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First Look Images from ‘Open’ featuring Essence Atkins, Keith Robinson and Matt Cedeño [PHOTOS]

BET, Nina Holiday Entertainment and Class and Sass Promotions have released exclusive first look images from their upcoming romantic drama Open. It premieres on Saturday, March 14 at 8 p.m. on BET and BETHER. 

Open, explores the complications of the open marriage of Cameron (Keith Robinson, “Saints & Sinners,” “Dreamgirls”) and Wren (Essence Atkins, “Ambitions,” “Marlon”), who have been married for eight years, although, the last two years of their matrimony have been open. They set rules as boundaries to assure a healthy open relationship, however they quickly learn that rules applied to the art of emotion will often be broken. 

Open also stars iconic TV, film and stage actress Jasmine Guy (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Quad,” “A Different World”), Matt Cedeño (“Power,” “Ambitions”) and Marquita Goings (“American Soul,” “Tales”).  It is written and directed by Cas Sigers-Beedles and produced by Nina Holiday Entertainment and Class and Sass Promotions. 

“I’m so honored that my directorial feature has been a story about love, forgiveness and communication,” said Sigers-Beedles in a statement. “The gems about honesty within this story are much needed today, as marriage and love expectations climb higher than what we can often achieve. I was very blessed to work with amazing actors, Essence Atkins, Keith Robinson and Matt Cedeño whose performances made the joys and pains of love so truthful and relatable. It was produced by four women of color, and that in itself has really made this a special project.” 

Open is Sigers-Beedles third television project with BET. She was the writer for the network’s recent romantic comedy Angrily Ever After starring Jasmine Burke as well as the holiday comedy T’was the Chaos Before Christmas starring Sherri Shepherd. T’was is also nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Television).  

Beedles is also one of the masterminds behind the Reel Divas Initiative along with Terri J. Vaughn and Ty Johnston-Chavis. It is a collective of African American female directors and producers who advocate for women of color in the television and film industry and was featured on deadline.com and blackenterprise.com 

Check out the exclusive images below: 

PHOTO CREDITS: Nina Holiday Entertainment

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ATL Stars attend the ‘Black Women Film Network Holiday Party’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

It was all about celebrating homegrown talent Wednesday night during the Black Women Film Network (BWFN) Holiday Party. The invitation only soiree took place at The Gathering Spot and was the perfect way to kick-off the festive season ahead.

Dawn HalfKenny + Vaughn Alvarez +Kri Peck

A number of Atlanta-based actors, actresses, casting directors, producers, content creators and filmmakers were recognized for their work over the past year. Most of their projects have appeared on such popular networks including BET, TV One, OWN, Lifetime, CW and Bounce.

Ray Cornelius + Trina Parks

Celebrities in attendance included Brad James (BET’s American Soul), Cocoa Brown (Fox’s 9-1-1), Dawn Halfkenny (Bounce TV’s Saints & Sinners), Sean Baker (BET’s Tales and CW’s All American), Marquita Goings (Behind the Movement and Reece Odum (Saints & Sinners).

Other notables included Tyler Perry Casting Director Rhayvn Drummer, A Seat at the Table producer Tiffany Brown Rideaux, award winning songwriter Makeba Riddick Woods, comedienne and actress Myra J, media maven Summer Jackson, filmmaker Bobby Huntley, Swirl Films’ Keith Neal, ATL’s social butterfly Kimberly Clark, model and performer A Lady Named Pearl, iconic James Bond villainess Trina Parks and Ready to Love‘s Mike Anthony and Shea Pegues.

Saptosa Foster

Established in 1997, the Black Women Film Network (BWFN) was founded to prepare black women to enter the film and television industries. The organization seeks to preserve the voice of these women through film and educational programs that empower and inform. A 501(c)3 non-profit, BWFN provides student scholarships, hosts screenings and workshops, and honors individuals who have excelled in this difficult industry.  The Black Women Film Network was founded by Sheryl Gripper and is chaired by Saptosa Foster.

See more photos from the evening below:

BRAD JAMES

COCOA BROWN

SEAN BAKER

DAWN HALFKENNY

REECE ODUM

MICHAEL ANTHONY

A LADY NAMES PEARL + TRINA PARKS

RHAVYN DRUMMER

KIMBERLY CLARK + GUEST

BOBBY HUNTLEY + GUEST

BRAD JAMES + SHEA PEGUES

SUMMER JACKSON

KEITH NEAL + MARQUITA GOINGS

MYRA J +VEDA MCNEAL-WRIGHT

VAUGHN ALVAREZ + MAKEBA RIDDICK WOODS

TIFFANY BROWN RIDEAUX

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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RC Exclusive - Ent Recap

TV One hosts ‘Down For Whatever’ Premiere at ABFF [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Our friends at TV One hosted a special advanced screening of its upcoming drama Down For Whatever during the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) this past weekend and RC was there to capture all the sights and sounds.

Tim Folsome, Michelle Rice, Hosea Chanchez, Imani Hakim, Bre-Z,

LeToya Luckett-Walker and Robyn Green Arrington

The film’s stars—LeToya Luckett-Walker, Bre-Z, Hosea Chanchez and Imani Hakim—were in attendance as well as the writer and director Tim Folsome and TV One General Manager Michelle Rice. The screening was held at the historic Colony Theatre Miami Beach and was packed with ABFF attendees and film enthusiasts.

LeToya Luckett-Walker

Down for Whatever stars LeToya as Tracy, a young successful doctor who has it all except for the traditional family environment. While she is married to her detective husband, Mike (Chanchez) she longs for the love from the mother and father she never had since she grew up in foster care.

Bre-Z and Hosea Chanchez

When Mike suddenly loses his partner in a senseless cop-killing, Tracy is there to support him. That is, until she receives an unexpected visit from a social worker who informs her that the ruthless killers suspected in the murder are her biological sisters, Denise and Sonya (Bre-Z and Hakim). Overwhelmed and in disbelief by the news, Tracy decides to track her sisters down herself before her husband finds out.

Down For Whatever is like a mash-up of the 1990s classic film Set It Off and the 2002 heart-wrenching drama Antwone Fisher. It is produced by the Atlanta-based production company—Swirl Films—and is the winner of ABFF’s 2017 Screenplay Competition.  It is also TV One’s first action-thriller movie. (Bravo guys!!)

Check out more red carpet photos below + a video of all the red carpet happenings:

Swirl Film’s Keith Neal and Eric Tomosunas with

LeToya Luckett-Walker and Hosea Chanchez

TV One’s Jubba Seyyid and Michelle Rice with Hosea Chanchez 

Imani Hakim

Bre-Z

LeToya Luckett-Walker and her family

Marquita Goings 

Swirl Film’s Keith Neal 

Hosea Chanchez, Imani Hakim, Bre-Z and LeToya Luckett-Walker

Down For Whatever premieres on July 22 on TV One

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Niecy Nash & the cast of ‘Claws’ host ATL Screening of Season 2 [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Emmy-winning producer and acclaimed actress Niecy Nash took over Atlanta’s Regal Cinema Atlantic Station Theater Saturday evening for a sneak peek of CLAWS Season 2. The TNT original drama returns to primetime this summer beginning June 10.

Joining Nash for the advanced screening were her cast members – Georgia-born actress and one of my faves Carrie Preston (Polly) as well as Jimmy Jean-Louis (Gregory Ruval) and Jack Kesy (Roller).

Carrie Preston, Jack Kesy, Niecy Nash and Jimmy Jean-Louis

CLAWS follows Nash as Desna, the owner a Manatee County nail salon, where there’s a lot more going on than silk wraps and pedicures. She and her outrageous staff of working class women are trying to get by while navigating the luscious, absurd and extreme excesses of the crime world. Rounding out the rest of cast is Harold Perrineau, Jenn Lyon, Judy Reyes, Karrueche Tran, Jason Antoon, Kevin Rankin and Dean Norris.

While I can’t say much about the season 2 opener, I’ll tell you that it has just as many laugh-out-loud moments as last season but with a helluva lot more plot twists and turns.  In other words, brace yourselves!

Following the screening, RC got a chance to talk with the cast exclusively about the show, their characters and much more.

Niecy Nash on Desna’s quick-witt:

“I feel like you have to go back to her genesis because she was raised in a group home. She didn’t really have parents and she had to take care of her brother, who had his own mental challenges. So trying to navigate that and taking care of him forced her to think quick and to find ways. She might be down but she ain’t out. You know what I mean? Like a palm tree in the storm, it may bend a lil bit but that thang ain’t gone break. She’s that girl and because she’s that girl, there’s always a way.”

Jimmy Jean-Louis on CLAWS alluring and unpredictable nature…

“It’s just good. I think its unexpected what we’re offering. The storylines are different. The characters are amazing and it’s stuff that you’ve probably never seen on television before.”

Check out the rest of my exclusive interviews with the cast on an upcoming edition of my arts and entertainment radio show, UPFRONT.

In addition to the CLAWS cast, a number of Atlanta celebrities were also in attendance including Snowfall actor Isaiah John along with his sister Acrimony actress Bianca John, Bravo reality stars Ben and Brooklyn Tankard, Saints & Sinners actresses Dawn Halfkenny and Marquita Goings, Too Close to Home actress Ashley Love-Mills and rapper Kore Stacks.

Check out all of the red carpet images below:

Carrie Preston 

Jack Kesy

Marquita Goings 

Isaiah John 

Dawn Halfkenny

Ben Tankard 

Brooklyn Tankard 

Ashley Love-Mills 

Kore Stacks 

Bianca John 

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Isaiah Washington, Meta Golding + more attend ATL Premiere of ‘Behind the Movement’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

It was standing room only Friday night for TV One’s advanced Atlanta screening of its new original movie, “Behind the Movement.” The event took place at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and featured appearances by the film’s stars Isaiah Washington, Meta Golding, Keith Arthur Bolden and Andrea Frye.

Isaiah Washington + Meta Golding

Behind The Movement,” is a unique and fast paced retelling of how Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat launched the history making Montgomery Bus Boycott. It features Golding as the iconic Rosa Parks along with Washington as E.D. Dixon, Loretta Devine as Jo Ann Robinson, Roger Guenveur Smith as Raymond Parks, Shaun Clay as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Atlanta’s own Keith Arthur Bolden as Ralph David Abernathy.

Keith Arthur Bolden

A number of the film’s other stars were also in attendance including Jermaine D. Thomas, Marquita Goings, Sir Brodie, Bill Southworth and Al Mitchell.

Special invited guests included TV One’s SVP of Programming and Production D’Angela Proctor, “America’s Next Top Model” alum and RHOA star Eva Marcille and her fiancé Michael T. Sterling, singer Lyric Rachae, celebrity trainer Gerald Bryant, TV and stage actress Tinashe Kajese, “Stranger Things” star Karen Ceesay and “Saints & Sinners” actresses Dawn Half-Kenny and Reece Odum.

The evening ended with a post film Q&A session with the cast followed by more picture taking.  Check out the rest of the red carpet images below:

Eva Marcille + Michael T. Sterling 

Dawn Half-Kenny + Marquita Goings

D’Angela Proctor

Gerald Bryant 

Kim McNair + Isaiah Washington 

Derek J

Jermaine D. Thomas 

Andrea Frye

 Marquita Goings 

Sir Brodie 

Karen Ceesay

Reece Odum

Isaiah Washington 

Al Mitchell

Dawn Half-Kenny

Bill Southworth

Keith Arthur + Tinashe Kajase

Lyric Rachae

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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RC Exclusive - Music Recap

Mario Van Peebles, Clifton Powell and more attend Demetria McKinney CD Release Party [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

All eyes were on Demetria McKinney Saturday night during her Atlanta CD Release Party. The accomplished actress, singer and model held a private gathering in honor of her long awaited first album, Official Yours, which dropped on Friday, October 6.

McKinney performed a number of songs from the project including “Happy” as well as her other hit singles like “100” before a packed crowd at REVEL Midtown.

Attendees were also given a sneak peek of her original TV One movie, “Bobbi Kristina,” where she portrays her idol, Whitney Houston. McKinney is also appearing alongside TV and film stars—Mario Van Peebles, Brad James and Robinne Lee—this fall in the new SyFy series, “Superstition.”

In addition, a number of her “Saints and Sinners” family members were also in attendance including Clifton Powell, Reece Odum, Tray Cheney, Marquita Goings and Keith Neal. Other Atlanta notables spotted in the crowd included Nicci Gilbert, Eboni Steele, April Love, Bluff City and DonJuan Clark.

Check out all of the photos below and click here to purchase your copy of Officially Yours. 

Demetria McKinney covers the latest Rolling Out Magazine 

Mario Van Peebles with Brad James

Demetria McKinney with Keith Neal 

Demetria McKinney performing songs from her new album, Officially Yours 

Clifton Powell

Dallas the Stylist dancing with Drea Nicole

Tray Cheney with his guest

Demetria McKinney with DonJuan Clark 

Officially Yours dropped on October 6

Demetria McKinney with Ray Cornelius 

Demetria McKinney also stars in SyFy’s new series “Superstition” airing on 10/20

Demetria McKinney with Brad James 

April Love with Bluff City 

Xaviera Bryant with Drea Nicole and guest

Demetria McKinney with Bo Talley 

Marquita Goings with Keith Neal 

Reece Odum

Demetria McKinney with Eboni Steele 

Anje Collins 

Demetria McKinney with Drea Nicole 

DJs on the 1 & 2s

and to all a good night…

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com