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Janelle James, Spinderella to headline Cultures & Communities Festival

Side-by-side photos of a woman wearing a floral silk shirt and lanyard, and a woman wearing a military-style jacket with the word "Spinderella" on the front pocket.
Janelle James / Instagram / MKE Film
Janelle James (left) of "Abbott Elementary" and DJ Spinderella are both part of this year's Cultures & Communities Festival from Milwaukee Film.

Milwaukee Film’s Cultures & Communities Festival is back for its fifth installment Oct. 5-12, and the organization this week announced a pair of headlining events for this year’s celebration.

On Oct. 8, actress and comedian Janelle James will bring her Newly Famous Comedy Tour to the Pabst Theater, performing a 45-minute set followed by a 15-minute audience Q&A that will no doubt cover her time as principal Ava Coleman on ABC’s Abbott Elementary.

James has earned an avalanche of recognition for the role, picking up a 2022 Emmy nomination; as well as wins at the 2022 Black Reel Awards for Television and Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards, and the 2023 NAACP Image Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

A few days before James hits the stage, the festival will get things started with an Opening Night Party at the Cooperage featuring DJ Spinderella, a pioneer in hip-hop and behind the turntables as one-third of the legendary Salt-N-Pepa. She’ll topline a full slate of DJs — including Doc B, Homer Blow and Lo Lo — on a night hosted by Dame Ellzey and Radio Milwaukee’s Element Everest-Blanks.

“This is the fifth Cultures & Communities Festival, and each year we look forward to making it bigger and better,” Milwaukee Film chief innovation officer Geraud Blanks said in a release. “Whenever I tell someone we're bringing Janelle James or DJ Spinderella to town, their face lights up, making me think we're on the right track."

You can pick up tickets to the Janelle James show online and at the Pabst/Riverside box offices, and the Opening Night Party featuring DJ Spinderella on the Milwaukee Film website.

In addition to the pair of headlining events, Milwaukee Film is also on the lookout for streetwear artists, brands and enthusiasts interested in being vendors at “Culture By Design: A Sneaker & Streetwear Summit.” The event will take place from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Wisconsin Center and will feature a sneaker marketplace, clothing, accessories, pop-up exhibitions, activations and displays. If you’d like to participate, Milwaukee Film is currently accepting applications here.