All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"

Andrea Lewis Premieres Webseries Tribute To Black Women, “Black Actress”

November 8th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Earlier this year, Degrassi’s Andrea Lewis announced 2013 will be the year where not only will you know her name (again) but most importantly the work she produces. Thus her new web series, Black Actress,  was born. The series takes the bull by the horns,  revealing  how black actresses try to perfect their craft  in an  industry that suffocates them.  Produced by Lewis, Issa Rae and Tatyana Ali, Black Actress addresses black women walking the thin line of supporting their fellow “sistas” while remaining competitive.

Prior to the web series premiere, veteran actress Viola Davis shared with Oprah during OWN’s Next Chapter:

“We’re in crisis mode as black actresses. Not in the sheer number of roles that are offered, but in the quality of roles. When you only have two or three categories for black actresses, it’s a natural instinct. If you throw a piece of cheese into a room full of rats, they’re going to claw at each other.”

The first episode of Black Actress opens up with our childhood friend (in our head) Ali. Famously known for her role on The Fresh Prince as Ashley Banks, Ali shares how acting brought her out of a rut while attending Harvard University. As Ali unfolds her personal story, viewers are introduced to Kori Bailey, played by Lewis – a black actress trying to navigate her way back into an industry where she used to be the “it” girl. Viewers follow Bailey throughout her numerous auditions and even catch her during a bathroom pep talk  running  down a laundry list of why she will and can book every audition. Though some may not relate to her need to constantly repeat  mantras of positive affirmations, the scenes from Black Actress left me feeling nostalgic.

I reminisced on weekends during my last year of junior high school, filled with auditions for  performing arts high schools in New York City. My prospective concentration in high school would have been and eventually became vocal music. I spent endless hours rehearsing the song  Edelweiss from The Sound Of Music only for my 13-year-old self to feel mildly insecure. Masses of pre-teen black vocalists usually showed up and out at auditions with “His Eyes Are On The Sparrow” or their Grand Concourse rendition of Alicia Keys “Fallin.” Just like Kori in Black Actress, I understand it is hard to comprehend if you will be chosen for a role when the time slot of your audition is saturated with sameness . The arts world will trip you up as you create your niche. The messages you receive from directors, whether it be drama, music or fine arts, often become blurred and you often wonder if the difference or the norm will set you a part.

Lewis’ webseries offers viewers an uncomfortable piece of honesty by shedding light on how uninterested people are about you during auditions. Or if they are interested, they too,  become actors to  throw you off your A-game. Like life, the demos you showcase for, will teach how to hone every moment as though you represent the final product you desire. Black Actress  prepares its viewers for roles of a lifetime.

Watch the premiere of Black Actress below!

Actor Keith Robinson Cast In James Brown Biopic, ‘Get On Up’

November 7th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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James Brown

Source: WENN

Things really seem to be coming together for the long-awaited James Brown biopic, Get On Up. Just last week we told you that singer-turned-actress Jill Scott has been cast to play The Godfather Of Soul’s wife. We’ve just learned that Dreamgirls actor Keith Robinson has also been added to the all-star cast.

According to Shadow and Act, the 38-year-old actor will be playing the role of Baby Roy, an original member of James Brown’s band. Keith will be in the company of some of Hollywood’s most talented actors and actresses. If you recall, 42 actor Chadwick Boseman has been cast to play the role of Brown. The Help actresses Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis have also been cast to play the late singer’s aunt and mother, respectively.

Keith has already taken to Twitter to thank everyone for their support and express his excitement regarding his new role.

Screen shot 2013-11-07 at 3.34.21 AM

We’re pretty excited to see who else will be added to the all-star lineup.

Jill Scott Cast To Play Wife Of James Brown In Upcoming Biopic

November 1st, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Jill Scott

Source: WENN

Reason 1,000,001 why we love Jill Scott: she acts just as well as she sings.

Not many artists successfully make the music-to-movies transition, but Jill Scott certainly has. Just one month after her latest theater film, Baggage Claim, hit theaters, the über talented Philadelphia native has snatched up yet another movie role. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Scott has been cast to play one of James Brown’s wives, in the highly anticipated biopic, Get On Up!

Though Jill seems to have mastered both acting and singing, a few months back she confessed to Shadow and Act that it’s pretty difficult to balance the two.

“Balancing is hard. I’ve lost roles that I really wanted because I had set up a tour.  I cancelled tours to do roles before. But I have to find the time to make that up to my audience. I made a commitment to them. Singing and acting suit me. I made a vow to myself, to do everything that I can do with this life that I have, and I have to find the time to do this. Sometimes I need to be an actress.  Sometimes I don’t need to be Jill. However, everyone is always looking for the Jill in everything.  People say that they like the characters that they believe that I am. But, I don’t as much.  I like the characters that I believe that I am not. Like my role on Law and Order. That character unnerved people. And I loved every second of it. I want to continue growing as an actress. There are ways that I can reach quicker, or deeper, with acting,” she said.

Back in August we told you that 42 actor Chadwick Boseman has been cast to play the role of James. And just last month we delivered the wonderful news that The Help actresses Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis will also be reuniting on the set to create some more of that on-screen magic. In case you missed it, Viola will be playing James’ mother, Susie Brown. Octavia will be playing the late singer’s aunt, Anne Tunney aka Aunt Honey.

As previously reported, Get On Up is scheduled to hit theaters October 17, 2014. This sounds like such an amazing line-up. We will continue to keep you posted as more celebrities are added to this all-star cast.

Octavia Spencer And Viola Davis To Reunite For James Brown Biopic, ‘Get On Up’

October 1st, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Over the summer when we told you that 42 actor Chadwick Boseman had been cast to play legendary father of funk, James Brown, we also told you that the film’s director, Tate Taylor, was looking to reunite The Help actresses Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis. We’re happy to report that both ladies have officially been cast for the upcoming film!

According to Deadline, Viola will be playing James Brown’s mother, Susie Brown, who gave birth to the musical icon at just 16 years old and left him to live with relatives.  Octavia will be playing the late singer’s aunt, Anne Tunney aka Aunt Honey, who was reportedly a very important and formative figure in James’ life. Chatter regarding True Blood’s Nelsan Ellis being added to the cast is still circulating, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

Filming for the long-awaited movie begins in November in Mississippi and it’s already scheduled to hit theaters October 17, 2014. It’s been a long time coming for this biographical film, which was originally supposed to be written and directed by Spike Lee. Eddie Murphy, who at one point was cast to play James, praised Spike’s script for the film.

“That’s a great, great piece. I wish it could come together. It has everything and his story is incredible. Imagine how incredible Ray Charles’ story was — and he’s at the piano. James is doing splits and running and jump off the wall. Angel dust. Shooting out tires. James’ sh** is bananas,” Eddie told Black Tree TV.

Somewhere along the line, Spike was replaced by Tate. Either way, we’re glad this project is finally happening!

Sneak Peek: Viola Davis Blows Movie-Goers Away In New Film, “Prisoners”

September 23rd, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Apega/WENN.com

Apega/WENN.com

 

In the October issue of Essence, Viola Davis opened up about motherhood, beauty, and how she plans to shift gears in her acting portfolio. Knowing how important re-branding is, Davis plans not to be typecast into certain roles.

Therefore,  dedicated to her own growth, our favorite beauty is back on the big screen with a movie sure to make you change how you view of her. “Prisoners,” a thriller, is centered on two missing girls who were abducted from their neighborhood on Thanksgiving Day. The film’s high points rely on suspicion and anticipation,  making you question if following morals are necessary when your family is endangered.

According to David Denby from The New Yorker:

“Prisoners,” despite its gathering anxiety, has some of the pleasures of ordinary thrillers. But Villeneuve, who previously directed “Incendies,” does volatile scenes without exaggeration; parts of the movie are exceedingly violent, though the violence isn’t “fun”—it makes you wince. (Horror-film fans will not like this picture; some of it is actually horrifying.) Villeneuve throws us into a complicated skein of abductions going back years without losing the urgency of the present. “Prisoners” is a challenge: you have to decide who’s right and who’s wrong at every turn, and, when it’s over, ambiguity, rather than the satisfactions of harmony, reigns. Life stays out of joint. This movie suggests that it’s never really been any other way.”

From the preview, Viola Davis appears to deliver a riveting performance that will make you expect even more from the Academy Award nominee in future films.

Below is the trailer for “Prisoners” Will you head to theaters to watch it?

Terrence Howard, Viola Davis Film ‘Prisoners’ Has A Surprise Win At The Weekend Box Office

September 23rd, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Terrence Howard & Viola Davis at the LA premiere of "Prisoners." FayesVision/WENN.com

Terrence Howard & Viola Davis at the LA premiere of “Prisoners.” FayesVision/WENN.com

Prisoners, a crime thriller starring Hugh Jackman, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, and Maria Bello as two sets of parents who are searching for their missing daughters, won the box office this weekend with $21.4 million, beating out last week’s top movie Insidious Chapter 2, which pulled in $14.5 million in its second week. Entertainment Weekly calls the box office win a “surprise” because it doesn’t fit the mold of the top movies of recent weeks; it’s a drama that doesn’t have the CGI, the scares, or the flash of many other box office winners.

For Hugh Jackman, it continues a streak that includes Les Miserables and the X-Men films. And Jake Gyllenhaal, who could use a box office win, is getting good buzz for his performance. But for Howard, it must be a particularly sweet reprieve from the media attention he’s been getting lately, focused on the personal problems he’s been having with his wife.

For more on Davis and her new role, click here.

Bloomberg notes that September is normally a very weak month for the box office. But it’s also the time when audiences are seeking more mature movies as well. It also helps that reviews for the movie have been largely positive.

The film is building on positive buzz from the recent Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.

Viola Davis Talks Beauty And Growing Up With White Kids Calling Her Ugly In Essence

September 5th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Source: Essence Magazine

Source: Essence Magazine

 

The beautiful Viola Davis is on the cover of Essence Magazine’s October issue!

Essence‘s editor-in-chief Vanessa K. Bush  interviewed Davis, who will be appearing in a new film called Prisoners on September 20. During their intimate conversation, they spoke on all things hair, beauty and motherhood- a role which Davis has recently taken on and is mastering. At 48 years old, Viola Davis describes simultaneously how precarious and joyful parenthood  can be, saying parenting is:

“five hundred million joys and a hundred million heartbreaks every single day.”

During the interview Davis  reflects on her  relationship with her mother, who she says did not help nurture her self-esteem:

“My image of myself {as a youth] was in the mouths of young White kids calling me…ugly…and then going home to a mother who did not fully embrace her own beauty.”

By  identifying   the flaws of  her childhood relationship with her mother, Viola Davis holds herself accountable to a particular standard while raising her two-year old adopted daughter, Genesis. The most important lesson she wants to instill in Genesis’s life is to embrace her hair.

“There’s not one woman in America who does not care about her hair. But we give it way too much value. We deprive ourselves of things, we use it to destroy each other, we’ll look at a child and judge a mother and her sense of motherhood by the way the child’s hair looks. I am not going to traumatize my child about her hair. I want her to love her hair.”

In Essence’s  full interview, Viola Davis discusses how fans suggests what types of roles and movies she should audition for, what keeps her  humble while her success continues to grow and how she met her soulmate.

The October edition of Essence is out on newsstands now. Get your copy!

 

Chadwick Boseman Cast To Play James Brown In Biopic, Guess Who Else Is Up For Parts

August 27th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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James Brown Biopic

Source: WENN

 

The James Brown biopic is happening and Universal Pictures has found the man they want to play the “Godfather of Soul.” According to Deadline, Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played Jackie Robinson in “42,” will be taking on the lead role in this film.

The biopic is to be directed by “The Help’s” Tate Taylor, so it should be no surprise that Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer’s names are being thrown into the mix for this movie as well. According to The Wrap, Taylor wants to reunite the Academy Award nominees along with Nelsan Ellis, who played Henry the Waiter in “The Help,” in supporting roles for the biopic.

Though details are slim on this long-overdue project, The Wrap did mention that in the biopic, “Boseman will portray Brown over a period of several decades, from his disadvantaged youth to his status as a bonafide music icon.” Much of the filming is to take place in Mississippi, but there’s no word yet on who else might show up in the flick as of now. The Wrap notes that so far no offers have been made yet to “The Help” trio and their representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

What do you think about Chadwick Boseman portraying James Brown?

 

Give Their Regards To Broadway: Celebs Who Started In Theater

July 25th, 2013 - By Ashley Page
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Celebs come from all walks of life. Some are born into stardom because of their celebrity parents, while others work hard to get their names known in the business. One of the ways a lot of actors get their big break is by singing and dancing on Broadway. If it weren’t for these famous faces giving their regards to Broadway way back when, we may have never seen them on the big screen.

Why BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane’ Is A Win For Women Of Color

July 9th, 2013 - By La Truly
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being-mary-jane23

The night of the premiere, I decided not to watch Being Mary Jane. I saw the hash tag all up and through my Twitter timeline with all sorts of comments as people followed the storyline. I didn’t want other opinions clouding my thoughts as I watched. So, I waited a day, found the show online, and watched in solitude.

The original movie-turned-show chronicles the life of Gabrielle Union’s character, Mary Jane Paul. She’s a largely successful television news anchor who is gorgeous, smart, and wealthy, but who is quite unlucky in love and unfortunately is the sole breadwinner for her entire family.

I watched with baited breath praying that the acting would not suck – it did not. Neither was the storyline dull or unrealistic. In fact, it was so realistic, I found myself laughing throughout, remembering similar instances in my own life. I enjoyed it from the opening post-it note to the ending booty call, because although it might not be a squeaky clean portrayal of a black woman – it’s an honest one.

I can fully appreciate Mary Jane for the same reasons I appreciate Kerry Washington’s portrayal of Olivia Pope in Scandal - the unmitigated honesty. The typewritten disclaimer at the beginning informed viewers that the show isn’t trying to account for the lives of every black woman everywhere…just one. The show doesn’t seek to lump all black women into one group of  romantically challenged workaholics, it just lets us follow one woman who is trying to navigate that space in her life. A life full of choices to be made. Sometimes she gets them right, and sometimes she gets them wrong. You know, like a human being?

I saw glimpses of myself or people I know throughout the storyline. Who hasn’t gone back to the man who is no good for them but feels so good to them? Who hasn’t fought for a cause they truly believe in on their job only to be shot down? Who hasn’t flooded themselves with messages of affirmation and encouragement? Who hasn’t tidied their whole house and gotten “effortlessly” sexified in a matter of minutes before inviting their boo inside? And yes, who hasn’t employed the quick “squat-and-wash” method of washing up before an impromptu hot date?

I screamed when Mary Jane was Facebook chatting with her ex. More than once I have started typing, then rethought it and deleted, started again, then deleted it again only to end up with coy one or two-word answers – trying to tailor my responses to get the responses I wanted from a guy – whether via Facebook chat or text message.

My point is – I wasn’t mad at the creators of the show for displaying a truth that many of us won’t admit to living. I was thankful, in a way, for being shown that I’m not the only one who wrestles with some of these issues.

While people have a right to dislike any work of art they choose, I noticed that most of the criticism of Mary Jane (which was luckily not a lot) stemmed from a belief that it showed black women in a poor light. It’s the same mentality that met Viola Davis when she decided to play Abilene in The Help. It’s the mentality that black actresses are not allowed to show the whole truth. Just the pieces that sparkle and smell clean. If the image isn’t 98.7 percent positive, we get uncomfortable.

My response? We have got to get over the fear of telling the truth about ourselves individually and collectively. One person’s truth doesn’t necessarily blanket a whole race. And if art reflects life then for goodness’ sake, allow it to. I’d like to take for granted that most people are smart enough to watch television without coming away with all-encompassing thoughts about an entire group of people from ONE television show. While I love watching Scandal, I believe that anyone who draws the conclusion from the show that all black women are looking to be mistresses to white men are incredibly unintelligent human beings with no real right to voice their opinions. Just saying.

Being Mary Jane seems to be a story of trajectory framed in a way that many women of color will be able to appreciate. And, hey, it debuted with four million viewers so I think that signifies a win with some longevity. There are layers in it and the character as there are in our everyday lives and I’m excited to see what is revealed throughout Mary Jane’s journey.