted to make something that would give Americans and, more importantly African Americans, an opportunity to see and understand who they are and why they are who they are…We are all Africans and it’s so important that African Americans, most of all, understand that.”
Using comedy to emphasize the message of strong, cultural appreciation, the film also tackled hard-hitting, social issues including colonialism and poverty—a burden faced by all kinds of people, all over the world.
Akon, the award-winning, Senegalese American music producer, added his star power to the film as the main character, Sebastian. Akon also starred in Amata’s 2012 film “Black November.”
Kenneth Miller, the publisher of the Cleveland Call and Post, collaborated with the NNPA to host the “American King” screening.
After the screening, Miller shared the story about a chance encounter in 2011 with the producers of Amata’s “Black November” during a boxing event promoted by Don King. Miller described watching “Black November” as a life changing experience.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet Michael Jordan. I didn’t know Michael Jackson. I don’t know LeBron James. I never met Kobe Bryant, but [Jeta] had something that all of the great ones have,” Miller said. “I told him then that, ‘I am going to be with you for a very long time.’”
Miller later traveled to Nigeria with Amata.
“I felt more at home in Nigeria, a place I spent 11 days of my life, than I felt at home when I came back here to the United States of America,” Miller said. “My goal for the rest of my life is to connect to who I am and what I am…Jeta has allowed for me to be able to pursue that wonderful dream.”
Championing Amata’s filmmaking endeavors, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, shared his thoughts on “The American King” and its overall message.
“The film is a fusion of African and African American flavors, meant to change the way we see each other and the way we relate to one another,” Dr. Chavis said. “I use to live in Angola and I found out that there is no real substitute for getting on a plane or on a boat and actually going over and spending time in Africa.”
Dr. Chavis continued: “The time to embrace one another—the time to embrace Africa—is now and that’s what this film is about.”
“The American King: As Told by an African Priestess,” is set to hit theaters in early 2019.