All Articles Tagged "In Living Color"
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh Talks “In Living Color,” Caring For A Grandmother Living With Alzheimer’s & Raven Symoné
T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh has been in the game for a long time. We all remember her from “In Living Color,” “Cosby,” and “That’s So Raven.” But she’s also directed, produced and starred in several projects we might not have been as familiar with. But there was a time period when T’Keyah stepped away from the limelight. And it might not be for the reasons you think. In part one of our exclusive interview, Keymáh talks about everything from why “In Living Color” ended, to what she thinks about Raven Symoné’s recent comments.
What have you been up to since we’ve last seen you?
Well, when have you last seen me?
I think I last saw you on “That’s So Raven”
Well that was a while ago. I actually took some time off after that show and got rid of all of my representation and didn’t work for a while and considered myself retired. I only performed if somebody asked me. I eventually got some representation but I didn’t really pursue it like you pursue when you’re really in it. I did a few shows and I did one guest spot on television. But mostly I just stuck with family and friends, hung out, traveled. Focused on my charities and things like that, wrote and did some theater.
Just last year, I decided that I missed working and I started with small projects and I’ve done several now, some of them that are coming to the surface now. Bail, Attached at the Soul. And I did a cameo in Sharknado that’s coming out this summer. I also have a supporting role in a college, comedy film What Happened Last Night. Then I produced a film with a friend called Revival.
Can you tell us why you felt it was time for you to retire?
Honestly, when I was on “Cosby” I was really burnt out because I had been working straight for more than 15 years, both on the series while doing theater and film. There probably wasn’t one week, in that 15 years, that I wasn’t working. And I thought, ‘Oooh I need a break.’ And I said, ‘After this show I’m going to take some time off.’ But I had already committed to doing a play here in Chicago—I’m in Chicago now. And when I came to do the play, I noticed that my grandmother was a little off. Something was wrong. And so I stayed here after the play was finished. I didn’t know what was wrong at first but I just started helping her out around the house and getting her organized. And whatever I did, she seemed to need a little bit more and a little bit more. This was 16 years ago. I didn’t know anything about Alheizimer’s disease. And nobody that I knew, knew anything about it. I just had no idea what was happening.
I went from staying a little while longer to moving back in, to saying ‘Ok, this is going to take some money. Let me keep a job.’ That’s when I went back to California and shot the whole first season of “That’s So Raven” before it ever aired. I had never done that before. I had no idea what I was doing so I wasn’t sitting by the phone waiting. I thought ‘Yeah, we did something.’ I didn’t even realize it was connected to a series. When we did that first year and it didn’t air, I thought, ‘Well, this is never going to see the light of day.’
And I came back to Chicago and started working with my grandmother again. And by the time the show got picked up, I was here. And I had moved in with my sister, moved my grandmother in, remodeled her house to accommodate my grandmother and then the show got picked up. So I moved back with her to California because by that point, she needed constant care.
We went back and God stepped in, I found wonderful caregivers. They were with me the whole time I was doing the show but my grandmother was getting increasingly worse and it was a bigger and bigger effort to supervise her care and work.
When I started the show, I only agreed to do three seasons and that’s all the network was doing. So when I came to the end of the three seasons…by that point—I mean God bless them. The cast and the crew were just phenomenal and I will always be grateful to them because by that point my grandmother was so combative that I couldn’t keep a caregiver for her. So I was bringing her to work with me. And Kyle (Massey) and Orlando’s (Brown) mom would watch her in my dressing room while I was on stage. And that just couldn’t go on.
So, when I was done with the third season, I said, ‘Ok, this was all that it was supposed to be.’ And I couldn’t—there was no choice to make, really between work and her. So I chose her and focused on her care. And that became my life until she passed away. And after that, I just didn’t want to work. It was the hardest thing I hope to ever do in this life. I’m really, really glad I was able to do it. And I would do it again in a heartbeat—I wish I could— but it took everything out of me. I remember telling my manager at the time, ‘Unless someone wants to hire me to lay out on the floor and cry. There reall is no point to this. So let’s just stop here. I had a good run. I’m good. I’m done.’
So that explains a lot then. Thank you for that.
I heard that you’re reuniting with Tommy Davidson. What project is that?
The producers of Sharknado told me that he was doing this film and asked me if I wanted to come play with him for a minute. And I love Tommy. We’re friends. We’ve remained close since “In Living Color” days but I haven’t worked with him since then. And so I jumped at the chance to come and it was so wonderful. It was like no time had passed at all. We went right back into our habit, rehearsing together. It was a lot of fun and we’ve actually since talked about doing something else together.
Why do you think “In Living Color” didn’t last longer than it did? Do you think it was a racial issue?
I don’t know. I couldn’t really answer that intelligently because I wasn’t on the production end of that. I know that the Wayans Family was gone our last year. And it was a good show, that last season, but it wasn’t the same without them. It was Keenan’s vision—and so I can’t say that I’m sorry that it didn’t go on after that. I don’t know what happened between Keenan and Fox. I’m not privy to that. I wish it could have worked out. But you know, it doesn’t always work out. And things don’t last forever. Soap Operas seem to. But most shows don’t go on past five seasons. We had five great seasons and I would rather end the show with people loving us and wanting more, than going on and people saying, ‘That show’s still on?!’
Raven is on “The View” right now and she says some things that are a little…interesting…
I love my baby. Don’t mess with my baby. Don’t say anything. You know how some people are, if you look like you’re saying something against Barack Obama…don’t you mess with my baby.
Let me say this, when I did the show “Cosby,” one of the most fun things about that show, speaking as someone raised by grandparents, whose parents were gone when I was two-years-old, for four years and thereafter I had parents. Best thing in the world. Hardest job because I didn’t understand this woman whenever she was unhappy. ‘Why is she unhappy, she has parents?’ But just as that show gave me parents, “That’s So Raven” gave me children. And Kyle Massey and Raven Symone are my heart. I love them. Raven was still quite young when we did that show and I had watched her growing up. And I’d almost played her mom before on “Hanging With Mr. Cooper” but it just didn’t work out. I fell in love with her when she was on “The Cosby Show” and I remember early on, it might have been the second episode that we did, that the character Raven Baxter had done something and she was in trouble and it was the Olivia face and I thought, ‘Awwwww’ and then Tonya Baxter said, ‘You will not play that baby face with me, young lady.’ But it was almost like, in that second, I created a memory for To
nya Baxter where Raven Baxter made that face when she was a child and won me over. And now we’d come through. And in that moment she became my daughter.
Cut to present day, I couldn’t be more proud of her that she’s on the show. I love the ‘What color is her hair going to be today.’ And I love that she speaks her mind. I love that. Because the truth is, you can sit in a corner and say only things that the majority of people won’t mind. And you’ll have a non-controversial life. But she says what’s on her mind and when you speak from your heart and you don’t pull any punches, a lot of people are going to disagree with you. When you get backlash, you can change your mind or you can say, ‘This is what I really think and I’m going to say it. And you might like it, you might not. But this is who I am, at least in this moment.’ And I love that about her. And that’s my baby, don’t even try it. Laughs.
What is different now, being back in the industry after experiencing all that you have?
It’s very, very different. I love to work. I started working when I was a little child. Even growing up, I would watch something—and the first time I thought I want to do that, I was little. It was Lola Falana, who I thought was the most beautiful woman ever. I saw her on “The Bill Cosby Show” and thought, ‘I want to be on that show with them.’
From that day to this, when I’m watching television or seeing theater or watching a movie, ‘I’ll see something and say, ‘Oooo I wish I’d gotten that role.’ And I didn’t do that a lot when I was out of it or it would have brought me back in sooner. For a good while it was because I just wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t care what anybody was doing. But the industry has changed a great deal. Without the internet, people shot up, shot up, shot up. So, can you imagine what would have happened had social media been around in those days. So social media is a big part of the entertainment industry. So I’ve gotten on the Facebook and the Twitter. I just started an Instagram page. I don’t know what I’m doing with these things. But I get that that’s necessary. I get that you have to share more of your life than, personally, I’m comfortable sharing in order for fans and media to feel comfortable with you. And thank goodness, I started out, in this industry, in my grandparents’ living room, writing, and directing and producing in my own shows. So I’ve never been one to wait for an opportunity to come to me. When I want to perform, I perform. I write something. I direct it. I produce it and I put it on the stage. The difference now is that a lot more people are doing that and that has a lot more respect now.
This business of technology has gone way too far and it does the industry a disservice. To me, if I want a job and you want to offer it to me, I want to stand in front of you and audition for it. I don’t want to produce my own audition. I’m going to be distracted by producing something and not acting in it. So when you say, send in a tape, you’re saying ‘I don’t really want to see actors, I want to happen upon what I want in an actor.’ And I don’t have a lot of respect for that. Frankly, I want you to spend the money, hire a casting director to sit in a room with me and you and figure out if I’m the best person for this job.
The other difference—and it’s not really a difference—we’re in a period where some Black are working and that makes some Black people happy that some Black people are working. I will be happy when we have ownership over our work. And I won’t be happy until then. Because you can give me crumbs all day long. I think Matt Damon, from “Project Greenlight,” I think he capsized the point of White Hollywood. ‘We are happy when you are regulated in front of the camera, here and there, when we choose.’ But the power is behind the camera. That’s who decides whose stories are told and how and who will tell them. So, I’m always happy to see people working but I’m not always happy at the stories being told and how. And I hope more performers of color and women recognize that and get behind the camera as much as they can.
Stay tuned for the second part of our interview with T’Keyah Crystal Kemáh where she talks about natural hair. In the meantime, you can visit T’Keyah at the following places.
Need a dose of Dragonfly Jones or Wanda to brighten your day?
Let’s be honest, how many times have you DVRed an episode of your go-to sitcom only to rewind it to your favorite part 50 million times? Guilty! Sometimes we don’t even bother to watch the whole episode if we can find that one clip on Youtube. From Fresh Prince of Bel Air to Good Times, these are the funniest moments we can’t stop watching from our favorite sitcoms.
The entertainment industry’s ‘Jill Of All Trades,’ Jennifer Lopez revealed to W Magazine she was homeless months before her big break in 1991 when she was chosen to be a Fly Girl dancer on the classic old school show, “In Living Color.”
Before she took the role, Jenny from the block was supposedly roughing it out, for real- even with her mama. Lopez stated she and her mother would argue about her not wanting to attend college. Instead of enrolling, Jenny wanted to pursue her dancing career full time. Her decision to do so led her to become homeless by moving out of her mother’s house and into a dance studio she would take classes at. Lopez recalls:
“I was homeless, but I told her, ‘This is what I have to do.’ A few months later, I landed a job dancing in Europe. When I got back, I booked ‘In Living Color.’ I became a Fly Girl and moved to L.A. It all happened in a year.”
Because of her hustle, Jennifer Lopez believes she will instill a great work-ethic in her five-year-old twins, Max and Emme, saying:
“I think a lot about teaching my kids to work hard. I’ve learned something about kids — they don’t do what you say; they do what you do. I watched my parents. My dad worked nights, and I was aware of how much he was doing for us. My mom was a Tupperware lady and also worked at the school. I always felt that I couldn’t let them down. And I had a natural discipline from early on. I was always training for something.”
Looks like that worked out for her in the long run. What do you make of J. Lo’s rags to riches story?
I’ve wanted to expound on the secrets behind this film for the longest. But the information is sparse. Well, today you’re in for a treat. We’re talking about the Wayans written, directed film. Let’s just jump right in.
Fashion is cyclical and ever-present, which is probably why trends from the early 90s are everywhere these days.
Jumping on the fashion bandwagon is Urban Outfitters who created a whole collection based on the fly-girls from “In Living Color.”
Yes, this is worth getting majorly excited about! The sketch comedy show that ran from 1990-94, was the launching pad for some major veterans in the world of comedy, music and dance.
Read more at StyleBlazer.com
FOX Don’t Play Dat: Is The “In Living” Color Reboot Getting Canceled Before It Sees The Light Of Day?
DANG! Just when I was getting excited about the possibility of an In Living Color reboot, it looks like it’s not happening. Oh wait. I wasn’t ever excited about it? Oh yeah, I forgot…
Truth is, when I heard that the only original cast member who would be making a return was Keenan Ivory Wayans, and that was just to be an executive producer and possible host (according to early reports), I realized that I would probably prefer to watch old episodes and leave the show as a sketch comedy classic. Well, I guess I don’t have to worry about a reboot ruining all of that anymore, because according to reports, the hopeful redo, which was announced by FOX in 2011, might not see the light of day at all. Which makes sense since it is 2013 and nothing had changed in the show’s status as far as a launch date.
According to Vulture, an hour worth of test footage was made in the hopes of doing a special for the network’s 25th anniversary in 2011, but Fox clearly wasn’t feeling it because they shelved it. Last July, even the network’s chief executive admitted that the footage they shot wasn’t going to air any time soon. Vulture says their sources have confirmed that the show is kaput as of now on the FOX network, but that doesn’t mean another network might not be willing to pick up the show and give it life. But until then, you’ll have to cling onto your In Living Color DVDs and say “Hated it!” on your own time. But let’s be serious, while I’m all for seeing talented folks get work (they had already cast the show and brought in a new batch of Fly Girls), it would be nice if people would stop remaking everything, as well as going the reality route, and instead, look to create some fresh new show ideas and stories. Just saying…
Were you looking forward to the reboot, or did you never want to see it in the first place?
While I didn’t get to check out this past week’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” in its entirety (I was out painting the town red), I did check out some of the most talked about clips from the show, which was hosted by Jamie Foxx and had Ne-Yo as the music guest. One that really stuck out to me was video of Foxx getting back into woman’s clothing, but not as Wanda the Ugly Woman from his “In Living Color” days, but when he threw on the floral dress, the large specs and the gray wig to be Tyler Perry playing Madea. Or make that Jamie Foxx playing Tyler Perry doing Madea AND Alex Cross in a fictional movie called, Tyler Perry’s Alex Cross 2 – Madea: Special Ops. If it sounds a mess, it looked a mess too, but it was definitely funny. Foxx played a two-face version of Perry as his most notable characters so far, as the sensible Cross character tried to fight crime–and his erratic gun-toting other side, Madea. The two fought over guns as Madea instructed Cross to buss a cap in a villain’s a**. The hilarious bickering that Foxx had them doing back and forth led to said villain being able to slip away many times. Big LOL at the fake gospel music they played at the end in the signature, “helluuuuuur.”
It’s definitely nice to see Foxx get back into his sketch comedy brilliance from way back when, as being a huge Academy Award winning actor has pretty much left him doing serious roles only. But I’m also wondering if Perry thought the skit was funny, considering he and Foxx are presumably cool with one another (Foxx said he talked with Perry when considering whether or not to do Django Unchained). Either way, Perry can’t deny that homeboy had the Madea voice down pat! Check out the clip from Saturday’s episode and let us know if you agree!
It’s that season again. Some of you have driven your kids to what you hope is their home for the next four years: college. Some of you may have kids who’ll share classes with some of the celebrity kids on the next few pages who are also entering their freshmen year. I tell you, we’ve watched some of them grow before our very eyes! By the way…none of your kids did it alone so congrats to all the parents for helping your kids make it this far!
Pretty soon we’ll see if “In Living Color” is one of those classic shows that should have been left in the ’90s or if it’s sketch comedy routine is one of those things that can stand the test of time.
A few months back we found out Keenen Ivory Wayans is hosting and executive producing a reboot of the show and part of the revamped cast has been announced. So far, the show will star Kali Hawk, Jennifer Bartels, Jermaine Fowler and Lil Rel Howery. I don’t know any of these actors/comedians by name but when I think about the original “In Living Color” cast, the show was what gave most of those actors their first big Hollywood break—even the fly girls. Speaking of, I wonder if they’ll be reviving that aspect of the show too?
Originally, the new version of the show was supposed to debut with two half-hour episodes during Fox’s 25th anniversary special on April 22, but Shadow and Act reports that filming won’t even begin until April now so it looks like that date is getting pushed back. Hopefully it’s worth the wait.
Are you familiar with any of these actors? What do you think about the show reboot?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Homey D. Clown, Men on Film, and the Fly Girls may be making their way back to your television screen. 20th Century Fox TV recently announced “In Living Color” will return this spring after a 17-year hiatus, with Keenen Ivory Wayans reprising his role as host and executive producer. Wayans will produce two half-hour specials. If the ratings are good, Fox will have the option to order the show to series for next fall.
Fox isn’t the only media company reaching into its vaults hoping for ratings gold. In late July, children’s channel Nickelodeon devoted its late-night timeslots to the network’s 90’s programming and saw their ratings increase 500% among the coveted 18- to 34- year old demographic.
It seems everyone wants to time travel back just a few decades. Take a look at pop culture – Jennifer Lopez has endorsement deals. Beavis and Butthead are back on MTV. Newt Gingrich was considered a promising presidential candidate. Didn’t we just go through all of this? Why are the 90’s coming back so soon?
Millennials, the demographic born between born between about 1981 and 1993, are partly to blame. As a new generation enters the workforce and generates income, anyone selling anything is trying to figure out how to attract this newly lucrative audience. Now that this generation has entered adulthood, what’s the first thing they want to do? Be a kid again, of course. Old-school programming on Nickelodeon, and now Fox, plays into this desire perfectly.
When you think about it, the 90’s were a better time for everyone. 2011 is nothing but recessions, bank bailouts, class warfare, and a struggling job market. The 1990’s were about easy credit approval, Kid ‘n Play and Bill Clinton playing the sax. It’s no wonder companies want to associate their brands with the warm and fuzzy feelings of the 90’s.
Businesses that use nostalgia as a source of inspiration for new opportunities flirt with the danger of coming off dated and uncreative. However, resurrecting fan favorites creates the opportunity to right old wrongs and take old brands to a new level. We all remember how “Color” fell off when Keenen left in the middle of the fourth season citing censorship issues with the network. The revival of the show, with a cast of fresh, young talent and musical performances may give it the second chance it deserves.
Playing to nostalgia is a smart strategy. It eliminates the need to sell the audience on the product. The trick is to keep them engaged. Nostalgia alone doesn’t ensure success. The same quality and character that made something a part of pop culture in the first place needs to be continued and elevated. We will see if Fox and Wayans are up to the task this spring.