by John Russel Jones

BET debuted its new four-part, eight-hour documentary film series from Emmy Award-winning Executive Producer Stanley Nelson and Firelight Films this weekend: “Black + Iconic” celebrates Black cultural icons, pioneers, and activists and their impact, influence and legacies in fashion, music, film, and dance. Executive producers Connie Orlando and Jason Samuels developed “Black + Iconic” for BET, along with senior supervising producer Steven Ramey.

Directed by Lynne Robinson, the inaugural film in the series, “Black X Iconic: Style Gods,” has signed on Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actor, singer, director, producer and activist Billy Porter to narrate, host, and serve as executive producer for the groundbreaking documentary. “Black + Iconic: Style Gods” premiered this weekend on BET, BET Her, BET+, and VH1.

“We’re thrilled to be working with BET again after the success of our first project together, ‘Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama,’” said Nelson, co-founder of Firelight Films and Executive Producer of the “Black + Iconic” series. “I couldn’t think of a better home for this series celebrating Black icons via the numerous mediums through which Black creatives have made an indelible mark on the culture.”

“With this definitive and original documentary franchise, we look forward to giving some of the amazing Black icons who have shaped and continue to influence popular culture their well-deserved recognition,” said Connie Orlando, EVP, Specials, Music Programming, Music Strategy and News. “We are proud to partner with Firelight Films and Stanley Nelson again, a pillar in the creative and documentary communities, and Firelight Films on this groundbreaking series. We loved having Billy Porter perform at last year’s BET Awards, and we are honored to have one of the most recognizable entertainers, trailblazing forces, and a style icon in his own right, narrate ‘Style Gods.’ We hope ‘Black + Iconic’ inspires our viewers while reinforcing how Black people are both the source and the driving force of what is cool and next in culture.”

Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan.

Following in the footsteps of previous award-winning BET original documentaries “ALI: The People’s Champ” and “Katrina 10 Years Later: Through Hell and High Water,” the first project in the franchise kicks off with a two-hour film on fashion. Weaving dazzling archival footage and original interviews with legendary Black models, fashion designers, and style icons, “Black + Iconic: Style Gods” explores the myriad of ways Black people have overcome racism to ultimately blaze an undeniable trail from the streets through the most exclusive runways of high fashion.