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.
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.
Charlie Murphy, the older brother of Eddie Murphy, a “Chappelle’s Show” star and an accomplished comedian in his own right, died Wednesday in New York City. He was 57. Murphy’s publicist confirmed the comedian’s death, and the cause of death was leukemia.
“We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time. Charlie Murphy RIP,” Chris Rock, Murphy’s CB4 co-star, tweeted. “Charlie Murphy changed my life,” tweeted “Chappelle’s Show” co-creator Neal Brennan. “One of the most original people I’ve ever met. Hilarious dude. Habitual Line Stepper. So sad.”
After making his big screen debut in 1989’s “Harlem Nights,” directed by his younger brother Eddie, and appearing in bit roles in Spike Lee films like “Mo’ Better Blues” and “Jungle Fever,” Murphy’s big break came as a cast member on “Chappelle’s Show,” where “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” resulted in a pair of that series’ most memorable sketches.
Both sketches featured Murphy reminiscing about he and Eddie’s celebrity encounters in the Eighties, with Dave Chappelle portraying Rick James and Prince in the now-legendary sketches. Charlie Murphy also co-wrote “Vampire in Brooklyn,” another film directed by Eddie, as well as 2007’s “Norbit.”
Murphy also appeared in 1998’s “The Player’s Club,” directed by Ice Cube. The rapper paid tribute to Murphy on Twitter Wednesday, “Damn, sorry to hear about my friend Charlie Murphy. He took a chance on a young director in The Player’s Club. Always made me laugh. RIP.”
Growing up in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, Charlie often stuck up for his younger brother; in defending Eddie, Charlie joked about fearing his mom’s wrath if bullies picked on Eddie more than the bullies themselves. That guardian role made Charlie a natural to serve as Eddie’s security guard as the comedian quickly ascended to stardom.
Due to Charlie’s propensity toward overreacting while guarding his brother – “Whoever say something, I almost gave this old man a heart attack on a plane because he asked us if we were a basketball team. I took that personally,” Murphy said in a Chappelle’s Show outtake – forced Murphy to embark on his own career.
One night at an Eddie Murphy stand-up performance, Charlie went after one heckler “who tried to squeeze the lemon.” “I took it as a personal crusade until they were like, ‘You’re a little overzealous in how you’re performing your job.’ So that’s how I ended up not doing [security] anymore,” Murphy said.
After inking a deal with Netflix for two stand-up specials, Chris Rock is going on his first comedy tour in nine years. The announcement came via a Facebook Live video posted to the comedian’s timeline on Monday (December 5).
“Tonight, I am announcing that I, Chris Rock, am going on tour,” he shared while standing outside of Los Angeles’ Comedy Store. “The Total Blackout tour is coming to your town in 2017… First time in nine years, haven’t done it in a while. Been a little busy, You know, writing Pootie Tang 3 and everything. But hey, it’s time.”
As VIBE points out, Rock’s last tour, Kill The Messenger, aired on HBO in 2008.
Dave Chappelle has cut a deal with Netflix for three new comedy specials.
The projects will mark Chappelle’s first standup TV specials in 12 years, and it marks another aggressive push by Netflix in the standup comedy arena.
“Dave Chappelle is a legendary voice in comedy — searing, vital, and now more than ever, essential,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s VP of original documentary and comedy. “Dave’s three new specials promise to be some of the most anticipated events in comedy.”
The deal calls for Chappelle and director Stan Lathan to produce an original special for Netflix. Two other unreleased projects will come from Chappelle’s vault — one produced out of the Austin City Limits Live venue, the other from a performance at the Hollywood Palladium.
The projects from the vault are set for release simultaneously next year. There’s no premiere date yet for the new special.
Chappelle is coming off a strong performance earlier this month as host of “Saturday Night Live,” which generated the show’s highest ratings in three years. He is among the most prolific and successful touring comics in country, staging some 500 shows during the past three years.
Netflix made headlines last month by setting a $40 million deal with Chris Rock for two new comedy specials.
Paul Beatty’s novel “The Sellout,” a blistering satire about race in America, won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, marking the first time an American writer has won the award.
The five Booker judges, who were unanimous in their decision, cited the novel’s inventive comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice.
With its outrageous premise and unabashed skewering of racial stereotypes, “The Sellout” is an audacious choice for the judges, who oversee one of the most prestigious awards in literature.
“The truth is rarely pretty, and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon,” Amanda Foreman, the head of the judging panel, said at a press briefing in London before the winner was announced. “It plunges into the heart of contemporary American society.”
At a ceremony in London, Mr. Beatty said that writing “The Sellout” had taken an emotional toll.
“It was a hard book for me to write; I know it’s hard to read,” he said. “I’m just trying to create space for myself. And hopefully that can create space for others.”
A raucous tragicomedy that explores the legacy of slavery and racial and economic inequality in America, the novel felt deeply resonant at a moment when police violence against African-Americans has incited protests around the country and forced Americans to confront the country’s history of racism.
In a review in The New York Times, Dwight Garner wrote that the novel’s first 100 pages read like “the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility.”
It was a battle of the sequels at the multiplexes this weekend, as “Boo! A Madea Halloween” narrowly edged out “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” to claim first place at the domestic box office.
The latest film in the long-running Madea series racked up $27.6 million. Comedian Chris Rock may be entitled to a percentage of the gross. Creator Tyler Perry was inspired to take his pistol-packing grandma trick-or-treating after Rock’s comedian character in 2014’s “Top Five” joked that his latest movie, a passion project about a slave revolt, was going head-to-head at the box office with “Boo! A Madea Halloween.” What was once intended as satire eventually became a seasonally appropriate reality.
“This isn’t the end of the series, it’s just the beginning,” said Jeff Bock, box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations, who noted that Perry also scored with 2013’s “A Madea Christmas.” “There are so many holidays left. There’s Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and he hasn’t even done a Thanksgiving one yet.”
Don’t look for “Boo!” to end up in the Oscar race or on many reviewers’ “ten best” lists, but the Halloween comedy is a hit for distributor Lionsgate and reaffirms Perry’s star power. Despite being routinely derided by critics, the film series has an extremely loyal fan base. Collectively they’ve earned nearly $380 million. The latest Madea cost $20 million to make, and attracted a more diverse crowd. Typically the films have an audience that’s between 80% and 90% African-American, but this installment’s crowd was only 60% African-American, with the rest of ticket buyers made up largely of Caucasians and Hispanic movie-goers.
“The film crossed over and it expanded the audience,” said David Spitz, co-president of domestic distribution at Lionsgate. “Madea is such a beloved character and the timing helped. There are not many comedies in the marketplace right now and Halloween is right around the corner.”
According to Variety.com, Chris Rock has signed with Netflix for two new stand-up comedy specials. The two-special-deal is reported to be worth $40 million. Amazon, Hulu and HBO — where Rock has a long history, starting with his late-night series “The Chris Rock Show” — were also bidding for the specials.
The Netflix specials mark Rock’s return to stand-up after an eight-year hiatus – his last being 2008’s “Kill the Messenger,” which aired on HBO. Most recently, the comedian hosted the Oscars in January of this year.
“Chris Rock is a beloved actor and director, and his remarkable stand-up makes him comic royalty. There is no one like him, and Netflix offers the global platform and creative freedom that will serve as a perfect home for someone with his incredible talent,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer.
Rock commented, “I’m very excited to be working with Ted and Lisa and all the good people at Netflix. I can’t wait to get back on stage.”
Aside from the 2016 Oscars, Rock recently had a guest-starring role on Fox’s “Empire”, and directed HBO’s comedy special “Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo.” Some of this Emmy and Grammy winner’s most notable credits include “The Chris Rock Show,” his scripted sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” which he created and narrated, “Saturday Night Live” from 1989 to 1993. On the film side, he starred in “CB4”, “Grown Ups,” Top Five,”, “I Think I Love My Wife,” “Down To Earth” and the “Madagascar” franchise.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Oscar host Chris Rock, producer Reginald Hudlin and film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took an afternoon off from Academy Awards preparations to celebrate black women in Hollywood.
Rock, Hudlin and Boone Isaacs were among the guests at Essence magazine’s ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rock and Boone Isaacs didn’t speak publicly; Hudlin took the stage to present an award to legendary entertainer Debbie Allen.
The annual Essence event celebrates the achievements of black women in entertainment. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw and filmmaker Thais Francis were also recognized.
Francis thanked the magazine “for creating a platform of visibility.”
“A lot of us in this audience know the importance of visibility, especially during a time, in a society, in a world, in an industry that’s telling us that we’re invisible,” she said.
Shonda Rhimes, who introduced Allen as the new producing director of “Grey’s Anatomy,” called the writer-director-choreographer-performer “a force of nature.”
“Debbie blows through an environment and changes the landscape forever,” Rhimes said.
As Allen accepted the Legend Award, she said she felt like she was in church, preaching to her sisters.
“The only plate I’m going to pass is the plate of purpose,” she said, urging the women in the audience to make real connections with each other — not just to meet up for drinks, but to work on ways of changing the world.
Shaw gave similar advice as she accepted the Power Award. The attorney for such entertainers as Laurence Fishburne, Lupita Nyong’o and Ava DuVernay was introduced by Nick Cannon and Channing Dungey, who became the first African-American to head a broadcast network when she was named president of ABC Entertainment last week.
“If you are a woman who wants to be empowered, then empower other women,” Shaw said.
“Black-ish” star Ross, accompanied by her father and older sister, Rhonda, accepted the Fierce and Fearless award. Ross said she had been sick for the past week and worried she wouldn’t be able to attend the luncheon.
“I got dressed in the car,” she said. “I’m unclear if what I’m wearing is see-through. If it is, I’m sorry.” She said the recognition from Essence “is truly one of the proudest moments I’ve experienced.”
Oprah Winfrey opened the program, which will air Saturday on OWN.
Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons has announced that he’s launching his own movie awards show in response to #OscarsSoWhite, which is set to debut just four days before the Academy Awards.
As the A.V. Club reports, Simmons’ All Def Movie Awards “will see “Beasts of No Nation,” “Chi-Raq,” “Concussion,” “Creed,” “Dope,” and “Straight Outta Compton” compete for the best picture award.” Other awards will honor Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director, as well as Best Bad Muh F**ka, Best Helpful White Person and Best Black Survivor in a Movie.
The awards will be recognized by members of the All Def Academy, and members of the public can vote online for two categories – Best Picture and Most Quoted Movie – through midnight on Feb. 23 by clicking here.
“The All Def Movie Awards are not the Black Oscars,” Simmons said in a statement, “But they could be. This will be a fun, entertaining and hopefully thought-provoking celebration of the uncelebrated.”
The ceremony is set for February 24 in Hollywood at the Mann’s Chinese theater. Tony Rock, (Chris Rock’s younger brother), will host the event, which will feature a Black Carpet for celebrity presenters, arrivals and VIP guests.
“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,” said Rock. “With that in mind I have teamed up — I guess I didn’t do it myself — with ADD to bring you the ‘all inclusive’ All Def Movie Awards. We’ll honor the entire movie-making process. Great acting, mediocre acting as well as horrible acting. Soundtracks. Wardrobes. Maybe even craft services — the best part of the set. This is the award show Hollywood has been waiting for.”
The All Def Movie Awards will be programmed as part of All Def Comedy Live, and admission to the show is by invitation only, with a select number of seats on reserved for fans by lottery.
“I don’t expect a 90 year-old Academy member to see ‘Straight Outta Compton’ or vote for it. I’m more concerned that in 2016 there continues to be a stunning lack of diversity in the studios, in the green light process, in the decisions of what films and television series get made, and what actors get chosen. This needs to be addressed institutionally,” said Russell Simmons.
According to The Wrap, the All Def Movie Awards will also feature a special live musical performance and a steady stream of “video content before, during and after the show on all of ADD’s social channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Periscope.”
In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ 51-member board of governors approved a sweeping series of changes designed to diversify its membership, the academy said in a statement Friday.
The board committed to doubling the number of women and minority members in the academy by 2020.
AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the plan Friday after many of Hollywood’s A-listers slammed the organization for their all-white award nominees. “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” she said in a statement.
The board approved reforms late Thursday to “begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition,” Isaacs explained.
It also approved a series of changes limiting members’ lifetime voting rights. “Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade,” the academy statement said. “In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members. In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars. ”
The move follows pledges by director Spike Lee and actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to stay home from the Oscar telecast on Feb. 28, and calls for a boycott of the show online.
For the last three years, the awards body has been in the midst of a push for more diversity, inviting larger and demographically broader groups to join its 6,261 voting members. But given the size of the academy, and the fact that members belong for life, any change to the organization’s overall demographics had been incremental.
The academy will also launch a campaign to identify and recruit new members who represent greater diversity, the statement said, and will add new members who are not governors to its executive and board committees to influence key decisions about membership.