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Jussie Smollett, Bevy Smith, Tarrell Alvin McCraney & more attend ‘Gentlemen’s Ball’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Some of the biggest names in the TV, film, music and dance came together over the weekend for the “6th Annual Gentlemen’s Ball” in Atlanta, GA. The black-tie affair and award’s ceremony was present by The Gentlemen’s Foundation and UPS and took place at the luxurious Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

As previously mentioned, this year’s theme was “We Are Royalty” and honors were presented to a cadre of activists, artists and actors within the Black LGBTQ community.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Tarrell Alvin McCraney was presented with this year’s Gentlemen of the Year for his groundbreaking film “Moonlight,” which was based on his acclaimed play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. McCraney thanked the real life drug dealer named “Blue” who helped raise him and shared his thoughts on what it really meant to be royal.

“Looking around, I see that I am connected to a simple and yet ancient line of beauty that goes through me and past us into infinity. But what makes us royal? What is this royalty that we have? More importantly, how do we make sure it’s bequeathed? How do we pass it on through heredity? Genetically? Steadily? Mobility? We need to as everyone has said, ‘make sure that those who are coming under us know their nobility.’ I want to thank the foundation honoring me not for my celebrity but for our collective royalty.”

Other honorees included veteran transgender activist Tracee McDaniel; Miss Lawrence and transgender actress Amiyah Scott from Lee Daniels‘ hit series, “STAR”; actor Julian Walker from “Blackbird” and “Being Mary Jane,” Ball Culture icon Jack Mizrahi, singers Coriology and Tyra B, celebrity hairstylist Derek J and a host of others.

“Empire” star Jussie Smollett was there to present to McCraney along with TV personality and fashion maven Bevy Smith, celebrity interior designer Michel Boyd, “Project Runway” alumni Anthony Williams and celebrity stylist and man about town—Dwight Eubanks. Grammy nominated singer and songwriter Kelly Price shut the place down as she belted out songs from her repertoire.

Check out all the photos below:

Dwight Eubanks is all smiles on the Gold Carpet

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Anthony Williams and guest

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Mo’Nique congratulating honoree Julian Walker 

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“Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” star Melissa Scott

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Dancer performing during Jack Mizrahi‘s tribute

Miss Lawrence 

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Jussie Smollett presenting the award to Tarrell Alvin McCraney 

The Gentlemen’s Foundation creator Juan and Gee Smalls with honorees

Tarrell Alvin McCraney, Jussie Smollett and Tracee McDaniel 

Michel Boyd 

Kelly Price 

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Tyra Banks, Keri Hilson & more attend ‘SPELHOUSE’ Homecoming [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Supermodel and media mogul Tyra Banks was one of the many stars who attended the SpelHouse Homecoming activities this past weekend in Atlanta, GA. The fashion diva and former talk show host was in town campaigning for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and stopped by to encourage tailgaters to get out and vote.

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Tyra Banks

“Award winning singer-songwriter Keri Hilson also made a special appearance at the “Almost Christmas” Food Truck where she served delicious samples of sweet potato pie.  The highly anticipated dramedy, which opens November 11, follows a beloved patriarch who asks his family for one gift this holiday season: to get along. If they can honor that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle. “Almost Christmas” also stars Mo’Nique, Omar Epps, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, Nicole Ari Parker, Jessie T. Usher, J.B. Smoove and Danny Glover. It is written and directed by David E. Talbert and produced by Will Packer.

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Keri Hilson

In addition to BET providing attendees with a VIP Experience, the network also had the cast of it’s new HBCU series, “The Quad” on hand to promote the show. Larry Rhem, Jazz Raycole, Michelle DeFraites, Payton Alex Smith and Sean Blakemore were all smiles as they took photos, selfies and signed posters.

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Larry Rhem, Sean Blakemore, Jazz Raycole, Payton Alex Smith and Michelle DeFraites

“The Quad” follows ambitious yet troubled Dr. Eva Fletcher (Anika Noni Rose), the newly-elected President of the fictional Georgia A&M University. Upon arriving, Eva is charged with saving the prestigious HBCU from bankruptcy and her twenty-year marriage from crumbling while managing a tumultuous relationship with her rebellious only daughter. A diverse group of freshman also promises to keep Eva’s hands full.

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Larry Rhem, Jazz Raycole and Michelle DeFraites

“The Quad” also features Jasmine Guy, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and E. Roger Mitchell. It is executive directed by Rob Hardy and is currently being shot on the campuses of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College.

Watch “The Quad” trailer below:

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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‘UPFRONT’ talks to Stacii Jae Johnson, Tinashe Kajese, David E. Talbert and more!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Don’t forget to check out Saturday’s edition of “UPFRONT” Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry.  This week I’ll be talking to reality star, actress and author Stacii Jae Johnson from CENTRIC TV’s “From the Bottom Up.”

Atlanta stage actress Tinashe Kajese stops by to discuss her role in Kenny Leon’s True Colors Production of “Proof” as  well as starring in the “Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” with Oprah Winfrey. I also talk exclusively with playwright turned film director David E. Talbert about his new holiday movie “Almost Christmas” as well as the cast—Mo’Nique, Keri Hilson and Omar Epps.

“UPFRONT” takes an in-depth look at Atlanta’s arts and entertainment scene including TV, film, theater, music and more. Each Saturday, the show features one-on-one interviews with all of the major players and the behind-the-scenes influencers that make Atlanta, the new Hollywood South.

Click here to check out our previous shows!

“UPFRONT” airs at 9 a.m. on Jazz 91.9 WCLK.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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#GimmeSomeMo Actress Mo’Nique covers SHEEN Magazine + more

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Oscar winning-actress Mo’Nique is the latest celebrity beauty to cover Atlanta’s SHEEN Magazine. The versatile entertainer looks absolutely fabulous on the November/December issue which highlights 2016’s top trends, products and moments that invaded beauty, hair, fashion, celebrity/entertainment and our everyday lives.

Mo’Nique closes out 2016 with a bang and welcomes 2017 with her new feature film, the comedic-drama “Almost Christmas,” starring alongside Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise and Omar Epps.

“You know walking on the set and you see a legend named Danny Glover, that’s priceless. To be able to sit around and go to school where he’s not even trying to school you purposefully you’re just in the midst of that greatness and that talent,” she says about her experience starring in the film.

Check out the full cover below + click here to see The “Almost Christmas” trailer!

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WATCH the 2nd Trailer for ‘Almost Christmas’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

If you were watching the BET Awards last night, you may have noticed the trailer for  the hilariously funny holiday film, “Almost Christmas.” It debuts this fall and features an all-star cast including Danny Glover, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, Gabrielle Union, Jessie T. Usher, Keri Hilson, Kimberly Elise, J. B. Smoove, Omar Epps, Romany Malco and more.

Originally titled, “A Meyers Christmas,” “Almost Christmas” tells the festive story of a beloved patriarch who asks his family for one gift this holiday season: to get along. If they can honor that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle. The film was written and directed by David E. Talbert and produced by Will Packer.

“Almost Christmas” will arrive in theaters November 11. Check it out below:

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Photo Credit: Tribute.ca

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RC Exclusive - Fashion

Mo’Nique, Monica, Nene Leakes, and more to appear at ‘Women’s Expo’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Atlanta Ultimate Women’s Expo is back for another round of fashion, beauty, health and entrepreneurship May 14-15 at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC). This year features a bevy of world renowned speakers including RHOA stars NeNe Leakes, Kim Fields, and Cynthia Bailey, “Married to Medicine” star Dr. Heavenly Kimes, and Grammy winning-singer Monica.

Other exciting guest speakers include “Real Housewife of New Jersey” star Teresa Giudice, Broadway actress and HIV/AIDS activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, media personality Nancy Grace, Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, Judge Lauren Lake and Oscar winning-actress and star of “Almost Christmas” Mo’Nique.

According to the website, the Atlanta Ultimate Women’s Expo will transform GWCC into over 160,000 square feet of shopping experiences along with beauty discoveries, delicious cocktails and free giveaways. There will also be a fashion show and pavilion presented by Macy’s, complimentary massages as well as an appearances by Bravo star and celebrity hairstylist Tabatha Coffey and Grammy winning singer/songwriter and reality star Tameka “Tiny’ Harris.

Atlanta Ultimate Women’s Expo hours are Saturday 10a-5p and Sunday 11a-5p.

Click here for more information!

Photo Credit: Groupon.com

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Ne-Yo, Will Packer, George Wallace, and more honored at 2016 Trumpet Awards [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

It was all about African-American achievement last night at the 2016 Trumpet Awards. The annual black-tie affair recognized some of the biggest and brightest names in the fields of education, medicine, arts & entertainment, politics, community service, and business.

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George Wallace with Arnez J, Rodney Perry, Mo’Nique & Cory “ZooMan” Miller

The lavish ceremony took place at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Centre and was hosted by celebrated actors Nia Long and Terrence J. This year’s honorees included TV and film producer Will Packer, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Ne-Yo, comedic legend George Wallace, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, General Motors executive Alicia Boler-Davis, Wayne County Community College Chancellor Dr. Curtis Ivery, Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mohandas Gandhi), and Her Royal Highness Basmah Bit Saud.

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Congresswomen on the red carpet

The award show also recognized over twenty “Women of Congress” including Donna Edwards, Alma Davis, Barbara Lee, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Brenda Lawrence, Corrine Brown, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Terri Sewell, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Frederica Wilson, Gwen Moore, Joyce Beatty, Karen Bass, Marcia Fudge, Maxine Waters, Robin Kelly, Shelia Jackson Lee, Stacey Plaskett, Yvette Clarke, and Mia Love.

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Salt-N-Pepa with Spinderella are celebrating 30 years in entertainment

This year’s celebrity presenters and performers included Deitrick Haddon, Kelly Price, Raheem DeVaughn, Vivian Green, Joe, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Christian Keyes, Bryshere Y. Gray, Mo’Nique, Brad James, Tweet, Andra Day and Trumpet Award announcer Al B. Sure.  There was also a special acknowledgement of Hip Hop pioneers Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella. The trio is celebrating over 30 years in the music industry and opened the show alongside iconic rap stars MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, and Monie Love.

The Trumpet Awards was presented this year by Cadillac, Carnival Cruises, and American Family Insurance. It will premiere on BOUNCE TV January 29 at 9 p.m. EST and on January 31 at 3 p.m. EST.  Check out more photos from the red carpet and media lounge below:

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“Preachers of Atlanta” star Pastor Corey Hambrick

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“Love Thy Neighbor” star Palmer Williams Jr. and his wife

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BET’s Gospel music legend Dr. Bobby Jones  

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R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn

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“Preachers of Atlanta” star Pastor Judah Swilley

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NFL Player Walter Harris 

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Honoree Alexis Herman

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Actress Charmin Lee

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Hip Hop icon MC Lyte 

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Cheryl Smith and Deidra “Dee Dee” Roper aka Salt and Spinderella

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Award-winning journalist Ed Gordon

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  Princess Basmah Bit Saud

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EBONY Fashion Fair model Renee Knorr/Actor Tye White 

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“Empire” star Bryshere Y. Gray aka Yazz the Greatest

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Honoree Ne-Yo

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“Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” star Joseline Hernandez 

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Actor Brad James

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R&B singer Tweet

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Representative Shelia Jackson Lee 

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Honoree and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson

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Singer, actress, and reality star Demetria McKinney

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Hip Hop icons Yo-Yo and Monie Love 

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Comedian Jonathan Slocumb and guest

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R&B Songtress Kelly Price 

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“Saints and Sinners” cast Clifton Powell, Jasmine Burke, and Christian Keyes

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R&B singer Joe 

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Pastor Canton Jones with Miss Fulton Cty. Pre Teen Damacia Howard

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Actress Chrystale Wilson with Jennifer Lester and CheriAmour Dallas

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Singer Andra Day with American Family Insurance’s Michael Riggs 

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Gospel singer and reality star Deitrick Haddon/Singer Kelly Price

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Ladies of Hip Hop – MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Spinderella, and Yo-Yo

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Mo’Nique sharing a laugh with comedian Rodney Perry 

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Honoree George Wallace 

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Singer Vivian Green/Miss Fulton County Pre-Teen Damacia Howard

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Kelly Price pictured with Honoree Ne-Yo

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Andra Day with Mo’Nique

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The Queen B and Trumpet Awards founder – Ms. Xernona Clayton

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Romany Malco joins ‘A Meyers Christmas’ + First Look Photos

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Comedic actor Romany Malco has been added to the cast of David E. Talbert’s upcoming holiday drama, A Meyers Christmas. The film, which was originally titled, A Meyers Thanksgiving, also stars Gabrielle Union, Jessie T. Usher, Danny Glover and Mo’Nique. 

As previously reported, A Meyers Christmas focuses on what happens to an estranged family when they come together for the first time after the death of the family matriarch. It also features Alkoya Brunson, Kimberly Elise, Nicole Ari Parker, GregoryAlan Williams and Omar Epps.

A Meyers Christmas opens in theaters November 2016 and is currently being shot in Atlanta. Check out these first look images below that Gabrielle Union posted on her social media page featuring her and co-star Mo’Nique:

12237448_1659458944293865_662551791_nPhoto Credits: About.me and Instagram/Gabrielle Union

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CASTING NEWS!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Grammy winning-vocalist and fashion icon, Rihanna will star in the upcoming sci-fi drama, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The film’s director, Luc Besson announced the news Wednesday via social media with a photo of the singer and the caption: “RIHANNA is in VALERIAN!!!!! ….and she has a big part!! I’m Sooo excited!!!” Rih Rih joins Clive Owen, Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan in the film adaptation of Valerian and Laureline. Shooting begins in January with a 2017 release. [SHADOW AND ACT]

Oscar winning-hip-hop star, Common has secured a role in the upcoming feature, John Wick 2. The project is a sequel the 2014 film, John Wick and features the Chi-Town rapper as the nemesis of the film’s main character played by Keanu Reeves. In other related news, Common has also signed a two-year deal with HBO. According to reports, he is responsible for developing and producing new projects for the cable network through his Freedom Road Productions. He will also be producing a new untitled “Chicago-set drama” for Showtime. Way to go Common! [DEADLINE)

Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique and acclaimed actress Kimberly Elise have been added to David E. Talbert’s A Meyers Thanksgiving. As previously reported, the film focuses on what happens to an estranged family when they come together for the first time after the death of the family matriarch. It also stars Jessie T. Usher, Gabrielle Union, Alkoya Brunson and Danny Glover. CONGRATS ladies! [THR]

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A Record Number of Black Actors receive Emmy Nominations…TAKE A LOOK!

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Thursday and  African-American actors and actresses received a record number of nominations including Taraji P. HensonCicely Tyson, Viola Davis, Don Cheadle, Anthony Anderson and more.

Queen Latifah’s passion project, BESSIE earned 12 nods including “Outstanding TV Film” while Key & Peele racked up six and Fox’s Empire received three. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run also picked up one for Outstanding Special Class Program.

Other nominees include David Oyelowo for his role in HBO’s Nightingale and Niecy Nash for work on HBO’s Getting On. The comedic actress was on the set of the show when she received the exciting news. She posted an emotional Instagram video with the following caption:

“Omg!!!!I’m so lucky I got this news on a tv show that I have to look ugly for because it will help me”! Lol Tears of Joy! Thank u for all the well wishes! I was filming Getting On when the show runners announced it on set and I wept. This is crazy!!!! God is so good. Congrats to all the nominees #GettingOn #HBO #BLESSED”

Regina King, Khandi Alexander, Mo’Nique, Andre Braugher, Titus Burgess, Dee Reese, Angela Bassett and Uzo Aduba round out the list of nominees.

Click here to see the full list and press release!

The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards will air on September 20 on FOX!

CONGRATS!

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Isaiah Washington, Tatiyana Ali and More attends ‘Blackbird’ L.A. Premiere [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

RLJ Entertainment and Urban Movie Channel recently hosted a private L.A. screening of “Blackbird,” directed by Patrik-Ian Polk and starring Academy Award-winner Mo’Nique, Isaiah Washington and Julian Walker.

Cast members in attendance were Isaiah Washington, Terrell Tilford, Lindsay Seim, Gary L. Gray and Kevin Allesee, all of who participated in a Q&A moderated by “Entertainment Tonight” host Kevin Frazier. Additional guests included “Blackbird” producers Keith Brown and Carol Ann Shine, RLJ Entertainment SVP of Acquisitions Angela Northington, actress Tatyana Ali, tv personality Karamo Brown and many more.

Check out a few photos below:

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 Isaiah Washington and Tatiyana Ali

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 Gary LeRoi Gray

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Karamo Brown and guest

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 Kevin Fraizer

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 Keith Brown, Isaiah WashingtonGary L. Gray and Lindsay Seim

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Mo’Nique, D. Woods and More attend ATL Screening of ‘Blackbird’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

A special Atlanta screening of the Patrik Ian-Polk’s new coming-of-age film, “Blackbird,” was held Tuesday night at the historic Midtown Arts Cinema. The screening was co-presented by RLJ Entertainment and Urban Movie Channel and was hosted by V-103’s midday radio personality Ramona Debreaux.

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Many of the film’s stars were in attendance including Oscar-winning actress and executive producer of the project, Mo’Nique along with her husband and executive producer Sidney Hicks, D. Woods, Torrey Laamar, and Nikkie Jane.

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“Blackbird” tells the story of Randy (Julian Walker), a talented teenage singer and aspiring actor who’s struggling with religion, sexuality, a troubled home life and other high school woes in a small Southern Baptist town. It’s a journey that ultimately leads to him to love and acceptance. Mo’Nique plays Randy’s overberring mother along with Isaiah Washington as his father. “Blackbird”  is based on Larry Duplechan‘s 1986 book of the same name.

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Following the screening, Mo’Nique and the rest of the cast took part in a Q&A session with the audience where they talked about making the film. Mo’Nique also revealed why she had to be apart of the project and why the film is a reflection of the times.

 “Were getting to a place where people just want to be free. People just want to be accepted. People just want to stop apologizing. We want to stop having to make an announcement. I’ve never had to go anywhere a say, ‘I want to let y’all know ‘m a heterosexual!’ I’ve never had to do that.”

Mo’Nique later went on to say that this film is part of  a ‘Gay Turn’ where the rights and privileges of the LGBT community are no longer ignored but are accepted by mainstream America. She hopes the film will also spark constructive conversation in communities that will ultimately lead to acceptance and understanding.

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Special invited guests included Rodney Perry, Dr. Heavenly KimesGary With Tha Tea, Meelah WilliamsBobby V,  Melissa KnowlesTone X, Funky Dineva and more.

Take a look at more photos below:

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 Mo’Nique with Sidney Hicks

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D. Woods with Torrey Laamar

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Sidney Hicks, Mo’Nique, Torrey Laamar, D. Wood and Nikkie Jane

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 Mo’Nique and Sidney Hicks with Dr. Heavenly Kimes from “Married to Medicine”

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Mo’Nique and Sidney Hicks with V-103’s Ramona Debreaux

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 Mo’Nique sharing a moment with Nikkie Jane

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 Bobby V

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Meelah Williams

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Mo’Nique and Sidney Hicks with Gary With Tha Tea

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 D. Woods signing the film’s poster

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Mo’Nique and Sidney Hicks are executive producers of the film

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RC with Mo’Nique

“Blackbird” opens in theaters nationwide April 24

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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WATCH HBO’s ‘Bessie’ Trailer + 7 Character Profiles (VIDEOS)

Posted by |Ray Cornelius 

In preparation for the debut of the original movie, “Bessie,” HBO has released the film’s first trailer as well as seven character profiles from the film’s actors including Queen Latifah, Michael K. Williams, Tika Sumpter, Khandi Alexander, MoNique, Mike Epps and Tory Kittles.

As previously reported, “Bessie” is an intimate look at the determined woman [Bessie Smith], whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville to the 1920s blues scene and international fame, capturing her professional highs and personal lows, and ultimate legend.”

“Bessie” premieres on Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m. Check out all the videos below:

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Photo Credit: HBO.com

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New Projects for Wesley Snipes, Carmen Ejogo, Denzel Washington and Mo’Nique

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

“Selma” actress, Carmen Ejogo (who by the way played hell of out of Coretta Scott King), is reportedly starring in another biopic along with Ethan Hawk titled, “Born to Be Blue.”  The film will follow the story of jazz trumpeter, Chet Baker and features Hawk in the lead along with Ejogo as his bi-racial lover. Set in the 1960’s, the film takes a look at Baker’s comeback attempt after a violent attack almost ended his career. Reportedly, Hawk learned how to play the trumpet and performed all the scenes in film. [INDIE WIRE]

Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawk are teaming up again for a remake of “Magnificent Seven.” Reportedly, Hawk is in final negotiations to star in the film that will be directed by Antoine Fuqua. The classic 1960 film, which starred “Ten Commandments” actor Yul Brenner, tells the story of seven American gunfighters hired to protect a small agricultural village in Mexico from a group of marauding native bandits.  Also said to be on board are Chris Pratt and Haley Bennett. [VARIETY]

Despite recent headlines that she was “blackballed” by Hollywood, Mo’Nique continues to get love from the indie film community. The Oscar winning-actress is appearing in a new project titled, “About.”  The film is centered on 13 different stories of people struggling to get over some form of adversity including loss, homelessness, addiction and suicidal tendencies. The stories are based on real life situations and includes some of the real-life people. “This is the first time that I’ve really played someone that is living, and I want to make sure that I’m telling her truth,” stated Mo’Nique.  She will also appear in HBO’s “Bessie” and Patrik Ian-Polk’s “Blackbird.” [INDIE WIRE]

Veteran actor Wesley Snipes is back on the scene with a new series and a new deal with NBC. In addition to starring in the network’s drama pilot,”Endgame,” Snipes has also signed a deal to “produce diverse projects that will appeal to his international audience. The partnership is with Snipe’s Maandi Media.  “It’s very exciting to be putting on my producing hat again,” Snipes said. “I’m looking forward to reuniting with the studio responsible for the success of my film The Fan.” [THR]

STAY TUNED…

Photo Credit: Pulsosip.com.mx