Web Service to UNIFY Black Shows
“If you’re curious about the journey and evolution of Blacks on television and film and how they made really significant contributions in entertainment, this will be the one place where we are unifying this content.” – Dr. Donahue Tuitt, UNIFY Founder
Sure, Netflix, HULU, and Crackle make for great movie and TV streaming services, but how grand is their selection when it comes to African-American content?
UNIFY is a new film and television streaming service that seeks to pick up where other mainstream film/TV streaming brands have not. Dr. Donahue Tuitt spoke with JET about the origins of UNIFY, and the evolution of Blacks on television and film.
JET: Tell us about UNIFY. What’s the mission of the product?
Dr. Donahue Tuitt: The goal is to unify all of the Black TV shows and films under one platform, so they can be in one centralized place where families and people from all different generations, can enjoy quality programming. If I had an affection for an older show, I would have to buy a box set on Amazon. So for me, it was the economic factor, too — to find a cost-effective way for people to get exposed to as much content as possible for the cheapest price. I also wanted to be able to teach those about the rich history we have in entertainment and make sure that we preserve this stuff for our generations. Hopefully, it can be a place where we can unify families as well, because generations will be exposed to things they might not have seen or known about over the years. Economically and cultural we needed to preserve our history before it got lost in a studio bowl.
JET: You said you want to teach people about the rich history of Blacks on film. What does that look like through UNIFY?
Dr. Tuitt: Over the last month, we’ve been releasing a docu-series called, The Legacy, which is the 75 years of Blacks on television. Our desire is to really enlighten people about how we’ve made the evolution from being maids to media moguls. What does that look like? The first Black woman was on television in 1939, Ethel Waters. The docu-series really shows how we’ve transitioned from Ethel Waters all the way to Empire in 2015 — not only how the images of African-Americans on TV have transformed, but how they’ve been used to help transform Black and white relationships in America over the years and how that’s really impacted society.
JET: How has it impacted society? The role that I remember is the famed interracial kiss on Star Trek and how it brought to light some deep-rooted racial tensions in the 1960s.
Tuitt: Yeah. With shows like Julia and Amos and Andy, Hal Kanter, a white man, helped create and produce these shows and he did what he knew at the time. But the NAACP really put pressure on Hollywood to rethink images in which they were casting in front of the camera, and it caused him to re-evaluate what kind of content he was producing. [That] evolved into the show Julia. The conversation they had, with [Diahann Carroll] being the first Black woman to star in her own show, really caused America to take a second look at what their perceptions of Black people were. Like Archie Bunker’s racism in All In The Family and George Jefferson’s prejudices in The Jefferson’s –how those things pushed conversations and dialogues in society. Art imitates life. So when people are able to see themselves on camera, it makes them question some of the things that they do. With UNIFY, our prayer is to be able to show how TV can really push society to be better than we are today individually and collectively.
JET: Nice. It’s like an added educational/social justice element wrapped up in your product.
Dr. Tuitt: Thank you. We’re really encouraging people to pre-order the platform if possible. The more folks pre-order, the more shows we’ll be able to license. We [also] would love for people to go on the platform and watch the 24-point docu-series The Legacy, to really get familiar with a lot of the shows that came before them, and for older generations to see the shows that they grew up with. They can watch it for free right now.