Angela Means, aka “Felicia” in ‘Friday,’ Now Owns and Runs Vegan Spot, Jackfruit Cafe

Jackfruit Cafe owner Angela Means (@angiemeanskaaya/twitter)

by Gowri Chandra via laweekly.com

Angela Means made it in entertainment. She walked runways for Jean-Paul Gaultier and Betsey Johnson, did stand-up and opened for Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx and Sinbad, and appeared in the Nickelodeon show Cousin Skeeter and the movie Friday. (She’s Felicia.)

If you already think she sounds like a Renaissance woman just from that, check this out: She’s currently unleashing her creativity at the King’s Donuts on Crenshaw Boulevard in the Jefferson Park area of Los Angeles. Means is using the kitchen there to operate a plant-based restaurant called Jackfruit Cafe.

“All I can say is that the spirit led me. And now I have a vegan cafe in the ’hood.” That’s the short version. The longer version involves a lifetime love of cooking, a football-playing son (soon-to-be pro athletes eat so much food) and a family tragedy that jump-started Means’ interested in health.

Although she always loved to cook and enjoyed plant-based cuisine — she was vegetarian as a kid, and is now vegan — she’d never considered combining these two passions professionally until several years ago. She had stopped pursuing acting roles when her son was born so she could focus on raising him; when he got older, she started experimenting with cooking gigs. With no prior professional experience, she got hired as a personal chef and then moved on to preparing her own line of raw puddings and desserts. She started selling them at RAWkin Juice in Burbank, where she’s now a shareholder.

Last year, Means stumbled upon King’s Donuts. The space wasn’t even for rent, but she felt like it was meant to be hers. Her instincts panned out, and she opened Jackfruit Cafe on Sept. 1.

Jackfruit tacos, clockwise from top left: American barbecue, Korean barbecue, Jamaican jerk, Thai green curry (photo: Gowri Chandra)

Means reports a pretty warm reception right off the bat. “People were like, ‘Oh my God, thank you. Where have you been?’” she says. “People are waking up now, watching films like What the Health. A lot of younger people are getting their older relatives to come in.”

Means describes her cuisine as soul food, and it has global influences. The Thai green curry jackfruit is rich with coconut milk and garlic and galangal. There are Jamaican jerk flavors and plays on Korean barbecue. If you’ve never had jackfruit, know that, despite the name, it doesn’t have to be sweet. When canned and brined, it’s perfect for savory dishes and shreds very much like pulled pork or crab. (There’s a cornmeal-crusted vegan fish cake on the menu that is a standout. It comes with a side of tartar sauce — vegan, of course.) You can get the jackfruit in tacos, slathered in hot sauce and slaw, or with rice and beans and collards. Prices hover around $9 for most plates.

When asked how she came up with the jackfruit concept, Means says, like so many other adventures in her life, it came to her. Now 54, she often works 13- to 14-hour days, seven days a week. (Her schedule happily fits around that of the doughnut maker, who comes in for the night just as she’s closing up.) Jackfruit Cafe is currently a one-woman show, but Means plans to bringing on prep help after the new year.

She says she couldn’t be happier. “I leave here and I can’t wait to get back. I love what I’m doing.”

2959 Crenshaw Blvd., Jefferson Park, Los Angeles, CA; (818) 694-3050, jackfruitcafe.com.

Source: http://www.laweekly.com/restaurants/felicia-from-friday-now-runs-the-vegan-jackfruit-cafe-out-of-a-kings-donut-in-jefferson-park-8829611

“Girls Trip” Star Tiffany Haddish Sets Two Movies With New Line and Universal

Tiffany Haddish (via vanity fair.com)

by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

After making history as the first black female stand-up comedian to host “Saturday Night Live,” Tiffany Haddish is looking to continue to stay busy by landing lead roles in New Line’s “The Kitchen” and Universal’s “The Temp.”

Haddish is in talks to join the ensemble of “The Kitchen,” which is the directorial debut for “Straight Outta Compton” screenwriter Andrea Berloff, who is also writing the script. The film is based on the comic book series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle for Vertigo from DC Entertainment. The series has gained a cult following since debuting in 2014 to critical acclaim. The Irish mafia story is set in Hell’s Kitchen, N.Y., in the 1970s. When the FBI comes in and does a sweep of the mob, several men are arrested. Their wives end up taking over and running the business much more viciously than the men ever did.

“The Temp,” which is set to be produced by Will Packer, who also produced the hit comedy “Girls Trip” featuring Haddish’s breakout performance.

Universal acquired the original pitch for “The Temp” from Dana Fox, who will also write the female-driven comedy. Fox will produce alongside Packer who will produce through his Universal-based Will Packer Productions. Will Packer Productions’ James Lopez will also produce and Haddish will serve as executive producer.

Haddish’s other upcoming projects include starring alongside Tracy Morgan in TBS’ “The Last OG,” which will be released in 2018; she recently wrapped production on Universal’s “Night School” opposite Kevin Hart. She also has “Limited Partners” in development with Paramount, which she will star in and serve as an executive producer on the project as well.

Outside of her film and TV projects, she is also set to release her book “The Last Black Unicorn,” which comes out Dec. 5, and just announced 2018 dates for her new stand-up tour “She Ready.”

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/tiffany-haddish-girls-trip-new-line-universal-1202614732/

FEATURE: ‘Girls Trip’ Star Tiffany Haddish’s Remarkable Rise

Comedian and actor Tiffany Haddish (photo via theatlantic.com)

by Michael P. Jeffries via theatlantic.com

When comedian Tiffany Haddish was 9, her stepfather tampered with the brakes on her mother’s car, hoping to kill his partner and her four children. Rather than going out with her mom that day, Haddish asked to stay home and look after her younger siblings—sparing her from the horrific accident that left her mother mentally impaired. As the oldest child, Haddish did what she could to help for three years, from tying her mother’s shoes to paying bills, but eventually Haddish and her siblings were placed in foster care.

Haddish used the trauma and tragedy of her upbringing to ignite what is now a blazing comedy career. As a child, the Girls Trip star was teased for being a foster kid, but Haddish has also talked about maintaining a strong sense of self worth in her recent Showtime standup special, She Ready!: From the Hood to Hollywood. “The state of California paid so much money to make sure I don’t die ‘cause they knew I was gonna be special,” Haddish tells her audience. “They knew it. They was like, ‘This one right here, she gonna be a unicorn.’ And they was right. I’m the last black unicorn, bitch!”

Haddish’s ascent in recent years—debuting on NBC’s The Carmichael Show in 2015 and appearing in the 2016 action comedy Keanu and the summer hit Girls Trip—is a testament to her talent and resilience. But her story also offers insight into what it takes for a black woman in comedy to become successful today. Haddish’s rise points to where systemic roadblocks still lie for performers of color, particularly women, when they first enter the business—and how some barriers to entry may be falling as comedy enters a new golden age, with fewer gatekeepers and more platforms for artists to reach their fans.

Even though Girls Trip has a black director and writers, Haddish faced questions about her low profile. Her agent initially told her that studio executives were looking for someone with a bigger name to play her character, Dina. Haddish told her agent to tell them, “I’ve had a name since 1979. Okay? I was born with a name.” In the end, her rare comedic gifts won out, and reviews of Girls Trip regularly singled Haddish out for praise. Continue reading

REVIEW: Why Robin Thede’s “The Rundown” on BET Could Be Late Night’s Next Must-Watch

Comedian and host Robin Thede (photo via vanityfair.com)

by Laura Bradley via vanityfair.com

When Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show got canceled last year, many fans were understandably frustrated. Wilmore’s was one of only two programs in late night to feature a black host—and at the time, it was the only one with a female head writer. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that Wilmore’s head writer herself, Robin Thede, has moved on to host her own late-night show.

The Rundown with Robin Thede premiered Thursday night on BET, and although it’s got a few kinks to work out—as any new show does—its host has already honed a distinct comedic voice and spirit. And that sensibility gives her program must-watch potential, even in its first week. Thede’s series opened with a tone-setting sketch: Thede spotting an extremely attractive man . . . who is, unfortunately, wearing a Trump/Pence T-shirt. She then embarks on an ill-fated quest to win his attention—first by wearing a Make America Great Again hat, and eventually by getting a Confederate flag tattoo on her bicep. Then she spots his wedding ring and scolds him for wasting her time before turning to her tattoo artist and asking, “Can you turn that into a Kaepernick jersey or something?”

The Rundown is true to its name; it’s a beat-by-beat recap of the week’s news, as curated by Thede and her team. Naturally, their curation yields a different mix of stories from those chosen by the various Jimmies on network TV.In her premiere episode, Thede zoomed her way through several topics, including Eminem’s anti-Trump rap, Jemele Hills’s suspension from ESPN, and a fireman who was dismissed from his predominantly black fire station after he brought a watermelon with a pink bow on it as a gift.

“It’s no surprise that Trump came for Jemele,” Thede said as she wrapped up her opening monologue. “Remember how he attacked Ms. Texas when she criticized him for not calling out the white supremacists in Charlottesville? Of course you don’t, because he didn’t. Trump likes his targets like we like our Magic Johnson theaters: black and loud.” Thede’s show is undeniably guided by her outlook as a black woman, which enables and guides her to tackle topics other programs might ignore.

As the comedian recently told Variety, “I’m going to be able to give a perspective that’s definitely not happening simply because I am a black woman, but I don’t want people to watch just because of that. If that’s the reason you tune in, that’s great, but the reason you’ll stay is because of what I’m saying,” she says. “The jokes will be pointed. The jokes will be sharp.”

Take, for example, this moment during her opening monologue, in which Thede introduced a viral video of one man’s confrontation with local police in California: “Does anyone else feel like they’re watching a magic show happen when white people interact with the cops?” Thede asked. “Well, abra kadabra, here’s a trick you haven’t seen before—and don’t worry, he lives!” The twist? The subject of the video actually was not a white man at all; he was later identified as 22-year-old Yaroub Assad. “He’s brown!” Thede said incredulously. “This cop thought he was letting a white guy work through a temper tantrum, but he was actually proving a great point: cops aren’t afraid of brown people—just brown skin.”

The Rundown could easily shoot to the top of late night’s must-watch list. Its success could come down to how the show uses its digital platform, which will likely attract fans who might not think to turn on BET for their late-night viewing. With a weekly podcast already set to launch Friday, though, it seems Thede and her staff know the game they’re playing—though as of Monday morning, it’s surprisingly difficult to find clips of the show anywhere but BET’s own Web site, which could hinder the show’s growth.

Once the network expands The Rundown’s web presence, though, it seems only a matter of time before a clip from it goes viral—which will go a long way toward establishing this show as the must-watch it looks like it’s going to be.

To read full article, go to: Why Robin Thede’s The Rundown Could Be Late Night’s Next Must-Watch | Vanity Fair

Dave Chappelle Wins 1st Emmy Award for ‘SNL’ Post-Election Hosting Gig

(photo courtesy NBC)

via eurweb.com

Dave Chappelle won his first Emmy Award on Sunday, thanks to his “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut just days after Donald Trump was elected president. Chappelle’s November 12 “SNL” episode delivered the franchise’s season high in adults 18-49 and total viewers, and the show’s highest 18-49 rating since 2013.

And now, it has delivered Chappelle an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. The comedian won the statuette Sunday in a field that included two other “SNL” hosts: Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Watch Chappelle’s “SNL” opening monologue below:

Source: Dave Chappelle Wins First Emmy Award for ‘SNL’ Post-Election Hosting Gig | EURweb

‘Def Comedy Jam 25’ Special to Be Produced by Netflix to Mark 25th Anniversary of “Def Comedy Jam”

Def Comedy Jam 25 (photos via thegrio.com)

via thegrio.com

Netflix announced on Thursday that it will produce “Def Comedy Jam 25” to mark the 25th anniversary of the comedy show, to air this fall. “Def Comedy Jam” originally ran from 1992 to 1996 before being revived in 2006. The show, which was produced by Russell Simmons, helped to launch the careers of the likes of Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertainer and Sheryl Underwood.

The lineup of performers for the special thus far include: Lawrence, Underwood, Bill Bellamy, Cedric the Entertainer, Dave Chappelle, Mike Epps, Adele Givens, Eddie Griffin, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Kid Capri, Tracy Morgan, Craig Robinson, JB Smoove, Sommore, Joe Torry and Katt Williams.

To read original article, go to: Netflix announces ‘Def Comedy Jam 25’ to mark 25th anniversary | theGrio

R.I.P. Dick Gregory, 84, Groundbreaking Comedian, Civil Rights Activist and Nutrition Guru

Dick Gregory (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

by Dennis McLellan via latimes.com

Dick Gregory, who became the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs in the early 1960s, a decade in which he satirized segregation and race relations in his act and launched his lifetime commitment to civil rights and other social justice issues, died Saturday. He was 84.

His death was confirmed on his official social media accounts by his family. “It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.,” his son Christian Gregory wrote. Even before the confirmation from the family, Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Gregory’s, had memorialized him in a tweet: “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

In a life that began in poverty in St. Louis during the Depression, the former Southern Illinois University track star became known as an author, lecturer, nutrition guru and self-described agitator who marched, ran and fasted to call attention to issues ranging from police brutality to world famine. An invitation from civil rights leader Medgar Evers to speak at voter registration rallies in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 launched Gregory into what he called “the civil rights fight.” He was frequently arrested for his activities in the ’60s, and once spent five days in jail in Birmingham, Ala. after joining demonstrators in 1963 at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gregory, who was shot in the leg while trying to help defuse the Watts riots in 1965, made a failed run for mayor of Chicago as a write-in candidate in 1967. A year later, he ran for president as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, a splinter group of the Peace and Freedom Party. Hunter S. Thompson was one of his most vocal supporters.

In the late ’60s, Gregory began going on 40-day fasts to protest the Vietnam War. In 1980, impatient with President Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, he flew to Iran and began a fast, had a “ceremonial visit” with revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and met with the revolutionary students inside the embassy. After four and a half months in Iran, his weight down to 106 pounds, he returned home.

Dick Gregory runs for President (photo via latimes.com)

But before Dick Gregory the activist, there was Dick Gregory the groundbreaking comedian. He was a struggling 28-year-old stand-up comic in Chicago who had launched his career in small black clubs when he received a life-changing, last-minute phone call from his agent in January 1961: The prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago needed someone to fill in for comedian Irwin Corey on Sunday night. Gregory was so broke he had to borrow a quarter from his landlord for bus fare downtown. Never mind that his audience turned out to be a convention of white frozen-food-industry executives from the South.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Gregory said, coolly eyeing the audience. “I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night. …“Last time I was down South, I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’ ”Despite having to deal with what he later described as “dirty, little, insulting statements” from some members of the audience, the heckling soon stopped as Gregory won them over with his provocatively funny but nonbelligerent satirical humor.

“Segregation is not all bad,” he said on stage. “Have you ever heard of a wreck where the people on the back of the bus got hurt?” What was supposed to be a 55-minute show, Gregory later recalled, went on for about an hour and 40 minutes. And by the time he walked off stage, the audience gave him a thundering ovation. He did so well, he was booked at the club for two weeks and then held over for several more.

To read full article, go to: Dick Gregory, who rose from poverty to become a groundbreaking comedian and civil rights activist, dies at 84 – LA Times