Month: September 2017

Season 2 of “The Exorcist” will bring “Sleepy Hollow” vibes with John Cho’s return to FOX

Is it just me, or is this second season of The Exorcist trying to become the second coming of Sleepy Hollow?

I say that because it’s been a while since I’ve seen a fantasy/sci-fi show on FOX that was this diverse. Usually, I shy away from watching shows about the devil (despite watching Sleepy Hollow, but it was less about the devil and more about ghosts and demonic imps and stuff), but with a cast that looks this good, I just might try to tamp down my fear of evil and watch this season.

There are some characters from last season that are coming back for this season, such as the three-pronged team of Catholic priests who work together to propel the devil back to Hell. Some familiar faces to Exorcist TV show fans include Alfonso Herrera as Father Tomas and Kurt Egyiawan as Father Bennett, both are seemingly led by veteran exorcist Father Marcus (Ben Daniels).

(L-R) Alfonso Herrera as Father Tomas and Kurt Egyiawan as Father Bennett, Ben Daniels as Father Marcus.

But the Sleepy Hollow angle comes intimately into play with John Cho. First of all, he’s back on FOX—the last time he was on the network, he was playing Andy Brooks on Sleepy Hollow, a character who got a raw deal in many ways. Secondly, he’s once again playing an Andy—this time around, he’s Andy Kim, a surrogate father to several kids in the foster system. Maybe this could be like an alternate universe in which Andy isn’t seduced by the dark side, wasn’t a cop, and wanted to do good in the world by taking care of kids and protecting them from the devil.

Other newcomers include Li Jun Li as Rose Cooper, a social worker who checks in on Andy and the kids. She also has a history (romantic, I’m assuming) with Andy, and knows something’s bothering him.

This leads us to the kids themselves. It’s a diverse set of kids, including Deadpool’s Brianna Hildebrand as Verity. Other teen/kid actors include Alex Barima as Shelby, Cyrus Arnold as David Johnson III, otherwise known as Truck, Amélie Eve as Grace, and Hunter Dillon as Caleb, a blind character. Ironically, both Dillon and Hildebrand are in Deadpool 2 together. But one thing of note about Caleb is that he’s a character played by a sighted actor. This could have been a good opportunity for a blind or otherwise visually-impaired actor to have.

(L-R) Alex Barima as Shelby, Hunter Dillon as Caleb

Still Star-Crossed’s Zuleikha Robinson also stars in this upcoming season as Mouse, who is described by creator/EP Jeremy Slater as a “loyal servant of the church” who is “starting to realize the corruption has spread further than anyone had realized” and is adamant about taking down the church’s patriarchal system.

You can learn more about the new characters and see more pictures at Entertainment Weekly. As for me, I’ll put on my big girl britches and check out at least a couple of episodes from this new season. If it’s too much for me to handle, I’ll have to bow out, but I’ll be cheering for its success on the sidelines.

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Halsey talks with Playboy about growing up biracial

Singer Halsey knows what it feels like to not belong. She recently opened up to Playboy in a wide-ranging interview that included her experiences as a biracial woman and how she has learned to navigate the racial space between worlds.

“I’m half black,” she said, adding that her dad was a car dealership manager. “I’m white-passing. I’ve accepted that about myself and have never tried to control anything about black culture that’s not mine. I’m proud to be in a biracial family. I’m proud of who I am, and I’m proud of my hair.”

She talked about how she does have moments where she experiences what she calls “racial blips.”

“One of my big jokes a long time ago was ‘I look white, but I still have white boys in my life asking me why my nipples are brown,” she said. “Every now and tthen I experience these racial blips. I look like a white girl, but I don’t feel like one I’m a black woman. So it’s been weird navigating that. When I was growing up I didn’t know if I was supposed to love TLC or Britney.”

She also had some interesting stuff to say about white allyship in the time of Trump.

“White guilt is funny, but this is really hard time for white allies,” she said. “People don’t want to do too much but want to do enough, and in my bubble of Los Angeles I’m surrounded by a lot of good people with a lot of good intentions. But as I’ve learned in this past election, my bubble is just a small fraction of how this country operates. That is ultimately my greatest frustration with the public perception of any sort of activism: the mentality of “Well, it’s not affecting me.” Open your f***ing eyes.”

Read more from Halsey at Playboy.

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“Once Upon a Time” angles for black women’s viewership with upcoming season

If you’re like me, you probably zoned out on Once Upon a Time sometime between the second and third season, around the time when likeable Sheriff Graham/The Huntsman (played by Fifty Shades of Grey actor Jamie Dornan) was killed and when Cinderella’s fairy godmother was unceremoniously killed by combustion at the beginning of an episode (to this day, that still makes me mad).

This lovely fairy gets killed by Rumpelstiltskin for no reason!

After skipping out on the show, you might have still kept up with the goings-on through other folks’ recaps. While there were some cool moments, such as Mulan, played by Jamie Chung, being written as a bisexual warrior who was in love with Sleeping Beauty, a portrayal of Lancelot being played by Sinqua Walls, and the inclusion of Jafar, played by Naveen Andrews (in a very cheesy fashion, mind you), there was tons of awful stuff, such as the dire treatment of characters of color in general. As Stacy Whitman, founder and publisher of Lee & Low Books imprint Tu Books, wrote about the series:

“…I’m highly disappointed with how the show handles its characters of color. Have you noticed how many of them die or get locked away to be forgotten compared to other characters? Sidney (who disappeared to star on Revolution, never to be mentioned again); Tamara, Neal’s fiancée who was trying to sabotage magic and kidnapped Henry (who could as easily have decided to be good and joined up with their team, but no, just got killed off; granted, so did her white partner in crime); Lancelot, who is dead before we ever meet him.”

In the end, you realized you only stayed as interested as you did because of the only truly compelling character in the main cast—Rumplestilskin, played by Robert Carlyle, maybe one of the few actors of the main cast who understood how to play his role with equal parts cheeky camp and believable, emotionally-resonating seriousness.

However, with much of the original cast gone, either because they got tired of playing the characters or wanted to go on to different projects, is Once Upon a Time trying to capitalize on a demographic it misused and drove away by taking the story in a much blacker direction? Enter the new phase of Once Upon a Time, in which Henry, now a grown man, is besieged by a young kid much like how he ambushed Emma in the pilot. Henry has to now figure out how he could be a young girl’s father, even though he has absolutely no recollection of being a father to anyone.

First, let’s talk about the little girl. Lucy (Alison Fernandez) is supposed to be the daughter of Henry and Jacinda/Cinderella (Dania Ramirez). This Cinderella is different than the Cinderella I was writing about above—that Cinderella looked very much like the one we know from the Disney movie.

That leads to the next point: this will the second time we have seen Cinderella portrayed by a woman of color since Brandy’s turn as the character in 1998’s Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella for The Wonderful World of Disney. It also seems like Ramirez’s dress has more nods towards Brandy’s dress than the Disney cartoon character’s dress, which is interesting.

Compare that to the first Cinderella’s dress shown in that awful episode of Once Upon a Time, which has more nods to the cartoon character’s dress:

 

(Quite possibly, this was one of the worst episodes of OUAT ever, but it had some of the best costume/hair design ever…go figure.)

If they are making Ramirez’s Cinderella more like Brandy’s version, then maybe there could be something said about how the storyline is focusing on Henry being this kid’s dad instead of the storyline functioning as one that still required the use of Cinderella’s Prince Charming, who would be played by an Asian actor to correspond to the actor who played the Prince opposite Brandy, Paolo Montalban. However, the season isn’t out yet, so maybe there are some surprises in store. I’m always an optimist.

Brandy and Paolo Montalban in 1997’s “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”.

Cinderella’s stepmom Lady Tremaine is played by Gabrielle Anwar, probably best known for her role in USA’s Burn Notice. Anwar herself has Austrian Jewish and Indian heritage, adding to the amount of representation happening in this upcoming season.

Third big surprise—Princess Tiana is going to be a part of this season! Mekia Cox will be playing the character, and Robin Givens will play her mom Eudora. According to Shadow and Act via EW, Eudora won’t be a working-class woman, as she was in The Princess and the Frog, but “a loving mother to Tiana and benevolent noblewoman. Formerly wealthy, now facing financial disaster, she handles the transition with grace and inner moral strength.”

Mekia Cox as Princess Tiana

Once again, there’s a lack of a POC prince mentioned as part of the cast. Just like how Brandy’s Cinderella found love with Montalban’s Prince Charming, Tiana married Prince Naveen, a…vaguely beige dude. I say “vaguely beige” because we have no idea where Maldonia is, but we are led to assume that Maldonia’s not full of Anglo-Saxon people. Technically, if you looked at behind-the-scenes stuff, Disney artists fixated on Maldonia being somewhere in the Mediterranean, while Naveen’s name suggests that the culture and people of Maldonia are South Asian and/or Middle Eastern at the very least. I won’t get into my personal dissertation about why I both love Naveen (I mean, come on—he’s a hot guy and he’s a bad boy turned good) and have some problems with how Disney bent over backwards to not use this opportunity to create their first black prince ever, but suffice it to say, Tiana’s currently missing her Naveen, and this would be a great time to cast an actor of color—maybe an upcoming actor of color who needs that big break—in this role.

Who’s gonna play this guy in OUAT? Will Naveen even be in OUAT??

Another thing to look for this year—a prominent LGBTQ storyline. From the TV Guide video (below), I’m assuming it’s going to be a lesbian-centric storyline, but regardless, Co-EP Edward Kitsis has confirmed that the storyline is, indeed, happening. Will it be treated better than Mulan’s storyline? We’ll have to wait and see.

So that’s what we can expect this go-round in…the fictional area of Hyperion Heights, Seattle (that’s right—we’re not in Storybrooke anymore). Is the OUAT team being shrewd and capitalizing on the current wave of representation hitting Hollywood? Time will tell—if we see any of these WOC killed off or illegitmate reasons or if they’re treated haphazardly, then we’ll better understand the cut of this season’s jib. Until then, I can only say I’ll tune in to see if this season will draw me in just like the very first season of OUAT did.

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Rami Malek stuns as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” first look image

What can I say that this picture can’t say for itself? Rami Malek is going to kill it as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Bohemian Rhapsody†Rami Malek

As you can see from the watermark, the image was first released on what would have been Mercury’s 71st birthday through Entertainment Weekly, and while we still haven’t heard Malek’s vocals (if you’ve been listening to him speak about the film on the late night talk show circuit, you’ll know that he has had to record himself singing for the members of Queen themselves), I’m almost past caring about that now that we’ve seen this picture of him in full the Freddie Mercury regalia.

Malek mentioned his vocals in a quick interview he did with Entertainment Weekly, saying that the film will use parts of his own voice as well as Mercury’s voice coupled with a sound-alike to fill in any missing spots.

“We’re going to use Freddie as much as possible and use myself as much as possible,” said Malek. “I’m in Abbey Road [Studios] right now if that should say anything to you. I’m not working on my acting.”

As for sound-alikes, this sounds like a job UK singer Mika, who was tailor-made for this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were actually using him in this film. He even references Mercury in his 2009 breakout song Grace Kelly. If director Bryan Singer isn’t using him–WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE, SINGER?! Put ME on your team to help you make these decisions!

As far as the look goes, Malek said the first time he finally saw himself-as-Mercury staring back at him in the mirror, it brought everything into focus.

“When you’re able to open your eyes and see a different person staring back at you in the mirror, it’s a very affirming moment,” he said, adding that the experience of being in hair and makeup to become Mercury”only adds to the level of confidence that one would need to play Freddie Mercury.”

As reported in 2016, Malek is perfect casting as Mercury, not only because of his resemblance to the late singer or his massive acting talent (which I’m glad has finally been recognized through Mr. Robot), but because casting Malek as Mercury is actually quite respectful casting coming from Hollywood, since Mercury was Parsi, an Indian community that has its roots in Iran, and Malek is of Middle Eastern background (Malek isn’t Iranian or of the Parsi community, though; he’s from a Coptic Egyptian background). While it’s not a Parsi actor playing Mercury, it’s better than the whitewashed alternatives that were out there and for Hollywood, this is a baby step towards better casting practices as a whole. At least that’s how I see it, if I’m looking at it from an optimistic perspective. As I stated back then:

Freddie Mercury’s family is from Gujarat (they later relocated to Zanzibar). Mercury’s family were Parsi, which is, as Wikipedia states, “one of two Zoroastrian communities…primarily located in South Asia.” Parsis migrated to Gujarat from Greater Iran, so there’s a crossover of Persian and Indian influence. While there are some Hollywood “all brown people are the same” tactics happening with Malek’s casting, at least this is closer to a semblance of respectful accuracy than Hollywood has been about big roles like these in the past. Remember, Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw were the first and second choices for this movie.

Check out the Entertainment Weekly video below for more info. Bohemian Rhapsody comes to theaters Christmas day, 2018 (such a long time away!!!)

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Queen Latifah confirms a “Living Single” reboot is in the works

It’s officially official: Living Single is coming back!

The rumors of a Living Single reboot have been floating around for a while and Queen Latifah finally confirmed the plans for a reboot on a recent episode of Watch What Happens Live.

According to Essence, after a caller asked to see if Living Single would ever come back, Queen Latifah responded with, “We’re actually working on it.”

“It’s not there yet. But hopefully, we can get it happening,” she said, adding that she would be a producer on the show and is working on getting the original cast back.

Living Single was one of the seminal ensemble shows on TV during the ‘90s, especially if you were a woman of color. With so many different types of successful and entrepreneurial women represented on the show, it felt as if you were watching your friends (or, if you were young in the ‘90s like me, the friends you wished to have when you got older). Combine that with that classic ‘90s New York setting, and you have a hit as well as an inspiration to young girls of color everywhere.

Once the reboot comes back, it’ll be fun to see if the show can recapture the magic the original had. There were so many great moments from Living Single, but probably the most memorable one is when Kyle serenaded Maxine after she made fun of him for having stage fright.

Maybe when the reboot comes back, we can finally get full closure on what happened to Maxine and Kyle’s relationship (because that relationship was a doozy).

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President Obama on DACA ending: “It’s wrong” and “cruel”

It’s been a sad Tuesday for many around the country: Donald Trump announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, putting 800,000 immigrants at risk for deportation. There is a 6-month delay on the ban, but regardless of a delay, this puts thousands of lives in jeopardy and thousands of families are left wondering what will happen to them under this administration.

Everyone’s reacted to the news, from celebrities to congresspeople and Dreamers–people who, as kids, arrived into the U.S. and were protected by DACA–themselves. Among the loudest voices was former President Barack Obama, who authored the law and signed it into action.

Obama took to his Facebook page to express his outrage over yet another horrifying and racist action taken by the Trump administration.

“Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules,” he said. “But that is not what the action that the White House took today is about.

“This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.”

Obama wrote that a “shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again.”

“To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel,” he said. “What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?”

He wrote the action of the Trump administration is “contrary” to the values America holds dear as a welcome land for immigrants. He called on Congress to step up to the plate and protect Dreamers. One bill that could do that is the DREAM Act, which has been floating around Congress since 2001.  The bill, if passed into law, would grant minors conditional residency and eventually permanent residency.

“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question,” wrote Obama. “Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.”

Here’s his full statement:

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John Leguizamo is through with the media overlooking Latinx talent

John Leguizamo has had enough with the lack of Latinx representation in the media. He made his displeasure known in his op-ed for Billboard.com after the VMAs snubbed wordwide hit “Despacito,” despite its record-breaking success.

“‘Despacito’ is the name of a Spanish-language music video by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi with a historic record-breaking 3 billion views on YouTube. The song, not the video, was a late, perfunctory inclusion as the song of the summer at the MTV Video Music Awards,” wrote Leguizamo. “We must ask ourselves, is this a blatant omission? A proactive and decisive stand against the Spanish language? With 3 billion views, this historic song and video triumphs over the likes of, with all due respect, Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, but this is only one example of exclusion.”

The actor went on to say how the habit of exclusion hits more than just music—it hits his profession as well, and in a hard way.

“We Latin people are less than 6 percent of roles in TV, movies and all streaming platforms. Most of those Latin roles are attributed to Latin-only audiences. As if we Latins are the only people who can relate to our skin color or our accents. It’s an unconscious choice to ignore our talents and achievements and trump it up to a ‘limited market,’ but that’s what happens,” he wrote. “…While this is a slap in the face to Latin artists who work so hard to hold a mirror up to humanity as a whole (and not just Latin people), it’s far more detrimental to our youth. A youth that still grapples with identity. A youth that must still learn to fill a historic void or itself—omitted from the history books and omitted from current pop culture.”

Leguizamo put out a call to action to other Latinx in the media and otherwise to speak out louder on the issues of representation and inclusion.

“There are almost 70 million Latinos in America, and why do we remain so absent and invisible when we are the second-largest ethnic group after whites? It’s not because we don’t have top-level talent…Yet we still only account for 5 percent of artists across all platforms. I try to justify these numbers, this inaction in all sorts of ways. For myself…and most importantly, for my kids. But I shall justify them no longer,” he wrote. “…It’s time we stand up. It’s time we educated and enabled the Latin people to better the world through brilliant art. We have a lot to offer the world…and I’ve come to feel sorry for those who have yet to know it.”

You can read his full article at Billboard.com.

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How 10,000 photos helped “Black Panther” production designer create Wakanda

One of the great things about Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther is that it’s been brought to fruition to the efforts of some talented black women such as Hannah Beachler, who is the film’s production designer. During San Diego Comic-Con, the A.V. Club sat down with her to talk about her process for creating the world of Wakanda, a country that has never been colonized and was left to become the sprawling futuristic metropolis in the Marvel Universe.

Beachler said the look and feel of Wakanda came together thanks to 5,000 to 10,000 reference photos, comprised of images she and director Ryan Coogler found and were inspired by. Those photos led ideas about the politics and social atmosphere of Wakanda and neighboring nations.

“We wanted to make sure we were including all these different cultures–tribal and traditional,” she said. “Also, Wakanda’s never been colonized, so what does that look like?”

The hardest element for Beachler was “figuring out the technology for the country,” but she promised that it “will be fabulous.”

Also fabulous—Marvel was on board for much of Beachler’s concepts and gave her free reign with designs.

“Marvel was fantastic with that,” she said, adding that for some of her designs, which were very much surprises for Marvel, the company was game to see where the designs would take the film. “It’s different, more different than anything [they’ve] done at Marvel and they were on board for that, which was really fantastic,” she said.

Check out the full interview below!

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Rihanna celebrates WOC beauty with Fenty Beauty makeup line

Women of color who are also makeup obsessives know just how tough it is to find makeup that compliments your exact shade. Even harder to find are makeup companies that make women of color a priority outright, not just in shade matching but in marketing as well. Looks like Rihanna has come just in the nick of time with her Fenty Beauty line.

The makeup line is set to release on Fentybeauty.com and Sephora’s website and physical stores Sept. 8, and Rihanna has put all of us (and our wallets) on notice with this hyper-inclusive, melanin-rich promotional Instagram video.

Rihanna has definitely put all major makeup brands on blast by showing how inclusivity in the makeup industry is done. Not only does she have several shades of black women in her video—showing that she does realize how hard it is for people with the darkest skintones to find matching shades and that she plans on being their go-to girl—she also features women of other ethnicities, cultures, and even religions, showing that she’s here for multiracial, multiethnic, and heavily underrepresented women. The message, plain and simple, is “You’re beautiful, and I’m here to help you flaunt your beauty.”

The shade names also speak to Rihanna’s aesthetic and the girl Rihanna’s aiming to capture with her brand. “Chili Mango,” “Yacht Life,” “Trophy Wife” and “Confetti” all speak to the girl who either has (or is working on growing) large amounts of self-confidence, self-love, and self-worth.

In short, this is going to be one of the biggest makeup events of the year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the products.

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Janelle Monae goes to her sci-fi roots with “Electric Dreams”

If you’ve ever wanted to see a big screen adaptation of Janelle Monae’s Cindi Mayweather saga, the closest thing we might get to it is Monae in Amazon and Channel 4’s upcoming anthology series, Electric Dreams.

According to Shadow and Act, the anthology series, which could be Amazon’s version of Black Mirror, will be a 10-episode sci-fi anthology that, like Black Mirror, features stand-alone stories, each written and directed by different writers and directors. However, unlike Black Mirror, the series will be based on Philip K. Dick’s short stories.

Monae’s episode, “Autofac,” sounds like it could be a prototype for an ArchAndroid story:

“Despite society and the world as we know it have collapsed, a massive, automatic product-manufacturing factory continues to operate according to the principles of consumerism—humans consume products to be happy, and in order to consume continuously, they must be denied freedom of choice and free will. When a small band of rebels decide to shut down the factory, they discover they may actually be the perfect consumers after all.”

Dee Rees has been slated to direct one of the Electric Dreams episodes, and Terrence Howard, Jason Mitchell, Benedict Wong, Mel Rodriguez, Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, Greg Kinnear, Timothy Spall, Richard Madden, Jack Reynor, Holliday Grainger, Mireille Enos, Geraldine Chaplin, Vera Farmiga, Sarah Brown, Glenn Morshower and Anna Paquin are among the actors tapped to star in the series. (Cranston will also serve as executive producer).

The trailer doesn’t contain any snippets from Monae’s episode, but it’ll be exciting to see Monae finally act in a genre she reinvented through her music. It would seem that Monae is partly inspired by Dick’s stories (particularly Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the novel that’s the basis for Blade Runner), as well as the classic sci-fi film Metropolis (something that more than likely also inspired Dick), so if this role could serve as the launch pad for an ArchAndroid series, that would be ultra cool.

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