The Urban Movie Channel was created by Robert L. Johnson, Chairman of RLJ Entertainment and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), and is an urban-focused subscription streaming service in North America. The subscription only service features quality urban content that showcases feature films, documentaries, original series, stand-up comedy, and other exclusive content for African-American and urban audiences.
New titles added weekly include live stand-up specials like “Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand Up and Comedy Underground Series” and performances featuring Academy Award® winner Jamie Foxx and comedic rock star Kevin Hart; dramas including “Blackbird,” starring Academy Award®-winning actress and comedian Mo’Nique, Isaiah Washington, and directed by Patrik-Ian Polk; and “Playin’ For Love,” starring and directed by Robert Townsend; documentaries including Bill Duke’s “Dark Girls” and “I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac.” There are also action/thrillers including “The Colony,” starring Laurence Fishburne; and stage play productions including “What My Husband Doesn’t Know” by David E. Talbert.
UMC is a great alternative or addition to a viewer’s streaming services. There are many unique titles, as well as older titles that deserve a second look. And in what I consider an extension of Black History Month, which really sustained hit after hit of bad news for the community, the month of March on UMC offers a great choice of titles, including the following:
On March 7, “True First” continues from its January 31st series premiere. The next episode of this docudrama series will air March 7 with new episodes every Thursday.
From the depths of slavery to the modern-day Olympic Games, “True First” shares the untold stories of several iconic Black men and women who overcame fierce oppression and injustice to change history and break new ground in culture, sports, technology and government. Profiled historical figures include Shirley Chisholm, baseball player Moses Fleetwood Walker, “Mother of Rock N Roll” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, genius inventor Frederick McKinley Jones and Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Simone Manuel.
Chicagoans will get another chance to see a love story like none other when “Love Jones” runs on the site on March 7. This feature film, which is set in Chicago, is an ode to true love that is more than 20 years old. And it’s still a fantastic film.
Darius (Larenz Tate), an aspiring writer, and Nina (Nia Long), an aspiring photographer, share an instant connection after a chance meeting at a Chicago club. The two bond over music, photography and poetry, eventually beginning a torrid romance. However, when Nina decides to move to New York and mend her relationship with her ex-fiancé, Marvin (Khalil Kain), it leaves Darius heartbroken, and the couple’s future in jeopardy.
On March 21, the Season 2 premiere of “Bronx SIU” kicks off. This season has six episodes that broadcast every Thursday. This is a UMC original series that follows the pursuits of homicide detective Jimmy Blue (Brian White) as he heads up an elite unit of investigators tasked with solving the borough’s most heinous crimes. After Jimmy’s life-threatening, on-the-job injury reveals a crooked cop in the SIU division, Season 2 centers on the team as they work to find the mole and uncover the truth around Jimmy’s case. Also starring Shanti Lowry, Miguel Nunez Jr., Keeland Ellis, and Vanessa Lyon.
And finally for the month of March, streaming on March 28, is the stage play “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Stunned from the premature passing of a childhood friend, and recent news of her ex-husband’s pregnant new wife, Angela Stephens realizes it’s time to shake off her two-year stint of ‘divorce blues’ to find her happy-ever-after before it’s too late. Fate knocks at the door when her old high school crush, Maurice Long, resurfaces and after a short time proposes…with Angela’s help. But what happens when her prince charming loses his charm and an admirer with baggage wants to step up to the plate? Starring Essence Atkins, Victoria Rowell, Richard Brooks, Latarsha Rose, and Joyful Drake.
A rare film about a Black female veteran and her acclimation to civilian life is “Stand Down Soldier.” This film by Jeryl Prescott Sales was first screened at the African Diaspora International Film Festival a few years ago. The social significance of this film is quite remarkable, as viewers are rarely exposed to stories like the one told in this film. Sergeant Stacy Armstrong returns home from three deployments suffering with PTSD. Soon after her return, she and her husband realize that their 20-year marriage is about to be another casualty of war.
Don’t miss out on these and other great movies and television series that center on the Black community. New content is added weekly, and a streaming subscription isn’t that expensive. A monthly subscription to the first and largest streaming service for Black TV and film costs $4.99, and an annual subscription costs $49.99. New subscribers can enjoy a free 7-day trial subscription, but you will need to set up an account with billing information. Once your 7-day trial is over, then you will be charged until you cancel your subscription. For more information, visit https://umc.tv/.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. She is also the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.”