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UPDATE: Janelle Monáe added to Harriet Tubman Biopic

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Award-winning entertainer Janelle Monáe will be appearing in the upcoming Harriet Tubman biopic starring Broadway diva Cynthia Erivo.

According to S&A, the Dirty Computer singer is joining the production which begins filming this month in Virginia.

Monae joins previously announced actors Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, Clark Peters, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Zackerty Momoh, Deborah Ayorinde and Vondie Curtis-Hall.

Harriet follows Tubman on her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity. The project is directed by Kasi Lemmons 

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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#BETGoesPINK for October with ‘Her Only Choice’ and ‘BET Her Fights: Breast Cancer’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

BET is going Pink for the entire month of October! The iconic television brand is doing its part for breast cancer awareness month with original programming that is sure to keep you informed as well as entertained.

Kicking off the festivities is BET Her’s first original movie Her Only Choice. It tells the story of a woman who after years of infertility becomes pregnant only to be diagnosed with a life-altering disease. She must make a choice to either fight for her life or sacrifice her child’s. The film stars Denise BoutteTimon Kyle DurettLeon RobinsonTiffany SnowTamara Tunie and Vanessa Bell Calloway as Dr. Bailey. It airs Saturday, October 6 at 9 p.m. EST.

The “party with a purpose” continues with the second annual BET Her Fights: Breast Cancer special. This year’s show was taped right here in Atlanta a few weeks ago and is hosted by The Real’s Loni Love. The one-hour special looks to raise awareness, and encourage more people to take action to prevent, diagnose, treat, & end breast cancer.

This year’s honorees include Bershan Shaw and Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green.  Shaw, a transformational coach, motivational speaker, author, and founder of URAWARRIOR.COM, is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, it returned as stage 4 in 2009, she ultimately beat the odds is now nine years cancer free.  Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, one of the first 100 African American women to earn a Ph.D. in Physics, is a physicist who specializes in targeted cancer therapeutics using nanotechnology and lasers.  She founded the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation in memory of her aunt, Ora Lee “Auntee” Smith, whose tragic experience with cancer inspired her to develop a cancer treatment without side effects.

Look for show stopping performances from Kelly PriceEstelle along with Luke James, The Voice season 8 finalist Koryn Hawthorne, and Grammy Award nominees The Walls Group.  Presenters  included OFFSETKeri Hilson and special guest Brandy.

BET Her Fights: Breast Cancer airs Sunday, October 7 at 7 p.m. EST on BET and BET Her.

Check out a few images below:

LONI LOVE

OFFSET

DR. HADIYAH-NICOLE GREEN

KELLY PRICE

KERI HILSON

BERSHAN SHAW

Photo Credits: Moses Robinson for Getty Images

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UPDATE: Vanessa Bell Calloway, Vondie Curtis-Hall and more added to ‘Harriet’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

The upcoming Harriet Tubman biopic HARRIET starring Broadway diva Cynthia Erivo has added more star power to its cast. Saints & Sinners actress Vanessa Bell Calloway along with Zackary Momoh, Deborah Ayorinde and veteran actor Vondie Curtis-Hall will join the film project directed by Kasi Lemmons.

According to S&A, Calloway will portray Harriet’s mother while Momoh will star as Harriet’s husband. Ayorinde and Curtis-Hall’s roles have yet to be revealed.

As previously reported, HARRIET will follow Tubman on her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity. It also stars Leslie Odom Jr.Joe AlwynJennifer Nettles and Clarke Peters.

The screenplay was co-written by Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard. 

RC will keep you posted as this story continues to develop.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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Vanessa Bell Calloway directs tonight’s episode of ‘Saints & Sinners’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Don’t forget to tune into tonight’s new episode of Saints & Sinners. It is titled “Sinner Takes All” was directed by the one of the show’s stars Vanessa Bell Calloway.

Saints & Sinners tells the story of the conflicts among the members of a Baptist church in small-town Georgia. The plot consists of greed, corruption and murder.  It is produced by ATL’s own Swirl Films and also stars Clifton Powell, Demetria McKinney, Christian Keyes, Keith Robison and Jasmine Burke.

The one-hour drama series has proven to be a ratings winner for Bounce TV. It was the #1 most-watched program in all of television last Sunday, May 6 for African-American viewers between 25-54. It beat such shows as NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS, Family Guy on Fox, Fear The Walking Dead on AMC and Westworld on HBO.

 Take a look below:

Saints & Sinners airs at 9 p.m. EST on BOUNCE

Photo Credit: YouTube.com/Saints & Sinners

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Watch Behind-the-Scenes Video of OWN’s new series ‘LOVE IS ____.’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

OWN has released a new behind-the-scenes video for its upcoming romantic dramedy Love Is ____. It premieres on June 19 and comes from the dynamic duo of Hollywood—Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil.

As previously reported, Love Is ____ is inspired by the Akil’s real-life relationship and “tells the love story between a modern-day power couple. In the world of Black Hollywood, they navigate a complex set of social codes and will explore it all, from the good to the bad… to the ‘90s, because that’s where the love story began. It features Michelle Weaver and Will Catlett in the lead roles. 

Love Is ____also stars Tyrone Marshall Brown, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing, Tosin Morohunfola and Idara Victor.  The series also features veteran actors Vanessa Bell Calloway, Tim Reid, Kadeem Hardison, Lana Young, Clark Peters and Loretta Devine.

Also look for appearances by Atlanta-based actors Jasmine Burke, Tiffany Hobbs and Atkins Estimond.

 Love Is ____ is currently shooting in Atlanta, GA.

Photo Credit: Instagram/LoveIsOWN

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WATCH New Trailer for Bounce TV’s ‘Saints and Sinners’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Bounce TV’s hit dramatic series Saints and Sinners is back and I am so ready for it! The exciting third season returns on Sunday, April 8 at 9 p.m. EST.

A vicious, no-holds-barred battle for Greater Hope Baptist Church erupts between the old guard, Cypress Mayor Ella Johnson (Vanessa Bell Calloway) and Rex Fisher (Clifton Powell), and the young bloods Levi Sterling (Christian Keyes) and Jabari Morris (J.D. Williams) while Kendrick Murphy (Tray Chaney) tries to survive a life-threatening predicament in order to expose his grandmother, Leona Byrd (Donna Biscoe) as a killer. 

Miles Calloway (Keith Robinson) is once again caught between his wife and his one-time mistress, Christie Johnson (Jasmine Burke) as Tamara’s (Demetria McKinney) wild allegations threaten to put Christie away forever and rock Cypress to its core. Detective St. Charles (Afemo Omilami) has his hands full with chaos and crime running rampant in Cypress in season three.

The new season will also feature some familiar faces including Grammy nominated singer Angie Stone, RHOA star Kenya Moore, LHHATL diva Karlie Redd and veteran actress Robin Givens

Watch the new featurette below:

Photo Credit: BounceTV

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Vanessa Bell Calloway, Loretta Devine + more added to OWN’s ‘Love Is ____.’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

OWN’s upcoming series Love Is ____ has added more star power to its cast.

DEADLINE is reporting that veteran actors Vanessa Bell Calloway, Tim Reid, Loretta Devine and Tammy Townsend are joining the new one-hour series that comes from husband and wife duo—Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil.

Love Is ____ is inspired by the Akil’s real-life relationship and “tells the love story between a modern-day power couple. In the world of Black Hollywood, they navigate a complex set of social codes and will explore it all, from the good to the bad… to the ‘90s, because that’s where the love story began. It features Michelle Weaver and Will Catlett.

Reportedly, Townsend will play Carol, the fun, sexy, bohemian mother of Nuri (Weaver). Devine will portray Betty, the sharp-tongued and insightful mother of Yasir (Catlett). Reid will play Yasir’s lifelong friend Sean, as seen in the year 2027.  Calloway is Angela in 2027, Nuri’s lifelong friend and trusted confidante.

 Love Is ____ is currently shooting in Atlanta, GA.

 Stay tuned…

 Photo Credit: James Pray

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Sneak Peek of the ’26th Annual Bounce Trumpet Awards’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

BounceTV has released a first look at the “26th Annual Trumpet Awards” and I can hardly contain my excitement. I had the honor of covering the red carpet this year along with CAU-TV 23 for a television special that will air before the show on February 11.

This year’s honorees include Jermaine Dupri, Cameo, Richelieu “Rich” Dennis, Tamika Mallory, Marley Dias, Dr. Lonnie Johnson and Rhyon Brown.

The show is hosted by Larenz Tate and Erica Ash and was attended by actress Ashley Love-Mills, “Saints and Sinners” stars Vanessa Bell CallowayDonna Biscoe and Jasmine Burke, comedian Rodney PerryHGTV star Egypt Sherrod, Judge Penny Reynolds, actress DeEtta West, hip hop icon Ed Lover, actor and singer T.C. Carson.

Performers include Ludacris, Doug E. Fresh, XscapeSir the Baptist, Bilal, Anthony Hamilton, Arrested Development and “The Voice” star Wé McDonald and more.

Take a look + see more pics from the red carpet and more:

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Jermaine Dupri & more honored at ‘Bounce Trumpet Awards’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

It was all about African-American achievement Saturday night during the 2018 “Bounce Trumpet Awards.” The annual ceremony was taped at the beautiful Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center and yours truly was in the building to capture all of the sights and sounds.

Ray Cornelius with Trumpet Awards founder Xernona Clayton

My radio show, UPFRONT Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry teamed up with CAU-TV 23 to cover the red carpet for a future television special. I got a chance to interview a number of the evening’s honorees including Music Innovation Award recipient Jermaine Dupri, teen sensation and Trailblazer Award recipient Marley Dias and Rising Star Award recipient Rhyon Brown.

Ray Cornelius with Larenz Tate

I also got a chance to chop it up with the show’s hosts—Larenz Tate and Erica Ash as well as celebrity attendees Ashley Love-Mills, “Saints and Sinners” stars Vanessa Bell Calloway, Donna Biscoe and Jasmine Burke + Red Carpet hosts Demetria McKinney and Ed Gordon.  I also got additional interviews with comedian Rodney Perry, HGTV star Egypt Sherrod, Judge Penny Reynolds, actress DeEtta West, hip hop icon Ed Lover, actor and singer T.C. Carson + performers Xscape, Sir the Baptist, Bilal, Anthony Hamilton, Arrested Development and “The Voice” star Wé McDonald.

Angie Stone with Ed Gordon and Lamman Rucker

After the red carpet, I got an opportunity to get a few more pictures of the show’s other honorees including Tamika Mallory, Dr. Lonnie Johnson and Rich Dennis. Performers MAJOR., Donald Lawrence, Stokley Williams, KeKe Wyatt, Arrested Development and Angie Stone also stopped through the press room along with presenters Angel Conwell, Omar Gooding, Lamman Rucker and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

My “Red Carpet Trumpet Awards Special” will air on CAU-TV 23 on Sunday, February 11 a little before the “Bounce Trumpet Awards” at 9 p.m. Stay tuned…

Check out more images below:

Ray Cornelius and UPFRONT on the red carpet

Ray Cornelius with “Bounce Trumpet Award” host Erica Ash 

Anthony Hamilton 

Honoree Rich Dennis 

MAJOR. 

Honoree Tamika Mallory 

Ray Cornelius with red carpet host Demetria McKinney

Ray Cornelius with Ashley Love Mills

Angie Stone showing us love

Ray Cornelius with “If Loving You is Wrong” actress April Parker Jones

The cast of Bounce TV’s “Saints and Sinners”

(l to r) Tasia Grant, Dawn Half Kenny, Clifton Powell,

Vanessa Bell Calloway, Keith Robinson, Jasmine Burke and Donna Biscoe

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms 

Honoree Marley Dias 

Angel Conwell and Omar Gooding

Honoree Dr. Lonnie Johnson 

Sir the Baptist 

Wé McDonald

Donald Lawrence 

Stokley Williams 

Arrested Development 

Photo Credits: RayCornelius

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Vanessa Bell Calloway hosts BWFN’s ATL Holiday Bash [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Veteran actress Vanessa Bell Calloway hosted the (BWFN) Black Women Film Network’s annual holiday party. The event was held on Tuesday evening at Atlanta’s newest event venue—REVEL—and was attended by over 400 industry movers and shakers.

Calloway, who plays the lead character “Lady Ella” on the original Bounce TV series, “Saints & Sinners,” shared words of wisdom with the audience, including the mantra “Stay ready, so you can be ready!” The evening also included a special presentation of the new digital video platform, THEA, by ChooseATL executive director Kate Atwood. Chef Mark Brown prepared delicious appetizers for the event.

DJ Bomshell Boogie kept the energy high while Red Carpet Express provided a fun, prop-filled photo booth. Guests brought toys to donate to the My Special Friendz Toy Drive.

Atlanta notables in attendance included: fellow “Saints & Sinners” actress Jasmine Burke; LeLee Lyons from SWV; celebrity stylist Gocha Hawkins; Keenya Hill (“America’s Next Top Model” Cycle 4); “Sister Circle Live” co-host Kiana Dancie; realtor and tv personality Genise Shelton; actor Dennis L.A. White and a host of others influencers and tastemakers.

Special thanks to the event’s sponsors: Nationwide, ChooseATL, Aspire Premium Hair and Southern Edge Sweet Tea Vodka. Take a look at more photos below:

JASMINE BURKE

LEE LYONS + GOCHA HAWKINS

VANESSA BELL CALLOWAY + KIANA DANCIE

BWFN’S SAPTOSA FOSTER

MYRA J

DJ BOMSHELL BOOGIE

KEENYA HILL + SINCERELY WARD

GENISE SHELTON + DENNIS LA WHITE + LELEE LYONS 

VANESSA BELL CALLOWAY + ZANE

Photo Credits: James Pray

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Samuel L. Jackson, Usher Raymond, Malik Yoba & More Attend Kenny Leon’s ‘Golf & Gala’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Oh, What a Night!

I had the pleasure of covering Tony Winning director Kenny Leon‘s “Celebrity Golf and Gala” on Saturday evening and I am still floating on cloud nine.  The invitation only event was the best one I’ve ever attended and was packed with stars from music, film, television and Broadway. The evening was held at Tony Conway‘s Flourish Atlanta in Buckhead and is one of Leon’s major fundraising events for his annual August Wilson Monologue Competition.

The program offers students from of all races and economic backgrounds access to free theatre education programs. Through the competition, students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to explore African American culture and history along with improving public speaking and reading comprehension skills. Participants in the AWMC are also offered free acting workshops to prepare for the competition and future mentoring opportunities. The program exponentially increases arts in education dollars for participating schools and builds the skills and confidence of the youth in the following participating cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New Haven, Buffalo, New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

Vanessa Bell Calloway, Cedric the Entertainer and Morgan Stanley’s Marilyn Booker

A record number of celebrities were in attendance this year including stage, TV and film icon Samuel L. Jackson, pop music superstar Usher Raymond, beloved comedian Cedric the Entertainer; actresses Vanessa Bell Calloway and Crystal Fox; media maven Tavis Smiley; actors Leon, Malik Yoba, Lamman Rucker, T.C. Carson and Flex Alexander.

Other famous faces included “Queen Sugar” stars Timon Kyle Durrett and Omar Dorsey; triple threat performer D. Woods (formerly of Danity Kane); HGTV star Egypt Sherrod; NBA legend Julius “Dr J” Erving; veteran stage and TV actors Glynn Turman and Eugene Lee plus rising actors Maurice Johnson, Michael Beasley and “BET’s The Quad” star E. Roger Mitchell.

The highlight of the evening was a performance of short scenes from August Wilson‘s classic play “The Piano Lesson” that was read by Leon, Jackson, Fox, Turman and Lee. Jackson played Boy Willie in the premiere of of the play in 1987 at Yale Repertory Theater and reprised his role last night much to the surprise of the audience.

It was followed by a riveting performance from Raven Pace, the First Place Finalist of the Atlanta Region of the August Wilson Monologue Competition. Ending the night was special performance from Grammy winning entertainer and actress, Stephanie Mills, who blew everyone away with a jazz rendition of her iconic song, “Home” from the Broadway musical, The Wiz.

Check out all of the photos below:

True Color’s Executive Director Jenn McEwen with Blaque Book Concierge’s Renee Palmer

Kenny Leon, Jennifer Leon, Tony Conway and Holly Firfer

Malik Yoba having a moment with Usher Raymond

Stephanie Mills dancing with Crystal Fox

D. Woods showing off her new tattoo

Kenny Leon with Usher Raymond

“The Piano Lesson” Reading featuring Crystal Fox, Kenny Leon, Samuel L. Jackson, Eugene Lee and Glynn Turman

Crystal Fox and Kenny Leon as Berniece and Lymon

Samuel L. Jackson as Boy Willie

Glynn Turman as Wining Boy

Eugene Lee as Doaker

Kenny Leon is never without his famous sneakers

Crystal Fox and Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson with Eugene Lee and Glynn Turman

Raven Pace performing an excerpt from “Seven Guitars”

Stephanie Mills performing “HOME” from The Wiz

Kenny Leon and Dr. J presenting Samuel L. Jackson with the “Kenny Cup” for being the biggest supporter of the Golf Tournament

D. Woods with E. Roger Mitchell, Omar Dorsey, Timon Kyle Durrett and Michael Beasley

Egypt Sherrod

Cedric the Entertainer with Georgia Power’s Charmaine Ward and Tavis Smiley

Flex Alexander with T.C. Carson

Kenny Leon with Crystal Fox and Vanessa Bell Calloway

Usher Raymond talking to Sherman Edmiston (Essie Green Galleries) about his new purchase “Daybreak in Alabama”

Leon with T.C. Carson

Samuel L. Jackson with Raven Pace

Malik Yoba and his date

“Greenleaf” stars Lamman Rucker & T.C. Carson

BronzeLens Film Festival’s Kathleen Bertrand with Samuel L. Jackson

Kenny Leon with Marsha Shackleford, Timon Kyle Durrett, Maurice Johnson and Omar Dorsey
T.C. Carson with Holly Firfer (President of True Colors Theatre Company Board of Directors), Jenn McEwen & Crystal Fox

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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‘Saints & Sinners’ Season Two Finale airs TONIGHT at 9 p.m. on Bounce TV

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

The second season finale of the hit Bounce drama series “Saints & Sinners” airs TONIGHT at 9:00 p.m. EST and promises answers and even more bloodshed, lies and scandals.

Jabari (J.D. Williams) and (Christian Keyes) reconnect for a new business deal while planning to takedown Rex (Clifton Powell). Christie (Jasmine Burke) snaps under the pressure of losing everything important in her life. The police conduct an intensive search for the town’s latest murder suspect that leaves members of Greater Hope Baptist Church hiding more dark secrets and fighting to prove their innocence.

“Saints & Sinners” also stars Vanessa Bell Calloway, Keith Robinson, Demetria McKinney, Maria Howell, Donna Biscoe, Tray Chaney, Dawn HalfKenny, Karlie Redd, David Banner, Afemo Omilami and Reece Odum.

“Saints & Sinners” is produced in partnership with Swirl Films.

Will you be watching the season finale?

Photo Credit: BOUNCE TV

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BTS Photos of ‘Saints & Sinners’ episode directed by series star Vanessa Bell Calloway [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Check out these behind-the-scenes photos of Sunday night’s new episode of Bounce TV’s original series, “Saints & Sinners.” Series star Vanessa Bell Calloway makes her directorial debut as things continue to heat up in the city of Cypress.

On this week’s episode, drama ensues as Mayor Ella Johnson (Calloway) and Rex Fisher (Clifton Powell) reveal the truth about their past to Kendrick Murphy (Tray Chaney) and Christie Johnson (Jasmine Burke). Meanwhile, Miles Calloway (Keith Robinson) and Christie Johnson mourn the loss of a loved one.

Season two brings viewers back to Cypress, Georgia, the sleepy southern town outside Atlanta which has been rocked by the murders of a beloved pastor and the town’s Mayor. Death’s shadow continues to loom over the town’s epicenter, Greater Hope Baptist Church, as a dead body is discovered on its grounds, bringing up the church’s sordid past along with it. As concealed secrets claw their way to the surface, new alliances are formed and deceit, jealousy and compromising sexual affairs threaten to shatter lives and demolish the heart of the church and the town forever. As everyone’s dark past comes to light, the difference between being a saint or a sinner becomes more distorted than ever.

“Saints & Sinners” also stars Christian Keyes, Lisa ArrindellJ.D. Williams, Dawn HalfKenny  Demetria McKinney, Maria Howell, Donna BiscoeAfemo Omilami and Karlie Redd.

Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow night

at 9 p.m. EST on Bounce TV.

Photo Credits: Bounce TV/Saints & Sinners

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Sneak Peek of Bounce TV’s ‘Saints & Sinners’ Season 2 [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The second season of Bounce TV’s original series “Saints & Sinners” begins this Sunday, March 5 at 9 p.m. and we are too excited. The one-hour drama, which  features the phenomenal talents of Vanessa Bell Calloway, Clifton Powell, Christian Keyes, Demetria McKinney, Keith Robinson and Jasmine Burke, is back with more doses of deceit, greed, betrayals, corruption and murder.

Season two brings viewers back to Cypress, Georgia, the sleepy southern town outside Atlanta which has been rocked by the murders of a beloved pastor and the town’s Mayor. Death’s shadow continues to loom over the town’s epicenter, Greater Hope Baptist Church, as a dead body is discovered on its grounds, bringing up the church’s sordid past along with it. As concealed secrets claw their way to the surface, new alliances are formed and deceit, jealousy and compromising sexual affairs threaten to shatter lives and demolish the heart of the church and the town forever. As everyone’s dark past comes to light, the difference between being a saint or a sinner becomes more distorted than ever.

“Saints & Sinners” also stars Dawn HalfKennyJ.D. Williams, Tray Chaney, Karlie Redd and Afemo Omilami. There will also be appearances by RHOA star Kandi Burruss as well as Maria Howell, Charmin Lee and Donna Biscoe.

In preparation for Sunday’s big premiere, Bounce will air a marathon of the show’s first season beginning on Saturday, March 4 at 3 p.m.

This week’s edition of my radio show, #UPFRONT will also feature “Saints & Sinners” actors Reece Odum and Christian Robinson. They will both talk about their roles and the show’s overwhelming success.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credits: BOUNCETV