HBO Max’s New Black Story Initiative Launches in Chicago (Chicago, IL) – Scene in Black held its launch event in Chicago. The event featured the cast of HBO Max’s “South Side” and performances by two Chicago musical artists.
According to HBO Max, Scene in Black is a social-first initiative that celebrates Black stories, talent creatives and fans. This follows two other brands created by the company, which focus on LGBTQIA and Latinx audiences respectively.
The in-person event was the second phase of a three-phase process. The final phase is integrating the brand into HBO Max’s platform and presenting the initiative as a hub within the product.
The in-person event was hosted by WGCI radio personality, Trey White with music from DJ Sean Mac. Food was served from three local Black-owned Chicago restaurants: FriiStyle, Phlavs, and Two Fish Crab Shack.
Guests were treated to a Scene in Black branded bag and t-shirt. Quotes from various Black shows on HBO Max were part of the décor, such as from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Wire. Guests could also take photos and recorded a prompt about Black creativity.
Opening the event were Jaleesa Diaz and Kyra Lewis, multicultural marketing managers and co-leads for Scene in Black. They welcomed the crowed and gave background on the platform and what is coming next.
“With this new relationship, we are so proud to champion strides Black artist have made over time, while we empower the next generation of creatives for the future,” said Lewis.
Following the introduction, the first two episodes from season 2 of South Side were played. It is a comedy series centered around life on Chicago’s south side.
After the episodes, the cast of the show participated on a Q&A panel. Bashir Salahuddin, Chandra Russell, Quincy Young, and Sultan Salahuddin were on the panel moderated by Trey White.
Bashir Salahuddin, who plays Officer Goodnight, is proud that another part of Chicago is being recognized for its comedic roots.
“The south side has a rich comedy tradition. For us, we are a part of that legacy,” said Salahuddin.
The cast all mentioned that it was intentional to feature undiscovered talent within the city.
As a Black woman, Russel, who plays Sergeant Turner on the show, finds it empowering to represent the city in such a way.
“It is so exciting to see all this amazing talent in Chicago that has not been discovered because it is hard when you are not from New York or LA,” said Russell.
Sultan Salahuddin, who plays Simon James, appreciates the diverse stories and ingenuity present in the city.
“For me, it’s like a playground, you have so many pieces that you can put together to create this wonderful work of art. It’s home,” said Salahuddin.
Salahuddin has a nonprofit organization called Lane 44 that provides exposure opportunities to major motion pictures for the youth of Chicago’s south side.
The evening ended with live performances from BJ The Chicago Kid and G Herbo.
Audiences can watch both seasons of South Side on HBO Max. For more updates about upcoming events and opportunities, follow @sceneinblack on Twitter and Instagram.
HBO Max’s New Black Story Initiative Launches in Chicago