High achievers on our radar this month, from Bay Area heavyweights to the next generation of power players
Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot
“You don’t get to hate it unless you love it,” Jimmie Fails tells yuppie transplants complaining about the City in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, the buzzy film he stars in and co-created with director Joe Talbot. Last Black Man is about gentrification, but it’s also a layered love letter to SF told through the lens of black male vulnerability and friendship. The native San Franciscans and longtime friends took inspiration from Fails’ actual life story (the actor plays a slightly fictionalized version of himself ). And it’s this authenticity that has struck chords with critics and viewers alike, nabbing two awards at the Sundance Film Festival (including one for Talbot’s direction) and rave reviews. “We tried to make something that didn’t target anyone individual person, but instead honored an experience of what it was like to grow up in San Francisco,” Talbot tells the Gazette. Together, Fails and Talbot have captured a changing city’s flaws in a way that only two people who love it deeply could.
After a monthslong, international search, the San Francisco Ballet announced Tweeddale as its new executive director. And it’s easy to see why — her resume is on pointe! She dazzled the search committee with fruitful leadership positions at institutions like the Seattle Opera, the Seattle Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony, where she currently serves as president. She starts in San Francisco on September 3, succeeding Glenn McCoy’s 32-year tenure. “I am thrilled to be joining San Francisco Ballet, having long admired its artistic achievements and its exemplary role in pushing the boundaries in dance,” she says, adding: “I am also looking forward to working collaboratively with San Francisco’s dynamic arts community, because as we all know, a thriving arts community is the bellwether of a great city.”
Charles Chip Mc Neal
Last month, the San Francisco Opera established a new department dedicated to diversity, equity and community, and it handpicked longtime educator Charles Chip Mc Neal to lead the effort. An SF Opera employee since 2014, Mc Neal has developed innovative curricula for the company’s in-school programs, building on experience he gained in the last two decades as a civic leader and activist with a focus on equity and the arts. During that time, he held tenure as the director of education at the San Francisco Ballet, where he established the San Francisco Ballet Center for Dance Education. Under Mc Neal, the new department will aim to make the SF Opera an accessible and inclusive place to experience the arts. He says, “San Francisco Opera is making a bold move in a time of critical change in our country’s history, and certainly in the state of California.”
Last month, footage went viral of Beyoncé serving major side-eye to a chic woman who leaned over her to speak to Jay-Z at a Warriors championship game. The first thing we thought was how lucky said mystery woman, aka the Warriors owner’s wife, Nicole Lacob (whom we identified immediately, unlike Twitter troublemakers outside the Bay), was to have (literally) brushed shoulders with Beyoncé. Suddenly, we had a long list of questions for Nicole: What did Bey smell like? What color was her aura? Did you suddenly feel safe and warm in her presence? For days, Lacob’s name was blasted everywhere from TMZ to Harper’s Bazaar after the angry Beyhive swarm mobbed the poor woman, reportedly reducing her to tears. (For the record, we don’t think cyberbullying is ever OK, and word on the street is neither does Queen Bey.) Nicole, despite what might have been unwelcome attention, take comfort in the fact that many a person’s dream is either to be memed or to meet Beyoncé — you managed to do both in one sitting, courtside at that.
Meet the Fine Arts Museums’ man of the moment. As the newly announced president of its board, Moment will oversee the de Young and Legion of Honor museums as his longtime predecessor, Dede Wilsey, did for the last two decades. The hedge fund manager moonlights as a contemporary art collector and critical board member of influential San Francisco institutions. Think: the UCSF Foundation, Benioff Children’s Hospital and the FAMSF since 2014, where he’s employed his finance smarts as audit committee chair for the past three years. Arguably most important? He steps into the new position with a stellar endorsement from Wilsey herself— and that’s saying something! As a bona fide force in Bay Area arts and philanthropy, Wilsey wouldn’t surrender her reign for any Joe (or Jason) Schmoe. She’s transitioning to the FAMSF board’s chair emerita, a title she describes to the Chronicle as more “mature.”