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RC talks to cast, producer and more from ‘All Eyez on Me’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

THE WAIT IS OVER! 

The highly anticipated Tupac Shakur biopic, “All Eyez on Me” opens nationwide in theaters today and fans will finally get to see what all the hype is about!

The two hour and twenty minute film stars newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. as the iconic rapper and chronicles his life from his early days as a dancer and “hype man” of Digital Underground to his meteoric rise as a rap star and actor to becoming an artist of Suge Knight’s Death Row Records. This film is a “must see” for real Tupac fans and takes a definitive look at his amazing 25 years on this planet. It also includes appearances by the lovely Kat Graham as Tupac’s close friend and confident Jada Pinkett Smith and Jamal Woolard reprises his role as Tupac’s friend turned foe Biggie Smalls. The film was produced by L.T. Hutton and directed by Benny Boom.

RC had the pleasure of chatting with Hutton and his cast last week during a private press conference  in Atlanta promoting the film. I also got a chance to interview the film’s casting directors Winsome Sinclair and Donald Jarmond for my Saturday radio show, UPFRONT Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry.

Check out a few excerpts from those interviews + more pics below:

KAT GRAHAM

On Jada Pinkett Smith’s support of the film:

“She’s given her blessing and she’s watched some clips. She’s incredibly supportive which means the world to me because I’m a big Jada fan and I’ve always been. A lot of people are surprised that she and Pac [Tupac] were friends growing up. Having her support for such a sacred relationship on screen in such a big way is a blessing. She’s a remarkable woman and we wanted to do her justice.”

On preparing to play Jada Pinkett Smith:

“I did a lot of research. Once I realized that I was going to play her I wanted to watch every single interview, every single movie or whatever I could get my hands on.  I wanted photos of her as a child as a teenager or with Pac. Any videos or anywhere that she spoke about him or anything that would help me distinguish certain characteristics that I wanted to portray. It was important that it was more about embodying who she was versus making it an imitation. That’s not what I wanted to do and I don’t think that you guys would have connected with that either.”

DEMETRIUS SHIPP JR.

On staying in character throughout the entire filming process:

“The funny thing is that if you asked me that back then I would have said, ‘no.’ I was still myself but when I got home and I looked back over some behind-the-scenes video, I was in character the whole time. (LOL) From the time I touched down in Atlanta on November 30 to the time I left, I was in character.”

L.T. HUTTON

Despite the beef that is going on between L.T. Hutton and the film’s former producer, John Singleton, he did want fans to know that this film project is about Tupac’s life and not their own agendas. He also expressed to us how critical that films of this ilk are to the success of other future Black projects.

“It’s very few movies that we have that have a Black producer on it all the time. To have a Black director and then to have an almost all Black cast of an iconic figure, this movie is to be celebrated….not to get caught up and entangled in drama. It’s not about me. It’s not about him. It’s not about Benny Boom. It’s not about my company. It’s about Tupac and if you guys saw the movie, you’ll see that’s Tupac,” said Hutton during the press conference.  “That’s what they want us to do is have a scenerio where Hollywood can say, ‘if Tupac didn’t work then nothing will work.’ So now everybody that’s an aspiring filmmaker or aspiring actress, now the pond gets even smaller than it already is. It’s 2017 and we’re still talking about the first Black this or that. We get excited over the little bones they throw us. ”

WINSOME SINCLAIR AND DONALD JARMOND

On Demetrius Shipp Jr. being chosen for the role:

“L.T. saw him before anyone did and the truth about Demetrius’ journey is that Demetrius’ father was the engineer in Tupac’s recording sessions.  So it’s kinda like full circle, almost like he was born for this role,” said Sinclair during our UPFRONT interview. “L.T. also tells the story of when they finally made a decision to go with Demetrius and took him to meet Afene. She was getting up in age and thought Pac had walked in the room. So that was like the final sanction…yeah that was him!”

“All Eyez on Me” in theaters this weekend.

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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#UPFRONT to feature Crystal Fox, Winsome Sinclair & Donald Jarmond

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

This Saturday’s edition of #UPFRONT Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry is going to be another great one indeed!

I had a chance to chat exclusively with the casting directors Winsome Sinclair and Donald Jarmond. The two open up about working on the highly anticipated Tupac Shakur biopic “All Eyez on Me” (which opens this weekend) as well as their numerous other film projects. Sinclair first got her start working with the legendary Spike Lee and did casting for many of his films including “Jungle Fever,” “Malcolm X” and “Crooklyn.” These are definitely two behind-the-scenes stars that you will want to know.

I also had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with singer, actress and dancer Crystal Fox. She opens up about playing Hanna Young on Tyler Perry‘s popular soap opera, “The Haves and the Have Nots.” She also talks about her FREE “Dance for Diversity” event that is taking place in Atlanta on 6/24 and an unforgettable moment she shared with her aunt—Nina Simone.

#UPFRONT Inside Atlanta Entertainment Industry is 30-minute radio magazine that features one-on-one interviews with all of the major players and behind-the-scenes superstars that make Atlanta the “Entertainment Capital of the South.” It airs every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on Jazz 91.9 WCLK and his hosted by yours truly, Ray Cornelius.

Click here to check out past shows below:

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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Official Trailer + Poster for Tupac biopic, ‘All Eyez on Me’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

The official trailer and poster for the highly anticipated Tupac Shakur biopic, “All Eyez on Me,” dropped today and we are so here for it.  The film stars Demetrius Shipp, Jr. as Shakur and was directed by the iconic—Benny Boom.

“All Eyez on Me” tells the true and untold story of the prolific rapper, actor, poet and activist from his early days in New York City to his evolution into being one of the world’s most recognized and influential voices of his generation.  Against all odds, Shakur’s raw talent, powerful lyrics and revolutionary mind-set propelled him into becoming a cultural icon whose legacy continues to grow long after his passing at the age of 25.

The film also stars Kat Graham as Jada Pinkett, Lauren Cohan as Leila Steinberg, Jamal Woolard as Biggie Smalls and Danai Gurira as Afeni Shakur.

Check out the trailer + poster below:

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WATCH 2nd Trailer for Tupac Shakur Biopic ‘All Eyez On Me’ (NSFW)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Tupac Shakur‘s death, a new trailer has been released for his highly anticipated biopic, “All Eyez On Me.”

As previously reported, the film centers on the life of the charismatic yet controversial rapper, poet, actor and political activist, who shot to fame with “2Pacalypse Now.” His politically charged lyrics, inspired by his parents’ activism as Black Panthers in the 60s & early 70s, condemned governmental intrusion in black communities. Tupac’s increased participation in the East Coast-West Coast Rap rivalry became well documented and avidly followed by his fans. He was gunned down a street corner in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996 and died 6 days later. His murder was never solved.

“All Eyez on Me” stars Demetrius Shipp, Jr. as Tupac along with Danai Gurira as his mother Afeni Shakur. Kat Graham stars as Jada Pinkett, Dominic L. Santana portrays Suge Knight, Jamal Woolard as Biggie Smalls, Annie Ilonzeh as Kidada Jones, Lauren Cohan as Lelia Steinberg, Grace Gibson as Faith Evans and  Harold House Moore as Dr Dre. The film is directed by Benny Boom and is executive produced by Afeni, who passed away in May at the age of 69. The film expected to open in 2017.

Check it out below and tell us what you think!

https://youtu.be/3ZlXHAbX3TY

Photo Credit: Blog.screenweek.it

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WATCH 1st Trailer for Tupac Shakur Biopic ‘All Eyez on Me’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out the new trailer for the long awaited Tupac Shakur biopic, “All Eyez on Me.” The film features Demetrius Shipp Jr. as the iconic rapper along with Danai Gurira as Afeni Shakur, Kat Graham as Jada Pinkett-Smith, Dominic L. Santana as Suge Knight, Annie Ilonzeh as Kidada Jones, Jamal Woodard as Biggie Smalls, Grace Gibson as Faith Evans and Harold House Moore as Dr. Dre. There will also be appearances by Keith Robinson, Cory Hardrict and Hill Harper.

According to the film’s IMDB page, “All Eyez on Me” centers on the life of the charismatic yet controversial artist—Tupac Shakur. The rapper, poet, actor and political activist, shot to fame with “2Pacalypse Now,” lauded for its seminal underground vibe and still an inspiration for major artists today. Tupac’s politically charged lyrics, inspired by his parents’ activism as Black Panthers in the 60s & early 70s, condemned governmental intrusion in black communities. Tupac’s increased participation in the East Coast-West Coast Rap rivalry became well documented and avidly followed by his fans. On September 7, 1996 he was gunned down on a street corner in Las Vegas, where he died 6 days later. His murder was never solved.

“All Eyez on Me” is directed by Benny Boom and is executive produced by Afeni, who passed away in May at the age of 69.  The film opens on November 11, 2016.

Photo Credit: NewsCult.com

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CASTING NEWS!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

“True Blood” star Rutina Wesley has been cast in OWN’s upcoming drama “Queen Sugar.” She will portray Nova Bordelon, a New Orleans journalist and activist whose life is changed when her sister Charley returns home from L.A. to help her run the family’s sugar cane farm. The series is based on the book of the same name by Natalie Baszile and will be written and directed by Selma’s Ava DuVernay.  [SHADOW & ACT]

Versatile actors Jamie Hector and Kat Graham are joining the cast of the upcoming Tupac Shakur biopic “All Eyez On Me.” Hector will portray Mutulu Shakur, the stepfather of the slain rapper while Graham will portray actress and close friend Jada Pinkett-Smith. The film chronicles Shakur’s rise to superstardom and features Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac, Danai Gurira as his activist mother Afeni Shakur, Jamal Woolard as rapper Biggie Smalls, and Dominic L. Satana as Suge Knight. “All Eyez On Me” is directed by Benny Boom and is currently being shot in Atlanta, GA. [DEADLINE]

Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx will star as Little John in “Robin Hood:Origins.” The role is being described as “a war-weary veteran of The Crusades who starts out as distrusting of Robin Hood before warming up to him in what is being called a gritty take on the legendary story.” Foxx joins Taron Egerton as Robin Hood and Eve Hewson as Maid Marian. “Robin Hood: Origins” is being produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s company Appian Way Productions. [BLACK ENTERPRISE]
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