Ejogo’s Largo!

 

 

Photo via Newscom

Carmen Ejogo

The “It Comes at Night” Interview

with Kam Williams

Ejogo’s Largo!

Carmen Ejogo has established a distinguished career in both feature films and television. She is best known thus far for her leading role of civil rights activist ‘Coretta Scott King’ opposite David Oyelowo in Ava DuVernay’s universally acclaimed SELMA as well as being singled out for her ‘mind-blowing’ lead role as Sister in SPARKLE alongside Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks. Carmen was most recently seen playing the key role of Seraphina Picquery, President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America in J.K.Rowling’s FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM alongside an all-star cast including Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Jon Voigt and Samantha Morton.

Released on the 19th of May, Carmen plays a key role in Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated prequel ALIEN: COVENANT with Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston. The story follows on from 2012’s Oscar-nominated PROMETHEUS as the crew of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world, whose sole inhabitant is the synthetic David, survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

Carmen is currently filming the second series of Starz’ acclaimed drama “The Girlfriend Experience” from executive producers Steven Soderbergh and Philip Fleishman. In one of two parallel storylines, she will play the role of Bria Jones who, after discovering disturbing information about a regular client, is forced to relocate to a remote location in New Mexico. Unable to shake her desire for risky relationships and the finer things in life, Bria navigates her new penniless and surreal existence by forming eerily intimate transactional relationships. While Bria’s ghosts from the past continue to haunt, her new connections with men redefine the meaning of the Girlfriend Experience.

Earlier last year Carmen won plaudits for her lead role opposite Ethan Hawke in the lauded independent feature BORN TO BE BLUE, depicting jazz legend Chet Baker’s musical comeback in the late ’60s. She made her U.S. film debut opposite Eddie Murphy playing Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Tate in the 1997 comedy METRO. She then went on to star in films such as Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, What’s the Worst that Could Happen? opposite Martin Lawrence, Neil Jordan’s The Brave One opposite Terrence Howard and Jodie Foster, Gavin O’Connor’s PRIDE AND Glory opposite Ed Norton, and in Sam Mendes’ 2009 indie hit Away We Go opposite Maya Rudolph.

Carmen Ejogo, It Comes at Night, Interview, Coretta Scott King, SELMA, SPARKLE, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, ALIEN: COVENANT

Carmen Ejogo in Born to Be Blue (2015)

On television, Carmen garnered the attention of television critics and audiences alike for her portrayal of Sally Hemmings, the title character in the 2000 CBS miniseries Sally Hemmings: An American Scandal. She played the role of Coretta Scott King in HBO’s critically acclaimed film for television BOYCOTT, opposite Jeffrey Wright and Terrence Howard. Her role earned her a 2001 Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a TV film or miniseries. She also starred in HBO’s Emmy nominated Lackwanna Blues where her role as Alean earned her a second Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a TV film or miniseries. Ejogo also starred as FBI agent ‘Becca Sunjata’ in the ABC television series “Zero Hour” opposite Anthony Edwards.

Kam Williams: Hi Carmen, thanks for the interview. I really appreciate this opportunity to speak with you.

Carmen Ejogo: No problem, Kam.

KW: You’re really enjoying a renaissance in recent years, after taking a break to raise the kids. You were in Selma, Fantastic Beasts, Alien: Covenant and now this film.

CE: Yeah, I feel very fortunate to be able to have the kind of career that I want. It’s not always so easy with children.

KW: What interested you in It Comes at Night?

CE: Coming into it, we knew we were going to be working with a visionary director in Trey Edward Shults, having seen his first film, Krisha. It was so striking and original that you just knew that any movie he made was going to have a unique stamp on it. So, it wasn’t that difficult a decision to be a part of this film, although it was still a very ambitious, high-risk experiment in many ways. But that pushing of boundaries was part of the project’s appeal, quite frankly.

KW: How did you manage to produce a masterpiece on a modest budget?   

CE: It wasn’t about money, really. It’s more about a strong script, excellent ideas, and a great application of those ideas. Trey exhibited resourcefulness at its best as a director, and we all became one unit with the same intention. Sometimes, with the right attitude, you can actually be inspired by the absence of a budget.

KW: Your co-star, Joel Edgerton, was brilliant as your husband in this film, as he was in Loving.   

CE: Yes, he’s phenomenal in this. Like so many people, I’m just discovering him in real time. He’s quite a gift and an immense talent: writer, director, actor. He’s quite a special human being in many ways.

KW: Riley Keough is also in this film. Had you worked with her before?

CE: No, although she was at the helm of the first season of The Girlfriend Experience, and I’m going to be taking on the role for the second season. We talked about the show on set, but I hadn’t yet signed on. I had much trepidation until Riley and I had some conversations about it. So, she’s part of the reason why I ended up going for it.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from It Comes at Night?

Carmen Ejogo, It Comes at Night, Interview, Coretta Scott King, SELMA, SPARKLE, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, ALIEN: COVENANT

Carmen Ejogo in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

CE: I think Trey’s intention was to leave it enough open to interpretation so that multiple messages might be taken from it. But there was no agenda or particular intention other than the film’s being an examination of human nature at its best and worst, and of what the family unit can descend into when survival and tribal mentality kick in. Personally, I feel the film is deeply relevant to what’s happening culturally at this point in time in terms of people fearing anyone from the outside, and choosing to isolate.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: You often manage to end up in very interesting movies. How do you recognize a great script?

CE: That’s such a good question, Patricia. I’ve often wondered about that myself. At the end of the day, I really go with my personal taste and with what’s on the page in terms of character. But beyond that, there’s a complexity about the scripts I tend to respond to. I’ve not lost my curiosity about how the world functions. And a script that can embody that and thematically explore bigger questions in a way which seems fresh is likely to get my attention. Frankly, I also have an eye for what will appeal to an audience, as opposed to a self-indulgent exercise that isn’t taking the audience into account.

KW: How did you prepare for the role of Sarah?

CE: I definitely tried to fill her back story, which I don’t do for every role. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel necessary. But with this one, I felt it was important to have a sense of Sarah’s relationship with her husband because where you meet her is a place of such deterioration and lack of communication. I needed to understand how they’d arrived at that point. I also felt it was worth exploring Sarah’s relationships with her father and son. And because Trey wanted the picture to have a sense of timelessness, I felt quite excited by the idea of Sarah’s aesthetic being the subject of a Dorothea Lange, Depression Era portrait. Traditionally, you didn’t see people of color in this kind of movie I was watching while growing up. So, there was something very interesting to me about the idea of a mashup, a reinterpretation of the genre.   

KW: Given that you sing, would you be interested in doing a musical on Broadway or on screen? If so, would you like to do a revival or an original like La La Land.

CE: [Giggles] All of the above. Yeah. Music is so much a part of my being. I haven’t gotten to explore it much in recent years.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?

CE: “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00IMZ87BE/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

 

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

CE: Far more makeup on the red carpet, and I’m a little shabbier at home.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

CE: I’m genuinely into so many aesthetics… Comme Des Garcons… Issey Miyake… And I’m also quite fond of designers like Mayle. But I get most excited by emerging, barely-established, avant garde designers.

KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there anything that you promised yourself you’d do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?

CE: [Laughs] No, the fame thing has never influenced what I do or don’t think

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?   

CE: [LOL] The Cyclops in Sinbad.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Carmen, and best of luck with the film.

CE: Thank you, Kam.

Source:  Baret News

Ditch the Tie: It’s Dad’s Time to Fly!

 
Ditch the Tie: It’s Dad’s Time to Fly!

by Amy Lignor

 

For those of you out there in this world who are lucky enough to still be able to hug Dad each and every day, it is that time of the year again when Dad’s “special day” comes into play.

LIFESTYLE (C1)I was one of the luckiest in the world when it came to having the perfect Dad. He was also one of those amazing men who loved it when his kids “made” him something – arts and crafts wise – that he could put up on his desk and look at. He always said it made him smile. He was also the ‘best of the best’ and deserved so much more than we could ever give. I’m sure there were tons of things he wanted, yet never asked for. As far as he was concerned, his kids’ love was enough. Well…just in case you are sitting in your room right now thinking about that sports loving father you have; that hunter, that fisher, that crossword-puzzle genius or even that tech-savvy man who loves playing with all these digital toys, here are just a few fantastic picks out there that would still make the man who already has everything smile even wider.

 

Start with that hunter or fisher Dad. The one who loves to go out on the water or into the woods and get that “catch” of the day or bag that twelve-pointer. If these are the hobbies Dad loves, Filson offers a fly fishing rod case this year that is absolutely stunning. A heavyweight twill, brown leather case, with an interior that includes a padded separator for a rod, reels, and various accessories (and, yes, that can mean a couple of well-deserved beers). This would be a stunning thing for him to have at his side.

 

In addition, the outdoor man would also love the Opinel N°09 Oyster pocket knife. This is one of those luxury European items with a wood handle that not all men get to carry in their pockets, that’s for sure.

 

And for those Dads who love to take walks outdoors, whether hunting the elk or netting the bass, the new bottle by S’well gives Dad the perfect container to carry both cold drinks, as well as the best coffee possible along with him for whatever the day’s excursion may be.

 

But what about the food? He has coffee, he has a nice bag, but what about that perfect breakfast sandwich? And, no, I don’t mean the one you pick up at a fast-food chain that’s been pre-frozen for who knows how many hours. Hamilton Beach offers a great breakfast sandwich maker for your best pal and most-looked-up-to man in the world. And this is one easy item to use. Ham, egg, cheese, bacon and more – whatever he wants to throw on it, he can. For less than $25.00, Dad can eat well while relaxing on his outdoor escape.

 

He doesn’t like the Great Outdoors? He’s more into tech stuff, you say? Not a problem. Remember the time when headphones were huge, then all the companies out there raced to make the tinniest earbuds in the world that you could barely see? Well, headphones have gone back to the “big” leagues with HiFiMan HE400S. These he can take anywhere. Planar-magnetic drivers allow that audio to be crystal-clear, and can even plug directly into his beloved Smartphone. Will he look a bit like an eighties nerd? Sure. But who cares? Brue Springsteen never sounded better.

 

And the biggest tech savvy item that has its own commercials every five minutes and has reached the #1 notch on all holiday lists comes in the form of the Amazon Echo. A wireless speaker system, Dad can ask for any of his music to be played, ask to tune into the news, and even control appliances that are compatible to the Amazon Echo. Now if we could only find a way to change that voice. Lets’ face it, there are men all over the world who like being ‘butch’ and would rather hear Jack Bauer of ‘24’ introduce the news than that Barbie-like Alexa. (Mom’s would, too, by the way, but for a whole different reason.) Logitech is also one of those companies that made an Alexa compatible item for the sports-obsessed Dad. The Logitech Harmony Elite remote control allows him to control that TV with all the favorite sports games going on, as well as control the thermostat in the house, gaming, lights and more.

 

Lastly, for those who have a father who literally always says nothing but his children’s love is necessary to make him happy, there are very cool subscriptions you can opt for, like the Birchbox Man Subscription Box. From only $20 per month, Dad will receive products that he can test each and every month in all different areas – from tools to seasonal gifts. He’ll have a ball and even, perhaps, stumble across a brand new item never before seen that he simply can’t live without.

 

But no matter what “gift” you choose to give, always remember that the hug, the kiss, and the “I love you, Dad. Thank you so much for everything you do,” will always be the best and most perfect gift Dad can receive. And from one girl who had the ‘best of the best’ by her side for many years, but not nearly enough, make sure that gift is given every single day!

 

Original Source:  Baret News

Author Expounds on Labor of Love

 

Peter Brav

The “331 Innings” Interview

with Kam Williams

Author Expounds on Labor of Love

Peter Brav is not much of a baseball player but he’s written three novels where the diamond provides a setting for triumph over adversity in one way or another. Sneaking In (set during the 1999 Yankees championship season), The Other Side Of Losing (set during a Chicago Cubs championship season) and now 331 Innings (set in a small Nebraska town). Add in Zappy I’m Not, a memoir of a cranky middle-aged man reincarnated as a small dog, and you have a literary celebration of all manner of admirable underdogs.

Peter Brav, 331 Innings, Interview, bullying, war, life, Lincoln, Nebraska, Princeton, NJPeter has written several plays including South Beach, African Violet, Later, The Rub, Good Till Cancelled, and Trump Burger which have all been performed in staged readings. A a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, he resides in Princeton, New Jersey with wife Janet and three Papillons.

Kam Williams: Hi Peter, thanks for the interview.

Peter Brav: Totally my pleasure, Kam.

KW: What inspired you to write 331 Innings?

PB:Well, first of all, it’s not a baseball book. That plays a very small part of it. It covers ground I’ve become comfortable with. Trying to understand why we’re all here for such a relatively short time and yet make it harder on each other and ourselves than it should be. I was thinking about bullying and war, specifically, and how they’re linked. And what a better world we’d have, if we could minimize both of them.

KW: How would you describe the novel in 25 words or less?

PB: It’s a pretty powerful 16th year in the life of John Schram, an undersized, underappreciated underdog. Anger’s getting the best of him and he’s most certainly heading in the wrong direction. Hopefully, he’s going to turn things around before it’s too late.

KW: Was the book’s narrator, Jack Schram, based on a real-life person?

PB: John’s Uncle Jack is a fictional 84 year-old lifelong Nebraskan. But Jack’s an amalgam of many older people I’ve met, whether they be relatives or folks at my father’s assisted living center. Like Jack, they’ve made livings, raised families, fought in wars, and watched loved ones and friends pass on. And if they’re like Jack, they marvel at how the younger generations around them keep making the same mistakes they did. I’ve always felt comfortable with older people, perhaps an old soul and all that. It remains to be seen whether that continues now that I’m getting there more rapidly than I’d like.

KW: How much research did you have to do in order to set the story in Nebraska?

PB: I drove through Nebraska four years ago and spent a wonderful week in Lincoln. I know there are significant differences from the Northeast and they’re highlighted on a daily basis on CNN with red and blue colors. But for my time there, on a closeup and personal level, I encountered nothing but personal warmth. And beautiful landscapes. The story wrote itself when I got back.

KW: What message do you want readers to take away from the novel?

PB: Well, some of what I just alluded to. We’ve got no shortage of underdogs in this world, battling whatever adversity comes their way to try and make a good life for themselves and others. What we could use a little more of is leaders, let’s call them overdogs, with a conscience. And that’s pretty much what happens near the end of the novel. Something brings the high school in-crowd and outcasts together, for one really long game anyway, and the rest of the world comes along for the ride. In my 2009 Chicago Cubs fantasy, The Other Side of Losing, I had a very protracted week-long rain delay during the World Series where people come together. This is a bit of the same thing, taking a break from “winning” to maybe show a little love.

KW: Are you already working on your next opus?

PB: Well, as you know, this lawyering thing keeps getting in the way, especially in the spring and summer. But I’ve finished a play called Propriety I’m hopeful about and I’ve started a new play set in the pre-war tumult of the late Thirties.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

PB: Great question, Troy. I wish I had more time to read but I’m getting better. I’ll mention two. The Berlin Boxing Club, a great young adult novel by Robert Sharenow.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006157970X/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

And I’m just finishing War Against War, a terrific nonfiction book about the years before World War I by Michael Kazin.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1476705909/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20 

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

PB: Thanks, Ling-Ju. My beloved mother Adele, a survivor of the Holocaust who passed away two years ago, schlepping my sister and me on subways to see a matinee of Carousel in Manhattan. I believe I was 4 years-old.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

PB: Cooking’s never been one of my strong suits, Kam. But my kids would say my scrambled eggs are perfectly edible.

KW: Craig Robinson asks: What was your last dream?

PB: Hi, Craig. My night dreams are gone shortly after I wake up. There are nights I’m pretty dream-prolific, too. But my daydreams hang around forever; they’re in 331 Innings.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far? 

PB: That’s such a good question, Sherry, and I want you to know I learned it very early on. It’s to evaluate everyone I meet on the basis of individual character only. No wealth, race, religion, nationality, age, popularity considerations, or anything else. And I’ve been the beneficiary of that lesson, with a diverse group of friends enriching my life on a daily basis.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

PB: I don’t know, give me a minute, and I’ll get back to you with a quite pained response. I see someone super blessed to have had the love and encouragement of my incredible wife Janet and the rest of my

family and friends.

  

KW: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

PB: I’m going to assume you mean intentionally. Most of the “crazy” things I did only look that way with hindsight. But I’d say naively taking my MGB without snow tires into the mountains of Vermont in the winter of 1981 ranks right up there.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

PB: For the powers that be throughout the world to have a collective Moment of Zen, to borrow from Jon Stewart, in which they realize they have more power and wealth than could be consumed in multiple lifetimes. And then actually do something about it to reduce war, oppression, inequity, ignorance, and the planet’s deterioration. It shouldn’t take the arrival of a worse species as happened in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! to bring people together.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

PB: That’s tough since most of us will be remembered by very few. But I hope it’s for more than those scrambled eggs.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

PB: The usual I’m sure. Five dollars and a completely illegible idea for a new novel scrawled on a napkin.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Peter, and best of luck with the book.

PB: Thank you, Kam, I hope folks enjoy it. Writing it was a joy for me.

To order a copy of 331 Innings, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1544237944/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

Read more of Peter’s work at www.peterbrav.com

and follow him at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3299307.Peter_Brav

and: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPeterBrav/

and: https://twitter.com/PGBistroPG

 

Source:  Baret News 

Tips on Staying Safe While Having Fun in the Sun

 

Tips on Staying Safe While Having Fun in the Sun

by Amy Lignor

 

Those rays are upon us! Sitting by the pool, enjoying those lazy days at the beach with the kids, jumping into that swimming hole to get cool from the summer heat. All of these case scenarios are a whole lot of fun and everyone wants to do them. After all, that’s what summer is all about – having rest and relaxation before the winter winds and blowing snow come back into the picture. But what many fail to remember are the illnesses that can come from being out in the heat too long, or the accidents that can happen when it comes to swimming or even grilling over the campfire. Most every illness and/or accident can be avoided; all you have to do is take minor precautions, be attentive, and not let the sun become a negative.

WebMD, heat stroke, swimming injuries, fires, burns, food poisoning, insect bites,

Photo Credit: Christophe Pelletier

WebMD is a site that reports on various heat/summertime-related illnesses. It is a fact that during the summer people often show up at the doctor with a heat-related condition, ranging from mild dehydration to more severe heatstroke. The symptoms of too much exposure to the sun can include nausea, dizziness, headaches and even confusion. So how can one avoid this? Actually, quite easily. Be mindful of the temperature outside and note that the warmest hours of the day range between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. When the sun is high in that sky, make sure to drink water. Staying hydrated at all times can keep your body and mind healthy.

 

The second issue that doctors want to remind people of comes from swimming injuries. Trauma can happen from jumping into a body of water without knowing what may be underneath, so check your surroundings. Note it there are rocks or seaweed growths that can get you hurt or tangled beneath the water’s surface. A boating or swimming injury can happen in the blink of an eye; a small child can fall into the water if unattended, so make sure to have at least one adult supervising the kids at all times. Especially when having a pool party or a group of friends over to grill out on the patio. Rotate who will watch the children at play, but always make sure that at least one set of focused eyes are upon them at all times.

 

When it comes to the third most common bracket of summertime injuries, they occur when grilling or building a campfire. Not to mention, cuts from kitchen knives as more and more outdoor cooking takes place. Again, adult supervision is required when it comes to children who love to attempt to touch the flames. Adults can also make the very common mistake of squirting lighter fluid onto hot coals and burning themselves. The easiest way to stay safe is to apply lighter fluid to coals when they aren’t lit, letting the fluid soak in. That way you avoid any burns that could occur. In addition, when talking about the campfire, make sure that attention is also paid when the fire is put out. It is quite easy to start a much larger fire if you disregard this process. Just ask Smokey.

 

Another summertime illness comes from food poisoning. Food-borne illnesses peak in the summer because “hot temperatures and humid conditions provide the optimum breeding ground for bacteria to multiply rapidly.” (U.S Department of Agriculture) Take into consideration during your summer barbecue that the food is properly cooked. Stop the ‘rare’ when it comes to hamburgers – make sure that beef is well-done. In addition, make sure the fruits and vegetables are washed properly and (along with that coleslaw) not left out in the scorching heat for a long period of time. And always make sure to wash those hands before eating.

 

Last, but definitely not least, comes from the treatment of rashes and insect bites which both escalate during the summer. With long days spent outdoors, it’s normal to see rashes that stem from things like poison ivy and sumac. Insect and tick bites are also common and, in some cases, will require an antibiotic. A great many areas of the country have to deal with tick-borne diseases more and more as the presence of ticks continue to escalate. Just be sure to use insect repellant and keep an eye on any bumps or swelling on the skin that grow in size. There are a variety of websites that will offer you tips when it comes to keeping you and your family safe from ticks and mosquitos, so read up on that expert information before heading out into the woods this summer.

 

As you can see, with very little work you can make sure the family remains safe while enjoying that much-needed fun in the sun!

 

Source:  Baret News

Stunning Stenberg!

 

Amandla Stenberg

The “Everything, Everything” Interview

with Kam Williams

Stunning Stenberg!

Amandla Stenberg first gained recognition for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. After the success of that film, Amandla earned the 2012 Teen Choice Award with Jennifer for Best Film Chemistry. She was also nominated for NAACP Image and Black Reel Awards for that performance.

 

 

Amandla Stenberg, The “Everything, Everything” Interview with Kam Williams, The Hunger Games, 2012 Teen Choice Award, Colombiana

AMANDLA STENBERG as Maddy in the Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures romantic drama “EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Amandla made her big screen debut in the breakout role of young Cataleya Restrepo in Colombiana. In January 2016, she appeared in As You Are which premiered at Sundance. The independent film won the Special Jury Prize at that year’s festival.

She recently finished shooting Where Hands Touch, a romantic drama set in the Forties, directed by Amma Asante. The story focuses on the relationship between a mixed-race German girl and an SS officer in Berlin.

She is currently filming The Darkest Minds, based on the best-selling series of young adult novels by Alexandra Bracken. The dystopian trilogy takes place in the wake of a mysterious plague which killed most of America’s youth population. Amandla stars as Ruby, a teenager with telekinetic powers who joins a group of kids on the run from the government.

She is also attached to The Hate U Give, adapted from Angela Thomas’ debut novel of the same name, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The story revolves around a suburban, prep school student coping with the fallout from witnessing a police officer shoot her unarmed best friend.

Amandla Stenberg, The “Everything, Everything” Interview with Kam Williams, The Hunger Games, 2012 Teen Choice Award, Colombiana

AMANDLA STENBERG as Maddy in the Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures romantic drama “EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Besides acting, Amandla has been globally lauded for her crusade to improve society via thoughtful conversation, using social media as a platform to spread social awareness and knowledge. She has shared personal essays on such topics as cultural appropriation, inter-sectional feminism, biracial identity and beauty standards.

Wise beyond her years, at 16 Amandla was named one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential Teens as well as the Ms. Foundation for Women’s Feminist Celebrity of the Year. Furthermore, Dazed Magazine proclaimed her one of the most incendiary voices of her generation in its Autumn 2015 cover story.

In February 2016, Amandla was presented the Young, Gifted & Black Award at the annual Black Girls Rock! ceremony televised on BET. Later that year, she became one of the faces of Stella McCartney’s new fragrance, “POP.”

A versatile talent, Amandla also plays violin and sings in the folk-rock duo Honeywater, along with Zander Hawley. Here, she talks about her new movie, Everything, Everything, where she co-stars opposite Nick Robinson.

Kam Williams: Hi Amandla, thanks for the interview.

Amandla Stenberg: Thank you for having me.

KW: You have a unique name. How did you come by it?

AS: It means “power” in Zulu. That’s pretty much the main reason why my mom picked it for me. It was also the rallying cry of the South African freedom movement. To them, it meant “Power to the people!” Amandla’s the title of a Miles Davis album, too.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002S21CPU/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

KW: Have you seen the movie Amandla about the pivotal role music played in inspiring the people of South Africa to summon up the courage to stand up to the repressive, Apartheid regime?

AS: The documentary, right? Yes, I have. My mom put a poster from the film up on my wall when I was little.

KW: What interested you in Everything, Everything?

AS: First of all, that they were considering casting someone like me as Maddy grabbed my attention because most movie romances aren’t very diverse. Usually, adaptations of young adult romance novels feature white leads. So, when they reached out to me with the script, I was struck by the fact that it was based on a book written by a black woman [Nicola Yoon] who specifically created a biracial protagonist. That was something I hadn’t seen before. It felt fresh to me that they were making a fairly corporate movie with a black female as the lead that would be widely marketed and distributed  And I also thought it was important when I considered how many people would get to see this girl with natural hair carry the film.

KW: Do you feel under any pressure for this film to succeed, so that this sort of colorblind casting continues?

AS: I don’t feel any pressure. I’m confident the film will do well. And whether or not it succeeds isn’t necessarily dependent on me. That’s not my responsibility. But I do feel proud to be a part of it, regardless. Besides, I don’t really think of a film’s success in monetary terms but by how it moves people. And I can already tell that black teenage girls are really excited to see themselves in a movie like this.   

KW: Had you read the novel, before learning about this project?

AS: No, I hadn’t read the book when I got the script. But as soon as I learned what it was about, I checked it out.

KW: What was it like working with a black, female director in Stella Meghie?

AS: It was really cool. Very special. I think we had a kind of unspoken, and sometimes spoken, mutual understanding of what it meant for us to be creating in that large, corporate environment together. It was sort of like, “We tricked them. Don’t they realize what we’re making?” We joked around that we were scamming them with our diverse content.

KW: And how was it working opposite your co-star, Nick Robinson?

AS: He’s a fantastic guy. Very grounded and real. We were both kind of relieved when we first met each other that were on the same page not only in terms of acting but as people.

KW: How would you describe the movie’s message?

AS: I think the movie’s fantastical, not really based in reality. It’s more of a fable or a large metaphor about breaking free of limitations that you place on yourself or that others may place on you. And it’s about conquering your fears and not letting anything get in the way of living your life more fully.

KW: And what was it like working with Anika Noni Rose, who played your mother?

AS: Anika’s fantastic as an actress and as an individual. She has so much conviction, heart and elegance. She’s such a a cool person and a strong lady. Yeah.

KW: Your breakout role came as Rue in The Hunger Games. How did you like making that movie?

AS: I was just 12 years-old, so it was a while ago. [Chuckles] But I had a helluva time!

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

AS: I don’t know. I’m not huge on remakes, unless they do it in a new way. I think of Everything, Everything not as a remake, but as a fresh take on something we’ve seen before, and I like that.   

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

AS: Looking at trees while my mom pushed me around the park in a stroller as a baby.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

AS: I see a lot of different things. [Giggles] I see a person who is trying to make some change in the world.

  

Amandla Stenberg, The “Everything, Everything” Interview with Kam Williams, The Hunger Games, 2012 Teen Choice Award, Colombiana

AMANDLA STENBERG as Maddy in the Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures romantic drama “EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

AS: I like cooking with my mom at Thanksgiving and Christmastime because we make turkey, and mac and cheese, yams, collard greens and all the other black staples, pretty much.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?   

AS: A favorite movie monster? I think the monsters in Ghostbusters are pretty iconic.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? And please answer the question.

AS: I don’t think so. I’ve been asked a lot of questions, and they’ve all been pretty fantastic.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

AS: I don’t know that I have just one, exclusively. I look at a lot of different designers. Right now, I’m really feeling this brand called Self Portrait.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

AS: [LOL] In my wallet, you’d find my high school ID, my credit card, no cash, because I’m so terrible at ever retrieving it, a picture of the dog I had as a kid, and a tiny greeting card I found in Denmark when I visited there with my dad.

KW: Thanks so much for the time, Amandla. I expect big things from you, and i look forward to interviewing you again down the line. .

AS: `Thank you, Kam. Appreciate it.

Source: Baret News

Scrapbooking for Beginners!

 

Scrapbooking for Beginners!

 

When it comes to the arts & crafts/hobby world, there is one that has climbed the charts of popularity over the past few years. Scrapbooking calls out to a variety of people who, let’s face it, are truly sick and tired of cellphones clicking away, yet never producing PAPER copies of your grandchild’s photos. I realize that these electronic photos are simpler to use as backgrounds on laptops and backgrounds on the cellphones themselves, but they take away from the grandmother who wants to carry those PAPER copies in her purse to show off to others. But…I digress.

art of scrapbooking, Christmas presents, grandchildren, memories, fun, hobbies, how to, ideas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Scrapbooking also appeals to all those out there who love to create and color, draw, and put together books on “topics” that are special to them. But, how do you begin that art of scrapbooking so that you can start making the perfect Christmas presents for everyone you love? That’s easy enough.

 

First, we talk about supplies. This is not an overly pricey hobby (although it can be for those who wish to go grand when it comes to weddings, etc.). For the basic scrapbook, supplies include: card stock and/or patterned paper, acid-free adhesive which could be tape or liquid, embellishments or stickers that coincide with the topic you choose, sharp scissors, your photos that you wish to include, page protectors, and the album, itself. Hobby Lobby is a fantastic store to find all kinds of these supplies.

art of scrapbooking, Christmas presents, grandchildren, memories, fun, hobbies, how to, ideas

Now…how to choose a topic for your scrapbook? There are millions of topics you can go with. You just have to remember that the art of scrapbooking is basically telling a story to others, so think about the moments or events in your life that you would like to share. And you don’t have to “go big” when choosing your topic. Such as, you do not have to put together a huge scrapbook of your life with your mate. Start small: trips, moments or memories you wish to treasure, things like that. And if you find that telling a ‘story’ is too hard, just pick a specific theme such as, a kid’s graduation, a birthday, or even a pet scrapbook that’s all about your love for the four-legged creature in your life.

 

When it comes to the size of a scrapbook, the two most popular formats are 12”x12” and 8.5”x11”. There are so many varieties of albums and papers that are already cut to these sizes, but keep in mind that a twelve-by-twelve layout will give you more space to add text, stickers, and other embellishments to a page with a picture that’s already 8.5 x 11”.

 

There is also no law, by the way, that you have to “go big” in this area either. There are mini scrapbooking albums that are a whole lot of fun to use. All the way down to a 4” x 4”. There are also albums that are round, rectangular, triangular – you name it, they’re out there.

 

Now, it is time to choose those perfect photos of yours. For this step, try to remember that less is more. The scrapbooking pages themselves will be lovely, colorful and most likely will already come with embellishments, so there is no need to include every photo you have on hand. Take the absolute favorites so that your scrapbook will end up being 100% meaningful to you. Choose the photos with the best lighting and focus and add more than just the smiley-faced ones. In other words, when choosing to do a scrapbook of that new grandchild, include shots or drawn pictures of the little baby hands and feet, a shot of their first Christmas, their favorite toy, etc. But make sure to save photos for the next project.

 

Why? Because, just as it is with that precious grandchild, one scrapbook will never be enough!

 

Source:  GIG News

 

 

Eboni Weighs-In on New Show and on Turmoil at Fox

 

Eboni K. Williams 

“The Fox News Specialists” Interview

with Kam Williams

Eboni Weighs-In on New Show and on Turmoil at Fox

Eboni K. Williams, Esquire joined the Fox News Network in September 2015,  sharing her insights and analysis as a contributor on “Outnumbered,” “The Five” and other programs. Prior to joining Fox, she served as a CBS News correspondent, an HLN contributor and a talk radio host in Los Angeles on AM 640.

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

Eboni received a B.A. in Communications and African-American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. She  began her professional career in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina where she clerked for the Louisiana Secretary of State and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office while still a law student.

She has also worked for a number of politicians, including New Orleans City Council members, assisting in the effort to rebuild the city. She subsequently specialized in Family Law and Civil Litigation, providing counsel in high-profile divorces, spousal support, and child custody cases.

In 2008, she transitioned to a public defender and went back to private practice in 2010 in both North Carolina and the Greater Los Angeles area. She has represented clients in criminal matters, too, including murders, rapes, high volume drug cases, sex crimes and federal offenses.

Here, she talks about her new series, “The Fox News Specialists,” co-hosted by Eric Bolling and Katherine Timpf. The show airs weekdays at 5 pm ET on the Fox News Channel.

Kam Williams: Hi, Eboni, how are you?

Eboni K. Williams: I’m well, Kam. How are you doing?

KW: Great! Thanks so much for the time. Congratulations on landing the new series.

EKW: Oh, thank you so much. It was all quite sudden, as I’m sure you could see. But it all feels pretty exciting and, yeah, we’re thrilled about it.

KW: I recognized your talent right of the bat, and pegged you as a rising star. That’s why, when I interviewed you last fall, I predicted you’d get your own show in a year and a half. But you did it in just six months. 

EKW: Yeah. For those who don’t know my full background, it’s important to note that I had my very first appearance on the Fox Network in July of 2013, on the 12th, I think. The segment lives on in infamy on Youtube. I was on O’Reilly’s The Factor discussing the George Zimmerman verdict. He’d just been found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin. That was the genesis of my relationship with the network. From there, I was an unpaid guest for almost two years before I landed other network roles as a contributor and correspondent. But technically, our relationship did start in 2013. So, that’s kind of been the evolution of it.    

KW: How long was The Fox News Specialists in the making?

EKW: I only heard about the show fairly recently, directly from the executives. But I couldn’t tell you how long they’d been planning it. All I can say is that I was very excited to be invited to take part in it, especially by the idea of casting myself, Eric and Kat. It was a very deliberate choice to combine not only our divergent political voices, coming from the standpoints of an independent, a conservative and a Libertarian, respectively, but also our differing perspectives on life, with Kat being a humorist and writer, Eric having had a career in both sports and finance, and my having had a career in the law and also in the consulting space. We are people who come from three different worlds. We have different cultural backgrounds. We come from different generations…   We have different family dynamics… So,  I think the network is valuing all that and what our dialogue will sound like. And then, they’ll be making it even more intriguing by  adding two brand new voices to the mix every day. Two of the five hosts will be newcomers contributing fresh perspectives to the topics. I think this was a lot of the thought behind the planning of the show.    

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

KW: This has been a period of considerable upheaval at Fox, between the allegations of sexual harassment and the racial discrimination lawsuit. Yet, despite being black and female, you’ve somehow successfully negotiated those dangerous waters, and continued your meteoric rise. Bravo!

EKW: Well, thank you. did you read my statement I made about the situation in the New York Times? This was a few weeks ago, before Bill O’Reilly’s departure.

KW: Sorry, I missed it. What did you say? 

EKW: I thought it was important, as a woman at the network, to speak out. I echoed some of the sentiments of my colleague, Kelly Wright. Whether some people think we don’t belong at Fox News on the basis of our gender or race, we do deserve to be there. We deserve the opportunity to do the work we want to do wherever we want to do it. I think it’s important for people to understand that we’re not going to be limited by anybody else’s expectations. I also think it’s important that my background be represented anywhere I see fit. I have proudly chosen to work at Fox because it has a captive audience that perhaps is not all that exposed to people with my cultural, racial and generational background. My point-of-view is unique, particularly for its audience. And I enjoy being able to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas with the likes of Eric Bolling, Sean Hannity and others from different social circumstances. I think that’s good for our country, and good for the world. It’s a way we can all grow as humans, as Christians, and as Americans.

KW: I agree. I don’t know whether you’re aware of it, but even when you were away on vacation in Paris a few weeks ago, your name would still occasionally be brought up by your colleagues on Outnumbered. For instance, I remember Meghan McCain saying something very positive about you, as she speculated where you’d stand on the issue they were discussing.

EKW: Oh, that warms my heart, not only from an emotional place, but from a credibility standpoint. When I say, “I’m proud to be working at Fox News,” that’s not me putting on blinders to the very real challenges we’re facing as a network. I am both aware of and am actively working to help rectify cultural problems at our network, as the Murdochs themselves have accounted for. Things need fixing. I’m aware of that. and I believe they’re aware of it. At the same time, I am proud to work alongside people like Meghan McCain who, although we often differ politically, we have a mutual respect for each other’s backgrounds and experiences. And like I said before, that’s where the potential for growth is.   

KW: Thanks again, Eboni, and best of luck with the new show.

EKW: Thank you, Kam.

 

Eboni K. Williams,   "The Fox News Specialists” Interview with Kam Williams, Communications and African-American Studies, Hurricane Katrina, public defender, North Carolina, Fox News Channel

Source:  New York Weekly

Finding a Hobby that Fits Your Personality

 
Finding a Hobby that Fits Your Personality

by Amy Lignor

 

Although there are many out there who turn to their computers or cell phones as their hobby, there are just as many others who want to be more creative. They want to learn something new and fun to do in their spare time. They’re not looking for cash, they’re looking for a way to relax and ‘get away’ from the daily grind. Of course, when it comes to choosing the right hobby, personality is everything.

considerationsSay you are the patient type, then sewing is a fantastic hobby for you. Not only could you create some beautiful clothes, but you also have a variety of other areas to choose from. If you are the visual type, then drawing is a wonderful way to sit and wile away the time while creating a stunning piece of art to hang on the wall. So what are the most up-and-coming hobbies in 2017? You may just be surprised.

No one is quite sure if it’s the popularity of the song and dance reality shows, but the number one hobby people are choosing lately is learning how to play a musical instrument. This one is definitely for the patient person – and can actually earn money if done really well and you discover you have a passion and a talent for the instrument you choose. This is also a hobby that brings along health benefits by increasing your memory capacity, increasing concentration, and teaching you perseverance.

 

Another hobby that dipped for a while but then rose once again when books became easy-to-get online because of the digital world, is reading. There are many excited readers out there who do everything from read new authors and give them reviews; to increasing their own intelligence by diving into everything from fiction to biographies to historical works. Reading is a passive hobby that offers you the relaxation you need from the busy day-to-day chores life has to offer.

 

Some people have chosen to meditate as a hobby. Each day they set aside time to sit by themselves and meditate in order to calm down, relax, and practice self-control while also reducing stress levels. By choosing this hobby, they earn a healthier lifestyle.

 

When it comes to increasing intelligence, there are many hobbyists that have turned to the more ‘puzzling’ world. There are so many things to choose from nowadays that keep the brain challenged and enhance the sharpness and keen ability of the mind. From Sudoku to logic riddles to board games – creativity is developed and the brain continues to get a happy, healthy workout.

increase intelligence, creativity, imagination, language, music, stress reducer, meditation, culinary arts

Others turn to learning a new language, which, like learning a musical instrument, is one of the more difficult hobbies to take on. However, if you are an avid traveler, learning a new language is always a great way to spend your time. Enhancing intelligence, learning new words, and getting ready to see a whole new world is what learning a language brings to the table. Not to mention, travelling is also a great hobby – although for this particular one, cash is most definitely required.

 

Staying on the same creative tangent, writing is also a huge hobby for many out there. There are so many different paths that can be walked in this particular arena – from writing in a personal journal on a daily basis to creating stories for your kids. You hone your focus, creativity and imagination through the hobby of writing, and it offers you time to get away from it all.

 

Last, but not least, is the culinary world. More and more people are learning how to cook. As their passion grows, so does their knowledge. And everyone always has some family or friends they can try this particular hobby out on – which not only makes the hobbyist happy, but the well-fed family members, too.

 

So if you’re looking for a hobby – a way to decrease the stress, fill in those boring moments with something fun, and feel healthier – go online now and find the hobby that fits perfectly with your personality!

increase intelligence, creativity, imagination, language, music, stress reducer, meditation, culinary arts

 

Source:  GIG News

Make Way for Dulé!

 

Dulé Hill

The “Sleight” Interview

with Kam Williams

Make Way for Dulé!

Born in Orange, New Jersey and raised in Sayreville, Dulé Hill began attending dance school when he was 3 years- old. He later received his first break as the understudy to Savion Glover on Broadway in “The Tap Dance Kid.”

Dulé Hill, Sleight, Interview, Kam Williams, The West Wing, Awards, SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member

Dulé went on to perform the lead role in the musical’s national tour. And his additional stage credits include “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk,” the Tony Award-nominated musical “After Midnight,” “Stick Fly,” “Black and Blue,” “Dutchman,” “Shenandoah” and “The Little Rascals.”

Dulé is well known for his role on “The West Wing,” for which he garnered an Emmy Award nomination, 4 NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of the Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series.

His other television credits include the role of Burton ‘Gus’ Guster in the long-running series “Psych,” which earned him 4 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. He also played Larry in the second season of “Ballers.”

His big screen credits include “Gayby,” “Miss Dial,” “Edmond,” “The Guardian,” “Holes,” “Sugar Hill,” “She’s All That,” “Sexual Life” and the independent comedy “Remarkable Power.”

Dulé is a SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member and is involved with the non-profit organizations Justice for Vets and The Gabriella Foundation. In his spare time, he enjoys tap dancing and playing the saxophone, although he says he admits that he hasn’t quite mastered the art of the sax.

Here, Dulé talks about his new movie, Sleight, an action thriller about a street magician [Jacob Latimore] who starts dealing drugs to raise his sister [Storm Reid] after the death of their mom.

Kam Williams: Hi, Dulé, thanks for the interview.

Dule Hill:  My pleasure, Kam. Thanks for taking the time.

KW: What interested you in Sleight?

DH: Beyond the exciting journey that J.D. Dillard and Alex Theurer delivered in their script, the main thing that interested me in Sleight was the chance to play a character outside of the scope of what I am used to playing on screen. As an actor, I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to challenge myself. The idea of playing a type of villain was extremely intriguing.

Dulé Hill, Sleight, Interview, Kam Williams, The West Wing, Awards, SAG-AFTRA Foundation Board Member

KW: How would you describe the film in 25 words or less?

DH: Sleight. A story about good versus evil. Life versus death. Circumstances, choices and the powers a young mind can develop when life gets under pressure.

KW: The movie sounds like a mix of several genres.

DH: It is!  J.D. and Alex did a fantastic job of combining an urban, dramatic thriller with a sci-fi superhero origin story to create this world. They took different aspects of genres we enjoy and mashed them up to create a film that is engaging, fresh and new, which was another one of the many reasons I wanted to be a part of this project.

KW: How would you describe your character?

DH: Angelo is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the kind of guy who charms his way into your world until one day you realize that he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word boundaries. He’s your best friend and your bully all at the same time.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the movie?

DH: I believe that a message people will take away from the movie is “Actions have consequences, so be careful of the choices you make.”

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

DH: White Nights or The Cotton Club. Gregory Hines and tap shoes. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?

DH: Unforgettable by Nat King Cole

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

DH: I am not really that skilled in the kitchen. Thankfully, my lady, Jazmyn Simon, throws down when it comes to the cookery. But I can cook a mean cornmeal porridge that was taught to me by my Jamaican father. It’s generational…generational. Mi seh? [Jamaican slang for “Understand me?”]

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?

DH: There are layers to this answer, but I would say, yes. One, being the moment I gave my life to Christ. My faith has been the focal point of my journey as far back as I can remember. I’m not going to sit here and say that I have always been an angel, but I am aware of the grace that has covered me over my lifetime. I give my all to live a life that is worthy of the favor I have received. I don’t always hit the mark, but I continue to press towards it each day. New mercies every morning… Give thanks for that.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?

DH: Enjoy life’s moments. Do not take them for granted, because you never know which one will be the last. Also, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you. In other words, get your priorities straight; figure out what really matters, and focus on that.

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

DH: The clothes I wear. Thank you [celebrity stylist] Jason Bolden and [fashionista] Ongell Fereria.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

DH: For peace to be.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?

DH: I’m a little old school, so I’m going to have to go with The Blob.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dulé, and best of luck with the film.

DH: Thank you, Kam! I definitely appreciate the love. Blessings

To see a trailer for Sleight, visit: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/AtV4J

Source:  Baret News

Legend in La La Land!

 

John Legend 

The “La La Land” Interview

with Kam Williams

Legend in La La Land! 

Ohio-born John Legend is an award-winning, platinum-selling singer/songwriter. His work has garnered him ten Grammy Awards, an Oscar and a Golden Globe, among others. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he studied English and African-American literature, John participated in a wide range of musical activities while in college.

John Legend, La La Land, Interview, Kam Williams, platinum-selling singer/songwriter, career, Get Lifted, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

During that period, he was introduced to Lauryn Hill, who hired him to play piano on her track “Everything Is Everything.” Shortly thereafter, he began to play shows around the Philadelphia area, eventually expanding his audience base to New York, Boston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

After college, he was introduced to an up-and-coming hip-hop artist named Kanye West. Kanye quickly signed John to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint and had him sing vocal hooks on some of his tunes.

John’s career started gaining momentum through a series of similar collaborations with established artists. He added vocals to an impressive list of chart-topping hits including Kanye’s “All of the Lights,” Jay-Z’s “Encore” and backup vocals on Alicia Keys’ 2003 song, “You Don’t Know My Name.”

John’s debut album, Get Lifted, was released to critical acclaim in December of 2004 by Columbia Records. The album landed multiple Grammys, including Best R&B Album, Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. And earlier this year, John won his first Academy Award for “Glory,” a song he wrote and performed with Common for the film Selma.

.

Throughout his career, John has worked to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2007, he launched the Show Me Campaign (ShowMeCampaign.org), an initiative that focuses on education as a key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

He’s received the 2010 BET Humanitarian of the Year Award, the 2009 CARE

Humanitarian Award for Global Change, the 2009 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award from Africare, and the 2011 Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year Award. Furthermore, John sits on the boards of The Education Equality Project, Teach for America, Stand for Children and the Harlem Village Academies.

Here, he shares his thoughts about playing his first, major movie role opposite Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in six-time, Oscar-winner La La Land, which he also executive produced. And he talks about his philanthropic work and his new album, Darkness and Light, too.

Kam Williams: Hi John. Thanks so much for the time.

John Legend: My pleasure, Kam.

KW: I’ve tried to land an interview with you for years, so I’m honored to finally have this opportunity to speak with you. 

JL: I’m excited, too.

KW: Let me start by asking what made you decide to do this film with Damien [writer/director Damien Chazelle]?

JL: Well, it really started with meeting him as a filmmaker in my capacity as a producer, because my company, Get Lifted Film Company, has done a few movies and a couple of television shows now. We love meeting with up-and-coming directors who are doing great things. And, obviously, upon the success of Whiplash, Damien was someone we’d love to collaborate with. My producing partner [Mike Jackson] suggested we connect with him very early on, after we saw a screener of Whiplash. We finally got a chance to sit down and discuss something creative when he was in the process of preparing to shoot La La Land. The script was finished, and they were already in talks with Ryan and Emma to star in it. Damien  wanted to see if we were interested in getting involved. He was originally thinking in terms of executive producing and in terms of the music for the character, Keith, and his band, The Messengers. But eventually, he asked me if I wanted to play Keith. I said, “Yeah, let’s do it!” I hadn’t done anything like it before. I hadn’t had a major speaking role in a film before. But I guess he felt that I could pull it off, because the character had some similarities to my own background as a musician. Damien thought I could relate to the character, and I felt the same way. So, it made sense for me to do it, since I was already a fan of his work. And then, when I found out that Ryan and Emma had come aboard, it seemed like a no-brainer for us to get involved.        

KW: After watching the film, I was surprised to see that you have so few acting credits, because you did a phenomenal job.John Legend, La La Land, Interview, Kam Williams, platinum-selling singer/songwriter, career, Get Lifted, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Humanitarian Award for Global Change

JL: Thank you! I’d spent my whole career focused on music. Acting wasn’t something I was really pursuing, even though we were doing film and TV behind the camera as producers, because music takes up so much of my creative energy. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with such great people.

KW: After Damien released his first movie, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, I wrote: “Appreciate Damien Chazelle now and avoid the rush!”

JL: Yeah, he’s brilliant! You can tell, just by virtue of the fact that he made Whiplash and La La Land before turning 32. That’s not even fair. [Chuckles] 

KW: What did you think of Justin Hurwitz’s score for La La Land? Did he  compose the songs you played in the movie?

JL: We wrote those together. He, Marius [de Vries], Angelique [Cinelu] and I. The four of us just sat in a room and played, and figured it out. Justin, obviously, was the composer for the rest of the film, and he’s wonderful. But since I always feel comfortable singing, that particular song [“Start a Fire”] worked, and made sense for the character I was playing. Yet, it posed an interesting challenge, because you wanted the song to be good and represent a viable creative path, but you also wanted it to be a song Ryan’s character, Sebastian, wouldn’t want to play, given the storyline. So, it called for an interesting balance of making it a good, jazz-influenced tune you could hear on the radio while also making it something that represented too much of a departure for Sebastian.

KW: Early in your career, were you a musical purist like Sebastian, who had a reverence for the classics? 

JL: No, I never looked at myself as a purist in the sense of simply wanting to recreate old music that I’d grown up listening to. I never struggled with that conundrum. But I think every artist is influenced by certain traditions and the artists they grew up listening to. For Taylor Swift, it was Country music. For me, it was Gospel and Soul. Other artists grew up listening to Folk, Classic Rock or whatever else it was for them. But no matter what your early influences are, you have to decide how much you’re just recreating the feelings those artists gave you, recreating their styles, or doing something fresh and new that’s influenced by them. I think we all deal with that. There’s always the push and pull in our careers of how much we go traditional and how much we try to change it up and do something new.   

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: like many people, I think that you are a great artist and I consider you like the young Stevie Wonder. I saw you in Montreal when you opened for Alicia Keys on one of her tours. Given that your new film is about jazz, please name a few of your favorite jazz musicians.

JL: Honestly, I don’t consider myself much of a jazz aficionado. When I was growing up, my dad used to play a lot of vocalists like Billie Holiday, Ella [Fitzgerald], Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson and Nat King Cole. So, I grew up loving some of the great standards singers and jazz vocalists. Also Nina Simone who cut across a few different genres. Those are a few of my bigger influences, but i wouldn’t say I was much of a jazz expert.

KW: Patricia also notes that you consider yourself a feminist. She would like to know why men should feel as concerned as women about female issues and how men can advance women’s causes?

JL: First of all, because its the right thing to do. It’s fair, you have women in your family, women you work with, and women who are your friends. Why shouldn’t they have the same possibilities and opportunities as you? Why shouldn’t they live in a world where they are valued for what they contribute, and valued as much as men are for the same thing? Who wouldn’t want to live in that world? It doesn’t hurt men for women to do well, because it just makes the planet a better place. There’s more innovation, more creativity and more productivity in the world. All of our lives are improved when women have power, influence and opportunity.

KW: I’d like to congratulate you on your new album, Darkness and Light, which I’ve been listening to. It’s terrific!

JL: Thank you. I’m really proud of it. It’s funny being in La La Land mode today, since I’ve been in Darkness and Light mode for the past month, and I’ll be back into it for the next year or so.  It’s exciting to support this really beautiful film and to have a new album out at the same time.

KW: I’ve always been impressed by your incredible commitment to charity work. What has inspired you to do that?

JL: I’ve always thought that if I were successful in this career, I would have a lot of resources and a lot of influence, and that I would would want to use them to make the world a better place. Part of my making the world better involves creating great art, and part involves my being an activist and contributing directly to causes that improve people’s lives with my time, my money and my influence. I think that’s part of who I am and of who I always will be.   

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

JL: What’s in my wallet? [Laughs] Credit cards… insurance cards… membership cards… I got my Academy membership renewed this year.

KW: Well, thanks again, John.

JL: Thank you very much, Kam.

To order a copy of John’s new CD, Darkness and Light, visit:
https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01MTUIYY8/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Source:  Baret News