TRACY OLIVER TALKS ‘LITTLE’ AT WGA SCREENING.

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

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Monday night, WGAW Speaker Series: In Her Words held a screening of LITTLE with writer Tracy Oliver. After the movie a conversation and Q&A with Tracy Oliver shed light on the film, what it’s like having a 14-year old Marsai Martin as her boss, and her overall writing process. A great informative conversation.

Tracy also stayed after to speak with everyone, gave amazing advice and insight, and take pictures. Her future projects include a play on the film, First Wives Club and Clueless. Excited to see what else she has up her sleeve.

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If you haven’t seen LITTLE yet, run and go see it. I have seen it twice and it was just as good the second time.

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AN EVENING WITH ANGELA BASSETT

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

Had a priceless evening with Hollywood Confidential on Monday night at the Saban Theatre. The phenomenal, talented, iconic Angela Bassett graced the stage and dropped some gems and inspired us all to never lose our fire and to go after our dreams. Angela Bassett was also given the Icon Award by Essence at the end of the night. So, yes priceless moments.

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Thank you so much to Hollywood Confidential and creator Steve Jones for allowing us to be in the room to hear from a legend and a master at the game.

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About Hollywood Confidential:

In seeking to provide a solution, entertainment executive Steve Jones and his company, Brand Maverick Entertainment, launched a free panel series entitled The Hollywood Confidential, designed to educate aspiring actors, producers, writers and directors on the inner workings of entertainment from the perspective of industry veterans.

Specifically, The Hollywood Confidential is a forum where Hollywood’s elite come together for a discussion to reveal tips, strategies, and secrets, as well as recount their own behind-the-scenes experiences as some of the industry’s most respected power players.

Serving the entertainment community since 2013, The Hollywood Confidential has reached thousands of attendees and has additionally pulled in over 20 million impressions online. The panel consistently features an array of topnotch talent and executives with the likes of Golden Globe nominee Michael Ealy, Actresses Sanaa Lathan, Brandy, Tichina Arnold, Meagan Good, Kimberly Elise, KeKe Palmer, executives Cori Murray (entertainment director, ESSENCE magazine), Endyia Kinney-Sterns (VP of Development, OWN Network), and Kimberly Hardin (casting director credited with the discovery of J. Lo, Halle Berry, and Taraji P. Henson) amongst it’s past participants.

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Make sure you follow Hollywood Confidential on social media to know when the next installment will be. I am not sure how they will top Angela Bassett but it is only up from here.

Pieces: JAZMINE SULLIVAN

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

On Saturday, October 6, Color Creative’s music division, The Peak, presented “pieces,” an intimate evening of live songs and the stories that inspire them. For the first installment, Jazmine Sullivan graced the stage and took us behind the lyrics of some of her most popular songs. It was a great night of feels and great music. Thanks, Issa Rae and Lyft for such a great experience.

YARA SHAHIDI’S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

X is about a Black boy that leaves home one morning to go to school. He’s just a regular kid, but as he steps out into the world we see him physically shift and evolve to match the expectations and stereotypes projected into him by the world that he lives in.

X has no almost no dialogue, but it does manage to powerfully convey the spectrum of emotions experienced by people who feel marginalized with public spaces. X wants to explore a young girl trying to ward off the unwanted approach of a grown man or a black teen targeted by a grocery store owner. It is only when they feel safe in their environments that they can truly be themselves.

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X is done in part of Season 2 of the Shatterbox Anthology, a partnership between Refinery 29 and TNT that seeks to give opportunities to tell new and unusual stories behind the camera.

“It’s really about what’s it’s like living in a space you don’t own. I think it’s something everybody can relate to, especially as a brown person, but also as somebody who is on the internet nowadays, where you are constantly witnessing trauma of other people, being desensitized to it, and also living next to it, and with it, in a way that isn’t often addressed, and in a way that makes you grow up really quickly. And so, X was almost a literal adaptation of what it would be like if we grew up based on our surroundings.” –Yara Shahidi

Yara co-wrote the film with Grown-ish writer Jordan Reddout and says that she was inspired by the 1956 French classic The Red Balloon, which shines a light on that country’s socio-economic disparities by following a little boy’s journey through Paris.

The title, X, was originally a place-holder name for the unnamed main character.

“When we were writing the draft and didn’t know what to call the character, we just called them X. But what it represented was in fact that I didn’t want this to seem like this was a story that was happening to this one young boy. Not to reduce a character to an algorithm, but it’s very much a variable or a stand-in for anybody. Especially now, when we witness what happens on a daily basis to kids, especially kids of color, every iteration of X is representative of everyone who goes through daily discomfort and almost earned paranoia of not knowing what will happen to you next in your surroundings.” –Yara Shahidi

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Yara has an African-American mother and Iranian father so this story is something she is all too familiar with.

“Whenever my brother and I felt uncomfortable with somebody behind us, we’d start talking about karate really loudly, as if that would ward people off. Like, ‘Oh, they know karate, back away!’ It’s those moments that I feel like each iteration of X allows us to explore. Every change is intentional. X transitions into a girl for that bus scene, because it’s a special kind of discomfort.” – Yara Shahidi

X ends on somewhat of a questionable note, something that Yara said is intentional.

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“We came up with the idea that we didn’t need a finite ending. It’s cool not to have a clear moral of the story, because to say that there’s a moral of the story would say that there is some sort of solution. Whereas there isn’t a solution, and it’s more a film about awareness.” –Yara Shahidi

“X” is currently available to stream across TNT’s digital distribution platforms, including Roku, Amazon Firestick, Apple TV, Xbox One, and TNT’s website.

A BOY, A GIRL, A DREAM

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

Samuel Goldwyn Films hosted the new Datari Turner Productions Film, A Boy, A Girl, A Dream in LA at the Arclight Theatre.

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Written by Qasim Basir and Samantha Tanner and Directed by Qasim Basir comes a story about following your dreams and those in your life that help you reach it.

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After the screening, Anthony Hemingway conducted a Q&A, where the cast shared insights about the film and what they hope that this film can be.

ABOUT THE FILM
A Boy, A Girl, A Dream stars Omar Hardwick and Meagan  Good. On the night of the 2016 Presidential election Cass (Hardwick), an LA club promoter takes a thrilling and emotional journey with Frida (Good), a Midwestern visitor. She challenges him to revisit his broken dreams while he pushes her to discover hers.

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DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

My letter to you…
At the core of all human emotions, there are two dominant forces – Love and Fear. Our country is on fire and underwater. Fear has devoured Love and there’s an immense divide. It’s tragic and hurtful that the leader of this country seems to promote, endorse and benefit from this hatred.

Our Brother’s, Sister’s and Communities are being executed at the hands of misguided law enforcement. Nazi and Alt-Right march the streets with a renewed confidence unlike anything we’ve seen in recent generations…. and somehow in madness, the chaos I found Love. And with love, A BOY, A GIRL, A DREAM was birthed. From my eyes, a Black man’s constant battle on how to simply live, stay alive, in this new world. My now fiancee, Sam, met me eye to eye to bring a Black woman’s bold, and steady voice. Our Producer, Datari Turner, heard us and brought our Vision to reality. With tons of rehearsal, a dedicated and hard-working crew, we created a behemoth of a journey and welcome you to experience our one-take feature film.

As a Writer and Director, I stand firmly in the space that the power of staying with characters as they unfold creates a very special storytelling. The United is hurting. And in a day where a President can lie without consequence, I believe in the power truth in art. On this beautiful journey, Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good, challenge, inspire and put into action their individual voices. They revitalize their dying Dream’s and at moments find new Dream’s together, with sincerity and truth in their performances.

Fear and Love are the governing principals of all human emotions. This is a story about Love.
Sincerely,
Qasim Basir

Everyone needs that tribe or that person that can help push you along the way. This is a feel-good movie that will have you reaching harder for your dreams and redefining your tribe.

Make sure you get out there and see this dynamic film on Friday, September 14th. Visit https://agirlaboyadreamfilm.com for showtimes.

LIVING SINGLE CELEBRATES 25 YEARS!

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

So many shows came out of the 90’s. There were a plethora of great Black shows that we still binge watch today, and thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and reruns on television a brand-new generation is exposed to the greatness that was 90’s television.

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Living Single premiered in 1993 and lasted five seasons. In a 90’s kind of world, we were glad we had our girls. Khadijah, Synclaire, Regine, and Maxine were the friends that we could relate to, who we wanted to hang with, chill with, laugh with, and do life with. Soon after Living Single premiered a new show Friends premiered on NBC and took the spotlight away and lasted for 10 years and left Living Single into the background.

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“When Friends came out, we knew we had already been doing that. It was one of those things where there was a guy called Warren Littlefield who used to run NBC, and they him when all the new shows came out if there was any show you could have, which one would it be? And he said Living Single and he created Friends.”
-Queen Latifah

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But as we celebrate 25 years since its premiere, a ​reboot is in the works.

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Kim Coles talked about how she envisions her character Synclaire James-Jones these years later, “Listen we always said that Synclaire and Overton were going to have twins, Syncloverton and Overclaire. I would love to see them now.”

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Queen Latifah hopes to be involved as a producer for the reboot. Though the idea is still up in the air, the six actors that created magic back then continue to figure out which method and platform would be best to deliver the content.

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TV One is celebrating Living Single’s 25 years on Friday from the first episode to the last with exclusive interviews with the cast starting at 6 pm.

WIDOWS

 BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

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Forget about How to Get Away with Murder, Viola Davis is showing us How to Get Away with Heisting in her new film, Widows coming to theaters this November.

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Viola plays Veronica who decides to find her inner criminal after her husband and his crew are killed while trying to pull off a heist. Veronica then seeks out the widows of her husband’s crew to help her pull off the failed heist.

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Widows come from director Steve McQueen (“12 Years A Slave”) and written by him and Gillan Flynn.

Check out the trailer below and be sure to see WIDOWS in theaters on November 16.

LOVE IS ______

 BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

This new romantic drama comes from the award-winning producers Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends and Being Mary Jane) and Salim Akil (Black Lighting).

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Set primarily in the 90’s, it draws from the Akil’s real-life​ relationship journey. The series explores the highs, lows, and the magic of falling and staying in love.

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The cast includes Michele Weaver (Illicit) as Nuri and Will Catlett (Black Lighting) as Nasir.

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This series will definitely be another hit show from the Mara and Salim.

TUESDAYS AT 10 PM. ONLY ON OWN!

GIRLS WHO BRUNCH TOUR

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

On May 27, 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the Girls Who Brunch Tour Tutus and Tennis Shoes Gala. This was my first introduction to this amazing organization and I have to say it exceeded my expectations. Personally, I have a heart for teenage girls and to be able to be in the room with such strong women and girls was refreshing. Watching the girls have so much fun in a safe environment was a sight to see.

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Girls from across the country gathered at the Southern Exchange Ballrooms in Atlanta, GA. Emceed by Philanthropist, Producer, and NY Times Best-Selling Erotic Author Zane, and included performances by Neyo’s sister Nikki Lorraine, Amya Roxxstar, and the Mako Girls. The evening concluded with the presentation of certificates for the Girls Who Brunch Tour Ambassadors.

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ABOUT GIRLS WHO BRUNCH TOUR:

The purpose of Girls Who Brunch Tour is to cultivate, inspire and empower at-risk girls between the ages of 9-17 years old. They provide tools needed for literacy, education, life skills and health & wellness to help girls become leaders in their communities.

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Through the Ambassador Recognition Program, teachers, counselors, parents, and mentors recommend girls who maintain a good GPA, display exceptional leadership qualities and perform community service. Each tour is facilitated by Ambassadors and Women who are considered leaders in their community.

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Inspired by Black Girls Rock, Girls Who Brunch wants to be an outlet to display the achievements and the true definition of Girl Power nationwide. They have committed themselves to a National Tour to promote education, literacy, and self-esteem in the inner cities of America.

ABOUT THE FOUNDER:

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Ni’cola Mitchell is a best-selling author and has been featured in Black Enterprise as one of the 5-Follow Worthy Bloggers to Watch. She joined the literary scene with one main objective: To Stimulate Your Mind, One Word At A Time. Through her independent publishing company NCM Publishing, she published numerous titles which have been featured on various best-selling lists throughout the country. She started Girls Who Brunch out of a need to help at-risk girls that would be lost if they didn’t have anyone step in. Being an at-risk girl was all too familiar to her because she too was at-risk at a certain time in her life. On the tour, Ni’cola aims to bring well-known people in the community for the girls to see, speak to and look up to.

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Girls Who Brunch is always seeking donations to continue to assist these girls across the country.

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​Please visit their website to donate and volunteer for this great organization that is changing the lives of our girls. (www.girlswhobrunchtour.com)

KIMBERLY MAYS, CEO OF KSM FILMS PRESENTS: A TRIBUTE TO MECCA

BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP

On May 5, 2018, a group of legendary dancers from the 90’s otherwise known as MECCA were honored in a special ALL-BLACK tribute affair. Hosted by Kimberly Mays, CEO of KSM Films, these 4 extraordinary dancers who danced behind our favorite 90’s groups including Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown, Jodeci, Father MC, Mary J. Blige, Slick Rick, and Kid-N-Play just to name a few. These ladies are Carolyn Johnson, Saleema Mubaarak, Merylin Mitchell, and Shane Johnson.

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The night was filled with excitement, from a plaque ceremony which each lady received a plaque with their name engraved on it, to dancers performing in tribute, to Christopher “Play” Martin who screened his upcoming documentary “And I Danced” which included the ladies giving interviews, to lastly video messages from friends, and those they had worked with in the past.

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It was an extreme honor to be in the presence of dancing royalty as they danced the night away, reminisced on old days and pointed themselves out in videos that played on the screen.

Back in the day, unlike now, dancers had to learn intricate routines and deliver each move with precision. They were also seen as celebrities, you were intrigued by them and wanted to know how they did what they did. They were truly gifted in what they did. After almost 30 years, they received their accolade for being instrumental in paving the way for dancers all over.

THE HONOREES

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Shane Johnson
Shane began in the entertainment business when she was eight years old. She attended The Amas Repertory Theatre in Harlem where she studied acting, singing, and dancing. She mastered the triple-threat status at an early age and went on to choreograph over 100 music videos and worked with legendary artists such as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown. She also is signed to Ford Modeling agency and has appeared on the cover of several magazines displaying her unique style. As an actress, she has starred on shows that have been shown on HBO, NBC, ABC, and FOX, and has performed in on and off-Broadway plays. Almost 30 years later, Shane is fulfilling her dream of being a writer and a producer for an upcoming television show and a film.

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Merylin Mitchell
Although hair was always the first love of Merylin, starting in high school where she majored in Cosmetology, she decided to go after her passion for dance in the early 90’s. Throughout Merylin’s career, she worked with such artists as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, and Bobby Brown. Touring for years allowed her to jump back into her first love, she would style the dancers, models, and studio personnel on tour and made her transition back to a hairstylist. So, in 2000, she attended Hair Design School and immediately began to freelance in the fashion and entertainment industry. After Merylin received her license, she landed an assistant hair stylist position at the Frederick Fekkai’s salon in New York. Since her dancing days, she got the opportunity to work behind the scenes on TLC’s What Not To Wear as a hairstylist to show host Stacy London, Clinton Kelly, and makeup artist Carmindy. Merylin continues to be a freelance hairstylist catering to her array of versatile clientele.

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Carolyn Brown
Carolyn not only got to work with some of the greatest artists of all time, including Michael Jackson, Wh itney Houston, Mary J. Blige, and Bobby Brown, she also got to work with her high school friends. She continues to have a love for dance and choreography, but she has found a new passion for styling. Carolyn has spent the last couple of months as a Uniform Styling Consultant for Delta Airlines.

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Saleema Mubaarak
Dancing was a way of escape for Saleema, she has been blessed to work with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Bobby Brown, and Kid-N-Play just to name a few. To this day, she still enjoys jumping on the dance floor and putting those feet to work with the intricate choreography that she was trained in. Saleema has found another passion since dancing with helping others with a career in healthcare.

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Kudos to Kimberly Mays for putting on a first-class event that was full of excitement from beginning to end. She truly put her blood, sweat, and tears into this event, leaving everything on the floor. This tribute did not stop in Atlanta, it is about to go worldwide.