Entertainment

Oprah picks 19-year-old Oakland author’s book for her club, saying it ‘wowed’ her.

Leila Mottley, the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, began writing novels when she was just 14. Now, at 19, her debut novel, “Nightcrawling,” has been selected for Oprah’s Book Club. “I think that I just have instinctually always been writing,” Mottley said during a Zoom interview this month. “But I think from a young age it felt very natural to me.” The Oakland native began writing “Nightcrawling” at 16 and hopes it will represent the lives and thoughts of people…

New documentary celebrates Oakland’s ‘last Black cowboy’

Half a dozen people sporting cowboy hats and boots stood in a queue outside of Eli’s Mile High Club, chatting in hushed excitement, some squeezing together for selfies.  The occasion was the Oct. 2 premiere of “Cowboy,” a documentary about the life of “Oakland’s last Black cowboy,” 80-year-old Wilbert Freeman McAlister. He is president of the Oakland Black Cowboy Association, which is a non-profit focused on preserving the history of African Americans who were crucial to the establishment of the…

African-American Shakespeare Co. returns to the Oakland stage with free weekend show

Oakland is the newest playground for the African-American Shakespeare Company’s upcoming tour of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, Revised.” Coming to Jack London Square this Saturday, the play challenges three actors to perform 75 characters from 37 of the bard’s plays in just under an hour and a half. The Complete Works was slated to hit the stage in September 2020, but as COVID-19 devastated the theater industry, AASC joined many of the nation’s theater companies in pushing…

First Fridays finally returns with food, music, fun in KONO

At his family-owned halal market Thursday morning, Temur Khwaja cut and marinated chicken and lamb for kebab at Marwa Market & Grill. “We need to prepare for First Friday tomorrow,” said Khwaja, anticipation in his voice, sweat on his brow. Local businesses and restaurants in the Koreatown Northgate (KONO) neighborhood are preparing for the relaunching of the Oakland First Fridays festival tonight. First Fridays is a monthly street festival held by KONO Community Benefit District. Eighteen months after the pandemic…

Oakland Pride Month is going strong, with some events live and others virtual

Oakland Pride Month is celebrated through September and features myriad events. But this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still a menace, the celebrations have been varied.  Oakland Pride’s festival was initially scheduled to take place in person. But it switched to virtual around a week before because of safety concerns.  But in person at Lake Merritt last Saturday, dozens of people gathered under white tents for the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center’s inaugural Pride in the Park: LGBTQ + Health &…