Tag: Kerry Washington

FEATURE: After 25 Years on the Road, Leslie Jones Becomes a Comedy Star

“This is gonna be kind of a hot one,” Ali LeRoi said.

“I’ve been waiting to sit her ass down for a minute,” Owen Smith said. “One of the funniest women in the game.”

“Funniest comedian in the game,” Jones interrupted. “Not just woman. I hate that shit.” End of introduction.

Comedians are combatants: they “kill,” they “bomb,” they “destroy.” Such bluster can mask insecurity, and Jones had good reason to feel defensive. She was forty-six, and had been a standup comedian for more than a quarter century; her peers respected her, but that respect rarely translated into high-paying gigs. “I remember some nights where I was, like, ‘All right, this comedy shit just ain’t working out,’ ” she told me recently. “And not just when I was twenty-five. Like, when I was forty-five.” She was a woman in a field dominated by men, and an African-American in an industry that remained disturbingly segregated.

Although she had opened for Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle, acted in movies alongside Ice Cube and Martin Lawrence, recorded a standup special for Showtime, and made several appearances on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and BET’s “ComicView,” she worried that the gatekeepers of mainstream comedy—bookers for the “Tonight Show,” casting directors of big-budget films—had never heard her name. “Every black comedian in the country knew what I could do,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean everyone else is paying attention.” Chris Rock, who met Jones when they were both road comics in the late eighties, told me, “Black women have the hardest gig in show business. You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman—if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.”

Jones spent much of her career performing in what she calls “shitty chitlin-circuit-ass rooms, where you’re just hoping the promoter pays you.” She told me that, around 2010, “I stopped only doing black clubs. I stopped doing what I call ‘nigger nights’—the Chocolate Sundays, the Mo’ Better Mondays. I knew how to relate to that audience, and I was winning where I was, but I wasn’t moving forward.” She lived in Los Angeles at the time, and she began asking for spots at the Comedy Store, where David Letterman and Robin Williams got their starts. A comedian named Erik Marino, who befriended her there, said, “She felt very strongly that she was being pigeonholed as a black comic—a BET comic.”

For a while, Jones performed at the Store at odd hours. Then, she said, “I went to the booker and I threw the race card at him. ‘Why you won’t let me go up at ten on a Friday? ’Cause I’m black?’ ” The booker gave her a prime-time slot. “She destroyed, obviously,” Marino said. “Bookers are the ones who care about black rooms versus white rooms. To us comedians, it’s, like, if you know what you’re doing and you can connect with an audience, they’re gonna laugh.”

Rock saw Jones perform at the Store in 2012. After her set, he told her, “You were always funny, but you’re at a new level now.”

“You’re right,” she responded. “But I’m not gonna really make it unless someone like you puts me on.” Rock took out his iPhone and added her name to a list labelled “Funny people.”

Continue reading “FEATURE: After 25 Years on the Road, Leslie Jones Becomes a Comedy Star”

Kerry Washington Named Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Woman Of The Year

Kerry Washington (photo via atlantablackstar.com)
Kerry Washington (photo via atlantablackstar.com)

Actress Kerry Washington has been named Woman of the Year by Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the nation’s oldest collegiate theatrical organization.

The Scandal star was chosen because she is a “talented and socially engaged film, TV and stage actress who keeps breaking barriers in Hollywood.”

Washington, the first black woman to headline a network TV drama since 1974, has earned Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG Best Actress nominations as well as an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress.

She will be given her pudding pot following a parade through Harvard Square and roast scheduled for Jan. 28.

Previous winners include Sarah Jessica Parker, Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor. Comedian Amy Poehler won last year.

article via blackamericaweb.com

Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, CeCe Winans Pay Tribute to Cicely Tyson at 2015 Kennedy Center Honors (VIDEO)

Cicely Tyson at the Kennedy Center Honors
Cicely Tyson at the Kennedy Center Honors (PHOTO CREDIT: KRIS CONNOR/GETTY IMAGES)

Legendary actress Cicely Tyson was recognized Tuesday night for her contribution to the performing arts at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.

Tyson, 91, has had a dynamic career—spanning over 60 years, earning her Academy and SAG award nominations and wins from the Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Awards.

On hand to help celebrate her accomplishments were actors Kerry Washington, Viola Davis and Tyler Perry during the 38th annual broadcast.

“Cicely Tyson chose to empower us when we didn’t even know it was possible for us to be empowered,” Perry began his introduction. “For six decades, she has been dilligent in her pursuit to better us all.”

Singer CeCe Winans joined in on the tribute by singing Tyson’s favorite gospel song, “Blessed Assurance.”

Click here to watch the entire show.

article by Lauren Porter via essence.com

LIFESTYLE: GBN Picks for September 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 9.51.22 AM (1)

by Lesa Lakin GBN Lifestyle Editor
Lesa Lakin, GBN Lifestyle

I’ve always had this sort of love/hate relationship with the month of September. Part of me feels like September is just a pushy month with attitude. It represents the end of summer fun with a blaring nudge toward back to business, back to school… back to get up and get stuff done!

But if I’m going to keep it positive, September also represents the beginning of beautiful, new and exciting things… and hopefully if you’re in a hot state – some cooler weather. Here are few fun, interesting things happening this month.  Enjoy!

CINEMA

the-perfect-guy

THE PERFECT GUY
September 14; PG-13
Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy & Morris Chestnut star in “The Perfect Guy”

Picking the right partner is tough and when a budding relationship ends the “perfect guy” becomes enraged with the woman that ended it – setting his sights on the perfect revenge.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CikoxQ4ytI4

Captive

THE CAPTIVE
September 18; PG-13
David Oyelowo and Kate Mara star in “The Captive” based on an inspiring true story.

A hostage (Kate Mara) uses Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” to convince her desperate captor (David Oyelowo) to put his life on the path to redemption. Watch the trailer here: http://www.captivethemovie.com

MUSIC/PERFORMANCES/EVENTS

audra-950

AUDRA MCDONALD & AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE
September 1 & September 3
Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, CA

http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/tickets/american-classics-audra-mcdonald- american-ballet-theatre/2015-09-03

44180-homepage-109444

KEVIN HART
September 17
Honda Center, Anaheim , CA

September 18
L.A. Forum, Inglewood, CA

Check here for more cities and dates available: http://www.ticketmaster.com/Kevin-Hart-tickets/artist/1057637

lenny-kravitz

LENNY KRAVITZ
September 11
Los Angeles, CA
Greek Theater
For more tour dates and cities check here: http://www.lennykravitz.com/tour/

Cicely Tyson, Oprah Winfrey Recognize African American Achievements In TV During Paley Center Tribute

OPRAH WINFREY CICELY TYSON
Oprah Winfrey and Cicely Tyson at A Tribute To African-American Achievements In Television hosted by The Paley Center For Media at Cipriani Wall Street on May 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

The Paley Center for Media hosted a star-studded event Thursday evening celebrating the 35th anniversary of BET’s launch, as well as the groundbreaking achievements of African-Americans in television over the years.

The guest list was basically a who’s who of black America. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey, Cicely Tyson, Larry Wilmore, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lee Daniels, Kerry Washington, Michael Strahan and Phylicia Rashad. Winfrey kicked off the night with an opening monologue, during which she expressed her gratitude for the evolution of African-Americans contributing to some of today’s most successful shows on television.

“When I was growing up there were so few people of color on television, but when there was one of us we would end up missing it because we would be calling everybody else saying, ‘it’s coming on right now. Turn on ‘Ed Sullivan.’ It’s coming on,’” she said. “So part of the power of tonight’s event will be to appreciate and to honor our history as we continue to be an interval part of the entertainment industry.”

One of the evening’s many heartfelt moments occurred during Cicely Tyson’s speech in recognition of her illustrious career. The iconic actress went on to recall the time where she received backlash for her 1963 role as secretary Jane Foster on the CBS drama series “East Side/West Side.” The breakthrough role — which featured Tyson wearing a natural hair style — marked a first for a black actress and sparked a nationwide hair movement.

“This has been a wonderful evening and an emotional evening for me watching the positive strides we’ve taken over the years. We’re not there yet, but we’re going to get there,” Tyson declared. “I have been especially moved by the moments that were a flashback for me… when I first appeared on the air with a natural and received barrels of negative letters that had to do with the fact that I was disgracing the role of the image of black women when I was in a position to glorify it.”

“Well, finally at last I am ecstatic to say that we as a race of people have come to recognize and accept the fact that our pride and glory is our hair… that doesn’t mean you can’t wear your hair the way you want to.”

article by Brennan Williams via huffingtonpost.com

“Empire” Star Taraji P. Henson Reigns as “Saturday Night Live” Host on April 11

Taraji P. Henson as "Cookie" in FOX's 'Empire'
Taraji P. Henson as “Cookie” in FOX’s ‘Empire’

According to usatoday.com, “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson will make her “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut on April 11, 2015.  On that day, Henson will join the short list of black women who have taken the SNL reins:  Cicely TysonKerry Washington, Queen Latifah, “Empire” castmate Gabourey Sidibe, Janet Jackson, Halle Berry and Oprah Winfrey, to name the few.

Mumford & Sons will be the show’s musical guest – their second time.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

 

Kerry Washington Accepts Vanguard Award at the #glaadawards (VIDEO)

Scandal star Kerry Washington accepted the Vanguard Award at Saturday’s 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles at the iconic Beverly Hilton. Ellen DeGeneres, who was previously honored with GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award, presented the honor. The Vanguard Award is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality. Previous Vanguard Award honorees include Jennifer Lopez, Kristin Chenoweth, Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Taylor, Antonio Banderas, Drew Barrymore, Janet Jackson, and Sharon Stone.

Check out the video of Washington below:

In an acceptance speech that had the audience on their feet, Washington said, “I don’t decide to play the characters I play as a political choice. Yet the characters I play often do become political statements. Because having your story told as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian, as a trans person, or as any member of any disenfranchised community, is sadly often still a radical idea. There is so much power in storytelling, and there is enormous power in inclusive storytelling, in inclusive representations. That is why the work of GLAAD is so important. We need more LGBT representation in the media. We need more LGBT characters and more LGBT storytelling. We need more diverse LGBT representation. And by that, I mean lots of different kinds of LGBT people living all different kinds of lives. And this is big—we need more employment of LGBT people in front of and behind the camera.”

Washington continued, “We can’t say that we believe in each other’s fundamental humanity, and then turn a blind eye to the reality of each other’s existence, and the truth of each others’ hearts. We must be allies and we must be allies in this business, because to be represented is to be humanized, and as long as anyone anywhere is being made to feel less human, our very definition of humanity is at stake, and we are all vulnerable. We must see each other, all of us. And we must see ourselves, all of us. And we have to continue to be bold and break new ground until that is just how it is, until we are no longer ‘firsts’ and ‘exceptions’ and ‘rare’ and ‘unique.’ In the real world, being an ‘other’ is the norm. In the real world, the only norm is uniqueness, and our media must reflect that. Thank you GLAAD, for fighting the good fight.”

Washington is best known for her role as Olivia Pope on the LGBT-inclusive hit show Scandal, executive produced by Shonda Rhimes. In addition to the ABC drama, Washington has appeared in other LGBT-inclusive projects like PeeplesShe Hate MeThe Dead Girl, and Life Is Hot In Cracktown. The actress is a longtime supporter of equality for LGBT people. She has participated in GLAAD’s annual Spirit Day, a campaign to end anti-LGBT bullying, and has advocated for marriage equality both at-home and abroad.

Ellen DeGeneres presented the Vanguard Award to Kerry WashingtonChanning Tatum presented the Stephen F. Kolzak Award to director Roland Emmerich. Comedian Tig Notaro hosted the event. Guests included: Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy); Patricia Arquette (CSI: Cyber); TV producer Shonda RhimesViola DavisJack FalaheeMatt McGorryAja Naomi KingPeter Nowalk (How to Get Away with Murder); Portia de Rossi(Scandal); Graham Moore (The Imitation Game); Pauley Perrette (NCIS); Jill SolowayAmy LandeckerJay DuplassAlexandra BillingsRhys Ernst, Kiersey Clemons, Michaela Watkins, Alison SudolClementine CreevyBrett Parasol (Transparent); Michael HarneySamira WileyNick SandowAlysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black); Andrew Rannells(Girls); Murray BartlettDaniel Franzese (Looking); Ron Perlman (Stonewall); Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black); Against Me! lead singer Laura Jane GraceMichael MosleyKevin DanielsKevin Bigley (Sirens); Peter PaigeBradley BredewegGavin MacIntoshHayden Byerly (The Fosters); Yara Martinez (Jane the Virgin); Serayah McNeill (Empire); Alex Newell (Glee); Gregg SulkinRita VolkMichael J. WillettCarter Covington (Faking It); Barrett Foa (NCIS: Los Angeles); Jessica St. ClairLennon Parham (Playing House); Wilson Cruz (Red Band Society); stylist Brad GoreskiGary Janetti (Vicious); Guy WilsonFreddie SmithChristopher Sean (Days of Our Lives); musician Our Lady J; model Nats GettyHannah Hart (My Drunk Kitchen); DJs Sam SparroKim AnhDerek Monteiro;  GLAAD Board member Meghan McCain; GLAAD National Spokesperson Omar Sharif, Jr. and GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

Visit glaad.org/mediaawards/press for a complete list of award recipients announced on Saturday night.

article by Mariah Yamamoto via glaad.org

Kerry Washington to Star as Anita Hill in HBO Movie “Confirmation”

Kerry Washington
(Source: Jon Kopaloff / Getty)

Kerry Washington, the star of Shonda Rhimes’ wildly popular Thursday-night show Scandal, is about to get even bigger with a new project on HBO.

Washington has been announced as the star of an upcoming TV movie about Anita Hill, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The telepic, which is being developed by HBO Films and has a tentative title of Confirmation, will chronicle the nomination hearings held for Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Thomas’ nomination that year by the first President Bush shook up the country after Hill accused the judge of sexual harassment in a leaked FBI interview. Hill was grilled by Senators about the allegations at Thomas’ confirmation hearing and lambasted by the judge himself.

Washington will play the part of Anita Hill and writer Susannah Grant will be responsible for the script and executive producing the project. Washington herself will also work as an executive producer alongside the CEO of Groundswell Productions, Michael London, and the company’s production president, Janice Williams.

Hollywood Reporter claims that the HBO project could take precedence over Washington’s role in a feature film called Unforgettable while she’s currently away from the Scandal set.

The news comes as HBO readies the rollout of its internet-streaming service HBO Go and plans for the next season of the sprawling fantasy show Game of Thrones.

article by Jay Balfour via theurbandaily.com

Networks Casting More Actors of Color This Pilot Season

More Minority Actors Showing Up on

ABC knew going in to the casting process for its drama pilot “Runner” that it was looking for a Latino leading man, as specified in the script. But the female lead role had no racial or ethnic specificity.

Paula Patton, an African-American actress, landed the role of a woman whose life is ripped apart when she learns her husband, played by Adam Rodriguez, is wrapped up in a Mexican gun-running cartel.

“Runner” is but one example this pilot season of a surge of minority actors landing starring roles in prospective new series. Industry insiders say there’s an undeniable openness to African-American, Latino and Asian thesps on the heels of the success ABC and Fox have had with shows led by diverse casts.

RELATED: 

TV executives have talked for years about the need for the airwaves to reflect the growing cultural diversity of America. But the 2014-15 television season has marked a turning point in the embrace of diversity as a business strategy. Fox has fielded the biggest network TV hit in years with “Empire,” a soap with a largely African-American cast. ABC has scored with Viola Davis leading “How to Get Away With Murder” and the family comedies “Blackish” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”

Such hits prove that broadcast TV in particular can no longer afford to ignore the value of discrete racial and ethnic groups. The role of  “How to Get Away With Murder’s” Annalise Keating was not specifically envisioned for an African-American actress, but the casting of Davis undoubtedly helped generate sampling among black viewers — a demographic group that has boosted the overall turnout for the show.

ABC’s success this season “proves the point that audiences are hungry for shows that are well done but also reflect the world around us,” said Channing Dungey, executive VP of drama development, movies and miniseries for ABC. “It’s not about just diversity, it’s about authenticity. Audiences are really excited to see more of themselves on the screen.”

“Runner” is an example of how this pilot season, minority actors are much more in demand than they have been in the recent past. And with “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat” drawing crossover demographics, there’s a greater appetite for shows with ethnically specific settings.

“It’s been interesting to see how much more competitive it is with diverse actors and actresses now,” said Dungey, who added that she is proud ABC helped lead the way, not just with “Murder” but with the blossoming of Kerry Washington and “Scandal” into the first successful drama in decades led by an African-American actress.

“The thing I really hope is that this isn’t a passing phase,” Dungey said. “I’m hoping this is a trend that will continue.”

article by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com

NAACP Image Awards to Honor Spike Lee With President’s Award

Spike Lee will be honored at the NAACP Image Awards this year, where the iconic filmmaker will receive the President’s Award.

NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks calls the Do the Right Thing director a “trailblazer” and a “champion for minorities.”

Brooks continues, “His expansive body of work examining race relations, colorism in the Black community, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues reflect the fullness of the humanity of people of color — particularly African-Americans.”

The President’s Award is chosen by the NAACP president and recognizes special achievement and distinguished public service. Past honorees have included President Bill ClintonMuhammad Ali and, most recently, Kerry Washington.

Lee has had an active career, churning out a film per year on average. His latest movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, is a romantic horror comedy that follows a scholar who becomes cursed after a run-in with an ancient African artifact. It was partially funded through Kickstarter.

The 46th NAACP Image Awards will be broadcast live on February 6 at 9 p.m. Check your local listings for details.

article by Evelyn Diaz via bet.com