All Articles Tagged "Hollywood"
‘You Collect Your Unemployment And Then You Pray:’ Melissa De Sousa Talks Dry Spells And Being Rejected By Hollywood
Best Man Holiday actress Melissa De Sousa recently sat down with Rolling Out Magazine to discuss her rise to fame and the struggle that it took to get there. She also dishes on being rejected by Hollywood producers for being “too pretty.” Check out her interview highlights below.
On being by Hollywood rejected because of her look:
“Tons of rejection … [so] much I can’t even count. I mean most of the time [I get] more “nos” than “yeses.” I never really had anyone say anything real horrible to me. I had to prove myself. I remember when I auditioned for Hustle & Flow, which is the one [movie] Terrence got his nomination for. You know they thought I was “too pretty” and I wouldn’t be able to play a down-on-her luck stripper. But I begged them to see me. You know I went in and did my thing. I ended up screen-testing. The person who got it was Paula Jai Parker. I think Regina Hall also screen-tested. All of us ultimately screen-tested. You know I had to fight for them to even look at me in that way, because they thought I was too nice and would not be able to get gritty and dirty. You have to prove yourself because people always want to put you in a box. I am just the one not to do that to.”
On her rocky start in acting:
“It’s not always easy to get in the “door.” You know when I first came to Los Angeles, I slept on my girlfriend’s floor for a year. I got my first agent and I sent my pictures out to everybody and since I had no experience and I had nothing on tape or even seen, some of the [agencies] sent my pictures back to me [laughs]. So one agency would see you in person and they want you to come in and audition in their room and once again I had to prove myself in person. You have to have an attitude that nothing’s gonna stop me. I think that’s just my New York kind of attitude — survival of the fittest. That’s why I love that song [Empire State of Mind] so much because that’s how it is when people go off to New York.”
On stints of unemployment:
“Then there were times I didn’t work for maybe two or three years. There was a time I didn’t have an agent for one reason or another. When the agent dropped me I was like ‘OK, maybe I am not in the business anymore.’ God-willing you can collect unemployment from the residuals from other things you have done in the past. You collect your unemployment and then you pray. You still go out and do your hustle. I always would save money because you never know when that dry spell is gonna hit — and it did. Just go and keep auditioning and keep trying and keep believing things will turn around and it always does.”
Congrats to Jennifer Hudson.
The singer/actress just achieved another career milestone.
On Wednesday morning, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her accomplishments in the music industry.
“We are so happy to honor Jennifer Hudson with a star on the Walk of Fame. She is a great talent and a great addition to our Walk of Fame,” Ana Martinez, Producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies said in a statement. “Fans from all over the world have been waiting for this special day since we announced Jennifer’s selection for the star,” Martinez added.
The now short haired Hudson unveiled the 2,512th star in the category of Recording at 6262 Hollywood Boulevard.
Legendary music exec Clive Davis also spoke at the ceremony. He spoke about Hudson’s successful rise to the top in the entertainment business over the past 10 years and compared her to two legendary singers.
“I didn’t sign her to a recording contract at the very beginning,” he recalled. “But when I saw her screen test for ‘Dreamgirls,’ I knew that she was truly a unique original artist whose career would be nothing short of spectacular so I did sign her, then … I was stunned by her acting range, she was the real deal … and that voice. I had been privileged over the years to work with two of the greatest voices of all time: Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. I never thought I’d hear another voice to compare and yet staring me in the face was a new voice that did compare. It literally sent shivers up my spine.”
Fighting back tears, Hudson later took the stage and thanked God for her success as well as her fans for their support.
“I knew I would get emotional and I’m sure my mom is in heaven like ‘Jenny stop crying’ but now’s the time to cry mama, it is,” she said with a smile, looking up to the sky. “This is an amazing honor as we all know and I did not see this coming. I’m so honored to be here with so many that I love and I feel as though we’re all a family.”
Read more at EurWeb.com
Some of you hate him and some of you just dislike him, but Lee Daniels is sitting pretty on the success of Lee Daniels’ The Butler. So pretty, in fact, that he’s ready to turn some heads with his latest project idea.
Daniels recently spoke to Out magazine and according to our friends over at The YBF, he gave a huge spoiler: the star will be a gay action hero.
He described the film as the “gay Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and will star Alex Pettyfer. Pettyfer has already worked with Daniels having co-starred in The Butler.
The problem he’s having right now is casting a very hot black man:
“Alex Pettyfer is in it, [but] I have to find the right black guy opposite him. He’s so hot, isn’t he? So hot. And so aware of his hotness in a way that’s so…I love him to death.”
Daniels also doesn’t think that his idea for the movie will turn movie executives off now that The Butler has likely solidified his place:
“I don’t think I’m going to have a problem now. I made a $100 million for The Butler. I’m in a rare group. So this is something I feel good about.”
We’ve got to admit he makes a good point. We just wonder who he has in mind for the role he’s trying to fill. Do you think Michael B. Jordan would consider it? He is the “It” guy in Black Hollywood right now.
What do you think about Lee Daniels’ new project? Who do you think should be cast opposite Alex Pettyfer?
Filmmaker, JD Walker is raising funds (and awareness) for a film project in the pre-production stage — a coming out story, new to Hollywood. And that’s a story about a queer woman of color, Alyssa (Margaret Kemp, Children of God ) and how she not only comes out, but transitions and grows after her divorce and secret life with another woman. A story told through the lenses of her daughter, the film will focus on the impact of the divorce on the child, and how the mother and daughter come to terms with each other’s choices.
Walker, a black feminist writer who identifies with the queer community, won the 2013 Sundance Pitching Contest and raised more than her $25,000 goal for the film through a Kickstarter campaign. But other than traditional Hollywood struggling to take notice, Walker says some people don’t want to see another film tackling coming out.
“A lot of people complained that they don’t want to see or read about or hear another coming out story particularly in film. But every time we witness another teen suicide, another teen who is being bullied just because who they are, we know there is still work to be done,” Walker said. “Personally, I don’t think that the idea of telling another story about how homophobia impacts subjects or people of color… I don’t think that the story can ever get old. It’s important it’s told in a very unique way.”
Walker talks about the status of her upcoming film and about why stories reflecting the intersection 0f homophobia, racism, sexism and classism need to be told in an exclusive interview with MadameNoire’s Deron Dalton:
MN: What inspired you to write and make The Postwoman?
JD Walker: “I have always been interested, both as a professor and black woman, in exploring black women’s quadruple oppression on screen and in literature and in writing. And that’s black women’s oppression by their gender, their race, their class and their sexuality. And I noticed over the years — my background is as a journalist and a theatre major — that a lot of images I saw in traditional Hollywood didn’t reflect my reality, my cultural reality or even just my experiences as a woman of color. I really wanted to help humanize queer women of color on screen and to give more black women characters voice.”
“…When we look at traditional Hollywood cinema from as early as D.W. Griffith and Thomas Edison, we see three-different stereotypes of black women in cinema. And that is the black woman as mammy, the black woman as sapphire and the black woman as matriarch. Doing this film [is] a way for me to address social justice issues and to address homophobia and the importance of eradicating homophobia, racism, classism and sexism not only in the world, but specifically the African-American community.”
MN: How did you come up with the name and the story The Postwoman?
Walker: “I originally did a short film for the queer women of color film festival. I was offered an opportunity to take a free class for women filmmakers. It was originally a comedy. It was a short about a woman sitting on her balcony, and she sees this mysterious postal carrier woman walk by her. And it’s partly autobiographical because one afternoon in the summer, I was sitting on my balcony and I noticed a female postal worker delivering the mail quietly and her hat was tilted down low… and I couldn’t see her eyes. But then I started thinking because I’m writer about what’s her story. That’s how I got the title The Postwoman, but I’m not really fond of the title for a feature film so the title may change. The short screened at over 20 black film festivals [a combination of black pride and LGBT film festivals] between 2009 and 2011. The story just grew by word of mouth and that’s what really inspired me to begin screenwriting as a profession.”
MN: Usually the media representation of the LGBT community are images of white men, younger white men or just white men in general, do you feel there are enough coming out stories for people of color on film or on TV?
Walker: “I don’t think there are enough coming stories for people of color on TV or film, even GLAAD has documented that most of the scripted TV LGBT characters are white males. If you look at… any kind of LGBT distribution you’ll see that the stories are about white males mostly. Our stories don’t get told. I think it’s important we hear a multiplicity of voices. Not just the coming out experience, but what happens after that, how do people survive and grow in life. There are so many great stories that independent black filmmakers produce that don’t make it to the mainstream or that people never see. And for me that’s painful.”
MN: What issues are highlighted in this film that interlink with real-life LGBT issues?
Walker: ”First and foremost, we see the intersection of gender, race, class and sexuality in this film. I think that a lot of the films I’ve witnessed… we haven’t really seen how quadruple oppression can effect a subject or a character. Most of the films we seen about LGBT individuals are comedies featuring white males.”
MN: ”Romantic comedies? I’ve written about it… for the Huffington Post… that gay formulaic comedy. You see an average-looking white guy hooking up with a really handsome-looking white guy and all their trials and tribulations in dating each other. That’s basically that formula.”
Walker: Laughs. “Somehow we can’t get around that. We have to get around that.”
MN: ”I’m not going to lie to you. I do watch them all.” Laughs.
Walker: ”I do too. I like them… and that’s all we have, but doesn’t mean we can’t demand more from our writers and to demand that they dig deeper and look at the realities of race, class and gender. I’m just trying to help to humanize black women characters on screen and to give more black women/actresses voices and depth. That’s the reason why I really decided to make this a dramatic feature film.”
As many of us know, racial profiling is alive and well everywhere. But Hollywood couple Dennis White (Notorious) and Cherie Johnson (Punky Brewster and Family Matters) are using their platforms as working actors to blast a Marion, South Carolina police officer for what was a terrible experience while they were on their way to Myrtle Beach.
According to White, who wrote his story on iCNN, he and Johnson had just entered South Carolina state limits when they were pulled over by two police cars. The officer who approached told White he was clocked doing 40 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone; although he didn’t believe that was the case, White took the citation without arguing with plans to fight it later. Before leaving, the officer told them to be careful because there were “other officers on the prowl.”
While it shook them up, the couple continued on their road trip.
They soon reached the highway that led to Myrtle Beach when Johnson noticed a cotton field. White pulled over so Johnson could get a closer view and try to gain a connection to her ancestors who’d picked cotton as slaves. They took pictures and as they made their way back to their car, a police car turned around and headed toward them with its lights on.
Johnson approached the car and told Officer S. Barsfield that she just wanted to get pictures. He, in turn, grabbed his gun and told her to get in the car.
Officer Barsfield then approached their car and asked for White’s license and registration. Although everything came back clean, he asked White to step out of the car where he was then placed in the back of the police car. He proceeded to ask White about Johnson and then presumably went over to Johnson to confirm White’s responses. Officer Barsfield then told them Johnson had a warrant out for her arrest but couldn’t provide a reason for it. After a few minutes, however, Barsfield admitted he didn’t have a warrant but then asked if he could search their car. White realized that because there was no warrant, he did not have to allow him to search it and told the officer no.
Moments later, both White and Johnson were handcuffed by Barsfield even though he told them they weren’t being arrested. After being asked if they had marijuana in their possession and being threatened with being arrested on charges of trespassing and petty larceny, White decided to let Barsfield search their car. He found a tea bag but asked White if it was marijuana, essentially just trying to to make the tense situation worse.
After the search yielded no results, Officer Barsfield uncuffed the couple and let them go. If you can’t already tell, he offered no apology or anything else.
What an unfortunate yet all too common situation they had to endure. Dennis White and Cherie Johnson are vowing to not let this injustice “go” and want to see Officer Barsfield held accountable for his actions and receive some sort of punishment.
Stanning for Kerry Washington is just what Black girls do. How could we not? Have you seen her wardrobe? Have you seen the way that blowout wafts in the wind? Have you gotten into the classy brand of authority she exerts over her team when she’s not getting hot and heavy with the President of the United States in some random closet (on screen, of course)? There’s too much going for this woman for the rest of the world not to love her too. It seems like Kerry Washington’s time has come.
A few months ago there were full-blown internet campaigns to get the star of TV’s No. 1 drama on a magazine cover. Now, with an Emmy nomination under her belt, Washington has slowly transitioned into a cover girl. She graces the cover of Glamour and Flare this month alone. Last week she made her New York Fashion Week debut as a guest judge on the Project Runway finale. The slow simmer of Washington’s career could be turning into a boil.
Washington possesses the beauty, grace and talent to become a Julia Roberts remix the world never saw coming. Unfortunately, the things that make her great are also the things that make her rising to mega-stardom unlikely on paper. Let’s rundown the starlet checklist:
Young. Her beauty may be timeless, but Washington is 36 years old. That’s halfway to the retirement home by Hollywood standards.
Hot. I know, I know, who would dare question Washington’s sex appeal? But the sexiness Hollywood covets isn’t as subtle as Washington’s brand. Studio execs and magazine editors seem to like their sexiness with a side of desperation.
Shallow. Kerry doesn’t subscribe to the celebrity school of “my presence is a present.” She has a brain. And she’s not shy about letting the world know it exists. Or voicing her qualms with injustice. A celebrity that not only speaks on issues, but educates herself about them before forming an opinion… where they do that at?
Scandalous. The public likes stars to want their approval and attention. Kerry isn’t going for it. No tabloid fodder here. We found out she was married before we knew she was dating. And she admits, she didn’t join Twitter until she met with a digital social media consultant.
So, Washington doesn’t meet today’s requirements for superstardom. But, isn’t that a good thing? I think the world is more than ready for a starlet who is entertaining and aspirational. For all the decades of issues with Black women, maybe Hollywood is ready to celebrate a smart actress with class. Even if the entertainment industry isn’t ready, it seems Washington refuses to be denied. Scandal is set to take over televisions sets across the nation on October 3rd.
If Washington becomes the star she should be, my faith in Hollywood will be restored. OK, maybe not restored, but I’ll at least give them the benefit of the doubt from here on out. Pinky swear. What do you say Hollywood? Do we have a deal?
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveOutLoud) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
About the Episode
Previously on Destination LA, our Editor for a Day, Ashley Caprice was surprised by Chanté Moore of TV One’s “R&B Divas LA” during lunch at Hollywood hot spot restaurant, Te’kila. Both Ashley and Madame Noire’s Deputy Editor Brande Victorian caught up with the singer as she dished on her reality show, new album and offered career advice for aspiring artists and singers.
In this episode, Ashley and Brande turn the questions up a notch by asking Chanté all the juicy questions about her love life. Chanté Moore tells us about her new man and if she’d ever date or marry another celebrity. She also offers some relationship advice that you definitely want to hear. Make sure you watch the full video to find out how you can win a $100 gas gift card.
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About the Episode
Previously on Destination LA, Sheree Fletcher of VH1′s “Hollywood Exes” surprised our Editor for a Day, Ashley Caprice. Ashley then had to conduct an interview about the show and her personal life. If you want to watch the full interview with the Hollywood Exes star, click here.
In this episode, Ashley gets the chance to have lunch with a cast member from R&B Divas LA. This cast member dishes the dirt on the hottest new reality show on TV One so you don’t want to miss this one! Make sure you watch the full video to find out how you can win a $100 gas gift card.
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‘Black Movies May Alienate Others:’ Shemar Moore On How All-Black Casts Can Be Bad For Movie Marketing
Shemar Moore recently reached his fundraising goal for his upcoming film project, The Bounce Back, which is somewhat of romantic dramady about finding love. He recently sat down to chat with Shadow and Act about the project, color casting and why all-black casts can sometimes be a detrimental marketing decision. Check out some highlights below.
On reaching his fundraising goal:
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool. This whole process has been new to me, so I didn’t really know if we had a shot or how it worked. I’m not one to ask for money so that was a little foreign to me. But then I started to understand the concept, that this is the way Hollywood is now progressing, and I could control of my own content and create stories that I want to tell. It’s kind of fun not to be a puppet anymore, where you take the strings off and you’re not saying someone else’s words. I can come up with the projects that Hollywood might not necessarily be making.”
On the plot:
“Sex sells, drama sells, love stories sell. We never get enough of falling in love and believing in love. I did a movie called Diary of a Mad Black Woman which was about finding true love. So yeah it’s going to be similar, but not exactly the same. It’s more of a dramedy. This guy writes a book because he lost the love of his life in a car accident, so there’s going to be an element of drama and heartache. But then it’s about trying to find love and giving women the rules and tips to outthink a man and keep a man”
On casting a Latina actress as his love interest:
“Nadine Velazquez is just very talented and she showed support. She was a friend of a friend who said, “I like this story, I’d love to be a part of it.” She did me a favor and we were able to shoot a little teaser. It’s not to say that my love interest couldn’t be black. We haven’t shot the movie yet. I just know that Nadine is very passionate about it and I would love to have her in the movie. But I think love is blind. I’m half black, half white. So are we going to be mad at my mother and father for being together? I wouldn’t have life without it.”
On being pegged as a “black actor:”
“I don’t see myself as a “black actor,” I’m just Shemar Moore the actor. I’m very proud to be black but I’m just as much black as I am white. But I want tell stories that everybody can relate to, so I don’t care who’s opposite me. If Halle Berry or Jada Pinkett Smith called and said, “I want to do a movie with you,” I’d be right there because I believe in their talent.”
On why a diverse cast is a wise marketing decision:
“If every character in the movie is black, it’s going to be looked at as a black movie and that might alienate other people from going to see it. But we’re very sensitive to representing all demographics and it’s going to be a very mixed cast. Whoever fits the bill and can bring the noise.”
Would you agree? Do all-black casts promote the alienation of potential viewers from other races?
When you watch a film, many things stand out: the actors, the writing, the quality of its direction. But, we often overlook what really makes a film feel real. The little details like what the characters wear and what their homes look like allow us to get lost in the story without our realizing it. Now, if it were done wrong, then we would have something to say.
For all the glamour of Hollywood, it’s the smaller, thankless jobs that give the industry it’s magic. Ruth Carter, a two-time Academy Award nominee for costume design, is one of those tireless workers. Her gift of storytelling through fashion has helped take classic films like Malcolm X and Amistad to new heights.
Her latest project is Lee Daniel’s The Butler. On the cusp of the film’s release, we caught up with Ms. Carter to find out how a self-proclaimed 80s “anti-fashion” girl, has flourished in Hollywood for 20-plus years.
MadameNoire: What is the source of your love of fashion?
Ruth Carter (RC): I was very much an ’80s girl. So, everything: “Material Girl” Madonna, Whitney Houston, big mismatched earrings, flat pointed-toe scrunched boots (in white), ankle tight Girbaud jeans, shoulder pads in tee shirts, (tucked in and belted). I wore (on bad hair days) the Eddie Murphy style brimless leather hat and, on good days, my hair cut was “feathered.” I rocked red tights with fishnet hose over top and a grey acid washed mini skirt with a horizontal black and white stripe bodysuit and lots of buttons. My favorite jacket was a military style vintage “eton” jacket with gold buttons. And I LOVED anything vintage! What more can I tell you? All your readers that know the ’80s will totally “get it.” But, what’s also fitting is, I considered myself the “anti-fashion”. Ironically, I guess that created my love of fashion, even if it was by default.
MN: How did you get into costume design?
RC: I tried out for a play and didn’t make it. The professor who was directing the play, “Moliere’s Would-Be Gentleman,” asked me if I would like to do the costumes for it. And that started it all!
MN: What was your favorite film to work on?
RC: I have lots of favorites. There is no ultimate answer. It depends on, my circumstances, my experience, all kinds of variables at the moment. But, I loved Malcolm X because I experienced the best elements of design and filmmaking all together at once. Sparkle was amazing because I got to explore and produce the great genre of the 1960s. The costumes of Amistad were enormously rewarding challenges and add to it the opportunity to work with the great Steven Spielberg. The film about Tina Turner’s life story, What’s Love Got to do With It?” was an incredible experience, in hindsight. Making that film was hard, but it was magical to see it on the big screen.