Celebrating Diversity In The Entertainment Industry
Douglas H. Melloy ASCENDING TO HIGHER LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
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This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Douglas H. Melloy, who is an author, spiritual teacher, and amongst other things uses his knowledge to assist humanity with its collective ascension. Although it may seem too complex to wrap our minds around, his philosophy comes down to this – Feel something real, think something true and share them in ways that are kind and conducive. UnFiltered Talk is a live hosted show that openly interviews people from all areas of influence. We speak with Celebrities, Influencers, Business Leaders and people that front runners in their space who share their deepest thoughts and experiences on all things love and life! The show is sponsored by the UnFiltered dating app available in all the App stores. The marvelous Melba Moore who rode the music charts in the 80s now demonstrates that staying power has never gone out of style. After four decades of life on stage, her appeal is timeless with a new album - Imagine - which is climbing the charts. She is singing new songs today with a vocal range that has not dimmed with time. Her voice is powerful with purpose and passion. Her multi-octave vocal range continues to wow all who listen Enjoy!
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Music, Film and More Douglas H. Melloy
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BEYONCÉ RELEASES RENAISSANCE THE SEVENTH STUDIO ALBUM IS NOW AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE ON ALL MAJOR STREAMING PLATFORMS FROM HER own label Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, RENAISSANCE arrives six years after the globally lauded LEMONADE was released in 2016 as a complete surprise. The originator of the visual album format, and the preeminent visual artist, decided to lead without visuals giving fans the opportunity to be limitless in their expansive listening journey. It is a chance again to be listeners and not viewers, while taking in every gem of the pristine production. While "Break My Soul," the first single, arrived with a minimal atureshifting move from the artist who has defined an era with reinvention. RENAISSANCE has been the most anticipated album of the year as Beyoncé shifted gears and notified her fans of new music on June 15 through an update in her bio on her social handles, "act i RENAISSANCE July 29." She continued the unconventional rollout with the release of the album's first single, "Break My Soul," which arrived at Midnight on the summer solstice. Instantly addicting with a pulsating beat, with lyrics that urge listeners to claim joy and to "release the wiggle." The single, a worldwide hit, has been called the song of the summer and an anthem for this generation. Packed with rousing anthems that resonate with everybody, RENAISSANCE is a culmination of freedom and escape that encourages unimaginable jubilation, agency, and movement with abandon. The singular intent of RENAISSANCE, a reinvention of four on the floor, is to showcase music that stirs you from the soul and encourages your dancing feet. It is a celebration of a club era when anyone who felt like an outsider sought each other 4 • HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY
and formed a community of freedom-seekers to express themselves creatively through the rhythm, which we still celebrate today. Welcome to CLUB RENAISSANCE. The magic of RENAISSANCE is also in Beyoncé's soaring vocals, rich, soulful, at times vulnerable and laden with passion and purpose in what could only be described as "SANGING." And it expands over memorable lyrics that are bold, heartened, urgent and categorically timely. While the visuals are scheduled for a later date, the album comes with a robust menu of formats giving music fans and collectors plenty to choose. The music store on Beyoncé's website offers album merch and multiple configurations of RENAISSANCE, listing a CD, digital album, a limited-edition vinyl, launch with a bit of her signature mystery, that is now sold out, and four box sets, Pose 1 to 4, which include a t-shirt and CD in a special box, also all sold out, before fans were given the descriptions of the content. The breakout single, "Break My Soul," comes as a digital single and is also available in a capella and instrumental versions. With the album release also comes a deluxe vinyl. It includes two black vinyl LPs, a 36-page booklet, and a folded collectable (24"x 36") poster. The full shopping experience is here. Beyoncé recorded the album over the course of the pandemic, almost three years in the works, and states that the
RENAISSANCE Album Cover. Photo by Carlijn Jacobs.
stillness of that time allowed her to tap into her most creative self. "Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world," says Beyoncé. "It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration." With a squad of prolific collaborators, including The-Dream, Nile Rodgers, NOVA, NO ID, Raphael Saadiq, Mike Dean, Honey Dijon, Chris Penny, Luke Solomon, Skrillex, Beam, Big Freedia, Grace Jones and Tems, Beyoncé set out "to reinvent music again," as described by The Times of London. RENAISSANCE: A revival of or renewed interest in something. Let the renaissance begin. SOURCE: PRNewswire/Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records
THE WEEKND AFTER HOURS TIL DAWN TOUR 2022 THE AFTER Hours Til Dawn stadium tour kicked off up north in The Weeknd’s hometown of Toronto last July 8th at the Rogers Centre, with stops at iconic U.S. stadiums including MetLife Stadium in New York City, Soldier Field in Chicago, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and more, before wrapping Friday, September 2nd at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The tour is produced by Live Nation. This is the first leg of The Weeknd’s massive world tour, with additional dates in Mexico, South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa & Middle East to be announced soon. Tickets for the North American dates go on sale via TheWeeknd.com/tour. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian organization fighting global hunger, has partnered with its Goodwill Ambassador Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye to launch the XO HUMANITARIAN FUND to which he is contributing $1 from each ticket sold in North America from this highly anticipated tour. The Weeknd will also make a donation of $500,000 and $1 million will be contributed by
World Food Program USA to the fund. Fueled by his passion to help those in need, the multi-platinum and diamond certified global superstar established this fund to support the U.N. World Food Programme’s critical food assistance to communities on the brink of starvation, in countries like Ethiopia, Madagascar and Yemen. The Fund is administered by World Food Program USA. This 2022 tour marks the first time The Weeknd will be touring his mammoth album After Hours (it’s hit single “Blinding Lights” was named the
new No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 song of all time, surpassing Chubby Checker’s 1960 hit “The Twist”) as well as the recently released and highly critically acclaimed album DAWN FM. The tour will see his most ambitious production to date reflecting the creative journey that continues to unfold for both these albums, creating worlds within worlds as we have all been watching unfold in various television performances, music videos and short films bringing these first two pieces of his trilogy to life.
BINO RIDEAUX ’S SORRY 4 THA WAIT II, NOW AVAILABLE VIA DEF JAM RECORDINGS BINO RIDEAUX, the South Central L.A. rapper and Nipsey Hussle protege who has become an essential voice for West Coast hip-hop, today releases SORRY 4 THA WAIT II, his new project via Def Jam Recordings. S4TWII is the follow up to Bino Rideaux’s 2019 mixtape SORRY 4 THA WAIT. S4TWII includes the standout single + video “Outta Line”featuring longtime collaborator Ty Dolla $ign, as well as star-studded features by Drakeo, Roddy Ricch and more. With his one-two punch of laidback flows and hypnotic melodies that have amassed over a quarter-billion streams and nearly a half-million followers, 29-year-old Bino Rideaux has not-soquietly been shaping the next era of West Coast hip-hop. His seven year journey to the top tier crystalized during 2021, with a non-stop string of single + video releases that started in June with “Got To Know
It,” which was featured in the Def Jam podcast, Here Comes the Break. After first teaming up with fellow 21st century West Coast force of nature BLXST for the critically acclaimed Sixtape in 2019, the pair returned in 2021 with Sixtape 2, which spun off the “Pop Out” single + video in July. It was the prelude to Bino’s 6-week, 18-city “On My Soul” fall
tour of North America (with special guests BlueBuck$Clan and Coot Corleone), every date sold-out in advance record time. The “On My Soul” tour kicked off in September with a two-night hometown stand at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles. That same weekend, Bino dropped a new single + video, “No Makeup” featuring King Combs. Pegged as one of Rolling Stone’s “Breakthrough 25,” Billboard championed Bino in its tally of “6 LA Rappers to Watch in 2021” and went on to describe him as “the brightest star to emerge from that orbit.” Meanwhile, KAZI christened him “one of the West Coast’s most exciting new talents.” With the release of his upcoming project, SORRY 4 THA WAIT II,Bino Rideaux has clearly come a long way since his first indie project back in 2015, Life Is Like A Movie, recorded out of a D.I.Y. studio in his grandmother’s house. HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 5
Marvel Debuts Trailers for ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’
SOMETIMES THE rustle in the bushes actually is a monster. Idris Elba (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, The Suicide Squad) stars in a pulse-pounding new thriller about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator. Elba plays Dr. Nate Daniels, a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, on a longplanned trip with their daughters to a game reserve managed by Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley, Russian Doll series, Maleficent), an old family friend and wildlife biologist. But what begins as a journey of healing jolts into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion, a survivor of blood-thirsty poachers who now sees all humans as the enemy, begins stalking them. Iyana Halley (The Hate U Give, This is Us series) plays Daniels’ 18-year-old daughter, Meredith, and Leah Sava Jeffries (Rel series, Empire series) plays his 13-year-old, Norah. From visceral, experiential filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur, the director of Everest and Universal Pictures’ 2 Guns and Contraband, Beast is produced by Will Packer, the blockbuster producer of Girls Trip, the Ride Along franchise, and ten movies that have opened No. 1 at the U.S. box office, including Night School, No Good Deed and Think Like a Man, by James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions, and by Baltasar Kormákur. The film is written by Ryan Engle (Rampage, Non-Stop) from an original story by Jaime Primak Sullivan and is executive produced by Jaime Primak Sullivan and Bernard Bellew. IN THEATERS AUGUST 19, 2022. 6 • HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY
BLACK PANTHER: Wakanda Forever capped San Diego ComicCon presentation to thunderous roars and applause, beginning with a live performance by Baaba Maal (vocals), Massamba Diop (tama), dancers, and drummers. Feige was joined on stage by director Ryan Coogler and cast members Mabel Cadena, Michaela Cole, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Tenoch Huerta, Florence Kasumba, Alex Livinalli, Lupita Nyong’o, Dominique Thorne, and Letitia Wright for a Q&A and first look at the film’s first trailer (above). In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Wright), M’Baku (Duke), Okoye (Gurira), and the Dora Milaje (including Kasumba) fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda. The film introduces Tenoch Huerta as Namor, king of a hidden undersea nation. Feige also announced Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will end Phase 4 and open in U.S. theaters on November 11, 2022.
DOCUMENTARY FILM NOW AVAILABLE AT HBO MAX AT THE San Diego Comic-Con as a part of DC’s Jim Lee and Friends panel, Milestone co-founder Denys Cowan and DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee announced the forthcoming documentary MILESTONE GENERATIONS, a film directed by Justice A. Whitaker. The film is available now to stream on HBO Max. An extended trailer for the film was debuted exclusively to Comic-Con audiences and can be found here. Narrated by award winning actor and musician Cliff ‘Method Man’ Smith, MILESTONE GENERATIONS chronicles the relaunch of Milestone Comics and Milestone Media’s mission to address not only the lack of superheroes of color in comics, but also the lack of storytellers of color creating the content. Milestone Media – co-founded in 1993 by artist Denys Cowan, writers Dwayne McDuffie and Michael T. Davis and Black Enterprise EVP/Chief Content Officer Derek T. Dingle – collaborated with DC to create the fictional city of Dakota, and some of the most unique and innovative characters in comics, such as Static, Icon, Hardware, Blood Syndicate and more. Last year Cowan, alongside Milestone Media partner and awardwinning producer Reginald Hudlin, relaunched Milestone Comics with DC to continue the Milestone mission in the future. The film examines the founders’ trajectory throughout the last 30 years, detailing their unwavering commitment, passion and perseverance to rise to the top of the comic book industry as black creators. With tenacity and dynamic artistic expression, the creators of Milestone Media continue to influence culture and ignite revolutionary change through characters that reflect the lived, black experience.
MILESTONE GENERATIONS connects to the present industry need to identify, support and elevate emerging diverse writers and artists within the comic book world, highlighting The Milestone Initiative, a program from DC, Milestone Media, Warner Bros. Discovery and Ally that aims to empower the next generation of Black and diverse comic book creators. Cartoonist and writer Ivan Velez Jr. ("Tales of the Closet,” Blood Syndicate," “Ballad of Wham Kabam”); DC Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee; writer and widow of Dwayne McDuffie, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie; DC Senior Art Director Curtis King Jr.; voice actor Phil LaMarr ("Static Shock!," "Justice League," "Justice League Unlimited," "Samurai Jack"); former DC President and Publisher Paul Levitz; journalist and author Angélique Roché (“My Super Hero is Black”); Milestone Media artist and color editor Jason Scott Jones; and filmmaker and author Dr. Sheena Howard (“Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation”) are among those interviewed for the project. The film was produced by Courageous Studios – working with DC and Ally, the presenting sponsor – and was directed by Justice A. Whitaker (“Restrictions Apply”/Vice News, Untitled Full Circle Documentary/WestBrook Studios). HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 7
ENCUENTROS LA 2022 THE DUDAMEL FOUNDATION AND THE LA PHIL CO-PRESENT ENCUENTROS LA 2022 SUMMER MUSIC EDUCATION AND GLOBAL LEADERSHIP PROGRAM FOR YOUNG ORCHESTRA MUSICIANS UNDER THE leadership of Gustavo Dudamel and María Valverde, the Dudamel Foundation and the LA Phil will co-present Encuentros LA 2022, their first Encuentros (Encounters) in the United States, July 19–August 5, 2022. Encuentros is a global music education program that explores cultural unity and celebrates harmony, equality, dignity, beauty and respect through music, with the goal of inspiring and teaching a new generation of young leaders to work toward building a better world. The young musicians will also participate in community initiatives, mentorship opportunities with the YOLA National Festival and projects throughout Los Angeles, culminating with concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and UC Berkeley. In honor of the Hollywood Bowl’s first 100 seasons, over 100 top-tier young musicians (ages 18–26) from the Americas and around the world—from 34 youth orchestra and El Sistema-inspired programs in 22 countries—will work sideby-side in the Encuentros Orchestra. Capping the two-week orchestral training festival, Gustavo Dudamel, the Encuentros Orchestra including members of YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) are joined by multi-Grammywinning vocalist, bassist and composer esperanza spalding—who recently took home a 2022 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Celebrating the next generation of arts leaders, Musical Encounters with Dudamel and esperanza spalding will include a world premiere LA Phil commission by award-winning composer and El Sistema alum Giancarlo Castro D’Addona, concerts at the Hollywood Bowl on August 2, 2022, and in partnership with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley’s William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre on August 4, 2022.
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LA Phil Chief Executive Officer and David C. Bohnett Chief Executive Officer Chair Chad Smith said, “When Gustavo first joined us more than a decade ago, we never could have predicted that YOLA, the seed he planted at the EXPO Center in South LA with just 80 students, would blossom into this—a completely interconnected and global expression of our shared values of access, inclusion and the sheer power of music to transform the lives of individuals and communities. Every aspect of our organization, from YOLA to YOLA National to our Dudamel Conducting Fellows to our musicians and audiences, is engaged in Encuentros LA
2022, and we couldn’t be more excited to see it all come together on the Hollywood Bowl stage.” During the intensive orchestral global leadership and music training program, workshops and rehearsals will be conducted by Dudamel and LA Phil Dudamel conducting fellows with additional sectionals and masterclasses led by a faculty of musicians from the LA Phil and guest artists from top orchestras from around the globe, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Opéra National de Paris, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta
MUSIC Sinfónica Nacional de Chile and SWR Symphonieorchester Stuttgart. LA Phil Music & Artistic Director and Dudamel Foundation Co-Chair Gustavo Dudamel explained, “I have always believed that every child should be given the opportunity to learn at the highest level. And so it is a dream for María and me to be able to create this beautiful Encuentros, where talented young musicians from around the world get the chance to work with some of the most incredible artists in our field. We are trying to build a community together, founded on empathy, discipline, respect and inclusion.” Dudamel Foundation Co-Chair María Valverde added, “This shared experience is not just about making music, it is the cultural, social and spiritual act of creation. Sharing conversations and experiences with these incredible role models will offer all of us a space to experiment and to grow, and together we hope to inspire the leaders of a new generation to build a better world together.” Career training sessions on leadership and social change will explore the power and use of language, how to leverage social and digital media to share stories, and audience education around diversity of experience, and create pathways for a mission-driven career in music. Small group and one-on-one meetings will encourage shared learning and career training for young musicians to delve into a range of important issues: portfolio development, arts management, communications and public relations, and interviewing skills and networking. Focusing on the idea of reciprocal mentorship, each of the Dudamel Foundation artists will be paired with YOLA National students who will serve as mentors, role models and peers. In turn, each of the Dudamel Foundation artists will be mentored by world class teaching artists from the LA Phil and around the world. Cultural exchange and dialogue will be encouraged through a series of public and private talks and discussions hosted by friends and colleagues, with additional details to be announced. The Encuentros Festival is supported by Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen.
Boyz II Men
Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina
A Summer of Stars at the hollywood bowl
MANY OF the biggest names in entertainment are scheduled to appear at the Hollywood Bowl during its centennial season. The historic line-up will include Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina (July 15-16), Ricky Martin with the LA Phil and Gustavo Dudamel (July 22-23), Boyz II Men and TLC (July 29), John Fogerty (July 30), a-ha with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor Thomas Wilkins (July 31), Sheryl Crow and Keb’ Mo’ (August 3), The Gipsy Kings featuring Nicolas Reyes (August 19-20), Diana Ross (August 26-27), Duran Duran with fireworks (September 9, 10 and 11), Pink Martini (September 14), Lang Lang (September 15), Grace Jones and CHVRCHES (September 25) and Pentatonix (September 29).
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USHER SELLS OUT ALL 2022 DATES AFTER WRAPPING up another successful run of Usher: My Way The Vegas Residency at Dolby Live at Park MGM this past weekend, global megastar and eight-time GRAMMY Award-winner Usher has announced since opening on July 15, all of his 2022 shows, including the eight upcoming performances scheduled for October 14 through 29, have sold out. Limited tickets remain for Usher’s 25 recently announced new show dates in 2023: March 2023: 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 April 2023: 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 26, 28, 29 June 2023: 28 July 2023: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15 Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com/ushervegas. General ticket prices begin at $79, plus applicable tax and fees, and a limited number of VIP meet & greet packages also are available for each show. All shows are scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Custom-designed for the expansive Dolby Live stage and presented in partnership by Live Nation and MGM Resorts International, the show gives audiences an extraordinary immersive experience with extravagant costumes and state-of-the-art technology in lighting, video and special effects. The exclusive, only-in-Vegas spectacular is packed with an impressive repertoire of smash hits spanning the multi-talented showman’s 20-year career, including “Yeah,” “U Remind Me,” “My Boo,” “Love In This Club,” “OMG” and “You Make Me Wanna…” The new show incorporates audience interaction and staging throughout the 5,200-seat entertainment venue, where every guest has an up close and personal experience with the superstar. Usher’s Las Vegas show features creative and show direction from Outside the Box Amusements, with co-creative direction by Aakomon Jones, video and lighting design by Fragment 9, set design by Tate Design Group and choreography by Cornithea “Rio” Henderson and Amy Allen. 10 • HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY
Additionally, Usher, Live Nation Las Vegas and MGM Resorts are donating $1 of every ticket purchased to Usher’s Las Vegas residency dates in 2023 to Usher’s New Look, Inc. (UNL). Founded in 1999 by Usher as a young man barely out of his teens, UNL is on a mission to transform the lives of underserved youth through a comprehensive program that develops passion-driven, global leaders. UNL's peer-to-peer program model and curriculum provides Access, Awareness and Empowerment to youth in underserved communities, in order to guide them on a pathway to leadership and help them make educational and career choices that match their passions. Over the course of 23 years, the organization has reached more than 50,000 young people.
Fans are invited to A Taste of Passion, the immersive after party experience for Usher’s My Way residency, with appearances by Usher himself and live performances from the residency cast. This exclusive experience at On the Record in Park MGM gives guests a tantalizing taste of the music legend’s passions. Carouse around the neondrenched world while mixologists shake up four custom cocktails. Produced by Outside the Box Amusements with design by Handsome Little Devils, the after party features DJ Mars, Brian Michael Cox and Keith Thomas. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com and include one complimentary cocktail. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to enter. Doors open at 11 p.m.
TV & FILM
WAKE UP ONE OF THE LEADING, lauded independent feature films on the indie circuit the past few months, WAKE UP, a dramatic narrative centered on sex trafficking of our society’s most vulnerable youth, had its sold-out Hollywood premiere last week at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and began its Academy Awards, Oscar qualifying exclusive run this past weekend, September 9th (through 9/15) at the Regency Theaters Agoura where it was the highest grossing film against even the newest blockbuster releases including “Elvis” and “Spiderman.” Next week, this vital narrative feature is headed to Capitol Hill for a special screening with our nation’s top lawmakers as they take up new Congressional legislation to protect innocent children from the grasp of sex trafficking. Joining director-star Janet Craig over the next week on all press is the impressive, well-spoken human trafficking survivor, educator and activist, Rachel Thomas, who is respected as the leading authority on what needs to be done to remedy one of the biggest undercovered issues facing us today.
Photo by Giles Keyte
Filmmaker Janet Craig’s WAKE UP tells the story of a quiet community rocked when a pair of foster youth are targeted and taken by a sex trafficking ring. A daring rescue is mounted — but will it be too late? Having captured audiences from coast to coast honoring the compelling cinematic journey with awards from prestigious Sedona Fest to Sunscreen Festival, director/producer Craig, who also co-wrote the original narrative with Dan Horan, based the story on a composite of true accounts she encountered after becoming a foster parent and learning about abuse within the system which many youth face. The WAKE UP message has resonated so very much with festival circuit audiences standing ovations became part and parcel of each screening. Just out article: https://theblast.com/312185/itstime-to-wake-up-to-terrifying-realityof-human-trafficking/ In the U.S., the FBI estimates that more than 100,000 children and teens are victims of sex trafficking and it’s estimated that 60% of victims have been within foster care or the child welfare system. In fact, this has become an issue of importance to the longtime foster parents. Adding an undeniable dimension to this important independent feature, many of the most prominent
advocacy organizations have partnered to present the film, sponsoring screenings and Q&As and endorsing Wake Up as a “call to action.” "On a movie set people bring different skills and different gifts to make a film," Craig said in an interview. "People can also bring whatever time, treasure and their talents to fight this global crisis.” Further, the feature infuses elements of the 2005 Academy-Award winning drama "Crash" and the Liam Neeson thriller "Taken" to bring about a rollercoaster journey for the viewer that is both rich, satisfying and thought-provoking with its climactic scene. WAKE UP stars Janet Craig (Butterfly Caught), David Gridley (Team Kaylie), Isaac C. Singleton, Jr. (Anger Management, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), Judson Mills (Walker, Texas Ranger), Brooke Anne Smith (Too Close To Home), Matt Socia (Better Call Saul); along with several newcomers at the center of the story, including Tori Griffith, O’Shay Neal, Chasnie Houston and Xan Gabriel. The film finishes with an essential message from prominent human trafficking survivor and outspoken advocate Rachel C. Thomas. We are happy to make a digital screener available to you on request. HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 11
Douglas H. Melloy ASCENDING TO HIGHER LEVELS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
his month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Douglas H. Melloy, who is an author, spiritual teacher, and amongst other things uses his knowledge to assist humanity with its collective ascension. Although it may seem too complex to wrap our minds around, his philosophy comes down to this – Feel something real, think something true and share them in ways that are kind and conducive. Douglas tells us “Being love and knowing light dispels fear and darkness into their nothingness, forever. This is what personal work and meditation accomplishes for the sincere seeker”. He goes on to add, “The fourfold path of today is Love, wisdom and the art of appropriateness. Opening to the realness of God, understanding the invader culture mindset, and that kindness is the action of compassion”. At a young age, Douglas felt thoughts of rage, depression, anger and ultimately had suicidal thoughts. He found a way through his understanding of how his negative energy works to take those triggers and turn them into positive energy by using the process of inner bonding, which he was taught by Margaret Paul. He was able to understand this through the stream of consciousness he received, which was a string of numbers, letters, and symbols. It was clear he had a gift, and he was determined to find understanding and share it with the world.
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As time passed, Douglas realized his gift is that of understanding energy into meaning through language, beauty, light and God. Although his spiritual mindfulness has nothing to do with religion, he has studied many different religions along his journey to bring together a universal understanding of all these teachings. Douglas explains “Negative energy has a progression to it. It begins with pain that is masked by fear, that asserts itself through anger, and enforces itself through self-hatred. This does two things, becomes violent or becomes depressed, leading to suicide. The positive progression of energy is joy that becomes love, which is patient with all else from the state of self-acceptance, the inner peace, and the outer harmony living happiness that will ascend the body after serving others kindly with a smile”. Along with his in-depth studies, and in depth understanding of meditation, Douglas has also developed skills as a black belt in martial arts. He has developed musical talents with hand drums and
attended San Francisco City College for 2 years to become proficient in writing. Unlike many others who may have some understanding and spiritual mindfulness, Douglas is very conscious of his gifts, and the information he possesses becomes a side effect of his understanding. Simply put, he tells us he “responds to what’s taking place with love and wisdom” and continues with “Negative energy will turn to sickness, disease and death it if is not able to turn into positive energy”. Douglas is a spiritual teacher who brings us understanding to a new level. Through his work, he is attempting to resonate with people so they will benefit from the information he is sharing. Ultimately, he believes that his teachings may be difficult to fully comprehend at first because historically, if a person brings a new level of awareness to the planet, the planet has rejected the new teaching in order to stick to tradition. But, with his books, he gives us the tools to respond to anything with love and wisdom rather than fear and anger.
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Douglas explains to us the state of mind he calls ‘Evenness of Ambrosia’, which he himself has recently reached through his understanding and knowledge of the power of love and wisdom. According to Douglas, this is the highest level of existence, and it is a fixed state of being. Meaning, nothing can change it. It is a state where positive mind thinking can no longer be penetrated with negative energy, malice, anger, fear, or self-hatred. He believes this is the highest state of being that we all can strive to reach. He tells us “Life lived as the positive is grounded joy, connected love, contentment is my happiness and completeness that feel wonderful. These culminate in the state that is the evenness of ambrosia involving God and the universe. Evenness is to God what ambrosia is to the universe as one’s life”.
In May 2003, his second book was published through Prince Media Group, Douglas published ‘Love and Wisdom are the art of Appropriateness’ Also in May 2003, he published his third book ‘THE NATURE OF THE SELF and The Social Evolution of HUMANITY’ through Prince Media Group ‘The Nature of the Self and the Social Evolution of Humanity’ was his fourth book published in 2007 with Inner Circle Publishing. His fifth book was published in 2008 with Inner Circle Publishing titled ‘Running from Karma Living Life Artistically’ In 2008 Douglas published his sixth book with Inner Circle Publishing, titled ‘The Bible What Does it Mean? When if Not Now?’
Douglas has currently published twelve books, which take an in-depth dive and intimate look at his teachings His very first book, published through Franklin Press Douglas’ seventh book was published by Inner Circle in June 2002 was titled ‘GOD-PLANET-UNIVERSE Is Publishing in 2010, titled ‘Invading the Indigenous… This Life I AM Now Here Being everything else is just a While the Rest of us Watch’ detail… ‘
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When we at Georgia Swings began building porch and patio swings 9 years ago, we had no idea that the demand for our products would be so great. It soon became apparent that Georgia Swings was a cut above the porch/patio swings and bed swings being sold at the typical box stores and swing companies. When customers began to come from neighboring states to purchase Georgia Swings and Bed Swings, we knew we had succeeded in creating a product that was by far superior to other porch and patio swing-products being sold. Porch, patio and bed swings are no longer considered a luxury to be enjoyed by a few; they can be a Zen way of relaxation for anyone with a living space, or with the ability to imagine and create an elegant and peaceful place to read, meditate or just relax in luxury.
SAVANNAH DAYBED SWING Call for pricing. The Savannah Daybed Swing has an excellent design with a beautiful showroom finish making it ideal for indoor or outdoor living spaces. There are four solid wooden posts on each corner that attach directly to the hanging material, such as rope or chains. The design of the bed allows a bed swing cushion or mattress to sit into the frame about 1-1/2” to stabilize it while giving it a sleek contemporary look. Beautiful hand-cut wooden balusters run along the two sides and backrest. Adequate height and strength of the balusters comfortably support anyone who prefers to sit up instead of lying down.
THE DECATUR PORCH/ PATIO SWING Call for pricing. Traditional-style wooden porch swing with a flat seat and angled backrest. A flat seat allows for cushions to be placed securely between the armrest supports if desired. This swing has the nostalgia and charm that will complement many homes, especially historic and craftsman-style homes. Select from kiln-dried treated pine, western red cedar, or white oak as your solid wood of choice. HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 15
CREATIVES TO KNOW
Creatively Curated brings some of the best creatives from across our community to your inbox. As Pride month draws to a close, we’re proud to spotlight the LGBTQIA+ artists in our community whose portfolios feature painting, photography, fashion design, documentaries, and more. From Keenan MacWilliams’s high-impact music videos for HAWA to Johnathan Hayden’s eyecatching original fashion prints, these creatives’ work includes visual art, experiential work, and projects that tap into the cultural zeitgeist. Scroll to connect with—and hire!—these incredibly talented LGBTQIA+ artists on Creatively.
Director, Creative Director, Multi-disciplinary Artist, New York, NY
Experiential Creative Director, Los Angeles, CA
Visual Artist, New York, NY
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Photographer, Creative Director, Texas
Music Producer & Creative Arts Educator, Washington, D.C.
JORGE "GITOO" WRIGHT
Multi-hyphenate Creative, New York, NY
Designer, Strategist, Creative Director, NY & LA
Painter, Art Educator, Midland, TX
Experiential Producer, Creative Director, NY & LA
Photographer, Los Angeles, CA
JOHNATHAN HAYDEN Fashion Designer, New York, NY
Fashion Stylist, New York, NY
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UnFiltered Talk UnFiltered Talk is a live hosted show that openly interviews people from all areas of influence. We speak with Celebrities, Influencers, Business Leaders and people that front runners in their space who share their deepest thoughts and experiences on all things love and life! The show is sponsored by the UnFiltered dating app available in all the App stores. Meet UnFiltered. A dating app where you can love in real time. Transparency is the founding reason behind the creation of the UnFiltered Dating app. Co-Founder Butch Chelliah, believes so strongly in the importance of transparency he named the App, UnFiltered. We all live with real hopes and dreams of finding love in a world of overinflated egos and unrealistic expectations that filters provide. But it is this longing for authenticity in an unauthentic world that the creators felt the calling to create an app that is a game changer. The UnFiltered App is the only dating app on the market that only allows for real-time unfiltered profile pictures through the use of the inapp camera. There’s an ability to keep adding as many as you wish going forward, but no looking back. UnFiltered time stamps your photos which allows you to feel at ease in who you are engaging with, and you are able to love in real time.
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Meet Najah Roberts Najah Roberts is the Founder, CEO of Crypto Blockchain Plug located in Inglewood, CA. She has spent 10+ years counseling thousands of inner-city youth, business professionals, athletes, and families. She hosts her daily radio show on Tavis Smiley's KBLA 1580 Talk Radio. She is Co-Founding The Black Wall Street Wallet alongside actor Hill Harper. A highly gifted motivational speaker, educator, philanthropist, author, and leader in her community, Najah has made it her personal goal through her social influence to change narratives, raise bars, and set standards.
We talked to Najah about meeting her partner on a dating app and what that experience was like. Najah also shared in the most UnFiltered way what she was and was not willing to endure when it came down to the relationship between her partner and her kids. Her heartfelt sharing brought so much inclusion to those listening in as she spared no details in those struggles. Najah was asked to on her thoughts about “filtered” profiles as it relates to both image identity as well as personality. Listen in on the interview by following UnFiltered on Instagram @unFiltered.love
Say Hello to Elyse Cizek Elyse Cizek is a Writer, Model-Actress, Singer-Songwriter, Activist and all around inspiring human. In November 2019, she began working on a book called, “One of the Good Ones,” which will tackle the internal struggles, biases, prejudices, fears, and harsh realities of what it was like to grow up Biracial/Black. At the beginning of June 2020, Elyse began publishing articles on Medium on the topics surrounding her personal experiences with racism, White supremacy and learning to embrace her own Blackness. Midwest-raised, LA-based Elyse Cizek got her start as a singer-songwriter sneaking away into practice rooms and coffee shops to write songs about heartbreak far before the years of experience with it that she writes from today. Drawing inspiration from Cat Power, Florence Welch, and Anita Baker, Elyse’s powerhouse vocal range and poetry paint a diverse emotional landscape reminiscent of greats such as Joni Mitchell, Chan Marshall, and Fiona Apple while maintaining simplicity and intimacy that allow audiences to truly
connect to her. She has been performing in the Los Angeles area for two years and released her first EP titled “Afterlife” in September 2018, available on all streaming sites. In 2016, she released a collection of poems in a compelling book called, “Nudity”. Follow Elyse to experience her lifeforms http://instagram.com/elyse_just_elyse So, if you are looking to really date, and you’re done with Matching a few hundred, fumbling and Bumbling your way through first dates, Seeking out false Harmony or
perhaps just done with Fishing in the big sea with plenty of disappointment, then come join us at UnFiltered. Where Real People meet Real People. Join us at our UnFiltered parties too as WE are where YOU are. Follow us on our Socials for details. UnFiltered, where Real Happens!
UnFiltered HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 19
20 • HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY BLACK CULTURE
MELBA MOORE! She is timeless... She is unapologetic. She is marvelous.
he marvelous Melba Moore who rode the music charts in the 80s now demonstrates that staying power has never gone out of style. After four decades of life on stage, her appeal is timeless with a new album - Imagine - which is climbing the charts. She is singing new songs today with a vocal range that has not dimmed with time. Her voice is powerful with purpose and passion. Her multi-octave vocal range continues to wow all who listen. The new album, “Imagine' --marks a return to her R&B roots. With this album, marvelous Melba Moore continues to leave nothing to the imagination because we hear her passion - clear and direct. Her conversations today reflect the struggles of many generations -- from breaking barriers to transcending the waves of time. So In Love, the first release from IMAGINE, her latest offering to the musical landscape, spent 3 weeks atop
The UK Soul Top 30 Chart in November 2021 and returned Moore to airwaves in the United States and around the globe. The world is ready for MARVELOUS MELBA! Melba Moore brings history to her new project IMAGINE and creates a relevance that we all can feel. Melba’s rich and soulful sound harkens back to her charttopping successes the 1970s and 1980s. However, “I have lots of younger people bringing me new music,” Melba says, but stands soundly on his musical history, noting that “we're the foundation of it.” “Since God has given me my good health and ability to continue to do my work, it's my privilege now to say, ‘This is where it came from, this is how it was, and I'm here to pass it on to you.’ It is not only the foundation of Afrocentric culture, but it's part of America and world history.” And Melba Moore is soundly rooted in that history!
Stepping into life - Now The Marvelous Melba Moore has been making new waves in music for some 50 years. While she set many records over the years, her music continues to win the hearts of new generations. Ms. Moore’s 1978 dance classic "You Stepped Into My Life" continues to ignite audiences. Melba is stepping into the life of new generations with her new music and climbing the charts one step at a time. TRACK LISTING OF IMAGINE 1. So In Love 2. Take Me Away 3. Can't Stop The Rain 4. Imagine 5. Since I Took My Heart Back 6. Take Her Picture Down 7. Free 8. The Highest Star 9. Joy & Pain 10. Forever
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THERE IS A NEW STREAMING GIANT IN TOWN There is a new boss in Hollywood, and she wants to change your life. Founder and CEO of UnchainedTV, Jane Velez-Mitchell is adopting a new approach. Make the content free and change world.
I sat down with Jane Velez-Mitchell to ask her how she does it all.
Why did you start this network? I started UnchainedTV to reach the many millions of people out there who desperately need this life-saving information and are not getting it. Heart disease is a leading killer, and it comes from plaque which comes from cholesterol in animal products. Do doctors warn you about that? Do they tell you that processed meat - hot dogs, deli slices, bacon, etc. - is officially cancercausing, according to the World Health Organization? No. So, UnchainedTV is giving people a portal into a new way of living that will improve their health, while simultaneously combating climate change, habitat destruction, wildlife extinction, human world hunger. drought, water pollution and animal suffering.
You developed this network as a non-profit, which goes against all business models for a network. What was your thinking on this? FREE is the #1 search term of streaming device users. As we have seen, people do not want to pay or have to sign up for a subscription to watch something. We all have too many monthly bills already. UnchainedTV, our global streaming APP, is 100% FREE to download from the APP store on your iPhone, Android phone, Apple TV device, Roku device or Amazon Fire Stick! You can also put it into the search bar on LG and Samsung Smart TVs and get it. At UnchainedTV, we make it as easy as possible. No email, no subscription, no fee. We are offering free content to entice people to watch. As a 501c3 non-profit, our mission is not to make money. UnchainedTV's only goal is to educate people about this crucial subject so they can make informed
decisions. How much will money mean if the planet is uninhabitable? There is something that each of us has the power to do three times a day to tackle climate change: eat a sustainable, plant-based meal. UnchainedTV shows you how to make delicious, nutritious meals, with hundreds of cooking shows, including New Day New Chef, our award-winning, in-studio, vegan cooking show! UnchainedTV has arrived and it is here to change your life. Recently launched, they just passed their millionth viewer mark! No small feat! This network offers a radically new approach to capture the attention of consumers and brand the plant-based movement as something fun and uplifting. UnchainedTV is giving you all the tools to lead a joyous, healthier, environmentally sustainable, compassionate life. They want viewers to connect their own dots. Psychologists say when people reach a conclusion on their own… it sticks.
How long did it take you to develop this network from thought to going live? As an activist, I know we must use all the technology available to be effective. With eight billion people on the planet, we cannot talk to them all one on one. Social media is changing rapidly with platforms going in and out of favor. This APP has the potential to reach tens of millions of people or more. We were in beta testing until the start of 2022. We have already surpassed one million views and are growing fast. Emmywinning producer Eamonn McCrystal suggested the APP in the fall of 2021, and we jumped on it! It is still in its infancy but growing exponentially. I was in the
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TV news business for decades, where I often had just a couple of hours to whip together a story. So, we work fast at UnchainedTV. Also, we run a non-profit news organization through our network hub: UnchainedTV.com.
How do you get your content? Many streaming networks are spending billions of dollars and hiring hundreds of people. We, at UnchainedTV, are using ingenuity and creativity in place of big budgets. We produced our first Original Series, Pig Little Lies, on a tiny budget but with experienced cinematographers. Eamonn McCrystal is a brilliant director/producer who brought it all together. We also rely on the passion and talent of hundreds of vegan content creators around the world who donate their time, expertise, and videos. So, we offer award-winning documentaries and cooking shows, along with news reports, travel shows, talk shows and even music videos that have been given to us to stream by people who share our mission of a kinder, more sustainable world.
Your first reality show for UnchainedTV is a show about
Pigs called 'Pig Little Lies.' What other shows would you like to develop around animals? Pig Little Lies follows the saga of two pigs, a mother, and a dad, who escape from a kill shelter and go on an extraordinary adventure. And it all really happened. Dante and Beatrice are what they call a bonded pair, meaning they love each other. This series is really a love story about a family that just happens to be a pig family. We are already planning another mini-series about a chicken named Hope who lives with a family in Southern California and who rules the house! It’s called Ya Gotta Have Hope!
Your network is filled with content that is healthy in terms of cooking shows, films, documentaries, how do I figure out how to navigate what to watch? The network is made up of a slew of channels and it is easy to navigate. At the top is New and Noteworthy... containing the latest trending videos. Other categories include documentaries, mini-docs, cooking shows, news, etc. When a vegan content creator provides us with six or more videos, we can create a whole channel around them. Many major vegan HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 23
organizations/chefs/companies have given us videos to stream including PETA, In Defense of Animals, Animal Outlook, Animal Save Movement, Plant Based Treaty, Switch4Good, NutritionFacts.org, Their Turn, Wicked Kitchen, Million Dollar Vegan, The Vegan Roadie, Chef AJ and more.
There is graphic content of cruelty to animals on your site. Are there warnings on those shows so audiences can be prepared? Much of our content, including Pig Little Lies and our cooking shows, have ZERO graphic footage. We do show some graphic footage. Often, we will have a warning. Other times, the images are up just briefly. Let us face it. It is the truth. What is happening to factory farmed animals is cruelty beyond comprehension. If you did to a dog what the industry routinely does to cows, pigs, and chickens, you would be thrown in jail. People need to see the truth. The challenge is: many people would prefer to avoid seeing the reality, so they do not have to think about changing their lifestyle. But, what UnchainedTV also shows is that giving up animal products is not a sacrifice. It is a joyous adventure.
Your network is growing at an enormous rate and just surpassed a million views, why do you think you have been so successful when other streaming services are failing? We are not seeking to compete with anyone. That is the joy of a non-profit model. I think the fact that our content is completely FREE, and the APP is so easy to download has been a real benefit to consumers. Just putting in an email can be a roadblock to viewers. When people say, "I'll do it later," they often never do it. So, we just urge everyone to download UnchainedTV right now! No fee or email required.
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As a VEGAN, do you feel hopeful for the future, or do you feel scared and why? I am both scared and hopeful. I am scared because we are destroying the planet and the other beings on it at such an alarming rate, we are in danger of crossing the point of no return. Yet, I am also hopeful because people are waking up in huge numbers. The younger demographic is going vegan in droves. Others are turning vegan-ish, consciously reducing their meat and dairy intake and seeking out other options. As Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done." We are on track to hit the tipping point and it is coming sooner than anyone imagines. To create a network… where do you begin? This is the very question that UnchainedTV founder Jane Velez-Mitchell began with. She has over 30 years of experience in media working for CNN, Court TV, Celebrity Justice, and other national TV shows. She was given her own show on HLN called ‘Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell.’ She covered the Michael Jackson trial, the Casey Anthony trial and the Jodi Arias trial.
She authored a book called Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias, released in August 2013 and debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list. With her experience and confidence growing, she began highlighting animal cruelty when no one else was doing so on prime time. The animal community took notice on her work and the awards came calling. She has won three ‘Genesis Awards’ from the ‘Humane Society of The United States.’ Mercy for Animals awarded her their ‘Compassionate Leadership Award’ and she received the ‘Nanci Alexander award’ from PETA. When leaving the mainstream media, she found it was time to take the chains off and started UnchainedTV, a digital network to highlight animal rights and the plantbased, sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. And she was free. With the Millionth mark passed, and many millions more to come, Jane VelezMitchell is proving all her years in media have given her insights into compelling and impactful storytelling. UnchainedTV provides a free road map for viewers to transform their lives one day or one program at a time.
Cannes Film Festival
DAvos World Economic Forum
monaco formula 1
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KERSTI BRYAN On The Walking Dead, Egg Party, and the Clear Day Project
By Alex A. Kecskes
Known for her role as Amy in the dramedy Hustlers and as Tina in the crime drama, FBI Most Wanted, Kersti Bryan has also appeared as Anne Donovan in Donovan and as Corina in the courtroom drama All Rise. Following her education at Interlochen Arts Academy and Carnegie Melon University, she moved to New York City and has consistently worked in theater and television. Recently, Kersti teamed up with noted performance artists to direct The Clear Day Project, which helped support essential workers by bringing them messages of hope, joy, and thanks. Another recent project was EGG PARTY, a 10-minute film Kersti directed and co-wrote that tackled the struggles of fertility. In the recently released Tales of the Walking Dead—the new, highly anticipated spin-off from The Walking Dead series—Kersti is Sandra, a slightly unhinged, threatening prepper who has her own agenda.
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Thank you for taking the time for this interview. What attracted you to this Walking Dead spin-off? Kersti Bryan: I was always aware of the Walking Dead universe but I didn’t know they were doing Tales of the Walking Dead. So I auditioned for it and it was a complete surprise—a totally different tone. The problem was, I didn't get a full script, just a dummy script— you probably hear this often. So I prepared and auditioned for Sandra as a doctor who was maybe doing something with her patients. I had no background in the new series so I auditioned for that role. Sandra’s split personality was engaging to watch. How did you prepare mentally and physically for the role? Kersti: Have you spent a year in quarantine? (laughs). I think we all became a little socially inept. So the Sandra you see at the beginning is a taste of who she actually is. And, obviously, she loves communicating with Joe. But there’s an intensity to her in preparing for the apocalypse before it ever happened. And I think that some of what she heard—she was listening to people screaming outside her bunker—got to her. Can you imagine listening to that and not opening up to help? And maybe she let one guy in to help him only to have him try to take her bunker. That just sends her off the deep end. So when she sees Joe—and this is my version—I think she’s hopeful that, OMG, maybe this is the person I knew but then she realizes she can’t trust anyone. She’s wearing both hats. She wants to believe that he’s okay but is aware he can’t be.
The Walking Dead franchise has its own vibe, ambiance, and style. What did you find most challenging about your role? Kersti: So many actors have gone through this universe now. But when I was watching, I noticed a style of acting that works really well with this. Initially, I was like, oh, that’s what this calls for, I’ll do this. But then Sandra does something wild and entirely different. So I prepared and came in with a quieter Sandra. But Ron Underwood insisted we go all the way. So I was like, okay. When I was in hair and makeup, they said, Sandra changes this way. Her hair was so big and vibrant and I wondered if my performance should be small because her look is so big. I offered them multiple options and you can see what we ended up with (laughs). Can you go into your favorite scene? Kersti: Every minute was fun. But I think the turn of the screw is when Sandra steps away to say, “I just have to get ready.” And Joe has no idea what’s about to befall him. That’s my favorite part. For me, the most exciting story goes the furthest from A to Z. So you wonder, how far can this go? The fight scenes looked pretty brutal. Any injuries? Kersti: We had this amazing fight coordinator who had been working in this universe for quite some time. We also have great stunt doubles. I was working closely with them and I was very pleased that they were using a great deal of my stuff. I thought I did some great meat cleaver fighting (laughs). Olivia (Munn) has some background in
for the project. We were in the midst of the pandemic in New York, which was getting slammed. I was riding my bicycle by the trucks carrying the bodies. It’s why New York got so weird during the pandemic. Jordan has a heart condition but he was saved at Mt. Sinai Hospital. So in the midst of this, he had this idea of putting together a project that would bring some joy and relief to our frontline workers. So we went through our Rolodexes, made calls, and got some of the best musical theater artists to share a song or dance. We later noticed that some of the frontline workers were attending memorial services, so we shifted some programs for grief.
martial arts. And Terry (Crews) is such an athlete. But I did wake up the next day feeling like I’d been in a fight. Your body feels like it’s taken fall after fall. You’re running these fight scenes multiple times, crashing around. The other thing is, you use your voice a lot, screaming, so you don’t give everything you’ve got because you also have to talk tomorrow. Sandra got an axe in the chest. Are we going to see her again? What happens to her in later episodes? Kersti: I can’t speak to that but she’s definitely down in her bunker. She’s a survivor. The Egg Party hit a nerve with many women. Can you go into what you were going for when you wrote and directed this short? Kersti: I co-wrote and directed it with a couple of friends. It was a whimsical short about six 30-something women who come together for an egg-decorating party. It’s a not-so-sober party where they’re talking about things, that I,
Kersti can’t say (laughs). We get kind of a Wes Anderson-esque portrait of each woman and the egg that they’re decorating. It’s sort of an allegorical tool to show what women choose to do with their fertility. One woman wants motherhood but is challenged through infertility and a miscarriage. And these women have come together to be with her. It’s become more prescient than I ever expected in a post-Roe world. It’s intended for women like me who face the open question of what to do about motherhood or their life. It’s a warm hug for women who are trying to have children and those who want something else with their lives. Basically, a celebration of choice. We’re going to release the film online. The emotionally uplifting Clear Day Project was much needed in a time when we were going through a major crisis. What propelled you to direct this living theatre work? Kersti: Jordan Dean, Dan Amboyer, and other performers got together
You’ve done a ton of TV work. What have you learned about this business that really surprised you? Kersti: I’ve learned how to quickly engage in a world and be of service to what’s happening. You’re not the focal point of the story. But you’re serving the story. So I think it’s taken me some time to understand where my character lives in that. It’s a puzzle to crack open. Any advice for young actors eager to get into the business? Kersti: Good question. Get your numbers up. When you're putting yourself out there, again and again, it feels so big. When you’re auditioning, you’ll get a no, then another no. If you keep your numbers up, you’re going to get something. I keep notes and an emoji for each audition (laughs). I just try to get a hundred emojis. It’s so easy to get deflated. But you have to throw your hat in the ring just one more time. And you have to believe in humanity. We need to try to have more openhearted days. What were you like in high school? The girl most likely to…? Kersti: OMG I saw you ask this in other interviews. I love this question, Alex. So I prepared an answer. I was probably the girl at Denny’s with my theater friend wearing pants under my dress. I was in theater and I was a good student. I also wanted to be in politics.
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Article by Carmelita Pittman
1985 Frank Graves landed in sunny California. He originated from his hometown of Lexington, the lush Bluegrass area of Kentucky, also known as the “Horse Capital of the World.” His humble musical beginnings originated at the Pilgrim Baptist Church where he became one of the lead singers for the Gospel choir. This developed into performances by the choir to travel from Lexington to other churches over the years. His career actually began when he performed at a number of high school talent shows. The talent shows drew the participation of many aspiring youngsters who had stars in their eyes. During that time Frank played lead trombone for the Dunbar High School Bearcats. After graduating from high school, he joined the military during the Vietnam war. Upon his return from duty he became a member of the Dynamic Soul Seven. He performed with that group throughout Lexington and in Ohio as well. As fate would have it his employment moved him from Lexington, Kentucky to Lawton, Oklahoma where he became a member of the group, Slick Flame and the late Joe Tex road band. Another move came along and sent him to Waterloo, IA where he became the keyboard player for the late Jimmy Holiday, songwriter for Ray Charles, Jackie DeShannon and a number of other artists. Moving 28 • HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY
from Waterloo, IA was when he visited Los Angeles but planted his feet squarely in Lancaster, California which he has made his home. There he became the lead singer for the 562nd USANG band and formed his own Frank Graves with “ChemistrySounds" group. Although music is his first love, being of practical mind, Frank heeded the early guidance of his parents and learned the trade of electronics during his stint at vocational school before venturing out into the musical arena. Equipped with a foundation of raw musical talent, enthusiasm, professional savvy, determination, and an attitude of gratitude, Frank has paved out a course which has propelled him on to much success in his chosen field of music. His early musical influences were the stylings of his favorite R & B recording artists such as Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklyn, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Otis Redding, Al Green. Their sounds gave him inspiration and leverage. Gospel music is also a major part of his world. As a young man with principles, he resisted the temptations waved at him by major record industry individuals. His faith gave him the ability to simply say NO. True to his own path he has managed to amass a stack of credits.
His band, “ ChemistrySounds”, consists of 3 horn players, bass guitar, 2 keyboard players, drums, 4 background singers. The number of musicians can range up to 11 in total and is always ready for the next “gig”. Some of the musicians in the band include the drummer Ronnie Kaufman, who was an original member of the GAP Band, Raymond Johnson, also a drummer, the renown Victor Orlando on percussion, Lexner Stephen on lead guitar, Grammy recipient James Lum, rhythm guitar and former player for the late James Ingram, Richard Turner Jr. on keyboards who also played for Eric Darius. In addition Ron Roseboro, bass player, formerly of Rose Royce, and Michael Hands Wilson on keyboard are members of the group. Frank met Wanda Ray Willis when they both did judging for a church event in Lancaster. He also attended her birthday party recently which included celebrities such as the legendary H.B. Barnum, who is known as a musical conductor and arranger for so many household names such as Aretha Franklyn, Frank Sinatra, Billy and Marilyn McCoo, as well as Wanda Ray Willis. Wanda is best known for her award winning tribute and portrayal of Dorothy Dandridge. She is also the chairperson of the Entertainment Industry Committee of the National Association of Equal Justice (NAEJ). HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 29
Frank is currently signed with Nikki Fuzell CEO FREELANCE ENTERTAINMENT and represented by Lori Ramos, Ella. B Management. His credits include UniSoul Records/ Uni Soul Host Reggae Mix Station. He is a member of the Grammy Recording Academy, Gospel Music Association, L.A. Music Awards, the Hollywood 360.
Motown at the Lobro in Santa Barbara, 2022, an documentary on Netflix with Claudette Robinson, who has been named “First Lady of Motown” by Berry Gordy. And his Gospel roots have produced many performances for Agape Community Church, Lancaster as well as for the Freedom Celebration Concert at the Amphitheater, Palmdale.
The military has played a major role in the life of Frank Graves. Or shall we say he has played a major role in the life of the military. He has served in several branches including the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Air National Guard. He served in the Navy during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. He put his talent to service as well by entertaining the troops and tourists in the Persian Gulf during USO shows aboard the cruise ship, Cunard Princess. His outstanding performances as a solo artist earned him the Gold Plate Award. During the past 12 years of service he was the lead vocalist for the 562nd Air National Guard Band of the Southwest, Channel Islands, California.
The accumulated combination of his R & B, Gospel, Blues performances have delighted audiences several years at various venues up and down the West coast. He has performed alongside such greats as the O’Jays, and for Mr. Stevie Wonder Humanitarian Foundation Concert, L.A. His efforts have been rewarded with musical awards. Frank continues to use his music as a vehicle to drive home love and peace amongst all peoples of the world.
The theatre also beckoned and Frank studied. On stage he performed in the Shakespeare Festival as the Mandarin singer, was in “Exonerated” for the 13th Annual Cultural Historical and Educational Award show. (2006) His numerous performances cover Magical
FOR BOOKINGS Alton Garrett Management Group, LLC 909-725-4525 Email: email@example.com Frank Graves Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credits: Cortez Media • APOK’ of GSD Entertainment • Sheryl Aronson • William Edwards Studio of Lancaster • Ella. B of Ella. B Management 30 • HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY
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ICON SWIM WESTERN GLAMOUR permeated beyond the catwalk at Icon Swim’s iconic runway show in the Paraiso tent today, The Atlanta based swimwear brand modernized western fashion by mixing old with new and introducing unexpected textures like mesh, studs, and rope to their latest collection available now. Colors popped with sexy yet sophisticated silhouettes in brown, orange, cream, rust, black, nude, and silver. Inspired by the gritty style of “old-west” clothing, Icon Swim’s team went beyond the familiar and infused leather and studs with gold and silver metallic trims. The modern dimension created from experimentation evoked something exciting and stylish from something old and familiar. "Traditional western fashion has always intrigued me – the textures, accessories, and colors. However, in recent times the style has evolved and modernized. This transformation is what caught my eye and became the inspiration behind the collection." - Nupur M., Lead Designer for Western Glamour Collection, Icon Swim Influential models who walked the show included X Hernández ( Christine Hernandez), Reginae Carter (Hip-Hop heiresses), Carmen Carrera (Model / Influencer / TV Personality), Charlie Lynch (Love Island, Season 3). The creative runway show had the crowd going wild for the Western Glamour looks and guests were treated to a mesmerizing performance by recording artist, Shenseea. The brand has a large and loyal following with it high quality swimwear with affordable pricing.
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Sé Marie On acting, stunt work, and life by Alex A. Kecskes
Photo by Tony Moux
SÉ MARIE began her career as a stunt double for Rachel McAdams and Vinessa Shaw. She soon transitioned into acting full-time, leading several feature films to major film festivals, including the first ever Virtual Reality feature Career Opportunities in Organized Crime (which premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival 2016) and Careful Not to Cry (which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2017). Sé later starred in a live Zoom play titled Water Child, which featured an international cast and was critically praised as the first ever live Zoom theatre production. She subsequently produced, directed, and starred in A Very Covid Christmas, an original web series that won three 2021 Telly Awards for Best Remote Production (actor, director, and producer). A member of SAG-AFTRA and Women in Film, Sé now serves on the Telly Awards Judging Council. She is also in the upcoming feature Unsinkable about the aftermath of the Titanic. In the comedy feature Movers Ultimate, Sé is Susan, the daughter of a recently divorced woman (Annalese Poorman), who hires two reluctant movers (Shawn Knox and Andy J. Carlson), best friends who hate their jobs. Thank you for taking the time for this interview. What drew you to this quirky comedy? Sé: Actually, I’m more of a dramatic actor. But I wanted to get more into comedy, so when I read the script, it struck me as the perfect recipe for me as an actor and where I am right now. In this ensemble of comedic characters, I consider Susan to be the dramatic relief. She’s the person that brings everyone back to reality, that there are real-world consequences at stake. 34 • HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY
Many actors have a love-hate relationship with auditions. Did you audition for the role of Susan? Sé: I did. There were two or three rounds of auditions. And they were self-taped. But different methods work better for some actors. For me, I love going into the audition room because there’s an impression you can make that you can’t make on a self-tape. But the downside is you usually only get one chance to perform and you can’t decide what you want to present. I did love the self-tape process because there were several rounds of auditions. So having that control over what I put out there was very nice in that instance. But when you go in live, you get that human connection, to show off your ability, to instantly get into character, and to walk into the room as the character. With tape, they don’t know whether you’ve spent three hours getting into character and then pressing “record.” There were some laugh-out-loud scenes in this film. Have you ever encountered movers like Chad and Ryan? Sé: (laughs) I must be one of the rare few that have never hired a moving company. It’s all been with friends and family. But I do know people that have had nightmare moves. And I know people who have worked for moving companies that have complained about their jobs. Yet they won’t leave their jobs. Can you go into some of your favorite scenes? Sé: The bed bugs scene. It’s the only scene where every cast member is in one room at the same time. The way Ben (Rood) directed that scene, we did take after take and it was chaotic and everyone was free to react how they felt their character would react. So there were so many things that were cut out.
But it was so hilarious and so much fun to film. It was the last or second to the last scene we filmed and everyone had been in their character for months so it was just funny to see how they would react. I also really loved the scene at the end of the movie where Susan is talking to Ryan and she gives him her number. One reason she did that was that it was part of the climax of the film where the main character learns a lesson. Another great scene was the pan shot from Susan and Ryan to the moving truck showing Lance and Spooner making inappropriate gestures. The crew was laughing but from my point of view, I couldn't understand it. But our DP, Jeff Kolada said his biggest worry in filming was keeping the camera steady, for he couldn’t stop laughing. Ben was great in letting us improv a lot. We’d do what was on the page and then Ben said, “Ok, now do one as ridiculous as you can think of.” And those were usually the takes that made it into the film (laughs). What made you decide to leave stunt work? Sé: Wow. Well, getting into stunt work wasn’t intentional. It was just being in the right place at the right time and getting attached to the right people. But I’m an adrenalin junkie and I ate it up. I was just starting my career in the industry. And stunt work gave me a front-row seat to the production world where I learned what would be expected of me as an actor. I was doing most of my stunt work for Rachel McAdams but I also did some work for Vinessa Shaw. I got to see the acting world up close and it made me want to be in their shoes. So eventually, I had to rip the Band-aid off because continuing would have kept me in stunt work. All the people I worked with were completely understanding and grateful, helping me get an agent. That said, I continue to train and do many of my own stunts now, which I think has made me a better actor. And doing my own stunts allows me to stay in character. Can you talk about some of your wildest stunts? Sé: I’ve done everything from crashing a car into a tree to wire stunts, which are probably the craziest. In the wire stunt, I had to do sword fighting while being forty feet off the ground. Were you ever seriously injured in a stunt? Sé: There was one time where I had to punch through glass, which in stunt work is really sugar glass. But I was an actor not a stunt performer in a film called Unthinkable. I was so “in character” that I mistakenly punched through a real glass pane, which resulted in a bit of real blood. But I just kept going and didn’t care. It worked in the sense that my face revealed the pain of punching through real glass.
Photo by Jeff Kolada
Is stunt work still a “boy’s club” or are women gaining ground? Sé: It’s definitely women gaining ground. In general, the film industry is finally starting to shift. And it’s a visible shift since it has been a boy’s club for so long. That said, most of the sets that I’ve been on use mostly male stunt people. But lately, there are more projects where stunt people are set ahead of time and they want to focus on diversity or being female-centric or offering people opportunities they've been denied in the past. On those sets, you'll see a wide range of people that can do the job. So, unless the production doesn't focus on that, the stunt work is still very male-dominated. Whenever I'm asked for an opinion on the subject or if I'm given a say, I always push for diversity. Now that you’ve “made your bones” behind and in front of the camera, what have you learned about this business that surprised you? Sé: I did learn so much doing stunt work. I was behind the camera for two years as a producer for a commercial studio. In those two years, I learned a little about every aspect of production—from writing to directing to editing to working with clients. The biggest thing that serves me now as a performer is knowing what’s expected of me. I’ve been told many times on set that I seem to know what’s to come. Some inexperienced actors have come up to me asking why they had to do a scene over and over ten times. They’d ask if they did something wrong, was it their performance? And I’d draw from my experience and tell them it was a technical issue and not them. For me, it’s that peace of mind in knowing what’s going on that helps me tweak my performance. For example, I can see, based on the camera set up what they’re trying to get. So I can give them what they want. I’ve also been on the other side of the casting process, so I don’t take any rejections personally. There are so many reasons why you don’t get the part—everything from hair color to budget. Any advice for aspiring young actors eager to get into acting or stunt work? Sé: Good question. Get as much experience as possible. And be around the people and the environment—no matter what role you're playing. Become a PA or do Extra work that will get you into that environment. The old adage of “it’s who you know” is only ten percent true. You meet the people who can help you along the way by proving yourself first. And just show up. That’s the number one thing. Also, prioritize what’s in your life. Be able and willing to take that first step. What were you like in high school? The girl most likely to…? Sé: Oh my God, I was such a dweeb in high school (laughs). I was not a cliché in any way. I didn’t belong to certain groups. I was in theater and I was also a varsity cheerleader on the dance squad. I was even on the bowling team (laughs). But I did have a moving moment in my senior year. The captain of the cheer squad was this blonde who thought that cheerleading was the world. I showed up for practice late one day because I had a rehearsal for a musical and she said to me in front of everyone, “You can’t be a cheerleader and be in school plays. You have to pick one.” So I laughed, turned around, and walked away (laughs). Movers Ultimate premieres on Amazon Prime and Apple TV, August 19, 2022. HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 35
Nisha Varma Makeup Empowering Women One Face at a Time By Hailey Ashley
isha Varma has always had a passion for helping people. She moved to the United States from India 7 years ago and has been passionate about using the tools she has, make-up and hair styling, to help uplift and empower women around her. She has loved doing this ever since she was a young girl, and ultimately, that is what has inspired her to create NishVarma Makeup. While she was growing up in India, she was a trained classical dancer, she always loved doing make up on her friends. And eventually, turned it into a career by word of mouth. She got her first job doing bridal makeup 10 years ago, and from there was offered several opportunities to show her talents. When Nisha came to the USA, she followed her dreams and stayed focused on her passion. With hard work and dedication, she received a call from fashion week in 2016, and was thrilled. From this
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point on, her work spoke for itself, and she was able to get many more opportunities in America. Because she was put down most of her life, she found a way, through make up, to feel good and worthy, and she wanted to pass along her newly found self-worth to those around her. With the help of her mother’s endless support of her dreams, she found a way to turn her talents into a tool she now uses to inspire women and help them build confidence within themselves. Now start step in our colorful media family as a Model. And she not stop her self… so welcome to our new girl NANCY on the city. One of Nisha’s best friends, Nancy, who is a single mom and independent woman, has always dreamed of being a model. Due to her upbringing, she was never afforded that opportunity – until now. Nisha has decided to take Nancy’s hand and help make her dreams
come true. Nisha believes that God always gifts those who deserve it, and believes that Nancy is one of those people, because of her good soul. Nancy recently completed her MBA, studied IT, and is now the newest member of Nisha’s colorful media family as a model. New Girls In The City: (Nancy Nancy) Nisha believes that all women are beautiful, inside and out, with or without make up. She wants to send the message that make up is not created to cover up who you are, but to help enhance your beauty to feel more confident, and comfortable in your skin, and to see our pure beauty. Her advice to aspiring, young, entrepreneurs is to find what you love - and go for it. She says, “don’t let others negativity, or criticism hold you back, and don’t listen to those who tell you that you cannot succeed because of external factors like looks”. In the future, Nisha hopes to take her skills to the next level, by working in Hollywood on movies, television sets or for runway models. We have no doubt that she will be a huge success and are excited to follow her along her next journey.
Check out her website: www.NishaVarmaMakeup.com find her on Facebook @Nisha Varma Credits Model: @Nancy Nancy Mua: @Nisha Varma Mua
Designer: Nusrat Aysa [ Nusrat Desire Np Collection Photoghraper: Jaiden Torres HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY• 37
MARKETPLACE launches with limited Mint Passes, Expands Presence in Multi-Billion Dollar NFT Market
NFTiTs is reimagining the art industry through a unique metaverse based on NFTs, mainly dedicated to support breast disease recovery through the arts, in particular, the NFT marketplace. NFTiTs just launched its Mint Passes with only 2,664 to grab. They are a highly-curated platform for creating, collecting and trading unique Titty-only NFTs. Yes! TittyONLY. This is a place where breasts, titties, tits, tatas, whatever you want to call them are to be embraced! This is a place for your creativity to come to LIFE! Feel beautiful in YOUR skin. All sizes, shapes, and forms of ART are welcomed. Painted, sculpted, sketched, drawn, dazzled, tattooed, taped, pixeled, filtered .... whatever you can imagine, brought it to life.
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NFTiTs Co-Founder Tiffany Hyde, Business Developer, Real Estate Investor, Entrepreneur and Mom of 4 was driven to launch a platform that expresses the beauty of women in a whole new way. Joining art and the natural beauty of the human body to rise against body dysmorphia while learning to celebrate and express ourselves in a positive mindset. She has been working extensively with world class artist in curating the best of the breast in forming this marketplace dedicated to showcasing their talents while providing much
needed help to serving the needs of many women around the world. The mission of NFTiTs is to help restore self-esteem, dignity, and confidence to women with various breast diseases by facilitating and funding, as needed, reconstructive surgery. They are committed to supporting organizations where funds will be used to directly support the surgical care expenses for women having breast reconstruction surgery, particularly for uninsured and underinsured women in underserved communities.
They have partnered with The Genesis Foundation which serves to raise public awareness of all breast diseases providing breast reconstruction options including homeopathic or alternative recovery treatments after surgery that are an oftenoverlooked expenses in recovery. They feature a series of breast art showcasing the work of women, and artists, photographers, graphic designers and personal survivors. They have built a global community of well-known artists, together for a series collection in a digital art gallery that would be sold as original NFT’s dedicated to only breasts where proceeds would benefit closely chosen charities through smart contracts for authenticity.
The mint passes are offered in limited allotments. The marketplace at launch will allow for only 18,888 to be minted. The scarcity and selection will provide for an environment to feature the best of the best artist from around the world. As NFTs become more popular and often grab headlines for the wrong reasons, the best projects are those that have a use, and better still if they can support causes, are inclusive, and affect change. This is the plan behind NFTiTs, which donates to The Genesis Foundation on every transaction through the use of smart contracts written into each transaction. The breast is yet to come……
NFTiTs Advisory Contributor Carlos Siqueira, Founder of Disruptors LLC, was so moved by this mission along with watching his own mother and the women that surrounded his life fight through all challenges that he felt called to help drive awareness to this campaign. Carlos has shared and spoken from some of the largest stages and arenas around the world is now lending his voice and reach to help the communities understand the unique opportunity that is being presented with the early release of NFTiTs Mint Passes.
CODY LEBOUEF is hyper-realistic artist, illustrator, and graphic designer. Traditional medias catapulted his career as a very sought-after realism air brush artist, whose work has graced the walls of many public and private collections across the US. His natural talents in hyper-realism digital art allows him to create artistic masterpieces that the eye and mind perceive as realism. This new passion translates seamlessly into the world of NFT’s where his artistic genius can gain recognition in the digital era. 100% digitally created using Procreate, this neon collection of breast art will drop on the NFTiTs Marketplace as 1 of 1. Blurring the lines between digital and realism, this private gallery will be available to mint pass holders with early access.
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