The hugely popular dramatic series Power returns to primetime this July and Starz is giving fans an opportuntiy to catch up. They’re teaming up with Lionsgate for the complete DVD release of Season 4 on June 12.
The Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson executive produced drama follows the enthralling rags-to-riches tale of James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a wealthy New York nightclub owner who leads a double life of survival and corruption as a drug kingpin. Omari Hardwick (TV’s “Being Mary Jane,” Shot Caller), Lela Loren (TV’s “Lost,” Reign Over Me), Naturi Naughton (Notorious), Joseph Sikora (TV’s “True Detective”) and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (Get Rich or Die Tryin’) star in this hard-hitting series about betrayal and survival.
I had the pleasure of talking to Joseph Sikora for this weekend’s edition of UPFRONT where he discussed the show’s undeniable success, his unpredictable character ‘Tommy’ as well as his cast and his most memorable fan moment. He also opens up about his theater roots and much more.
Check out the full conversation below:
Season Five of Power premieres Sunday July 1, 2018 at 12:01 a.m. on the STARZ app (and On Demand). The network on-air premiere will be at the regularly scheduled time of 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Comedic actor Jordan Peele (Key & Peele)is taking his love for comedy and scary movies and merging the two genres together for an unapologetic look at race relations in the new film, “Get Out.” The horror is his first project as writer and director and follows an African-American photographer who goes to meet the family of his Caucasian girlfriend only to find out that they are not really who they appear to be. It stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Lil Rel Howery and LaKieth Stanfield and was shot in parts of Alabama. While Peele may be the first to admit that his passion project is an unconventional way of addressing racial stereotypes and other “isms,” it should at least open the door for moviegoers to have honest dialogue about what they just witnessed.
“I believe the way we talk about race is tiring to a lot of people out there,” said Peele during an exclusive roundtable interview at Atlanta’s Morehouse College. “These discussions that are suppose to be constructive can fall apart because of our egos and because of people getting defensive. Some people so don’t want to be considered racist that they can’t look within themselves. So I think content like this that is entertaining, first and foremost, is the end or maybe the Trojan horse.”
Ironically, “Get Out” debuts on the last weekend of Black History Month and during the 50th anniversary year of Sidney Poitier’s classic, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” a movie that Peele obviously drew a lot of inspiration from for his story.
“We can come in and we can watch and have a good time, scream, yell, laugh, and get scared. Then afterwards you have to acknowledge what happened to you when you were in there. So at that point, I hope it promotes constructive conversation where we’re all on the same page watching that movie.”
Peele also admits that stepping behind the lens has its challenges but can be very rewarding at the same time. “Get Out” received 100’s from the infamous “Rotten Tomatoes” this week and is being described as “funny, scary and thought provoking.”
“Directing is very hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do. It was kind of a different process writing the movie as it was directing and bringing all of that together. The freedom that I was able to give myself by saying, ‘I’m not going to try and be ambitious with this. This is for me and me only.’ That gave me a freedom that allowed me to get to something that has resonated enough to get this current Rotten Tomatoes of 100s so now I feel like what I like is universal. Even if it’s the most left field sort of idea on paper from Hollywood. Make a horror movie about race? But if you’re true to yourself, people feel that. People know, ‘he’s doing him right now’ and I recognize it. Our souls are the same in a way. If you do justice to your emotion and your soul that’s where the commonality in all of us comes up. I love seeing it [Get Out] in a Black crowd. But I love seeing it in a mixed crowd too because everyone is on the same ride and it transcends our differences. That’s a surprise to me!”
I had the extreme pleasure of attending a special advanced screening Monday night of BET’s new series “The Quad. ” The one-hour show premieres on Wednesday, February 1 at 10 p.m. EST and is part of the network’s new lineup of original programming and specials. It is also the only HBCU drama on television and was shot exclusively at the Atlanta University Center’s Morehouse and Morris Brown Colleges.
Larry Rhem and Zoe Renee
The special viewing was held at the Bishop Cornelius Henderson Student Center on the campus of Clark Atlanta University and was attended by the show’s executive producer Rob Hardy as well as some of the show’s cast members including CAU alumni Larry Rhem, Terayle Hill and Loren Sharice. Tyshon Freeman, Miles Stroter, Jock McKissic and Zoe Renee were also on hand.
~The Fighting Mountain Cats~
“The Quad” (originally titled The Yard), follows an ambitious yet troubled Dr. Eva Fletcher (Anika Noni Rose), the newly-elected President of the fictional Georgia A&M University, who is charged with saving the prestigious HBCU from bankruptcy and her twenty-year marriage from crumbling. At the same time, she must manage to repair a tumultuous relationship with her rebellious only daughter (Jazz Raycole) while handling a diverse group of freshman who keep her hands full.
Rounding out the show’s cast is Jasmine Guy as Ella Grace Caldwell, E. Roger Mitchell as Carlton Pettiway, Peyton Alex Smith as Cedric Hobbs, Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Cecil Diamond, Sean Blakemore as Eugene Hardwick along with appearances by Demetria McKinney and Charmin Lee.
Rob Hardy + Eric J. Little during the post screening Q&A
Following the screening was a talk back + Q&A with Hardy and CAU Theatre Professor and Atlanta actor/director Eric J. Little. From the cheers and screams of the CAU students, “The Quad” is definitely going to be a hit series for BET and a favorite amongst HBCU students around the country. It has just the right mix of drama, music and real college life issues that many students (and faculty) will find relatable. The show is also going to ruffle a few feathers but hopefully not too many.
See more photos below and click here for a sneak peek of the trailer. Also, don’t forget to tune into my radio show #UPFRONT. This Saturday, I will have a segment featuring “The Quad” stars Larry Rhem, Jasmine Guy and E. Roger Mitchell.
Eric J. Little, Terayle Hill and Rob Hardy
Anika Noni Rose stars as Dr. Eva Fletcher, President of Georgia A&M University
Miles Stroter greeting the CAU students
Larry Rhem and Zoe Renee
~The Fighting Mountain Cats~
Ray Cornelius with Eric J. Little and Rob Hardy #06
If you’re in Atlanta this holiday season, make sure you check out award winning actress Naima Carter Russell as Jenny Hill in the Theatrical Outfit production of “Big Fish.” It is playing now through December 18th and is a show you don’t want to miss.
Inspired by the novel and hit Tim Burton film, “Big Fish” spotlights Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman whose biggest hope is to live life to its fullest. Edward’s tall-tales thrill everyone in earshot except his questioning son Will, about to be a father himself, who demands to know the truth behind Dad’s epic stories of giants, fortune-telling witches and mermaids. Full of heart, humor and inventive stagecraft, “Big Fish” offers an experience only theatre can – one that’s richer, funnier and bigger than life itself.
Russell is super excited to be appearing in the show after the recent birth of her second daughter, Addie. “One year and a second pregnancy later I’m back on stage. This time in Theatrical Outfit’s production of ‘Big Fish’ the musical. It’s got mermaids and giants and singing, oh my! The musical encourages you to live your life or loud, and everytime I hit the stage I feel like I’m challenging my own narrow minded view that actors have take a bow until their kids are out of diapers. I’m encouraged that their is no perfect time to live your dreams,” said the actress during a recent interview with RayCornelius.com.”One of my favorite lyrics in the show is ‘be the hero of your story till it’s done. Why go promenade when you were born to run’!”
Russell is no stranger to the spotlight. She is a Suzi Bass Award winner (Atlanta’s Tony Award) and has starred in several local and regional productions including last year’s “Memphis” as well as Aurora Theatre’s “Tranced,” “Lark Eden,” “A Year with Frog and Toad” and “Christmas Canteen.” She also appeared in Pearl Cleage‘s “The Nacirema Society Requests…” and “Christmas Carol” for the Alliance Theatre, “Antigone” for Georgia Shakespeare, “Caroline, or Change” for St. Louis Black Rep and “Rejoice” for True Colors Theatre Company.
Look for Russell to appear on a future edition of my radio show “UPFRONT” where we will discuss what it really takes to be a stage actress in the new Hollywood South.
Check out a behind-the-scenes video of TO’s “Big Fish” below:
Photo Credits: Theatrical Outfit and Facebook/Naima Carter
TV One is gearing up to debut its new original drama “Bad Dad Rehab” this Sunday, July 3 at 7 p.m. and your truly, RayCornelius.com, got an opportunity to chat exclusively with two of the film’s stars—Wesley Jonathan and Kandi Burruss—while they were filming the movie in Atlanta this past April.
“Bad Dad Rehab” follows the lives of four men who are in denial of their poor parenting skills. After turbulence with their respective baby mamas and ex-wives force them to take definitive action, each one must attend a rehab for deadbeat dads that uses unusual methods to help them become true fathers. Through all the hilarity, hijinks, drama and soul-searching, the men discover fatherhood is less about making babies, and more about making men.
Jonathan plays ‘Shawn Wallace,’ a divorced and out of work father who desperately wants to be a part of his children’s lives but is being penalized by his ex-wife who won’t allow him to see them because he’s behind on child support. Burruss plays Shawn’s sister, Tanya, who tries to support her brother during his dramatic tug of war.
For both actors, “Bad Dad Rehab,” is a story about various fathers—good and bad—that need to be told and features “characters” that audiences should be very familiar with.
“This character [Shawn Wallace] is important because there are a lot of men in this world who really want to be a part of their kids’ lives but aren’t often seen or heard or talked about,” says Jonathan, who is the father to a two-year-old daughter. Hopefully this character can be a face or voice for those men who desperately want to be a part of their children’s lives.”
Burruss, who recently had a little boy with producer husband, Todd Tucker, says she automatically knew she wanted to be involved with the project after reading the script. “I definitely felt that this was a story that a lot of people can relate to,” said the multi-Grammy winning reality star. “Usually, those are the one that hit home and make people want to watch. So, I thought it was pretty cool to be a part of that.”
When asked what they thought the take away message was of the film, Jonathan says its a wake up call to all fathers that need to take responsibility for their actions.
“For men, in particular the fathers, for whatever reasons that are hindering you from being with your children, take responsibility for your actions. Mend relationships as best as you can because the clock is ticking and we’re not getting any younger. Also, do your part to be ‘OK’ with you. If apologies have to be addressed and the child or the mother of your child doesn’t accept it, then you have done your part.”
Burruss also feels this movie is a call for women to do their part and not keep men from having productive relationships with their children just because the relationship didn’t work out between them and the child’s father.”For those women that are trying to stop a good dad from doing his thing, please let’s stop it.”
“Bad Dad Rehab” airs Sunday, July 3 at 7 p.m. EST on TV One.
Check out exclusive black & white photos shot by yours truly from the set of Bounce TV’s newest dramatic series “Saints & Sinners.” I had the opportunity to visit a few months ago and had a blast. Everyone was so nice that day and I knew then this show was going to be a monster hit! The scene features special appearances by award winning singers Erica Campbell, Kelly Price and rapper turned actor David Banner.
David Banner on the set of “Saints & Sinners”
“Saints and Sinners” is a one-hour series centered around the pursuit of power, intertwined with deceit, greed, corruption and murder – all set against the backdrop of a large southern church. It airs on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. EST on Bounce TV.
Jasmine Burke with Vanessa Bell Calloway
“Saints & Sinners” features Richard Lawson as Pastor Evan Johnson, Vanessa Bell Calloway as First Lady Ella, Clifton Powell as Rex Fisher, Gloria Rueben as Mayor of Cypress Pamela Clayborne, Keith Robinson as Miles Calloway, Christian Keyes as Levi, Jasmine Burke as Dr. Christie Johnson, JD Williams as Jabari and Afemo Omilami as Detective St. Charles.
Take a look at more exclusive photos from tonight’s episode and a behind-the-scences video featuring Erica Campbell below:
Erica Campbell singing with Keith Robinson and Kelly Price in the choir
Johntá Austin getting his makeup reapplied
Keith Robinson talking to director Jerry LaMothe
Christian Keyes and Jasmine Burke
Johntá Austin and Greg Lockett
Erica Campbell with Vanessa Bell Calloway
Gloria Rueben with Chris Gann
Christian Keyes and Jasmine Burke
Keith Robinson and Erica Campbell with Swirl Films’ Keith Neal
Comedian Marlon Wayans is determined to make his first name as great as his last. The 43-year-old actor whose starred in and produced such blockbuster hits as “White Chicks” and “A Haunted House” is back with a brand new comedy featuring Kali Hawk and Mike Epps titled “Fifty Shades of Black.”
It’s a hilariously funny take on the hugely popular erotic romance novel turned movie “Fifty Shades of Grey,” where a young literature student’s life changes after meeting a handsome and wealthy billionaire with an appetite for erotic pleasure. Wayans admits he wanted to produce a comedic version of the E.L. James story but from an African-American perspective.
“I was thinking that I was going to write my first parody book and do something different. Then I heard the movie was coming out. So off the book, Rick [Alvarez] and I started writing the movie and instantly the title hit me and I thought what if Christian Grey was Black? I was thinking about the Black experience and how we would feel in this situation. What if this guy was rich and Black and if the girl was Black? How would she feel about these things. You ain’t gonna do all of these things to a sistah. It’s going come to a point when a sistah goes, ‘Uh huh, enough of this shit!'” said Wayans during a recent Atlanta press conference.
“Fifty Shades of Black” costs Wayans about five million dollars to make (Fifty Shades of Grey cost $75 million) and was shot over 20 days. He also enlisted a few acting veterans like Fred Willard and Jane Seymour as well as some of today’s hottest talent like Affion Crockett and internet personality King Bach. For Wayans, casting these other comedians added more flavor to the story and left room for great improvisation.
“We had a great casting director in Lisa Beach but ultimately God cast the movie and you get who you’re suppose to get. You always have in the back of your mind, ‘I want this person and that person and that person’ and none of that ever pans out. The key is to have some really funny things written and some great characters written. You also find people that are funny and have good minds and are willing to improvise and try new stuff and be game to play,” explained Wayans.
He also admits that he’s greedy with his joke telling and likes to pack as many in his films as possible. “If we don’t have up to a thousand pages of just jokes and funny scenes, then I’m not messing with it. I’m not going to go there with like three jokes. For me, I’m greedy and I like to pack a script with a lot of jokes. I’m also from the hood and I want people to laugh as much as they possibly can and get their money’s worth. When you go to a movie and get three jokes, I don’t think that’s enough,” explained Wayans. When asked about the funniest part of the movie, he immediately recalls the “Magic Mike” scene where he had to perform a well choreographed dance routine.
“The Magic Mike scene! First of all, it was one of the hardest scenes in the film. I had to do dance choreography and I also worked out. We filmed that on the last three days of shooting and I literally worked out six days a week sometimes two times a day. Look, if you’re gonna be damn near ass naked and it’s for the ladies, I’ve got to try and be my best. Plus, Channing [Tatum] is a friend and I can’t have him showing me up like that. So I just worked real hard and did the choreography and all of the things I had to do because that scene was mostly about stamina,” said Marlon.
Check out a clip of that “Magic Mike” scene below and tell us what you think!
Catch Marlon Wayans in “Fifty Shades of Black” when it opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, January 29.
When audiences go to movie theaters in February to see the Jessie Owens biopic RACE, very few will know that lead actor Stephan James actually trained for the role at Georgia Tech while shooting Ava DuVernay‘s epic drama Selma. They also may not know that James decided to alter his natual hairline to look more like Owens and that he refused to break character even when he wasn’t filming. That and so much more is what the Canadian-born actor revealed to members of the Atlanta press last week when he stopped through for pre-film promotions.
The 22-year-old, who is one of four Toronto International Film Festival Rising Stars, talked candidly about the working with Owens’ daughters to prepare for the role and the numerous times on set that he felt “one” with Jessie’s spirit. He also explained why Owens’ story of triumph is just as relevant to today’s generation as it was in 1936.
“I think it’s always been important but again it’s just another reminder of the struggles that we have faced and what we’ve overcome as a people. I think that times like this, when we’re seeing such outward protests of certain types of things, its important to retell these stories…when people need to see it the most and why we can’t afford to take any steps back.”
Check out James’ full response and the trailer for RACE below:
RACE opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, February 19th
The ATL is about to turn up for this year’s Ford exclusive blue carpet affair, First Take with FORD on Friday, July 17. In honor of the festive occasion, RC is putting a spotlight on a few of this year’s #FORDATL Ambassadors who go the distance in both their personal and professional lives. First up is rising entertainment mogul, AUTUMN BAILEY.
If you are looking to produce an independent film anywhere in Georgia, then Autumn Bailey is a name you need to know. The native Georgian by way of Pennsylvania is one of the state’s leading entertainment executives, who’s proven record of production and distribution of independent films, is second to none.
Bailey is the founder and CEO of Autumn Bailey Entertainment and has worked with over three dozen indie projects as a producer. She has also helped to secure film distribution for a number of these projects as well. A graduate of Shaw University, Bailey has played a pivotal role in expanding awareness of the indie film community in Georgia and founded the Georgia Entertainment Gala (GEG), one of Atlanta’s only events celebrating rising talent in television and film. In addition to the GEG, Bailey also established Get Connected Atlanta, a monthly industry mixer established in 2011 that is “for the people…by the people.” Each month includes networking opportunities with industry professionals, screenings, seminars and more.
Bailey credits faith, hard work, and dedication as her recipe for success: “Work hard, do business that uplifts others and show people that if they believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to.”
I am super excited to announce that RayCornelius.com is a promotional partner for this year’s First Take with FORD. This annual campaign puts a spotlight on FORD’s stylish vehicles including the Ford Fusion with its amazing new technology through Ford Sync & MyFORD Touch. I will also get an opportunity to interview a few of this year’s FORD ATL Ambassadors including Autumn Bailey-Ford, Nadia Simone and Derek Blanks.
Oh but wait, there’s more…
I will also get a chance to attend the exclusive blue carpet affair on Friday, July 17 at a secret location. All of the FORD ATL Ambassadors will be there along with music by DJ Mars and guest host, Will “Power” Packer.
But don’t fret, because you (yes you) will have an opportunity to win a pair of tickets and be my special guest. All you have to do is tell me in 100 words or less why you should attend the First Take with FORD. Email your information to email@example.com and your name will be entered into the drawing. I will be pulling names beginning Friday, July 10 through Monday, July 13. All the winners will be announced on my website Tuesday, July 14. Remember, you must be 18 years of age in order to enter the drawing.
Lastly, don’t forget to be on the look out for my exclusive interviews with Ford ATL Ambassadors…
Chris Brown’s ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran sits down with spiritual life coach Iyanla Vanzant for an OWN primetime television event. For the first time, in an emotional heart-to-heart, Karrueche shares her deeply personal story following her recent high-profile breakup with the singer. “Iyanla Exclusive: Karrueche Tran,” airs on Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.
With more than two million Instagram followers and more than 600,000 Twitter followers, Karrueche’s personal life has played out in a very public way. With Iyanla’s help, Karrueche sets the record straight and reveals to viewers a side of herself that has never been seen before — very different than the one depicted on social media.
Karrueche talks candidly with Iyanla about life in the spotlight, as well as her relationship with Chris Brown and subsequent breakup after he allegedly fathered a child with another woman. Best friend Christina Milian provides Iyanla another perspective on Karrueche’s situation.
Check out a sneak peek of “Iyanla Exclusive: Karrueche Tran” below:
It’s been eight years since Jordin Sparks first caught our attention as the youngest winner of Fox’s popular music competition series, “American Idol.” Now after two platinum-selling albums, a promising movie career and a very public break up from pop sensation, Jason Derulo, Sparks is looking at life through a different lens and finally admits that she is coming into her own. The 25-year-old Grammy-nominated singer, who had us all screaming “No Air” to the top of our lungs, is indeed a more confident Jordin and is comfortable calling the shots.
I recently caught up with the musical superstar at Jermaine Dupri’s legendary studios in Atlanta while promoting her new single “Double Tap” featuring 2 Chainz. The song is the lead off her new album which is appropriately titled, “Right Here, Right Now.” Gone is the shy little girl from Arizona, who after winning Idol, was at times unsure about her place in a music world, ruled by Beyoncé, Rihanna, Taylor and Nicki.
“I would tell her [Jordin Sparks-pre Idol] not to doubt herself so much and to know that your path is your path. You don’t have to go this way or go that way. You don’t have to be anyone else. You just have to be you. I am coming into my own now and realizing that I don’t have to compete with anyone else. There’s room for all of us.”
“Right Here, Right Now,” is somewhat of a departure from what we’d expect from Sparks, who has built her brand on a “wholesome, girl-next-door” image but somehow this new, “turnt up” persona works for her. Not to worry, though. The syrupy sweet ballads and whimsical tunes that we’d expect from her are also on the album too. Check out a clip from my interview (courtesy of ItsRobinLori) where Sparks talks about the creative process of “Right Here, Right Now.”
This time, the focus is on eight influential and affluent African-Americans friends who identify themselves as Black American Princesses & Princes or BAPs. The new one-hour series, which debuts on July 23 at 10 p.m., follows the group as they navigate through the rich and famous of St. Louis.
Here is the official rundown according to Indie Wire:
“Dressed to the nines with egos to spare, there is no shortage of conflict, humor and heart among the group that includes Anisha, Kristen, Gina, Jason, Riccarda and Brandon. With a dynamic that can change from BFFs to frenemies at the drop of a hat, together they attend St. Louis’ most exclusive social institutions and events… but no occasion is conflict-free. Competing to be the most successful and beautiful person in their circle is sure to bind and divide them, especially when Anisha’s boyfriend, Kendrick, and his niece, Rai-Rai, represent everything a BAP is not.”
Anthony Mackie is without a doubt one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors. From portraying a young, gay artist trying to find his way in Brother to Brother to the tumultuous life of rapper Tupac Shakur in Notorious to the awe-inspiring life of Olympic superstar Jessie Owens in the upcoming biopic Hands in the Sky, Mackie has enjoyed a career in and out of Hollywood not often afforded to many of his African-American male contemporaries.
However, it’s his latest role in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier that is poised to take the 35-year-old actor to new heights…literally! Mackie is starring as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon. The character is Marvel’s first mainstream African-American comic book superhero and marks the character’s cinematic debut. Seen as more than just a sidekick to Steve Roger’s Captain America, the Falcon can hold his own against the forces of darkness with his ability to fly above the chaos in his high powered suit equipped with wings and machine guns.
I recently caught up with the former Julliard graduate to chat about his role as the classic character and whether or not he felt any pressure from fans of the Falcon.
“When I got cast as the Falcon, my biggest thing was not trying to please anyone. My greatest goal and I feel my highest achievement will be next Halloween when all of those little brown boys show up dressed as the Falcon,” stated Mackie. “We’re adults and I can’t help you through your issues but I can help that 12-year-old through his. If a little kid has to sit back and look at the Falcon and say, ‘I want to be like him,’ well then I would say that my job is well done.”
Although Mackie wasn’t a big comic book reader as a kid growing up in New Orleans, he was the director’s first choice to play the iconic Falcon for the movie. Also a veteran stage actor, he went on to further explain why a character like the Falcon, who was first introduced in 1969, is still relevant to today’s youth and gave his definition of a true hero.
“As the African-American population evolved in America, so did the Falcon. That’s what’s so commendable about Marvel is that they could have just let the Falcon go away. However, as we evolved through Civil Rights and Blaxploitation, so did he,” said Mackie.
“My definition of a hero is anyone who stands up for what they believe in, whether it’s the smallest thing or the biggest thing. I feel a lot of times so many people bend in what they believe in to succeed and I think that in some point in time, you have to be willing to fail in what you believe in too.”
Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow Friday, April 4.