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Tongayi Chirisa is Compelling in ‘Antebellum’ / EUR Exclusive

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Tongayi Chirisa in “Antebellum.” Photo: Matt Kennedy Courtesy of Lionsgate

*Rising star Tongayi Chirisa has had quite a ride, with TV movies and series, including ‘Palm Springs’ and ‘The Jim Gaffigan Show.’

Now adding to his impressive repertoire is the compelling alternate reality film, “Antebellum.” In an exclusive interview with EUR, Chirisa related just how relevant the movie is, and how little things have changed with respect to racism.

Tongayi, explain your character’s motivation in the ‘Antebellum’?

I can’t say too much without spoiling it for the rest of the people that will read this, but Eli has seen the brutality that happened to him and others that he loves. It gets to a point where he feels like he now needs to try and figure out a way to get out of that hell hole.

Needless to say, ‘Antebellum’ is among the most relevant films released this year. Can you speak on this?

Oh, my God. It is a carbon copy. It is the mirror of what is happening today. It is no different to what was taking place in the 1960s with the civil rights movement, with the slaves, with underground railroads, with people trying to fight for freedom and liberty. The same theme is recurring 400 years later, which is, give us our freedom. Give us the equality that you so spoke about. Give us the privileges that you are so enjoying, and yet somehow you keep suppressing us from having those same benefits. Give us our equality!

RELATED: ‘Antebellum’ Stars Gabourey Sidibe & Lily Cowle Discuss Race and White Allies

Arnold Tongayi Chirisa ANTEBELLUM

Tongayi Chirisa

What was your initial reaction when you received the script to this fantastic film?

As I read it, there was that moment when the world was turned upside down. I jumped up out of my chair, threw the script down, and hollered. I was like, ‘No way.’ I hadn’t seen something like this in a movie. So I had to be a part of this. And when they told me  Janelle (Monáe) was going to be the lead in it, I was like, ‘Wow, this is writing itself.’

Janelle is a pop icon and the center of everything that is cultural, everything that is about the movement, and the improvement of Black consciousness.  I love who she is, what she stands for and what she advocates for. So to be a part of this film with this dynamic woman, this goes down in the history books for me.

There are so many truths and great messages in ‘Antebellum,’ but is there any one particular thought you want viewers to walk away with?

That’s a very multilayered question because there’s so many things that one can walk away with. Are you for equal or are you not? And if you’re not, why? If we say that we’re created equally in the eyes of God, is that being reflected and represented today? And if that’s not the case, what needs to be addressed to make sure that everyone gets the same treatment regardless of race or color.

Directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, “Antebellum” also stars Gabourey Sidibe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, and Kiersey Clemons.

Veteran, syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on mainstream media and the Black diaspora. Facebook.com/TheFilmStrip    Twitter: @thefilmstrip Instagram.com/thefilmstriptm

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Male Model and Dancer in Janet Jackson’s ‘What Have You Done for Me Lately’ Video is Now a WOMAN / LOOK

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Lana Houston1 (FacebooK)

*In the late 1980s, Rudy Houston was a well-recognized and talented model and dancer, perhaps best remembered as the leading man in Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately” video.

He was the guy that women went crazy over because of his looks and dance moves. Houston was also the man who singer Pebbles was asking in her song, “Mercedes Boy,” if he wanted to ride with her in the song’s video, released in 1988.

While Rudy Houston was his name back in the day, today, he is a she…and goes by the name Lana Houston.

And according to Lana Houston, she is now “all-woman” in every sense of the phrase.

WHOAH! DID U SEE THIS? Ex-NBAer Zach Rudolph Files for Divorce Weeks After Tweeting ‘I Married A Ho’

Janet Jackson & Rudy Houston

Janet Jackson dancing with then male dancer, Rudy Houston, in ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately’ music video

Lana Houston (Facebook)

Lana Houston (Facebook)

Her sex change journey has been a long road, which for the most part, remained out of the media’s broad reach, until now because Houston is back and wants the world to know.

“Yes, it is true that I have transitioned from male to female,” Houston said in a statement that appears on I Love Old School Music’s website. “I began my transition from male to female in 1995. I needed time away from the entertainment industry to find my inner peace and embark on my intense and wonderful journey to womanhood. I am finally at peace. I am currently residing in L.A., where I work as an artist painting portraits and abstracts.”
Houston said she is grateful for her sex transition and to have fans. She is also looking for songwriters and music producers to collaborate with.

“Thanks to all those who were concerned about my whereabouts,” Houston said. “I’m back from the ‘dead.’ ”

 

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Kristen Welker: Presidential Debate Moderator is One Bad-azz Sista!

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Kristen Welker (debate - Getty) - BB1ajEXz

Kristen Welker (Getty)

*OK Kristen Welker, let us join the chorus of praise you are getting for your stellar job of moderating Thursday night’s presidential debate. In fact, one of the participants owes you an apology. We’ll get to that later.

For those experiencing Welker for the first time and don’t anything about her, she grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Harvard in 1998. She became NBC’s White House Correspondent in 2011, and was recently named co-anchor of NBC show Weekend Today.

Welker, 44, is only the second black woman to moderate a presidential debate alone. The first was ABC News journalist Carole Simpson in 1992.

Earlier this month, two other journalists tried their hands at moderating and it didn’t turn out so well for them. Fox News’ Chris Wallace caught  heat for his moderation of the first Trump-Biden debate, while USA Today’s Susan Page was also criticized for her handling of the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.

MORE NEWS: Obama Calls Out Trump’s ‘Secret’ Bank Account in China, Says Fox News Would’ve Called Him ‘Beijing Barry’ [VIDEO]

Chris Wallace - Kristen Welker (Getty)

Chris Wallace – Kristen Welker (Dailly Beast composite/Getty)

Even Wallace admitted he was “jealous.” During Fox News’ post-debate coverage, in so many words he said he wishes it was him instead of Welker at last night’s debate:

“I would have liked to have been able to moderate that debate and to get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions.”

But in all honesty, Welker didn’t have a complete fool in Donald Trump to deal with like Wallace did. In any event, it’s obvious Welker didn’t want to deal with the BS Wallace had to deal with, as she was praised specifically for managing to keep the Trump and Biden in line, and controlling the conversation – though she did have the advantage of the candidates being muted during each others’ allotted two minutes.

Meanwhile, fellow journalists are also praising Welker’s performance. NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson called it “a career-defining moment,” while another sista, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner said she “gave the American people a real debate.”

Also, PBS White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said she was “beaming” watching Welker.

Author Brigitte Gabriel said she did a better job than Wallace, and one person went so far as to suggest she deserved a medal for her performance.

And despite calling Welker “terrible and unfair” ahead before the debate, Trump took time during the debate to praise the moderator’s performance.

“By the way, so far I respect very much the way you’re handling this,” he said.

And for even those words of praise to come out of HIS mouth is nothing short of a miracle and is the closest thing resembling an apology to ever come from Donald Trump.

Dayuuuum Kristen, you are one bad-azz sista!

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Pastor Cal Keeps Love Alive on ‘Married at First Sight’ (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)

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*For 11 seasons, “Married at First Sight” (MAFS) has been the ultimate experiment in matchmaking as couples who have never met – complete strangers – tie the knot.

If you are not familiar with the popular Lifetime series, people looking for love are matched by relationship experts (Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Dr. Viviana Coles, and Pastor Calvin Roberson-known as Pastor Cal) and agree to tie the knot before meeting their mates.

The show follows the couples for a few weeks as they experience their first meeting at their weddings, their honeymoons, meeting each other’s families, and other milestone events all the while being counseled by the experts. At the end of each season, the couples are given the chance to continue in their marriage or get a divorce.

MORE NEWS: The Pulse of Entertainment: Gospel’s Brianna Collins Shows God ‘Honor & Praise’ with New Single

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Pastor Calvin Roberson (Pastor Cal) is one of the experts matching couples on “Married at First Sight.” (Photo: Lifetime)

While some may question the show’s premise, the EUR spoke to Pastor Cal recently and he said the series is genuine.

“My job on the show is to get these couples, put them together, and make sure they stay together,” said Pastor Cal. “My goal is to look at their differences, see where they’re compatible, counsel them and in some cases, threaten them, to make it work. All the experts, our focus, is simply making sure the couples stay together.”

As for a method in which the couples are matched, he added, “There isn’t a solid formula we apply to every couple. It has to be tweaked as we find out people’s peculiarities. It can be nerve-wracking but it’s rewarding in the end.”

Like many MAFS seasons, there are surprising revelations and this one, featuring couples from New Orleans, is no exception.

“Season 11 has brought us so many surprises,” Pastor Cal said. “Even in casting, one of the couples we thought would get along much quicker is one of the ones lagging behind. And one couple we thought would move slower to intimacy are moving ahead. And that’s with Miles and Karen being the slower and Woody and Amani being the faster of the two.”

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Woody and Amani in current season (11) of “Married at First Sight.” (Photo: Lifetime)

He continued, “Also, by my own admission, I fall on the sword on this one, I was not expecting Bennett and Amelia to get along so well. I thought she would be put off more by his lack of profession. It was a big surprise to me.”

The next MAFS season will include Atlanta couples and after that the show heads to Houston, which is casting now. Pastor Cal told the EUR that the show adapts to the couples from each city.

“I believe that every city we film in brings a certain flavor and the participants from that city take on the flavor from that city,” Pastor Cal said. “New Orleans is laid-back, they party, and it’s a very fun city as opposed to a city like D.C. that is very political, buttoned up, and tight. But definitely we found that every city influences the participants. We definitely see different personalities coming out of each city.”

MAFS Houston Flyer

Speaking of Atlanta, Pastor Cal is the lead pastor at Progression church in the peach city. He and his wife Wendy have a marriage coaching organization that offers marriage and relationship conferences, boot camps, and seminars worldwide.

While COVID-19 may have slowed down the in-person events, that has not stopped people from contacting Pastor Cal for love connections, “Because of COVID, we’re online. I get more people through DM’s, email, etc. asking me to match them.”

And how does the church feel about the show?

“My church actually loves it.” Pastor Cal said. “They are so supportive and such an incredible group of people. They tell people about the show. Our church was actually founded on relationships, so it was an easy fit. Our church was founded on positive marriage and positive family.”

Look out for Pastor Cal’s book, “Marriage Ain’t for Punks,” slated to come out next year.

If you are interested in being on “Married at First Sight” and live in Houston, click here to apply.

For more information on MAFS’ current season, click here.

 

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