Photographer: Teddy Labissiere
Hair : Paris Butler
Makeup: Amber Harris
Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
BE FLY... BE ORIGINAL... BE Designers: JEAN PAUL GAULTIER / @jeanpaulgaultier Revolve / @revolve Mazarine Blu / @MAZARINEBLUJEWELS Elsie Frieda / @elsiefrieda NICKHO REY / @NICKHOREY ACCHITTO / @ACCHITTO KAREN OBILOM
What’s good! Thank you for your interest in So FN Dope® Magazine. We are a fairly new magazine based on the West Coast looking to make an impact in the entertainment industry by highlighting music, performance, and the entrepreneurial spirit of independent artists, all across the country.
Our staff constantly spends countless hours scouring for dope content to feature including, but not limited to, new music, music videos, artwork, interviews, comedy, models, live performances, photographers and bloggers. In other words, we are always looking for new content for our digital magazine as well as our website. It is going to take dope independent artists like you to help build our brand, but it will also take magazines like us to give indie artists a platform to be heard. We would love to feature your music, videos, mix-tapes, photography, artwork, as well as set up interview arrangements for future issues of So FN Dope® Magazine. Let’s work together and leave our mark on the industry to show the world why we are So FN Dope®!
Here at So FN Dope® Magazine, we have done our best to provide content that is up to date and correct. However, changes may have occurred since the content was submitted that may affect the accuracy of this issue for which So FN Dope® Magazine holds no responsibility. The views and opinions of our contributors are not necessarily shared with So FN Dope® Magazine or its staff nor are we liable for their views and opinions or how they may be interpreted. FOR ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: email: email@example.com
FOUNDERS / Editors in Chief Walter Michael Welch Jr. Corey Norwood Sr. CONTRIBUTORS Axum Hype-Radio.com JB & Benny Blue Review Caravan Film Crews Shadow Promotions Chayo Briggs CoolxDad The Vibe Controllers The Makeover Paris Corey Norwood Sr. Addicted To Results W. Michael Welch Jr. Corey
Sr. GUEST WRITERS Muzikscribe Jeremy Bridges Chayo Briggs COVER PHOTOSHOOT CREW Photographer: Teddy Labissiere Hair : Paris Butler Makeup: Amber Harris Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi COVER STORY Karen Obilom FEATURED King Montiez Albee Al Telvin Griffin COVER PHOTOGRAPHER Teddy Labissiere CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Teddy Labissiere Caravan Film Crews CJ Rivera SPECIAL THANKS to Marissa Mooney & Monica Rosales of Heliotype Creative 6- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM - DEC / JAN 2023
8 MUST SEE MOVIES IN 2023
Check out So FN Dope Magazine’s list of must see movies to see this year.
Check out our interview with Decatur, Alabama R&B artist King Montiez as he walks us through the process behind creating his latest single, “Like Glue”.
YEAR IN SPORTS REVIEW
Check out this 2022 Sports recap as Jeremy Bridges of the JB & Benny Blue Podcast highlights some of the good, the bad, and the ugly moments of last year’s collegiate and professional sports.
Check out this interview with Jersey City’s own Albee Al as he talks through his plans in the music industry after recently being released from jail.
MORATORIUM ENDING CONCERNS
40) 44) 50)
KENDRICK LAMAR: BEST OF THE BEST Could Kendric Lamar be Hip-Hop’s greatest performer? This article gives a inside look into one of the greatest hip-hop tour’s ever, the Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers Tour.
Check out our interview with this young gifted brother as he takes us through his role in the new Paramount film Babylon
44 16) 18) 24) 28) 34) INSIDESFND
Check out our exclusive interview with this talented actor, producer and director as she talks about her life, career, and her role in the eagerly awaited film, House Party DEC / JAN 2023
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This article breaks down key things to be mindful of now that the Moratorium has come to an end.
KAREN OBILOM page 50 INTERVIEW WITH ® 8- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM - DEC / JAN 2023 Designers: JEAN PAUL GAULTIER / @jeanpaulgaultier Revolve / @revolve Mazarine Blu / @MAZARINEBLUJEWELS Elsie Frieda / @elsiefrieda NICKHO REY / @NICKHOREY ACCHITTO / @ACCHITTO
Hair : Paris Butler Makeup: Amber Harris Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
Letter From the Founders
DOING BIG THINGS IN 2023
Welcome to the latest issue of So FN Dope Magazine. We are absolutely thrilled to bring to you issue #17 which is packed with a diverse range of content that we believe will inform, inspire, and entertain you.
In this issue, we had the distinct honor to interview the beautiful Ms. Karen Obilom as she talked with us about her life and how she got started as an actor. She also gave insight to some of her career experiences including how she landed her role as Venus in the new House Party film. We also have an in depth interview with a actor Telvin Griffin, who shares his experience about being on the set of Paramount’s recent film, Babylon. He also shares some tips on what he
does to stay active in such a competetive industry.
Next, we have a couple interviews dedicated specifically to music artists. Alabama R&B artist King Montiez and Jersey City rapper Albee Al gave us a glimpse into their lives as rising artists in 2023. And for our sports readers, we have a special feature which recaps some of last year’s most memorable moments in collegiate and professional sports.
We hope that you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together. We value your feedback, so please feel free to reach out to us with any comments or suggestions.
KAREN OBILOM page 50 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
LETTER FROM THE FOUNDERS
Corey Norwood Sr. Co-Founder So FN Dope Magazine
ISSUE # 17 KAREN OBILOM AVAILABLE ON WWW.SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM
Walter M. Welch Jr. Co-Founder So FN Dope Magazine
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COVER PHOTOGRAPHER Teddy Labissiere
Photography by: Caravan Film Crews
HIGH FASHION | HIGH QUALITY EUROPEAN INSPIRED MENSWEAR
MUST SEE MOVIES IN 2023
From the reboot of a beloved classic like House Party to the debut of a daring new franchise like Flash, this year promises to be full of amazing films to look forward to. Whether you’re a fan of superheroes, horror, comedy or animation, there’s something for everyone in this list of 8 movies you should be looking forward to in 2023. From the stunning visuals of John Wick Chapter 4 to the nostalgia-filled Indiana Jones 5, these films are sure to capture audiences’ imaginations. With their unique stories, captivating characters and stunning visuals, these movies are sure to be some of the biggest hits of the year. So get ready to mark your calendars, because these 8 movies are sure to be some of the most talked-about films of the year!
1HOUSE PARTY CREED III
It has been more than 30 years since the original House Party movie, and the anticipation for this reboot for the new generation is highly anticipated. The movie is set to be released January 2023, and it promises to be full of laughs, surprise appearances and classic moments. The film stars Jacob Latimore, Tosin Cole, DC Youngfly, Karen Obilom, and a ton of other familiar faces. The movie was also directed by Calmatic and executive produced by LeBron James. House Party is sure to be a hit with both old and new fans of the franchise.
2Fans of the Creed franchise have been eagerly awaiting the third installment since the release of the sequel in 2018. Michael B. Jordan is back for a third time reprising his role as the ambitious fighter, Adonis Johnson, as he faces one of his most challenging adversary yet, played by Jonathan Majors. True Creed fans won’t be disappointed by this film scheduled for release this year.
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The plot of The Flash is still largely under wraps, but it is known that the movie may be scheduled for release this year. Ezra Miller will be joined by Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot in the film so this one should be good.
We can’t believe that the last Indiana Jones movie was 15 years ago. The fans are definitely ready for another. The movie is set to be released in 2023, and it promises to be an action-packed adventure. Harrison Ford will be back in the lead role, and the movie will be directed by James Mangold and written by David Koepp. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is sure to be a hit with both old and new fans of the franchise.
We can’t wait for another action packed installment of this Marvel franchise. We will never get enough of this. As long as they keep coming. We’ll keep watching.
The new John Wick Chapter 4 movie will be directed by Chad Stahelski, who also directed The Matrix Resurrections in 2021 and Deadpool 2 movie in 2018. Stahelski is known for his ability to create stunning action visuals, and fans are sure to be in for a treat with the fourth installment of the John Wick franchise starring Keanu Reeves. With the combination of Reeves and Stahelski, John Wick Chapter 4 is sure to be another hit when it releases in 2023.
It is no secret that this film is going to be another highly anticipated action-adventure movie set to be released in 2023. It is a continuation of the long-running series of The Hunger Games films that began in 2012. The movie will see Jennifer Lawrence reprising her iconic role as Katniss Everdeen.
With nine films in their rearview, we think that it is safe to say that the Fast and the Furious franchise is one of the most successful of all time, and the tenth installment may be the most anticipated to date. It will be directed by Louis Leterrier who has directed films such as The Incredible Hulk in 2008 and Clash of the Titans in 2010. The script has been written by Justin Lin and Dan Mazeau.
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4 5 6 7 8 INDIANA JONES 5 THE FLASH JOHN WICK CHAPTER 4 THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS & SNAKES FAST X GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 ENTERTAINMENT
SFND MAG: King Montiez! What’s good my brother! We definitely appreciate you for taking time to interview with us. How have you been?
KING MONTIEZ: Peace and love So FN Dope Magazine! I’ve been amazing! Looking forward to this next chapter.
SFND MAG: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from?
KING MONTIEZ: I’m just a down South country boy from Decatur, Alabama pursuing a dream of mine that I’ve had since my mid 20s.
SFND MAG: So give us a little bit of the back story about you and how you got into music?
KING MONTIEZ: Like I said, I’m just a southern boy pursuing a dream. I remember when I was homeless sleeping in my car thinking that it was something better for me. I have a musical background with both parents so I wanted to see if I could create music myself.
SFND MAG: What is the R&B music scene like in your city?
KING MONTIEZ: The R&B music scene in my city is non-existent. There are a lot of good singers, but I consider myself the first R&B artist to pursue this wholeheartedly. I’m find-
ing inspiration outside my city with other artists, and motivation within myself to be the first R&B artist out of my city.
SFND MAG: As an R&B artist in today’s music climate, what do you think will set you apart from other artists out there?
KING MONTIEZ: I stay true to the foundation of R&B music by giving respect to ones that paved the way just so I could sing in liberty and freedom, believing in the craft, staying true to myself, and always coming from the soul. I’m giving my fans that “feel good soul” good music.
SFND MAG: We just heard one of your latest records “ Like Glue”. It’s a dope song! How did that joint come about.
KING MONTIEZ: Thanks for the love. [LAUGHS] I actually stumbled upon it when my manager Jahmirris Smith and producer Chris Theory and I were in the studio looking for something different. I already had the lyrics, I just didn’t have a beat or a hook. My manager came up with the hook and the rest is history.
SFND MAG: We love the musicianship of the entire record and that bass line is crazy. Who produced that track?
KING MONTIEZ: [LAUGHS] Yes sir. All credits go to my producer Chris theory. He definitely did his
thing on that track!
SFND MAG: We’re pretty sure you are working on some heat in the studio for 2023. What is the name of the latest project, and what is the meaning behind the name?
KING MONTIEZ: Most definitely. I have something in the oven right now. [LAUGHS] I have an EP coming soon. It’s called King Montiez “Better Than Before”. It basically means everything about me, from my sound, look, performance, passion, maturity, and confidence in my craft is better than before!
SFND MAG: Is there an official release date for the project? When can we expect to hear it?
KING MONTIEZ: We are definitely slow cooking this thing. I really don’t have an exact date, but “Like Glue” is doing numbers and giving great feedback! We are just enjoying the ride, but trust me, I am locked and loaded with good quality music that you are going to love.
SFND MAG: So we know that you are with Pyramid Gang Entertainment. Shout out to the homie Jahmirris Smith. We saw that they recently inked a deal with Dallas Austin Distribution/Symphonic. That is exciting! What is next for you all in terms of your new relationship with such seasoned music industry veterans?
KING MONTIEZ: Yeah, shout out to the team for all the hard work that they do behind the scenes at Pyramid Gang Management. Another groundbreaking thing that’s never happened in our city, which makes the title “Better Than Better” even better, because everything we’re doing has never been done, and this go around is all the way official. The relationship with these guys is great! They are really putting us in position to win. It is a good feeling to have such seasoned veterans in a business that knows the business and is willing to work with hidden talent that’s hungry and wants to be heard!
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SFND MAG: Do you have any advice for the next young artist coming up in your city? What would you say to the kid coming up that has his sights on the industry?
KING MONTIEZ: Believe in yourself. Stack your bread. Don’t wait for anyone to believe with you. Step out on faith and pursue your purpose. In this business it takes money, dedication, and consistency.
SFND MAG: How can our readers find you on social media?
KING MONTIEZ: You can reach me on
all social platforms @King Montiez
SFND MAG: Where can they locate your music online?
KING MONTIEZ: You can find my music on all listening platforms.
SFND MAG: King Montiez, we truly thank you again for taking the time to interview with us. It’s been our pleasure, but before you go we want to ask you one more question. Could you name one other artist out there that you think is So FN Dope, and tell us why?
KING MONTIEZ: Man this interview was So FN Dope! Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of your legacy. I’ve been rocking with you guys since 2018 when my homie Jahmirris had an ad in your magazine! Y’all are really doing numbers and working with a lot of people in the industry that I would love to meet. So I am truly grateful to be a part of the movement. Thank you! I could definitely name a few but one that stands out to me is Sir! This guy is very talented and he is definitely in his own lane when it comes to his sound, look, and spirit. Reminds me of myself.
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YEAR IN SPORTS REVIEW 2022
by Jeremy Bridges
Hello folks, My name is Jeremy Bridges aka JB. I am one half of the Podcast The JB and Benny Blue Review, and this is the Year in Sports Review of 2022! Of course we have to start with the last game the most beloved sport in the good ol’ US of A. That’s right, the Super Bowl. It was between the Rams of LA vs The Bengals of Cincinnati, and in the end the Rams won by kicking an oblong ball made of pigskin through a big H. It was a most ripping victory! Nah, they scored the last TD of the 4th Qtr and that was that. Sticking with Football, The damn Dawgs of Georgia won their first National Championship in like 40 years or so. Man, they looked good and put a lot of young men in the NFL as well.
Next up… BBall! The NBA Finals was taken by a familiar team. That’s right the Golden State Warriors came out of nowhere, got hot, and ran the tables to get the 3rd ring for Steph, Klay, and Dray. Of course in the NCAA the K-State Wildcats men’s team and the South Carolina lady Gamecocks, led by WNBA legend Dawn Staley, took those rings home. Later on in the year in October, the Astros took their 2nd Championship in two year, getting their skipper, Dusty Baker, a long deserved championship.
Hey, how bout the other football! Well, Messi put his stamp on the World Cup, leading Argentina to victory. Now 2022 was not all about wins. Let’s look back at some losses. Let’s start with former/current coach of the Boston Celtics Ime Udoka. Mans got caught up in a love scandal with the VP’s wife. OUCH! He got da boot! How about Vince McMahon, the face of the WWF/ WWE. He had to “step down” to avoid further scrutiny behind alleged misconduct claims.
Meanwhile, LIV Golf attempted to take on the PGA and start a more liberal golf league for pros. Didn’t go very well. That’s like trying to rival the NCAA, like “Where they do
dat at?” And of course we cannot forget about the G.O.A.T. himself Tom Brady, my guy pump faked us with retirement, came back, and on that note his now ex-wife Giselle said, “I’M OUT!” Damn, sorry Tom!
Last, but definitely not least, our girl, Brittney Griener got caught down bad in Russia because of a little bit of THC. Well, that got her detained for hella long and a nine year sentence in a Russian prison. That is until ol’ “Sleepy Joe” made a play and got our girl home. And just like that, we are back where we started, the NFL playoffs are in full swing, and before you know it, we will have a new Super Bowl Champion! I hope you all enjoyed the read, and stay tuned for more.
FOR MORE: BE SURE TO CHECK OUT
THE JB & BENNY BLUE REVIEW
Hosted by former NFL offensive lineman and current coach Jeremy “JB” Bridges, and comedian and music/sports publicist Ben “Benny Blue” Rhinesmith on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play,
3291867 © Michael Drager | Dreamstime.com
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THE PODCAST TAKING YOU BEHIND THE CURTAIN IN THE NFL, SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT NO HOT TAKES, JUST REAL TALK! www.jbandbennybluereview.com Hosted by former NFL offensive lineman and current coach Jeremy “JB” Bridges, and comedian and music/sports publicist Ben “Benny Blue” Rhinesmith @jbandbennyblue Available on iTUNES, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn & CastBox
Records show that some of the world’s best produce is planted in the richest, best soil located in the Mississippi Delta. While known for its rich industrial and agricultural worth, yielding the best cotton and catfish in the world, the Delta has produced some amazing people. This is a testament of many who have encountered Twins Kelly and Kerry Nash, better known to most as Merc B. Williams and Cocky McFly, who were born and raised in Greenville, MS.
“Growing up when we did, where did, helped make us who we are. It allowed us to be appreciative of things we had while being motivated to create and be successful in whatever we put our effort into” – Cocky McFly
Currently residing in the capitol city of Jackson, MS the brothers have embarked on a new journey that combines their similar talents while shining a light on their very different personalities. They created “The Vibe Controllers Podcast” in late 2021 which features the brothers discussing various topics around entertainment, world views, pop culture, and more. But of course, they add a comedic element to it all which adds a special touch to each episode.
You can check out The Vibe Controllers Podcast on YouTube, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Also, make sure you follow them on FB, IG, and TikTok to stay up to date on all their happenings, events, and upcoming episodes.
As they say at the end of every episode.. and their hashtag states... #WeOutHere
Interview by Muzikscribe
After a three year incarceration stint, Jersey City’s own Albee Al would finally touch back down - not to mention cleared of all charges - on August 15th. Released from Passaic County Jail, the self professed Gladiator, whose first national hit, “Ten Toes Down,” was unleashed in 2016, immediately went to work on what the 34 year old street poet knew best; crafting his latest magnum opus, the appropriately titled, FREE THE REAL…
Photography: D’artagnion Winford
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TD: Welcome home!
What was the first thing you did upon release?
ALBEE AL: The first thing I did upon my release was I went…I went to see my kids and my family. They wasn’t outside the jail when I came home, so I just went to see all my kids my family and chilled with them and enjoyed their grace.
TD: What did you miss most during your time incarcerated?
ALBEE AL: What I missed most was my family; was my kids. I just felt like they life was shattered when I went to jail because when I was home it was so much fun. We was doing so much, having so much fun…then when I went to jail everything stopped, so I just knew when I got back home it was back to ballin’, back to having fun…so I missed that more than anything because that’s who I do it for, they my engine.
TD: What did your day to day routine entail?
ALBEE AL: Man, I just popped shit all day in jail. I popped shit all day, talked shit all day, played cards or played basketball. Like I was in there jailing, you know what I mean? That’s how it is in jail, like I’m just poppin’ shit; whether I’m poppin’ shit about street shit, whether I’m poppin’ shit about sports, whether it’s like I was just in there trying to make the best out of my situation, you know what I mean? It was aiight…it wasn’t aiight, but I made the best of that shit.
TD: Were you able to work and / or focus on your music while away?
ALBEE AL: Not as much as I wanted to. I wasn’t really working in there and, you know, I was locked up during Covid and it was like life just froze and I didn’t know what the fuck was going on, so it was times like, “am I gonna get the fuck out of here? Or are they going to keep me forever?” I used to lose focus. I wrote a lot of music in jail, but I didn’t write as much as I should have because I felt like it’s a waste of time, like that I might not make it home; shit took a toll on me…or
TI’ll write some fire shit, then be like, “nah, what if nobody ever hear this shit.”
TD: Now let’s hop right into this lead single / video, “Thottie” — Tell me about this particular track; how did it come to fruition?
ALBEE AL: It was actually like me just in the studio just being happy that I’m back in; the beat came on, and I was just vibin’, instead of…shit…and I was just talking about my lifestyle, and I didn’t even think that was gonna be my first single or nothing. I was just like, “let me just give them this right here.” I just tossed it out there when I came home because they wanted new music, so I was like, “here, take this shit” because I have a whole project that’s about to go crazy! They loving that shit; they loving everything I got, but “Thottie” going crazy right now; like in the clubs and everything. I tried to give them a hit before the summer closed out.
TD: You also collaborated with both Rowdy Rebel [“She F**k With A Gangsta“] and Mozzy [“Cash Rules“] — Talk to me about these…
ALBEE AL: Me and Rowdy was on some shit; like when I first came home, Rowdy embraced me and reached out to me because they just came home, too, and he was trying to let me know like what to do and what not to do as far as like dropping music and how to go about it because he already experienced it. He was like, “Bruh, you ‘bout to make the most money you ever made this time right here coming home.” So he was like, “you got to go crazy!” As far as us getting in the studio, that was just a give in because we was already fucking with each other; real recognize real, and he was like, “whenever you in the studio, hit me and I’ll pull up.” So I hit him like, “I’m in the stu!”
And we just started playing beats, and we just started creating music. We got hella music together, and we ‘bout to shoot a video…and Mozzy, Mozzy that’s bro!
That been gang before I went to jail; me and Mozzy got some underground music from probably before probably like 2016. Me and Mozzy been rocking with each other…that’s bro, and he reached out to me when I was in jail. He was one of the
few rappers reaching out to me while I was locked up. If I hit him like, “Mozzy, I need a verse,” because I was still dropping music locked up; he would be like, “yo, just send it over.” So when I came home and he was locked up unfortunately, I’m like if you was trying to keep my music alive while I was gone it’s only right I keep his music in the air while I’m home.
TD: Of course all three songs come courtesy of your new LP FREE THE REAL — Although self-explanatory, still tell me conceptually what this title represents both to and for you?
ALBEE AL: It means everything to me. I’m giving a voice to the unheard, as you can see, my mixtape doing so good. I got billboards all over the tri-state. I got a billboard in Times Square, and if you see the cover of my mixtape it’s not just me on it; it’s everybody I’m cool with… all my bros that’s locked up doing hard time. And even my bro that passed away, so I’m just like sharing my platform with them so when you see my face…you seen a face, it’s like, “oh, shit, Albee Al got a billboard in Times Square!” It’s not just me up there, it’s my friends, too. I’m just trying to show love and give a voice to the people that feel unheard. That’s what the Free The Real campaign is all about; it’s about giving back and letting people know it’s possible…you can really come home and change your life. I really came home and doing some shit. I’m just trying to give motivation because there’s a lot of motherfuckers that ain’t coming home, and I’m just living proof that this is possible.
TD: How then does this new material(s) either differ and / or compare to previous Albee Al entries?
ALBEE AL: I actually believe that I’m better; I always get better. Like I really got a mixtape called Super Saiyan, and the reason I called it Super Saiyan is because I felt like I was going to another level… so every time I drop music I’m going to another level, but this music right here is like me tapping in with the roots of where I began, what got people listening to me in the first place. So I wouldn’t say it’s a difference, I just feel like I tapped
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back into it what they missed and love about me; this Free The Real tape is Albee Al music. It ain’t no he trying to sound like somebody else, he trying to be like somebody else, he trying to follow a trend…none of that shit. This shit right here is Albee Al music.
TD: FREE THE REAL is a EMPIRE release — What particular string of events actually led up to your initial linking with Ghazi and later inking to the imprint?
ALBEE AL: Wattenberg introduced me to Ghazi back in the ending of 2018. He pitched me to Ghazi, and was just telling Ghazi like, “fuck with Albee Al, man, he’s next!” So me and Ghazi met up 2018, early 2019, and we discussed my mixtape Koba. So we worked out a deal with Koba, and Koba was such a success we worked out a way bigger deal for King Opp, but unfortunately I went to jail while King Opp was being released… and the whole time while I was in jail, me and Ghazi was like in contact; he was there for me. Ghazi, he was even sending me money personally and checking on my family, so when I came home it was just like written in stone. He always told me just get home…when you get home, it’s up.
TD: As an emcee, when you sit down to pen your rhymes where do you draw your inspiration from?
ALBEE AL: I draw it from experience actually. I can’t really rap unless I’m going through some shit. Like I could rap rap, but the music you gonna feel; I really gotta be feeling some shit. I can’t make these emotions up. I really got to be going through some shit, and I really gotta speak on that shit. I’m trying to get in soon, like people love when I produce music to females and express my emotions, but I haven’t been in that bag lately ‘cause I just been (not) giving a fuck lately and I just showed you right there like Free The Real don’t got no songs for the females. The female still banging that shit, they like that “Fuck with a Gangsta” shit but it wasn’t no emotional song because I just don’t have that feeling nomore like nobody can hurt me no more. Maybe if I get hurt I could do another female song, so that’s living proof I really
write what I’m going through.
TD: Reflecting, tell me your whole inception into music -- When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Albee Al?
ALBEE AL: I was raised off music like from me growing up as a young’n and my mother cleaning the house playing music; like I always loved music, and I always been around music. From watching videos, and I always liked the videos that showcased the ‘hood; like growing up. I liked the videos from the Hot Boys ‘cause it’s like yo these niggas really in the hood and I’m looking out the window like we really in the hood. So I was always influenced by that, and then my father was a rapper so it was already genetic in me to be a rapper…so I’ve been rapping since. I wrote my first rap when I think I was nine years old. The crazy shit, my cousin was a rapper, my older cousin, and he wrote me a rap and he was like, “I want you to say this,” and I read it and I’m like, “no, I can write my own rap,” and I gave the shit to my older brother, he’s not a rapper, but I never let nobody write no music for me since I was nine years old. I’d be in school getting in trouble by teachers, “what you doing?” I’m writing music instead of homework.
TD: Now you’re a native of Jersey City, correct? So growing up in ‘The Garden State,’ who all did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
ALBEE AL: As far as a rapper, I’ll say like Treach. I like Treach…like I said coming up, often videos and watching the street ‘hood videos and, you know, you live in like that…like Treach, like he got “Ghetto Bastard”. He shot that shit in EO, East Orange, in New Jersey, and that shit was the trenches; that’s the ‘hood and I can relate to that shit. But as far as me really wanting to be like an inspiration, I would say the regular inspiration for me was like seeing dope boys in my ‘hood and shit…and it’s sad to say, but it’s like, “oh, I want this car,” and I see that dope boy with that car and this chain. The dope boys with this jewelry on and the clothes, so It really wasn’t a rapper that influenced me; it was always what I seen out my window or walking to school or just
walking around in my projects.
TD: In having said that, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?
ALBEE AL: I think my style of music is just unique. I’m the Gladiator so it’s like people say I remind them of people, I guess, because of my voice or some shit,
but ain’t nobody comin’ like me. It’s consistency; I’ve been the same way since I was a kid rapping, and I always been this way so the people that’s becoming my fans just learning about me with someone who’s been my fan from day one is like, “man, how you don’t know about Albee Al?” I just describe my shit as unique. I’m the Gladiator, ain’t no other Gladiator, ain’t nobody coming through like that, ain’t nobody moving how I’m moving, nobody talking this shìt like I’m talking this shit because when I speak this shit it
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Photography by: Cameron Perry
“I draw it from experience actually. I can’t really rap unless I’m going through some shit.”
literally is an emotion. It makes anybody feel that shit; you could be a regular 9-to-5 ass man, you gonna be like, “damn, I feel this shit.” How me being as street as I am make this regular ass nigga feel what I’m going through, and feel like they going through to, too. That shit is powerful. I should be an inspirational motivational speaker or some shìt. TD: Switching gears here…
TD: What do you feel will be the key to your longevity?
ALBEE AL: I gotta learn to stop handling my problems with violence. My longevity is unstoppable. I can’t let my anger get the best of me. I can’t. Once I learn to control that, which I am doing pretty good at, and continue that. It’s no stopping me.
TD: What do you want people to get from your music?
ALBEE AL: I want niggas to run to my music and feel my emotion and feel what I’m going through, and if I’m going through this shit or something similar I want them to know that it’s a way to get over this shit; like it can’t rain forever. I want them to know that we can make it past this shit no matter how low you been, because I’ve been to my lowest. I want people to look at me with the expectation, so when they hear my music I just want them to take it and charge. My shit is…this gonna be around for a long time; a lot of music come and go, but Albee Al music is here to stay.. People still listening to my old shit from 2008, and I was like 16, 17; my music been that way.
TD: On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?
ALBEE AL: Yeah, hell yeah! I’m loving it ‘cause it’s giving so many people opportunity; even if you don’t last forever, like you got the one hit wonders they come in and they go, It’s giving everybody a chance to make something out of themselves. People really treating music right now like the trap. Niggas really in the studio like, “if I put this song output this shit on the block - I could really make some money off it.” It’s ’s really
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like work right now; like Hip Hop is really like trappin’ music…it really is like drugs. Niggas is really working hard as hell, slaving in the studio, to put a record out and make a few dollars. It’s like a nigga on a block like front me this, us right here, I’mma get on my feet and it’s up. It’s giving everybody an opportunity to make money, so I don’t understand why it’s so much hate and jealousy when everybody get a chance. Hip Hop is the only thing I don’t give a fuck about how you come in. You could be handsome, ugly, fat (or) skinny, we’re gonna accept you because it’s music and your music; grab them, they gonna rock with you. Look how many niggas came on looking funny as hell, then soon as that money hit he cute again.
TD: Do you have any other outside / additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
ALBEE AL: Do you know what I like about my music? The people that can’t rap, they say I talk for them. Some of my friends be like, “damn, I wish I could rap, if I could rap I’d say the shit you say.” You got people that’s locked up that can’t get they story out; they be like, “damn, Albee hit that shit right on the nose.” Somebody could tell me a story, and I can write about it 9 (times outta) 10. I don’t know…I don’t know how to really answer that.
TD: To date, what has been your greatest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?
ALBEE AL: My greatest career moment…I say things I do with my family because if it wasn’t for my career I wouldn’t be able to do it. I just recently went to a Tampa Bay (game), to the Tom Brady football game the Buccaneers versus the Chiefs, and my son is a big fan. I’m a big Tom Brady fan. And for me to come home because like I was in jail, so if I come home I gotta catch Tom Brady game…so for me to take my son and my nephew and it was they first time being on an airplane and I took them with me to this game and we had the best seats and the players was giving my son and them they gloves. I’m just taking that in
and I’m like, “damn, I can’t even believe I’m doing this shit.” Like I was just facing life in jail, and I’m really with my kids and it’s all because of my career and I can go anywhere because of my career.
TD: What’s an average day like for you?
ALBEE AL: An average day for Albee Al is work, work, work…interview, studio , shows, studio, shows. I get up, I’ll check to see what (my publicist) Chanel has for me. Nine times out of 10, I got 1 million interviews, video shoots; it’s everyday… the same shit. I don’t got time for nothing else.
TD: Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans...
ALBEE AL: I’m trying my hardest to interact with them because so many of my fans was there for me when I was locked up. My fans were sending me money; my fans is the best. So when they show love or they in the comments showing love and some heinous person say something to them I’ll be defending them…and I don’t read comments because that’s another way of getting niggas to trick you out ya spot, so that’s my discipline… but I repost them, let them know I appreciate the love. I just gotta be way more interactive. I got some concerts coming up, so I want to do some meet and greets. I might start going live with my fans and just talking to them. I wanna pick like five fans and bring them to a studio session with me, and let them hear some unreleased music from me and just a trip with Albee Al.
TD: What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?
ALBEE AL: The money! I’m only doing it for the money. They don’t got to see my face, I don’t care about the fame! I don’t care about nothing else. I could sit in this luxury apartment all day long until a check call ‘cause I’m really in it for the money! But the love that I get is overwhelming, so my favorite part about this shit is just the embrace. Like the people that know Albee Al, like they really get me. Like, damn, like you really
know me, you really fuckin’ with me. Like you really sit there and you listen to my music and dissect my shit ‘cause my music is really like art. Like I mean it! I’m an open book in my music.
TD: What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
ALBEE AL: You gotta want it more than everybody. Also you can’t have one foot in and one foot out. You’re gonna slip… if you want to be a rapper, then you gotta be fully committed to that shit. You can’t be a rapper and a street nigga. If you want to be a street nigga, you gonna end up in jail and your rap career gonna fall apart, especially if you really living the shit that you rapping. My advice is a simple as that, if you want to be a rapper you gotta live what you say, but sometimes you gotta get away from that lifestyle and just have straight tunnel vision on the music.
TD: Lastly, what’s next for Albee Al? ALBEE AL: My music! I’m dropping another tape in December. I got movie offers, and I’m finishing up my documentary dropping first quarter of 2023. I got my merch going crazy; it’s a winter line. We got a French Bulldog kennel, so I’m going hard with that, too…so I got a lot going on besides music.
TD: Any “closing” thought(s)?
ALBEE AL: I just want everybody to know that words (are) powerful. You gotta mean what you say and say what you mean. And manifestation is real. I’m living proof of that…you could make it out, all you gotta do is believe that shit! You got a plan, you stick to it and you go full throttle with that shit ;don’t let no distractions get in your way. That’s my message to everybody. Anything is possible; my story alone shows you that anything is possible…to come from a negative then turn it to a positive.
Connect w/Albee Al Online:
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2022 MORATORIUM ENDING CONCERNS
by Chayo Briggs
Industry experts were surprised by the nine-month extension of the moratorium forfeiture of commercial leases to the March 25th 2022. The announcement came on June 16th, 2021, and also extended restrictions on landlords’ ability to recover rental arrears by seizing goods under Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR), also until 25 March 2022. The extension did not include statutory demand on petitions.
Additionally, the recent government announcement provides an overview of how new legislation will help commercial landlords and tenants deal with historic COVID-19 related rent arrears. As the current administration struggles to overcome moratorium issues for landlords and tenants, legislation is still pending. In the meantime, all parties face insurmountable hurdles. Additional information can be found on Consumer Finance.
Temporary Eviction Protections
The list below shows which states have eviction protections in place, plus the date. Several states require you to apply for federal rental assistance to qualify for their protection. You can use the nationwide Rental Assistance Finder to find a local program and start your application for rental assistance. States with eviction protections and expiration dates
• California: Until March 31, 2022
• Indiana: No expiration date for protections
• Massachusetts: April 1, 2022
• Michigan: No expiration date for protections
• Minnesota: Until June 1, 2022
• Nevada: Until June 5, 2023
• New Jersey: No expiration date for protections
• New Mexico: No expiration date for protections
• New York: No expiration date for protections
• Oregon: Until June 30, 2022
• Texas: Until May 1, 2022
• Virginia: Until June 30, 2022
• Washington: No expiration date for protections
1. Eviction Lawsuit not Filed a. Make plans to catch up on past rent b. Apply for utility assistance
State and local organizations can help lower or cover rent, utilities, and other housing costs. Learn more... a. Make payment arrangements with the landlord b. Research state or local protections
2. Eviction Lawsuit has been Filed
Many renters are unaware of legal ways to get assistance before court dates. Consult an attorney about your rights. Talk to your local Legal Assistance Office. a. Apply for utility assistance b. Learn more from the court
Call the court clerk and ask these questions about your case: i. I understand that I have the right to file a written answer explaining to the court why I should not be evicted. How long do I have to file an answer from the date I received the summons?
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ii. Is there a court date yet?
iii. Does the court offer mediation or referrals to a housing counselor?
a. File an answer
Everyone has the right to file a written answer, asking the court why you should not be evicted. It is not necessary to hire a lawyer.
b. Explain the situation, plus what you have done to get help or plan to repay the past rent.
c. Explain if and what the landlord has offered to get help.
d. If you applied for rental assistance and are waiting for a decision, include that in your answer.
Renters who have made the effort to rectify the situation; judges are more likely to dismiss the eviction.
3. Eviction has been ruled by the court
a. Apply to cover the cost of moving, a security deposit, and application fees
Emergency rental assistance helps with moving costs, security deposits, and application fees.Find your local rental assistance program.
b. Ask for additional time to get rental assistance
It does not hurt to ask for more time in getting assistance. Ask the court clerk if the eviction order can be placed on hold until the emergency rental assistance is processed.
c. Find out about state or local protections Certain states have rules that can delay an eviction while the tenant seeks help.
Foreclosures forecast in 2022
COVID relief efforts created to help homeowners with mortgage payments in 2020 prevented many people from losing their homes. It created a new record for the housing market; the lowest foreclosure rate in more than a decade.
Some surprises realities came about in an article from Forbes, “There were 151,153 foreclosure filings in 2021, a 29% drop from 2020, and the lowest number in at least 16 years— when real estate data analytics company, ATTOM, began tracking this data in 2005.”
A few contributing factors included COVID forbearance on mortgage payments, a ban on home evictions, and 2021 mortgage servicing rules that discouraged foreclosures. However,
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“Everyone has the right to file a written answer, asking the court why you should not be evicted. It is not necessary to hire a lawyer.”
the ban expired on July 1st, 2021, along with the servicing rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“The government’s foreclosure moratorium, the mortgage forbearance program, and the mortgage servicing guidelines enacted by the CFPB in August have kept foreclosure starts artificially low over the past year,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at ATTOM company, RealtyTrac, in a press release. “While the recovering economy should prevent a huge increase in defaults, we should see a gradual increase in foreclosure activity as these programs expire, and servicers exhaust all loan modification options for delinquent borrowers.”
Many market experts agree to the slow rise in foreclosures, but how high the rate will increase depends mostly dependent on whether lenders work to ease homeowners out of forbearance agreements.
Foreclosures in the Future
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, “There are roughly 2.73 million mortgages either in forbearance or past due, on January 9th, 2022. Among those mortgages, nearly 800,000 are in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s forbearance measure, with 89% set to expire in the first half of this year.
“With the expiration of additional safeguards against foreclosures provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by year-end 2021, unless mortgage servicers can successfully execute home-retention options, many borrowers face the prospect of selling their homes or losing them to foreclosure,” the report said.
As the temporary CFPB rule required mortgage educates homeowners on how to avoid foreclosures, including alternate payment options, the outcome is expected to help borrowers in the long run.
Schwartz noted, “The federally sponsored Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program that provides nearly $10 billion to states to help homeowners with past-due and current bills. These funds are distributed at the state level.
“The programs offered by government agencies were amazing, and most borrowers have a path to a modification or deferral if they’re still employed,” says Schwartz. “However, the more challenging issues in 2022 will be to ensure that borrowers know about state Homeowners Assistance Fund programs, on top of extraordinary loss mitigation solutions.”
As consumers move from COVID restrictive states, the housing market has seen extensive growth over the last year. Other experts state, “The expiration of the CFPB safeguards is unlikely to trigger large amounts of foreclosure activity because homeowners have more equity than ever before,” says Odeta Kushi, chief economist at First American.
Issues faced in the past from the housing crash in 2008 allowed borrowers to be more critical of lending institutions. Plus, government rulings have been more responsive to struggling homeowners in maintaining their mortgages.
Dworkin says, “We’ve learned a lot from the last housing crisis and how to reach homeowners and modify their mortgages to help them stay in their homes. And we have such a shortage of housing stock, we don’t expect a market disruption because of unavoidable foreclosures.”
However, a Philadelphia Fed report estimates, “There are more than 1 million borrowers who are not in forbearance and more than 90 days past due on payments, called seriouslydelinquent.
“In the coming months, both bank and nonbank servicers will be challenged to execute home-retention or other foreclosure alternative options for these borrowers, and for another 1.15 million borrowers seriously delinquent and not in forbearance.”
Dworkin stated, “The most important step homeowners can take if they can’t afford their mortgage payments is to communicate with their lender as soon as possible. He advises homeowners to negotiate a “soft landing” with their lenders, rather than going through foreclosure.
“It’s human nature to shut down and avoid uncomfortable conversations, but communication with your mortgage servicer is critical.”
When someone faces a foreclosure, it not only affects residence but also credit scores. Homeowners who are delinquent on payments risk damaging credit rating, which can affect all areas of life. If you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments, immediately apply for one or more of the following:
• Apply for forbearance (if it’s a government-backed mortgage)
• Refinance into a longer-term mortgage
• Apply for a loan modification
• Apply for the Homeowners Assistance Fund
• Rent out part or all of the home
• Sell the home
Homeowners backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can still apply for mortgage forbearance. Forbearance allows homeowners who have suffered financial blows to reduce or pause their mortgage payments for up to 18 months, while either finding a new source of income or coming up with an alternative plan. If your mortgage is not backed federally, contact your service providers for assistance.
Alternative options might include extending the length of your
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Alternative options might include extending the length of your mortgage loan. Or, consolidating debt with credit cards or other loan payments. Many times, it is also possible to refinance to reduce monthly payments, but in most cases, it voids up to 60 days of no payments. However, the cost can range from 2 to 5% depending on the lender. Some lenders will roll those costs into the mortgage, so you don’t have to pay it upfront.
Loan modification is also possible. It can reduce the cost of a mortgage–including the principal and interest. Loan modifications are at the discretion of your lender, and terms will vary based on your lender.
If you have not already sought financial help through the HAF program, contact a housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They offer free services in every state. To locate a housing counselor in your area, visit the HUD website.
In the event, a homeowner does not want to refinance/modify a loan–or cannot qualify for either–be sure to understand the risks associated. Including the option of renting the home.
Homeowners who don’t have experience as a landlord, or with the laws that govern tenants and rental units, talk to an expert before making any decisions. In conclusion, if none of the options are feasible, many homeowners can sell their homes and be able to capture a profit.
According to mortgage technology and analytics provider, Black Knight, “Homeowners gained $250 billion in disposable equity in the third quarter of 2021 alone.” The choice might not be ideal, but it’s better than facing foreclosure because that option will haunt the borrowers for many years. Moreover, struggling homeowners who don’t access help and get behind on their mortgage payments will quickly erode any equity they have by amassing costly late fees and even legal fees.
“Mortgage borrowers who are under-employed or unemployed may need to find a graceful exit if they do not qualify for a solution,” Schwartz says. “The challenge for any individual when all solutions fall short will be the rapid deterioration of equity by fees and penalties.”
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human nature to shut down and avoid uncomfortable conversations, but communication with your mortgage servicer is critical.”
OF THE BEST BEST
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Photographer: CJ Rivera
Kendrick Lamar’s “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers Tour” was a highly anticipated event for fans of the acclaimed rapper and songwriter. The tour, which began in the Summer 2022 was in support of Lamar’s latest album, “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers” which was released in May 2022 to widespread critical acclaim.
The tour featured Lamar performing songs from latest album as well as hits from his previous albums. The stage production was elaborate and included a large, rotating stage and a highly choreographed light show. Lamar was also joined on stage by a live band, which added a new level of energy to the performance.
Fans were thrilled with the tour, praising Lamar’s dynamic stage presence and the high-energy performances. Many also noted the political and social commentary that Lamar included in his songs and stage banter, which added a deeper level of meaning to the concert experience.
One of the highlights of the tour was the guest appearances by other artists. Lamar invited fellow rappers and singers to join him on stage, including Baby Keem. These collaborations added a new level of excitement to the performances and provided fans with unexpected surprises.
Overall, the “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers Tour” was a huge success for Kendrick Lamar. The tour not only showcased his talents as a performer but also highlighted the impact of his music and message on his fans. It was an unforgettable experience for those who attended, and solidified Kendrick Lamar’s status as one of the most important and influential artists of our time.
All photography taken at Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers Tour” at the Golden One Center on August 30, 2022 by CJ Rivera
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Photographer: CJ Rivera
GET TO KNOW
Even at a very early age this gentleman unknowingly began sharpening his skills as a performer through playful preparation with a humble audience of only his family and friends. Without even realizing what his destiny would someday become, his desire to entertain those around him would later develop into a passion that would make way for his current career as an actor today. Check out our interview with Telvin Griffin.
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SFND MAG: What’s up Telvin. Nice to meet you man. Above all, we just want to let you know how much we appreciate you for interviewing with us. We are glad to have you in this issue of So FN Dope Magazine. How have you been?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: What’s up!! It’s so very nice to meet and talk with you as well. I’m humbled to be here with you. I’ve been really great, though. Things have started moving at a fast pace since the premiere of the film, and it’s such a fun thing to experience in real-time.
SFND MAG: Things are getting off to a pretty good start for you already in 2023, huh?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: Oh my goodness, talk about finishing the year strong and looking to carry that momentum into the New Year! What a wild and amazing experience it’s been so far. This is just the beginning of what’s shaping up to be one heck of a 2023! You know it gives perspective to “trusting the process.” Everything is in God’s timing, and sometimes we don’t know how long it will take, but
we must keep that faith and never give up. That’s when you’ll begin to see your wildest dreams come to fruition. Hard work and boldly just being who you are will always bring such an amazing harvest!
SFND MAG: So Telvin, we hear that you are a born and raises in the South. The founders of So FN Dope Magazine were born and raised in the Deep South as well. Tell us a little about your Southern roots in Texarkana and how they have influenced your career in the entertainment industry?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: Yeah? That’s so dope!! I always say you can take a brother out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the brother!! I love my southern roots, honestly. It’s a huge part of who I am. That thing called “Southern Hospitality” really exists when it’s done from the right place in the heart. I genuinely want to make people happy and feel loved. You just never know what a person might be going through. Desiring that for others is a testament to the way my parents raised me. I put the needs of others before my own. I believe that’s where the favor on my life comes from.
Growing up in Texarkana, we have such a grounded reality that is different from living in Los Angeles, where everything is magnified to the tenth degree. That can come with a price if you aren’t grounded. I think growing up in Texarkana with amazing parents that have raised me with a strong foundation of being grounded in principles and values. I fall back on those here in Los Angeles daily; they will continue to help me handle success with class and character. I think a man’s true character is discovered when he begins to get a little success behind him.
SFND MAG: As kids growing up, we’ve all pretended to be on stage or TV or used our imagination to become something in that moment that seemed real to us. We may not realize it then but those early moments of pretending and practicing actually prepare us for what to come later in life. How much of an impact did those childhood moments, of playing and pretending to entertain an audience before you actually had one, have on your development as an actor?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: Oh my gosh, what a fantastic question! That played a huge part in my life and my development as an
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actor. I would pretend to host shows in my grandparent’s study den as a kid, not realizing years down the line I’d host my high school’s beauty pageant. I had no experience hosting, nor did I know anything about filling time or telling jokes, so I just did what came naturally to me. The entire auditorium was packed with parents and other students, and they all had a great time laughing and enjoying themselves. After the show ended, this elderly couple came up to me and said, “young man, you were just so funny, and you reminded us of Wayne Brady, and you should pursue this career because you have a bright future in it.” Those words stuck with me, and even after graduating high school and all through college pursuing broadcast journalism as my major, I still had this itch to do film and TV. Fast-forward to 2022! Looking back on it now, I see how critical that childhood imagination was in shaping my future!
SFND MAG: Who are some of your greatest influences in acting today and tell us why?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: My biggest influence is Denzel Washington because Training Day was one of the first movies I saw that made me fall in love with acting. I was only in the sixth grade but seeing him in the role, I knew I wanted to act, and from that day, I kept up with his every move and watched how he handled his career. Even when I wasn’t thinking about acting, something would come on television with him in it that would remind me that he’s a person I should try and model my career after. He’s passionate about the work, and he’s constantly growing in his work, doing plays on Broadway. I love that he’s also a spiritual person of faith. He just carries himself with class, and that keeps a level of respect around his name. Another great influence for me is Sidney Poitier. He’s a guy, along with Harry Belafonte, who literally laid the foundation for a young black actor like myself to be able to be in a film without having to ONLY be cast in stereotypical roles. All actors of color stand on the shoulders of these revolutionary men! As far as my female influences, definitely Viola Davis and Meryl Streep. These two women are
powerhouses! They both come from the theatre world, and it shows in their work. When you watch them, you can tell they have this extra something within them that comes out of their pores and seeps through the screen; that is just captivating. They are truly an inspiration to watch and I learn something new every time I watch them. One day I plan to work with them!
SFND MAG: Telvin, you’ve already been in several TV series including CW’s Dynasty, Fox’s Deputy, and the Emmy-Award-Winning ABC comedy, Blackish. You’ve made many nationwide commercial appearances as well. How have you managed to stay so active in such a competitive industry?
comes to acting, our immediate opponent is the audition process, so you have to constantly be working your craft from classes to watching film, to just doing monologues in your living room. That’s how you get better. You stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready!! So when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself, you’re locked in, prepared and ready for the moment. They say that’s called luck, but I call it Divine Appointment.
SFND MAG: You also have recently made your big screen debut in a movie entitled Babylon. This movie stars a host of Hollywood giants including Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, and Tobe Maguire. The movie was also directed by Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle. What was it like to be
TELVIN GRIFFIN: I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to be a working actor in such a competitive industry. It is important to note that while I have had those high moments where I’m booking like crazy, there are times, sometimes even as much as a full year, where I don’t get but maybe one or two auditions. The key to staying active in this industry is knowing within yourself, with full conviction, that you are enough. Your talent is enough. Sometimes we forget that, and it causes all kinds of unhealthy thoughts to come into our heads, and the mind is the battleground. If you keep your mind right, everything else will fall into place. I’m constantly exploring new things within my craft. I’m a former athlete, so I equate acting to sports. Whenever we prepared for a game with a new team, we would watch film to discover strategies on how to beat our opponent. Well, when it
among so many veterans of the film industry?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: During the early phases of getting involved with the film, I had no idea who was attached to it. Once we got closer to shooting and more press started coming out, I started to see just how big this film was going to be. Some of the biggest scenes in the movie included the entire cast, so I got to watch all of them work, with the exception of Tobey. But working with Brad, Margot, and Diego was a blast. Brad was just this fun and cool person that made us all feel welcome on set every day. He would come even when he wasn’t due on set just to watch us work. Diego was sort of in the same shoes as me, with this being his first big Hollywood film, so he and I are experiencing this for the very first time, and it’s such an amazing experience. Working
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a man’s true
is discovered when he begins to get a little success behind him.
with Jovan Adepo was so inspirational also. I learned quite a bit from him. He did Fences with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and he also has been nominated for an Emmy for his work in The Watchmen. We really became good friends during this film. He’s a phenomenal actor. We got to really go there with our scenes. There were times we’d get the shot in one take, and Damien would ask if we wanted to do something else, and he’d let us improv, which was very cool of him. Damien is a pioneer and a genius. He knows what he wants, and he executes. He was our fearless leader on that set, and his magnificent storytelling is the exact reason why everyone in Hollywood wants to work with him.
SFND MAG: Being new to the big screen, what types of things did you learn from being on set of this film? Any key takeaways?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: Besides not being afraid to go there in character when the circumstances allow it, I learned the importance of conserving your energy, especially on long shoot days. Sometimes we’re excited just to be there, so we try to mingle every chance we get, but I would watch Jean Smart during those breaks, and she’d just be there, still, on the set, but she’d be there relaxed with her eyes closed conserving energy, so when the time came for her close-up, she was prepared to go all out. I took that with me and will carry that with me to every set I go on from now on. Inspirational.
SFND MAG: What can you tell us about the film and the character you play in this movie?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: So this film pays homage to the art of filmmaking and
its history, from silent films to talkies. It takes a deep dive into what it was really like as an artist to navigate that transition. It spotlights the journey of becoming and staying a star and the impact that had on actors during that time. From the wild parties to the cocaine, these actors were really at the height of their careers. But just like with life, when change comes, you can either get swallowed up or adapt. Seeing how they handle this is what the audience will get to experience. I play a character named Reggie, a saxophonist in the band and a little rival to one of the leads of the film, Trumpeter Sidney Palmer, played by Jovan Adepo. Reggie is trying to catch his break just like Sidney, and they’re constantly going at it! Makes for good film!
SFND MAG: You mentioned that in the movie you play a Saxophonist? In real life you play the piano and the saxophone. Did you find it easier to relate to the character being that you have roots in music?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: Yes! Being a musician beforehand gave me a little step up. I think acting has a musicality to it, also. When I got on set, I already knew my way around the saxophone. I think being authentic and living in truth is key to every role, even if you’re just playing an instrument. There will be someone who sees this film, who is also a musician and will be able to tell if you know what you’re doing or not. Or if the notes you’re playing are the very notes on the film’s soundtrack. So that’s why I took the time to practice sax and reacquaint myself with the notes.
SFND MAG: What is the release date and where can our readers see the film?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: The film released worldwide on December 23rd, 2022 in all theaters. So everyone can just head to their local theaters.
SFND MAG: What else can we expect from Telvin Griffin later in the year of 2023. Any other exciting roles or projects in the works?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: I’m actually excited to travel to Portland, Oregon, to work on an August Wilson play called Seven Guitars in the spring of 2023. I love theater, and it’s my foundation and what better way to honor that than by working on an August Wilson play. He’s such an instrumental storyteller in the black community. His words just jump off the page and resonate with me and I’m honored to be able to help bring his play to life. I’m also in talks to join another film where ironically, I play another successful musician who’s won Grammys and is at the top of his game. This time as a piano player who deals with the struggle of mental health and relationship issues that lead to a lot of misplaced anger and hurt and not knowing how to get the right help for it. The movie will focus on how we as humans, in particular black men, suppress our mental health issues because we’re afraid of acknowledging we need help, and I’m excited to tell a story that touches on that topic. Sometimes the persona that famous/successful people perpetuate is that they don’t have any issues, much less mental health issues. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I think with the recent passing of tWitch, it further confirms that a person can be successful and seemingly be happy and have the “perfect” life but still be battling something that we just don’t know about. I’m looking forward to telling that story next year.
“ The key to staying active in this industry is knowing within yourself, with full conviction, that you are enough. Your talent is enough.”
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SFND MAG: We are nearing the end of the interview, could you please let our readers know where can they find you on social media?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: Dang so soon? Feels like we just got started. Everyone can find me on Twitter and Instagram under the handles @TelvinGriffin. I’m one of those guys that follow back because I love the interaction with my followers! So I look forward to connecting with everyone.
SFND MAG: Before you go could you name for us one other person that you think is So FN Dope and tell us why?
TELVIN GRIFFIN: Oh, for sure and without question, that would be none
other than my mom. Both my parents are fantastic, and it’s been a blessing being raised by both of them, but my mom is truly something special. The sacrifices she made over the years allowed me to do things I could’ve only dreamed of, coming from Texarkana. She’s worked hard all her life so my family could have things that we wanted, even when that meant she and my dad had to go without. She takes care of my grandma, who’s dealing with dementia, all while working two full-time jobs. She never complains, and sometimes I wonder where she gets the strength, but then I realize that’s just what it means to be a black woman in America. That’s why I work the way I do at making sure I achieve my dreams because I can’t wait to repay her for all
she’s done for our family. It’s not even a monetary thing. It’s just honoring her, period, because she deserves it, and she’s truly my inspiration and role model.
SFND MAG: Telvin thank you again my brother for interviewing with us. We are looking forward to seeing the movie Babylon and definitely looking to see more of you in the future sir. Congratulations on your success.
TELVIN GRIFFIN: Hey, thank you so much for having me, this was a blast, and I look forward to speaking with you all again in the near future! I love everything you stand for and wish you nothing but continued success and many blessings going forward.
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Designers: JEAN PAUL GAULTIER / @jeanpaulgaultier Revolve / @revolve Mazarine Blu / @MAZARINEBLUJEWELS Elsie Frieda / @elsiefrieda NICKHO REY / @NICKHOREY ACCHITTO / @ACCHITTO 50- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM -DEC / JAN 2023
Photographer: Teddy Labissiere Hair : Paris Butler Makeup: Amber Harris Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
You may recognize this talented actress from TV series’ like BET’s Games People Play and Doom Patrol on HBO Max. Most recently she can be found on the big screen in the highly anticipated House Party reboot. We were ecstatic to have had the opportunity to interview her as she gave us a glimpse into her life and career as an actor, producer and director. Check out our interview with Karen Obilom.
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SFND MAG: First and foremost, thank you for interviewing with So FN Dope Magazine. We have heard so many great things about you and we are honored to have you. How are you? How did the year 2022 treat you?
KAREN OBILOM: It was a great year. I’m not going to lie. I think it was a really great year personally and career wise. I can’t really complain too much. I mean I could, but I won’t complain. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family, so that part has been really important to me. I’ve also met so many amazing people through work and I’m just really blessed.
SFND MAG: For the sake of our readers, let’s start at the beginning. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
KAREN OBILOM: I’m from Austin, Texas. I was born and raised here. I went to L.A. at 18 years old to pursue acting and to fulfill my parent’s dream of me going to college. I did both, but I really went there to go act.
SFND MAG: So at the age of 18, is it safe to say that this was the point in your life where you decided that you officially wanted to be an actor or did it start before that?
KAREN OBILOM: Well, it really started when I was in the sixth grade. I saw my sister do this play called The Colored Museum. I saw how everyone enjoyed themselves. That was the first time I was like ”Ooooh this is really cool. I would love to do that”. I wasn’t thinking about doing it professionally, but I just thought the theatre kids were really cool, which is funny because in the movies and on TV they are portrayed as the geeks, but really they have the most fun. I always saw that and knew that this was where I wanted to be. I took classes after the sixth grade, but they weren’t actually fun and they just tried to get my money, so it felt very disingenuous. When I got to highschool, my freshman year, I wasn’t bold enough to go audition, however my sophomore year I saw that they had auditions for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Technically I
was taking theatre as an elective, but that is not the same as being in theatre. I was nervous because everyone knew about all the musicals and I didnt know any, so I felt like a fish out of water, but I auditioned anyway. I auditioned for the lead roles. I don’t know if you’ve seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream but, she wakes up with a donkey and she is terrified and so was I; not because of the donkey, but because this (acting) was crazy scary. So I just used it. That was the first time I used the substitution technique. They loved it and I was cast as the lead and it forced me out of my really horrid stage fright. I had such terrible stage fright to the point where I could not speak if people were in front of me. Getting that lead role helped a lot with my stage fright, but It did not cure it. That took practice.
SFND MAG: Wow, that is interesting to know. So you’ve been in several films and television series throughout your career. You’ve been in Games People Play on BET, Netflix’s Resort To Love, Doom Patrol on HBO Max and most recently Send Help on AllBLK just to name a few. Of all the roles you’ve played, which one was the most exciting to you and which one was the most challenging?
KAREN OBILOM: Well, the most exciting in general, not even just character wise, was Resort to Love because it was exciting to be in a new country. We filmed that in a country called Mauritius which is off the coast of Madagascar. So it was a small island. I had never heard of it until the audition and that was just so exciting because we had never been there. We all just became like a little family which was really fun. The staff and everyone was so incredible. That was the most exciting role I’ve had filming. The most exotic character I’ve had was Roni from Doom Patrol because she has super powers so… That’s pretty cool. She was also really challenging at times. I think every character has its challenges. You know sometimes it’s fine to play them but they all have their moments where you are like. “OK, I’ve got to dig deep to get to wherever she is right now”. She just had more of those moments. I think Ashley in Send Help had those moments. Well, I personally had those moments , not with my character but with the character
I was playing against, Jean’s character, because we both lost our brothers. This show was about him losing his brother so that was really challenging to get to that point because I saw him kind of struggle with it. It was pretty triggering, but also really beautiful for us to have shared that moment together. So, every character has their challenges.
SFND MAG: I never really thought of it that way. Sometimes you may have to play a character that triggers something in real life. You can either pull from that experience or it may bring back all of those emotions.
KAREN OBILOM: Yeah, that definitely happens.
SFND MAG: You mentioned earlier in the interview that you used to get really nervous. Is that something that you still struggle with at times when you are auditioning for roles or has it become a lot easier for you to work through?
KAREN OBILOM: It definitely is something that happens, because that means you’re just excited. It means you care about it. You’re always going to get a little nervous. It depends on how you play through the nerves and I was never able to play through the nerves beforehand. Now I understand you have to practice to play through it. So yeah I do get nervous especially for producer sessions and director sessions because everyone is just there watching you, but you have to remind yourself that they actually want you to do great. They are not here to judge you or make fun of you or laugh at you. They are here to hope that you can solve their problem by being the person that they need. So when they find that perfect person, they are going to be happy. So that is the goal, to be that person.
SFND MAG: We hear that you’re doing some producing and directing of your own. Do you find it easier to direct and produce as opposed to acting or is it the other way around?
KAREN OBILOM: I guess it depends, directing can be challenging, because you don’t know the type of person you’re going to be working with. I’ve been blessed
S 52- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM - DEC / JAN 2023 COVER STORY
Photographer: Teddy Labissiere
Hair : Paris Butler
Makeup: Amber Harris
Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
JEAN PAUL GAULTIER / @jeanpaulgaultier Revolve / @revolve
Mazarine Blu / @MAZARINEBLUJEWELS
Elsie Frieda / @elsiefrieda NICKHO REY / @NICKHOREY ACCHITTO / @ACCHITTO
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Hair : Paris Butler
Makeup: Amber Harris
Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
Designers: Adiba / @adiba.official Charles & Ron / @charlesandron
NUE STUDIO / @NUE_STUDIO
BRANDON MAXWELL / @BRANDONMAXWELL NBD / @revolve ACCHITTO / @ACCHITTO
MEME LONDON / @MEME.LONDON
COVER STORY 54- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM - DEC / JAN 2023
Photographer: Teddy Labissiere
to work with my friends so it hasn’t been hard. There have been moments when they are not getting what I want them to do but also it’s fine if they do it in their own way. I think they are just two completely different things. With acting, You read what is on the script. If you want to improv then that’s cool. It’s pretty straight forward. It is obviously challenging depending on the character but for the most part there is a box. You can do whatever you want to do within that box but there is ultimately a box when it comes to film acting. Theatre acting is a bit different, but with directing you never know what you are going to get and that is why prep work is so important. As long as the prep work is done and as long as the pre-production is done correctly, I think you can focus more on whatever type of personality you may get. If your prep work and pre-production is not complete then you’re trying to balance them and balance the shots. It won’t work. That is why the pre-production is so important to kind of take the pressure off the director when the day comes to shoot.
SFND MAG: 2023 is now here and we foresee this year to be a big year. You were cast for the new House Party film alongside Jacob Latimore, Tosin Cole, D.C. Young Fly and a host of others. We all knew this was going to be a huge movie. We grew up on the original House Party movie as kids, and it carried over into our teens and we still watch it today when it comes on TV. How did you feel the moment you found out that you were selected for this role?
KAREN OBILOM: I auditioned for that role like a year ago. So I had completely forgotten that I had auditioned for it. You know the pandemic happened so we weren’t even thinking about that. They called and said that they wanted to have a director session, which was pretty much a director and producer session in that case. The director, Calmatic, actually DM’ed me and said that he was going to call me because he really wants me for the role. It’s not only about the director wanting me, which is a big part, but it’s also about the producers and executives and all those people so he needed me to convince them that I was the perfect per-
son for the job. He gave me some pointers and all that good stuff. I was feeling good going into the audition, but I still had reservations because I’m not the typical, big blockbuster, big movie queen. I had this preconceived notion of why maybe I wouldn’t be selected as their top choice because I don’t look like everyone else in the big movies or the big romantic leads unless it is a black film. So I was like “ Whatever happens, happens, I’m going to do my best. I’m going to play Venus the best way I can and that’s it.” So I did it. I always say “It doesn’t matter how it goes as long as I feel good about my performance.” And so I felt good about my performance. They called me maybe like two days later and I was like ”I know I did not just book freaking House Party!” [LAUGHS] This is just insane. I was thinking about the impact that it’s had on the culture. It is it’s own phenomenon, obviously because there are so many movies about it. So many continuations and sequels and all that good stuff. It is just one of those films that I appreciate because it has such a simple premise but it is so popular because of the culture and because of the people in it. It’s because of the way they dress and the way they walk and talk and the way they dance. That also puts a lot of pressure on the rest of us because it is not about the story but it is about the characters and who we are as those characters. So these are big things to carry on our shoulders and I’m so ready to carry it.
SFND MAG: I’m so glad you brought this up because you actually kind of answered my next question about whether or not you felt any pressure from carrying the torch of such a classic black film?
KAREN OBILOM: Absolutely, and people will let you know. They let you know not to mess up. They are not quiet about their beloved movies. My thing is… You know I love my black people, but I’m like, we are also people that are artists and we are going to make our own thing whether it’s the original or whether it is not the original, I just want everyone to gather around and support everyone and the art that they do. There’s like a thousand Top Guns and so if you can watch that you can watch House Party too! But it is OK, I get how skeptical some people are.
I understand. It’s funny watching them see the trailer and seeing their perspective changing. All they have to do is give it a chance and they will see that this is a really funny and cool movie. But I also appreciate the fact that they admitted that maybe they spoke too soon and that it actually looks really good. So yeah I definitely know that there is a lot of pressure.
This is something that we have to hold to a higher regard. I’m ready for anything. I feel like I can do anything and I would love the support of my culture and my people around me. That’s all I really want. I also got casted for The Wood.
SFND MAG: Whaaaaaaaat!!!!
KAREN OBILOM: Yeah, well, the show version of The Wood
SFND MAG: That’s another classic black film. Another classic spin-off! These are roles our culture wants to see. These are the stories that need to be told over and over again so that is awesome. Congratulations!
KAREN OBILOM: Thank you, I’m
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“I’m ready for anything. I feel like I can do anything and I would love the support of my culture and my people around me.
COVER STORY 56- SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM - DEC / JAN 2023
Designers: Vegan Tiger / @vegan_tiger
AREA / @AREA
Matthew Bruch /@matthewbruch
Jeffrey Campbell / @jeffreycampbell
NICKHO REY / @NICKHOREY
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Photographer: Teddy Labissiere
Hair: Paris Butler
Makeup: Amber Harris Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
Photographer: Teddy Labissiere
Hair: Paris Butler
Makeup: Amber Harris
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Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
COVER STORY Designers: JEAN PAUL GAULTIER / @jeanpaulgaultier Revolve / @revolve Mazarine Blu / @MAZARINEBLUJEWELS Elsie Frieda / @elsiefrieda NICKHO REY / @NICKHOREY ACCHITTO / @ACCHITTO DEC / JAN 2023 - SOFNDOPEMAGAZINE.COM - 59
grateful because it makes me feel like I’m embedded in the culture in some way. Like I’m making my mark on the culture. That’s all I really want. Growing up also Nigerian American, first generation… I grew up that way, but I also grew up with all my friends being black. I always felt very connected with them. I just feel very proud and very honored to be a part of these incredible cultural resets.
SFND MAG: With that being said we can’t wait for that to come out do you have an official release date for the film?
KAREN OBILOM: January 13th for House Party movie. We don’t have a release date for The Wood just yet.
SFND MAG: No doubt! We’ll definitely be on the lookout for that House Party release. Let’s talk a little about life offscreen. What types of activities are you into when you are not on set? We hear that you are active in the community and that you were an advocate for Black Lives Matter. Why do you feel it was important for you to get involved and what specific moment triggered your involvement?
KAREN OBILOM: Even before the BLM movement started, I’ve always been down for my people no matter what, but I was definitely more outspoken about it during the Pandemic and the commotion surrounding George Floyd. It mostly annoyed me that people were having this racial awakening. I was like “Ya’ll, this has always been around! This is not a new thing”. So, I was also the person that would help someone understand. I definitely talked to a lot of my white friends about it and I didn’t mind. But yeah it’s just always been something that I advocated for. I’m Nigerian and I’m black and it is what it is. It is just within me. There is no way that I can’t be for me and my people.
SFND MAG: Very well said. Alright so, what else can we expect from you in SFND MAG: Very well said. Alright so, what else can we expect from you in 2023. We know that you’ve already mentioned that you are filming The Wood. What else do you have going on?
Photographer: Teddy Labissiere Hair: Paris Butler Makeup: Amber Harris Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
Designers: Vegan Tiger / @vegan_tiger
AREA / @AREA
Matthew Bruch /@matthewbruch
Jeffrey Campbell / @jeffreycampbell
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NICKHO REY / @NICKHOREY
KAREN OBILOM: I will be directing my first short film next month. It should be released in 2023, so I’m very excited about that because this is something that I’ve always wanted to do. Directing is something that has been on my heart for years and I’m just thankful that I get to do it. So watch out for the film called Ascension, it is a psychological horror.
SFND MAG: Where can our readers locate you on social media?
KAREN OBILOM: It’s @karenobilom on Twitter, Instagram & TikTok
SFND MAG: Last but not least, if you could before you go, name one other person that you think is So FN Dope and tell us why?
KAREN OBILOM: It’s got to be my mom. [LAUGHS] She made me who I am today. She was always there when I needed someone to talk to. She was always there when I told her I wanted to be an actor. Being Nigerian, usually you expect them to say “No, you have to be an engineer. You have to be a doctor” [ in Nigerian Accent ] So I was very excited when she allowed me, because I was also the youngest. The others were doctors, pharmacists and the other was going to be a lawyer. So I just kind of snuck past and did my thing. She has always been so supportive. My sister is an actor now as well, just waiting on her big break. My mom has always been my biggest inspiration. She is the reason why I’m here today with you so yeah, my mom is So FN Dope.
SFND MAG: Well, tell her we said thank you because we really appreciate it. We would also like to thank you Karen again for interviewing with us today. We are looking forward to all of your upcoming projects. Definitely looking forward to the House Party movie. We definitely wish you much success in all your future endeavors.
KAREN OBILOM: Thank you so much. You’ve been an absolute pleasure. Thank you guys for interviewing me. I appreciate it.
Designers: Vegan Tiger / @vegan_tiger AREA / @AREA
Matthew Bruch /@matthewbruch
Jeffrey Campbell / @jeffreycampbell
NICKHO REY / @NICKHOREY
Photographer: Teddy Labissiere
Hair: Paris Butler
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Makeup: Amber Harris Wardrobe Stylist: Amanda Massi
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