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Hidden Figures, 21st Century Fox

In celebration of Black History Month, 21st Century Fox and AMC Theatres are joining forces to provide free screenings of Academy Award nominated film Hidden Figures in communities across the country. The film – starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe – tells the 'untold' story of three African American female NASA mathematicians during the Space Race of the 1960's. Hidden Figures has been nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan. Hidden Figures continues to inspire audiences across the country, having already crossed $144 million in box office receipts. 

The screenings are intended to build broader awareness of the true story on which the film is based, and inspire younger generations to follow their dreams. The powerful Hidden Figures story has been particularly impactful in encouraging young women, and especially women of color, to pursue studies and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. "I believe seeing this movie will give us girls the inspiration we need to say, I can be a mathematician, an engineer or better yet, an astronaut,” said Taylor Richardson, a 7th grade student from Florida who loves science and wants to be an astronaut herself.

Free screenings will be held on Saturday, February 18 at 10am in the following cities: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; The Bronx, NY; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA; Oakland, CA; St. Louis, MO; Miami, FL; and Washington, DC. Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis and can be reserved at https://www.amctheatres.com/hidden-figures-group.

“As we celebrate Black History Month and look ahead to Women’s History Month in March, this story of empowerment and perseverance is more relevant than ever. We at 21CF were inspired by the grassroots movement to bring this film to audiences that wouldn’t otherwise be able to see it – audiences that might include future innovators and barrier-breakers – and we wanted to support and extend that movement,” said Liba Rubenstein, 21st Century Fox’s Senior Vice President of Social Impact.

In addition to February 18th’s free screenings, 21st Century Fox and AMC Theatres invite school and community groups and non-profit organizations to apply for additional special screenings to be held in their towns. Groups can apply at http://21.cf/HiddenFigures for consideration. The application deadline is February 28, 2017 and winners will be notified in March 2017.

“The storytelling and message that Hidden Figures carries is endearing and inspiring, and based on the remarkable community support this movie has received, we have witnessed first-hand the powerful impact it is having on audiences,” said Elizabeth Frank, EVP and Chief Content & Programming Officer, AMC. “We’re honored to partner with Fox to help further the reach of this message to moviegoers across the country.”

21st Century Fox also recently completed “The Search for Hidden Figures” contest to uncover the next generation of female leaders in STEM fields. More than $200,000 in scholarships and awards were distributed. More information on the contest is available here.


Aamir Khan for Nayi Sochi, STAR India, 21st Century Fox

21st Century Fox’s STAR India and Bollywood star Aamir Khan have partnered again on a new brand film for STAR India’s ongoing Nayi Soch (“New Thinking’) campaign. Nayi Soch aims to spark conversation and social change through thought-provoking programming that highlights crucial social issues in India. The short film introduces Khan as a middle-class sweetshop owner who attributes his business success to his daughters’ talents. His shop is uniquely named “Gurdeep Singh & Daughters”, rather than the prevalent “— & Sons.”

''We at Star believe that daughters are equally capable to bring laurels to their families and society. Our latest Nayi Soch film reflects this confidence. It not only questions the gender discrimination that still exists, but also iterates our belief that it is time for fathers to step up and inspire their daughters with confidence and self-belief. Aamir Khan brings great credibility and empathy to the role of a father whose progressive thinking gives his daughters the freedom to flourish,” says Uday Shankar, CEO of STAR India.

With approximately 650 million monthly views and broadcasts across more than 50 channels, STAR India is one of the country’s largest media networks and consistently lauded for its emphasis on pro-social content, especially surrounding women’s empowerment and gender equality in India. After a nationwide study showed that Indian women were getting ahead with professional ambition but were still held back by negative social stereotypes, STAR started running shows with roles for stronger female leads and supportive male leads. And in anticipation of International Women’s Day in 2015, STAR Sports launched the #CheckOutMyGame campaign, which celebrated female athletes and their skills. These campaigns are all part of a more purpose-driven strategy, says Gayatri Yadav, president of consumer strategy and innovation at STAR India, acknowledging that “the measure is the impact on society, not brand equity scores.”

Beginning in 2012, Aamir Khan also hosted a groundbreaking show called Satyamev Jayate (“truth alone prevails”) on STAR’s networks which follows Khan’s conversations with experts, activists, and citizens on India’s most pressing social issues, from sexual assault to water scarcity to LGBT rights. "It deals with issues that India has tended to sweep under the carpet. It's unrelenting and very, very tough. And yet, the success of the show has been astonishing,” said journalist Bobby Ghosh in conversation with Shankar at the Paley Center for Media in New York.

STAR India programming reflects the network’s commitment to creative social responsibility, and Nayi Soch intends to add to the ripple effect of social change in the country. The film ends with the line, Kaamyabi na ladka dekhti hai na ladki. Kaamyabi sirf soch dekhti hai—“success does not consider whether one is a boy or girl; it only takes powerful thoughts into account.”

Watch Nayi Soch’s latest brand film below and join the conversation with #NayiSoch today.


Michael H. Cottman, "Shackles From The Deep"

In continued celebration of Black History Month, National Geographic recently released books by authors, Ann Bausum and Michael H. Cottman, who have each devoted their careers to discovery, research, exploration and impact. These authors tell the unvarnished truth about African American history during the slave trade (Cottman’s Shackles From The Deep) and the Civil Rights Movement (Bausum’s The March Against Fear). While Black History Month is coming to a close, these books and the authors' thoughts, below, remind us that black history is America’s history and celebrated every day.

Michael H. Cottman: Shackles From The Deep

Michael H. Cottman, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author, is a former political reporter for the Washington Post. Cottman also serves as a special consultant to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration for a national multimedia project, "Voyage to Discovery," an education initiative that focuses on the African-American contribution to the maritime industry spanning 300 years and efforts to teach students of color about careers in marine biology and oceanography. ‘Shackles From The Deep’ is more than just the story of one ship, the ‘Henrietta Marie’—it's the untold story of millions of people taken as captives to the New World. Told from Cottman’s perspective, this book introduces young readers to the wonders of diving, detective work, and discovery, while shedding light on the history of slavery.

What inspired you to explore the Henrietta Marie and write Shackles from the Deep?

When I was working on the first book, The Wreck of Henrietta Marie, I started talking to my daughter about it and she said that she thought it would be a good idea to write something that would resonate with young people. I thought, “maybe she’s onto something”, so I began to talk about how to share this story with young people in a way that would resonate with them to discuss the pain and injustice of the slave trade and in a conversational way that they can relate to and understand. I thought the best way to do it would be through writing Shackles From The Deep, because it’s part detective story, part underwater mystery, part personal journey and part history. 

Historians come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Why do you think it’s important for African Americans to study and to tell the story about African American history?

I think it’s important so that we get the story right. In a lot of cases, I’ve talked to scholars and historians who say that we need to be in the position to tell our own stories so that we can pass these truths to the generations of young people who come after us. It’s important for them to know their heritage, to know their lineage, to know about the horrible global business of slavery. But, it’s also important for young people to know that because of slavery, there was genius that was brought to these shores by African people. What I mean by that is the mathematics, poetry, culture and music—the elements that all Americans and all races appreciate to this day. I think it’s important for young African American kids to understand their history, but also understand that there is an uplifting element that has evolved and come out of the pain of slavery. 

How does the discovery of slave ships, like the Henrietta Marie, help us to better understand not just African American history, but American history?

African American history is American history. African American history is global history, a collective history. To illustrate that, I would point people to a partnership between the National Association of Black Scuba Divers and the maritime archaeologists who we partnered with to explore and examine the Henrietta Marie slave ship. During this discovery, we witnessed an unprecedented effort—white and black divers coming together to explore a slave ship. Corey Malcolm, the Director of Archaeology at the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society, said to me, “This is part of our collective history. There is no better illustration of this collective history than white divers and black divers coming together to explore this slave ship.”

If we want to take a step towards racial healing or cultural understanding, we must the acknowledge pain and injustice of the past, and that’s what we did together during this project. We acknowledged the pain and injustice of the past by examining the Henrietta Marie.

If you could describe African American history in three words, what would they be?

Education, illumination and necessity.

Michael H. Cottman, Ann Bausum, National Geographic

Ann Bausum: The March Against Fear

Award-winning author, Ann Bausum writes about U.S. history for young people, and she has published eight titles with National Geographic Children's Books. Her latest, ‘The March Against Fear’, explores James Meredith's 1966 march in Mississippi, which started as one man's peaceful protest for voter registration and became one of the South's most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement.

What inspired you to write The March Against Fear?

I’ve spent two decades exploring under told stories from our nation’s past, particularly ones about the quest for social justice. This story called out to be told for those reasons and because it shares essential history about the evolving nature of the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

You note that Meredith’s efforts were “nearly forgotten.” How did you learn about James Meredith? Based on your research, do you think there are stories, like Meredith’s, that have been left untold?

I’ve known for decades about James Meredith, especially his integration of the University of Mississippi, but also the March Against Fear. The Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of him after he’d been shot along the roadside is burned on my brain; we use that image to open the book. As for untold stories, they are legion. The Hidden Figures books and film prove that—these stories tend to emerge vicariously, so it’s the job of authors and publishers to spot them and latch on.

Why is it so important for our country, and especially our young students, to continue to learn the untold stories of Civil Rights leaders such as James Meredith?

Some of our untold stories are left untold intentionally. They may fall outside of a national narrative of uplift, make us feel uncomfortable, or force us to face past mistakes. I would argue that the best way to avoid such mistakes is to learn about them. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do that any number of times with National Geographic.

If you could describe African American history in three words, what would they be?

Essential American stories.


 The March Against Fear and Shackles From The Deep are both available for purchase through the National Geographic store; author interviews conducted by Christian Garland for National Geographic.


On February 20, 2017, Nat Geo WILD launched its seventh annual ‘Big Cat Week’, a week of premiere programming and activities dedicated to telling the stories of nature’s fiercest felines—lions, tigers, cheetahs, panthers and more—around the world. ‘Big Cat Week’ is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative (BCI), a long-term commitment by National Geographic Society to stop poaching, save habitat and sound the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world. The initiative was co-founded by big cat experts Dereck and Beverly Joubert, and supports protection efforts through assessment, on-the-ground conservation, education, and global public-awareness campaigns—since 2009, BCI has supported over 95 innovative grants to protect seven iconic big cat species across 27 countries.

The Big Cats Initiative Sister School Program is an interactive learning opportunity that connects classrooms in the U.S. and abroad with students living near big cat populations across the African continent. One such classroom is P.S. 205, the Fiorello Laguardia School located in the Bronx, which is paired with Gudigwa Primary School in Botswana. Through photos, letters, and virtual assemblies over the last three years, the two schools have created substantial cross-cultural exchange and discussion about the decline of big cats in the wild and what that means for the ecosystem around them.

Last Thursday, P.S. 205 students helped Nat Geo WILD kick off ‘Big Cat Week’ by spending some time with the Jouberts themselves, who live in Botswana and work closely with Gudigwa Primary School. After a special screening of their new documentary, Soul of the Cat, the Jouberts spoke to nearly 400 4th and 5th graders about the history, purpose, and progress of BCI, their role as explorers and filmmakers, and the world of students at Gudigwa, which P.S. 205 has raised $1,500 for through classroom fundraisers. At the end of the presentation, students gave the Jouberts letters to take back to students at Gudigwa and participated in an auditorium-wide ROAR for big cats around the world, while being reminded that even people who live in New York City far from big cat populations can make a difference in protecting them.

Dereck and Beverly Joubert are award-winning filmmakers from South Africa who have been filming, researching, and exploring in Africa for over 25 years. Their coverage of unique predator behavior has resulted in 22 films (and five Emmys), 10 books, six scientific papers, and many articles for National Geographic magazine. As Explorers-in-Residence with National Geographic, the Jouberts are now focused on developing solutions to halt big cat endangerment, which has seen the number of lions in Africa drop from 450,000 to 20,000 in just 50 years.

“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says Dereck. “They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe. If there was ever a time to take action, it is now.”

Learn more about ‘Big Cat Week’ and the Big Cats Initiative.


Star India TED Talks TV Series Hindi Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan

Through a groundbreaking partnership with TED, the nonprofit dedicated to sharing talks from the world’s leading thinkers, 21st Century Fox’s STAR India has announced its latest pro-social television series, TED Talks India: Nayi Soch (“New Thinking”). The show will feature speakers presenting big ideas in Hindi in TED’s signature format, with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan serving as the host. The series marks the first time TED will collaborate with a major network and star to produce a TV series featuring original TED Talks in a language other than English.

“At STAR, we have always believed in pushing the boundaries with new ideas, creativity and fresh thinking,” said Uday Shankar, Chairman & CEO, STAR India. “Nobody reflects this belief more than TED and we are thrilled to collaborate with them in bringing the power of ideas to our audiences with TED Talks India: Nayi Soch. In an age of high volatility the role of ideas to fuel positive change cannot be overstated. We are delighted to have Shah Rukh Khan share our vision and lend his charisma to this exciting endeavor.”

TED Talks India: Nayi Soch will air on Star Plus, STAR’s flagship channel and its #1 Hindi general entertainment channel. TED will unveil more details about the series, including its official release date and the initial lineup of speakers, at its annual conference in Vancouver in April.

“The sheer size of Star TV’s audience, with more than 650 million viewers, makes this a significant milestone in TED’s ongoing effort to bring big ideas to curious minds,” said Juliet Blake, head of TV at TED and executive producer of the series. “Global television is opening up a new frontier for TED.”

The new series is the latest chapter in STAR’s long history of producing compelling, socially relevant content that sparks conversation and drives change. The best known example of the company’s commitment to social progress is Satyamev Jayate (“Truth Alone Prevails”), an Oprah-style talk show in which Bollywood star Aamir Khan travels the country exploring India’s most pressing social issues, from the caste system to water scarcity to LGBT rights. The series raised more than $45 million for its NGO partners over the course of its three seasons, and at one point STAR estimated the show had reached 3 out of every 4 Indians who watch TV or own a mobile phone.

Shankar spoke about SMJ’s impact on Indian culture, as well as his company’s investment in using the power of its programming to drive change, at the Paley Center for Media in New York in 2014. "Each business contributes its own share to society, but there's a certain amount of premium that society places on media businesses," he said. "I've always felt—and my bosses have always encouraged me—to challenge the status quo... Our job is to question, to focus the spotlight on what we feel needs to be observed more closely."

Since SMJ, STAR has continued to support socially-minded programming, such as Amitabh Bachchan’s series Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi, which celebrated personal stories about those making a difference in their communities. The company has also led a number of recent awareness and activism campaigns, such as October’s promos in which cricket players replaced their last names on the backs of their jerseys with their mothers’ names. Previously, STAR launched the #CheckOutMyGame campaign to support women in sports and developed the VithU smartphone app, allowing women to send out GPS distress signals when they fear they are in danger of assault.

“Star India’s legacy of using television as an instrument of social change, and TED’s unequivocal drive to showcase simple but unique ideas in an effort to spark debate and conversation are a very powerful combination,” said Khan. “I believe TED Talks India- Nayi Soch will inspire many minds across India. It is a concept I connected with instantly, as I believe that the media is perhaps the single most powerful vehicle to inspire change. I am looking forward to working with TED and Star India, and truly hope that together, we are able to inspire young minds across India and the world.”

Learn more about TED Talks India: Nayi Soch.