All Articles Tagged "lee daniels"

Mo’Nique Shoots Down Lee Daniels’ Claims That She Was Blackballed For Being Difficult [Watch]

February 27th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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CNN

CNN

Earlier this week, Precious director Lee Daniels spoke to CNN about why he believes that Mo’Nique has experienced difficulty securing work following her Oscar win. According to Daniels, the actress got in her own way.

“What I said to her was–we were on the campaign and she was making unreasonable demands,” Daniels told Don Lemon. “I think that there were demands that were made from her on the ‘Precious’ campaign that everyone knows about, that hurt her. And I told her that.”

Yesterday, Mo responded to Daniels during a separate chat with Lemon and she seems to disagree with her friend’s perception of her situation.

“It shocked me… I was yelling at the screen, ‘Don, please ask him what the demands were!’” she said of Daniels’ interview. “There were no demands, there was a request from the movie studio that I fly to France for the Cannes Film Festival. I simply said, ‘I respectfully decline.’”

According to the actress, she declined because she only had a few days of “downtime” and she wanted to be home with her family.

“When they called, I had a couple of days downtime and I wanted to spend that with my husband and my kids,” she explained.

She went on to say that Lionsgate continued to pressure her, and after they called for the third time asking what it was going to take to get her to the festival, her husband and manager asked: “Is there a number associated with it?”

They, of course, said no, as actors aren’t usually paid to promote films that they’re in.

“What people didn’t know was that I was paid $50,000 to do the movie ‘Precious.’ It really wasn’t about the money and I am not complaining because I signed up to do it with my friend.”

The actress also shot down previous claims that she was blackballed.

“The phone was ringing and the scripts were coming. When people say, ‘Mo’Nique, where have you been?’ it’s not that I haven’t been on TV or in the movies because I’ve been blackballed as Mr. Daniels has said, the offers just didn’t make sense, Don. So again, the phones didn’t stop ringing and the scripts didn’t stop coming, but the offers that were associated with them were offers that made me say, ‘Guys, I can’t accept that because if I accept that and I won the award, what are my sisters being offered who didn’t win the award or wasn’t nominated?’”

Check out her full interview below. Thoughts?

“Sometimes Artists Get In Their Own Way” Lee Daniels Talks Mo’Nique Being Blackballed

February 26th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Lee Daniels Talks Mo'Nique Being Blackballed

Source: CNN

This story about Mo’Nique being blackballed in the industry keeps getting bigger and bigger. But one voice we’ve haven’t heard yet is that of the man who made the original comment. Well, Lee Daniels sat down with CNN’s Don Lemon to address that and also the very heart wrenching scene where Luscious throws a young Jamal into the trash can.

See what he had to say and then watch the full interview below.

Don Lemon: She says that she was blackballed after the movie.

No, she said that I said that she was blackballed. I didn’t say that exactly. What I said to her was–we were on the campaign and she was making unreasonable demands. And she wasn’t thinking…This is when reverse racism, I think, happens. I said, you know, you have to thank the producers of the film. You have to thank the studio and I think she didn’t understand that. I said listen, people aren’t going to respond well if you don’t.

I love her and I’ve spoken to her and she’s brilliant. And I like working with brilliant people. But sometimes artists get in their own way…I know I certainly do, often. I have my own demons.

I think that there were demands that were made from her on the Precious campaign that everyone knows about, that hurt her. And I told her that.

Can she change that?

I mean, if she plays ball! You’ve gotta play ball. This is not just show, it’s show business. And you’ve got to play ball. And you can’t scream–I don’t like calling the race card. I don’t believe in it. Because if I buy into it, then it becomes real.

Some people would say that you’re a sell-out for that mentality 

I guess I’m a sell out then. Call it what it is. But I’m not going to not work and I’m not going to not tell my truth and I’m not going to not call people out on their bull. So whatever that means, sell out… I’ll see you in the theaters.

Lee Daniels has been very open and honest about how Jamal’s character and the struggles he goes through are very indicative of the traumatic experiences he’s had in his own life being a gay, Black man.

On the scene where Luscious throws Jamal in the trash

I had no intention [of putting the scene in the show]. I told my partner this–and that’s why we’re a great team–I told him this in passing. And then when it ended up in the script, I said ‘No, no. No, no.’  And some kind of way he just talked me into it. And then it came time to shoot it–and he ain’t shooting it, I’m shooting it. And it’s my life.– And so my sister who I bring along, as a good luck charm on all my films, was an extra in the scene, in that particular scene, and when it came to the kid walking towards Terrence, with his hands on his hips, I couldn’t direct the scene. I broke down in tears. Because I just… And my sister instinctively knew, got up and directed the kid. So I didn’t direct that moment. My sister did. Who ain’t a director. Painful!

 

“Empire” Star Trai Byers Says He Almost Quit Acting To Be A Pastor After Struggling To Find Work

February 26th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Trai Byers

As tormented as the character of Andre is on “Empire,” the opportunity to play the power-hungry son of Lucious Lyon on the hit Fox show is major for Trai Byers. The handsome actor has been very blessed within the last year or so. Not only did he land a big role on the show everyone’s talking about, but he also played James Forman in the critically-acclaimed film, Selma. But things weren’t always flourishing in Byer’s career. In an interview on “The Meredith Vieira Show,” he said that after struggling to find work as an actor in 2013, he was close to quitting to become a man of the cloth.

“In 2013 I did not work at all just contemplating what I needed to do if I was walking in my destiny or not. Is this what Trai wants to do? I am a big Christian so I always talk about that. Is this what God wants me to do? I really contemplated changing going into something else. I am very passionate about God and religion and I thought maybe I’m supposed to be a pastor. I don’t know. I was open to being used in any way that was aligned for me destiny wise and Empire came. Right after EmpireSelma came. Then to look later down the line to see Empire was premiering on Wednesday night, the same week on Friday Selma was going wide, like, you couldn’t time it like that.”

Vieira: “Did you believe it was a message?”

Byers: “Yes! Stay where you are [laughs]”

And the show has definitely blown up. Byers revealed how the cast found out they were given the greenlight for a second season.

“The core cast were on our way to the TCAs in Los Angeles, all on a plane together. It’s the Television Critics Association. So we’re landing in LA and this man sitting next to me, he has a baseball cap on, regular guy, unassuming guy. As soon as we land they tell us we can turn our phones on. He turns his on and says, “Hey, you know you were just picked up for a second season right?” I’m like, “Really?” I’m sitting in the middle, Yazz is in the front. Taraji and Jussie are across from me and Terrence is in the back. I’m like, “We just got picked up for a second season y’all” and the front of the plane just erupts. I’m sure we scared the mess out of the people in the back [laughs].”

Lee Daniels shared that he was trying to get Denzel Washington to appear on the show after the acting legend revealed that he loved it, so everyone is wondering, will we see Washington in season two? Byers hopes so.

“Wouldn’t that be great? I love Denzel. The show is huge. And with a huge show comes a lot of rumors. I couldn’t say whether he was or was not, but that would be great! Hopefully he does.”

Glad to see things working out so well for Byers. But if he ever does decide to give the whole pastor calling a try, I’m available to be a first lady! You were thinking it too…

 

“I Didn’t Tell Mo’Nique To Do Anything!” Sheryl Lee Ralph Clarifies ‘Access Hollywood’ Statements

February 25th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Sheryl Lee Ralph Clarifies 'Access Hollywood' Statements

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Yesterday, when we watched Sheryl Lee Ralph’s “Access Hollywood” interview, discussing Mo’Nique being blackballed in the industry, we left scratching our heads. Ms. Sheryl has always been a pretty uplifting and philanthropic figure in our community; and these words, seemed to be a bit out of character. So, in an attempt to get to the true intent of what she was saying we spoke to Ms. Ralph today on the phone. And she clarified a few things. 

See what she had to say.

After the media started picking up your interview, you reached out to Mo’Nique last night via Twitter, what did you want to let her know. 

You know sometimes media can make things seem like what they ain’t. And I was just like girlfriend, ‘Now you know…’ And she was like ‘Diva, now you know I know.’ And then she made me laugh. She made a reference to my very first film, Piece of the Action. And the character Barbara Hanley has a very famous line in terms of when people try to turn things on you. So she made me laugh out loud. In fact, I told her I’m rolling on the floor, laughing out loud.

What was your intention going into the “Access Hollywood” interview?

We all know that in every walk of life–I don’t care if you’re sewing dresses, I don’t care if you’re an adjunct professor, I don’t care who you are–there is a game of life to be played. What might it be? They were talking about the fact that Mo’Nique had done an interview saying that she had been blackballed and Lee Daniels said ‘Look, you’ve been blackballed or you’ve done some things and maybe you didn’t campaign as strongly for Precious and folks remember that.’ And I thought it was very interesting how, in this game of media, she’s being chastised, blackballed–whatever you want to call it– for not being able to promote the film. And I just said you never ever know what the state of someone’s mind is and their ability to do the job you need done at that certain time. And you heard me say it. Would they have done the same thing to Tom Hanks? It’s a different game for women, no matter what color you are. And it’s different, especially when you put color on it. We know this. I just want folks to know that sometimes folks can’t always do what people are expecting of them. You can’t.

Like Dave Chappelle. He just could not do what people were asking him to do. He was not in that state of mind. And he had to walk away from a few million dollars. And everybody thought ‘Well, why would he do that?’ He had to do it to save himself. And sometimes people don’t understand that, they just want to throw you under the bus or throw you out there when really what you’re trying to do is take care of yourself.

Some interpreted that to mean you knew that she was in a bad mental space…

We don’t know what her state might have been. I’m just putting that out there, what if.  I don’t know but what if. What if she needed a break after shooting a very intense film like that?

Folks should be paying attention because anybody who watched the interview, knew exactly what I was saying. Anybody who read a headline completely did not get what I was saying because the headline was misleading and taken out of context. So anybody went off of a headline and then just judged me on a headline has learned that sometimes you need to read, sometimes you need to dig deeper. Sometimes you need to look for the truth. But realize the game has started. And we are winning because people are talking.

“What She Was Did Not Work” Sheryl Lee Ralph Talks Mo’Nique Being Blackballed

February 24th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Sheryl Lee Ralph Talks Mo'Nique Being Blackballed

Source: Access Hollywood

Actress and comedienne Mo’Nique made all kinds of headlines when she explained to the Hollywood Reporter, why we haven’t seen her around in a while. Basically, Lee Daniels told her she’d been blackballed in the industry. The news came as a bit of a surprise considering the fact that Mo’Nique is so undeniably talented. Well, there was one person who wasn’t surprised. Actress, author and philanthropist Sheryl Lee Ralph sat down with “Access Hollywood” to say that perhaps Mo’Nique just needs to get better at playing the game.

Check out the highlights from her interview below…and then we’ll discuss.

There is obviously a game. When you walk into the room, do people love you? Do they want to give you stuff? Do they want to do things for you? Do they want to give you their money with the hopes that they’re going to get it back with an interest on the time they spent just handing it over to you. That’s part of the game, how you make people feel.

But the best part of the game is public relations, baby. Are people talking about you? Well, she’s been gone for how many years now, we have not been hearing about her, seeing her, nothing.  Right about now, everybody’s talking about her. And that’s good stuff.

Refusing to campaign for ‘Precious’

What’s interesting about that is she didn’t campaign. I wonder, do you think that they would blackball Tom Hanks for not campaigning for a movie? The game is different for women… Maybe she was in a state. We don’t know what was going on with that person. She might have been in a state of her mind where she said, ‘I cannot go out there and do this with all these people without causing harm to myself.’ We don’t know what was going on in her mind.

Is she really difficult?

Maybe she is. There are a whole lot of actors who are mean and terrible but they work all the time. It goes back to who likes you. Who wants to be in your kind of crazy company? Who wants to give you money in hopes that they’ll get something back on the return of your madness? And sometimes you just need to shut up, sit there and look pretty. It’s the truth. That’s a part of the game too.

Have you ever done that? 

No, I’ve never done that. I’ve never played well at that. But I think this is a set up for a comeback. Now, when she comes back, she better be as tiny as you. *Points to hostess Kit Hoover.*

Really? Then she wouldn’t be Mo’Nique…

She doesn’t need to be Mo’Nique anymore because obviously what she was did not work. So she better come back brand new. That’s what they’re waiting for and if a big time producer says to you, ‘You have been blackballed, what’s he’s really doing is looking at you and saying ‘You ain’t never working with me again.’

Is any of this race driven?

There’s always a difference when you add color to it. When I was a little girl, my mother used to say to me ‘You’re going to have to work twice as hard for half a chance. You are going to have to win the race five times before they give you the award.’ So that has always been true. But in this case, maybe it’s just a case of timing. She was not in the right head space. Maybe she was heading down a dark road. Maybe she had some of the wrong people around her and it wasn’t the position to jettison her from that Oscar. But maybe it’s all working itself out in the comeback for Mo’Nique. Come on back, girl, come on.

I would think there would be other roles

Do you see a whole lot of roles for somebody who looks like the Mo’Nique we have seen in the past, unless you are Precious?

Let me just say, I’m genuinely confused by Sheryl’s statements. There are times during this interview where I think she’s making a legitimate critique of the industry. And then there are other times where it seems like she’s making a critique of Mo’Nique, suggesting that in order for her to succeed in this industry she needs to change everything about herself.

I understand the notion of playing the game but telling another woman to sit down, shut up and look pretty, specifically when Sheryl admitted that she’s never done it, rings as odd and counterproductive to me. How is the industry going to change and be more accepting if women are knowingly playing the shut up and take it game?

I’ve watched quite a few Mo’Nique interviews over the years and I just recently re-listened to her acceptance speech at the Oscars. Where she took time to thank the Academy for making the award about the performance and not about politics. In other words, even at what we consider to be the pinnacle of her career, Mo’Nique was not about playing the game. Judging by her decision to even speak to the Hollywood Reporter about being blackballed and dropping Lee Daniels’ name, specifically, it doesn’t seem like she’s about playing the game now either. If she were she would have sat on that information and hatched a plan to change the way she’s perceived in the industry.

Also, I can’t be the only one who noticed that Ralph seemed to be making comments about Mo’Nique’s mental state, suggesting that she was in the wrong headspace or heading down a “dark road.” I just kept wondering does Sheryl know Mo’Nique? Does she know something we don’t about her journey as a woman and actress?

Lastly, and perhaps most disturbingly, Ralph suggests that in order for Hollywood to accept Mo’Nique she must not only lose weight but become an entirely different person because the person she was did not work.

Huh?

You know how your grandma, auntie or even mother can only give you advice based on the experiences they’ve had and the trials they’ve faced? They’re trying to help you succeed, not quite understanding that times have changed. And we don’t have to play by those antiquated rules anymore. I always reference my mom telling me to wear a wig to cover my natural hair during job interviews, the career advisor telling me to remove the Black associations from my resume and my grandfather telling me I needed to remove my nose ring in order to be taken seriously. Each one of these people ultimately meant well. But they also failed to understand that I didn’t want the type of career success that came with hiding who I really was and still am today.

Perhaps this is what Sheryl Lee Ralph is doing, trying to save Mo’Nique some of the pain and heartache of being abused by an industry she knows pretty well.

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she probably meant well. But we can’t expect to change the industry if we all kept playing that same old, losing game.

You can watch Sheryl Lee Ralph’s full remarks in the video below.

#KillingIt: ‘Empire’ Rakes In Almost 13 Million Viewers For Its Seventh Episode

February 19th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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After last night’s salacious episode, Empire’s ratings are literally off the chain!

Since debuting on Fox on January 7 , the hit television show’s ratings have grown tremendously from 9.9 million viewers. Empire’s success has shot up the ladder week by week:

January 7: 9.9 million viewers
January 14: 10.32 million viewers
January 21: 11.07 million viewers
January 28: 11.36 million viewers
February 4: 11.47 million viewers
February 11: 12.96 million viewers

According to Nielsen Overnight TV Show ratings, Empire locked in its seventh week with 12.94 million ratings from viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. Nearly reaching nearly 13 million viewers in its seventh week, Empire is killing the game right now with unprecedented week-by-week growth.

Congratulations to the entire cast and director, Lee Daniels!

via B. Scott

Mo’Nique Claims She Was Blackballed By Hollywood After Winning Oscar

February 19th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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WENN

WENN

In the years since actress and comedienne Mo’Nique won an Academy Award for her role as the very malicious and abusive Mary in Precious, we’ve watched her slim down substantially and embrace a healthier lifestyle. But that’s all we’ve really watched her do, because she hasn’t had a big role on-screen since that Oscar win in 2009.

She has literally been in four movies since Precious came out: Steppin: The MovieBlackbird (alongside Isaiah Washington), About and the TV movie Bessie, starring Queen Latifah, which is about the life of blues singer Bessie Smith. But why haven’t we seen her do anything else? According to the actress, and even Lee Daniels, the force behind Precious, it’s because Mo’Nique has been “blackballed” in the industry.

In an essay written for an upcoming issue of The Hollywood Reporter, she says that after her Oscar win, she thought the little gold man would bring her more respect, better choices for roles and more money, which it usually does. But because she didn’t campaign for her Oscar, and was cited as being somewhat “difficult” to work with, Mo’Nique says that Lee Daniels told her just a few months ago that she had been excluded in the industry.

“I got a phone call from Lee Daniels…And he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because you didn’t play the game.’ I said, ‘Well, what game is that?’ He gave me no response.”

Campaigning for an Oscar is a pretty big deal when you’re trying to not only get recognition for a film, but want to see the effects of what happens when the film, or its actors, win (aka, a boost in ticket sales and notoriety). While most studios spend a great deal of money to campaign during awards season, according to Deadline, actors should be campaigning too:

Increasingly, the personal touch has become really helpful. If you have an actor who can plant him- or herself in Los Angeles and/or New York to do meet-and-greets during crucial voting periods, you have a better shot of making an impact. I have talked to many weary nominees at the end of the long process who have shaken so many hands, attended so many dinners, done so many Q&As and talk shows and receptions…

But Mo’Nique didn’t during the 2009-2010 awards season. When she won her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Role, she even said in her acceptance speech that she was thankful that the Academy showed “that it can be about the performance and not the politics.” That, along with the actress claiming that people behind-the-scenes have called her “difficult,” “tactless” and “tacky,” has held her back. And interesting enough, according to her, those who claim she is difficult, tactless and tacky are “probably right.” But still, she’s not letting all that hold her back.

“That is why I have my beautiful husband because he’s so full of tact. I’m just a girl from Baltimore. But being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you.”

Since coming to this realization, Mo’Nique says she’s learned not to take this whole game the bigwigs in Hollywood play personally, even after losing roles in The Butler, “Empire,” and Lee Daniels’ upcoming Richard Pryor biopic, roles which she says “all just went away.” But for his part in this, Daniels sent out a statement to The Hollywood Reporter saying that he still has love for the actress, but that the powers that be didn’t want her involved in such projects…

“Mo’Nique is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community. I consider her a friend. I have and will always think of her for parts that we can collaborate on, however the consensus among the creative teams and powers thus far were to go another way with these roles.”

It’s a jungle out here…especially in Hollywood. Despite being blackballed, Mo’Nique is slated to appear alongside Isaiah Washington in the upcoming film, BlackBird, which debuts April 24.

You can check out Mo’Nique’s full open letter in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter when it drops on Feb. 27.

Terrence Howard On Taraji Fighting For Him To Play Lucious Lyon, And Why He Turned Down Her Film, “No Good Deed”

February 17th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN.com

Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN.com

You already know that we here at MadameNoire can’t let a Wednesday go by nowadays without clamoring to the TV to watch “Empire.” But the journey to become a hit show, including the first show in 10 years to gain more and more viewers with each of its first four episodes, wasn’t an easy one. Taraji P. Henson had to fight for Terrence Howard to get the role, which was originally being offered to Wesley Snipes of all people. She was able to persuade Daniels to give the role to Howard, and it’s been nothing but good fortune and great ratings ever since. Howard is thankful that Henson vouched for him, talking to “The View” about the funny Skype interview that helped him snag that role, and which hit film he turned down that Henson encouraged him to take before finally reviving his career with “Empire.” Here’s what he had to say about the Taraji effect, as we like to call it:

“Taraji, she tried to get me to do No Good Deed. I didn’t want to play the bad guy in that. I’m always hiding away from this bad guy stuff, but I’m a professional bad guy, dig it. But she was on the phone, she was doing a Skype audition with Lee Daniels. And Lee Daniels is like, ‘Would you like to do this role?’ And she’s like, ‘I kind of like it, but who’s the lead?’ And they had Wesley Snipes and they were talking to him about it. And she was like, ‘I dig Wesley, but if you can get Terrence, I’ll do it with Terrence. If you can’t get Terrence…bye.’ *Click* Lee was offended. Lee was offended, but he was like, ‘This b***h is Cookie Lyon. This is Cookie!’ And here I am. Lee called me and I was like, ‘Alright, I’m in. I am in.'”

It’s painfully clear that when it comes to a hit, Henson knows what she’s doing and talking about. Howard needs to listen to his co-star more often…

Check out Howard’s chat with the ladies of “The View” below, and be sure to watch a new episode of “Empire” on Wednesday!

 

What Do “Empire” Ratings Say About “Rampant Homophobia In The Black Community”?

February 16th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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There is no stopping the momentous rise of Lee Daniel’s “Empire.”

Not only was the Hip-Hop Shakespearean-inspired night-time drama renewed for a second season only after only two episodes, but it has also made a bunch of rating history.

As reported by Variety:

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “Empire” (4.7 rating/14 share in adults 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall) was up a tick in the demo while gaining about 400,000 total viewers to hit new highs in both categories. Since bowing with 9.9 million viewers on Jan. 7, the soap has grown with each week: 10.3 million, 11.1 million, 11.4 million, 11.5 million and now 11.9 million.

Last week, it became the first program in the history of Nielsen’s People Meters (going back to 1991) to grow in total viewers with each of its four episodes following its premiere. And last night, it added to its record.”

And that’s not all: according to the Black marketing and media research site Target Market News.com, of the 11.4 million viewers captured during its third week telecast, “its core viewership of fans is 67 percent Black — the highest ever recorded for any prime time series.”

In the words of Beyoncé, Got-damn. Got-damn. Got-damn…

This is great news for Daniels, whose foray into network television has exceeded even the most optimistic of expectations. It’s not only a testament to the series’ writing, which at times feels more direct-to-video Nollywood than serious drama, but also to the sheer talent of the cast. In particular Taraji P. Henson whose performance of Cookie Lyon is nothing short of iconic.

What makes “Empire’s” dominance even more interesting is that it should not have happened, at least according to popular belief.

Prior to the series premiere, I had questions about how Black folks specifically would feel about Daniels’ characterization of the entire community as homophobic. If you recall during the first episode, Jamal Lyon, played by Jussie Smollett, made the comment in scene with his boyfriend that “the Black community is notoriously homophobic.”

I acknowledge that there are Black people that are regressive and antagonistic when it comes to gay rights issues as well as GLBTQ people (as demonstrated by the audiences’ reaction to the on-screen kiss during the screening of the series). And it is about time that folks’ minds evolve a bit.

However, I also recognize how the exaggeration of the Black community’s homophobia is also slightly racist as homophobia is not cultural. And those exaggerations not only ignore how homophobia is prevalent and normalized in mainstream culture but also how it white washes over the ways in which the Black community, as a whole, has been more progressive than our mainstream counterparts. As Gene Demby wrote about his conversation with Greg Lewis, a political scientist at Georgia State University back in 2013 for NPR:

And as he crunched some numbers, he found that black opinion on gays — to the extent that there’s a “black opinion” on anything — isn’t really easy to define. You’ve got to hold a bunch of disparate ideas in your head at once; Lewis found that black folks are less likely than white people to believe that homosexuality is “not wrong at all” (25 percent to 40 percent).2 He also found that the gap is true even when he controlled for other variables like educational attainment, church attendance and age. Yet blacks have historically been more likely to support nondiscrimination initiatives for gay people. The “black church,” long held up as the vector for black opposition to homosexuality, includes many outspoken clergy members who have been instrumental to same-sex marriage initiatives.”

Yet after the premiere of the first episode, Daniels continued to push the narrative of the notorious homophobic Black community, specifically saying in an interview,“Homophobia is rampant in the African-American community, and men are on the DL. They don’t come out [and] they’re killing our women.” He also acknowledged that he was using the series to help “blow the lid off of it, and of homophobia, in our community.”

If the ratings are any indication, it is not clear how Daniels had hoped the series would achieve its stated goal.

Now, I firmly believe that just because the masses might like your art and culture, doesn’t mean they like you. The constant appropriation of Black culture while devaluing Black people is a prime example of that. Also how gay men have almost been turned into accessories on certain women-centered reality television shows is a perfect example of that as well.

But outside of the usual lot of contrarians citing respectability concerns, representational issues, phony Black nationalism and religious dogma, there hasn’t been much in the way of discussion of the Jamal storyline – other than Daniels’ mischaracterization of the Black community. For the most part, fans and critics appear to enjoy both Jamal and his storyline and don’t read into either as anything more than it all being the campy Black-version of “Dynasty.” Better yet, an actualized version of Robert Townsend’s The Bold, The Black, The Beautiful.

Or if folks are critiquing they are commending the series for its realness.

While the lack of reaction to what Daniels had hoped would spark controversy does not suggest a mass acceptance of homosexuality, it might suggest that people are not as notorious in their concern or hatred – at least to the point where they are actually tuning the show out or threatening boycotts.

Or perhaps, the commentary he is hoping to make about homosexuality within the Black community, might be getting lost in the spectacle of the series itself?

After all, we are talking about a story revolving around a Hip Hop mogul and his family, who in no way look anything like your average Black household (middle class or otherwise) in America. Outside of Jamal’s storyline, there are also storylines involving murder, mental health issues and a brewing hostile takeover. With so much going on plot-wise, I can see many viewers missing the message and opting to just view it all as entertainment.

It’s interesting that Daniels sees this series as a vehicle to expose homophobia and yet from a viewer standpoint, there is no other more sympathetic character on the series (thus far) than Jamal. In fact, I don’t know a single person who is not rooting for him to win the entire domain. And I have a feeling that as this series progresses (and knowing the type of craziness Daniels is known to create), that cheering section is only going to grow louder and more prominent. So while Daniels might have hoped to “blow the lid off of it,” he might actually help to push some people forward to acceptance.

Guess Which Legendary Diva Is Coming To “Empire”?

February 3rd, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Guess Which Legendary Diva Is Coming To Empire

Source: FOX

Though Diddy has said that he doesn’t want his son Quincy to star on the show, it won’t stop Lee Daniels’ “Empire” from snagging some big names.

As you all know Debbie Allen is something like a beast in this entertainment industry. With a long and illustrious career, Allen continues to star in, produce and direct some of our all time favorite shows. And she’s showing absolutely no signs of stopping.

In addition to her work with Shonda Rhimes and ABC, her Twitter timeline has shown us that she is also working with Fox, directing their new hit show, “Empire.” And she’s not directing just any ole episode, Ms. Allen is directing the finale. And the season closer includes a very special guest. You may have heard of her.

Ms. Patti Labelle.

Allen confirmed the news yesterday on Twitter.

Guess Which Legendary Diva Is Coming To Empire

Source: Twitter

And since she was in the building Ms. Allen also took the opportunity to take a snapshot with the star of the show Taraji P. Henson, aka Cookie Lyon.

Guess Which Legendary Diva Is Coming To Empire

Source: Twitter