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Bobby Brown, Angie Stone, Bern Nadette Stanis and more attend ‘Black Experience & Expo’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out a few photos from Saturday’s Black Experience and Expo. It featured music superstar Bobby Brown, R&B diva Angie Stone and TV icon and Good Times actress Bern Nadette Stanis and more.

Bobby Brown + Casual Cal

Brown was there in support of his new Bobby Brown Foods, which features a line of spices including the Boston Blend and his Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauces. He was also there to promote his upcoming BET mini-series The Bobby Brown Story. He even participated in a cooking demonstration where he talked about his love for food and cooking for friends and family.

Angie Stone

Stone introduced her new musical protégés including an all-girl-group and her rapper son – Michael Archer Jr. The Grammy nominated performer also revealed that she is currently working on a few TV projects and talked about her recurring role on Bounce TV’s Saints and Sinners. Look for my exclusive interview with her on a future edition of my radio show—UPFRONT.

Bern Nadette Stanis

Stanis still knows how to get a crowd going with her stunning good looks and ageless beauty. She talked about playing “Thelma” on Good Times and her most recent role on Black Jesus. She also talked about her book, The Last Night: A Caregiver’s Journey Through Transition and Beyond which chronicles her role as a caregiver for her mother who suffered and died from Alzheimer’s Disease. 

The Black Experience and Expo is billed as the nation’s  largest consumer show targeting African Americans. It continues today at the Georgia International Convention Center from 11 a.m. through 8 p.m. Click here for tickets.

See more photos below:

The Bobby Brown Story actors

Mike Merrill + David Busby Simeon Daise + Al Teron Williams 

Bobby Brown Foods Cooking Demonstration Tray

Angie Stone

Bobby Brown + Casual Cal + Chef

Photo Credits:

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#UPFRONT feat. casts from ‘Blindspotting,’ ‘Traffik’ and ATL Influencers (AUDIO)

This week’s edition of UPFRONT features actor Daveed Diggs from the new film Blindspotting. The former Hamilton star was in town recently for the Atlanta Film Festival and more.

UPFRONT also caught up with actor Laz Alonso and director Deon Taylor to chat about their new film Traffik, which opens in theaters nationwide this weekend. The film also stars Paula Patton, Omar Epps and Roselyn Sanchez.

Closing out today’s show is my round table discussion about BET’s new lineup of scripted and unscripted programs for the new season. Blogger extraordinaire Xaviera Bryant, PR Maven Clorissa Wright and actor Mike Merrill are in the studio to chat with me about the new shows and more.

UPFRONT will also be playing music from Kendrick Lamar and SZA, T.I., and Q-Tip.

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RC attends ‘Sorebe Art Experience’ featuring Angie Stone and more [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

R&B singer, actress and former reality star Angie Stone recently performed during the first installment of the “Sorebe Art Experience.” The private event took place at Atlanta’s swanky new Studio 7 in downtown and featured an eclectic mix of art and music. The event was presented by actor Mark John Jefferies and REBO Entertainment Group.

“Sorebe Art Experience” was created to bring the tastemakers and influencers from art, music and Hollywood together for an evening of engagement and conversation. Original art work from LeRoy Campbell was placed all throughout the venue while the audience enjoyed live music from former “American Idol” contestant Ashton Jones and poetry from John Gavin White. The night was also hosted by the “Good Girl of Comedy” G.L. Douglas.

Stone was the evening’s special invited guest and was recognized for her decades long career as a singer-songwriter. She opened her set by reminding the audience members of her numerous contributions to R&B and hip-hop music including her pioneering efforts as a member of the first girl rap group, The Sequence. She would later perform such crowd favorites as “Brother” and “Wish I Didn’t Miss You.”

Atlanta notables spotted in the crowd included actor Mike Merrill plus actress and producer Dawn HalfKenny.

Check out more photos below:

LeRoy Campbell art work

John Gavin White 

G.L. Douglas

Mike Merrill + Mark John Jefferies 

Ashton Jones 

Ashton Jones 

DJ Spontaneous 

Mike Merrill + Dawn HalfKenny 



Photo Credits:


‘HBCU Power Awards’ with Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Packer and more [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

It was all about HBCU love Friday evening during the inaugural “HBCU Power Awards” presented by Wells Fargo, Radio One and The Atlanta Hawks. The ceremony was held at Morehouse College’s historic Dr. Martin Luther International Chapel and was hosted by “Black-ish” star and comedic actor Deon Cole and runway diva Jessica White.

The “HBCU Power Awards” were co-founded by Derek “Fonzworth Bentley” Watkins, Jash’d Kambui Belcher and Roderick Hardamon and recognizes the achievements and accomplishments of HBCU alumni and supporters who are making innovative and leading-­edge achievements in business, sports, philanthropy, media, music, technology, TV, film, politics, civil service and fashion.

This year’s honorees included Coltrane Curtis (founder, Team Epiphany), Kyle Hagler (president, Next Management), Nzinga Shaw (Chief Diversity Officer, Atlanta Hawks), Keinon Johnson(VP, Urban Promotions, Interscope Records), Phylicia Fant (SVP, Publicity, Warner Bros Records), Beverly Anderson (EVP, Cards & Retail Services, Wells Fargo) and Rob Rumley (Chair, Atlanta Housing Authority).

TV and film actress, singer-songwriter and philanthropist Jada Pinkett Smith was also honored with the first Icon Award for support of HBCUs and for her portrayal of “Lena” on the groundbreaking 80s sitcom “A Different World.”  The popular NBC series is credited with inspiring generations of African-American students to attend historical black colleges and universities.

Smith, who appeared like an angel in white, encouraged the men of Morehouse during her acceptance speech to not fall prey to the pitfalls of power, entitlement and admiration:

“Respect every contribution made to your life whether you can count it or not because you’re entitled to nothing! Be grateful. Be grateful. Do not let power strip you of your gratitude because you’re not entitled to love, consideration, acknowledgement or even kindness. So when it is given to you, it is a gift…in all its forms.

This feeling of entitlement can also lead one to the power of false admiration that concerns us with how many followers we may have, how many material possessions or strategizing different ways to gain praise and therefore importance because you think that is an expression of love and acceptance and that is a tragic pitfall. Take it from me!

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have admiration, I’m saying it’s not a healthy thing to desire. Desiring admirations, recognition, followers are a false sense of power that is a breeding ground for losing your precious self. You must remember, WE ARE NEVER the thing to be admired only ever allowing how the Most High is working through you to be admired!”

Check out all the red carpet photos below:

Will Packer 

Honoree – Nzinga Shaw

Michael Jai White

Honoree – Phylicia Fant

Jessica White 

Honoree – Keinon Johnson 


Honoree – Coltrane Curtis with his mother Gail Curtis 

Gary Wit Tha Tea

Icon Award Honoree – Jada Pinkett-Smith

DJ Trauma 

Honoree – Rob Rumley and his family

Mike Merrill

Honoree – Beverly Anderson 

Photo Credits:


ATL Stars attend ‘Rickey Smiley for Real’ Watch Party [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The new season of TV One’s popular docu-series “Rickey Smiley for Real” debuted Tuesday night to much fanfare. The beloved comedian and his cast hosted an exclusive watch party at Atlantic Station’s Regal Cinema in Midtown – Atlanta.

“Rickey Smiley For Real” takes a humorous look at Rickey Smiley’s hectic life as he juggles his career as a nationally syndicated radio host, stand-up comedian, actor, TV personality and businessman along with his daily duties as a single father of five. Being a mega media mogul is not always as a glamourous as it’s cracked up to be; Rickey is constantly pulled in different directions between the demands of fatherhood and the needs of his work family.  Nonetheless, he keeps them all laughing while they navigate new experiences together!

Cast members in attendance included Da Brat with her musical protégé Cornbread, Headkrack, Juicy, Gary with the Tea and Porsha Williams. Other celebrities in attendance included media personalities Ed Lover and Willie Moore Jr., singer and former reality star Meelah, reality star Tommie Lee + actors Reece Odum and Mike Merrill.

Check out a clip below + more red carpet photos:

Da Brat and Cornbread 

Porsha Williams 



Mike Merrill 

Reece Odum 

Willie Moore Jr. and his family

Photo Credit: James Pray for TV One

RC Exclusive - Ent moderates screening of #SchoolingLife [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the distinct pleasure on Monday afternoon of moderating the screening of Jasmine Burke‘s new pilot project, “Schooling Life.” The private event was held at the Thomas Cole Research Auditorium on the campus of Clark Atlanta University.

“Schooling Life” is Burke’s first attempt at writing and directing a TV series. The comedy is centered on her character, “Diamond Mercedes Cash Williams” and the shenanigans she encounters while enrolling as a freshman at State University. She meets some very unusual characters including a flirtatious faculty member as well as her two new roommates—an boho-chic Blasian and a sheltered preacher’s kid.

The film also includes appearances by Burke’s “Saints & Sinners” co-stars, Clifton Powell and Karlie Redd as well as Goodie Mobb’s Big Gipp and Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s Lil Scrappy and Yung Joc. It also features rising Atlanta comedians Spencer Neal and Erica Duchess, who are just as funny in person as they are on the big screen. Serving as co-producers on the project are actor Ralphael Lester and noted actor/director Al G. Sillah. Students from CAU’s Broadcast Club also appeared as extras and production assistants.

The event opened up with a performance by singer-songwriter AmericanWill followed by the 30-minute pilot. After the screening was a talk back with Burke, Sillah and the actors that was moderated by yours truly + a Q&A with the audience.

Other special guests in attendance included Burke’s cousin and “Saints & Sinners” actor Neil Carr, “All Eyez on Me” actor Johnell Young and actor Mike Merrill of BET’s “The Quad” and Oxygen’s “Last Squad Standing.”

Check out more photos below:

#SchoolingLife was written and directed by Jasmine Burke 

Jasmine Burke with Ralphael Lester, Chanel Sanders and Spencer Neal 

Jasmine Burke with Neil Carr

Ralphael Lester and Johnell Young

Jasmine Burke with Mike Merrill 

Jasmine Burke and Al G. Sillah with Ralphael Lester

and the CAU Broadcast Club Officers

Photo Credits:

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#GrowHouse feat. DeRay Davis & Lil Duval opens in theaters TODAY! [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

What better way to celebrate 4/20 (you know what I’m talkin bout) than by watching DJ Pooh’s new comedy #GROWHOUSE. It opens in theaters today and should definitely be on your list of movies to see this weekend.

The story follows two unlikely heroes Pat (DeRay Davis) and Darius (Lil’ Duval), who figure they can help the medical marijuana movement by trying to grown their own cannabis and selling to the dispensaries. There’s only one problem… knowing how to smoke marijuana doesn’t mean you know how to grow it! After taking a trip to Dr. Doobie (Malcolm McDowell) to become legally certified growers, they gain access to a Bel-Air mansion to use as a “grow house.” Although they convince Snoop Dogg (played as himself) to fund their operation, our heroes soon discover what can grow wrong, will go wrong in this comedy of errors. Everything from a lack of understanding of how to retail seed to sale and other business nitty gritty, to the whacky shenanigans that are around the world of cannabis, and all it entails can happen, and what does is endlessly hilarious and entertaining. The story centers around smoking weed and doesn’t really touch on the other forms of cannabis, such as CBD oil (check here for a discount on CBD oil), probably because they have so much trouble growing it to smoke, carrying out the extraction process required for the oil would go very wrong. But, hey, that’s an idea for the sequel!

#GROWHOUSE also stars Raquel Lee, Faizon Love, Zulay Henao, Charlamagne Tha god, Martin Star, King Bach and the legendary George Wallace, who talked to me about his role in the film and more on #UPFRONT!

Check out photos from the recent Atlanta premiere which featured the film’s stars and other special invited guests including If Loving You is Wrong stars April Parker Jones and Joel Rush, Married to Medicine’s Genise Shelton, actor Mike Merrill, Pastor Troy and Love and Hip Hop Atlanta’s Shay Johnson.

Raquel Lee

Genise Shelton and April Parker Jones

DeRay Davis

Joel Rush

Tangi Miller

Mike Merrill

Photo Credit:


RC attends ATL Screening of James Baldwin’s ‘I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO’ [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

There are times when you see a film and it moves you. And then there are times you see a film and it transforms your mind. That is how I felt on this past Monday night when I attended the Atlanta premiere of Magnolia Pictures, “I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO.” The Oscar nominated documentary is an amalgamation of words, images, video and commentary from one of our foremost thinkers and literary icons—James Baldwin.

The screening took place at Morehouse College and was presented by the school’s Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies (CTEMS). The evening was hosted by visual artist and friend of the blog, Fahamu Pecou along with a special intro from “Hidden Figures” star Janelle Monáe. Reportedly the Grammy nominated singer and rising actress shared background information on her label, Wondaland Records, and its special connection to Baldwin and his work. Monáe then recited excerpts from Notes from a Native Son, which set an empowering tone for the event. Unfortunately I got to the screening about 45-minutes after her introduction and wasn’t able to capture her in action.

“I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO” is a documentary film that recounts Baldwin’s personal connections to the lives and deaths of his close friends and pioneers of the civil rights movement—Medgar Evers, Lorraine Hansberry, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is Baldwin in his own words and exactly how he felt when he received the calls or messages that his friends were no longer alive. Baldwin also boldly addresses a myriad of ills facing Black people in America including racial and gender inequality, sexual freedom, White America’s obsession with the “N Word” and Hollywood’s exploitation of African-Americans in film and television.

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, “I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO” is Baldwin’s way of  putting a mirror up to America and demanding that she take an honest and hard look at herself and address the pertinent issues within her diverse and racially mixed population. Filmmaker Raoul Peck does an outstanding job of showing viewers the parallels between Baldwin’s fight in the 1960s juxtaposed to the issues we’re still facing today in 2017. The film takes on a whole new meaning to the saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Following the film was a lively discussion about Baldwin and his cultural relevance featuring Pecou along with civil rights icon, Ambassador Andrew Young; Clark Atlanta University African American Studies Professor, Dr. Daniel Black; Morehouse College Asst. Professor of English, Dr. Francine Allen, and Georgia Equality Field Organizer, Rob Woods. The evening was moderated by CTEMS’ Dr. Stephane Dunn.

Key influencers who were present in the audience included CAU’s President Ronald Johnson and First Lady Johnson, WCLK’s Jamal Ahmad (WCLK 91.9), Rahbi (singer and activist), Victor Jackson (dancer, singer and choreographer), Mike Merrill (actor, “Last Squad Standing”), Leatrice Ellzy (Content Creator and Cultural Curator), Marshawn Evans (Author, NBC’s “The Apprentice”), and Christopher Hicks (Director, Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment). I also spotted HGTV’s Egypt Sherrod and her husband DJ Fadelf.

Check out more photos from the screening and watch the trailer below:

“I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO” opens in theatres nationwide on February 3!

Photo Credits:

RC Exclusive - Ent

‘Fast 8’ stars Ludacris & Nathalie Emmanuel featured at ‘CreATL’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

It’s no secret that Atlanta is a hotbed for TV, film and entertainment. Just this week, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that Georgia-lensed feature film and television productions generated an economic impact of more than $7 billion during fiscal year 2016. Georgia is also number three in the world for film production according to FilmLA.

IMG_1973Last night, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed along Christopher Hicks of the Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, gathered together to talk about that accomplishment and more as part of a new series titled CreATL. The immersive conversation features the industry’s top creatives, tastemakers and thought-leaders in film, entertainment, technology and culture that is created in Atlanta.


The series first featured guests included “Fast 8” stars Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel, who are currently shooting the newest installment throughout the city. The private event was held at The Gathering Spot in Midtown-Atlanta and was presented by MARTELL. Bridges and Emmanuel opened up to moderator, Simone Gray about their life on set and the many advantages they have to shooting “Fast 8” here in Atlanta. “I get to wear my pajamas and house shoes to work,” said Ludacris to the most packed auditorium.

A number of celebrities were in attendance for the lively discussion including “Rickey Smiley for Real” star Gary With Tha Tea, “L.A. Hair” diva Gocha Hawkins, music executive Brian Michael Cox, celebrity hairstylist and television actor Miss Lawrence, “Saints & Sinners” actress Jasmine Burke, “Married to Medicine” stars Dr. Heavenly Kimes and Dr. Jackie Walters and many more.

Check out all of the red carpet photos and stay tuned…


Interscope Records’ Keinon Johnson


Actor Jamal Woolard with the MARTELL reps


Brian Michael Cox 


Judge Terrinee L. Gundy 


Filmmaker Bobby Huntley and guest


Gocha Hawkins 


Dr. Heavenly Kimes


Former “Big Rich Atlanta” stars Sharlinda Parker and Brie Rowe


Jasmine Burke 


Actor  Mike Merrill


Dr. Jackie Walters 


Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel


WEtv’s Cutting It in the ATL star Mushiya Tshikuka


Miss Lawrence


Christopher Hicks from the Mayors Office of Film and Entertainment


Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel


Photo Credits: