The Cast of ‘Girls Trip’ attend #NOLA Premiere [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

The New Orleans premiere of “Girls Trip” was lit yesterday afternoon and yours truly RC was there to capture all the sights and sounds. The advanced screening took place at the luxurious Theaters at Canal Place on historic Canal Street.

The films four divas—Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish—looked absolutely amazing on the red carpet along with their co-stars Larenz Tate and Kofi Soriboe. The film’s director Malcolm D. Lee and producer Will Packer were also in attendance.

As previously reported, “Girls Trip” features the ladies as lifelong friends who travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, where they rekindle their wild sides. The film features a lot of dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make even the Big Easy blush. Rounding out the cast is Kate Walsh and Mike Colter.  “Girls Trip” was also written by “black-ish” creator Kenya Barris along with Tracy Oliver.

A number of celebrities were in attendance including reality show maven Mona Scott-Young;  singer and actress LeToya Luckett, singer/songwriter Tank, “Insecure” actress Issa Rae, LHHNY Yandy Smith; rapper, actor and reality star him Romeo, South African actress Nomzano Mbatha, actresses Essence Atkins and Bresha Webb, “Queen Sugar” stars Omar Dorsey and Timon Kyle Durrett and many more.

The event was presented by Nissan and Hello Beautiful! Check out more pics below:

Photo Credits: RayCornelius

RC Exclusive - Ent

WEtv hosts NYC Screening of ‘Sisters In Law’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Wednesday night, the ladies of WEtv’s newest reality series “Sisters In Law” attended a special screening in New York City. The show, which airs TONIGHT at 10 p.m. EST, follows a group of Houston’s top black female attorneys as they tackle some of the toughest cases in Texas. The event was held at a reception space at the Museum of Art & Design and was co-presented by the Association of Black Women Attorneys (ABWA).

Cast members in attendance included Jolanda Jones, Juanita Jackson, Rhonda Wills, Vivian King, Monique Sparks, and Tiye Foley. Other special invited guest included  reality star Yandy Smith (“Love & Hip Hop”), TV/Radio personality Bevy Smith, recording artist Elle Varner, Judge Lauren Lake (“Paternity Court”), actress Naturi Naughton (“POWER”), and Boogie Dash (“Growing Up Hip Hop”).

Guests previewed the season’s first episode which was followed by a Q&A session moderated by TV and radio host, Jacque Reid.  Check out a few red carpet pics below + a sneak peek of the series:

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Elle Varner / Judge Lauren Lake 


Jacque Reid with the “Sisters In Law”

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Bevy Smith / Damon “Boogie” Dash


The crowd during last night’s premiere

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Jacque Reid / Naturi Naughton and Yandi Smith

#SistersInLaw debuts tonight at 10/9c on @WEtv

Photo Credits: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images


Elle Varner, Tyrese, Zendaya help Bera & Tara Celebrate their Birthday in L.A.

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

International musician Bera and Creative Director Tara Razavi hosted a private birthday dinner at Los Angeles hotspot Beso in Hollywood, CA. The intimate 100-guest dinner, presented by exclusive event planners Berhe Love, drew inspiration from the 1920’s and included a burlesque show with DJ Carisma of Power 106.

Bera & Tara Private Birthday Dinner Party

Bera was clad in Alexander McQueen and was styled by Celebrity Stylist Law Roach.

Special guests included: Zendaya, Tyrese, Pia Mia, Elle Varner, Model Shaun Ross, Chantel Jefferies and many more.

Elle Varner

Elle Varner with Bera

Bera & Tara Private Birthday Dinner Party

Bera and Zendaya talking


Zendaya with Tara

Bera & Tara Private Birthday Dinner Party

Shaun Ross with Bera

Photo credit: Araya Diaz

Recap News Launches Weekly Web Series ‘What’s At Stake’ with Marc Lamont Hill

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

As we near Election Day (November 4), what are the issues that need further examination and attention by young African-American voters at the polls? From Education to Voting Rights to Unemployment. This week  BET News tackles the socio-economic and cultural issues that affect our young community with a new weekly web series titled, What’s At Stake  launching on, Video-On-Demand (VOD) and on BET’s brand app BET Now.

Hosted by BET News correspondent Marc Lamont Hill, the digital series provides a platform for millennial viewers to have a voice and be heard, delving deep into the topics that affect them directly and motivate them to evaluate “What’s At Stake.”

What At Stake  will provide a platform for our audience to connect and explore the issues from various angles including roundtable discussions, continuous conversations on social media, crowd-sourced content topics, and “Meet ups”, where African-American millennials gather to share their views with the host.

The multiplatform series will converge linear, web and social and to ultimately result in a call to action that will improve our communities. On linear, 106 & PARK will interview Hill in a weekly segment about each week’s topic. On the web each new episode will launch online at and on social media viewers can participate by using the hashtag #whatsatstake. Future webisodes will continue to explore the subject matters that, according to them, most concern our community’s young people.

The first webisode will raise the issue of financial aid and features a roundtable conversation with Elle Varner (Singer/Songwriter), Tamika D. Mallory (Community Activist), Orlando Watson (Communications Director for Black Media, Republican National Committee) and Corey Arvinger (Howard University Student).

What’s At Stake  is a BET Networks Production.

Photo Credit:

RC Exclusive - Music

SWV to perform at 2014 Trumpet Awards + Photos & First Episode of ‘SWV Reunited’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

90’s R&B group, SWV are set to perform at this year’s Trumpet Awards and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The Grammy-nominated trio just premiered their new WEtv reality series, SWV Reunited  on Thursday night, with the hopes of reaching a new audience and reclaiming the spotlight.

As previously reported the show will highlight the group’s resurgence in music, their off-stage dynamics and personal lives as well as explore why the group broke up in the first place.

Coko, Taj and Lelee recently hosted a premiere party for their series in New York City’s Jazz Room at the General. The event was attended by a number of the group’s celebrity friends and music newcomers including Elle Varner and Epic Records singer Daisha.

Check out the pictures below and watch the first episode of SWV Reunited:

"SWV Reunited" Series Premiere"SWV Reunited" Series Premiere

 Coko/Elle Varner

"SWV Reunited" Series Premiere"SWV Reunited" Series Premiere


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"SWV Reunited" Series Premiere

 SWV with Elle Varner

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Photo Credits: Johnny Nunez/WireImage


ESSENCE adds Lionel Richie, Mary J. Blige, & Erykah Badu to 2014 Festival Line-Up

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The 2014 ESSENCE Festival is shaping up to be an eclectic mix of old school and new school artists.

The festival announced today the addition of hip-hop soul queens Mary J. Blige and Erykah Badu along with Motown legend Lionel Richie to its main stage. They will join previously announced headliner, Prince, who will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of his classic Purple Rain  album.  Also gracing the main stage are crowd favorites Jill Scott, Ledisi and Charlie Wilson.

The Superlounges are sure to be “turnt up” with intimate performances from Marsha Ambrosius, Raheem DeVaughn, Robert Glasper, Elle Varner and R&B newcomer Sevyn Streeter. Veteran acts Naughty by Nature, Doug E. Fresh, Eve, 112, Amel Larrieux and Stephanie Mills will also hit the stage with their catalogues of endless hits.

Rounding out the weekend will be an all-star tribute to gospel diva Yolanda Adams during the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience. The event will be hosted by Adam’s Sunday Best  co-star Donnie McClurkin along with appearances by Rev. Al Sharpton, Steve Harvey, and Fix My Life’s  Iyanla Vanzant.

The ESSENCE Festival is July 3-6 at the New Orleans Superdome.

Click here to purchase tickets!


Photo Source:

RC Exclusive - Ent

5-Minutes with Rickey Smiley

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Rickey Smiley is without a doubt one of the funniest men on the planet!

The former stand-up comedian turned-actor turned-radio host has the ability to make you laugh out loud even when he is trying to be serious. I had a chance to sit down and talk to this very proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; best known for his side-splitting prank phone calls that can be heard every week on his very popular Atlanta-based radio program, Rickey Smiley Morning Show.

He was in town as part of the AT&T 28 Days Tour, a five-city promotional event that featured celebrities, motivational types and singers who encouraged consumers to re-envision what they can achieve in their lives during Black History Month. Smiley was joined by female hip hop lyricist Mc Lyte and Grammy-nominated singer, Elle Varner.

After the show, we chopped-it-up about season two of his highly rated TV One sitcom The Rickey Smiley Show, his future movie plans and what keeps him smiling.

RC: Congratulations on the completing the first season of “The Rickey Smiley Show.” What can viewers look forward to in the upcoming season?

RS: Well, it’s gonna be funny as hell. This time, I’m in the writing room. So when you get me in the writing room you get RICKEY SMILEY. The first season, I was just really trying to get my feet wet. But this time I am jumping in. I am part of the writing team and we making it happen.

RC: So many comedians have made successful transitions from TV to film, any chances of us seeing more of you on the big screen?

RS: Yes, I’m actually in David E. Talbert new movie that’s coming out called “Baggage Claim.”

RC: How cool! This is the new romantic comedy starring Paula Patton. So what part are you playing?

RS: I forgot? (LOL) I know, right?  I was the sky cap but I can’t remember the character’s name. (LOL)

RC: The film has such a diverse cast…Jill Scott, La La Anthony, Trey Songz…I’m sure there was never a dull moment on the set.

RS: Oh yeah man. It was a lot of fun. I went out to the set and shot all of my parts in one day and was outta there. But it was great. They are going to break up my parts and put them throughout the entire movie. So I am really excited and looking forward to it coming out.

RC: You have mentioned in the past that you have been influenced by a number of comedic greats. Any chances of us seeing you play one of your idols in a film project? 

RS: I am working on something right now. We’re trying to get the rights to a certain movie but I don’t want to say it yet. (LOL) Well, let me just say “Richard.” I’ll just say that. Not playing him but one film that he had a lot to do with, so I am really looking forward to that one. We’re working real hard now to get the rights so that we can shoot it quickly.

RC: Every time I see you, you’re always smiling and genuinely in good spirits. What keeps you motivated?

RS:  I’m just a happy kid. I was raised by my grandparents and that’s enough to keep you motivated for the rest of your life. I have that old school home training. I’m just motivated because I want to work and make things happen and not let my family down, you know “uplifting other people as you climb.” I have a lot to be thankful for and it makes no sense to get up with a sad face when you’ve been blessed as I have.

RC & Rickey Smiley

RC Exclusive - Ent

AT&T 28 Days featuring Elle Varner, MC Lyte and Rickey Smiley + PHOTOS

Elle Varner, MC Lyte and Rickey Smiley

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Atlantans came out in numbers Thursday night for AT&T’s 28 Days Speaker Series featuring Hip Hop pioneer MC Lyte.  The free event was held at The Tabernacle and was hosted by comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley as well as a hot musical performance from Grammy-nominated R&B sensation Elle Varner.

AT& T 28 Days is a multi-speaker series that aims to inspire, motivate and challenge consumers to rethink what they can achieve in their lives.  The annual event, which is now in its fifth year, features celebrities and thought leaders that take a forward approach at making history while urging consumers to do the same during Black History Month.

The evening began with Smiley and his infamous “church announcements” which had the audience in stitches. MC Lyte then led the sold-out crowd on a spiritual journey of her story book career, explaining that she always knew that she would inspire her generation but didn’t know it would be through music. The iconic lyricist then reminded everyone, especially the youth, about the benefits in taking constructive criticism, guarding their words and thoughts and believing in the “unstoppable” power of hope and faith. “Whatever you say, it’s true. Whatever you think, will be,”  said Lyte.

After her presentation, the audience was treated to an acoustic set from vocalist Elle Varner and her “beatbox genius” Anointed-S. Varner, who was recently on tour with Trey Songz and Miguel, belted out a few untitled songs as well as her new single, “Not Tonight.” She closed the show with the crowd favorite and Grammy-nominated hit, “Refill.”

AT&T’s 28 Days next stop is Detroit’s Millennium Centre on February 27 featuring MSNBC contributor, Jeff Johnson.

Photography Credit:


Soul Train Awards Round Up + Red Carpet Looks

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The 2012 Soul Train Awards aired last night on BET and you can bet your last money, it was a stone gas, honey!

The show, which was taped a few weeks ago at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, celebrated its 25th year with various highlights of Soul Train’s  history and its creator Don Cornelius, who tragically passed away this past February.

The night started with a red carpet pre-show hosted by Apollo Live‘s Tony Rock, reality diva Tamar Braxton and R&B newbie Luke James.

The show was hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and began with a medley of ole school hits from Soul Train’s  vault featuring Johnny Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Bill Withers, Tina Marie and The Gap Band.  The selections were performed by Anthony Hamilton, Fantasia, Charlie Wilson, Leah LaBelle (Centric Award Winner) and Raphael Saadiq, who doubled as the Soul Train  band leader.

Miguel was the first winner of the night picking up the award for Best R&B Soul Male Artist, while Ne-Yo kicked off the evening’s performances with a hot rendition of his dance hit “Let Me Love You,” from his R.E.D  album.

Keyshia Cole sang her latest hits “Trust and Believe” and “Enough of No Love” and Miguel serenaded the ladies with his über sexy single, “Adorn.” The audience got a “Refill” from Best New Artist  winner Elle Varner, Ashford and Simpson Songwriting  winner John Legend gave us the Best He Ever Had  with the Think Like A Man  hit, “Tonight” while 2 Chainz lite up the stage with Uncle Charlie. Other highlights included Cedric the Entertainer’s impromptu performance of the Levert classic “Casanova” along with Eddie Levert and X-Factor  winner Marcus Canty’s version of Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much.”

But the night belonged to Tyrese, whose record “Stay” surprisingly won the Song of the Year  award beating out Usher, Trey Songz, John Legend,  Estelle and Wale.  He later came back and performed his award winning tune along with Tank and Ginuwine of the group TGT.

This year’s The Lifetime Achievement  award went to one of my favorite R&B groups of all time, New Edition.  Celebrating over 30 years in the music industry, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph, and Johnny helped define the 80’s music era with their Jackson Five-esque harmonies and dance moves. The group was presented their awards by super producer Jimmy Jam and NBA legend Earvin Magic Johnson.  They later came back and tore the house down with their hit songs, “Candy Girl,” “Mr. Telephone Man” and “If it Isn’t Love” to the audience’s delight.

The show closed out with Oscar winning actor Jamie Foxx promoting his new film Django and recalling the time he hosting Soul Train with musical guest, the late Aaliyah.   A virtual Don Cornelius introduced the last guest of the night, Motown legend Stevie Wonder who thrilled the audience with his classic hits “Superstition” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.”

Click here for a full list of winners and check out the red carpet looks below:

Angie Stone, John Legend and Kat Graham

Estelle, Luke James and Marsha Ambrosius

l to r: Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ralph Tresvant, Centric Paxton Baker, Ricky Bell  and Ronnie Devoe

Fantasia, Miguel and Keyshia Cole

Melanie Fiona, Ne-Yo and Tamar Braxton

Tank with Ginuwine, MC Lyte and Tony Rock

Jody Watley, Trey Songz  with Paxton Baker and Cedric The Entertainer, Lil Mama with Elise Neal



Trey Songz hits the road with Miguel and Elle Varner

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Mark your calendars!  Trey Songz is embarking on a world tour this fall and is bringing R&B newbies Miguel and Elle Varner along for the ride. The ‘Chapter V Tour’ is in support of his chart topping album of the same name and kicks off in Atlanta on November 17 and ends in Houston on December 31.

From there Songz will travel solo to Europe beginning in January on through February with several dates in the UK, France, Holland, Sweden and Germany.

Miguel with Elle Varner

Songz, who has enjoyed musical success for quite some time now, is excited to bring along his rising tour mates.  “I can’t think of anyone else I would rather share my stage with, than two artists who are at the forefront of our genre, Miguel and Elle Varner. We’re moving R&B forward and I look forward to touching so many cities and countries over the coming months.”

Check out the following tour dates below.

Nov. 17 – Atlanta, GA – Fox Theater

Nov. 18 – Baton Rouge, LA – River Center

Nov. 21 – Las Vegas, NV – Orleans Arena

Nov. 23 – Oakland, CA – Coliseum

Nov. 24 – San Diego, CA – Sports Arena

Nov. 25 – Los Angeles, CA – Nokia Theater (L.A. Live)

Nov. 30 – Saginaw, MI – Dow Events Center

Dec. 1 – Chicago, IL – Arie Crown Theatre

Dec. 2 – Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee Theater

Dec. 5 – New York, NY – Theatre at Madison Square Garden

Dec. 7 – Detroit, MI – Fox Theater

Dec. 8 – Nashville, TN – Municipal Auditorium

Dec. 9 – St. Louis, MO – Fox Theater

Dec. 13 – Washington, D.C. – Constitution Hall

Dec. 14 – Charlotte, NC – Bojangles Coliseum

Dec. 15 – Hampton, VA – Coliseum

Dec. 16 – Baltimore, MD – 1st Mariner Arena

Dec. 27 – New Orleans, LA – UNO Lakefront Arena

Dec. 28 – Birmingham, AL – BJCC Arena

Dec. 29 – Southaven, MS – Landers Center

Dec. 30 – Dallas, TX – Verizon Theatre

Dec. 31 – Houston, TX – Reliant Arena

Jan. 5 – Stockholm, Sweden – Annexet

Jan. 6 – Oslo, Norway – Sentrum Scene

Jan. 7 – Copenhagen, Denmark – VEGA

Jan. 9 – Hamburg, Germany – GroBe Freiheit

Jan. 10 – Berlin, Germany – Columbiahalle

Jan. 12 – Oberhausen, Germany – Turbinenhalle

Jan. 13 – Mannheim, Germany – Maimarkt Club

Jan. 14 – Munich, Germany – Tonhalle

Jan. 17 – Lyon, France – Le Transbordeur

Jan. 18 – Toulouse, France – Le Bikini

Jan. 20 – Marseille, France – Le Dome

Jan. 23 – Paris, France – Zenith

Jan. 24 – Brussels, Belgium – Ancienne Belgique

Jan. 25 – Amsterdam, Holland – Heineken Music Hall

Jan. 26 – Amsterdam, Holland – Heineken Music Hall

Jan. 28 – Birmingham, UK – LG Arena

Jan. 29 – Bristol, UK – Colston Hall

Jan. 30 – London, UK – Hammersmith Apollo

Jan. 31 – London, UK – Hammersmith Apollo

Feb. 1 – London, UK – Hammersmith Apollo

Feb. 2 – London, UK – Hammersmith Apollo

Feb. 4 – Manchester, UK – Apollo

Feb. 5 – Glasgow, UK – Academy

Feb. 6 – Glasgow, UK – Academy



take a look: Elle Varner – ‘I Don’t Care’ (video premiere)

Posted by | Cyrena Rose

Elle Varner‘s new music video for I Don’t Care sees the singer making strong statements about “unconventional” love.

The visual, lifted from her debut album Perfectly Imperfect’ explores the struggles of being in an interracial and same-sex relationship and how people in their circle react to it.

Check it out below:[youtube id=”4AygETHUAZY” width=”600″ height=”350″]Source


New Music: Elle Varner’s ‘I Don’t Care’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Newcomer Elle Varner has just released the third single, “I Don’t Care” from her debut album, Perfectly Imperfect.  Here is what the “Refill” singer had to say about the highly-anticipated project:

“the idea that we should all love and accept each other as ourselves. I’ve accepted where my music is flawed. There are parts on the album where the note was flat or there was a mistake, but it was so amazing—the emotion was there—so we kept it. That’s my message and my mission: perfectly imperfect.”

Check it out…

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Rising - Music

New Music: Elle Varner’s ‘Refill’

I guess what happens in New York, stays in New York!

At least that’s the case for new R&B singing-sensation Elle Varner. She recently released a new video this week for her latest single, Refill.  Her highly-anticipated album, Perfectly Imperfect will be released later this year.

Check it out!

[youtube id=”mJIbNepRCS8″ width=”600″ height=”350″]

Note:  Shout’s out AUC  alum, Jeantique Oriol for playing the ‘love interest’ in the video…


Song of the Day

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