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February 2007
Hollywood Power Broker: An Interview with Vicangelo Bulluck

Hollywood Power Broker: An Interview with Vicangelo Bulluck

By Donovan Capwell

Vicangelo Bulluck is a man of many talents. As the Executive Director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau and Executive Producer of the 38th Image Awards, he also ranks as one of entertainment’s leading power-brokers. However, given his status, when you meet Vic (as he likes to be called), he’s low-key and totally unassuming, the very model of a brother totally secure and at ease, with place and position in the world.

In his dual capacity as an Executive Director/Producer of the venerable organization’s Hollywood chapter and its Awards show, Vic is dedicated to building bridges that will provide opportunity to all qualified people of color. Under the leadership of NAACP President & CEO Bruce S. Gordon, Vic has made major strides in the prestige value the Image Award carries for its honorees. He has also successfully built bridges for his chapter within the Hollywood establishment. 

Vic promises that this year’s show (which will go “live” this year) will be its best, which is a good way to close out the crowded Hollywood Award season. Blackfilm.com recently caught up with Vic to get the scoop on the show and find out what the Image Awards represents to Hollywood.

As director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau and Executive Producer of the Image Awards, can you describe exactly what you do?

Vicangelo Bulluck: Well, obviously it has different responsibilities. Ongoing responsibilities as to the NAACP’s diversity initiatives in Hollywood and working with the networks in regards to employment of minorities in front of and behind the cameras. Then there is the seasonal work of the Image Awards and overseeing the production of that program.

Is planning the Image Awards an all year thing? How early does the planning process begin? Who picks the date?

VB: The date is chosen in coordination with the NAACP and Fox, the Network that broadcasts the show. It starts as early as the day after the last one finished.

Some say the NAACP is a dated institution and that minorities have come a long way since its inception in 1909, and hence it is not needed.  Adding, it is the only surviving institution which still uses of the term “colored people”. What’s your comment on that?

VB:  These are two distinct questions. The name and the use of colored people on one level may be perceived as dated and then on another level it’s perceived as progressive. If you talk about just in the context of African American, to be colored may feel dated, but if you talk about the colored people of the world it’s progressive. The NAACP is essentially a civil rights, human rights organization that came about because of the injustices against the African American community. We maintain the work we do in the African American community, but we also feel there are lessons to be learned for all colored people around the world and all those who are suffering under any form of oppression, which is why the NAACP also is active internationally. In regards to people feeling that it’s a dated organization, all I can say is the NAACP is still very active, it’s very vital. The African American community has come a long way, but there are still many issues taking place daily that center around the inequities of race. Whether it’s the work place where reports continually verify there is discrimination based on race and color, education or health disparities. The NAACP has remained  continually active fighting on behalf of disenfranchised people.  So those who feel that the organization is dated and done with are probably not people who are politically aware.

Why are the Image awards so important especially since there are  other award shows that also recognize achievers of color?

VB: That may be true but the Image Awards was here first. If you just look at the legacy of those who have been recognized by the Image Awards in the past, from the mega stars of Ellie Fitzgerald and Sammie Davis Jr., it’s a qualitative difference between what we do and what takes place on other Award Shows. I  can actually only think of two others and the Image Awards is the only one airing on a primetime Network.

The idea of the Image Awards is to honor outstanding people of color in entertainment, but with limited roles on movies and television for those artists, it appears the same actors are being nominated each year. Now do you think it’s because we don’t have a large amount of African American actors consistently churning out quality projects?

VB: I think there is a truth in that. I think the other truth is that our communities are very loyal loving fans and so when they take that performer or artist to heart they track that artist for a long time.  We have had people that anytime they were nominated you wouldn’t want to be in the category competing against them. Whether it was back in the day when Della Reese, Luther Vandross or Denzel Washington won for a stretch. I think you do see lots of changes as new talent comes along.  

Now correct me if I am wrong, but a glance at the nominee list I don’t see too many people of color outside of the black race. I don’t see many Hispanics.

VB: We have America Ferrera and George Lopez and Penelope Cruz.

Now George has been nominated a few times but never actually won

VB: Correct. And in our independent Foreign Film Category we have “Curse of the Golden Flower” and “Volver”. Mario Vasquez is also nominated as Outstanding New Artist and Dora the Explorer is up for Outstanding Children’s Programming. The point is that the nomination process is open in that regard.

The movie “Catch a Fire” was nominated but lead actor Derek Luke failed to garner a nomination which seems such a shame as he delivered such a great performance.  

VB: I know and I was a big fan of “Catch A Fire” and a big fan of Derek Luke but when you’re going up against Denzel Washington, Forest Whittaker, Jamie Foxx, Laurence Fishburne, Will Smith all in very strong and powerful performances…..

But when you look at Denzel’s credentials, he’s obviously won a few times and all the major black actors you mention have been recognized and won Image Awards at some point. Isn’t it better to lean towards the equally talented newcomers than the bigger performers who have already proved their acting capabilities on numerous occasions?

VB: That’s kinds the nature of award shows in general. The nominees are made by a committee and they vote individually so it’s not like there’s gathering where they go “oh wow, Derek Luke has not been nominated. Let’s nominate Derek Luke”. I think what Derek’s performance did will bring him great recognition which I am sure he will benefit from in the future. I think if you look at the history of all award shows the unfortunate reality is rarely the first major performance that an actor does and a lot of times even the second that gets them recognition. It’s the constant body of work that’s constantly good.  

So we can expect a phenomenal show?

VB: Absolutely. We are going live so people will get to know who wins as the envelope is opened.

Live here on the West Coast?

VB: We will be taping at 5pm on the West Coast and live at 8pm on the East Coast.

So being as it’s going live this year how differently will things be done?

VB: We just have to be tight and punctual.


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