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Halle Berry Reignites Hair Battle with Gabriel Aubry

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Halle Berry as Molly Woods in the new CBS series "Extant." (Dale Robinette/CBS)

Halle Berry as Molly Woods in the new CBS series “Extant.” (Dale Robinette/CBS)

Nicholas Robinson, ROLLING OUT

 

LOS ANGELES (RollingOut.com)—Last month, Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry were back in court again over their daughter, Nahla, when Berry accused Aubry of trying to whitewash their daughter by straightening her hair and lightening it. And although it seemed the battle was squashed after a judge ordered both parents to leave Nahla’s hair alone, it’s been revealed that Berry had evidence to back her claims.

As previously reported, Aubry claimed in court that Nahla’s golden tresses were a result of her time spent in the sun and that he never used chemicals to straighten her hair.

 

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Will Packer Drama, ‘Ambitions’ Brings Star Power to OWN

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Entertainment juggernaut Will Packer, the man behind hit films like Girls Trip, Straight Outta Compton. Little, Stomp the Yard, Ride Along, “Ready to Love,” and “The Atlanta Child Murders” has brought “Ambitions,” a big drama starring Robin Givens, Essence Atkins, Kendrick Cross, Brian Bosworth and Brian White, to the small screen.

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“Ambitions,” a big drama starring Robin Givens, Essence Atkins, Kendrick Cross, Brian Bosworth and Brian White, on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
“Ambitions,” a big drama starring Robin Givens, Essence Atkins, Kendrick Cross, Brian Bosworth and Brian White, on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

By Nsenga K. Burton, Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., NNPA Newswire Entertainment Editor

Entertainment juggernaut Will Packer, the man behind hit films like Girls Trip, Straight Outta Compton, Little, Stomp the Yard, Ride Along, “Ready to Love,” and “The Atlanta Child Murders” has brought “Ambitions,” a big drama starring Robin Givens, Essence Atkins, Kendrick Cross, Brian Bosworth and Brian White, to the small screen.

Robin Givens plays the role of Stephanie Lancaster, a sophisticated lawyer hailing from a long line of distinguished attorneys. Stephanie desperately wants to be in charge of her family’s prestigious law firm and will stop at nothing to get it. Brian White is ‘Evan Lancaster,’ the Mayor of Atlanta, who is married to attorney Stephanie Carlisle (Robin Givens). Evan’s dream is to be the first African-American governor of Georgia and there’s no line he won’t cross to get there.

Kendrick Cross stars as ‘Titus Hughes,’ a passionate attorney and dedicated husband to Amara (Essence Atkins). Titus has accepted the challenge of being in-house counsel for a big pharma company run by Hunter Purifoy (Brian Bosworth) to fight a class action suit brought by the powerful Carlisle family.

Brely Evans stars as ‘Rondell Lancaster,’ the sister of Atlanta Mayor Evan Lancaster and manager of the Thelma’s Place restaurant. As the new face of an anti-gentrification campaign, she never thought she’d become a crusader for the people, but it’s a badge she wears with pride – and nobody is removing it.

Erica Page plays the role of ‘Bella (Tru) Trujillo,’ Atlanta’s newest and trendiest fashion designer. She’s the exclusive dress designer for First Lady Stephanie Lancaster, but has set her sights much higher. 

Essence Atkins plays the role of ‘Amara Hughes,’ a lawyer in the U.S. Attorney’s Office who has newly arrived in Atlanta with her husband, Titus (Kendrick Cross). Originally from Texas, she is quickly gaining attention from the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a diligent investigator and prosecutor.

In addition, Brian Bosworth (“What Men Want”), Matt Cedeño (“Power”), Deena Dill (“Conrad & Michelle”), Gino Anthony Pesi (“Shades of Blue”) and Kayla Smith (“Star”) will appear in recurring roles.

Created by executive producer/writer Jamey Giddens “AMBITIONS” is produced for OWN by Will Packer Media in association with Lionsgate and Lionsgate-owned distributor Debmar-Mercury.

Will Packer is executive producer. Kevin Arkadie is executive producer/showrunner. Creator/writer Jamey Giddens and Will Packer Media’s Sheila Ducksworth also serve as executive producers.

Benny Boom directed and served as a producer of the pilot episode.

Connect with the series on social media via: @AmbitionsOWN (Instagram & Twitter)

Check local listings for channel information.

This post was curated by Nsenga K Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. An expert in intersectionality and media industries, Dr. Burton is also a professor of film and television at Emory University and co-editor of the book, Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire

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Film, fellowship puts Memphian Jamey Hatley on course for the big screen

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Hatley is the recipient of the inaugural Indie Memphis Black Filmmaker Fellowship in Screenwriting. Funded by Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk”), the two-month fellowship comes with a $7,500 unrestricted cash grant to help Hatley develop her screenplay, “The Eureka Hotel.”

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Jamey Hatley (Photo: Demarcus Bowser)
Jamey Hatley (Photo: Demarcus Bowser)

By Karanja A. Ajanaku, New Tri-State Defender
kajanaku@tsdmemphis.com

Jamey Hatley is from Walker Homes and while debates still rage over whether that’s in Whitehaven or Westwood, there is no question that Hatley’s writing career is on an upward trajectory.

Hatley is the recipient of the inaugural Indie Memphis Black Filmmaker Fellowship in Screenwriting. Funded by Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk”), the two-month fellowship comes with a $7,500 unrestricted cash grant to help Hatley develop her screenplay, “The Eureka Hotel.”

Jenkins also handpicked Raven Jackson, another native of Tennessee, as the winner of the Indie Memphis national Black Filmmaker Residency for Screenwriting. The two-month residency, including travel and housing, affords Jackson, a thesis student in New York University’s Graduate Film program, $7,500. Her feature film product is “all dirt roads taste of salt.”

“As an artist, I’ve always admired Memphis and what it’s meant to black artistry across many forms and genres,” said Jenkins. “To partner with Indie Memphis in supporting Jamey Hatley and Raven Jackson in taking the next steps in their quest to creatively engage and contribute to the diaspora is an honor most high.

“In their work, I find resounding proof that Memphis both raises talent from within (Hatley, a native Memphian) and inspires it from abroad (Jackson).”

A Whitehaven High School alum, Hatley had definite plans – attend the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and become a corporate executive – the day she walked off the graduation stage.

What happened? So many things, she said, including an internship that contributed to her rethinking her plans. Later, she got a journalism degree from the University of Memphis and at one point got mixed up in the music industry via a connection.

“…(W)ords and books were so important to me that I could not imagine myself being a writer. I tiptoed up to it,” she said. “I was doing everything to run away from these stories, but I was still scribbling. The stories ended up catching up with me.”

Screenwriting came into the picture by email and out of the blue last September.

“At that time, I had no job. My literal organization had gotten defunded, it had fallen apart. It was like, ‘Oh, this fancy director considers you an ideal collaborator. Would you do it?’ I’m like, ‘I like to eat, I like to pay my rent, so OK.’”

That project, which is for a major network, still is in development. The experience opened the door to the Writer’s Guild and primed her for the Indie Memphis Black Filmmaker Fellowship in Screenwriting opportunity.

“I think one of my superpowers is knowing, ‘Oh, here’s your door. Are you going to walk through it?’ If it’s a door and I feel like it’s mine, then I’m going to run through it and I’ll figure it out on the other side.”

That the fellowship was being funded by Jenkins was a huge attraction. She’d met him at an event in New Orleans (where she was living at the time) and had summoned the resolve to share with him her first – and then recently published in the Oxford American – short story.

Content to “just watch Barry’s beautiful movies for the rest of my life,” she learned on Twitter that she had won the fellowship and the opportunity to learn more directly from him.

“I still can’t believe it,” she said.

Hatley entered a treatment into the fellowship, eager for the resources and support to create a finished version of her screenplay, “The Eureka Hotel.”

The Eureka Hotel was a real place in Memphis. Hatley became aware of it while researching for her novel, learning that it had operated out of a Victorian-styled home that she had stared at so many times while visiting a friend’s Downtown Memphis art gallery.

“The Eureka Hotel,” Hatley says, is “a journey story because the Eureka was a colored hotel. … Their tagline was ‘Always open.’”

A short film based on the screenplay now is in post-production.

“It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful,” says Hatley, who must deliver a script for a feature-length film to Jenkins.

She also has “a few things else that are secret that are working in the background that happen to be scripts.

“But I’m also going to finish my novel, because I’m still a novelist….”

The novel is about Memphis.

“Everything I write is about Memphis, and it’s about Walker Homes. It’s called the ‘Dream Singers.’ It takes place in the wake of the King assassination, and there is a woman … I call her a dream singer. …She has babies, twins. One is born at the moment that King is assassinated. One is born at the moment that he dies, and all the hopes and dreams of this community, that’s based on Walker Homes, reside in these babies. In three months, four months, later in July, one of the babies passes away. That stymies the community. …

“I feel like Memphis feels a debt about King dying here that we’ve never fully acknowledged. …To me, dreams are debt. Anybody’s dream, somebody else pays for it. …It’s really exploring who gets the dream and who pays the price for that.”

America, she says, has never been honest with itself, regarding the root-level issues that existed before Dr. King – issues that brought him to Memphis and ultimately led to his assassination.

“I think art gives us an opportunity to at least explore being honest in a way that’s not comfortable, but more successful.”

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FILM REVIEW: The Farewell

NNPA NEWSWIRE — When you walk out of the theater you may feel like you just left a family meal or a close friend’s house. That familial reaction is the result of Wang’s welcoming storytelling and an ensemble cast that makes you feel at home as you experience a sweet and sour drama, which tends to be more sweet.

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The cast of The Farewell

By Dwight Brown, NNPA Newswire Film Critic

That thing called life. Everyone goes through it, somehow putting a greater focus on the beginning and not the end. Who’s more adorable? Babies or elders? Yea, right.

The Farwell dares to venture to the last chapter of our existence as it examines how an Asian family handles the finish-line process. It does so with a warm-hearted and uplifting spirit that is quite affecting.

Writer/director Lulu Wang dug into her own experiences to develop the script’s premise, storyline and characters, basing her 98-minute anecdote on an incident that happened to her.

Wang’s alter-ego is Billi (Awkwafina, Crazy Rich Asians), a Chinese-born, U.S.-raised twentysomething who is stunned to learn that her grandma, Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen), has been diagnosed with a terminal disease and given a short time to live.

Billi is even more shocked when her dad Haiyan (Tzi Ma, The Quiet American, Rush Hour) and mom Jian (Diana Lin) advise her that the family will not tell the matriarch her diagnosis. Instead, they will gather around her in Changchun, China, their hometown, under the pretense of celebrating a wedding.

For Billi, who is brash, the impulse to reach out to Nai Nai and console her is almost uncontrollable. It’s so strong, her parents don’t want her to travel to China, in fear that she’ll spill the beans. They leave for their motherland, without her. Billi, poor as a church mouse, finds a way (credit cards) to follow them there. In China, her parents and extended family are on pins and needles wondering if their cover will be blown.

Bravely Lulu Wang takes on a dreary subject, but adds an inventive touch of magic, humor and artistry to her narrative. Her Nai Nai character is a magnet of strength. Scenes with her practicing Tai chi and teaching it to Billi are priceless.

The tension between Billi and her parents over a tradition of holding back bad news seems authentic. In America, patients hear about the grim reaper all the time. In China, or at least in this family, the focus is on preserving a quality of life for as long as possible. And if that means sheltering the patient from a death sentence with a group charade, so be it.

Many films start or end with a screenshot that says, ‘Based on a true story.” The Farewell begins with the notation, “Based on an actual lie.” So, from the git-go, audiences know that this will not be an ordinary family drama. And it isn’t.

Wang is very deft at creating a vibrant family vibe, with rivalries, past history, love and conflict all rolled into one. Her efforts are complemented by an ensemble cast that knows their roles and plays them out accordingly. Tzi Ma as dad is the stodgy patriarch. Diana Lin and Ma make the perfect couple, who have one foot planted firmly in the Western world, and the other in their homeland and its culture.

Awkwafina as Billi, is their polar opposite. She’s as American as apple pie and an Apple Computer. She struggles to stay modern, yet respect her culture, traditions and family, too. Her dilemma will resonate with her generation or the offspring of immigrants. Emotional scenes between the three lead actors run quite deep, giving Awkwafina a chance to show her solid dramatic acting chops.

Wang is an artist. It’s evident in the way she frames scenes like family photo portraits, and also in the excellent choices she makes with her tech crew: The music, from the original score (Alex Weston) to the eclectic playlist (musical supervisors Susan Jacobs and Dylan Neely), is as impeccable as it is quirky. The clothes looked lived in (Athena Wang, costume designer). The footage’s colors and tones look great and the cast is well-lit and photographed (Anna Franquesca Solano, D.P.). Sets, from banquet halls to homes and apartments (Yong Ok Lee, production designer) look genuine, and you often question whether you’re watching a movie or real life.

If there is one imperfection, it’s the editing choices. Some scenes, especially the dinners, run on too long, way after the dramatic point has been made (Matt Friedman and Michael Taylor, editor).

When you walk out of the theater you may feel like you just left a family meal or a close friend’s house. That familial reaction is the result of Wang’s welcoming storytelling and an ensemble cast that makes you feel at home as you experience a sweet and sour drama, which tends to be more sweet.

Visit NNPA Newswire Film Critic Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.comand BlackPressUSA.com.

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