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Hollywood Power Players Chris Spencer, Janine Sherman Barrois and Power Couple Mara and Salim Akil talk success behind the camera

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Photo: American Black Film Festival





The American Black Film Festival held “The Life of a Showrunner” panel on Saturday, June 13. Industry leaders Chris Spencer, Janine Sherman Barrois, and Mara and Salim Akil talked about their start in the entertainment industry and the work they put in to bring diversity to television and film.

Spencer talked about his transition from being a stand-up comedian to working both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes in Hollywood. As the creative genius behind The Real Husbands of Hollywood, Spencer talked about bringing the series to life and how he brought the right team of people to be on board with the project.

Her key to success she said is her willingness to always do the work and constantly write, with the rest of the panel chiming in agreement about the need for young people to get their hands dirty before they are promoted to running an entire show.

Barrois, who is known as the executive producer of Criminal Minds, said Mara and Gina Prince-Bythewood’s work inspired her to become a show runner. She got her start in the industry by participating in Warner Bros. television writers program. From there, she worked as a writer on Lush Life and The Jamie Foxx Show before going on to be a co-producer of The PJs. Her work then caught the attention of John Wells.

“Me and Mara do black on purpose. Our characters don’t just happen to be black,” said Salim on he and his wife’s commitment to bringing the complexity of African Americans to Hollywood.

As the creator of the BET hit series Being Mary Jane, Mara talked about her start in the industry as a stage production assistant and using the support of her peer network to navigate her way up the industry. She credited her education and journalism degree from Northwestern University as the foundation for her confidence in her craft and said that although she started as a production assistant, she remained mindful of her goal to become a writer.

“I’m a stage PA who’s a writer,” Akil said she would tell people.

The event was moderated by Alfred A. Edmond, SVP Executive Editor at Large, Black Enterprise

Source: Black Enterprise | ABFF

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Sanaa Lathan to Star in ‘Flyy Girl’

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Photo: Getty


Sanaa Lathan is on a roll, according to an announcement by Variety, the actress will star in and executive produce the highly- anticipated film adaptation of Omar Tyree’s trilogy, Flyy Girl. Lathan, will portray the film’s protagonist, Tracy Ellison — a successful businesswoman and workaholic who believes money is always the key to happiness.

The movie is based off a the best-selling book by Tracy Ellison and highlights an outgoing, materialistic woman with an obscure background, who eventually  plunges into a world of violence, gratuitous sex, and lies, until heartbreak forces her to take a closer look at her own life, sexuality, and dreams. The classic novel is about a young woman coming of age in the late 1980s, living life as fast as she can.

“So many people have grown up on this series and I’m looking forward to bringing Tracy Ellison’s story to life through film,” Lathan told Variety. “It’s my hope to continue to help bring diverse stories to the big screen.”

Tyree’s trilogy, which includes the books, Flyy Girl, For the Love of Money, and Boss Lady, has been read by more than 8 million people world-wide, and brought in $30 million for Simon & Schuster, Tyree’s publisher.

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Taraji P. Henson Stuns on Red Carpet at American Black Film Festival

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Taraji P. Henson was a red carpet stunner at the 2015 American Black Film Festival opening night, which kicked off on Thursday, June 11 at the SVA Theater in New York. The “Empire” actress represented as the 2015 ABFF ambassador, and brought the thunder to the red carpet in her red dress.

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The African Black Film festival is a four-day event dedicated to showcasing excellence in film and television content by and about people of African descent.

“I want to thank Jeff Friday and everyone at ABFF for the honor of serving as your 2015 ambassador. It is a privilege to join my fellow filmmakers to celebrate and support Black artists and the artistry that resides in all of us” Henson said.

The 19th Annual American Black Film Festival opens with New York's Premiere of "Dope"at The SVA Theater in New York City Featuring: Taraji P. Henson Where: New York City, New York, United States When: 11 Jun 2015 Credit: Alberto Reyes/WENN.com

(Photo: WENN)
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Jussie Smollett goes green for a great cause

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Jussie Smollett is everywhere!

The ‘Empire’ Star, was looking oh-so-hot at the 19th Annual Golden Green Millennium Awards last night in Century City. Smollett, who was s speaker at the event, looked sleek in all black. [see pictures below]

Smollett was in good company. Other celebrities in attendance included Ed O’Neill, and Stevie Wonder. Global Green USA’s CEO, Dr. Les McCabe,welcomed environmental luminaries, and supporters. “We were so honored and humbled to celebrate the significant accomplishments of all our honorees at the 19th Annual Millennium Awards,” said Dr. McCabe. “Thanks to the hundreds of supporters who attended the event, Global Green will be able to continue its significant work to create climate resilient communities in Los Angeles, New Orleans and in cities across the country that have healthier and greener homes, schools and buildings. This would also have not been possible without our supporters who included, Turf Terminators, Energy Upgrade California, VEEV and Mobile Cause among others.”

Smollett presented the award for human rights legend to Bishop Desmond Tutu – International Environmental Leadership Award (televised acceptance speech). Other awards handed out included performing artist Prince Ea –; Entertainment Industry Environmental Leadership Award for his breakout music video “Sorry”; which has been viewed over 64 million times on YouTube and is helping engage a new generation in the fight against climate change; Daniel Weiss and Yaniv Tepper, Co-founders, Angeleno Group – Corporate Environmental Leadership Award for their impact investing in the renewable energy sector; Judd Malkin and Neil Bluhm, Founders, JMB Realty – Green Building Leadership Award for their commitment to building energy efficient buildings accepted by Sarah Shaw; Dr. Vandana Shiva – Individual Environmental Leadership Award, for her tireless work in promoting sustainability across the globe, Energy Upgrade California – California Environmental Leadership Award for the initiative’s pioneering efforts in reducing energy consumption; Ibrahim AlHusseini  General Partner, Full Cycle Energy Fund – Environmental Community Leadership Award, for his fund’s work in nurturing entrepreneurs and technologies in the renewable energy sector.

Guest musical performance by American Idol and The Voice contestant Adam Lasher.


The Millennium Awards were established in 1996 to recognize and herald those whose lives and livelihood embody Global Green USA’s mission of “fostering a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future.” The Awards were designed to honor individuals, companies and organizations who recognize the connection between humankind and nature, to celebrate their success and inspire others. They are presented annually in Los Angeles.


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Global Green USA is dedicated to helping the people, places, and the planet in need through catalytic projects, transformative policy, and cutting-edge research. Global Green USA’s signature programs include greening affordable housing, schools, neighborhoods, and cities as well as rebuilding communities — such as New Orleans and areas of New York and New Jersey — that have suffered from the impacts of climate change, sea level rise, and environmental degradation. Global Green USA is the U.S. affiliate of Green Cross International, which was founded by President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993 to foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future.

For more information, visit globalgreen.org

SOURCE: Global Green

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Holly Robinson Peete Receives Helping Hand Award

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Holly Robinson Peete was incredibly humbled to receive the “Helping Hand” award from the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation at their 5th Annual Gala on May 16, 2015 for her work with the HollyRod Foundation which she co-founded 17 years ago with her husband Rodney Peete.

Held at the Hilton Chicago, the evening was co-hosted by Tamron Hall, co-host of NBC’s Today Show, along with Steve’s daughter Karli Harvey. With a packed house of more than 400 guests and supporters, over $1 million was raised to support SMHF’s important work serving young adults through mentorship programs: Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Menand Girls Who Rule the World.

Holly was in extremely good company as three other incredible individuals were honored as well: basketball great Dwyane Wade and his sister Tragil (Wade’s World Foundation), business leaders John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman, CEO and Chief Executive Officer of Ariel Investments, LLC and Alex B. Cummings, Chief Administrative Officer of The Coca-Cola Company.



Holly says, “Being recognized for my service to the Parkinson’s and autism communities is wonderful in itself so imagine how awestruck I was when my 17 year old son RJ – the son I was told would never say ‘I love you’ – stood on the stage and called me his “hero” for “never giving up” on him. What mother could hold back her tears? Not this mother, and as I looked around the room, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room, not even Dwyane Wade’s!”


“Our sincerest thanks to Steve and Marjorie Harvey for the Helping Hands award and congratulations to Dwyane, Tragil, John, and Alex on their awards!” -HollyRod




For more information on Holly’s charity visit http://www.hollyrod.org

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The Mindy Project finds new home at Hulu

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Director, Actress, and Executive Producer Mindy Kaling has found a new home for The Mindy Project.


After its departure from Fox, the Kaling comedy has found a new home at Hulu. The terms of the deal and premiere date were not immediately disclosed, but it is a go. Universal Television, the studio that makes The Mindy Project, began talks with Hulu immediately after Fox passed on a fourth season.

Hulu announced on Friday that it has ordered a fourth season of The Mindy Project that will total 26 episodes — making the comedy part of its original programming slate, and future seasons a possibility.

“I am thrilled The Mindy Project has found a new home on Hulu, where so many of our fans are already watching the show. It’s such an exciting place to be,” Kaling said in a statement.

Universal Television, the studio that makes The Mindy Project, began talks with Hulu immediately after Fox passed on a fourth season.

Mindy has been a beloved member of the Hulu family, so this deal is a natural extension of our relationship,” said Craig Erwich, senior vice-president and head of content for Hulu, in a statement. “With so many of her fans already catching up and tuning in to the series on Hulu, we know her millions of fans will be eager to find out what Mindy has in store for the next chapter.”

Universal Television’s executive vice-president Bela Bajaria said in a statement: “We are excited about our partnership with Hulu and look forward to sharing our amazing comedy with the show’s many loyal fans for seasons to come.”



Awards Shows Beauty Events


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On Sunday, February 15th, 2015, LATF (LA TV FILM) hosted the very first annual Hollywood Beauty Awards, honoring the real heroes of the red carpet and benefiting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

K-EARTH 101’s radio star Lisa Stanley emceed the beautiful black-tie event at the legendary Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. The HBAs bring long overdue recognition, appreciation and applause to the creative artisans, craftsman and miracle workers who, not only create, sculpt and hone a star’s public persona, but infuse their every red carpet appearance, photo-shoot and even the quickest paparazzi shot, with a little bit of that special Hollywood glamour. Celebrity Makeup Artists, Hairstylists, Photographers, etc. From the studio to the red carpet and back again, they are the artists who paint the town beautiful and make Hollywood one of the most talked about cities in the world.

Oscar winning actress, Jane Fonda presented an Outstanding Achievement Award for Makeup to Bernadine M. Anderson, the first African-American woman to break into the Local 706. Ms. Fonda and Ms. Anderson reunited decades later, after working together for eight years on award-winning films. The distinguished, Sir Patrick Stewart (“Star Trek,” “X-Men”) gave a heart-felt speech, honoring Hollywood makeup royalty, Michael Westmore. Mr. Westmore worked on “Star Trek” for its entire 18 year run. In one of the most touching moments of the night, the vibrant Jenifer Lewis (“Black-ish,” “Think Like A Man Too”) impromptu sang “His Eye On The Sparrow” to Hairstyling honoree, Julia L. Walker, with whom she worked on films such as, “Sister Act” and “The Temptations.” Actress, Bai Ling presented Martin Samuel (“Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Evita”) with the Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling Award, whom she worked with on “Wild Wild West.” One of the most famous celebrity photographers, Harry Langdon, who’s shot countless superstars, was presented with the Outstanding Achievement In Photography Award by Golden Globe nominated actress, Morgan Fairchild (“Flamingo Road,” “Friends”).

Hit recording-artist, Tommy Roe (“Dizzy,” “Sheila”) presented The Timeless Beauty Award to Barbara Eden (“I Dream of Jeanie,” “Harper Valley PTA”). Greg Finley (“The Flash”), Graham Patrick Martin (“TNT’s Major Crimes”) presented The New Beauty Award to Meagan Tandy (MTV’s “Teen Wolf”), Virginia Gardner (“Project Almanac”), Constance Wu (ABC’s “Fresh Off The Boat”)

Dayna Devon (“Extra), Nia Peeples (“Pretty Little Liars,” “The Young And The Restless”) and Carla Gonzalez (Miss United Nation International) announced the winners in each competing category.

Three established nominees COMPETED in the honoree categories of hair, makeup and photography).


Autumn Moultrie (WINNER)
Carola Gonzalez
Shannon Pezzetta

Thuy Pham (WINNER)
Gregory Arlt (WINNER)
Billy B.

Marcia Hamilton (WINNER)
Rhonda O’Neal
Vanessa Heshima Sims

Lea Journo (WINNER)
Sean James
Stephanie Hobgood

Emmanuelle Choussy (WINNER)
Alberto Tolot
Lionel Deluy


Michele Elyzabeth, CEO of LATF & President of the 1st HOLLYWOOD BEAUTY AWARDS stated, “It was a memorable night. I was impressed with the mega-stars who joined us to celebrate the architects of beauty. I look forward to next year and building the HBAs into LA Beauty Week.”

Pamela Price, Vice President of LATF & Executive Producer of the 1st HOLLYWOOD BEAUTY AWARDS stated, “I knew that this would be a success but I was truly touched by the gratitude and heartfelt speeches from the honorees and nominees.”

Otis Stokes, President of LATF, Producer.

Deborah Bauer, Special Projects Director.

LATF (LA TV FILM) is a daily news site and monthly online magazine, covering entertainment and  lifestyle content worldwide, from beauty to fashion, film, TV, music, travel, etc. “No gossip, just news.”

SOURCE: www.latfusa.com

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View inside the 1st Annual Hollywood Beauty Awards : Sunday, February 15, 2015 at the Fonda Theatre


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Regina King, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, & OITNB Cast Will be Honored at Essence’s Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon

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The eighth annual “Black Women in Hollywood” luncheon is set to take place Feb. 19 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. Essence’s Editor-In-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca and Shaun Robinson from Access Hollywood announced this year’s honorees Wednesday via an online press conference.

“Orange Is The New Black” stars Uzo Aduba, Vicky Jeudy, Danielle Brooks, Lorraine Toussaint, Samira Wiley, Adrienne C. Moore and Laverne Cox will receive the Vanguard award, and Ruth E. Carter will be honored with the Visionary Award.

Regina King will receive The Fierce & Fearless Award, while Gugu Mbatha-Raw will receive the Lincoln Breakthrough of the Year Award.

The Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon recognizes the extraordinary achievements of trailblazing women in film and television.

Past honorees include: Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong’o, Ava DuVernay, Halle Berry, Viola Davis, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Angela Bassett, Queen Latifah, Taraji P. Henson, Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, Mara Brock-Akil, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Suzanne de Passe, among others.

“The past year has been a game-changer for women in Hollywood. We are creating, performing and calling the shots,” De Luca stated in a press release. “By recognizing our leading ladies both in front of and behind the camera, Essence Black Women in Hollywood illuminates the ‘power of our presence,” noted Michelle Ebanks, Essence president.

“Essence embodies the diversity of our stories, and Black Women in Hollywood allows us to honor fresh and innovative storytelling, as well as groundbreaking portrayals,” added Ebanks. “This year we are proudly honoring seven brilliant actresses from the original hit series “Orange is the New Black”; a critically-acclaimed actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw; an accomplished performer and director with a career spanning three decades Regina King; and an inspirational creative talent Ruth E. Carter.”

Fans can gain exclusive access to the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon by visiting Essence.com. The site, which will feature highlights and a look inside will also live stream red-carpet happenings and interviews with the stars at 11:00 a.m. PST/2:00 p.m. EST and re-air at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST.

Essence celebrates its 45th anniversary this year and according to the release, the event will commemorate the magazine’s annual Hollywood issue (March), which will hit newsstands on Feb. 13th.