All Articles Tagged "Entertainment"

What Happened To The Winners Of These Popular Reality Dating Shows?

July 30th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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The new trailer for She’s Got Game has reality show lovers already wondering who The Game is going to pick. And I have a feeling the rapper is going to surprise us. Remember these surprising winners of celebrity dating shows?

Flashback Friday: 17 Nostalgic 90’s Films to Share with the Kids

June 26th, 2015 - By Rich
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With school out soon, there are many ways to keep your little ones engaged while indoors. Consider introducing them to never before seen nostalgic classics from the 1990’s such as Cool Runnings or Good Burger–remember that one? Click continue to browse our selection of classics.

Flashback Friday: 17 Nostalgic 90’s Films to Share with the Kids

Rachel Dolezal’s Not Alone: More People Lying About Their Race

June 22nd, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Twitter

Image Source: Twitter

Rachel Dolezal may have made headlines, but she’s not the only person to lie about their race. These folks lied about their heritage to get ahead, get a job or get deeper into a major identity crisis.

“Work Your Way Up”: ‘Power’ Showrunner Courtney Kemp Agboh Talks Making It In The TV Industry

June 16th, 2015 - By Rana Campbell
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Power 2014

Meet Courtney Kemp Agboh, co-creator, Executive Producer and showrunner for the Starz hit crime drama Power. Agboh, a Brown University graduate whose early days started in journalism, built her career in the writing chair with gigs working on shows like The Bernie Mac Show and The Good Wife. Power, which stars Omari Hardwick, Naturi Naughton, Joseph Sikora, and Lela Loren, was recently renewed for a 10-episode third season and airs in more than 175 countries and territories worldwide. (50 Cent is a producer on the show.)

We chatted with Agohb about her experience as a woman of color in the TV industry, advice she has for aspiring writers, why she’s tired of people comparing the show to Empire, and her hopes for the show’s larger impact.

MadameNoire (MN): What has been your experience as a woman of color in the TV industry?
Courtney Kemp Agboh (CKA): Obviously I am Black and female all the time. You can’t really separate the two. I was recently quoted in Entertainment Weekly saying it was harder to be a woman than it was to be Black. They cut off the part where I meant as showrunner for Power. When people watch Power and they find out the showrunner is Black, it’s not surprising. What is surprising is that I am a woman and my background is not particularly urban. We use the word “urban” to mean Black or Latino but that’s not what the word means. It actually means “from the city.” I’m not from the city. I’m from the suburbs of Connecticut. I grew up with mostly all White people.

My experience as a Black woman in the industry is simply that often I was the only one in the room. Often I would be the only woman AND the only person of color. Sometimes I would be one of several women but the only person of color. Sometimes I would be one of several people of color, but the only woman.

I really wanted to do one-hour drama.  I did not want to write specifically stories about people of color. I was interested in making a long career that looks (on paper) like anyone else’s career. If you look at my resume, it does not indicate my race at all. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t go the other route (and there will be more opportunities to go the other route now), but I think playing it safe and being around people who are like you is not going to give you the career you want. You have to get comfortable really quickly with being places alone.

MN: How did you hone your ability to create stories and characters that appeal?
CKA: It’s a tough thing. There’s a difference between talent and skill. You might have writing talent, but skill is learned. You have to practice. I remain teachable. I was sure that I didn’t know everything. People who work with me will tell you I don’t think I know everything. I watch people sink around me thinking that they knew everything. Or, that they showed up and thought their talent was enough.

You have to learn skills. I was fortunate and worked for great showrunners like Greg Berlanti, Michelle King, Jeff Melvin, and Yvette Lee Bowser (who created Living SIngle and is one of my mentors.) All of them taught me different skills. Some of those are writing skills. John Eisendrath (who runs The Black List) and I worked together briefly on My Own Worst Enemy. John knows more about story structure and reversals and where you need them in a story. He is so great at that. I really learned. It’s important to be open to different styles and to recognize that the medium and the message are not the same thing. Sometimes someone who may not be like you or may not agree with your point of view has a lot to teach you.

I think people (especially younger people) are vested in the instant gratification culture. If I write something, it’s good and it’s fast. I can just put it up. It’s [the world] of self-publishing. You press “tweet” and it’s there. It takes a long time to get to be good. I still have a long way until I think that I am good. I would also say any comparison between me and Shonda Rhimes is wrathful. Shonda is the Dick Wolfe of our generation. Shonda is an industry. I am one Black woman with one little show. Whenever people bring it up, I feel like I have to say don’t. I’m so irrelevant to her in what I’m doing and what she’s able to accomplish on a grand scale.

MN: Are people quick to compare you with Shonda Rhimes because the industry for Black showrunners is so small?
CKA: Yeah, that’s why people bring it up. I had one person say to me, “Has Shonda Rhimes opened any doors?” I’ve been asked that multiple times. Shonda and I have never met. She never opened the door for me at all, but Greg Berlanti and Robert and Michelle King did. They don’t look like me. They helped me get where I am.

In order to survive, human beings (like any other animal group)… we identify our own and then we go and are safe with them. Sometimes people think because people look like each other, that’s what engenders community. It doesn’t always.

I try to go out of my way to help young women, young women of color, and young people of color in general because I feel that is my responsibility. My parents raised me as “each one teach one.” As you go up the ladder, reach behind for those behind you. You can’t expect people to help you because they look like you.

courtney kemp power season 2

Photography By Myles Aronowitz

MN: What is a good path to get on if you want to eventually be a showrunner on a hit show like Power?
CKA: My answer is not popular because it’s not about instant gratification. The path to get on is to get somebody’s coffee. You’ve got to go and start at the  bottom. Work in the mailroom at an agency. If you really want to be a writer, the best thing to do is get that writer’s PA job where you are going to get everyone’s lunch every day and you are answering the phone. That’s how you get exposed to writers. In the industry, there are two ways to get a television writing job. You either get an agent and the agent sends you out for writing gigs. Or, you meet other writers and they go, “Hey, you know who I know…” and they make a phone call for you. You get the interview that way.

Write constantly. You have to always be writing. There’s no excuse for not having multiple scripts. Not just pilots. You have to have that but you need to have specs for it. I won’t hire you off of your pilot. I’m not interested in whether or not you can write a great piece of material that is about characters you created. That’s not what I’m hiring you for. I’m hiring you to write Power. Most of the job that television writers do is writing someone else’s show. I have eight writers. They are writing my show. When I was on The Good Wife, I was writing Robert and Michelle’s show.  You have to go in and have that humility and skill set.

My assistant, the woman who worked for me the last three years… I promoted her to writer’s assistant now. She’s in the writer’s room on Power doing the notes. In time, I’ll promote her to staff writer and she will be a television writer. I promote from within. Some people don’t. Find out who those people are. To me, there’s no way to do it from outside.

I say 15 percent of people are so talented they can cold-send their script to an agent and somehow it will get read. With the other 85 percent (which includes me), you’ve got to work your way up. I didn’t do my coffee getting in the television industry. I was an editorial assistant at Mademoiselle. After that, I was a editorial assistant, then assistant editor at GQ. I worked my way  up.

Here’s why this is important: If lightning struck and you were able to write a script that someone wanted to buy and make into a TV show today and you had no television writing experience up until that point, they would give you a showrunner who would run the show. You wouldn’t be the boss of your show. That’s why you have to work your way up. People don’t see that. I had 10 years of television experience before they let me run my own show.

courtney kemp power season 2

Photography By Myles Aronowitz

MN: Some people have compared Power to Empire. How has the show Power pushed you as a writer to remain authentic?
CKA: It’s hard. That Empire comparison is frustrating. I find that we (as people of color) are doing this thing to ourselves that we always say we resist, which is the ghettoization. If you continue to compare Power and Empire, what is that conversation about? That conversation is about two shows that are completely different but have Black people in them. Instead of comparing Empire to great long-standing soaps like Dynasty or Grey’s Anatomy… any of these that are so awesome and delicious, people are comparing it to Power, which is not fair to that show because we have sex and violence that they can’t show. Our show is dark.

Instead of talking about our show and talking about The Sopranos and Breaking Bad… now the conversation is about Empire, which is a soap. I am more frustrated when Blacks say it. As long as we are trying to compete against each other, we are never going to get out of the box. It’s like a bunch of rats crawling over each other. Get out of that!  Think about it as you’re trying to tell a  great story and so are they.

MN: How is Power contributing to the larger conversation regarding diversity in media internationally and overseas?
CKA: When the show was being developed, there was some concern (not from Starz) that there would be no foreign market for the show because the lead of the show was African American. It was this thing that people were sadly, unashamed to say. They said shows with African American leads don’t sell overseas.

When I heard this I said what the hell has Will Smith been doing all this time? I keep seeing him opening movies overseas. Do people really care that much? Hip hop, rap, and R&B sales around the world are huge. Isn’t Beyonce the biggest star in the world?  I was so confused about this idea that that people of color were somehow [unappealing] to our foreign neighbors. The show got made anyway. Starz believed in it from the beginning. Then we started to sell the show abroad. The idea that the show would not work overseas has been dispelled to some extent.

Rana Campbell is a freelance writer and marketing/branding strategist. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or visit ranacampbell.com.

Mr. T’s Daughter, Comedian Erica Nicole Clark, Talks Stand-up & Winning The Moth GrandSLAM

May 11th, 2015 - By Taylor Gordon
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Erica_Nicole_ClarkErica Nicole Clark, daughter of 80’s icon Mr. T., is making a name for herself in stand-up comedy.

Before setting her sights on a career in stand-up and winning The Moth GrandSLAM storytelling competition, Clark she grew up in the entertainment industry. Her very first memories are of being on TV sets in LA.

“I wanted to do screenwriting, but I talk way too much. I knew my thing wasn’t to write, it was to perform. So I started taking improv classes,” she says.

Clark got the itch for stand-up unexpectedly when she was asked to perform a story solo on stage while studying at the ImprovOlympic in Chicago. She liked being on stage so much by herself that she decided to give performing stand-up comedy a shot.

“My first [performance] was around Christmastime and I found a journal with all the stuff I hoped my parents would get me for Christmas and it was really funny to me. So I read experts from the journal on stage. It went really well and I never stopped after that,” Clark says.

Since then she credits stand-up for opening a million doors. She’s performed at some well-known venues and events including the Laugh Factory, Comedy Store and the TBS Just For Laughs Festival. She found that most people who like stand-up also like hearing stories and that’s what gave her the idea to try her hand at The Moth open-mic contest in Chicago.

Moth StorySLAMs take place in several major cities. Participants are given a topic beforehand, then they must memorize and perform a five-minute story. A winner is chosen by audience judges and they move on to face off in the GrandSLAM Championship.

The story that won Clark the title of GrandSLAM Champion is on conflict and she’ll be performing a shortened version of it this Tuesday, May 12th at the highly anticipated Superheros Moth Ball taking place at Capitale in Manhattan. The ball is an annual fundraising event held to support The Moth organization, a nonprofit committed to the art and craft of storytelling. Proceeds of the ball go to The Moth productions like its radio show, podcast and community programs. The event will be hosted by storyteller Ophira Eisenberg and it will honor Louis CK, from the hit FX show Louie.

Attendees will enjoy cocktails plus stories from Clark and other GrandSLAM champions and dinner. Clark says she loves hearing other people’s stories and that’s what she’s most looking forward to at the ball. Without giving too much away about her own performance, Clark says the outcome of her story will be unexpected, but the audience will be entertained.

Out of all of her stand-up accomplishments, Clark says the best one so far was the first time she performed in California and received a standing ovation.

“Being a part of the TBS Just for Laughs Festival was considered a big thing to a lot of people. But for me [the standing ovation] was really big because I had never done comedy outside of Chicago. I know a lot of people who do stand-up that can only work certain crowds or people. I felt on ’10’ to be able to go to California, be an unknown and get a standing ovation. That’s the best feeling ever,” she says.

In addition to stand-up, Clark also fills in for a morning radio show in Chicago which she’s looking forward to doing more of in the future. Clark says her next steps are gaining more exposure in stand-up and as a radio personality. She’s also considered appearing on the small and big screen.

“I’ve always wanted to be a guest star on TV. I’ve never wanted to be a series regular. I’ve wanted to be the funny quirky character that has 10 minutes of screen time,” she says. “I also love being on the radio, so I see myself doing some more national radio spots. My goals are to do what I’m doing now on a greater scale.”

Outside of her father’s fame, Clark’s trying to make a name for herself and she’s even beginning to get noticed for her own work. “I was going for a walk yesterday and the Comcast man said, ‘I know you from somewhere… Oh, I saw you last month at a show,'” Clark laughs. “It’s cool to start getting recognized for stand-up.”

Tickets are still on sale to view the show at the 2015 Superheros Moth Ball, for a limited time. For updates on other performances by Clark connect with her on Twitter @MrTsDaughter or Facebook at Erica Nicole Clark.

“I’m Fat And Happy”: 15 Celebrities Who Refuse To Diet To Fit Hollywood’s Beauty Standards

March 27th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

It’s hard to be anything but stick-thin in Hollywood. But these celebrities who refuse to diet say they’re defining their own beauty standards — so keep your salad and your diet crazes to yourself.

Are You A Good Girlfriend?: Celebs Dish On What It Means To Be A Good Partner

March 13th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

When leafing through the files of relationships past, every woman asks herself “am I a good girlfriend?” And what does that mean anyway? We don’t know if we’ll ever come up with a definite answer. But in a mean time, these celebs dish on what it means to be a good partner. Do you agree?

#IMEVERYWOMAN: Yaya DaCosta Pays Homage to 8 Legendary Ladies

January 17th, 2015 - By Rich
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With the premiere of the much anticipated biopic, Whitney, just hours away, Yaya DaCosta is definitely the queen of the night. The America’s Next Top Model alum has taken on the daunting task of portraying the late great Whitney Houston with respect to the family, friends, and fans who loved her. Something that audiences are hoping Lifetime has learned how to do the hard way (ahem– Aaliyah).

“It’s scary playing anybody who is a real live person,” Yaya admits to the Chicago Sun-Times. “There are people who knew that person that are going to look for evidence. They want to see similarities. …For me it was more about capturing her essence. It’s the overall essence that I was trying to portray. It’s her soul that I was hoping the audience would feel.”

For that, DaCosta turned to the film’s director, Angela Bassett, for some sage advice from someone who’s been there and done it– well. Well enough to earn an Academy Award nomination. It was Bassett who told her:

“It takes confidence and trust in oneself to be able to attempt to step into the shoes of someone so great. If there isn’t that trust within, it’s very difficult to make anybody else believe that you’re a diva.”

And it seems that Yaya had enough confidence left over to step into the shoes of some more greats. In the days leading up to the movie’s premiere, the young model and actress posed for a series of photos honoring eight legendary ladies and sparking a movement to unite women everywhere.

“I wanted to celebrate how Whitney always embraced sisterhood and do a photo series in the spirit of ‘I’m Every Woman’ (which I sing in the movie). This week, I’m paying homage to 8 other women who inspire me and I’m inviting us all to celebrate seeing ourselves in each other — no matter what color we are or where we come from.”

From Audrey Hepburn to Eartha Kitt, DaCosta captures the essence and the soul of each woman — make that, every woman — flawlessly.

 #IMEVERYWOMAN: Yaya DaCosta Pays Homage to 8 Legendary Ladies

Flashback Friday: Life Lessons from Demetria Lucas of “Blood, Sweat and Heels”

July 25th, 2014 - By Rich
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At the top of the year  we sat down and talked with “Blood, Sweat and Heels”  star Demetria Lucas. Today we’re taking a flash back to see what we can learn from this educated beauty about life, love and personal power.

Lucas is much more than just the latest reality star. The southern belle is a journalist, life coach and award-winning blogger. You can find her on Twitter giving relationship advice or on the web’s most popular sites with her often controversial opinion pieces that are right on the money. The word “socialite” is bandied about way too much but in this case it’s appropriate. Demetria’s “Cocktails with Belle” are a fun, NYC staple and her bestseller “A Belle in Brooklyn” left fans hungry for more.

This is Demetria’s moment and she is representing us well. She’s holding her own on Bravo’s hit series “Blood, Sweat and Heels” and also releasing a new advice guide, “Don’t Waste Your Pretty.”

Abiola: Welcome, Belle. Let’s talk about your newest book, “Don’t Waste Your Pretty.” What motivated you to write it?

As a life coach and dating and relationship expert, I talk to women all the time. I pinpointed some very key mistakes that we make when it comes to dating and relationships.  And it’s just because we were never taught.  So “Don’t Waste Your Pretty” is really about not wasting your effort, not wasting your energy, not wasting your looks–because that’s important, too–on the wrong guy.

Sometimes we meet somebody and we get so caught up in emotions that we want things to work.  We want him to be a great guy and just the facts in front of us are not really panning out.  He’s not willing to commit. He’s not treating us the way that we want.  He’s not picking up the phone to call; he’s just texting. So I’m trying to get women to see who’s a good catch, who deserves their energy and who they should just pass on by.

You always come from a place of women’s strength and women’s power. You’re also a ‘woman’s woman’ in real life. Anytime that there has been an opportunity for you to recommend my name or open the door for me, you have. Thank you. With that same ‘woman’s woman’ energy you have an exciting, new show, “Blood, Sweat and Heels.” Miss Demetria, you are officially you a Bravo-lebrity.

It’s such a fun ride.  Like the Bravo-lebrity thing is just so weird to me.  I’ve watched Bravo like obsessively Saturday afternoons and it’s raining outside I lay in bed and watch Bravo. I have my wine at night for Sundays and to turn on to the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Married to Medicine” ladies.  So, it’s very exciting. It’s very humbling as well.

“Blood, Sweat and Heels” is all about the personal and professional lives of black women in New York City and there are so many of us that could have been picked for the show.  You’re here so you know. We grind, we hustle, we put a lot on the back burner in trying to pursue our dreams.  So, I’m just very honored to represent those women who are on point and will be really looking to see a representation of themselves on television.

What do you think of your portrayal so far in the series?

You know, the response that I’ve been getting has been absolutely overwhelming.  You put yourself out there, you never know if people are going to like you or if they’re going to respond to you.  What I’m getting more than anything is “strong, independent and proud.”

Just to be transparent, I’m a journalist. I’m known for the Essence background. I’ve been very critical of the way that some women behave on reality television. And so when it was announced that I was part of the show, people were like, “What have you done? What are you doing?” And they weren’t really sure what to expect.  So, that hurt a little bit.

But since the episodes that have come out people are like, “I respect what you’re doing. I see what you’re doing with the brand. It’s all over the show. I didn’t get it but I got it now.” It’s like, “Carry on, D.”  It’s like, “We trust you with this now.”

That’s what happens when you’re a visionary.  People have to see it to get it.  As a part of “Blood, Sweat and Heels” we get to see your fiancé CBW, the Chocolate Boy Wonder. Alright, I’m going to get in all your business now.  How did you meet?

We actually met on the subway a few years ago. I had gone out the night before and it was a really big holiday party. I accidentally spilled my drink on this guy. The next day I was headed to work and that guy and his best friend were standing on the train platform.  And that’s back in the day – remember I had that little blond streak that was like my signature thing for years?

I was up in the train and the guy was like, “Oh, that’s the girl who spilled her drink on me!” Apparently it was cranberry and so I owe him an apology and a dry cleaning bill still. He says to the guy with him, “That’s the girl who spilled her drink on me.” The guy goes, “Where were you?” Then he was like, “I was in Butter.” And so the guy, CBW, gets on the train and he says, “Hey, you were at Butter last night.” And I’m thinking, my God. How much did I drink that I did not see this beautiful man?  That I walked out the club and like, passed him by?

But you know, we sat on the train and he was supposed to get off at – I think we were at Franklin or something.  He was supposed to get off at Atlantic.  So my New Yorkers know how crazy this is.  He rode all the way to 42nd Street with me.

I didn’t know it was going to end up with a marriage but I was like, “Oh, okay. I’m proud to be with him.”  He’s really, really cool.

I want to point out that there’s a lesson in there. So many times as women, we’re closed off. We’re not paying attention and Mr. Right can be right there.  There’s a lesson in there, ladies.

I have coaching clients who may see you and say, “Wow. She’s smart. She’s pretty. She’s got it going on. She never has fear or doubt.”  What do you do, Demetria, when you feel sad, afraid or nervous?  How do you cope?

Well, you know, let me just disavow of the notion that anything is close to perfect.  I have fears and doubts like anyone else. I think so often as women we see other women who are very pulled together.  We see them very successful with their careers and we see them in relationships and we think everything must be perfect.  But everyone deals with issues. I got them, you got them.  Every single woman does.

But when I have fears and doubts, I start off with a prayer.  Like, “God help me,” because I recognize that I cannot do this alone.  “I’m trying and I’m failing, so bail me out.” And I ask for help. As I’m a life coach, I have my own life coach who I give a call to on a regular basis.  This is what I’m trying to do because sometimes you’re very close to a situation and you can’t see the forest for the trees.  Sometimes other people just have a different insight that you don’t. Asking for help – some people they see this as a sign of weakness.  But really it’s just a sign that you’re trying to figure it out in the most speediest way possible.

That’s beautiful. Many single African-American women live their dating lives in fear of the so-called deficit of eligible black men and the “black marriage crisis.” You and I have spoken about this before in professional forums and panels.  What are your thoughts on this issue?

For Essence, I did this story once about women who thought they’d never get married.  So these are women who are single, 40 or women who had been widowed in their 50s, a woman who had two children out of wedlock.  These are all people that were like, “It’s not going to happen.  You’re going to die old and alone,” all the horrible things that we say to women that sort of scared them into submission.

But this woman said to me, “I was one woman looking for one man and there are 6 billion people on this planet. Three billion of them are men. I do believe I can find someone.”  And she did.  Instead of thinking like there’s a lack of men and there aren’t any good men, you need to find one great man for you if you’re a heterosexual woman.  You need to find one great man for you and that’s totally possible.  I really do think that everyone can find love.

 Passionate Living Coach Abiola Abrams gives extraordinary women inspiring advice on healthy relationships, self-esteem and getting the love we deserve. You’ve seen her love interventions in magazines from Essence to JET and on shows from MTV’s “Made” to the CW Network’s “Bill Cunningham Show.” Find love class worksheets, advice videos, coaching, and more at Abiola’s Love University. Her upcoming advice guide is named “The Official Bombshell Handbook.” She is also the creator of the “Love Body Spirit Detox” Program. Tweet @abiolaTV or #loveclass.

R&B Divas LA Confess Hot Love Secrets!: Chrisette, Chanté And Lil’ Mo Speak

July 16th, 2014 - By Rich
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The Los Angeles edition of the “R&B Divas” are back for an exciting new season. Yes, it’s season two with new cast members and new life. Returning cast members Chanté Moore, Lil’ Mo, Michel’le, and Claudette Ortiz, are joined by down-to-earth new divas Chrisette Michele and Leela James.

When we ran into three of our favorite divas in New Orleans at the Essence Festival, we asked them the burning questions that you need answers to. No, we didn’t go into the drama with the talented Chanté Moore, Lil’ Mo, and Chrisette Michele. You’ll have to tune into the show on Wednesday nights on TV One at 10/9c to revel in the fun and gossip.

chrisette-michele-universal-music-group-showcase-2013-backstage-lure-hollywood

We asked the divas for their sisterly advice on balancing relationships as high-powered women and loving ourselves more. This is a divalicious conversation to feed your spirit.

Listen in!