Gil’s Goodwill!

 

Gil Robertson

The “Book of Black Heroes” Interview

with Kam Williams

Gil’s Goodwill!

For nearly three decades, writer/author Gil L. Robertson, IV has used the written word to enlighten, empower and uplift. The one-time political organizer initially made his mark in entertainment journalism, penning over 50 national magazine covers and contributing bylines to a wide range of publications that include the Los Angeles Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, Billboard, Fortune, Essence and Ebony.

Gil is also the founder and creator of the nationally-syndicated Arts & Lifestyle column, The Robertson Treatment, which began a couple of decades ago with an interview with Samuel L. Jackson for EVE’S BAYOU. Today, The Robertson Treatment has a reach of nearly two million.

As an author, Gil has specialized in books that empower his readers, beginning first with the self-published “Writing as a Tool of Empowerment” (2003), a resource guide primarily aimed at young people interested in journalism. From there, he edited the groundbreaking 2006 anthology “Not in My Family: AIDS in the African American Community” where he gathered a diverse mix of voices that include Oscar-winner Mo’Nique, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, legendary singer Patti LaBelle and former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, all addressing one of the most pressing public health and social challenges of our time.

His subsequent anthologies—”Family Affair: What It Means to Be African American Today” (2008) and “Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African American Community” (2013)—ignited a national conversation about identity and love and relationships in the 21st Century. In addition, Robertson has been a regular contributor to The African American Almanac (Gale Press). Accolades for his work include “Pick of the Week” selection by Publisher’s Weekly for “Family Affair” and NAACP Image Award nominations for “Not in My Family” and “Family Affair”.

His latest  offering is “Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past & Present” from Just Us Books. The opus represents a full-Gil Robertson, Book of Black Heroes, Interview, Kam Williams, writer/author,  political organizer, AAFCA co-foundercircle moment for Gil who began the first phase of his career in politics. This collection of biographies on game-changing elected political leaders like former President Barack Obama, pioneering Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, current U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and Reconstruction era governor Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchbank is intended to introduce young readers especially to not only dynamic personalities but to the concept of individual and political leadership.

Never one to sit on the sidelines of any pressing issue, in 2003, Gil rolled up his sleeves and got to work as the co-founder of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the largest collection of Black film critics in North America. As the organization’s president, he oversees the annual AAFCA Awards, which has become a recognized fixture of the Hollywood awards season. In addition to highlighting African-American achievement behind and in front of the camera, AAFCA works with the industry to usher in and support African-Americans in the Hollywood community, uniting consumers, creators and gatekeepers.

He also serves as a public ambassador for diversity within the industry, appearing on numerous shows on networks like CNN. With a B.A. in Political Science from Cal State Los Angeles, Gil is a professional member of the National Press Club, National Association of Black Journalists, The Recording Academy, The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Motion Picture Association of America. And he lectures nationwide on issues ranging from diversity in the entertainment industry to personal and community development.

Kam Williams: Hi Gil, thanks for the interview.

Gil Robertson: Thanks, Kam. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you.

KW: What inspired you to write Book of Black Heroes?

GR: Following Obama’s election, I was astonished to discover how little most people knew about the contributions of African-Americans in politics. When most people think of blacks in U.S. politics, they usually fall back on the same group of leaders who came into prominence during the Civil Rights Movement. So, I wanted to do my part in expanding people’s level of awareness of black people who have been active participants in national politics since Reconstruction, and that their contributions continue to this day. Black political leaders make enormous contributions to the quality of our lives, and I simply wanted to provide readers with an introduction to who these people are and, as a by-product, stimulate aspirations among young people to consider a career path in political leadership.

KW: Who’s your intended audience?

GR: People who are curious about contributions that African-Americans have made to the political and social landscape in America. This book offers an amazing tapestry of leaders, both past and present, who have fascinating back stories, but who all stepped up to the challenges of leadership.

KW: What’s the appropriate age group for the book?

GR: The target age group for Book of Black Heroes are young adult readers in the 10 – 14 age group. But I believe it will have an appeal to all teen readers and even adults. Readers will discover political leaders that they’ve never heard of who are creating great opportunities both within black communities and beyond.

KW: How did you decide which icons to include?

GR: Well, that was a challenge. At the onset of the project, I was only going to write bios on individuals who were a part of the new wave of African-Americans in politics: people like Kasim Reed, Kamala Harris and Corey Booker. However, when I completed those bios, my publisher felt we should include leaders from the past as well to provide readers with the full scope of accomplishments that have been made by black elected officials.

KW: Did you include Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas? I know that some people have complained that he doesn’t have an exhibit in the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

GR: No Clarence Thomas, but not for the reasons you might think. The book only includes elected officials, and Justice Thomas was appointed to his seat on the Supreme Court.

KW: What message do you want children to take away from the book?

GR: I want them to understand that being a leader is something that is attainable. I hope the book provides readers with an appreciation for African-American political leaders and motivates them to do their part in harvesting their skill sets to improve the lives of others.

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

GR: The love and generosity of my parents.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

GR: Throughout their lives, my parents loved me completely with no conditions.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

GR: The best advice that I can give others is to be truthful to themselves about their abilities and to also live their lives with purpose.

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

GR: My pleasure, Kam.

For more information about Gil Robertson, visit www.robertsontreatment.com

To purchase a copy of “Book of Black Heroes,” visit:  https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1933491213/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News

                                                                                                                     

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

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 

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.

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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

L’Chiam Ephraim!

 

Ephraim Sykes

The “Hairspray Live!” Interview

with Kam Williams

L’Chiam Ephraim!

Ephraim Sykes plays Seaweed J. Stubbs in NBC’s production of “Hairspray Live!” airing Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 8 pm ET.

L’Chiam Ephraim!Seaweed J. Stubbs is a hip and kindhearted dancer who befriends Tracy Turnblad in detention and teaches her some new moves. He is also the son of Motormouth Maybelle (Jennifer Hudson) who falls in love with Tracy’s best friend, Penny (Ariana Grande).

Ephraim was an original cast member of “Hamilton” when the 11 Tony Award-winning musical opened on Broadway in August 2015. Prior to that, he  appeared in four other Broadway musicals — “Motown the Musical,” “Newsies,” “Memphis” and “The Little Mermaid.”

His television credits include “Vinyl,” “Smash” and the Emmy Award-winning comedy “30 Rock,” and he can be seen in the upcoming Woody Allen series “Crisis in Six Scenes.” 

Kam Williams: Hi Ephraim, thanks for the interview.

Ephraim Sykes: No, thanks for having me, Kam.

KW: What was it like working on such an historic show like Hamilton?

ES: Omigosh! It was a trip! An incredible journey, to say the least. I started working with it two or three years ago when it was just a reading, all the way though Off-Broadway and then on Broadway. It’s an honor and a blessing to be a part of something that’s become a part of American culture, changed theater and touched so many people

KW: Tell me a little about your character in Hamilton, George Eacker?

ES: He’s the guy who killed Alexander Hamilton’s son, Philip, in a duel close to the same spot where Hamilton himself was slain by Aaron Burr.

KW: Wow! What a coincidence!

ES: Yeah, it’s kind of weird.

KW: Why did you leave Hamilton?

ES: I needed to take a break because my body was kind of beaten down from having done such a strenuous show for almost two years. I’d been on Broadway non stop for almost a decade. so, my body was kinda tired. And literally, on the day that I started my medical leave, I heard about Hairspray.

KW: Seems like you’ve done a lot on the stage. How did you get from St. Petersburg, Florida to Broadway. What’s your background?

ES: To be honest, I came more from a concert, dance and music background. I did ballet, jazz and modern dance in a performing arts high school. I also studied a musical instrument and grew up singing in the church choir. After high school, I entered Fordham’s Alvin Ailey program, so I was really concentrating on dance. After I got my degree and finished dancing with the Ailey Company, I got my first Broadway audition, which really altered the trajectory of my career. 

KW: Which is your preference, the stage, TV or film?

ES: There’s nothing like live theater where you can actually feel an audience react to you in real time. But I really do have a love for the film and TV worlds as well.

KW: Tell me a little about your approach to playing Seaweed in Hairspray? Did you watch a video of the original Broadway production?

ES: Absolutely! But I have to approach it differently, just because I’m a different person. However, I did study Corey Reynolds, Elijah Kelley, Clayton Prince and everybody else who’s played Seaweed in order to better develop my version of him.

  

KW: What’s it like working opposite a couple of powerhouses like Jennifer Hudson, who plays your mom, Motormouth Maybelle, and Ariana Grande, who plays your love interest, Penny?

ES: I have to admit it’s a bit nerve-wracking coming into the studio with some giants like them, but it’s exciting overall to be a part of it, because they are not only talented but down-to-earth, sweet loving people who love their work. I’m excited to see what we all cook up together. 

KW: It seems like this production has the most star-studded cast of all, including a return of Harvey Fierstein who originated the role of Edna Turnblad on Broadway.

ES: I think it’s going to be a fun time. The great thing about Hairspray is that, like Hamilton, the show’s the star. The story itself is extremely timely and relevant.

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

ES: The power of the story is that sometimes, when our words fail, music prevails. Music can breakdown barriers!

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

ES: Walking into the doors of the church where my father was pastoring. I got to experience God at a young age.

KW: Was the church a meaningful spiritual component of your formative years which shaped you?

ES: Yes, and it remains a driving force in my life to this day. It’s a constant that’s helped me combat anything that’s come against me, especially my own fears.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally in childhood?

ES: My family, my parents, my sisters, my grandparents, and even my church family, my first dance teachers and my theater family .

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

ES: I see Ephraim. Someone who’s never been before and will never be again. Something that’s perfectly and uniquely me. Something that God created on purpose.

L’Chiam Ephraim!

  

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

ES: I’m not that great a cook. [Laughs] But I do really enjoy my own spaghetti.

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

ES: Watching my father unite a city with love during a race riot. I still really admire and look up to him, and try to be like him. That brought out my heart for the community.   

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

ES: Oh, that’s easy. I’d like to see Michael Jackson perform live while in his prime.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

ES: It’s somewhere between eating really good food and binge-watching really great movies and Netflix type of stuff.

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?

ES: I try to be as funny and extroverted both places, but I can actually be introverted and pretty shy on the red carpet. At home, I’m always cracking jokes and saying ridiculous things. I can be my full self at home.

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

ES: That’s another great question. What comes to mind is one of my favorites, West Side Story.

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

ES: Wow! The flying dog from The NeverEnding Story. And the huge, monster dog from The Sandlot.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 

ES: Self-assurance. They know how unique and special they are. 

KW: The Pastor Alex Kendrick question: When do you feel the most content?

ES: When I’m around great live music. 

KW: The Dana Perino question: What keeps you up at night?

ES: My goals. My big ideas and my dreams.

KW: Teri Emerson asks: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

ES: I had a really great one last night with my girlfriend. 

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

ES:  Find what it is you love to do and run non-stop at it, and the doors will open up for you.

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

ES: As somebody who tried to bring people together.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

ES:  Not much! [LOL] An MTA Metro card for New York City that takes up too much of my money.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Ephraim, and best of luck with Hairspray Live!

ES: Thank you very much, Kam.

Source:  Baret News

Earth to Forest!

 

Forest Whitaker 
The “Arrival” Interview

with Kam Williams

Earth to Forest!

Forest Whitaker was born in Longview, Texas on July 15, 1961, but raised in Carson, California from the age of 4. He earned an athletic scholarship to Cal Poly Pomona where he switched his major to music after a back injury prematurely ended his football career.

Forest made his big screen debut in 1982 in Fast Times at Ridgemont High en route to delivering memorable performances in Platoon and Good Morning Vietnam. In 1988, he landed his breakout role as saxophonist Charlie Parker in Bird, before subsequently starring in such critically-acclaimed pictures as The Crying Game, Smoke and Ghost Dog.

In 2007, Forest won an Academy Award for his chilling impersonation of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. since then, he’s starred in such box-office hits as The Great Debaters, The Butler, Southpaw and Taken 3. And later this year, he’ll play Saw Gerrera in Rogue One, the upcoming episode in the Star Wars series.

Here, he talks about his latest outing as Colonel Weber opposite Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in Arrival, an alien invasion adventure directed by Denis Villeneuve. 

Forest Whitaker,   The “Arrival”, Interview,  Kam Williams

Kam Williams: Hey Forest, thanks so much for the time. I really appreciate it. .

Forest Whitaker: Hey, Kam. Sorry for the early morning call.

KW: No problem. What city are you in?

FW: London, but I’m on my way to South Africa later today after I finish this film.

KW: Which movie are you working on next, Burden?

FW: No, I already finished Burden. That’s another interesting film, actually. We just wrapped that up about a week ago. I liked the way they did it and I felt that the story was really powerful, so I’m hopeful.   

KW: Then what movie are you shooting in South Africa?

FW: One about Archbishop Desmond Tutu called The Forgiven. It’s about the Truth and Reconciliation Trials he conducted after the fall of Apartheid.

KW: It was a remarkable way to resolve a civil conflict, to let perpetrators of war crimes off the hook, provided they confessed publicly.

FW: Yes, I think that was the interesting thing about what happened in South Africa. It enabled them to change regimes peacefully, and not leave all the pain underneath the surface. It brought a little bit of it out, so they could address what really happened. It was a very powerful solution. 

KW: What interested you in Arrival?

FW: I thought it was really an interesting story, first of all, the whole notion of people coming to the planet and trying to find ways of communicating with them. But I thought the understory of time, and of how time exists in our lives.

I also found my character, the cast and the director very interesting. So, it all made sense to give it a try. 

KW: I loved both Prisoners and Sicario by this director.

FW: Yeah, Denis is a really good filmmaker.

KW: Here, he’s made a very sophisticated contribution to the alien invasion genre. How would you describe your approach to playing Colonel Weber? Did Denis suggest anything?

FW: Wow! [Pauses] I’m trying to remember what he might have suggested. We had some meetings and stuff where we talked about the character and worked on it. I think, first, I was trying to figure out where Weber was from. That sort of involved locking in his speech patterns and creating that back history. You know what I mean?

KW: Yeah.

FW: I’d played military men before, but this felt a little different, maybe because of my task. So, i was trying to understand that, as well as this notion of running a team the way Denis wanted me to do it, by splitting powers. And then it all started falling into place and taking on a reality as I began to embrace the idea that I was trying to save the world  [Chuckles]

KW: I know that you worked with Jeremy Renner a decade ago in A Little Trip to Heaven. How was it reuniting with him again?

FW: Yeah, Jeremy’s a great guy. That was a little independent film directed by Baltasar Kormakur. It was fun working with him then, and fun working with him now. He’s a really generous, good person who’s there, committed to having everything work out, and who you like being around.

KW: Was this your first time working with Amy Adams? How was that?

FW: It was. I enjoyed it. The movie was so much from her mind. She was very focused in on it. And when we tried to get the different scenes we shared to work, there was something happening inside of them every time. So, she’s a really talented actress. Really strong!

KW: What would you say was the movie’s message?

FW: I think it has several messages. One is about communication, because the film does deal with trying to communicate with these beings. Another message is about how communication can bring us together. And a third is about misconceptions in terms of how we read people and how we read circumstances. Meaning, are these people coming to create war or not? are they our friends? How are we interpreting their actions? We look at people differently culturally, in this case, as different galactically, or however way you’d say it. How do we engage them? How do we judge them? I think another issue explored in the film is time. From a scientific point-of-view, it raises the question of whether it exists at all. And secondly, if it doesn’t exist, it asks are we nevertheless on this plane of a loop that still holds the universe up? [Laughs] I think it poses that question, too.

KW: How do you feel about aliens? Do think that life exists on other planets?

FW: I think it must, when they talk about how many other galaxies there are. Even scientifically, they’re acknowledging that there are places where life could exist. And we’ve already discovered that there’s been life on certain planets that we’ve explored. That may just be algae or whatever, but life on Earth began a certain way, too. So, yeah, I do believe there’s life other than on our planet. [Chuckles]

KW: What do you care to share about playing Saw Gerrera in Rogue One, the next episode in the Star Wars series.

FW: I’m excited about it. I think he’s a really interesting character. It was a very exciting project to work on. He walks in the middle ground of trying to save the universe by any means necessary. He’s a freedom fighter and a rebel. The whole piece, which deals with those kinds of concepts, is really strong.

KW: What’s it like to join that franchise?

FW: I’m still discovering it. I’m looking at the toys and other releases that are coming out. It’s a big universe that I’m still learning to walk inside of. But I really enjoyed it when I walked out on the set for the first time. And I’ve remained excited during the entire process. just trying on my uniform was itself an exciting process. 

KW: Did you meet George Lucas while working on the project?

FW: No, he came and met with the director, but I wasn’t there.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

FW: My driver’s license, some credit cards, a laundry card, pieces of papers I’ve written things on, some notes I made to myself about things I need to remember, and a few bucks.

KW: Nice speaking with you, Forest, and have a safe flight to South Africa today.

FW: Take it easy, Kam. Good speaking to you, too.

Source:  Baret News

Omar, a Rising Star!

 

Omar Sy, The Inferno, Interview, Kam Williams, John Wells’ BurntOmar Sy

The “Inferno” Interview

with Kam Williams

Omar, a Rising Star!

Omar Sy is an award-winning actor, comedian, comic writer and television personality who has established himself as an international star. With over 30 screen credits on his impressive resume, Omar became a household name after the smash hit The Intouchables, his third collaboration with directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano.

His performance in that film earned Omar a César for Best Actor in 2012, and the movie went on to gross over $425 million worldwide. And he subsequently re-teamed with Nakache and Toledano in 2014 for Samba. This December, he will be seen in Hugo Gélin’s Demain Tout Commence.

Over the last several years, Omar parlayed his success in Europe into Hollywood productions, starring in X-Men: Days of Future Past with Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michael Fassbender, as well as Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World with Chris Pratt. Both films went on to achieve the highest worldwide box office grosses in their respective franchises.

More recently, he’s starred in John Wells’ Burnt with Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Lily James, and Alicia Vikander, as well as in Roschdy Zem’s French-language period piece Chocolat. Here, Omar talks about playing Christoph Bouchard opposite Tom Hanks in Ron Howard’s Inferno.

Kam Williams: Hi Omar. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Omar Sy: My pleasure, Kam.

KW: What interested you in Inferno?

OS: It was the fact that I would have an opportunity to work with a wonderful and amazing director in Ron Howard, and with a legendary actor in Tom Hanks at the same time. Also, I don’t want to spoil the story, but I liked the script and the idea of playing a character without a smile for the first time.

KW: Especially since you started out as a comedian.

OS: Yes, as actors, we’re always looking for some challenges, and playing a character like Christoph, with a twist, in a very dark thriller, was a big challenge for me. And on top of everything, it was in English.    

KW: I enjoyed this film more than the first two in the franchise, primarily because it had more action and less talk..

OS: Ron made Rush prior to Inferno. Rush had a lot of action scenes. Maybe he learned from that experience. Also, perhaps because so many people are interested in the issue of overpopulation, we needed less dialogue explaining it, since they were already familiar with the topic.   

Omar Sy, The Inferno, Interview, Kam Williams, John Wells’ Burnt

KW: What would you say is the movie’s message?

OS: The movie explores the issue of overpopulation, and the fact that there are several ways to solve it. Each character has his solution. I think the movie’s message is that to solve the problem, the humanity community needs to unite and find a global answer.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: I consider you to be the Sidney Poitier of France. How did you feel when you won the Best Actor cesar in 2012 for The Intouchables, which made you the first black French actor to achieve the honor?

OS: When I won, it was really a special moment in my life, and I knew it would change everything after that. But I never thought about being the first black actor to win, even though everybody else talked about that. If I stop to think as a black actor, people will see me differently. If I play as a black actor, people will only see that. I think my key was to perform as an actor, not as a black actor. And after winning the Cesar, I was an actor with a Cesar. there are many more adjectives to describe who I am. I’m not only black. When I won the Cesar, I was, first of all, an actor. I have to say, it’s humanity first. That’s the future. We have to stop seeing the skin color. I believe that’s the most powerful way to change mentalities and behavior. I had to stop seeing myself in such a limited way.I started doing that as a teenager, and here I am today, because of that. I believe that’s the best way to change things for black people.

KW: Patricia also says: You probably met naysayers at the beginning of your career. How did you manage to stay focused and not be deterred by their negativity? In addition, what message do you have for aspiring actors who want to achieve a successful longevity like you?

OS: It’s not difficult to move forward when you have nothing to lose. Right? At the time, I had nothing to lose. So, even when people were trying to degrade me, I couldn’t let them take the only thing I had, which was my dream. I had to move forward and, thank God, I kept trying.

KW: Finally, Patricia says: You have the great ability to play in movies in different countries, given that you speak several languages. The late Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene was one of my favorite African filmmakers. Would you be interested in the future to perform in Wolof and play a historical figure such as Léopold Sédar Senghor or Cheikh Anta Diop?

OS: Of course! Cheikh Anta Diop is not a Wolof. He is Fula, and I am Fula. I am fluent in Fula, so it would be easier for me to play Diop. As I said, actors are always looking for new territory, and playing an African figure would be really a great symbol for me because of my Senegalese roots. It would make my parents proud, so of course I’d do it.   

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

OS: Eating, singing and dancing at a family reunion. I remember a lot of people celebrating in a very small space. When I think of my parents’ home, that is the ambience that comes to mind. I loved that, and it will always be a part of my life

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

OS: Yes, because of my African roots, my parents raised us with a philosophy to always believe that there was something bigger than us, beyond.

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

OS: [Laughs heartily] It’s difficult to describe yourself. You will always be wrong. Only your family or friends can describe you properly. We all have a wrong idea of ourselves. I am always changing, and I will continue to change. So, I never try to describe, define or judge myself.

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

OS: To stay happy!

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

OS: No. Everything’s been asked. I’ve been interviewed by so many journalists from many different countries.

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

OS: Yes, but I’m not prepared to share it in the papers. I will do it. it’s just a matter of time.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

OS: Yes, they’re all dreamers. A dream becomes an idea and then something concrete. I think it all starts with a dream.

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

OS: I can not say in a newspaper. [LOL]

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

OS: The shark in Jaws. That was the first monster that really, really scared me. After seeing it, I learned how to swim, because I wanted to be able to escape.

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?

OS: No, because it was really simple. My goals were to be happy and to make things easier for my parents, which I think I did.

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?

OS: Maybe I’m a little more serious at home because I want to instill good values in my kids. At home, there is often no time for jokes. On the red carpet, I’m always joking.

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

OS: I just want to be a good memory, especially for my kids.

KW: How do you juggle five kids and your career?

OS: I have a wonderful wife. [Laughs]

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

OS: My California driver’s license and a credit card. That’s it!

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

OS: Thank you so much, Kam.

Source:  Baret News

A Talk with Walker!

 

Alice Walker
“The Color Purple 30th Anniversary” Interview

with Kam Williams

A Talk with Walker!

Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her third novel, “The Color Purple,” which was made into an internationally popular film by Steven Spielberg. Her other best-selling novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages, include “By the Light of My Father’s Smile,” “Possessing the Secret of Joy” and “The Temple of My Familiar.”

Alice Walker, "The Color Purple 30th Anniversary”, Interview, with Kam WilliamsHer most recent novel, “Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart,” was published in 2004. Ms. Walker is also the author of several collections of short stories, essays and poems as well as children’s books. Her work has appeared in numerous national and international journals and magazines.

An activist and social visionary, Ms. Walker has been a participant in most of the major movements of planetary change, among them the Human and Civil Rights Movement in the South, the Hands Off Cuba Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Native American and Indigenous Rights Movement, the Free South Africa Movement, the Environmental and Animal Rights Movement and the Peace Movement. Her advocacy on behalf of the dispossessed has, in the words of her biographer, Evelyn C. White, “spanned the globe.”

Here, Alice talks about “The Color Purple,” the book, the movie and the play which is back on Broadway, beginning with preview performances on Tuesday, November 10th at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street). The show will officially open on Thursday, December 10th.

Kam Williams: Hi Alice, thanks for the interview. Congratulations on the 30th anniversary of the film and the 10th of the Broadway musical.

Alice Walker: THANKS, KAM.

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, so I’ll be mixing their questions in with mine. Larry Greenberg asks: How did you originally feel about The Color Purple being adapted to film? Are there other works of yours that you would like to see on the silver screen?

AW: I WAS SKEPTICAL. I’D NEVER SEEN A FILM OUT OF HOLLYWOOD ESPECIALLY THAT HAD PEOPLE OF COLOR IN IT THAT I RESPECTED ABSOLUTELY. YES, BUT I’D WANT THE SCREEN TO THINK OF ITSELF IN ANOTHER COLOR THAN THAT OF MONEY. COULDN’T RESIST THAT ONE! “POSSESSING THE SECRET OF JOY” WOULD MAKE AN AMAZING FILM AND HELP THE HEALING OF THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD, MANY WHO SUFFER BECAUSE OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION WITHOUT KNOWING THEY’RE AFFECTED, SINCE THEY THEMSELVES MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN CUT. AND IT WOULD MAKE AN ABSORBING STORY OF HOW HUMAN BEINGS CAN SEARCH OUT THE ORIGINS OF THEIR MISFORTUNES AND SUFFERINGS AND BEGIN HEALING THEMSELVES, WHETHER MOVIES ARE MADE ABOUT THEM OR NOT.

KW: Robin Beckham would like to know whether you have plans to continue the story of Celie in a Color Purple 2?

AW: I PREFER TO WRITE A FAMILY OF NOVELS, RATHER THAN “SEQUELS”: IN THIS CASE, “THE COLOR PURPLE,” “THE TEMPLE OF MY FAMILIAR,” “AND POSSESSING THE SECRET OF JOY” COMPRISE THAT “FAMILY.” CELIE AND SHUG, NOW HAPPILY MARRIED, BEFORE IT WAS “LEGAL” OF COURSE, APPEAR IN “THE TEMPLE OF MY FAMILIAR.”

Alice Walker, "The Color Purple 30th Anniversary”, Interview, with Kam Williams

The Color Purples ~ Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo and Danielle Brooks
Photo by Ruven Afanador

KW: Reverend Florine Thompson says: You are one of my all time favorites. First of all, thank you for your leadership and for modeling strength and hope for women of the diaspora and African-American women in particular. You are indeed one of my sheroes. I have a few questions: First, what was the key motivation for The Color Purple?

AW: LOVE OF MY GRANDPARENTS WHOSE LIVES ARE HONORED IN THE NOVEL. I LIVED WITH THEM WHEN I WAS AN 8 YEAR-OLD. IT ALSO INTRIGUED ME THAT MY GRANDFATHER WAS MARRIED TO MY STEP-GRANDMOTHER BUT LOVED SOMEONE ELSE. I WAS STRUCK WRITING THE NOVEL TO REALIZE THAT MANY THINGS CHANGE, BUT RARELY THE HEART.

KW: Secondly, what would you say is the primary difference between womanism and feminism?

AW: THERE IS A FULL DEFINITION OF WOMANIST IN “IN SEARCH OF OUR MOTHERS’ GARDENS.” IT IS A WORD THAT IS IMAGINATIVELY RE-FASHIONED FROM AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE WHERE TO BE “WOMANISH” AS A CHILD WAS TO BE SOMEWHAT WILLFUL, IN THE SENSE OF BEING FULLY AWAKE, AWARE, AND COMMITTED TO SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH. WOMANIST WOMEN ARE COMMITTED TO OUR COLLECTIVE SURVIVAL. LOVING OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS, OUR COMMUNITIES, AND WORKING WITH OTHERS TO INCREASE PROSPERITY AND HEALTH, BUT FROM A POSITION OF DIGNITY AND EQUALITY. A TRUE WOMANIST HONORS THE FEMININE, ESPECIALLY MOTHERS AND THE EARTH, AND COULD NEVER TRULY ACCEPT BEING MISLABELED A “GUY.”

KW: And lastly, what do you most want women in the diaspora to take away from your collection of essays, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens?

AW: WHATEVER HELPS THEM GROW CLOSER TO WHO THEY REALLY ARE. GATHERING UP ALL THEIR ANCESTRAL SORROWS AND JOYS AND WALKING ONWARD IN APPRECIATION AND LIGHT. HAVING SOME SENSE OF OUR FREEDOMS BEING DEEPLY LONGED FOR BY COUNTLESS GENERATIONS OF BLACK WOMEN WHO POSSESSED NONE OF THEM.

KW: David Roth asks: As a longstanding activist against injustice, would you mind commenting on what I am just now coming to appreciate as an entrenched, structural, institutionalized and seemingly pertinacious racism in America–a bias built into our financial institutions [unequal access to capital], our political system [as reflected in the voting rights struggle], our criminal injustice system, our public school system, etcetera. How do we truly change the heart of our society?

AW: AMERICAN SOCIETY IS INCREDIBLY TWISTED AND UNWELL. AT THIS POINT I WOULD SUGGEST WITHDRAWING FROM IT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. THIS WILL TAKE MANY MEETINGS OF LIKE-MINDED FOLKS TO FIGURE OUT HOW THIS IS DONE. I’M NOT SUGGESTING SECEDING FROM THE UNION PHYSICALLY, AS WAS ATTEMPTED IN THE SIXTIES WHEN THE REPUBLIC OF NEW AFRICA TRIED TO TAKE OVER FIVE SOUTHERN STATES, BUT PSYCHICALLY; WE MUST FIND A WAY TO RAISE OUR CHILDREN IN A BETTER ENVIRONMENT THAN AMERICAN MAINSTREAM CULTURE OFFERS. IT’S POSSIBLE AMERICA HAS NO HEART TO CHANGE. YOU MIGHT READ THE INEXPRESSIBLY IMPORTANT BOOK BY EWARD E. BAPTIST “THE HALF HAS NEVER BEEN TOLD,” ABOUT SLAVERY AS THE FOUNDATION OF MODERN CAPITALISM, TO UNDERSTAND THE EVIL UPON WHICH OUR SO-CALLED “CIVILIZATION” RESTS, AND HOW LITTLE THIS HAS CHANGED. IT SEEMS LIKELY THAT A DIET OF GREED OVER COUNTLESS GENERATIONS HAS MADE MANY AMERICANS HEAVY WITH SOULLESSNESS. AND THEY’RE HAPPY TO BE THAT WAY. TAKE A LOOK AT CERTAIN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS.

KW: Environmental activist Grace Sinden says: Given your highly interesting, celebrated, complex life and thinking, I am interested in knowing what matters most to you at this point in your journey?

AW: BEING FREE ENOUGH TO PICK UP KINDLING FOR A FIRE I BUILD MYSELF.

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: Were Howard Zinn still alive, where in the world do you think the two of you would choose to make a dramatic statement on behalf of human rights?

AW: PALESTINE/ISRAEL, HANDS DOWN. THE HEARTLESS REPRESSION HAPPENING THERE, THE SLAUGHTER OF INNOCENTS, CRIES OUT FOR A WORLD RESPONSE. THE UNREPRIMANDED, OR EVEN ACKNOWLEDGED, HORROR INFLICTED ON THE WORLD’S SOUL, BECAUSE WE COLLECTIVELY SEEM UNABLE TO DO ENOUGH ABOUT IT, IS ACTUALLY DESTROYING US AS HUMANS. IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL WE WILL BEGIN TO NUMB OURSELVES UNTIL OUR OWN TIME COMES.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: I think the PBS series Finding Your Roots was fascinating and very educational. If the program revives, would you be interested in exploring your genealogy? Have you considered doing the DNA research to find out more about your ancestry?

AW: I HAVE SENT IN MY MATERIALS TO HENRY LOUIS GATES, WHO REQUESTED I TRY THIS. I HAVE MIXED FEELINGS, OF COURSE. THERE’S SOMETHING INVASIVE ABOUT THIS PROCEDURE I FEEL; AND I’M CONCERNED FOR THE PRIVACY OF ANCESTORS. I TELL MYSELF THOUGH THAT CERTAIN OF MY ANCESTORS WILL NOT ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE FOUND, SO AT BEST MY GENEALOGY WILL BE A PARTIAL ONE. I ALSO FEEL I KNOW MY OWN ANCESTORS WITHOUT THE HELP OF A DNA TEST. I’VE FELT THIS WAY FOR A LONG TIME. PERHAPS ALWAYS.

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

AW: THAT HUMANS COULD BE MORE LIKE THE OTHER ANIMALS OF THE PLANET, SECURE IN KNOWING THEY ARE PERFECT AS THEY ARE; JUST AS THEY WERE MADE.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

AW: DON’T WANT THAT.

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

AW: AS SOMEONE WHO LOVED YOU.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Alice, and best of luck with all your endeavors.

AW: THANK YOU, KAM.

to purchase a copy of the reissue edition of “The Color Purple,” visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/054480502X/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News

State of Grace!

 

Grace Huang

The “Lost for Words” Interview

with Kam Williams

 

State of Grace!

 

Born in Taiwan but raised in Australia, Grace Huang grew up to be fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. The emerging ingenue made her feature film debut in the 2010 thriller Overheard alongside Louis Koo and Daniel Wu.

Photographer:  Ukay Cheung)

She subsequently exhibited her versatility in the romantic comedy Love in Space playing the dreadlocked, nose-ringed waitress, Bunny. More recently, Grace appeared in rapper-turned-director RZA’s martial arts epic, The Man With the Iron Fists. Her small but pivotal role in a key action sequence caught the attention of Quentin Tarantino who remarked, “She’s so fierce in the scene that I felt intimidated!”

Here, she talks about her latest outing opposite Sean Faris in Lost for Words where they co star as a ballerina and a former U.S. Marine who fall in love in Hong Kong.

Kam Williams: Hi Grace, thanks for the interview.

Grace Huang: Thanks for having me, Kam.

KW: What interested you in Lost for Words?

GH:  I was attracted to the script by its simplicity in its celebration of love. I really enjoyed the way it follows Anna and Michael and shows how the love develops between these two very different people. Not many films do that these days, it’s usually just “Bam!” and they’re in a relationship. Lost for Words gets in there and shows you all the quirks and turns in the decision-making process in a couple of very complicated lives, and the issues they have to deal with to be together. I found their courtship really sweet. Their struggles are very real and I wanted to be in Anna’s shoes through that journey.

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

GH: Lost for Words is a classic look at how a cross-cultural relationship develops. These two people fall in love and you experience their struggles and internal conflicts.

KW: How did you prepare to play Anna, a ballet dancer. Had you studied ballet as a child?

Grace Huang, “Lost for Words” , Interview, Kam Williams

Photographer :Edmon Leong

GH: I love dance and studied Jazz ballet when I was growing up in Sydney, Australia. It’s not exactly the same, nothing “en pointe,” but it still gave me the basic dance principles, tempos and movements. It was actually quite fun training for the dance scenes, albeit grueling. And it was good to revisit and wake up my classic-dancing muscles.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from Lost for Words?

GH: I think they will be reminded of how sweet, but also how confusing, falling in love can be.

KW: What project is up next for you?

GH: I have a few things in the pipeline that I’m really excited about. One project I just shot is Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to the first blockbuster from 20 years ago. It was amazing to work with Roland Emmerich. He is such an amazing director and a total energy bunny. I worked with Liam Hemsworth on that, which makes him the second Hemsworth I’ve worked with. I worked with Luke Hemsworth on the sci-fi thriller Infini. Chris is next!

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

GH: Massages! I absolutely adore them. So, whenever I can, I go and get pampered for an hour or

three… no matter what town I’m in. I love them!

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

GH: I’m always in the process of reading a few books all at once. Right now, it’s a combo of scriptwriting books, acting/performance ones and also biographies. The latest one is “Advice from the Top: What Minority Women Say About Their Career Success” by Valencia Campbell.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0313358583/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

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

GH: The very last song I listened to was on the radio was “Fun” by Pitbull. Catchy and cool. It’s summertime in LA!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01018FB9K/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

GH: It’ll have to be a toss up between a hearty Chinese chicken mushroom soup and my piri-piri lamb cutlets with Japanese salad.

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

GH:  I see someone who has worked hard to grow and develop to be the person she is today. A strong, independent and happy woman who still strives to be better each day. But also someone who is very grateful for the amazing people who surround her each day, and the amazing life journey that she is on.

KW: The Dana Perino question: What keeps you up at night?

GH: The one thing I love and hate about life. The uncertainty of the future is so scary but also so exciting! There are endless possibilities and each day and whenever I get anxious, I just focus on channeling that energy into positive thoughts and also positive action.

Grace Huang, “Lost for Words” , Interview, Kam Williams

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

GH: I would wish that there would be equal parts women and men in positions of power in politics and every industry. I think that equality would make a big difference in the way the world is run and that change would make a big positive.

KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

GH: I love scuba diving. So, if I could be any animal, I would choose to be a dolphin. I would love to be able to explore the oceans and discover all the mysteries and wonders all around the world in our vast seas. It is worrying though, with the rate of pollution in our world’s waters, what the marine life is like nowadays.

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

GH: My earliest childhood memory is sitting at the family dinner table surrounded by laughter and lots of food. I must’ve been around 4 or 5 years old and dinner at my house was always like that.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

GH: I was born in a country town in Taiwan and spent my first 6 years growing up there. My days would involve playing in our backyard which had a creek, and there would be tadpoles, free-range chicken running around ,and night time fireflies. I count myself very lucky to have had such a carefree and unaffected beginning to my childhood, being so in touch with what nature had to offer. It has allowed me to have a different perspective on life, fully appreciating how advanced we’ve come as humans but never forgetting and losing touch of where we came from. I’m never oblivious to the fact that we are destroying the Earth by our often wasteful and harmful practices as humans who consume at such alarming rates. I am an avid recycler and do as much as I can to minimize my impact on our fragile environment.

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

GH: I recently took a break to hang out with my besties who live in New York City. We rarely get to see each other and we just spent a week chillaxing by the pool and having great meals. It was the best time and, man, did we laugh! We’ve all known each other for 15 years and that history makes for some very funny conversations.

KW: Lastly, what’s in your wallet?

GH: Money, credit cards, Band-Aids and spare safety pins. Hey, I’m a girl who likes to be prepared for anything!

KW: Thanks again for the time, Grace, and best of luck with everything..

GH: Thank you, Kam. It was great chatting! I hope everyone gets a chance to check out Lost for Words.

To order a copy of Lost for words on DVD, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00GX7WNOA/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20   

Source:  Baret News Wire