data-mobile="true" data-tablet-width="1100" data-tablet-small-width="840" data-mobile-width="640">
Log in

Terra Renee on How She Authored a Chapter in Book About Michelle Obama

Terra Renee shares her thoughts on Michelle Obama, as well as, how African American Women in Cinema is helping black women filmmakers

Interview Transcription:

Kizzy: Black women trying to create their own films often find the doors of opportunity shut to them. But our guest today, Terra Renee, has broken down those doors and created a space for other black women to walk through. Her company African-American Women in Cinema has been around since 1996, and she's here with us today to talk about that and the chapter in a new book called Michelle Obama's Impact on African-American Women and Girls.
Welcome, Terra.

Terra Renee: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate being here.

Kizzy: And, we're honored to have you, so we just want to jump right into the book and how did your chapter in this book come about?

Onika: Yeah, how did that happen?

Terra: Well, here's the story. I received a pass to attend the United Nations; it was actually a three-month pass to attend some events and on the last day, I started not to go. But I went on the last day and there was a program there that caught my attention. So, I went to the program, fabulous program. And, there I met the great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells.

Kizzy: Oh my God.

Onika: What was her name?

Terra Renee: Michelle Duster. And so, she was equally excited about meeting me, as I was of her. She told me that she had a deal to write a book about Michelle Obama and her effect and on African American girls and women. And, I was just blown away and she said well, we would love to have your participation.

Kizzy: That's amazing.

Terra Renee: I was shocked and I said, okay, well, I'll try and I wrote something. Several months later, I got an email saying that it was accepted and I was blown away.

Onika: Oh my God.

Terra Renee: And here's the fruit of it.

Onika: So what, what, is her effect on you?

Terra Renee: Mmm, Michelle Obama, her, wow, without giving away too much what I wrote about. First of all, it was an honor to have someone like Michelle Obama as the first lady, her class, or style, as a mother, as a wife, as a woman of who, just I mean, just very intelligent. It was just wonderful to see her on that particular platform and being positive. So, I wrote about some of the unique effects that it had on me as her being in the office, one of which was it appeared that it gave some people permission yo say oh, you're beautiful. Oh, I love the hairstyle you wore, the outfit you have. Because let's face it, Michelle Obama is a fashionista.

Onika: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Terra Renee: So, it was it was an amazing time. Pleasant eight years of just that level of power and confidence being displayed on that level.

Kizzy: right?

Onika: And, being her, just being her, flawed and all.

Kizzy: And, it’s called the Beauty of Michelle Obama, that's what your chapter is called, and you guys gotta pick it up.

Onika: Where can we find the book?

Terra Renee: Right now, it is available online, so you can go to Amazon. And also, if you send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Onika: Say that again slowly for our viewers.

Terra Renee: You can send me an email at info@AAWICdot-org, we will make sure that you can get the link and can purchase your copy.

Onika: Yes. Everyone gets your link.

Kizzy: Right, exactly, exactly. I'm glad you mentioned AAWIC because we got to talk about that too, since 1996, So, we're talking about 22-years.

Terra Renee: Well, actually, 1997. It was an idea and a concept that was birthed out of, supposedly, it was only going to be a one-time event and it came about due to lack of opportunities of women of color in entertainment. And, I wanted to change that. Just so young, and so green, when I got called for an audition that Warner Brothers was shooting a motion picture…

Onika: Because you're an actress.

Terra Renee: Well, I kind of dibbled and dabbled in it. So, they wanted a tall African American woman who was not a size zero for an under-five role and when I got to the audition site, I was blown away to see about a thousand women who fit the bill. And, I said to myself, I got to create jobs.

Onika: That’s what you said to yourself that you got to create jobs? Most people would say, this is too many bitches!!!
Laughter

Kizzy: That would be the exact words.

Laughter

Kizzy: Wow, so you were like thinking in those terms. But didn’t you think about, maybe the obstacles that you would have come up against? Did that ever enter your mind at all?.

Terra Renee: No, no. Just young, ambitious; always had a mindset of wanting to help where there was a need and that's just been in the family line. I had an uncle who marched with Dr. King and was arrested and all that. So, that's always been in the blood. I just see a need and try to fix it. I had no idea what was to come. 

Kizzy: Okay, so you tried to put together that very first film festival, how did that come together?

Terra Renee: Well, actually it was through, well, let me say this and get right to that point. So, in wanting to create jobs for women of color, I wrote a screenplay and that was my way of creating jobs.

Onika: What was it called?

Terra Renee: Oh gosh, it was so long ago.

Laughter

Onika: You remember your first screenplay.

Terra Renee: Actually, it was called Troubled Woman. Yeah, yeah, Troubled Woman. So from there, friends of mine encouraged me to apply for a grant and I didn't want to do it because I did not want to put all that work and effort into it only to be rejected. But, I did it anyway and I ended up getting the grant.

Kizzy: Nice.

Terra Renee: And, there I met a young lady who wanted to be my publicist. When I got the grant, in the letter says we're doing an awards luncheon and you have to come down and pick up your check. So that's their way of making sure everyone come to the luncheon. So when I went there, met the young lady who wanted to be my publicist and out of that meeting, which was only supposed to be a one-time event and I said, okay, I'll call it African-American Women in Cinema. The whole purpose of it was to bring attention and resources so I can fulfill my dream of hiring women in Industry.

Kizzy: Wow.

Terra Renee: But what happened was, women from everywhere came when we launched it, and I said this is a need and I think that this is my calling and what I'm supposed to be doing. And years later, many awards that I didn't even plan or even had the hindsight to see. For example, Woman of the Year from the NAACP.

Onika: That was amazing. Wow.
United States Postal Stamp Hattie McDaniel award and then going to Paris November last year to receive the African Leadership Award in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Institute.

Kizzy: Wow that is amazing.

Onika: What a wonderful journey and such a humble spirit. you come across meek and humble. What a humble spirit.

Kizzy: Very true, you come across very humble.

Onika: We’re sitting with the queen.

Kizzy: Absolutely. In terms of you’re talking about all these awards and all those accolades and stuff like that. Is there, is there something in particular that stands out where you said, oh my God, I cannot believe this is happening right now?

Terra Renee: Well, actually when I went to Paris. I could not believe that I was on a plane, going into this major award ceremony attended by world leaders, was the only woman to receive an award and the award is beautiful. It is like this tall, gold…

Kizzy: And, the name of the award again is?

Terra Renee: The African Leadership Award.

Kizzy: Wow

Terra Renee: For best female manager. That's the title that they gave me really and I was just blown away. But the mission that I set out to do begin slowly, but surely, being accomplished. We were able to offer several years ago filmmakers distribution deals.

Kizzy: Oh, wow, that's a game changer.

Terra Renee: Well it started when the whole, Oscar So White protest jumped off. Yeah, I started getting emails and calls, being contacted by institutions that realize their catalog was not diversified enough and with the name of African American Women in Cinema, we can't get no more diverse than that.

Onika: So how do we partner?

Terra Renee: So that phone call, it was very interesting. So, we end up partnering with the organization called Shorts TV whose founder is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences based in London

Onika: Nice, okay.

Terra Renee: And he offered through his colleague a deal where the filmmakers’ films will be licensed and paid in both Euros as well as US dollars for their film.

Kizzy: Oh, that's amazing. So, you know you're talking about, you know, doing all of these things and you know, seeing a need and filling that need. But the game has changed. It’s changed in the past 20 years or so. How have you seen that kind of change, you know the kinds of films you're getting and how you run your business?

Terra Renee: Well, the whole technical technology really opened up a lot of doors because back when we started, you know even editing was a major and very expensive process.

Onika: Yes, it’s still real tedious right now. Like I'm having issues right now.

Terra Renee: And then at the time, once you splice your film pieces together and the sound, you know, just making sure all that was in sync then it was trying to get a distribution deal.

Onika: Yeah.

Terra Renee: And a lot of the filmmakers that we had at the time, either four-walled a theater or they just had private screenings in different venues like a church, things of that nature. And, then they did the festival circuit and really, you know, tried to drive traffic and promotion around that. But, now since you can upload it and drive traffic to your YouTube channel and things of that nature, that has changed a lot.

Onika: It's still hard though.

Terra Renee: It is hard. You're right because you know, even though the guards were at the door when we started, making sure only a few filmmakers got a major distribution deal, there is a changing of the guard, but it's still a process, it’s still a process. The thing about technology though, if you're able to get a lot of Buzz that can kind of help it a little bit.

Kizzy: Right, exactly.

Onika: But getting the buzz is a thing, especially when you're trying to do stuff, decently, because ratchet sells.

Kizzy: Right!

Onika: Ratchet, naked.

Kizzy: Yeah, it really does.

Terra Renee: The other thing that we do, we’ve been very fortunate to carve out a platform during the Sundance Film Festival.
And so we did that actually a couple years ago. I met up with Leslie Harris, who I love and she said Terra, it's almost my 25th anniversary of Just Another Girl on the IRT and I couldn't believe it was that long right? So we went back to Sundance where she won the Jury, the first African American woman to win a Jury Prize (at Sundance) and we did the screening there and it was so well-received. So, it afforded us a relationship and then this year, we screened our first-ever faith-based film. Oh, it starred Clifton Powell, Traci Braxton Roland Martin.

Onika: Oh nice

Terra Renee: Special cameo of Tasha Cobbs and Lamman Rucker.

Onika: Nice. Oh my goodness.

Terra Renee: And the venue, they loved it so much, we actually ended up winning an award for the best program during the Sundance Film Festival.

Kizzy: Wow. That is so amazing.

Onika: That's big. Oh my God.

Terra Renee: So now we preparing to go next year.

Kizzy: Okay, that's was going to be my next question.

Terra Renee: Yes, okay, and we have a great, great film that we're super excited about, deals with mental health.

Kizzy: Such an important thing right now.

Onika: Yeah, it is.

Terra Renee: Just got off the tour. We launched the anti-gun violence tour.

Kizzy: Yes, yes; I heard about that, you had your final stop here in Brooklyn.

Terra Renee: We are going to do a makeup stop in Chicago next month. But anyway, it was an eye-opener. Very insightful the films that we screen. I think even really encourage the audience to talk even more and what I found so amazing utilizing this medium of bringing or ushering or paving a way to usher in healing. That was one of the biggest things on this tour that I saw. There were people in the audience who were just living in trauma for years, afraid to speak but they felt comfortable in the environment that we created to speak up for the first time what they've been carrying for years.

Kizzy: So, how did you get involved with that big gun violence tour was that something that you said you just wanted to do?

Terra Renee: Well, but this year when we celebrate our 20th anniversary? One or two things that we did that was different and I wanted to intertwine it (social issues) in the festival.
When I went on CNN.com and saw African-American women save democracy, and this was the whole issue that took place in Alabama.

Onika: But that's it now. Yeah, all my white girlfriends say, you know, what's gonna save the world, black women. I said, we already saved it, you keep f*ucking it up. That’s the problem, we already saved it a couple of times. But, okay, we’re the New Black.

Terra Renee: So when I saw that article and was the whole Roy Moore thing. Yeah, and I said, you know, we need to do a keynote panel on the importance of voting so that our young people could understand their power. I don't think it's been really. Really, you know taught to them in that way.

Onika: And, get into local politics and become community organizers and stuff like that. There are so many black women are going into local politics. And, look at Tish James,

Terra Renee: We’re so proud of her.

Onika: Yes, Tish, is my girl; she was at my first event. I had this event, Politics in the City, and she came to speak. She was running for public advocate then. Now, I know the AG, I think somebody needs to bow down. I am so proud.

Terra Renee: Yes, very proud.

Onika: And once we get to the table, like pass the peas. we know what is need it because we've watched and guided for so long. We have ushered so many people to greatness and just sitting there like that is so great, say that, don't say that, that's enough. That’s us, that’s us. Oh, I am so glad that you are here. You have given me some superpower. oh my God. I can do all things in Christ and black ladies.

Terra Renee: Thank you. Thank you. So, we had the keynote panel and what really touched me was the young people that came and showed up. So we had leaders from the NAACP. And different other organizations that really imparted some words to them. And, subsequently during that time, unfortunately, was another mass shooting, the Parkland Park.

Kizzy: Oh my gosh. It's like so many so many, over, and over again.

Onika: Because of mental health.

Terra Renee: Yeah, but when I saw that the young people stood up and fought. I said we have to do something. So we outreached to our connections in a couple cities and said listen, we got to add our voice to this serious issue.

Kizzy: Wow, you're just kind of like that trailblazer, you see a need and then you fill it. That's amazing.

Terra Renee: Thank you. That went really well and it went so well and what really touched me was the level of support from the cities that we went to, the elected officials that came and participated and lent their voices and then we really got to see what was going on behind the scenes if you will. And, so now we're going to gather all that Intel, as we say and now put together a plan to see how we can even be of a greater effect going forward.

Kizzy: Wow. Wow. So, you’re partnering with people moving forward?

Terra Renee: Yes. Yes.

Onika: How do we assist, how do we assist at What’s The 411, let us know.

Terra Renee: Yes, definitely going to be, once we gather all our information and having everything structurized (ed) if you will; will definitely be reaching out. And saying let you know how you can be a part of we’d love to have you.

Kizzy: Oh my, God; there’s so much gun violence in our community that it is such an emergency.

Onika: We try to bring so much joy, but you know these things that are happening we have to talk about them.

Kizzy: Going forward now, 21 years going into 22 years. What can we expect from AAWIC?

Terra Renee: Well there's a lot that we're doing. We are preparing for our 21st annual film festival in March. It's going to be really, really good four days.

Onika: It's going to be in New York?

Terra Renee: It's going to be in New York City prior to that again Sundance. Looks like we're doing a new partnership for the Cannes Film Festival in May so working on that is amazing.

Kizzy: Okay. And so what does that partnership entail?

Terra Renee: Well, we're looking to actually work on the diversity matter out there and bringing forth women of color and their talents and showcasing them.

Kizzy: Right. Yes, important; again, diversity, diversity, diversity that matters. Representation.

Terra Renee: Yes.

Kizzy: Have you get have you got any pushback though? I know it's like you, you know, you're trying to push and you trying to leave the door open? But have you got any pushback from the industry to your efforts?

Terra Renee: Well, yes in a lot of sense, especially when we first started because you know, the industry is click, click, click. Cliquish. And so, when someone doesn't realize your value. And would not take the opportunity to get to know you and see there's an opportunity to partner and look at it as a win-win situation. It makes it a little harder to find those who will right, right?

Kizzy: Okay. So that was the biggest thing you kind of create those Partnerships.

Onika: So, now you have your tribe because you say “we” all the time you've not said “I” not one time, right, right? So now you have your tribe.

Terra Renee: Yeah long time coming, still working on a few things as always but excited.

Kizzy: Okay, so talk to us. Filmmaker, right now, black woman wanting to you know, push forth their film; how would they do that? What would your advice be to them?

Terra Renee: Well, I suggest that they certainly come to the film festival. They can meet and network because a lot of things happen in networking. Quick, quick story.

Onika: Yes, getting the, getting the lighting, getting the sound. It's all about who you started out because people do stuff on the strength. You like, you’re not going to charge me? No, no, no; I believe in the project. You, do? It's not as expensive as you think.

Terra Renee: Quick Story, one year we had Mr. Robert Townsend and he gave his workshop on how'd he made his first feature film. There was an inspiring actress in the audience. And so, after he told his story, she was inspired now to become a filmmaker. The same year, we honored Regina King. So she met Regina and somehow Regina felt comfortable enough to give her, her cell phone number. And, they connected, and; she ended up doing a short film starring Regina King and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Kizzy: What, look at God.

Onika: How much are those tickets?

Terra Renee: Going to these events is worth the while right? Yeah, you see it. Yeah, and you know as a filmmaker because not only do you get to meet people who can help you but also you learn of opportunities that can push what you're doing forward, right?

Kizzy: Exactly. Absolutely. It's all about networking who you know making those Partnerships. Absolutely. So, what is your website? How can they find you? How can they connect to you?

Terra Renee: Sure, it's www.awcwire.com org?

Onika: A-A-W-I-C-dot org, guys.

Terra Renee: You can email us at info at A-A-W-I-C-dot-org as well.

Onika: Okay, perfect. And your social media handles?

Terra Renee: Yeah, Instagram is at A-A-W-I-C-Fest. Twitter is at A-A-W-I-C. And the Facebook is African-American Woman in Cinema International Film Fest…

Onika: Perfect, amazing. Thank you so much. You can come back anytime exactly. This guy's please get your copy.

Terra Renee: Yeah. I'm doing chapter signing December 3rd in Times Square.

Onika: Are you really?

Terra Renee: Yes?

Onika: Okay, December 3rd. What time?

Terra Renee: 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Onika: Where?

Well the address we will if you email us at info at AAWICdot-org

Onika: It will be on your Facebook, right?

Terra Renee: Yes.

Onika: Okay. So just follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and when they put it on their social media handles and you guys can get it on December 3rd.

Onika: So, that'll do it for this week's episode of What's The 411, your smart source for entertainment news. So, since she took my first line. I'm gonna go with the second line. Okay, and hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, WhatsThe411TV.

Onika: You can listen to our podcast on Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Apple Podcast.

Onika: Yes, yes, subscribe, subscribe to our YouTube channel, right? And it's, oh you said that already,…

Kizzy Cox: Yes, I did.

Onika: I’m Onika McLean and on behalf of Kizzy Cox because I just stole her lines, until next week.

Girls Trip - Avoid This Nasty Adventure! [MOVIE REVIEW]

In Girls Trip, the decades have passed and four college friends Ryan (Regina Hall), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), Dina (Tiffany Haddish), and Sasha (Queen Latifah) travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival. They are determined to have a GOOOD time and unleash all inhibitions.

Girls Trip is a Trip. It’s vulgar, crass and disappointing. This barrage of crudeness is ultimately the film’s undoing. There is a constant referencing to women as the “B word”. And, the “N word” and MFs are flying everywhere. There’s nothing funny about someone suspended in air urinating on the people below. This happened twice! Dina is sexually tempted by a filthy, old, homeless man who exposes himself to the group.

The characters are stereotypes fitting comfortably into pigeon holes. Tiffany Haddish, who I have to admit I had never heard of before, as Dina, is loud, crude, damn near a nympho. On the other hand, Lisa is matronly, prim and proper, and blindly devoted to motherhood. Sasha is the struggling one who’s trying to keep up a façade of financial and career success while things are crumbling. And then there’s the highly successful Ryan whose fairy tale marriage to former football star, Stewart (Mike Colter), is marketed as an example a woman who’s having it all.

The storyline involving Ryan and her husband is substantive and interesting. His ability to smoothly rationalize his misgivings is nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, his talent and the film’s attention to worthy scenes are lost in a bombardment of B.S.

I am embarrassed for Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith because they are all talented actresses. And I understand that there’s a paucity of quality roles for black women in Hollywood. But, Girls Trip?

Further, I don’t know where they got the “guy” who’s hairless, lotioned, lady legs are featured in the film’s poster. Real men don’t shave their legs – unless they’re swimmers.

Girls Trip is written by Kenya Barris who penned Barbershop: The Next Cut. That film featured black men of dignity and character. I wonder why he chose to write such trash for women.

Girls Trip also trips up when it comes to casting diversity, earning a C-. We have to be fair in discussing diversity. Other than Kate Walsh who plays Ryan’s agent, Lara Grice, a TV exec, and a few minor roles, this cast is all black including individuals in the background.

Directed by Malcolm Lee and produced by Will Packer, Girls Trip has a modest budget for films today, $28 million. It’s rated R for crude (you can say that again), sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity, and drug material. Girls Trip is 122 minutes too long.

Sorry girls but your trip is Dead on Arrival!

Jada Pinkett Smith Calls for Oscar Boycott

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Actress Janet Hubert calls Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's Oscar outrage self-serving

It is the video that has gone viral. Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith said that she will boycott this year's Academy Awards due to the lack of diversity in actor category nominations.

The video has gotten over 5 million views. Pinkett made the call after the academy failed to nominate any actor of color for an award for the second year in a row.

Actress Janet Hubert, who worked with Will Smith, Pinkett-Smith's husband, on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air jumped into the fray. Referring to Pinkett Smith as "Miss Thing," Hubert opens her video by asking, "Does your man not have a mouth of his own with which to speak?" before launching into her thoughts on the controversy that has drawn so much attention.

"I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and has made millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you're talking about boycotting just because you didn't get a nomination, just because you didn't win?" said Hubert. "That's not the way life works, baby."

Black Twitter, using the hashtag #oscarssowhite, also called for a boycott after Pinkett's husband, actor Will Smith was snubbed for Concussion and actor Idris Elba for Beast of No Nation. The movie Creed only received recognition for best supporting actor, Sylvester Stallone, and none for best director or actor.

The critically acclaimed picture, Straight Out of Compton, did not receive a nod for best picture. But actor and rapper Ice Cube said: "It's the Oscars. They do what they do, but I can't be mad. The movie grossed over $200 million."

 

Episode 75: EMPIRE, Celine Dion, Bernie Sanders, Nicki Minaj, Tara Wallace

Janet Hubert claps back at Jada Pinkett Smith's call for Oscar boycott; Tichina Arnold kicks husband to curb after viewing his sex tape with another woman

411 QUICK TAKES

FOX TELEVISION has announced that "EMPIRE" has been renewed for a third season.

An Ohio fugitive was apprehended in Florida after he sent cops a better picture because he hated his mugshot. Forty-five-year-old Donald "Chip" Pugh posted his new picture on Facebook. "Here is a better photo, that one is terrible," Pugh wrote. Now he is doing a selfie behind bars.

In other news, actor and rapper Kendrick Lamar will receive the key to the city in his hometown of Compton, California. Congrats Kendrick.

Singer Patti LaBelle is reportedly dating again....her 41 year-old drummer! The singer, who is 71, has been seeing drummer Eric Seats over the past year.

IN MEMORIAM

And, we bid a fond farewell to:

• actor Alan Rickman, who played Professor Severus Snape in the "Harry Potter" movies. He has passed away at age 69
• legendary blues singer Otis Clay, who passed away recently at age 73.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to singer Celine Dion, who lost both her husband producer Rene Angelil, and her brother, Daniel Dion, both died from cancer.

Lastly, we wish WCBS anchor Maurice Dubois a speedy recovery. Dubois has been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy.

What's The 411 - WHAT'S POPPIN'

Tichina Arnold Kicks Husband to the Curb

My family and I and I would assume most technologically inclined families do this as well, we send group chat text messages about something funny that happened or something we all should celebrate. Well, honey lamb, Tichina Arnold, who played Pam on Martin sent a group text for the ages! She found a sex tape with her husband, Rico Hines, a former assistant for player development with the Golden State Warriors, and another woman and sent it to her family as a group text!

Yes, it's reported that Tichina Arnold sent a copy of the video to his family and friends in a text message stating that "it's over between Rico and I" explaining that this was where she was drawing the line in the sand.

"This is where I part ways and all bets are off." She also stated that Rico wasn't using protection when having the alleged sex with this woman. I'm sorry "Pam" you waited so long.

Jada Pinkett-Smith Calls for Oscar Boycott and Janet Hubert Claps Back

It is the video that has gone viral. Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith said that she will boycott this year's Academy Awards due to the lack of diversity in actor category nominations.

The video has gotten over 5 million views. Pinkett made the call after the academy failed to nominate any actor of color for an award for the second year in a row.

Actress Janet Hubert, who worked with Will Smith, Pinkett-Smith's husband, on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air jumped into the fray. Referring to Pinkett Smith as "Miss Thing," Hubert opens her video by asking, "Does your man not have a mouth of his own with which to speak?" before launching into her thoughts on the controversy that has drawn so much attention.

"I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and has made millions and millions of dollars from the very people that you're talking about boycotting just because you didn't get a nomination, just because you didn't win?" said Hubert. "That's not the way life works, baby."

Black Twitter, using the hashtag #oscarssowhite, also called for a boycott after Pinkett's husband, actor Will Smith was snubbed for Concussion and actor Idris Elba for Beast of No Nation. The movie Creed only received recognition for best supporting actor, Sylvester Stallone, and none for best director or actor.

The critically acclaimed picture, Straight Out of Compton, did not receive a nod for best picture. But actor and rapper Ice Cube said: "It's the Oscars. They do what they do, but I can't be mad. The movie grossed over $200 million."

UNDER THE RADAR:

Bernie Sanders Takes his Campaign to HBCUs

Okay Hillary (Clinton), feel the Bern. Fellow Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, is taking his message of income inequality and criminal justice reform directly to a critical voting bloc he hopes will embrace his presidential candidacy: Black college students.

To win the South Carolina primary on February 27 and win over black voters in upcoming presidential contests, Sanders, the self-described socialist candidate, is forging ahead with a brand new strategy: touring Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and talking face-to-face with black college students.

Sanders' HBCU tour kicked off at South Carolina State University on January 14, which is six weeks before South Carolina's crucial Democratic primary in February, and the year's first contest in the South.

January Bargains: Electronics and Linens

Most of us like to shop, and many of us like a good bargain. So as we end January, if you need linens, now is the time to buy them. Department stores generally have "white sales" in January. Also on sale are Christmas holiday items and toys, and electronic items, such as TVs, computers, and phones as stores are making way for new products.

FAB411

5 Essential Oils Recommended for Hair and Skin

Beauty expert Essence Semaj gives her recommendations for essential oils for beautiful skin and strong and healthy hair:

Jojoba Oil: Jojoba Oil is the liquid produced in the seed of the Simmondsia chinensis plant, a shrub, which is native to southern Arizona, southern California, and northwestern Mexico. Jojoba oil is not very oily and is ideal for healthily hydrating skin and hair because it mimics the natural oils our bodies produce.

Castor Oil: A thick pale yellow oil obtained from castor beans, has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties and is high in Vitamin E, minerals, proteins, and Omega 6 and 9 beneficial fatty acids. Its unusually high ricinoleic acid ratio appears to make castor oil beneficial to skin and hair.

Additionally, castor oil has traditionally been used topically for acne and other skin conditions, as well as hair loss, rashes and more.

You can thin out castor oil by mixing it with another oil, such as mint, rosemary, or jojoba oil.

Hemp Seed Oil: Hemp seed oil is cold pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant and has a history of use dating back thousands of years to the Chinese Ming Dynasty.

In addition to its uses for heart and brain health, emp seed oil is often used as a moisturizer for the skin. Studies have indicated that hemp seed oil can dramatically decrease skin dryness to alleviate itching and irritation. Moreover, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may protect against the aging process while soothing the skin.

When choosing a source of Hemp Seed Oil, you want to be sure it is derived from organically grown hemp that is GMO-free (not genetically altered). It should be first cold-pressed, and produced in low-light and a low-oxygen environment, as heat, light, and oxygen destroy many of its natural attributes. It should also be stored in the refrigerator to maintain freshness and prevent rancidity. Hemp Seed Oil, a quality oil appropriate for nutritional, cosmetic, and medical uses, should have a dark green color and a rich, nutty flavor, and should always be packaged in a glass container, never plastic.

Grape Seed Oil: Grape seed oil is a preferred cosmetic ingredient for controlling moisture of the skin. Light and thin, grape seed oil leaves a glossy film over skin, when used as a carrier, oil for essential oils in aromatherapy. It contains more linoleic acid than many other carrier oils.

Grape seed oil is also used as a lubricant for shaving and as a growth and strengthening treatment for hair.

Tamanu Oil: Tamanu oil is derived from the large, blonde nuts of the Ati tree found in South East Asia and the Pacific Islands. Tamanu is considered to be one of the most effective agents in promoting the formation of new tissue, thereby accelerating wound healing and the growth of healthy skin.

What about coconut oil? Coconut oil is making a huge comeback and many people find coconut oil to be very useful for hair and skin. However, Essence recommends coconut oil for hair and body, but not for the face because of coconut oil's tendency to clog pores. She also recommends creating your own personal oils by mixing and matching essential oils to match your personal needs.

REALITY TV RECAP

Nicki Minaj Goes After Farrah Abraham and Abraham Returns the Favor

Stars get bored too, and some of them watch marathon episodes of Teen Moms!

Nicki Minaj blasted Farrah Abraham, on Twitter about the way she treats her mom, "your mother didn't open her legs and have that child. Be happy she's helping! Stop talking to her like that on TV u lil c***," Nicki Minaj tweeted at Farrah Abraham, a star of Teen Moms.

At first, Farrah Abraham didn't respond to Nicki Minaj's harsh words, but later decided to reply to Nicki's diss.

"Cause you're a parent right? You're videos look like porn. Horrible. Good luck being negative #godbless busy making TV."

Later, Farrah Abraham decided to use her daughter, Sophia, to deliver another slam to Nicki Minaj. The Teen Mom posted a Snapchat video of little Sophia saying,

"Hi everybody. Nicki Minaj is a total loser," along with the caption "Nicki Minaj please stop saying bad words."

Why is this 24-year-old woman on Teen Moms and why is she involving a minor in a conversation between grown people?

On Love and Hip Hop New York: Pregnancy is the Word

Peter Gunz impregnated two women, his wife Amina Buddafly and girlfriend, Tara Wallace. Ms. Buddafly made a decision to terminate her pregnancy, while Mistress Wallace decided to go through with her pregnancy.

IN THE PIPELINE:

Upcoming Events

The NAACP will hand out its 47th Annual Image Awards on February 5th

Comedian Mike Epps will appear at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on February 5th.

The legendary rap group Run DMC will receive a lifetime achievement award on the upcoming 58th Annual Grammy Awards on February 15th. The awards will be televised on CBS.

Chaka Khan! Chaka Khan, with special guest, Vivian Green, will be at The Kings Theater, on February 19th.

The grio.com is reporting that BET it will honor singer Patti LaBelle and movie producer Lee Daniels. The BET Awards will air on June 26th.

  • Published in Episodes

Theatre Review: HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME, The Music of Tupac Shakur

HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME is the Broadway musical based on the lyrics of the legendary rap artist, poet, and actor, TUPAC SHAKUR.

If you're looking for the Tupac story, this is not the one. HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME is a social commentary on the plight of black men, particularly those from low-income communities. Tupac's lyrics and music undergirds the story.

When Tupac was alive he was revered by many and reviled by some. In HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME, you get to see that Tupac Shakur was a rebel with a cause and HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME amplifies his message magnificently.

The principal cast members of HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME are: Saul Williams; Christopher Jackson; Saycon Sengbloh; Ben Thompson; John Earl Jelks; Joshua Boone; Dyllon Burnside; and Tonya Pinkins.

Kudos to director Kenny Leon. From the lead characters to the supporting cast and chorus, they bring their "A" game; you feel their passion and emotions. You will care about some of the characters, and dislike and feel sorry for others.

In HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME, as in real life, we meet young men who are seeking guidance for ways to navigate the world. They are looking for direction from their peers and from older people whose navigational compass should be intact but has gone awry. This is evidenced by examples of the misguided use of sexuality and bravado masquerading as real manhood.

The music will have you at times wanting to dance in the aisles. If you're a purist and want to hear the lyrics as much as the music, well you might be disappointed on that score. The sound system periodically precludes you from hearing the clarity of the singer's voice.

As good as the production of HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME is, there is one element missing.

Star power.

Sure, Broadway has transformed many unknowns into stars. However, when you have a production built on the music of a larger than life figure, the production deserves star power.

The book could have been written with a cameo appearance by a rapper that has street cred that we don't see or hear from every day. There are several rappers that fit this bill and any one of them would have gladly taken on the role. Hey for that matter, a long-standing hip-hop radio personality would have also worked and they could have helped with the marketing. Just ask the founders of FUBU and other urban clothing lines.

As for marketing, I'm still amazed at the number of people who don't know about HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME. It's clear that there were missed opportunities and marketing miscues unless of course, the producers were just trying to reach the traditional Broadway theater audience. The HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME logo is very unappealing. Although HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME is not Tupac's biography, it is a perception of his life through his music. Consequently, the red carpet opening should have featured high-profile friends of Pac and those who worked with him and held him in high esteem, such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Snoop Lion, Malik Yoba, and director John Singleton; not to mention various hip-hop and urban radio and TV personalities, as well as influencers within the New York City urban community.

HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME makes a profound statement and it would be sad if it were to leave the Broadway scene too soon because the marketing plan doesn't match the level of intensity coming from the cast and musicians.

Moreover, the legacy of Tupac Shakur deserves better.

HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME!

  • Published in Theatre

Throwback Interview: Suzzanne Douglas

WATCH VIDEO: Actress Suzzanne Douglas talks about her role as a mother of African-American children in a low-income urban environment in the 1990s

What’s The 411 co-host Roceania interviews actress Suzanne Douglas for her role in the movie, Jason’s Lyric, which also stars Allen Payne, Jada Pinkett, Bokeem Woodbine, Anthony “Treach” Criss, Eddie Griffin, and Forest Whitaker, was written by Bobby Smith, Jr., and directed by Doug McHenry.

Ms. Douglas gives one of the most passionate and powerful responses regarding the state of urban youth and families in 1990s America. In the film, her character recognizes that she has lost one son to the streets and she plans to do whatever she can to save her second child. Although Ms. Douglas is not a mother, she is clear that we should never give up on our children.

Brian McKnight contributed to the movie's soundtrack.

Circa 1994.

Subscribe to this RSS feed