Grant #199

Mr. SOUL! The Movie

June 27, 2016

Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL!

Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL! From 1968-1973, America got SOUL! — TV’s first “Black Tonight Show.” Mr. SOUL! The Movie is a multi-platform project centering around a feature-length documentary by Director/Producer Melissa Haizlip. The film celebrates SOUL!, the groundbreaking PBS series from its genesis to its eventual loss of funding, against the backdrop of a swiftly changing political and social landscape, while profiling Ellis Haizlip, the charismatic man behind one of the most culturally significant and successful television shows in U.S. history.

The film explores how, at a pivotal moment in American history, SOUL! influenced the country’s perception of African American culture, identity, and experience. Once completed, the film will be distributed theatrically and offered to PBS for national broadcast. The immersive, robust website will engage audiences and connect them to others in the space driven by advocacy around the larger political issues of diversity in media.

The team will put our AWB grant towards finishing funds, as well as towards a beautifully immersive Mr. SOUL! The Movie interactive website. Check out the film’s trailer here, and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Category: Culture, Documentary, Film, Media



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders