1h 10min | 2015 | Documentary
Host: Mark Conklin, Director, Artists Relations & Programming, Grammy Museum
Guest: Nicole London
"Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me" is the first major film documentary to examine Davis’ vast talent and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America.
Sammy Davis, Jr. had the kind of career that was indisputably legendary, so vast and multi-faceted that it was dizzying in its scope and scale. And yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory. He was the veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions trying to stay relevant; he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America; he was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to another persecuted minority.
Featuring new interviews with such luminaries as Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak, with never-before-seen photographs from Davis’ vast personal collection and excerpts from his electric performances in television, film and concert, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer whose trajectory blazed across the major flashpoints of American society from the Depression through the 1980s.
About Nicole London:
London is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker and producer of Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, a major international documentary on the legendary musician Miles Davis. Recent credits include AMERICAN MASTERS Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, The Talk: Race in America, and 16 short films now playing in the Segregation Gallery of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Two of her recent films were both nominated for 2016 NAACP Image Awards: AMERICAN MASTERS August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand and Firelight Media’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the latter of which was also nominated for a 2016 Primetime Emmy.
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