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Blair Underwood Talks ‘Self Made’ / EUR Exclusive

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Blair Underwood in ‘Self Made.’

*Blair Underwood is considered to be one of our national treasures. He has an illustrious career with numerous iconic roles in film, television, and onstage.

Underwood just wrapped his extraordinary role in Broadway’s powerful play, “A Soldier’s Story.” Now he stars in the not to be missed four-part limited Netflix series, “Self Made” that starts streaming today, March 20.

In an exclusive EUR interview at the Whitby Hotel in New York, Underwood talked about the importance of “Self Made,” his character, working with the cast, and the “screaming ladies” factor.

What were the circumstances surrounding you getting on board with ‘Self Made?’

The fact that Octavia Spencer was playing Madam CJ Walker struck me first. Secondly, the fact that she called to tell me that the invitation was coming down to join the cast. I said, ‘So I’m playing your man?’ She said, ‘Yes, but you’re playing the man that helped make the woman.’ Oh. All right!

How familiar were you with Madame CJ Walker?

 I didn’t know anything about Madame CJ Walker. I didn’t even know that Madam CJ Walker was a reference to Charles Joseph Walker. Of course, as you well know, her name was Sarah Breedlove, but she was known as Mrs. CJ Walker, Madam CJ Walker. So that configuration and that relationship I wasn’t aware of.

RELATED: New Docu-Series (‘Behind Her Faith’) Shares Inspirational Stories of Faith About Women of Color

Blair Underwood and Octavia Spencer in ‘Self Made.’

What is the significance of ‘Self Made?’

I think first and foremost one can be inspired by her story and really contemplate just what it took for her to accomplish what she did as a hair entrepreneur in the late 1800s and early 1900s at that time as a woman. She was the first female self-made millionaire. People often make the mistake of calling her the first black female millionaire. We need to know about these inspiring stories.

How was it on the set and working with the cast?

First of all, I gotta tell you, I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard on any set. I mean, you got Octavia Spencer, who I’ve known for 25 years, who is hilarious, number one. You’ve got Tiffany Haddish. You got Bill Bellamy. You got Garrett Morris, who had me dying. I loved coming to the set every day. It’s a great project and we laughed a whole lot.

What scene or scenes stand out in your mind?

 The scenes I loved the most were the scenes where we got to really establish the love affair. We all know the relationship goes askew but this man really loved that woman. There are men in 2020 who have a hard time living in the shadow of a successful woman. Imagine the early 1900s, and this black man brought a lot to the team.

I was at ‘A Soldier’s Play’ and when you took off your shirt the women lost their minds?

[Laughs] A friend came backstage and she said, ‘Why did they do that to you? It’s such a powerful play.’ I said, ‘Listen. I’m a grown-ass, 55-year-old man. Nobody does anything to me that I don’t want them to do. If I take my shirt off and women respond favorably, I’m not offended by that. What are you talking about?’

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Black Celebrity Gossip - Gossip

NBC Relaunches ‘Saved By The Bell’ on Peacock TV

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*When your favorite tv show goes off the air do you think about the lives of their characters?

Wondering where would they be now, what would they be up to now? “Saved By The Bell” fans will get those answers in the relaunch of the show on NBC’s Peacock.  

A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) is a PE teacher and coach and Bayside and Jessie Spano ( Elizabeth Berkely) is a counselor at the school. What is Zack Morris (Marc-Paul Grosselaar) doing, well he is the governor of California, of course, Zack Morris became a politician. And as we saw in the wedding special “Saved By The Bell: Wedding In Vegas” he and Kelly Kapowski got married. They now of a son, Mac Morris who is attending their high school alma mater Bayside High. Mac Morris, played by Mitchell Hoog, seems like a Zack Morris 2.0. He is the popular kid at school who finds himself living in the shadow of his infamous father.

We talked with Mitchell Hoog about his role as Mac Morris and if he himself felt any pressure playing Zack Morris’ son. 

“ I don’t think I felt pressure to live up to the legacy of the Morris name, me as an actor I always put it within the story. So within the storyline, I have pressure to live up to my dad,” says Hoog. 

MORE NEWS: LeVar Burton Reacts to Petition to Make Him New Jeopardy! Host

Mitchell Hoog’s character isn’t the only character following in their parents’ footsteps. Jamie Spano, played by Belmont Cameli, is Jessie Spano’s (Elizabeth Berkely) son who also has to live up to his mom’s high school reputation.  

This reboot’s main focus is the new generation but having the original cast be so a large part of the show brings enough nostalgia for old fans to enjoy this new version of “Saved By The Bell.” It is said that the whole season is full of little Easter eggs that fans of the original should pick up on.  

Don’t miss “Saved By The Bell” streaming on Peacock from November 25.  

 

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Jada Pinkett Smith Announces Animated Short ‘Cops and Robbers’ About Police Brutality [VIDEO]

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*Jada Pinkett-Smith has announced her timely new animated short “Cops and Robbers,” is set to premiere Dec. 28 on Netflix.

Directed by Arnon Manor, the project was written and performed by Timothy Ware-Hill in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Manor used one of Ware-Hill’s poems for their collaboration, Variety reports. 

The duo said they made this film “for all the Black men, women and children who have been victims of racial profiling, police violence, loss of life and other injustices just for being themselves.”

Pinkett-Smith apparently serves as a producer on the animated short, and she spoke with Variety about getting the title to Netflix, and why the message resonates with her. 

Hear/watch the actress tell it via the clip above, and check out a few excerpts from her interview below. 

READ MORE: Months After Announcing Split Lena Waithe’s Wife, Alana Mayo, Files For Divorce

Over 30 individual artists, students and VFX companies from around the world collaborated to each create a short segment of the poem with their own visual interpretation of the subject matter and individual animation technique. Half the animators on the “Cops and Robbers” are Black animation artists,” per Variety.

“I’m so proud of this project and I can’t wait for you to see it,” Pinkett Smith wrote on Twitter. Here’s what she told the publication about the upcoming film:

Why was it important for you to be a part of “Cops and Robbers?”
As an African American woman, it was one of those pieces that I could feel powerful messaging with such compassion from the perspective of the African American community. It was this explanation with this bleeding heart of what we are experiencing during this particular time.

For me, it was this emotional connection that pierced my heart and soul.

It was also written by a very talented African American male, and then, I realized how many minorities had contributed their talent as animators to the project. It’s important that I flow resources in any way that I can to voices and the talent I feel as though doesn’t always have equal opportunity.

My friend Ramsey Naito is president of Nickelodeon animation and she said, ‘I wish there was something we could do with it at Nickelodeon.’ I told her I wanted to be involved and I was down with it. I had a conversation with Lawrence Bender who is a producer and I wanted to help.

The story is such a powerful one with its messaging.
It had so much vulnerability. A lot of times, you could get this messaging and sometimes it can be militant and have power to it. The way this particular expression that we don’t often see while talking about topics of this kind had so much vulnerability, especially through the lens of a Black man. You do not see that a lot and that for me was important because it humanizes Black men. It also humanizes Black people and marginalized communities.

We can talk about the issues, but if you don’t feel, if you don’t really see and understand that and see that there’s nothing to fear — we are human and we bleed just like you. I found that be a very powerful component.

“Cops and Robbers” didn’t find a home at Nickelodeon. It found a home at Netflix, which is global and will raise this global awareness to Black Lives Matter and police brutality, how did that happen?

We got together and had a conversation with quite a few people at Netflix who had seen the project and absolutely loved it. As a team, we just came together. We said, ‘Look, you know as well as we do that this is a powerful piece. It’s not only powerful, but it’s important. We feel that your platform is the place that this piece needs to be.’ And thank goodness they were in agreement and they took it on. We really felt that Netflix was the best place for the short.

Read her full interview here.

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Tyler The Giver: TP Studios Holds Food Drive Giveaway for Thousands in Atlanta / WATCH

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*This past weekend Tyler Perry was focused on giving to the people and it appears that the people were in a receiving mood so the stage was set for a hook up of mass proportions this past weekend.

Oh what a glorious time it was for all involved. Starting Saturday evening and well into Sunday, the people came to the Tyler Perry Studios outside of Atlanta by the thousands ahead of an extremely challenging Thanksgiving.

We’re talking incredibly long lines of cars as folks came to get in on the food drive giveaway the studio dubbed TPSGiving  which aimed to feed 5,000 families.

MORE NEWS: Taraji P. Henson on Living the Single Life After Ending Engagement

Tyler Perry food giveaway1 (Tyler Perry Studios)

Photo: Tyler Perry Studios

Here’s more via TMZ:

TP and co. promised to offer up nonperishables as well as gift cards to the first 5,000 families to pull up to their grounds … and the people heard them loud and clear, because the cars started arriving as early as Saturday afternoon, and only grew bigger going into Sunday — with the drive going from 8 AM ET to noon.

Check out this drone footage TMZ obtained that shows a bird’s-eye view of the scene — you can see traffic backed up all along the surrounding freeway there … and word on the ground is that it was even more packed than what this shows.

Tyler Perry food giveaway (Tyler Perry Studios)

Photo: Tyler Perry Studios

Now, you might be wondering just how this went down safely in midst of a vicious pandemic.  Tyler’s staff made sure the hand-off of goods was all curbside pickup, and everyone receiving a care package was asked to wear masks. The TPS employees were covered in PPE from head to toe as well, so by all accounts … it was as safe as can be for this type of thing.

As TMZ also noted, “the charitable deed is nothing new on Tyler’s part, especially as the pandemic has ravaged much of the country. Tyler’s done everything from tipping the hell out of a local restaurant staff — with upwards of $20k-plus — and also picked up the tabs of grocery shoppers in NOLA and Atlanta earlier this year too.”

 

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