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New Season of ‘Unboxed with Nikki Chu’ airs tonight at 8 p.m. (VIDEO)

Check out a sneak peek of tonight’s new season of ASPIRE’s popular series Unboxed with Nikki Chu. The decor diva is back with new trends and some of her celebrity friends for a show that is guaranteed to entertain as well as inspire. Tune in all season long to see what designs are poppin and to see Nikki revamp the homes of Tisha Campbell, Holly Robinson Peete, Tank and MORE.

Tonight’s season opener features two of my favs—Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe. You can also check out my UPFRONT radio show this Saturday August 10 at 9 a.m. on WCLK 91.9 to hear my full conversation with Nikki about the new season and more.

Ray Cornelius with Nikki Chu from Unboxed with Nikki Chu

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First Look at Nicole Ari Parker on Fox’s ‘EMPIRE’ [PHOTO]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Lee Daniels‘ is adding more star power to his Fox series “EMPIRE.” Award-winning TV, film and stage actress Nicole Ari Parker will have a recurring role opposite Forest Whitaker.

According to BF, Parker will star as Giselle Barker, the fabulous ex-wife of Eddie Barker, played by Whitaker. She will debut during Wednesday night’s mid-season finale, “Slave to Memory.”

Season 4 has seen Lucious (Terrence Howard) battling to regain his physical and mental faculties after the explosion and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) with her own challenges, revisiting her traumatic 17 years in prison in a series of flashbacks. With Lucious coming back, Eddie is concluding his tenure at Empire but when one never knows if he can easily let go of the power he just received.

Parker most recently starred in TV One’s original movie, “Downsized” as well as ABC’s “Time After Time.” Look for her to also appear in the upcoming film “Headshop” starring Evan Ross, Loretta Devine, Deon Cole, Marla Gibbs, Kimberly Elise and Michael Jai White.

Photo Credits: Fox

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TONIGHT! ‘Downsized’ starring Boris Kodjoe + Nicole Ari Parker (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Don’t forget to watch TV One’s new original movie, “Downsized,” airing TONIGHT at 9 p.m. EST.  The project stars husband and wife duo Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker and was written by TV One and ABFF’s 2016 Screenplay Competition finalist—Michelle McKissic.  

In the film “Downsized,” Ebony (Parker) and Michael (Kodjoe) were forced into a modern “shotgun” wedding after becoming teenaged parents, putting their personal goals on hold in order to support their family. Amazingly, the two high school sweethearts manage to overcome the odds and establish a seemingly ideal life for themselves.  However, the success that initially was meant to strengthen their family has become the very thing that is driving them apart. As a result, Michael desperately tries to hold onto everything he’s worked his entire life to gain. This leads the family on an unconventional adventure to restore the faith, hope, and trust that initially brought them together.

The film also stars Alexus Lapri Geier as Madison, Racquel Bianca John as Michelle, Isaiah John as Mike, Jr. and Tia Hendricks as Malaysia. “Downsized” is directed by Rhonda Baraka and is produced for TV One by Swirl Films’ Eric Tomosunas.

#UPFRONT got a chance to visit the film’s set back in May and talked to the couple about returning to Atlanta to shoot the film. Click here to listen!

Watch the “Downsized” featurette below:

Photo Credits: TVOne

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RayCornelius.com visits the set of TV One’s ‘Downsized’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Beloved TV and film stars Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker have returned to their Atlanta roots for the filming of TV One’s newest original movie, “Downsized.” The former “Soul Food” actors are starring in this faith-based drama that is set to premiere at this year’s American Black Film Festival (ABFF) on June 16 and on TV One in August.

In the film Downsized, Ebony (Parker) and Michael (Kodjoe) were forced into a modern “shotgun” wedding after becoming teenaged parents, putting their personal goals on hold in order to support their family. Amazingly, the two high school sweethearts manage to overcome the odds and establish a seemingly ideal life for themselves.

However, the success that initially was meant to strengthen their family has become the very thing that is driving them apart. As a result, Michael desperately tries to hold onto everything he’s worked his entire life to gain. This leads the family on an unconventional adventure to restore the faith, hope, and trust that initially brought them together.

The film also Alexus Lapri Geier as Madison, Racquel Bianca John as Michelle, Isaiah John as Mike, Jr. and Tia Hendricks as Malaysia. “Downsized” is written by Michelle McKissick (2016 ABFF Screenplay Finalist 2016) and is directed by Rhonda Baraka. It is also produced for TV One by Swirl Films and is executive produced by Eric Tomosunas.

“We love Atlanta! We love the people. We love the feeling we get when we’re here,” said Kodjoe to RC during the set visit.

“We spent five important years here in Atlanta when we first had our kids. Atlanta gave us a security and a safety net to be here and not have to worry about being accosted or under the microscope. We could really focus on our kids and be a young family.”

Meet the rest of the “DOWNSIZED” cast below:

Real life siblings – Isaiah John and Racquel Bianca John 

Alexus Lapri Geier

Tia Hendricks

Rhonda Baraka

“DOWNSIZED” will air on TV One in August 2017

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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New Edition, Peabo Bryson, Wendy Williams & more receive Trumpet Awards [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

The 2017 Trumpet Awards were taped on Saturday evening at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and your truly was in the mix to capture all of the sights and sounds of one of Atlanta’s biggest nights. This year, I covered the red carpet for my radio magazine #UPFRONT and gathered exclusive interviews with some of the attendees, honorees and presenters. That segment will air this Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on WCLK.com.

After the red carpet, I was able to go backstage and cover the media room where most of the show’s presenters, performers and honorees stopped by for photo opportunities. As previously reported, this year’s 25th Anniversary show recognized the accomplishments of some of the biggest names in the African-American community including talk show host Wendy Williams, whose Trumpet Award for Entertainment was picked up by her media brother, hip hop icon Ed Lover.

New Edition’s Rickey Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, Michael Bivins and Johnny Gill, collected their much deserved Lifetime Achievement Trumpet Award. The iconic group from the 1980s, who laid the foundation for many  boy bands of the 90s and 2000s, was recognized just days before their highly anticipated biopic which airs tonight on BET. The group was saluted by R&B groups Transitions, Silk and Jagged Edge.

Music legend Peabo Bryson was honored for his enduring career as a Grammy winning-singer and songwriter. He has performed some of music’s most beloved duets including “Tonight I Celebrate My Love” with Roberta Flack, “Beauty and the Beast” with Celine Dion and “A Whole New World” with Regina Belle, who also performed the song with R&B crooner Kenny Lattimore as part of Bryson’s musical tribute. Bryson’s award was presented to him by music legend—Bill Withers. I had a chance to see Bryson perform last spring and he was simply amazing. He is one of the few veteran performers that still puts on an entire show including stories, dazzling costumes, a live band and back to back hits. This award is very well deserved and was one of the evening’s highlights.

NBA star Dikembe Mutombo picked up the Humanitarian Trumpet Award and praised gospel vocalist Tamela Mann for her amazing performance. She was a ray of sunshine when she entered the media room and bought a smile to everyone’s face. Fashion Blogger Gabi Gregg, was also glowing as she picked up this year’s Trailblazing Trumpet Award. I got a chance to chat with her on the red carpet and she described the moment as “surreal.”  I believe she is the first blogger to receive this award and was really humble to be in the midst of such greatness.

Gospel superstars Jekalyn Carr, Le’Andria Johnson, Travis Greene and Derek Minor were all in the house for a foot stomping, hand clapping, spirit-filled musical tribute. While I wasn’t able to see it from the media room, we were all in awe when the Queen of Gospel, Shirley Caesar, walked into the room. She even took pictures with a dry eraser sign that we created with the famous tag line, “You Name It.”  That was the name of the remixed song that created quite a frenzy over the Thanksgiving holiday and used a line from iconic tune, “Hold My Mule.”

The icing on the cake was Oscar winning-actor Louis Gosset Jr. being there to present Trumpet Awards founder Xernona Clayton with the distinguished Golden Trumpet Award. She also joined us backstage and had everyone’s full attention with her radiant white and gold gown and dazzling head piece.

Other stars spotted on the carpet included Ed Gordon, Erica Campbell, Dr. Bobby Jones, T.C. Carson, Lalah Hathaway, the show’s hosts Nicole Ari Parker and Deon Cole, the cast of Bounce TV’s “Saints and Sinners,” Gary Owens, BJ The Chicago Kid, KeKe WyattErica AshWillie Moore Jr., Tyler Williams from “The New Edition Story” and more!

See more backstage photos below and stay tuned for red carpet pics:

Vanessa Bell Calloway

Tamela Mann

Tamela Mann with Miss Georgia Pre-Teen Damacia Howard

showing off their sparkling shoes

Honoree Dikembe Mutombo with Ed Gordon

BJ The Chicago Kid 

Honoree Peabo Bryson with Bill Withers and Ed Gordon

Kenny Lattimore, Erica Ash and Bill Withers 

KeKe Wyatt

Le’Andria Johnson and Jekalyn Carr

That shoe tho! #Jekalyn Carr

Canton Jones with Shirley Caesar 

Shirley Caesar

Willie Moore Jr. 

Honoree Gabi Gregg

Gary Owens taking part in our backstage shenanigans

The group Transitions performed as part of the NE Tribute

Honorees Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivins 

Tyler Williams 

Ronnie DeVoe and Lyfe Jennings 

Trumpet Awards Founder Xernona Clayton

The Trumpet Awards airs this

Sunday, January 29 at 9 p.m. EST On Bounce

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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‘Trumpet Awards’ to honor Wendy Williams, New Edition and more!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Bounce TV has announced the honorees for this year’s “25th Annual Trumpet Awards” and congratulations goes out to media maven Wendy Williams, who will be given the Entertainment Award and legendary R&B group, New Edition, who will pick up the Lifetime Achievement Award. The lavish ceremony will tape next Saturday, January 21 at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and will air on Sunday, January 29 at 9 p.m. EST.

“Black-ish” star and two-time EMMY® nominated actor Deon Cole is teaming up with and “Rosewood” and seven-time NAACP Image Award nominated actress Nicole Ari Parker as hosts of the black-tie ceremony.

Other honorees include former NBA great Dikembe Mutombo (Humanitarian Award), GRAMMY®-winning soul singer Peabo Bryson (Legend Award) and fashion blogger Gabi Gregg (Trailblazing Award).

The 25th Annual Trumpet Awards will also include special performances by Erica Campbell, Kenny Lattimore, Tamela Mann, Shirley Caesar, Bobby V., Keke Wyatt and Jekalyn Carr.

In a very special tribute, civil rights icon and founder of the Trumpet Awards Xernona Clayton will be presented with the distinguished “Golden Trumpet Award” in recognition of her unparalleled leadership, affecting change, and steadfast work in building the legacy of the awards.

“We have come so far since we started in 1993 and I am extremely obliged to those individuals who saw the vision and who have worked with us for 25 years. Bounce is the ideal custodian to continue to enhance the level of excellence that is our standard going forward. I am thrilled to have my beloved Trumpet Awards become part of Bounce who will continue to celebrate the achievements of those who had an impact on our community for many more years to come,” says Mrs. Clayton.

RayCornelius.com and “UPFRONT” will be on the red carpet to get all of the exclusive interviews with the honorees and presenters, so stay tuned!

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com and Facebook/Wendy Williams

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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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Usher, Gabrielle Union, Mo’Nique & more attend ATL Premiere of ‘Almost Christmas’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

The cast of the upcoming holiday film “Almost Christmas” came out Wednesday night to a very special advanced screening at Atlanta’s Regal Atlantic Station.  Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union, Omar Epps, Danny Glover, Keri Hilson, Nadej K. Bailey, Marley Taylor, Rachel Kylian, Keon Mitchell and D.C. Young Fly all walked the red carpet as fans screamed their names and tried capturing photos of their favorite stars.

img_3347Mo’Nique and her family

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. It also stars Nicole Ari Parker, Jessie T. Usher, Kimberly Elise, J.B. Smoove and Romany Malco. There are also special appearances by Grammy winning-singer Monica and legendary songstress and actress Gladys Knight.

img_3496Usher with “Almost Christmas” stars Marley Taylor and Nadej K. Bailey

A number of ATL celebrities were in attendance including Usher Raymond, Queen Latifah, Big BoiTyrese Gibson, Ambassador Andrew Young, Jasmine Guy and the cast of Bounce TV’s “Saints & Sinners” Vanessa Bell Calloway, Christians Keyes, Keith Robinson and Dawn HalfKenny.  Other stars spotted on the red carpet included Towanda Braxton, B.J. Britt, “Ink, Paper, Scissors” star CoCo, “Married to Medicine” star Dr. Heavenly Kimes, Swirl Films’ Keith NealThe Tankards from Bravo’s “Thicker Thank Water,” actor T.C. Carson, media personality Frank Ski, Blue Kimble, Reece Odum, Elijah Kelley, Julian Walker and music producers Rock City.

Almost Christmas” opens in theaters November 11!

Check out all of the red carpet photos below:

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Ambassador Andrew Young and his special guests

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Cast of “Saints and Sinners”
Keith Robinson, Vanessa Bell CallowayChristian Keyes and Dawn HalfKenny

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Nadej K. Bailey

 

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Rachel Kylian

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“Ink, Paper, Scissors” star CoCo

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Frank Ski

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Keith Neal 

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Julian Walker 

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Keon Mitchell 

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Big Boi and Towanda Braxton 

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The Tankards 

 

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Jasmine Guy 

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Omar Epps 

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T.C. Carson

img_3293

Rock City

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D.C. Young Fly with his family

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Usher Raymond

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Queen Latifah

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Will Packer with David E. Talbert 

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Keri Hilson

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Big Boi and his son

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B.J. Britt

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Gabrielle Union and Will Packer 

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Elijah Kelley

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David E. Talbert and his wife

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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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:

almost-christmas-poster-lg

Photo Credit: Tribute.ca

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Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union and more starring in ‘Almost Christmas’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love…

Check out the first trailer for the David E. Talbert‘s new holiday comedy, “Almost Christmas.” The film, which was originally titled “A Meyers Christmas,” features an all-star cast including Academy Award-winning actress Mo’Nique along with Danny Glover, Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Romany Malco, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Jessie T. Usher and DC Young Fly.

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. Executive producers include Lyn Sisson-Talbert, Preston Holmes, James F. Lopez, Gabrielle Union, and Jeff Morrone.

“Almost Christmas” will filmed entirely in Atlanta, GA.  GO ATL!!!! 

Almost Christmas arrives in theaters November 11!

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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 

Nicole Ari Parker may be enjoying her new role as a talk show host with husband Boris Kodjoe but that hasn’t slowed down her acting career! The mother of two has just booked a recurring role on the upcoming Fox drama, Rosewood, starring Morris Chestnut.  Parker will play his girlfriend, Kat Crawford, a highly sought-after psychologist specializing in PTSD. As previously reported, Rosewood follows Dr. Beaumont, Rosewood (Chestnut), a gifted Miami pathologist, who finds secrets in people’s bodies using his, state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. [DEADLINE]

Tyler Perry is stepping from behind the camera to star as a New York Post editor in Brain on Fire. The film is an adaptation of the best selling memoir by jounalist, Susannah Cahalan titled, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. The book focuses on  a mysterious illness that caused Cahalan to hallucinate, hear voices and experience moments of rage. The film also stars Chole Grace Moretz, Thomas Mann, Jenny Slate, Richard Armitage, and Carrie-Anne Moss. [EOnline.com]

Photo Credits: MajorSpoilers.com/CurlsUnderstood.com

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Boris Kodjoe & Nicole Ari Parker cover KONTROL’s Summer Lust Issue [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Summer is starting to HEAT up and things just got sexier as Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe sizzle on the summer cover of Kontrol Magazine. The couple brought their undeniable love and charm to the cover shoot as they get things ready for the Boris & Nicole show and the next chapter of their life. Check out some of what they had to say below:

Boris and Nicole feature 098 000

“It definitely was not love at first sight, it was more like, definitely a strong like [she laughs]…I was with someone else at the time…” Nicole hilariously explains. “I agree it was definitely a strong like, but over time and working together we cultivated a strong friendship…we were definitely good friends long before we became romantically involved…that friendship really set the foundation for our relationship and marriage…but it didn’t hurt she was beautiful too [he laughs]…”

Boris and Nicole inside

“Sometimes he [Boris] and I will be in the middle of an argument and I stop and look at him and I’m like ‘you know we can’t break up right?’ [She laughs aloud]…Like any couple we have our issues, I know his buttons and he knows mine, just like any other two people in a relationship we have to constantly work at not pushing them…”

The Summer Lust Issue of Kontrol is available on newsstands this month!  Also, check out a new promotional video featuring Nicole applauding Boris for being such a good father and husband.

[youtube id=”Q-SI1nS_p3U” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Photo Credits: Kontrol Magazine

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Usher and Tyrese join Babyface for Steve Harvey’s Neighborhood Awards

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Steve Harvey, EMMY-winning talk show and Family Feud host and star of the Steve Harvey Morning Show, announces a sizzling lineup of superstar performances at the upcoming 13th Annual Ford Neighborhood Awards, as multiple GRAMMY®-winning superstar Usher will hit the stage as the awards show’s closing performer and award-winning artist/actor Tyrese Gibson will take the stage in a featured performance, adding to a stellar lineup of entertainment that kicks off with multiple GRAMMY®-winning hitmaker Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds opening this year’s show in Atlanta.

Hosted by Steve Harvey at the Philips Arena on Saturday August 8th, the 2015 Ford Neighborhood Awards show is the cornerstone event in a four-day lineup of entertainment, with the awards show honoring the businesses, educators and leaders who make up this year’s Top 48 finalists across 12  award categories.  Boasting finalists coast to coast from Washington DC to New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and more, this year’s Top 48 nominees encompass returning winners as well as new finalists, with voting continuing online in one category per day until June 16th.  Harvey will be joined by a spirited lineup of celebrity presenters to unveil this year’s winners, including Anthony Anderson, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, Wendy Raquel Robinson, David and Tamela Mann, Michelle Williams, Erica Campbell, Kym Whitley, Faith Evans, Yolanda Adams, Roland Martin, his radio show co-hosts Shirley Strawberry, Nephew Tommy, Carla Ferrell and more.

Surrounding the awards show with a star-studded series of uplifting activities and performances running August 6-9th in Atlanta, this year’s Neighborhood Awards Weekend will be another unforgettable celebration, with an award-winning blend of signature entertainment featuring previously-announced performances during the weekend from Erykah Badu and Jodeci at the State Farm Freedom Friday Party hosted by Ne-Yo, Salt-N-Pepa and performer/host Doug E. Fresh at the Ford VIP After Party, Jazmine Sullivan, K. Michelle, Avery*Sunshine at the Steve Harvey Morning Show live broadcast, Yolanda Adams at the McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, and more.

Tickets for the Ford Neighborhood Awards show and weekend events are available via Ticketmaster.  The 2015 Neighborhood Awards Weekend includes support from Ford Motor Company, State Farm, Masterbuilt, AARP, McDonald’s, Express Employment Professionals, Tracfone, and DHerbs.

Stay tuned…